Storm battering California sets record low pressure mark

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on January 21, 2010

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One of the most powerful low pressure systems since record keeping began in the 1800s slammed the West Coast yesterday with hurricane-force wind gusts, large hail, and torrential rains that have created flash floods and dangerous debris flows. The storm, centered just offshore near the Oregon/California border this morning, set an all-time record for the lowest pressure ever recorded along the southern Oregon coast yesterday. Medford, Oregon hit a pressure of 978 mb (28.88") yesterday afternoon, beating their old lowest ever pressure of 28.93" set in 1995. Northern California came close to setting a new record for lowest pressure as well, as Eureka, California hit 980 mb (28.93"), nearly matching the old record of 979 mb (28.91") set on Feb 22, 1891.


Figure 1. Huge waves up to fifteen feet high slam ashore yesterday on Agate Beach, in Northern California. Image credit: wunderphotographer Tsurai.

The storm, the latest and strongest of a series of El Niño-fueled storms to assault California this week, is expected to bring heavy rains of 1 - 3 inches over much of of the state today, wind gusts of up to 45 mph near the coast, and heavy snows of 1 - 2 feet to the Sierras. Arizona is expected to receive heavy rains of up to five inches from the storm. The storm will wind down by Friday, and California will have brief respite Saturday, before the next storm hits on Sunday and Monday. Sunday's storm should be much weaker, and the state will get a chance to dry out Wednesday and Thursday. However, another parade of storm is forecast to impact the state beginning on Friday the 29th, according to the latest long-range forecasts of the GFS and ECMWF models.

Severe weather in central California
The cold front associated with the strong low swept inland yesterday afternoon over central California, triggering heavy thunderstorms that brought hail and heavy rains in excess of two inches to some locations. A rare tornado warning was issued for Morgan Hill in the San Francisco Bay area at 2:02pm, when Doppler radar revealed a rotating thunderstorm. No touchdown of a tornado occurred, though 1-inch hail was observed in Morgan Hill. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed Los Angeles and San Diego in the "Slight Risk" region for severe weather today. The primary severe weather risk will be damaging thunderstorm winds, though a few tornadoes and waterspouts may also occur.

Snowfall amounts of 1 - 2 feet were recorded in the Sierra Mountains yesterday, with up to 4 1/2 feet of snow expected to fall by the time the storm ends on Saturday. Some precipitation amounts from the storm, for the 4-day period ending at 4am PST today:

Major Cities:

Los Angeles 2.80
San Francisco 3.49
Sacramento 2.35
Eureka 2.78
San Diego 1.65
Fresno 1.33

Sierra Nevada sites:

Chilkoot Meadow 7.08
Kaiser Point 6.60
Tenaya Lake 6.54
Graveyard Meadow 5.64
Tamarack Summit 5.36
Yosemite Village 4.04

Tornadoes, severe weather in the South
Tornadoes tore through Texas and Louisiana yesterday, with one twister destroying several homes and businesses near in Waskom, Texas, near the Louisiana border. Fourteen tornado reports were received yesterday by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). SPC has placed portions of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida under their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather today. Already, there have been tornado warnings posted this morning for the Florida Panhandle, and southern Georgia.


Figure 2. Radar reflectivity from the Shreveport, LA radar last night shows the classic hook echo of the tornado that tore through Waskom, Texas.

Portlight successfully gets much-needed water filtration systems and medical supplies into Haiti
Portlight.org, the disaster-relief charity that has sprung up from the hard work and dedication of many members of the wunderground.com community, has successfully shipped medical equipment and a water filtration unit capable of supplying the needs of 3,500 people per day to the Dominican Republic, where was trucked to Haiti via road. These supplies have now made it to the earthquake zone, and have been targeted to go to those with disabilities, or who are living in areas where the main aid efforts have forgotten. Portlight is working through the local Catholic Church, which is probably best positioned to deliver private aid donations to those in need. Paul Timmons, leader of the Portlight relief efforts, wrote this to me yesterday:

Thanks to Wunderground blogger Dak Simonton (Dakster) we were made aware of Richard Lamarque, a Haitian expatriate and 15 year veteran of the Miami Police Department who was planning to go back to Haiti this week to look for family members and to help with recovery efforts. Our on scene coordinator, Richard Lamarque, will be leaving for Haiti in a few days. He is from there, is well connected there, and has a skill set and life experiences which will be invaluable to our work there.

We want this to be a uniquely Weather Underground community initiative. We will place WU signage on the truck...and we will be able to post photos of it at work in Haiti.

The Weather Underground community has been the genesis of our efforts. And the WU truck will be a long term, tangible symbol of the generosity of the WU community.



