Strongest winter storm in at least 140 years whallops Southwest U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:18 PM GMT on January 22, 2010

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The most powerful low pressure system in 140 years of record keeping swept through the Southwest U.S. yesterday, bringing deadly flooding, tornadoes, hail, hurricane force winds, and blizzard conditions. We expect to get powerful winter storms affecting the Southwest U.S. during strong El Niño events, but yesterday's storm was truly epic in its size and intensity. The storm set all-time low pressure records over roughly 10 - 15% of the U.S.--over southern Oregon, and most of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Old records were broken by a wide margin in many locations, most notably in Los Angeles, where the old record of 29.25" set January 17, 1988, was shattered by .18" (6 mb). Bakersfield broke its record by .30" (10 mb). The record-setting low spawned an extremely intense cold front that rumbled thought the Southwest, and winds ahead of the cold front reached sustained speeds of hurricane force--74 mph--last night at Apache Junction, 40 miles east of Phoenix. Wind gusts as high as 94 mph were recorded in Ajo, Arizona, and a Personal Weather Station in Summerhaven (on top of Mt. Lemmon next to Tucson) recorded sustained winds of 67 mph, gusting to 86 mph, before the power failed. Prescott recorded sustained winds at 52 mph, gusting to 67 as the cold front passed, and high winds plunged visibility to zero in blowing dust on I-10 connecting Phoenix and Tucson. The storm spawned one possible tornado in Arizona, which touched down at 8:32 pm MST in Phoenix near Desert Ridge Mall. No damage or injuries were reported. If verified, it would be only the 7th January tornado in Arizona since record keeping began in 1950.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity from the Phoenix Doppler radar at the time of the Phoenix tornado. The tornado touched down under the circle with a "+" inside it. The Doppler velocity image did not show any rotation to the clouds in the vicinity.

Some of the all-time low pressure records set in yesterday's storm:
Los Angeles, CA: 29.07", Old Record: 29.25", January 17, 1988
Eureka, CA: 28.90", Old Record: 28.91", February 1891
San Diego, CA: 29.15", Old Record, 29.37", March 3, 1983
Fresno, CA: 28.94", Old Record, 29.10", January 27, 1916
Bakersfield, CA: 28.94", Old Record, 29.24", February 3, 1998

Salt Lake City, UT: 28.94", Old Record, 29.00" April 2002

Reno, NV: 28.94", Old Record, 29.00", January 27, 1916
Las Vegas, NV: 29.03" Old Record: 29.17", December 1949

Phoenix, AZ: 29.22", Old Record: 29.32", May 18, 1902
Flagstaff, AZ: 29.13", Old Record: 29.15", February 7, 1937
Yuma, AZ: 29.15", Old Record: 29.37", September 12, 1927

Three tornadoes in California
Three tornadoes were reported in California yesterday. A small EF0 twister hit the east side of Ventura, leaving a 1.5 mile damage path. Another tornado hit Santa Barbara, downing trees and power poles. The most damaging California tornado yesterday touched down just west of Blythe, on the Arizona-California border, at 4:31 pm MST. The twister crossed I-10, blowing three semi trucks over, ripping the roofs off houses, and downing power lines. I-10 was closed for several hours to clear the debris and toppled trucks.

Two tornadoes also hit Southern California on Tuesday. A sheriff's deputy spotted a possible tornado in Goleta that caused some roof damage, and another tornado hit Huntington Beach, damaging boats and buildings and flipping cars.

If all five tornadoes are confirmed as genuine by the National Weather Service, it will tie the record of most January California tornadoes. The all-time record for most California tornadoes in a single day is seven, set on April 1, 1996, and November 9, 1982.


Figure 2. Radar reflectivity from the Los Angeles Doppler radar at the time of the Santa Barbara tornado.

Figure 3. Storm-relative radial velocity from the Los Angeles Doppler radar at the time of the Santa Barbara tornado. The area of yellow and orange colors, lying right next to a region of blues and greens just west of Santa Barbara shows that the winds in that region were moving towards and away from the radar in a very tight area, signifying the presence of a rotating thunderstorm and possible tornado.

The storm will continue to bring heavy rain and snow to many portions the Southwest today, then wind down on Saturday. A new storm is expected to move ashore over Northern California on Sunday night, but this storm will not be as intense. Another storm is also possible next Friday, January 29, but it appears that a renewed battering by a long succession of storms like we had this week will not occur next week.

