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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bbl guys
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Grothar - The current federal govt is not what was intended. The Constitution is a great document, if executed as intended.

That all changed in the late 1920's and 1930's. Before that, it was as intended. But, there was a crisis that didn't go to waste. ;)

Here's a scary study relating to "maybe it's the people."

Civics knowledge
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Quoting Minnemike:
Jeff, where's your blog?


Lol

its just as off topic as the GW discussions, no mention of it in his post
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
504. IKE
Quoting jeffs713:


If I didn't know you lived in FL, I would say that you must live in TX...

Down here, electric rates can only go up on days that end in "y".


LOL.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Jeff, where's your blog?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:
not disagreeing with you Grothar, but wasnt it the questioning of our government that brought about this great country?


No, actually it didn't td. The government worked quite well in the colonies. There was, however, a probable cause and one of the deciding factors leading to the revolution which was the Western Land Policies.

The movement for independence arose in the colonies following a series of critical decisions made by the British government after the end of the war with France in 1763. Two themes emerge from what was to be a fundamental change in British economic policy toward the American colonies. The first involved western land. With the acquisition from the French of the territory between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River the British decided to isolate the area from the rest of the colonies. Under the terms of the Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 colonists were not allowed to settle here or trade with the Indians without the permission of the British government. These actions nullified the claims to land in the area by a host of American colonies, individuals, and land companies. The essence of the policy was to maintain British control of the fur trade in the West by restricting settlement by the Americans.

I know it is a weather blog, but you did ask.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
To further steer back towards weather and tropical....

CPac changes afoot:

SUBJECT: CENTRAL PACIFIC TROPICAL CYCLONE WIND FIELD GRAPHICS

BECOME OPERATIONAL: EFFECTIVE JUNE 1 2010

EFFECTIVE JUNE 1 2010...THE CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE CENTER/S/ TROPICAL CYCLONE WIND FIELD GRAPHICS BECOME OPERATIONAL FOR THE CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE BASIN.

THIS PRODUCT WILL BE PRODUCED WITH EACH FULL ADVISORY PACKAGE FOR TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONES IN THE CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE BASIN. THIS GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATES THE AREA POTENTIALLY AFFECTED BY TROPICAL CYCLONE SUSTAINED WINDS OF VARYING FORCE. IN ADDITION TO THE WIND FIELD...THIS GRAPHIC PROVIDES AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF COASTAL AREAS UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING OR WATCH AND TROPICAL STORM WARNING OR WATCH.

DURING PERIODS OF ACTIVE STORMS THE PRODUCT WILL BE POSTED ONLINE AT:

http://www.prh.noaa.gov/pr/hnl/cphc/

A COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION AND EXAMPLE IS POSTED ONLINE AT:

http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/pages/examples/twfg.pdf

I would call that an improvement...the windfield TS and hurricane force extents are important.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


From that article...

"USPS posted a $3.8 billion loss in its 2009 fiscal year, the latest in a multiyear string of whopping losses. Mail volume was down 12.7% for the year, a trend the agency expects to continue over the next decade as more consumers opt for online bill payments and message delivery.

The Post Office was $10 billion in debt as of Sept. 30 -- not far off from its $15 billion debt limit, which the agency expects to hit in its 2011 fiscal year."

Also....A significant postal price hike is also under consideration, although the price most consumers care about -- the rate for a first-class stamp -- is locked in at 44 cents for 2010.

Let's see....my cable bill just went up....my exterminator service just went up...electric bill had a 3-step increase recently...NEXT!


If I didn't know you lived in FL, I would say that you must live in TX...

Down here, electric rates can only go up on days that end in "y".
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
499. IKE
Quoting tornadodude:


if pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?


CON-gress.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting tornadodude:


if pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?


SSERGORP..........LOL....hell if i know!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
not disagreeing with you Grothar, but wasnt it the questioning of our government that brought about this great country?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting StormW:


True,
But when the Declaration was drafted and we established a government "For the People", how many homeless people did we have, how many didn't have health care, how many had to wonder where there next meal would come from, how much funding was cut from programs designed to help the american public?


Actually, my point exactly. Perhaps it is not the government which is broken, but its citizens. It may not be easy or even comfortable to admit, but perhaps the fault lies within ourselves.

We doubt the veracity of our leaders, scientists, economists. We denigrate public servants without regard to any truths in the accusations; we repeat untruths through E-mails, blog, etc. We insult each other on the blog. Every issue has now become a conspiracy by unknown groups to take over the world with a single government. At every corner, there is a conspiracy to take our tax dollars, to take away our rights, to deny our practice of religion.

Believe me, if a group was planning to do all these things, they are not going to hold conferences and tell you how they plan on doing it. Changing leaders will not solve our problems. We shall be changing one set of problems for another. The change must come from within. Trust, honor, and respect. The simple little words we should all practice.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Gotta run....everyone have a good day and NO FIGHTING KIDS!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Seastep:
So, how was that squall line coming through Tampa, Tampa?


Just some strong summer like showers.....nothing really severe at all! South of here might be a different story say Fort Meyers south with some heating of the day causing some lift before the front gets there. That will be the real danger.
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Quoting tornadodude:


if pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?