Figure 3. Walkers and medical supplies for Haiti getting ready to ship from the Portlight warehouse in Atlanta.

Thanks to the generosity of its donors, Portlight has been able to fund purchase of the truck for Richard Lamarque. Please visit the Portlight.org blog to learn more. Floodman's blog has the latest info on Portlight's plan for Haitian relief. The Reeve Foundation, founded by Christopher and Dana Reeve has awarded Portlight Strategies a $10,000 Quality of of Life grant to assist in the relief efforts in Haiti. This is very big and will allow Portlight to pursue more aggressive relief efforts over the course of the next few weeks.

For those of you more interested in helping out with the long-term rebuilding of Haiti's shattered infrastructure from the quake, I recommend a contribution to Lambi Fund of Haiti, a charity that is very active in promoting reforestation efforts, use of alternative fuels, and infrastructure improvements at a grass-roots level in Haiti. I've developed a great respect for the work they do in the country in the five years I've been a supporter.

Next post
My next post will be Friday.

Jeff Masters

Challenged (Tsurai)
Sometimes the hardest part of surfing up here in the Humboldt Nation is just getting safely into the water
Challenged
Rain and wind in San Diego (photoandy)
It has been a series of three strong storms already, and one more (the strongest) tomorrow. Good. We need water.
Rain and wind in San Diego

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Quoting Rakhal:
It's odd the differences in pressures around the world. In the UK 950mb is not uncommon for a strong winter storm and according to the Met office the record is 925mb, but I understand that the wind velocities are higher in a 980mb US storm.

Anyone know why?
--Richard


Different ambient pressures are present at different lattitudes. From equator to poles, pressures generally go Low, high, low, high.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I have sun shinning in TAmpa currently. That is not good! The I4 Cooridor could get rocked hard late this evening with the added lift from the heating of the day especially with the sun currently shining.......Be on the look out from Tampa to Orlando areas....


Overcast in St. Petersburg, FL. But the sun peaks out every once in awhile. Im think scattered thunderstorms will be poping up later in the day around 3pm or so.
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Quoting Rakhal:
It's odd the differences in pressures around the world. In the UK 950mb is not uncommon for a strong winter storm and according to the Met office the record is 925mb, but I understand that the wind velocities are higher in a 980mb US storm.

Anyone know why?
--Richard


Different "normal" pressure levels. Same reason why typhoons in the west pac tend to have lower pressures.

Regarding the UK, their normal pressure is heavily influenced by the Icelandic Low, which is a roughly static low pressure system centered around Iceland. However, in the western US, the dominant feature is the semi-static high pressure over the rockies.
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I have sun shinning in TAmpa currently. That is not good! The I4 Cooridor could get rocked hard late this evening with the added lift from the heating of the day especially with the sun currently shining.......Be on the look out from Tampa to Orlando areas....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
2 aftershocks
MAP 4.8 2010/01/21 16:54:10 HAITI REGION
MAP 4.9 2010/01/21 16:45:21 HAITI REGION
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php

Yellowstone reports a 3.8, the strongest from the new eartquake swarm so far.
http://www.seis.utah.edu/req2webdir/recenteqs/Quakes/quakes.big.html


the only time I ever felt an earthquake was in April 2008, at like 5 in the morning. It was a 5.2 and was about 30 miles from my house. it shook our house pretty bad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's odd the differences in pressures around the world. In the UK 950mb is not uncommon for a strong winter storm and according to the Met office the record is 925mb, but I understand that the wind velocities are higher in a 980mb US storm.

Anyone know why?
--Richard
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2 aftershocks
MAP 4.8 2010/01/21 16:54:10 HAITI REGION
MAP 4.9 2010/01/21 16:45:21 HAITI REGION
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php

Yellowstone reports a 3.8, the strongest from the new eartquake swarm so far.
http://www.seis.utah.edu/req2webdir/recenteqs/Quakes/quakes.big.html
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
the United States alone donating more than $305 million as of Wednesday to the people of Haiti, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper covering nonprofit organizations.

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Quoting PcolaDan:


Had to run out and just saw this. LOL
Maybe it's for the airplane crossings. (Yes, airplanes really do land and take off on the rural roads. Turned a corner once and saw one lifting off over me. WOW)


Lol having lived in rural Indiana for awhile, this is definitely true, it is not uncommon to see them land in fields too
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Quoting trunkmonkey:
California will need to get 16 inches of rain to come out of its drought, and Arizona with need 6 to 8 inches of rain, I believe the Arizona drought will end. The California drought will continue until the reserviors fill back up.