Selected storm total snowfalls (in inches) from 7 am Sunday January 17, through 7 am PST Friday January 22:
...ARIZONA...
FLAGSTAFF 3.2 NNW 36.5
SUNRISE MOUNTAIN 29.0
FOREST LAKES 26.0
HEBER 21.0
PINETOP/LAKESIDE 4 ESE 20.4
ALPINE 20.0
CLAY SPRINGS 20.0
CLINTS WELL 19.0
KACHINA VILLAGE 18.6
WILLIAMS 16.5
PRESCOTT 7.0

...CALIFORNIA...
CHAGOOPA PLATEAU 73.6
SODA SPRINGS 63.0
SUGAR BOWL 61.0
LWR RELIEF VALLEY 50.6
KIRKWOOD 48.0
SQUAW VALLEY 47.0
SIERRA AT TAHOE 38.0
BIG BEAR CITY 37.0

...COLORADO...
DURANGO 24.0
PAGOSA SPRINGS 9 NW 24.0
SILVERTON 24.0
WOLF CREEK PASS 1 SSE 24.0
ABAJO 19.0
TELLURIDE 15.0
COAL BANK PASS 14.5
RED MTN 12.3
CREEDE 10 SW 12.0
SOUTH FORK 4 SW 12.0
MOLAS PASS 10.0

...NEW MEXICO...
JEMEZ SPRINGS 14.0
CHAMA 12.0
FARMINGTON 7 NE 10.5
AZTEC 8.0
BLUEWATER LAKE 11 WSW 8.0
BONITO LAKE 5 SW 8.0
FARMINGTON 7 NE 8.0
LUNA 8.0
KIRTLAND 2 ESE 6.0
MOGOLLON 6 ESE 6.0
RAMAH 6.0
BLOOMFIELD 3 SW 5.5
LOS ALAMOS 5.5

...NEVADA...
YUCCA FLAT 20.0
BERRY CREEK 19.0
BIG CREEK SUMMIT 16.0
DRAW CREEK 13.0
POLE CREEK R.S. 13.0
MT. POTOSI 12.0
ELY 8.3
WARD MOUNTAIN 8.0
CHARLESTON 6.0

...UTAH...
BRIGHTON CREST 35.0
ALTA/COLLINS 33.5
DEER VALLEY DALY WEST 28.0
PARK CITY JUPITER PEAK 28.0
BIG COTTONWOOD SPRUCES 19.0
SOLITUDE 17.5
SNOWBIRD 13.5

Selected storm total precipitation (in inches) from 7 am Sunday January 17, through 7 am PST Friday January 22:
...ARIZONA...
DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB/TUCSON 10.23
BLACK CANYON CITY 10 N 6.57
CROWN KING 6.50
SURPRISE 1 ESE 5.58
SUN CITY WEST 2 NNE 4.78
COTTONWOOD 1 WSW 4.63
SCOTTSDALE 5.5 NNW 4.21
NEW RIVER 5 ESE 4.05
WITTMAN 5 SW 4.05
PAYSON 4.01
PINE 1 SW 4.00
SIERRA VISTA 3.83
LUKE AFB/PHOENIX 3.58
CASTLE HOT SPRINGS 3.55
FLAGSTAFF PULLIAM AP 3.41
CLIFTON 2.96
WINSLOW 2.84
GILBERT 4 NW 2.74
CHANDLER 4 WNW 2.72
YUMA MCAF 2.43
PRESCOTT/ERNEST A LOVE FIELD AP 2.28
PHOENIX AIRPORT 2.21
TUCSON AIRPORT 0.52

...CALIFORNIA...
LOS GATOS 4 SW 14.70
CAZADERO 13.46
LYTLE CREEK 13.39
MINING RIDGE 13.14
PETROLIA 7 SE 12.17
BARTLETT SPRINGS 11.23
LAKE ARROWHEAD 11.23
ALTADENA 1 ESE 11.14
CLOVERDALE 1 S 10.30
CRESTLINE 10.27
DEVORE 9.58
DESERT HOT SPRINGS 8.04
UKIAH MUNI ARPT 7.58
NEWHALL 7.08
SANTA ROSA/SONOMA CO ARPT 6.55
SAN LUIS OBISPO ARPT 5.37
SAN DIEGO/MONTGOMERY FIELD 4.32
SAN FRANCISCO INTL ARPT 4.30
LOS ANGELES-USC 3.89
PALM SPRINGS RGNL ARPT 3.75
SACRAMENTO METRO ARPT 3.65
SAN JOSE INTL ARPT 3.19

