The U.S. and European cold blast: blame the NAO

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:00 PM GMT on January 07, 2010

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The Deep South shivered through another frigid morning today, with low temperature records crumbling again over much of Florida. Lakeland hit 27°F, smashing the old record of 34°F; Melbourne hit 28°F, eclipsing the old record of 32°F; and West Palm Beach bottomed out at 37°F, besting the old record of 38°F. The cold wave is being driven by an unusual sharp and persistent kink in the jet stream that is being blocked from moving by a strong ridge of high pressure over Greenland. As a result, an exceptionally strong surface high pressure of 1055 mb over the North Central U.S. is pushing large amounts of cold, Arctic air southwards from Canada. No coldest January temperature records have been set yet from the cold blast, but the 500 largest U.S. cities have been averaging about 11 new daily low temperature records per day the first five days of January, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The cold will ease Friday in the Deep South, but return with a vengeance Saturday night though Monday morning, as another push of cold air descending from Canada promises to bring a cold wave that will approach the December 1989 and January 1977 cold waves in intensity, and may being some new all-time January low temperature records to the South.

Colder in Florida than Alaska and Greenland
The sharp kink in the jet stream has brought record warm temperatures to a few stations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest this week, making much of coastal Alaska warmer than Florida. Cold Bay, Alaska, set a record high yesterday of 47°F, after recording a low temperature of 30°F. This made Cold Bay warmer than Pensacola, Florida, which had a high of 47°F and a low of 24°F. In fact, most of Florida--including Jacksonville, Tampa, Melbourne, and Tallahassee--recorded lows at or below the 27°F low recorded in Anchorage, Alaska yesterday. The jet stream kink has also brought temperatures more than 30°F above average to Greenland. The temperature in Narsarsuaq, Greenland at 10am EST today was 46°F, far warmer than most of Florida.


Figure 1. Departure of the surface temperature from average for the first three day of 2010 shows much colder than average conditions were present over the Southeast U.S., much of Europe, and Central Asia. Much warmer than average temperatures were present over the Northwest U.S., Greenland, the Arctic, and Southern Asia. A sharp kink in the jet stream was responsible for the temperature anomaly pattern. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

Snow in Florida?
It doesn't snow very often in Florida, and the Wikipedia list of snow events in Florida lists only seven such events over the decade of the 2000s. This weekend's cold wave may be able to generate some snow over isolated regions of Central Florida, though it appears that the odds of this happening are less than 30%. The most widespread snowfall in Florida history occurred on January 19, 1977, when snow fell over much of the state, with flurries as far south as Homestead. Snow flurries also fell on Miami Beach for the only time in recorded history.


Figure 2. North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index for September 9, 2009 - January 6, 2010 (black line) and forecast from the GFS model (red lines). The NAO index was strongly negative, near -2.0, for much of December and January. Image credit: NOAA/CPC.

The winter cold blast: blame the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
Why has the winter been so cold over Eastern North America and northern Europe? Well, don't blame El Niño. El Niño winters are rarely this cold. Instead, blame the the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The NAO is a climate pattern in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. It is one of oldest known climate oscillations--seafaring Scandinavians described the pattern several centuries ago. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores High,the NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily. Negative NAO winters tend to bring cold winters to Europe, and the prevailing storm track moves south towards the Mediterranean Sea. This brings increased storm activity and rainfall to southern Europe and North Africa.

The winter of 2009 - 2010 has seen a very strong negative NAO, causing much of our cold weather over Eastern North America and Europe. The NAO index for the month of December 2009 was -1.93, which is the third lowest NAO index since 1950 for a winter month (December, January, or February). The only winter months with a lower NAO index were February 1978 (-2.20) and January 1963 (-2.12). January 1963 was one of the coldest months on record in the UK and the Eastern U.S.. February 1978 was the coldest February on record for five U.S. states, and featured the historic blizzards in both the U.S. and UK. The NAO so far for January 2010 has continued to stay strongly negative, ranging between -1.5 and -2.1. However, the blocking ridge over Greenland is forecast to weaken next week, allowing the sharp kink in the jet stream to straighten out. This will increase the NAO index to more typical values, allowing a return of more ordinary winter weather to the U.S. and Europe.

