Potentially historic winter storm poised to impact 100 million Americans

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:16 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

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A huge and potentially historic winter storm is taking shape over the Southern Plains today. By the time the storm exits New England on Wednesday night, as many as 50 million Americans may see heavy snows of at least 6 inches or dangerous ice accumulations of 1/4" or more from the massive storm, and 100 million will be affected by the storm. A potent jet stream with strong winds will dive southwards over the central U.S. today, allowing a cold Arctic airmass to spill southwards out of Canada. In front of this cold air, a flow of very warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico will surge northwards, providing copious moisture to fuel snowfall amounts that will likely approach two feet across portions of Iowa and Illinois on Tuesday. The storm could be Chicago's biggest blizzard since January 1999, when a storm dumped 21.6" of snow. Accompanying the heavy snow on Tuesday will be strong winds gusting to 40 mph in Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana, and a blizzard watch is posted for Chicago. Strong winds in Chicago are expected to generate 14 - 18 feet waves on Lake Michigan, with occasional waves up to 25 feet. A significant coastal flooding event is possible for Chicago, with beach erosion and flooding along Lake Shore Drive. Many major cities will likely receive over 8 inches of snow from the storm, including Kansas City, St. Louis, and Detroit. Perhaps of greater concern is the potential for a major ice storm along a swath from Northwest Oklahoma to Massachusetts. Widespread freezing rain is expected to bring over 1/4" of ice to many major cities, including St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Some regions could see up to an inch of ice, and widespread power outages due to toppled power lines are likely for millions of people. Damages exceeding $1 billions are possible from this ice storm. In addition, the storm's powerful cold front will bring the potential for severe thunderstorms to the deep South. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center is giving Louisiana and surrounding states a "slight risk" of severe weather on Tuesday, and severe thunderstorms with damaging winds are likely Tuesday afternoon in this region.


Figure 1. Probability of receiving at least 1/4" of ice for the 24 hours ending at 7am EST on Wed Feb 2, 2011. Image credit: NOAA.

Very dangerous Tropical Cyclone Yasi headed for Australia's flooded Queensland
With February nearly upon us, the traditional peak of the Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone season is here, and the waters surrounding Australia have been exceptionally active over the past week. We had the year's first two Category 4 tropical cyclones last week, Tropical Cyclone Wilma and Tropical Cyclone Bianca. Wilma passed over American Samoa as a strong tropical storm, and hit Tonga as a Category 3 storm, causing substantial damage to the islands, but no deaths or injuries. Wilma brushed New Zealand, bringing flooding and landslides to the North Island, and was the strongest tropical cyclone to affect that country in fourteen years, according to weatherwatch.co.nz. Tropical Cyclone Bianca skirted the west coast of Australia and dissipated before making landfall. Tropical Cyclone Anthony hit flood-ravaged Queensland, Australia, over the weekend, as a weak tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds. Fortunately, Anthony dropped only modest amounts of rain, and no new flooding disaster occurred in Queensland, which is struggling to recover from record floods. As reported in the latest Australian Bureau of Meteorology climate statement and flood summary, the past four months (September - December) have been the rainiest such period in Queensland's history, and the resulting flooding disaster has been Australia's most expensive natural disaster in history.

Queensland is in serious danger of renewed extreme flooding this week from Tropical Cyclone Yasi. Yasi has intensified to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, and is undergoing a period of rapid intensification that is expected to take it to Category 4 strength. Yasi is expected to hit Queensland on Wednesday, probably as a major Category 3 or stronger storm. In addition the storm's damaging winds and storm surge, Yasi will bring torrential rains. The GFS model is predicting that Yasi will dump 5 - 10 inches of rain over a large swath of Queensland, which would likely cause destructive flooding.

One positive note: the European Center model was remarkably accurate predicting the formation of Yasi over a week in advance, so Queensland has had plenty of time to prepare for the arrival of the storm.


Figure 3. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 23:20 GMT on January 30, 2011. At the time, Yasi was a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting muddertracker:
Would that be "pumping" or not? I'm still confused about last season's "pumping" definition.


No, no...it's "pumping the ridge" which I initially thought was a euphemism for something, er, else...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
Yasi is definitely undergoing an eye wall replacement cycle. It's unfortunate that it's occurring right now, because it gives Yasi plenty of time before landfall to come out of the EWRC and strengthen with a new core. It's probably the worst timing of an EWRC we could have hoped for.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26695
321. Skyepony (Mod)
Click pic for loop. Kinda amazing how Anthony is holding together.