...NEVADA...
NORTH LAS VEGAS AIRPORT 1.50
HENDERSON AIRPORT 1.17
MERCURY/DESERT ROCK ARPT 1.06

...OREGON...
AGNESS 6.4 NE 3.90
PORT ORFORD 5.0 E 3.52
BROOKINGS 4.2 ENE 2.83
BANDON 11.4 S 2.67
ASTORIA 1.45

...WASHINGTON...
HOQUIAM/BOWERMAN AIRPORT 2.01

Tornadoes, severe weather in the South
Severe weather associated with a separate storm brought damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes to portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida last night. Two tornadoes were reported, one in Tennessee, and one in Alabama, near Huntsville. The Huntsville tornado injured approximately six people, and cut power to 10,000 people. The storm responsible for the severe weather has moved out to sea, and no further severe weather is expected today. A slight chance of severe weather is expected Saturday over Arkansas and Mississippi, and there is also a severe weather threat for Georgia and surrounding states on Sunday.


Figure 4. Last night's Huntsville, Alabama tornado was captured by wunderphotographer Southampton.

Portlight's Paul Timmons to appear on NBC and CNN
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. The relief supplies were trucked to Haiti via road, and have made it to the earthquake zone. The supplies have been targeted to go to those with disabilities, or to those who are living in areas where the main aid efforts have been inadequate. 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, is scheduled to appear on NBC news later today, and on CNN news tomorrow, to discuss Portlight's efforts.


Figure 5. Walkers and medical supplies for Haiti getting ready to ship from the Portlight warehouse in Atlanta.

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 Monday.

Jeff Masters

Road disappears in flood in San Luis Obispo, California (annestahl)
Cops stand by closed road.
Road disappears in flood in San Luis Obispo, California
Southern California Snow (gemd)
A Pacific storm (usually warm) came and dropped snow in Southern California in area which rarely see snow. This was not even an "insider slider" (lingo for a northern, non-Pacific cold jet stream). Snow days for schools are rampant and there are many accidents on the roadways. Our snow is not the typical fluff, but very wet and slick.
Southern California Snow
Prescott 2010 Snowstorm (kempix)
Heavy Snowstorm came in last night with almost a foot of snow in the mountains of Prescott.
Prescott 2010 Snowstorm
Bad Luck (scphotos)
the ocean in Santa Barbara takes no prisoners
Bad Luck
Blue Thunder Bolt (LianesLightroom)
Amazing bolt of lightning strikes the Pacific Ocean in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Blue Thunder Bolt
Shrouded in Clouds (ChandlerMike)
I took a drive this morning to document some of this amazing weather we're having in Arizona. My path took me over to the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix and I beheld some sights that I don't expect to see again. (HDR)
Shrouded in Clouds

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Quoting IKE:


That was awful too. They looked terrible...in their own stadium. Another choke job by their FG kicker.


the kickers have been predominantly awful this post season
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
934. IKE
Quoting melwerle:
918. You've never seen anything worse? Apparently, you didn't watch the chargers play last weekend. Ugh.


That was awful too. They looked terrible...in their own stadium. Another choke job by their FG kicker.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
918. You've never seen anything worse? Apparently, you didn't watch the chargers play last weekend. Ugh.
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Good morning The snow is once again falling here
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Yeah,,and Im a Loli-pop, stud..LOL
Colts best get their collective ducks in a row,we Eat AFC Teams..

New Eng,Buffalo,Jets and well..even the NFC,Giants,Eagles,Wash,..we Beat all the N east Teams..LOL


We gonna Put our Native son Peyton,..
On da ground.


Ya can get Krunk with us today,studly one


Posers are Losers.

Who Dat?

We dat.

Plttttttttttttttttt......

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
See ya in Miami..

Wu-------hatttttttt.....?


Back to Minnesota,..

Its a WUnderful Morning to fly,NORTH..!


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
why do you take that as a knock on the Saints?? I was rooting for the Saints. Saints fans sure have thin skin.