Jeff Masters

From The Porch 1 (suzi46)
from our porch view of sunrise this morning..totally different from the 'splendiferous' shots 1-8 taken from the top of our field overlooking the mountains
From The Porch 1
First snow (Rowdyblue)
of winter in South Mississippi.
First snow
Wind blown snow (bikesnapper)
Like sand dunes or Antelope Canyon
Wind blown snow

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Orca and KOG, and ALL your Canadian compadres, PLEASE shut off the fans and close the back door to the Arctic please :0). Open the side door on the left and right, feed the Arctic air to the Polar Bears in Alaska and Greenland.

What America needs is a week of temps about 10 to 20F ABOVE normal, alot of sun for a few days, and some rain for the Florida peninsula.
This has been a public service announcement on behalf of about 280 million very cold and peeved residents!!
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Quoting zoomiami:
Yep - I did the cooking routine yesterday - florida houses are not made to stay warm. It helped.

My daughter is in Orlando on a school trip - just told me that they aren't going to universal because three of the big rides are closed due to ice. Not something you hear very often.


That's just crazy!
LOL the Mouse losing money...oops not nice :)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Yep - I did the cooking routine yesterday - florida houses are not made to stay warm. It helped.

My daughter is in Orlando on a school trip - just told me that they aren't going to universal because three of the big rides are closed due to ice. Not something you hear very often.
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Quoting P451:


GFS


looks pretty serious.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3774
Good Morning everyone!

Dallas-Ft Worth, TX was below freezing from 3AM on 1/7 through 1PM on 1/9/10, without a break, about 58 consecutive hours straight, the worst stretch since 1996. We nudged up to 36F yesterday.

We has lows of 16F on 1/8, 13F on 1/9 and 17F this mornings low on 1/10/10. Older homes here are not as well insulated as new homes. I am gonna make Green Mountain Power RICH next month, as my electric bill jumped from a normal $140 to $332.00, OUCH!!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I've always wondered how adding layer after layer of t-shirts will somehow make my hands warm...... lol

How do u heat the space w/out the space heater????





Bake potatoes, casseroles, cakes, pies...anything that takes a long time. Then crack oven door as it cools...or cheat and leave the oven on low for a little bit longer.

We have an old-fashioned vaporizer running now to add humidity, and it warms the air up a bit that way.

Our dollar stores have hand warmers to put in those mittens and socks...but do you even have dollar stores? :)

Order an electric blanket on the net...see if they offer free shipping. Stay under it until weather warms up.

Snuggle with pets or significant other; not necessarily in that order.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting Orcasystems:


I would say.. put on a jacket or sweater... but I doubt may people have them down there.

Hint from years of experience standing brow watches... in a pinch, socks make decent mittens :)

I know.. you wear sandals.. who wears socks..
EXactly!..... lol

Well, I told u guys months ago I am a cold wx wimp, so I am currently wearing a couple pairs socks, jeans, couple sweaters, and when I go out, I am grateful for the gear I recently bought for a trip to Mass. At the time I was like, "I'm not going to wear this stuff again for years!"

Little did I know.....
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2672. unf97
nrtiwinvragn,

Thanks for posting the link with all the records that occurred across the nation as of this morning.

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2671. P451


GFS
Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Quoting BahaHurican:
I've always wondered how adding layer after layer of t-shirts will somehow make my hands warm...... lol

How do u heat the space w/out the space heater????





I would say.. put on a jacket or sweater... but I doubt may people have them down there.

Hint from years of experience standing brow watches... in a pinch, socks make decent mittens :)

I know.. you wear sandals.. who wears socks..
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Melwerle -- we're getting by here in our Village near the Beltway. It's going to be almost balmy tomorrow :) Hope you're enjoying your perfect temps!

So Far Today
* Lo: 18F
* Rain: 0.00"
* Hi: 26F
* Gust: W 20

Monday:
Mostly Sunny
Hi: 35 F
Lo: 23 F

Mostly sunny in the morning...then becoming mostly cloudy. Highs in the mid 30s. West winds around 5 mph...
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Morning Baha - I'm VERY glad to be here now. Today is going to be 76. Shorts and a tshirt for me. Not fond of quakes and the shake map shows a BUNCH of them all over CA...making me a bit edgy.
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So this doesn't have anything to do with warming oceans altering the jet stream? Seems to me that warmer oceans have created a conveyor belt of warmer air splitting the arctic vortex in two.