The GFS has these storms freight training into
Calfornia into the first week of February, some of these storms will be weaker than the past, but the ground is saturated and flooding will continue.
This will also help with snowpack for the mountains of Arizona and California and its water needs next spring and summer.


have you seen the system in the pacific heading east toward the west coast? is there something i can look at to see where it's going a week from now? thanks!
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1594
Aid Groups Focus on Haitis Homeless
Those who have not joined the exodus into the countryside now face a daunting search for shelter in the capital, where half of all buildings are estimated to have collapsed. The danger of venturing back inside was underscored on Wednesday morning, when a strong aftershock struck, causing at least seven buildings to collapse. No one was reported killed by the new quake, but lack of sufficient medical treatment adds hundreds, if not thousands, to the daily death toll among the injured. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are taking refuge makeshift settlements that have sprung up across the capital, according to the United Nations 2019 International Organization for Migration.
We need to find a quick solution and a better type of shelter for these people,%u201D said Niurka Pieiro, a spokeswoman for the migration group. Rainy season starts in May.

Because of untreated injuries, infectious diseases and dismal sanitary conditions, health workers said that capital remained in a major medical crisis and that, unless quickly controlled, it would continue to take large numbers of lives in the days and weeks ahead.

There are still thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet, said Dr. Eduardo de Marchena, a University of Miami cardiologist who oversaw a tent hospital near the airport where hundreds of severely injured people were being tended. There are people, many people, who are going to die unless they re treated.

And the United States Navy hospital ship Comfort has pulled up off the Haitian coast to handle the worst-off patients. A helicopter landing pad has been cleared near General Hospital to evacuate the critically injured there.

At the University of Haiti, which hardly showed any damage, Jean Robert Cheri, a professor of psychology, began sending a team of student trauma counselors into the streets on Wednesday.

We are sending them out with basic instructions,he said. First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don%u2019t promise them any material aid, because you cant deliver.

Look, its not going to be easy because they re traumatized themselves, he said of his students. I myself am a psychologist who needs therapy. When I go to sleep, I dream of houses falling down. We need to find a quick solution and a better type of shelter for these people, said Niurka Pieiro, a spokeswoman for the migration group. Rainy season starts in May.

Huge NYTimes article, basicly on the situation yesterday
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting AussieStorm:

Never no what peak hour traffic is like there, could be bumper to bumper tractors. hehe

Goodnight all. getting in sum sleep befor it hits 100F for Friday and Saturday here in Sydney. Stay safe all.


Had to run out and just saw this. LOL
Maybe it's for the airplane crossings. (Yes, airplanes really do land and take off on the rural roads. Turned a corner once and saw one lifting off over me. WOW)
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What a Picture of Color!

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
That squall line that moved through Tallahassee is marching right along the I-10 corridor, currently approaching the Lake City area. That squall line extends up into SE GA as well. I'm watching this line closely as it should arrive in the Jax metro area between 2-3 p.m. this afternoon. Tornado Watch in effectr until 4 p.m. in NE FL.
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Some good news from Haiti...

Haiti Pier Opens (CNN)
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Quoting tornadodude:


yeah, I am surprised I didnt fall.... yet :p

Who is that beautiful lady with you in the pic? Oh, everybody needs to put in some ice skates to get to class.
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California will need to get 16 inches of rain to come out of its drought, and Arizona with need 6 to 8 inches of rain, I believe the Arizona drought will end. The California drought will continue until the reserviors fill back up.

The GFS has these storms freight training into
Calfornia into the first week of February, some of these storms will be weaker than the past, but the ground is saturated and flooding will continue.
This will also help with snowpack for the mountains of Arizona and California and its water needs next spring and summer.
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Quoting jeffs713:

Those are great.. until you either actually have to get somewhere, or until you are the one falling.


yeah, I am surprised I didnt fall.... yet :p
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Quoting tornadodude:
so we had light freezing rain all night here, and this morning the entire campus was pretty much a hockey rink. It was crazy. It took forever to get anywhere. So many people fell lol was funny :P

Those are great.. until you either actually have to get somewhere, or until you are the one falling.
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Thanks Big Doc. - The WAVE picture is incredible!! HEAVY, HEAVY cold water. Wonder if the Surfer in Challenge made in through those breakers - What a Warrior!!

I'm considering bribing the Gopher - I've had enough winter weather.

VERY Gusty and windy here in SWFL - I'm really hoping for rain -- do not like working horses AMP'd from these cold fronts colliding with warm air conditions --could someone arrange to have it rain around 3:00 - that would be perfect.