It was really a terribly played game. If the Saints had played well, they would have won by 20. Saints tried to scoop and score on a couple fumbles and they ended up letting the Vikings recover.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Farve on d ground,helmet on da side..turf inna mouth..

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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Funny all the Saints er,knockers seem to come from my East.

LOL

Not any Fla teams even made da playoffs

All Whiners and no diners,..still.

Miami,..ere we come.

Who Dat?

We dat...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
922. IKE
How you lose a football game......

1st and 10 at NO 33 C.Taylor right guard to NO 33 for no gain (R.Ayodele).
2nd and 10 at NO 33 A.Peterson right end to NO 33 for no gain (R.Ayodele, S.Ellis).
Timeout #2 by MIN at 00:19.
3rd and 10 at NO 33 PENALTY on MIN, Offensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at NO 33 - No Play.
3rd and 15 at NO 38 B.Favre pass deep middle intended for S.Rice INTERCEPTED by T.Porter at NO 22. T.Porter to NO 48 for 26 yards (J.Sullivan).


I could understand calling those first 2 plays if you were on the.... 23 yard line. But, at the 33? It's a 50 yard FG! Get 10 more yards closer...gosh, you were moving the ball!

Sorry to get so off-topic.

EDIT>>>One more thing...Minnesota calls a timeout and then there's 12 men in the huddle? WTH?
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Good Evening everyone, I have a present for someone here that called for ex-TC Olga to exit in to the Gulf of Carpenteria and re-intensify to a Cat. 3. That ain't going to happen as this map shows.


This is the present I have for them (it's a cake).
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920. beell
Only problem with an old quarterback...
They get tired-of getting up off the ground.
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I guess these storms didn't get their act together until they went through Tampa. They didn't even wake me up.
Member Since: April 26, 2009 Posts: 3 Comments: 3667
Quoting IKE:


I was just thinking...maybe he was hesitant because of his ankle.

I was also thinking I can't see Peyton Manning performing as badly in that last minute.

Favre is a great QB...but, he takes too many chances at times on throws. Throwing back against you is too risky. Should have run it Favre! FG kicker would have had about a 45-47 yarder. Unless he chokes, you win. Now you gotta live with it!

Congrats to the Saints. Good luck in the SB, but I think you're going down vs. Peyton.


The ONLY reason you would have a 40-year-old quarterback is for those situations. If the 40-year-old quarterback is going to make rookie mistakes, there's no sense having him on the team.

It's sad for Favre, but that may have been the worst interception ever. Terrible, terrible decision.

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915. IKE
Quoting Jeff9641:


I know they dominated the Saints and basically gave away a victory. Too many turnovers really done them in. Your right Farve could have ran another 5 or 8 yards.


I was just thinking...maybe he was hesitant because of his ankle.

I was also thinking I can't see Peyton Manning performing as badly in that last minute.

Favre is a great QB...but, he takes too many chances at times on throws. Throwing back against you is too risky. Should have run it Favre! FG kicker would have had about a 45-47 yarder. Unless he chokes, you win. Now you gotta live with it!

Congrats to the Saints. Good luck in the SB, but I think you're going down vs. Peyton.
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913. IKE
Quoting Jeff9641:
What a game last night. The Vikings flat out handed the Saints a win last night. I have never seen a game end in such a fashion. All the Vikings had to do was kick a field goal and then it would have been over.


Vikings had the ball on the Saints 30 with just under a minute left. They got too conservative...then the 12 men on the field...then Favre could have picked up at least 5 yards running on that 3rd down play, instead he throws a pick. Plus the Vikings let about 30 seconds run off of the clock....I'm like...what are you doing...save your time...get to at least the 20 yard line!!!!!

(1)Poor clock management.
(2)Too conservative.
(3)They had the game won.
(4)They may have choked.

Saw this from the Jacksonville airport...Max Gust Speed 63 mph
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909. Skyepony (Mod)
Jaxsonville has their Preliminary storm report together.
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907. Skyepony (Mod)
Looks like Oak Hill may have had a Tornado. Titusville may be next.
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Good morning everyone! I will be watching a decent squall line that has developed over Central Florida and the Southwest GOM with an approaching cold front over the next several hours. It appears to be maintaining its intensity quite well as seen in the regional radar below.



