Winter Storm Xynthia kills 62 in Europe

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:21 PM GMT on March 01, 2010

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Devastating Winter Storm Xynthia ripped a swath of destruction through Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, and Germany over the weekend, killing at least 62 people. It was Europe's 5th deadliest winter storm of the past 60 years. Hardest hit was France, where at least 51 died. The storm also caused six deaths in Germany, including a 2-year-old boy blown into a river and drowned. Three people were dead in Spain, and Belgium, Portugal, and England had one fatality each. At least ten people are still missing. Most of the deaths in France occurred when a powerful storm surge topped by battering waves up to 25 feet high, hitting at high tide, smashed though the sea wall off the coastal town of L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer. A mobile home park built close to the sea wall was particularly hard-hit. The sea wall was several hundred years old, built in the time of Napoleon, and locating a mobile home park so close to it showed poor coastal development practices, critics said. The storm cut power to more than 1 million homes in France, and up to 1 million customers in Portugal also lost power. A few wind peak wind gusts measured during the storm:

Portugal
Pampilhosa da Serra 147 km/h (91 mph)
Penhas Douradas 126.1 km/h (78 mph)
Porto (Airport LPPR) 113km/h (70 mph)

Spain
Lardeira: 196.1 km/h (122 mph)
Serra do Eixe: 157 km/h (98 mph)
Campus de Vigo: 146.9 km/h (92 mph)
Gandara: 145.8 km/h (91 mph)

France
Eiffel Tower, Paris: 175 km/h (106 mph)
Saint-Clement of the Whales: 159km/h (99 mph)
Charente-Maritime: 161km/h (100 mph)

A Personal Weather Station in Les Portes-en-Re recorded sustained winds of 143 km/h (89 mph) gusting to 180 km/h (112 mph) before losing power at the height of the storm. According to Meteo France, the maximum recorded gust from Xynthia for elevations lower than 1200m was 160 km/h along the coast and 120 km/h inland. In 1999, Winter Storm Lothar brought gusts of almost 200 km/h to coastal areas and up to 160 km/h in the interior at these lower elevations.


Figure 1. Six-hour animation of the surface winds as Winter Storm Xynthia crossed the Bay of Biscay and smashed into France.

Destructive European storms of the past 60 years:
2010: Winter Storm Xynthia of February 27, 2010 killed 51 people in France, Spain, and neighboring countries, and did $2 - $4 billion in damage. Lowest pressure: 967 mb.

Winter Storm Klaus hit northern Spain and southwest France January 23 - 25, 2009, and was Earth's most costly natural disaster of 2009, causing $5.1 billion in damage and killing 26. Minimum pressure: 967 mb.

Kyrill (January 18, 2007) killed at least 45, with Germany suffering the most fatalities (13). Minimum pressure: 964 mb.

Back-to-back winter storms Lothar and Martin December 26-28, 1999) killed 140 people, 88 of the victims in France. Minimum pressure: 961 mb (Lothar), 965 mb (Martin).

The Burns' Day Storm of 1990 killed 97, mostly in England. Minimum pressure: 949 mb.

The Great Storm of 1987 was Europe's "storm of the century". It killed 22 people in England and France. Minimum pressure: 953 mb.

The North Sea Flood of 1962 killed 318 people--315 of them in Hamburg, Germany.

The North Sea Flood of 1953 killed 2,000 people in the Netherlands and England.

Xynthia's warm air surge sets records
One reason Xynthia became so powerful is that it formed very far south, where it was able to tap into an airmass that was unusually warm and moist. Satellite measurements (Figure 2) showed a plume of high total precipitable water (the amount of precipitation one can produce by condensing all the water vapor from the surface to the top of the atmosphere), about 300% above average, flowing from southwest to northeast along Xynthia's cold front. Enhancing the amount of moisture was the presence of very warm sea surface temperatures 1°C above average along this plume. As this extra moisture flowed into the storm, the moisture condensed into rain, releasing the "latent heat" stored up in the water vapor (the extra energy that was originally used to evaporate the water into water vapor). This latent heat further intensified Xynthia. The storm's central pressure fell to 966 mb at the storm's peak intensity, reached at 18 GMT Saturday after it passed over Spain's northwest corner.

As warm, tropical air surged northeastwards in advance of Xynthia's cold front, it set several all-time high temperature records for the month of February. Melilla, Spain hit 34°C (93°F) at 3pm local time on the 27th, beating previous highest February temperature of 30.6°C, set in 1979. The temperature surged upwards a remarkable 9.1°C (16°F) in one hour as Xynthia's warm front passed through. Record February warmth was also observed in the Canary Islands as Xynthia's warm front passed though.