On another note: has anyone noticed the heat and fire going on in Antarctica? This is a perfect example of a predictable result of climate change: the extra energy in the system created by the global warming process has resulted in more extreme weather which seems to change more quickly.
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Quoting melwerle:
Good MOrning everyone - sorry to see you guys are so freezing...
Morning, mel. That move back to the left coast might have been a good idea for more than the hurricane threat.... lol
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2665. P451
A relative in Melbourne said they had snow flurries as did a relative that lives outside of Ft. Lauderdale.

Member Since: December 16, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 10202
Good MOrning everyone - sorry to see you guys are so freezing...
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2663. IKE
12Z GFS @ 126 hours....



at 144 hours....

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2662. unf97
I have 33.0 degrees currently. Temp finally above freezing, ending just under 17 hours of sub freezing temps at my North Jax location.

The low at my location was 20.4 degrees, which is the lowest of the season for now. There is a very good chance that my season low will occur tomorrow morning.
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Well, at least the sun is out now. Maybe we'll hit 70.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


ROFL... we will start planting flowers when we get home Jan 22.... spring has sprung here :)


Orca -- If you don't watch out, you'll find yourself with more U.S. neighbors within your borders!

Wow, I had trouble posting that pic. Something about yahoo secure download...as if...
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting Orcasystems:


You can always add layers when its cold.. its really hard to shed them when its to hot.
I've always wondered how adding layer after layer of t-shirts will somehow make my hands warm...... lol

How do u heat the space w/out the space heater????



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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
In my morning's e-mail:

"Summer's almost here! We can now see the deer moving around.
Yep, it won't be long. This is the call for all my friends who went off to Florida, Arizona, California, Hawaii etc. to escape winter'swrath, pack up and come on home. Nothing like a New Hampshire Spring. Scroll down, See the deer anong the crocuses."




ROFL... we will start planting flowers when we get home Jan 22.... spring has sprung here :)
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In my morning's e-mail:

"Summer's almost here! We can now see the deer moving around.
Yep, it won't be long. This is the call for all my friends who went off to Florida, Arizona, California, Hawaii etc. to escape winter's wrath, pack up and come on home. Nothing like a New Hampshire Spring. Scroll down, See the deer anong the crocuses."


Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
2655. unf97
Gainesville, FL WFO reached 19 degrees this morning, setting a new record low temperature for this date. Also, Gainesville set a record for a low maximum temp yesterday, only reaching 37 degrees.
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Quoting IKE:
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
958 AM EST SUN JAN 10 2010

...WIND CHILL ADVISORY AND HARD FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH
MIDDAY WITH A HARD FREEZE WATCH IN EFFECT FOR TONIGHT...

...VERY COLD TEMPERATURES TO CONTINUE INTO TUESDAY...

.


Thats about right... we fly south on Wed :)
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2653. IKE
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
958 AM EST SUN JAN 10 2010

...WIND CHILL ADVISORY AND HARD FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH
MIDDAY WITH A HARD FREEZE WATCH IN EFFECT FOR TONIGHT...

...VERY COLD TEMPERATURES TO CONTINUE INTO TUESDAY...

.DISCUSSION...WHILE WE DIDN`T QUITE SET A NEW DAILY RECORD FOR LOW
MAX TEMP AT TLH ON SAT...THE HIGH OF 38 DEGREES WAS THE COLDEST
DAILY MAX TEMP OBSERVED SINCE FEB 2ND 1996. DESPITE THE WIND...
WHICH STAYED UP FOR MUCH OF THE NIGHT...TEMPS DIPPED INTO THE UPPER
TEENS AND LOWER 20S ACROSS THE FORECAST AREA THIS MORNING WITH WIND
CHILL READINGS AS LOW AS THE UPPER SINGLE DIGITS IN SE AL AND LOWER
TEENS ELSEWHERE. THE ENTIRE STATE OF FL WAS IN THE BIG CHILL LAST
NIGHT. FREEZING TEMPS WERE OBSERVED AS FAR S AS W PALM BEACH AND
LAKE OKEECHOBEE. AT 8 AM...KEY WEST WAS 46 DEGREES WITH A WIND CHILL
OF 38. THAT...IS AMAZING!