Now, in analyzing the current environment preceding the squall line, the atmosphere has become unstable enough to produce a broken band of scattered thunderstorm action off the SE Florida coast. With a strong southerly wind, moisture should continue to increase before the front as short range models show precipitable water (PW) approaching 1.75 to 2 inches. This should be sufficient to maintain rainfall on the front. But with this wind, it may limit heating since there will be mixing occurring which is unfavorable for severe weather.

So, all in all, expect some good rains, strong gusty winds, and possibly a few strong storms across South Florida late this morning and into the afternoon before much cooler weather arrives across the state tonight.
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and here it comes, back to good ole winter

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Morning jeff9641, Rather quiet here when the rain moved thru. Lots of rain.
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902. OGal
Just a quick post from Winter Springs. We are still waiting for line of strong storms. I too was awakened by my weather radio. Have only heard of one tornado warning and it is to the north of me. These storms are moving at 60 miles per hour. Will go get another cup of coffee and just wait. Ready to move into safe room if need to.

Morning Aqua and all you other guys that are up watching these storms.
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Good morning WU-Bloggers. No less than three tornado warnings since 3:30 am here in Jax.

We have about thirteen weather radios, this place is like NORAD. They ALL work very well.

Thanks, RainmanWeather. Link
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Quoting xcool:
bye all


Goodnight and good luck to the saints in the superbowl.. ;)
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899. xcool
bye all
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898. xcool
FLPandhandleJG your too .
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Quoting xcool:
i Don't care if we win or lose Super Bowl .we made history that all i care about


Hey xcool.. hope ur having a goodone mane.. well i thought i was leavin for bed but my eyes r wide awake.. blahh
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896. xcool
i Don't care if we win or lose Super Bowl .we made history that all i care about
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Quoting WaterWitch11:


i've seen them abr. WW11 but waterwitch works for me. i like the images you post and thanks for responses!


no problem Waterwitch.. well im goin to bed! ya'll have a great night.. c ya'll later
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


nope sry waterwitch11.. what do u like to b called by ?


i've seen them abr. WW11 but waterwitch works for me. i like the images you post and thanks for responses!
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Quoting WaterWitch11:


can this one be animated?


nope sry waterwitch11.. what do u like to b called by ?
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:


Hi, dear "Jerry"! Was too revved up after game to go to sleep right away. Your link doesn't work because there is a comma after www instead of a period.

I did read the update to your blog, though; and the list of accomplishments regarding Haiti is rather astonishing. Your blog is well-written -- must have been a lot of work on its own.

I'm actually "coming down" or calming down now...yawn... I'll wu-mail you and LST tomorrow about this and that. Have a great night, everyone!


Thank you, dear...the update was a coolaborative effort between Press and I; we tend to work well together...

Well, I'm going to take my wife off to bed; it's been along day and Morpheus beckons...
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Quoting Floodman:
AIM, my dear, you're still up? Well, good...can you go to the Portlight website...I just posted the long awaited up date; I've also posted the update to my blog...


Hi, dear "Jerry"! Was too revved up after game to go to sleep right away. Your link doesn't work because there is a comma after www instead of a period.

I did read the update to your blog, though; and the list of accomplishments regarding Haiti is rather astonishing. Your blog is well-written -- must have been a lot of work on its own.

I'm actually "coming down" or calming down now...yawn... I'll wu-mail you and LST tomorrow about this and that. Have a great night, everyone!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
AIM, my dear, you're still up? Well, good...can you go to the Portlight website...I just posted the long awaited up date; I've also posted the update to my blog...
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Scientists create model of monster 'Frankenstorm'
By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer, Sun Jan 24

LOS ANGELES – Think the recent wild weather that hammered California was bad? Experts are imagining far worse.

As torrential rains pelted wildfire-stripped hillsides and flooded highways, a team of scientists hunkered down at the California Institute of Technology to work on a "Frankenstorm" scenario — a mother lode wintry blast that could potentially sock the Golden State.

The hypothetical but plausible storm would be similar to the 1861-1862 extreme floods that temporarily moved the state capital from Sacramento to San Francisco and forced the then-governor to attend his inauguration by rowboat.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


can this one be animated?
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I Love Mud Ball because of John Madden! What's he doing? Bring him back for the Super Bowl, please!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
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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.