Figure 2. Satellite measurements show a region of high total precipitable water (the amount of precipitation one can produce by condensing all the water vapor from the surface to the top of the atmosphere) up to 300% above average, flowing from southwest to northeast along Xynthia's cold front. Enhancing the amount of moisture was the presence of very warm sea surface temperatures along this plume, about 1°C above average. If this pool of very warm water is still around in July, it could lead to an earlier than average start to the Atlantic hurricane season. Image credit: Sheldon Kusselson, NOAA/NESDIS, and National Hurricane Center.

Next storm
For the the U.S., the next winter storm of note is a moderately strong low pressure system currently over Texas that is expected to move quickly eastwards today and Tuesday. The storm should bring an inch or so of snow to Atlanta and northeast Alabama, and 2 - 4" to the nearby mountains of South and North Carolina, including Charlotte. After that, the models show a long break from winter storm activity for the Eastern U.S. Beginning Sunday, it looks like it will be the Midwest's turn, when a powerful winter storm will drop out of the Rockies, then move across the northern tier of Midwestern states early next week.

Next post
I'll have a new post Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

Xynthia - High seas in Carcavelos (Portugal) (rozzopt)
High seas an waves from storm Synthia, with storm-surge taking over the entire beach, and "attacking" bars usually 30meters away from the sea.
Xynthia - High seas in Carcavelos (Portugal)

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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


dude, im predicting the temps to rise as we head into the may and june months.... just a prediction but global warming will happen trust me...


You're right that the U.S. will warm during May and June, and the rest of this summer will be warm world-wide due to the El Nino this winter which has warmed the atmosphere. Next winter will be colder globally due to the coming La Nina. Let us all watch and learn.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26594
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


That's Farenheit, but yes, about +0.93C (!) above the 1979 - 98 average. That means we're at 1.11C above the 1961-1990 average, which is 1.32C above the year 1900 average. Of course this is just estimation, but if anybody has a better method to determine the current temperature departure, I'd like to know what it is, because although it would mean I successfully predicted that the +1C departure came by 2013, it would be earlier than I suspected, and quite frankly I hope my observations are wrong.



And, Astro, we are at +0.25C as of 2009 since 1900, not +1.32C. Trend is only at +0.15C 1880-2009. Even the Raw GISS says only +0.45C.

Any way you look at it we're not +1.32C.
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Quoting tornadodude:


how?

its normally cold in winter, and it was cold this winter.


dude, im predicting the temps to rise as we head into the may and june months.... just a prediction but global warming will happen trust me...
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6293
Quoting tornadodude:


yeah, it wont be the end of the world, thats two years from now, but its still expensive for a college kid :p or most people for that matter ha

and yeah Im friends with the guy who's gonna find a used one to put in.

about time that one went out tho, 268,000 miles


Wow! What kind of car do you have? We need one of those. (We do a lot of traveling and my husband won't fly.) Do you think you'll get another 200K+ miles out of it with a 'new' transmission?

Now - this is your Michigan gram speaking - is this the car you'll be using for chasing tornadoes? I sure hope it is fully loaded with air bags. Sounds exciting but take care.
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Quoting Seastep:
In case anyone missed my updated blog correcting that graph Astro is showing.

Seeing as that graph has 1900 at -0.2C, that would make the satellite based 2000 point being at approx -0.15C on that graph.

What's the source on that, btw, astro? Even the raw GISS temps only show 0.2C relative to that graph showing 0.4C.

Correction, in looking again 1900 is at about -0.17C, so add 0.03C to the other numbers.

Still, 0.4C vs. -0.12C. Somethings up with that graph.


Just like any other supposed data the pseudo-scientists post here, most don't believe it any more. Like always, gotta follow the money, and I surely wonder if the fearless leader here at WU is being compensated by the AGW psuedo-science crowd. I think this is the first update that didn't blame everything on AGW.

Some more tidbits for your reading pleasure:

"Prof Jones today said it was not 'standard practice' in climate science to release data and methodology for scientific findings so that other scientists could check and challenge the research...He also said the scientific journals which had published his papers had never asked to see it"...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1254660/Climategate-expert-tells-MPs.html#ixzz0gxGJ6K2M
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Quoting Levi32:


It's not gonna keep going up like this until 2013


that's because the world is ending in 2012! LOL
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
Quoting Levi32:


I guarantee you it won't be up another 1C.

You guarantee that ... i had to lol.
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

Winter was a switcheroo in most places around the country


how?

its normally cold in winter, and it was cold this winter.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


That's Farenheit, but yes, about 0.93C (!) above the 1979 - 98 average. That means we're at 1.11C above the 1961-1990 average, which is 1.32C above the year 1900 average. Of course this is just estimation, but if anybody has a better method to determine the current temperature departure, I'd like to know what it is, because although it would mean I successfully predicted that the 1C departure came by 2013, it would be earlier than I suspected, and quite frankly I hope my observations are wrong.