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Quoting Levi32:
Amazing how Yasi is literally pushing the upper low east of Australia out of the way and expanding his outflow to the southwest.
Would that be "pumping" or not? I'm still confused about last season's "pumping" definition.
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Absolutely huge amounts of moisture headed towards an area that has already had huge amounts of moisture. I pray it is not a massive catastrophe the the previous event.Bad break for these folks.

wonder what kinda earthquakes we're gonna see in this region over the next three months.

Hydrus, you're my witness.
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Amazing how Yasi is literally pushing the upper low east of Australia out of the way and expanding his outflow to the southwest.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26695
Perfect in Austin, TX today...tomorrow is going to blow...quite literally...35 mph COLD wind...UGH! I live in TX for a reason!!
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Depressing - I do see that it is save nepo,sky and a few brave souls just about a wasteland of ignorance and innuendo.

I wouldn't trust climate deniers to predict rain. In a rainstorm.

You might as well be using the Flintstones as a paleoclimate science source in here nepo. Thats about the caliber of intellectual discussion you are going to get.


How long ya gonna last this time J?
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Absolutely huge amounts of moisture headed towards an area that has already had huge amounts of moisture. I pray it is not a massive catastrophe like the previous event.Bad break for these folks.
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Ice cover is smaller than 4 years ago. In 2007 there was ice along the Labrador coast. None today. In 2007 there was a lot more ice north of Japan than today.

From NSIDC



The arctic ice cover trend is downwards. I'm sure we'll see new record low summer mins this decade.
Quoting Ossqss:


No question about that. Maybe 3-5%?

here is 2007 & 2011

http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=01&fd=29&fy=2007&sm=01&sd=29&a mp;sy=2011

Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
Quoting RecordSeason:


Correct.

Even though the electric engine itself can be up to 85% efficient, batteries are only between 30% and 60% efficient.

The best coal power plants, if they have the most advanced systems possible, are only around 60% efficient.

When you consider that the theoretical limit in efficiency for a "real" carnot cycle is 66.7%, then tha'ts pretty good.

Then you have to figure whatever is lost in transmission on the power lines, but I will neglect that for now.

Etotal = 0.85 * 0.6 * 0.6

Etotal = 0.306

By the time you figure the losses in transmission lines, the efficiency is probably back down around 0.2 or so, making the electric system no better than gasoline, at least when powered by Coal. The energy of burning coal is around 35 gigajoules per TON. This produces 94.28Kg CO2 per gigajoule. the energy of gasoline is 121 megajoules per gallon, and produces around 19 pounds of CO2. Which is 157 pounds(71.4Kg) CO2 per gigajoule. So, at least when used with batteries, Coal is both dirtier and less efficient than burning Gasoline in an ICE automobile.


Not really a very balanced estimate.

1) You are not taking into account the emissions of moving the gasoline from the oil fields, refining it and transporting it to the gas station.

2) Secondly not all electricity is coal generated, even in the US, is generated by coal. In fact only 49% is.

3) Where are you getting a 30-60% figure for battery efficiency? Sources I have looked at say 80%+.

However you spin it, environmentally electric and plug in hybrids blow ICE cars out of the water. Wait 5-10years, and a lot of EV's and plug in hybrids will be running around the roads, simple economic sense with the rising price of oil.
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Near my other home in Pennsylvania

LOCATIONS: SOUTH CENTRAL NEW YORK... THE SOUTHERN FINGER LAKES AND NORTHERN TIER OF EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA.

* HAZARDS: SNOW TONIGHT AND TUESDAY. HEAVY SNOW TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY.

* ACCUMULATIONS: 3 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW LATE TONIGHT AND TUESDAY. AN ADDITIONAL 5 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY.

* TIMING: SNOW WILL MOVE INTO THE REGION AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT... AND TAPER OFF TUESDAY AFTERNOON. ANOTHER ROUND OF HEAVIER SNOW WILL DEVELOP LATE TUESDAY NIGHT AND CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY... BEFORE TAPERING OFF LATE IN THE DAY. THE SNOW WILL MIX WITH SLEET AT TIMES WEDNESDAY MORNING AND EARLY AFTERNOON.

* WINDS: LIGHT EASTERLY TONIGHT AND TUESDAY. EAST WINDS 5 TO 15 MPH TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING TURNING TO THE NORTHWEST LATE WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 10 TO 15 MPH.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
Quoting Grothar:


Jeg er Norsk,tysk og italiensk.