Congrats to Portlight on the grant!!! You all have done and are doing an incredible job!
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Can someone help me here? Where exactly is the "classic hook echo"? I never know what people see. To me it's just another big blob. (obviously not very good at reading radar images except for the rain)


A hook echo is the result of precipitation being wrapped around the area of rotation, on radar it appears just as that.. a hook. The radar images you typically see hooks on are from looking at the midlevels of the storm where the mesocyclone is. Keep in mind that many storms with hook echoes do not produce tornadoes. As the hook approaches you will get hit by outflow which is RFD and then heavy rain and/or hail.

Here's a hook Feature i saved a while ago in 08 useing GR2 Analyst.

Adrian

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Quoting tornadodude:


Lol

Yeah, Purdue's version of snow removal is to remove the snow and leave a nice coating of ice :p


From this site:

"Purdue is no exception to the rule of unpredictable Midwestern weather. Seasons change here on weekly basis. It can be hot and humid on Monday and snowing by Sunday. Typically, it’s quite warm for the first few weeks of school and then mellows into autumn, with crisp air and brightly colored leaves. Winter is snowy and bitterly cold, with blustery gales and treacherous ice and temperatures dropping as low as negative 40. Spring comes begrudgingly with thunderstorms and temperatures that vacillate from torrid to freezing overnight, but eventually settles into a temperate period before the sweltering summer begins again.

Purdue students don’t let the temperamental weather rule their lives, though. At any time during the school year (except when the weather hits negative 40), you can see students outside enjoying seasonal activities like football games, snowball fights, sunbathing, and tennis. The key to overcoming the weather at Purdue is to be prepared. Check the temperatures on your computers or laptops every morning and always dress accordingly. If at the end of spring semester you’re wearing your winter coat, or if you’re sporting shorts in December, don’t be too surprised."
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Sadist.

October's a lovely month for a wedding, Jeff; that's great.

That's not a hint to T-dude...too young... tho' he should be so lucky (avatar).


Lol

Yeah, Purdue's version of snow removal is to remove the snow and leave a nice coating of ice :p
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Quoting tornadodude:
so we had light freezing rain all night here, and this morning the entire campus was pretty much a hockey rink. It was crazy. It took forever to get anywhere. So many people fell lol was funny :P

Sadist.

October's a lovely month for a wedding, Jeff; that's great.

That's not a hint to T-dude...too young... tho' he should be so lucky (avatar).
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
the nexrad picked up a vortex for a slide.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3712
Quoting ElConando:
A bit of spotty damage in Tallahassee reported. Some roads on FSU's main campus i'm guessing 2-3 have been closed due to flooding and flooding of cars.


have a tornado watch for my area till 4pm this afternoon, which means there could be another severe batch in a couple of hours.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3712
so we had light freezing rain all night here, and this morning the entire campus was pretty much a hockey rink. It was crazy. It took forever to get anywhere. So many people fell lol was funny :P
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It looks like San Fransisco may come close to setting a pressure record as well if the GFS and WRF verify this afternoon:


12Z GFS @9 hours (3 pm CST, 1 pm PST)


12Z WRF @9 hours (3 pm CST, 1 pm PST)
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A bit of spotty damage in Tallahassee reported. Some roads on FSU's main campus i'm guessing 2-3 have been closed due to flooding and flooding of cars.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3712
Quoting PcolaDan:


Thanks! I now also now what I'm looking at on a radar like the one on the right.


they look like little tornados to me :) but i never spot them on my own, i just see them when someone says one is there. one time on tv they said a tornado was on the ground at an intersection near my house and i ran outside and looked up and could look up into a perfect circle forming way in the air and moving on so fast. i still wonder if i imagined it! then another time, on a hot hot summer day out of nowhere i heard a weird rushing sound and the trees began to bend and a huge dust devil came over from behind the house and it was amazingly big. i didnt know they got so big and strong! it was fierce. it was during the 4 year drought we had a few years ago. like four years ago.
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Just think, you could be living here! Denhoff--ND-14 @ MP 45.8 - POS 1

(Why do they need a stop sign here?) lol


Never no what peak hour traffic is like there, could be bumper to bumper tractors. hehe

Goodnight all. getting in sum sleep befor it hits 100F for Friday and Saturday here in Sydney. Stay safe all.
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
I can squeeze in this class in April... of 2012.

Hmmm, note to self: Double-check Mayan calendar... have a chat with Jeff.

Seriously...congratulations, on all of it!
Wedding date is ???