Lol....oh crap we're burning up (rolls eyes)

We were coming out of a strong La Nina last February....we're coming out of a strong El Nino now....what else do you expect the temperature to be but way higher than last year at this time? It's not gonna keep going up like this until 2013. We're going into another La Nina this winter....compare again next February I guarantee you it won't be up another 1C.

Notice the drop in '07-08 because of La Nina, then the rise this winter because of El Nino.....venture to take a guess if there's any correlation between the ocean temperatures and the air temp for the last 3 years? Hmmm...

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26594
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


That's Farenheit, but yes, about +0.93C (!) above the 1979 - 98 average. That means we're at 1.11C above the 1961-1990 average, which is 1.32C above the year 1900 average. Of course this is just estimation, but if anybody has a better method to determine the current temperature departure, I'd like to know what it is, because although it would mean I successfully predicted that the +1C departure came by 2013, it would be earlier than I suspected, and quite frankly I hope my observations are wrong.


How long till we hit the 2C mark? 5 years? 2 years with this progression?
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Quoting tornadodude:


definitely not in the midwest either

Winter was a switcheroo in most places around the country
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101. Tampa, what's the link to that global ensemble forecast, the first one you have there? It's amazing how far south that one is bringing snow.
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we just had a new data update from the portugueses meteorological institute.
the maximum wind gust was in fact of 166km.h, in Panpilhosa da serra, 170km NNE/NE of lisbon.

the "IM":
Em termos de intensidade de vento, observaram-se rajadas de 166 km/h às 15:00 UTC e de 161 km/h às 16:00 UTC na Pampilhosa da Serra.
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:

Those are global temperatures. Florida and the gom states have lower temps from the historic NAO.


definitely not in the midwest either
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
In case anyone missed my updated blog correcting that graph Astro is showing.

Removed. Misread again. 2000 is about right for GISS, so it must be GISS.
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Quoting jrweatherman:
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Wow the temperature spike in sat data - SCARY.

27th, 1.03 warmer than last years february.


Not here in Central Florida.....

Those are global temperatures. Florida and the gom states have lower temps from the historic NAO.
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Wow the temperature spike in sat data - SCARY.

27th, 1.03 warmer than last years february.


Not here in Central Florida.....
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137: Without proper attribution, casual readers might think you wrote that.
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Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Wow the temperature spike in sat data - SCARY.

27th, 1.03 warmer than last years february.



That's Farenheit, but yes, about +0.93C (!) above the 1979 - 98 average. That means we're at 1.11C above the 1961-1990 average, which is 1.32C above the year 1900 average. Of course this is just estimation, but if anybody has a better method to determine the current temperature departure, I'd like to know what it is, because although it would mean I successfully predicted that the +1C departure came by 2013, it would be earlier than I suspected, and quite frankly I hope my observations are wrong.

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Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Storm south of Nova Scotia:



Woah! Looks like a hurricane.

It's expected to head east to the Azores, then on to Europe, possibly in the same landfall region as Xynthia

Sounds like the perfect setup for a perfect storm. France dykes breached already.
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Can't find anything current. This seems to post weekly so if you save image and then look next week you might see a change. But it's a weekly composite so maybe not.


WeatherUnderground has an hourly updated SST map on its tropical page, also see post 1 (which I will comment on later). You can also use Plymouth.

Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Another massive iceberg is calved in Antarctica, with implications for local ocean circulation and wildlife


This is a huge chunk of ice.


Interesting...If December was 0.29C, January was 0.72, then February should be close to 0.8C.
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Wow the temperature spike in sat data - SCARY.

27th, 1.03 warmer than last years february.

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Does anyone else smell that?
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Accuweather’s Joe Bastardi admits, “Earth continues warmest winter since satellite measurements started” and “Feb should be warmest on record!!!”
Then he invents a new, self-contradictory theory of warming

Ah, the anti-science crowd. Their much-vaunted satellite data shows record smashing temperatures. So what’s a disinformer to do? You either have to tie yourself in knots to explain how a rather moderate El Niño could be to blame — or go after the satellite data. And the latter is coming, I’m sure.

But Accuweather’s meteorologist Joe Bastardi is a satellite-data-ophile, so he chooses the knot-twisting approach in his must-read stream of consciousness “European Blog,” which certainly wins the gold medal for self-contradiction. What is so incredible about this blog is that it resides on one long page, so you’d think Bastardi might occasionally go back and look and see if what he just wrote to doesn’t contradict something he wrote a little earlier.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
We need to raise funds to send StormW to Orlando for the Hurricane Conference.�2010 Hurricane Conference�StormW just emailed that he will be driving back and forth each day to save money and to be home in the evening with his Family. So, with the $350 registration fee and the cost of Tranportation it appears to be about $500.00 needed total. Let's make it happen! ��Ok here you all go.....i have it all set up. You can donate in multiples of $10.00. I will post everything as the funds come in. If StormW does not go......all funds will be donated to PortLight.TampaSpins Donation Link for StormW's Expense�Thank you all very much as he is a vital asset to the safety to us all!�Again thanks for your donations!��

Here is also a Forum Link

So far we have already collected $120 so far....Wow! Thanks so much!