I guessed you were from Germany! ;)

Okidoki, good night all!
Member Since: November 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1281
Awwww lord.Here we go again with the damn fighting again.And It's not surprisingly over AGW.....Something like a blessing needs to come and destroy Yasi.This storm gotta go.Or it can rotate the other damn way.Don't worry I think we'll see our share of bad hurricanes this year.
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26th Jan. 2011 %u2013 Jeddah City Saudi Arabia
http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Uf83j4LberA&feature=player_embedded
Didn't something like this happen about a year ago there?
14 months ago , 99mm killed 120 odd people, This one was even more
intense, 111 mm in less time. Far fewer deaths this time, people
remembered that 1ast one.
Jeddah City Saudi Arabia is conservatives paradise, a city of 3
million with only 10% storm drains, and zero domestic sewer system. They
all have septic tanks, how you think that works out with 3 million
people , and 4 inches in three hours comes running across a desert?
There is only one other kingdom that has received anywhere near the
amount of wealth Saudi Arabia has made since WW II . That was the Spanish
Kings, it took them 300 years to loot South American , and their second
largest city didn%u2019t get a sewer system either.

By the way Saudi Arabia, has been arresting people in Jeddah City for
raising Cain about this.Human waste from 1,000,000 septic Tanks is in
all that mud. Twice in 14 months. The first one ate 10,000 cars.
Remember Jeddah City is a short boat ride away from Suez where the
police stations are in ashes. Floods don%u2019t pick and choose rich or poor,
they take it all.



Ask the Grand Ole' Opera.









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307. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
2:00 AM PhST February 1 2011
===========================================

A Low Pressure Area was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 120 km Southeast of Davao City 6.5°N, 126.5°E.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46515
Quoting weatherboy1992:
Ice cover quite a bit smaller than 30 years ago.



No question about that. Maybe 3-5%?

here is 2007 & 2011

http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=01&fd=29&fy=2007&sm=01&sd=29&sy=2011

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
plenty
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9676
Quoting Floodman:


YEah, factor in the tide...40' surge? What's the record, by the way...verifiable


High enough to deposit dolphin carcasses 15m above sea level...



World Record Storm Surge
Member Since: June 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2336
Quoting Xandra:

I'm from Sweden! ;)


Jeg er Norsk,tysk og italiensk.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
Quoting RitaEvac:
Nobody cares about yalls damn AGW, climate crap, you're wasting blog space, gotta damn major winter weather event unfolding and I for one dont have time for bull$#!#


I disagree; you have plenty of time for bull$#!#...since you're in the Houston area I'm wondering how much you really are worried about this winter storm
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
301. RitaEvac
11:23 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9676
300. AussieStorm
11:23 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Yasi will first appear on this Radar at Willis Island.

Cairns Radar

Townsville Radar

Bowen Radar
Mackay Radar

National Loop
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
299. Xandra
11:22 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


Who is from Sweden in that blog you wrote?

I'm from Sweden! ;)
Member Since: November 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1281
298. Floodman
11:20 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

Unfortunately I can't see that happening.

Don't forget, a storm surge of 10 feet plus 20 feet waves means what.........


YEah, factor in the tide...40' surge? What's the record, by the way...verifiable
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
297. weatherboy1992
11:19 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Ice cover quite a bit smaller than 30 years ago.

Quoting Ossqss:
Polar comparison if ya like :)

Note: they did not show snow cover 30 years ago.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/deetest/deetmp.6371.png
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
296. MiamiHurricanes09
11:19 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
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295. RitaEvac
11:18 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Today's Texas State Extremes

State Highs:
Laredo 88°F
Cotulla 86°F
Falfurrias 82°F
Hebbronville 82°F
McAllen 81°F


State Lows:
Dumas 17°F
Dalhart 17°F
Plainview 21°F
Marfa 21°F
Perryton 22°F


Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9676
294. Floodman
11:18 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


Oh, yeah. My memory isn't what it used to be. I just remember how surprised we were when we got to Greenland and found out how warm it was. Ah, the good old days.


Yeah man...it was so warm we nearly froze that August
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
293. Jedkins01
11:17 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Depressing - I do see that it is save nepo,sky and a few brave souls just about a wasteland of ignorance and innuendo.

I wouldn't trust climate deniers to predict rain. In a rainstorm.