TODAY WILL SEE FULL SUN...BUT WITH CONTINUED COLD ADVECTION...TEMPS
WILL REMAIN OVER 20 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL. WE ADJUSTED MAX TEMPS DOWN
A DEGREE OR TWO FOR MOST AREAS...BUT WE SHOULD STILL SEE TEMPS 3-5
DEGREES HIGHER THAN YESTERDAY`S CHILLY NUMBERS. CURRENT WIND CHILL
ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 17Z AND IT LOOKS LIKE IT WILL TAKE THAT
LONG FOR OUR NWRN ZONES TO LIFT ABOVE THE ADVISORY CRITERIA OF 20
DEGREES. THE HARD FREEZE WARNING EXPIRES AT 16Z. MOST AREAS SHOULD
BE ABOVE FREEZING BY THEN. WILL ISSUE A ZONE UPDATE TO REMOVE
HEADLINES AROUND MIDDAY. THE REST OF THE FORECAST LOOKS GOOD.
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I guess all the smart people are under bed sheets. I am retreating myself. Later gators.
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Somebody must have moved Miami last night its 36 now and Orlando is 35. You would think we were a suburb. Called for a wind chill of as low as 36 early its now 26. Yes I am complaining anybody got some cheese to go along with my wine.
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2650. unf97
Temperature currently at 29.7 degrees at 10:25 a.m.

I have now been below freezing for over 15 hours now, since 6:30 last night.

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-1 here in northern NM right now. Brrr...I'm off to Finland in a few weeks and its even colder there!! Gawd...I cant wait for spring.
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Quoting IKE:
LOL.... -0? vs. +0?


Lol yeah :P
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2647. IKE
LOL.... -0? vs. +0?
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Lafayette, Purdue University Airport
Lat: 40.43 Lon: -86.93 Elev: 623
Last Update on Jan 10, 8:54 am EST

Clear with Haze

-0 °F
(-18 °C)
Humidity: 78 %
Wind Speed: W 5 MPH
Barometer: 30.54"
Dewpoint: -6 °F (-21 °C)
Wind Chill: -10 °F (-23 °C)
Visibility: 6.00 mi.
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Morning all, My low last night 21 brrrr also I dont think i've ever seen this many post in the winter time as now great reading.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

it's easier to stay warm when it's cold but it very hard to stay cool when it's warm/hot.


But not when you can't pay the heating bill!
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2641. unf97
Currently 28.2 degrees as of 9:30 a.m.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE, WA
530 PM PST SAT JAN 09 2010

...RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT OLYMPIA WA AIRPORT...

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 57 DEGREES WAS SET AT OLYMPIA WA
AIRPORT TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 56 SET IN 1981.

This is close to Victoria, BC?
Sign of trend for the summer?


Its not to far away, couple hundred miles... but in a very different climate zone. Olympia is in a "hot spot" when it comes to geographically induced weather. They are normally the record high setter for the entire Puget Sound area.

If you look at this link, you will see we are at normal temps for this time of year :)
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RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE, WA
530 PM PST SAT JAN 09 2010

...RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT OLYMPIA WA AIRPORT...

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 57 DEGREES WAS SET AT OLYMPIA WA
AIRPORT TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 56 SET IN 1981.

This is close to Victoria, BC?
Sign of trend for the summer?
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Quoting klaatuborada:


Not when you can't afford the heating bill.


You can always add layers when its cold.. its really hard to shed them when its to hot.
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NWS Record Reports

Click through "Previous Version:" to view various areas.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

it's easier to stay warm when it's cold but it very hard to stay cool when it's warm/hot.
Quoting AussieStorm:

it's easier to stay warm when it's cold but it very hard to stay cool when it's warm/hot.


