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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Bleh, the weather is taking an ugly turn here in Kansas City. Fortunately the storm is dropping heavier amounts south of us, by only a couple of counties. we are still on track for 8 to 14 inches tho. what a wopper of a snow storm for this area!
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:


What is your take on whats been happening all over the world with all the historic weather patterns we have been seeing?
In all honesty, I really have no knowledge in that, I just tend to stick to tropical weather. However, the unusually cold winter we've been suffering here over in the United States is intriguing considering the fact that we have been in a strong to moderate La Nina this winter. Another interesting thing is the historic flooding rains in Australia, however that isn't out of the ordinary since we are under the influence of a relatively strong La Nina.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
I think the world may end before next Monday's forecast for Norman verifies... :P

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
From the available microwave data, it appears Yasi is undergoing an EWRC.



What is your take on whats been happening all over the world with all the historic weather patterns we have been seeing?
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218. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
2:00 PM PhST January 31 2011
===========================================

The Low Pressure Area was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 280 kms East Northeast of Davao City 7.8N 128.2E. This weather system is expected to bring widespread rains over Visayas and Mindanao particularly over the eastern sections which may trigger flash floods and landslides.

Residents living in low lying areas, along river banks and along the mountain slopes are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures.

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From the available microwave data, it appears Yasi is undergoing an EWRC.

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Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I third that, lol.


Fourthed.
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Quoting XLR8:
I second that Amy
I third that, lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting twincomanche:

The electric cars are not amazing.
Amazing how? A forty thousand dollar car that stops after 60 miles and after five years needs a $5000 battery replacement? And for the most part gets recharged by a coal fired power plant? I don't call that very amazing.


Wrong. I wrote that (plug in) hybrids are amazing. Which they are =)
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nice avatar, XL! that's one good lookin' dog!!

:)
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210. XLR8
I second that Amy
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I have never seen someone so arrogant and offensive post on this site.

uh.... I have.... anyone else.... can I have a show of hands?......
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VOLDEMORT HAS RETURNED

you made me laugh/snort....
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You know the weather has to be crazy, for me to come out of winter hibernation in here.
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.......FLAMES.........
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:


He's back...........

VOLDEMORT HAS RETURNED
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
mph - 149 MPH is what CNN is running.


He's back...........
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Teddy, something tells me that this is going to be a very interesting season this summer and a crazy summer in the blog. I must say though, that all this reminds me of the movie, the Day after Tomorrow.
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I can see the argument against going completely electric in a few areas of the world where distances are large and it's cold. I don't see the argument against hybrids for anyone anywhere though, they are simply amazing.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I could easily see this being 140 at landfall. A big sucker.
There are some seriously unhappy people there.
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Is there any historical facts that can be explained as to why this winter has been so non La Nina like and what does that give for us down south for summer time?
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Gonna be alot more arrogant in the future, because of stupid book smart people that dont have an ounce of common sense,

Rita....It's ok. Some of us here are friendly, some are not (JFLORIDA). I am friendly, at least today, I have my spells also
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Lovely Rita metermaid
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both
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Quoting RitaEvac:
DOC you have a climate change blog, USE IT!
Good afternoon R.E..Are you a little cranky today or just out of weed...:)
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>JM creates blog post about Blizzard
>Wunderground Community talks about Global Warming
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The space and tone of the blog
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Quoting hcubed:


And repeated here:

Fossil DNA Proves Greenland Once Had Lush Forests

"...Eske Willerslev, a professor at Copenhagen University, has analysed the world's oldest DNA, preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA is likely close to half a million years old, and the research is painting a picture which is overturning all previous assumptions about biological life and the climate in Greenland..."

According to the article, the results have been published in the journal Science.

reading comprehension 101?
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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$#!#


....Rita.Was it something I said?
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I could easily see this being 140 at landfall. A big sucker.
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Quoting twincomanche:


That's a good thought. How does the heater work in a all electric car?


I wonder what the delta is between burning fuel directly at the vehicle level vs. burning it to create electricity miles away to charge a vehicle that can drive 60 miles on a charge. Just curious
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting twincomanche:


That's a good thought. How does the heater work in a all electric car?


Same way an electric heater works in a house.

The electricity heats a filament (creates the heat), and electric fan distributes the heat.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

No, it wasn't. For Greenland to have been "heavily forested" any time in the past 400,000 years--the minimum length of time the ice sheet has been there--would have required trees that can root themselves in solid ice. Botanists would be very interested in finding evidence of such a specimen...


And repeated here:

Fossil DNA Proves Greenland Once Had Lush Forests

"...Eske Willerslev, a professor at Copenhagen University, has analysed the world's oldest DNA, preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA is likely close to half a million years old, and the research is painting a picture which is overturning all previous assumptions about biological life and the climate in Greenland..."

According to the article, the results have been published in the journal Science.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.