You might as well be using the Flintstones as a paleoclimate science source in here nepo. Thats about the caliber of intellectual discussion you are going to get.


Quoting RitaEvac:
Nobody cares about yalls damn AGW, climate crap, you're wasting blog space, gotta damn major winter weather event unfolding and I for one dont have time for bull$#!#



It's not worth getting that angry. A fool is wiser in his own eyes than 7 men who answer sensibly.

If you plan on trying to show the arrogant that they are wrong. Let it be known that you won't live long enough to see them admit they are wrong. In their eyes, they are intellectually superior, everyone else is an ignorant denier.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7944
292. Ossqss
11:17 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Polar comparison if ya like :)

Note: they did not show snow cover 30 years ago.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/deetest/deetmp.6371.png
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
291. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
11:16 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
hey Aussie, if you know.. what happened to 13U?

It was 11U-Anthony, 12U-Bianca, and now 14U-Yasi.

I see there is a low in Perth's area of responsibility, but it seems Australia identifies any lows now as a number.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46515
290. Xandra
11:13 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Open letter: Climate change and the integrity of science!
Full text of an open letter from 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences in defence of climate research Link
Member Since: November 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1281
289. Surfcropper
11:12 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Any new troll names today, Rich? Where are you?
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 28 Comments: 1960
288. Grothar
11:11 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Floodman:


No, that's Torvald the fat...his daughter was why I left Iceland


Oh, yeah. My memory isn't what it used to be. I just remember how surprised we were when we got to Greenland and found out how warm it was. Ah, the good old days.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
287. Floodman
11:10 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:



Doing fine..... thanks, but very worried about people in North Queensland.


We are too...it comes down to how much they can take at this point. The flooding there is worse than this one; I went through it and it was pretty nasty
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
286. AussieStorm
11:08 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


As are we. Looks bad right now. Hope it gets downgraded.

Unfortunately I can't see that happening.

Don't forget, a storm surge of 10 feet plus 20 feet waves means what.........
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
285. Floodman
11:07 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


And you looked damn good, too! Remember this? It was a picure of you right before we kicked you out of Iceland.



No, that's Torvald the fat...his daughter was why I left Iceland
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
284. Grothar
11:06 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:



Doing fine..... thanks, but very worried about people in North Queensland.


As are we. Looks bad right now. Hope it gets downgraded.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
283. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:04 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55440
282. AussieStorm
11:03 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
281. Grothar
11:03 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Xandra:


Who is from Sweden in that blog you wrote?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
280. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
11:03 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
early forecast pressure for YASI (09F/14U) from Brisbane was 926 hPa. Now the lowest I see is around 940 hPa, which may change according to that JTWC wind forecast.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46515
279. Levi32
11:02 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Water vapor shows the upper low east of Australia backing off of its northwest movement and is no longer moving towards Yasi. This could allow Yasi's outflow to expand more freely and allow more intensification. Most of the dry air appears to be worked out of the circulation now, and the core-building process has begun.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26695
278. AussieStorm
11:00 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, I got one right! Just hope it downgrades to nothing before it hits anywhere. How you doing Aussie?

Quoting Floodman:
Aussie, how are you? Got lucky on this pass, mate


Doing fine..... thanks, but very worried about people in North Queensland.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
277. Levi32
11:00 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Yasi is looking good at sunrise trying to build a good core, which is bad for those in Queensland watching.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26695
276. Grothar
10:58 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Floodman:


Speak for yourself, Gro...Leif and I wore them with pride, though mine were filled with mead


And you looked damn good, too! Remember this? It was a picure of you right before we kicked you out of Iceland.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27059
275. Levi32
10:58 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting Xandra:
Hey guys, look what I've learned from Levi32!

I no longer have to read what the scientists have to say about CO2, ENSO, PDO, AMO etc. I no longer need mathematics- and basic physics knowledge. I don't need to know the word energy balance. I don't need some chemistry knowledge. All I need is enough knowledge about how to draw a graph and a little bit of meteorology.

Woow! Even though I am from Sweden I have all the proof I need to show the worlds all scientists that they are wrong and I am right.
Just look at my graph below! There's no global warming!

The worlds all scientists are wrong and Joe Bastardi, WUWT, Bob Tisdale are right! I have the proof! ;)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us


So basically, you need glasses. Did I understand that right?
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274. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
10:58 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55440
273. Floodman
10:56 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Aussie, how are you? Got lucky on this pass, mate
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922

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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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