Not when you can't afford the heating bill.
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2635. IKE
Record Report

Statement as of 7:20 am CST on January 10, 2010

... Record consecutive days with lows below 25 degrees set at
Montgomery...

the record for consecutive days with low temperatures below 25
degrees was broken at the Montgomery Airport this morning. Today
marked the 8th day in a row with a low temperature of less than 25
degrees. This breaks the old record of 7 days in a row set back in
January 2001.
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments

You have to look pretty hard on here to find any temps above 0 Celsius, unless you go to the Far North.
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2633. unf97
Thanks mara0921. Yeah, I did that post before going to bed last night. Yesterday alone will certainly go down as one for weather historians. We were just too try in Jax area for the frozen precip to reach the surface, but it did get close. Satsuma in Putnam county, and Flagler Beach had reports of sleet and snow flurries yesterday morning.

But, for you Mara, and to my other fellow Floridians down state, I hope you all got a kick out of this very rare novelty of seeing wintry precip.

The max temperatures yesterday was in the 30s and 40s statewide, except in the Keys, where max temps were in the low 50s, which is unheard of down there. This has been one of the most impressive prolonged cold periods in my memory as a native Floridian.

I am trying to see a list of any records set yesterday for any record low max temps across the state .

Also, checking around for any record low temps for this morning.

I will try to compile that shortly, or if any of my fellow bloggers get to that before me, feel free to post that info.

Thanks!
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bound to get some big storms the next month the cold is really far south
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i am worried about my daughter in orlando. its 26 and her apt doesnt even have central heat. she is using a space heater in her small bedroom so she can have at least one warm room. is that bad for carbon monoxide??
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2630. IKE
ZCZC SPCSWOD48 ALL
ACUS48 KWNS 100948
SPC AC 100948

DAY 4-8 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0348 AM CST SUN JAN 10 2010

VALID 131200Z - 181200Z

...POTENTIAL TOO LOW TO DELINEATE A SVR THREAT AREA...

MODELS CONTINUE TO INDICATE AMPLIFICATION WITHIN A STRONG BELT OF
WESTERLIES ACROSS THE SUBTROPICAL PACIFIC BY THE MIDDLE OF THE
COMING WORK WEEK. EMERGING SHORT WAVE IMPULSES ARE THEN PROGGED TO
TRANSLATE EASTWARD INTO THE SOUTHERN BRANCH OF DOWNSTREAM SPLIT
UPPER FLOW...ACROSS THE EXTREME SOUTHERN TIER OF THE U.S...THE
MEXICAN PLATEAU AND THE GULF OF MEXICO THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE
PERIOD. CONSIDERABLE SPREAD LINGERS CONCERNING THE EVOLUTION OF
THESE FEATURES...INCLUDING A POTENTIALLY STRONG LEAD IMPULSE THAT
COULD IMPACT PORTIONS OF THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO AS EARLY AS
THURSDAY. BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTENING AND DESTABILIZATION OVER THE
GULF OF MEXICO IN THE WAKE OF THE RECENT SIGNIFICANT COLD INTRUSIONS
IS MORE UNCLEAR...AND SEEMS TO BE THE PRIMARY UNCERTAINTY CONCERNING
ANY SEVERE THUNDERSTORM POTENTIAL. WITH SUBSTANTIVE MODIFICATION
NOT LIKELY TO COMMENCE UNTIL MID TO LATE WEEK...THIS POTENTIAL STILL
SEEMS LOW...OR LIKELY TO BE RATHER LOCALIZED AT BEST. BUT...SEVERE
PROBABILITIES MAY NOT BE COMPLETELY NEGLIGIBLE...PARTICULARLY IN THE
VICINITY OF MID/LOWER TEXAS COASTAL AREAS LATE THURSDAY/THURSDAY
NIGHT...PERHAPS CENTRAL FLORIDA PENINSULA GULF COASTAL AREAS FRIDAY
NIGHT INTO EARLY SATURDAY.

..KERR.. 01/10/2010
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2629. Dakster
Down in South Dade it was more like sleet or freezing rain last night. It could have briefly "snowed", but it wouldn't have been like the snow flurries in 1977 - which I also witnessed.

In any event, this is definetly a year for the record books!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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