Good one! LOL. I hadn't heard that one.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
good morning,

it sure is raining like crazy here, radar doesn't seem to match with how much rain is coming down. that's seems to be the difference this year. what looks small on radar has a ton of rain in it.

healdsburg, ca
Today: Rain, with thunderstorms also possible after 10am. High near 54. Southeast wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Tonight: Rain. Low around 44. South southeast wind between 5 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Wednesday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 49. Calm wind becoming south southwest between 6 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

how is it going with sending stormw to conference?
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Quoting StormW:


First, we need to fix Congress.


if pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Never mind, in looking at sat, it was early AM, so you were asleep, I'm sure. LOL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So, how was that squall line coming through Tampa, Tampa?
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StormW FundRaiser for Hurricane Conference

We have $170 donated so far. We need $500 to make sure he get to the 2010 Hurricane Conference
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yes, Tampa. Two terms is right for the executive branch, it is right for the legislative branch.

By installing term limits on the executive branch, the balance of power, as intended, was shifted to the legislative branch.

I support term limits, but for both branches.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I propose three amendments.

1) Clarify the commerce clause for what it was intended for. It was not intended to nullify the 10th amendment "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people") Yet that is what was done by 7 unelected judges. They nullified the 10th amendment, for the most part.

2) Govt may not exempt themselves or federal employees from laws they pass. They must apply to all.

3) Congressional term limits. It was not set up for career politicians. It was set up for people who work in the private sector to represent their peers.

Personally think the entire congress should be turned over and all new folks elected. Don't think we need to dismantle.

And, it can be done without the federal govt. State governors can call a constitutional convention to propose and vote on amendments.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There sure is a lot of peoples comments not showing up now........i wonder if banns will be coming?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The best way to fix Congress is to install term limits.....8 years is enough. We have way to many career politicians although the people do put them in to place. We force term limits as President with only 8 years max. but not with Congress. Just my opinion!
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Geez, what have I walked int o here. Good Evening all. Another grey and windy day here in Sydney, Its now Autumn so the nice are growing colder. and my back is getting stiffer.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
479. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


About time but don't know if Saturday is the best day, Tuesday is the least volume.


From that article...

"USPS posted a $3.8 billion loss in its 2009 fiscal year, the latest in a multiyear string of whopping losses. Mail volume was down 12.7% for the year, a trend the agency expects to continue over the next decade as more consumers opt for online bill payments and message delivery.

The Post Office was $10 billion in debt as of Sept. 30 -- not far off from its $15 billion debt limit, which the agency expects to hit in its 2011 fiscal year."

Also....A significant postal price hike is also under consideration, although the price most consumers care about -- the rate for a first-class stamp -- is locked in at 44 cents for 2010.

Let's see....my cable bill just went up....my exterminator service just went up...electric bill had a 3-step increase recently...NEXT!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting doabarrelroll:


Yes its true. The chinese restaurant near my old house was cuban chinese.
Link with pictures

Link


Having lived in Miami more than 25 years, most of the Chinese Restaurants were Chinese-Cubans. There are also very high populations of Chinese and Japanese in Peru and other South American Countries. Very prosperous communities.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting StormW:


Declaration of Independence
The Unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America
When, in the course of human events, it becomes
necessary for one people to dissolve the political
bonds which have connected them with another,
and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate
and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's
God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind
requires that they should declare the causes which impel them
to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any
form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is
the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
new government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem
most likely to effect their safety and happiness.



Sorry Storm, but I think this next paragraph is also very important.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting IKE:


LOL.

Bye-bye, Saturday mail?


About time but don't know if Saturday is the best day, Tuesday is the least volume.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
471. IKE
Quoting doabarrelroll:


Yikes well than ok Hanley Ramirez is black and from the Dominican Republic
Link


LOL.

Bye-bye, Saturday mail?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting doabarrelroll:

Its the same with hispanics. I dont think people realize that hispanics can be from any race. There is a China town in Cuba where there are Chinese Cubans. Sammy Sosa is a black hispanic. While Cameron Diaz is a white Cuban.

That is fascinating. I admit I had no idea there are Chinese Cubans.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Severe weather threat in Florida today ended up being a dud!! I am in Melbourne and had rain for less than an hour and heard just some small thunder!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
466. IKE
Quoting doabarrelroll:

Its the same with hispanics. I dont think people realize that hispanics can be from any race. There is a China town in Cuba where there are Chinese Cubans. Sammy Sosa is a black hispanic. While Cameron Diaz is a white Cuban.


Sammy is almost white now.

"""Sammy Sosa says a cosmetic cream he uses to soften his skin is the reason for his lighter skin tone.""".........


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting StormW:


First, we need to fix Congress.

Very true. The catch is HOW to fix Congress, without breaking it more, and also to prevent the same situation from happening down the road.

Yeah, its a BIG catch.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting doabarrelroll:
to be "racisim" Jewish would have to be a race.

True, as we know from history there was a great Diaspora. This is a bit simplistic, but perhaps good enough.

From About.com, "What is Jewish?"

Being Jewish is not a race

Being Jewish is not a race because Jews do not share one common ancestry or biological distinction. People of many different races have become Jewish people over the years.

Being Jewish is not a nationality

Being Jewish is not a nationality because Jews have been dispersed throughout the world for almost two thousand years. People of many different nationalities are Jewish.
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.

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