October 17, 2010.
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Just think, you could be living here! Denhoff--ND-14 @ MP 45.8 - POS 1

(Why do they need a stop sign here?) lol

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Artic Blast update with Comments at the Bottom!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting atmoaggie:
Embedded may be a hook echo (cannot find a good idealized example, but here is a real radar return annotated):



Thanks! I now also know what I'm looking at on a radar like the one on the right.
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Quoting JeffMasters:


I wrote to Chris Burt and told him about the discrepancy. I don't think he looked back before 1900, since the NWS record is from 1891:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/climate/records.php

Jeff Masters

Thanks for the clarification!
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28. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting 1900hurricane:
I found conflicting information on the topic of the California pressure record:

Link


I wrote to Chris Burt and told him about the discrepancy. I don't think he looked back before 1900, since the NWS record is from 1891:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/climate/records.php

Jeff Masters
I can squeeze in this class in April... of 2012.

Hmmm, note to self: Double-check Mayan calendar... have a chat with Jeff.

Seriously...congratulations, on all of it!
Wedding date is ???

Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting jeffs713:
Continued from other blog:

Ooh... the temptation. Let me look at my schedule... so between class (Geology and Sociology), buying a new house, moving, getting married, and working on a promotion at work, I can squeeze in this class in April... of 2012. (seriously though, it is a good idea, I will look into it once things settle down a bit and I get a few hours free)

Ehh, that one will only take about 30 minutes of your time...one of the smaller ones.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461




TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 12
Issued at 11:45 pm WST on Thursday, 21 January 2010
BY THE BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE PERTH

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal areas from Mitchell Plateau to Beagle
Bay.

A Cyclone WATCH is current for coastal areas from Beagle Bay to Bidyadanga, and
extends to remaining inland parts of the west Kimberley.

At 11:00 pm WST Tropical Cyclone Magda, Category 2 was estimated to be
80 kilometres north of Kuri Bay and
295 kilometres north northeast of Derby and
moving east southeast at 13 kilometres per hour towards the coast.

Tropical Cyclone Magda has continued to move on a steady southeastwards track
towards the Kimberley coast. It may slow as it approaches the coast and take a
more southerly track. There is still a risk that it could reintensify as it
approaches the coast but it is now less likely to reach category three before
crossing the coast.

Destructive winds with gusts to 150 kilometres per hour are expected close to
the centre of the cyclone during Friday morning when the Magda is likely to be
near the coast between Kuri Bay and Mitchell Plateau.

Gales with gusts to 100 kilometres per hour may develop in coastal areas between
Mitchell Plateau and Cockatoo Island as the cyclone approaches. If Magda slows
abruptly and takes a more southerly track, which is possible, then gales may
still occur in locations further south of Cockatoo Island on Saturday, however
the risk of gales in these locations is diminishing.

Heavy rainfall, with falls in excess of 100mm, is expected near the cyclone
track in the west Kimberley on Friday and Saturday, but widespread heavy falls
are not expected.

Tides on Friday will be higher than expected between Mitchell Plateau and
Cockatoo Island with flooding of low lying areas possible.

FESA State Emergency Service [SES] advises of the following community alerts:
RED ALERT: People in or near Kuri Bay need to go to shelter immediately.
YELLOW ALERT: People in or near communities between Koolan Island and Cape
Leveque, including the communities of Koolan Island, Cockatoo Island, One Arm
Point, Lombadina, Djarindjin and Cape Leveque need to take action and get ready
to shelter from a cyclone.
BLUE ALERT: People in the remaining coastal communities between Mitchell Plateau
and Beagle Bay, including the communities of Mitchell Plateau, Derby and Beagle
Bay need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency kit including
first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.
Remaining communities in the west Kimberley including Broome should listen for
the next advice.

Details of Tropical Cyclone Magda at 11:00 pm WST:
.Centre located near...... 14.8 degrees South 124.5 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 45 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the east southeast at 13 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 130 kilometres per hour
.Severity category........ 2
.Central pressure......... 988 hectoPascals

The next advice will be issued by 3:00 am WST Friday 22 January.

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Embedded may be a hook echo (cannot find a good idealized example, but here is a real radar return annotated):

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Lafayette, Purdue University Airport
Lat: 40.43 Lon: -86.93 Elev: 623
Last Update on Jan 21, 10:54 am EST

Light Freezing Rain Fog/Mist

33 °F
(1 °C)
Humidity: 85 %
Wind Speed: E 18 MPH
Barometer: 29.78" (1009.0 mb)
Dewpoint: 29 °F (-2 °C)
Wind Chill: 22 °F (-6 °C)
Visibility: 6.00 mi.
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Thanks guys, got it now. (and here i was looking for a silhouette of Capt. Hook) :)
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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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