Burning up the phone lines about a guest pass...getting nowhere. I don't think that is going to work. Sry.
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Storm south of Nova Scotia:



Woah! Looks like a hurricane.

It's expected to head east to the Azores, then on to Europe, possibly in the same landfall region as Xynthia:



The storm over Texas and the Gulf is expected to cross over the exact same region as the current storm:

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Going on a bike ride for the evening.....wow its still 70deg in Tampa.....can't miss this outside day.

I can't wait to keep getting the Emails on my blackberry with the funds rolling in for StormW. Thanks again for all your Donations to get him to the Hurricane Conference.
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127. xcool
TampaSpin hey :0
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
We need to raise funds to send StormW to Orlando for the Hurricane Conference.2010 Hurricane ConferenceStormW just emailed that he will be driving back and forth each day to save money and to be home in the evening with his Family. So, with the $350 registration fee and the cost of Tranportation it appears to be about $500.00 needed total. Let's make it happen! Ok here you all go.....i have it all set up. You can donate in multiples of $10.00. I will post everything as the funds come in. If StormW does not go......all funds will be donated to PortLight.TampaSpins Donation Link for StormW's ExpenseThank you all very much as he is a vital asset to the safety to us all!Again thanks for your donations!

Here is also a Forum Link

So far we have already collected $120 so far....Wow! Thanks so much!
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Thanks a lot. In Mainz Center nothing serious happened, fortunately. But there was a ferocious noise outside. Moreover all trains stopped for half the day and the night. And a little boy (two years old) drowned in a city nearby.

Quoting PcolaDan:
Was just looking at BBC about Xynthia and saw a picture of an apartment building in Mainz Germany that had roof damage. We have a blogger from there, barbamz. Hope everything is okay with her. Just talked to a friend near Frankfurt and she said many of the garden houses lost roofs. This is quite a ways from where the "center" of Xynthia went by.
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Quoting xcool:


Seems like as smart as these people are they could use a little more common sense with their choice of colors. Why choose 4 or 5 shades of green? 20% and 50% are almost the same shade.
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Quoting Skepticall:


haha awesome


Wishes this had auto spell check.....Sorry to hurt the Spellers out there feelings.....J/K
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121. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
Thanks!
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Quoting Skepticall:
Statement as of 2:04 PM CST on March 1, 2010


... February 2010 one of the coldest on record...

... 2009-2010 winter also one of the coldest on record...

If March comes in like a lion and GOES out like a Lamb... I guess
February came in like a penguin and went out like a polar bear. It
was cold!!! most of the climate sites suffered average temperatures
that were seven to eight degrees colder than the 30 year climate
averages. Data for Houston and Galveston go back to 1892 and 1875
respectively so having the 5th coldest February is rather
remarkable. Here are the five coldest februaries on record for the
primary climate sites across southeast texas:

average monthly temperatures
Houston Galveston College Houston
station hobby

42.2 1895 42.6 1895 44.1 1905 46.3 1978
44.0 1905 45.6 1905 44.8 1929 48.8 1947
45.1 1978 47.0 1978 45.1 1978 49.3 2010
45.4 1899 48.6 1899 45.8 1936 49.4 1964
48.5 2010 49.7 1872 46.7 2010 49.7 1960
50.4 2010


Hey I do understand from what I heard today February 2010 was 9 degrees colder here in Mobile AL and it also goes back to 1940.... So I could see that... Heck I think all along the Gulf Coast had temps below average this winter....

Taco :0)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3247
Quoting Seastep:
Updated my temperature record blog post with much better graphics, thanks to atmo, if anyone would care to view.

I will be following up with a post explaining the exact methodology in doing the adjustment so all can see the logic.

Link

Back to work...


That was really good. I mean REALLY AWSOME. This is why i continue on this blog even with the radicals that come under the rug sometimes.....LOL....Again GREAT WORK!
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115. xcool
;;
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
Quoting barbamz:


Hi Barbara, just spoke of you in post 103. Hope all is well there after the storm.

Sent wumail also.
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Updated my temperature record blog post with much better graphics, thanks to atmo, if anyone would care to view.

I will be following up with a post explaining the exact methodology in doing the adjustment so all can see the logic.

Link

Back to work...
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Quoting irvy:
Does anyone know where the NOAA Weather Radio tab went? I thought it was usefull, especially for those of us who travel around the country a lot. If anyone at wwunderground reads this, please respond. Thanks


Its under the Local Weather drop down tab.
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109. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648

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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.