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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909. StormChaser81
2:56 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Just keeps coming, but falls apart just inland.

Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
908. AwakeInMaryland
2:55 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
NEW BLOG NEW BLOG NEW BLOG
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
907. TampaTom
2:21 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


Not going to happen expect similar conditions to 2004.


Crap... OK, Florida... get ready...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
904. Orcasystems
1:59 PM GMT on March 03, 2010


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
903. TampaTom
1:57 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Did someone say Doom Flag?

Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
898. PensacolaDoug
1:40 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
JB defending himmself this morn.

WEDNESDAY 7 A.M.
ADDRESSING AN ATTACK.

Not a good day for me yesterday. I spoke at the 9-12 committee a week ago and explained why I had "sympathy for Michael Mann" and why I think PSU should take this and turn it into a series of debates with him. I asked the crowd to understand that we all have weaknesses and explained how I have seen myself, in forecast situations, dismiss something and wind up wrong. Well a local doctor wrote me on this and said that he disagreed and I ought to examine my Catholic faith because of this. Funny, the Catholic faith I was taught had compassion and understanding as a tenet, not string 'em up, it will teach them a lesson.

In the meantime, I have caught the attention of the McCarthy-type inquisitor of the environmental movement Joe Romm, who completely twists my ideas on the weather in a blog ripping me apart. Apparently Mr. Romm is either so blinded by his agenda, or simply can't listen to what is being said, that he doesn't understand my forecast in Europe and the United States is that, a forecast for Europe and the United States and not the whole globe. And so he takes snippets of what I said then says I said one thing then the other. Now I am bringing this up simply because after sleeping on it, I think it's a good topic for this blog, and it makes my point. People are being driven by something other than getting the right answer... getting their answer.

What can you do with things like this? I am admitting to what was forecasted beforehand.. a spike in the overall global temp is occurring, but the temps in Europe and the United States were very cold this winter. It;s not MANMADE global warming that is causing either, though he thinks it is. Here is the kicker. I have one person telling me to re-examine my walk with God because I see the other side of the argument, and he is mad, and another coming after me for a forecast I hit. It was stated beforehand that the Earth would warm because of the nino. He claims I said February would be cold.. and I did say that, for THE UNITED STATES. As soon as those monthly temps have come in on Dr. Spencer's site, up they go here.

This global warming argument is a joke (way overblown) as far as the science goes. If it's happening, we will get our answer soon enough. The more I look at it, the more I realize that people have a vested interest in what is almost nothing, a matter of just waiting out the cycle and finally having a consistent measuring stick (satellite data). Simply go out 30 years and see if it's as cold as it was 30 years ago, which will take some doing but I believe will happen. What is so darn hard to see about that? If it warms more, though I don't think it will, then Dr. Mann and the rest are right. If it cools back to where it was, then I am right. If it's in between, then we can fight some more. We will get an answer in 20 or 30 years, and I think it will be that CO2 is no big deal, and that there are a lot of people with interests that have nothing to do with science or the right answer here. The Earth is not going to blow up or become like Venus, which I suspect was created with its CO2 problem, not a product of fossil fuel burning Venutians burning themselves out of their planet. But these people will stop at nothing to drive home their agenda, whatever it is. They use other examples, or twist things, to drive home their point. It's a looney bin, and it's too bad it's killing the fun we can have with the weather.

But it's amazing to me that the one guy that is the most open-minded here.. in other words I believe there is no human-induced warming but understand why someone might think that, and we will get our answer in the next 20 or 30 years, can get it from both sides. Moral is that this issue is not about science, and that idea is the one I am most confident of.

Now that I got that off my chest (maybe I am mad this storm isn't working out) I can get back to doing the work of the American weather weenie.

A page from Bill Clinton, eh?

Ciao for now.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 662
897. cg2916
1:37 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Is anyone else on?
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
896. cg2916
1:36 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting AussieStorm:
NASA finds moon craters filled with ice

WASHINGTON: A US radar launched into orbit aboard an Indian spacecraft has detected craters filled with ice on the moon's north pole, NASA says.

The US space agency's Mini-SAR radar found more than 40 small craters ranging in diameter from 1.6 to 15 kilometres, each full of water ice.

''Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness, it's estimated there could be at least 600 million tonnes of water ice,'' NASA said in a statement.

The finding came weeks after the US President, Barack Obama, halted US ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

The findings ''show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought'', said Paul Spudis, the lead investigator at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

The Mini-SAR has spent the past year mapping the moon's permanently shadowed polar craters that are not visible from Earth, using the polarisation properties of reflected radio waves.

The findings, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, are consistent with the findings of other NASA instruments and add to the growing scientific understanding of the manifold forms of water found on the moon.

NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which was also on board India's Chandrayaan-1, has discovered water molecules in the moon's polar regions, and water vapour was detected by NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, LCROSS.

Indian scientists reported last year in Science that they had analysed light waves detected by NASA-made instruments on board the Indian satellite, and determined that they showed there was water on the surface of the moon.

Until then, scientists had advanced the theory that, except for the possibility of ice at the bottom of craters, the moon was completely dry.

Agence France-Presse


Water ice? Wow... this is amazing. We found water on the Moon and we're like "Ah, forget Mars, it's the Moon now!"
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
895. cg2916
1:35 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting AussieStorm:
talk about a dead blog, God Evening all

Tell me about it. Let's go to Weather Chat.
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
894. cg2916
1:34 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting leftovers:
you sure can see better than me dont think anyone has a good grasp of what might happen it all depends whether this el nino weakens

They're forecasting a very active season though. But who knows? We may get another 2009.
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
893. cg2916
1:33 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hi guys dosen't this look a little...

more where that came from

I doubt it seriously.
Member Since: December 21, 2007 Posts: 13 Comments: 3046
892. AussieStorm
1:31 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
NASA finds moon craters filled with ice

WASHINGTON: A US radar launched into orbit aboard an Indian spacecraft has detected craters filled with ice on the moon's north pole, NASA says.

The US space agency's Mini-SAR radar found more than 40 small craters ranging in diameter from 1.6 to 15 kilometres, each full of water ice.

''Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness, it's estimated there could be at least 600 million tonnes of water ice,'' NASA said in a statement.

The finding came weeks after the US President, Barack Obama, halted US ambitions to return astronauts to the moon.

The findings ''show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought'', said Paul Spudis, the lead investigator at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

The Mini-SAR has spent the past year mapping the moon's permanently shadowed polar craters that are not visible from Earth, using the polarisation properties of reflected radio waves.

The findings, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, are consistent with the findings of other NASA instruments and add to the growing scientific understanding of the manifold forms of water found on the moon.

NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper, which was also on board India's Chandrayaan-1, has discovered water molecules in the moon's polar regions, and water vapour was detected by NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, LCROSS.

Indian scientists reported last year in Science that they had analysed light waves detected by NASA-made instruments on board the Indian satellite, and determined that they showed there was water on the surface of the moon.

Until then, scientists had advanced the theory that, except for the possibility of ice at the bottom of craters, the moon was completely dry.

Agence France-Presse

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
890. AussieStorm
1:30 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
Chilean quake shifted Earth's axis: NASA scientist

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile probably shifted the Earth's axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometres of rock by several metres, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth's rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

"The length of the day should have got shorter by 1.26 microseconds [millionths of a second]," Gross, said in an emailed reply to questions.
"The axis about which the Earth's mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds [about eight centimetres]."

The changes can be modelled, though they're difficult to detect, given their small size, Gross said.

Some changes may be more obvious and islands may have shifted, said Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at Britain's Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.

Santa Maria Island off the coast near Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city, may have been raised two metres as a result of the quake, Rietbrock said in a telephone interview.

He said the rocks there show evidence pointing to past earthquakes shifting the island upward in the past.

'Ice-Skater Effect'


"It's what we call the ice-skater effect," David Kerridge, head of Earth hazards and systems at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said in a telephone interview.

"As the ice skater [moves] when she's going around in a circle, and she pulls her arms in, she gets faster and faster. It's the same idea with the Earth going around if you change the distribution of mass, the rotation rate changes."

Rietbrock said he hasn't been able to get in touch with seismologists in Concepcion to discuss the quake, which registered 8.8 on the Richter scale.

"What definitely the earthquake has done is made the Earth ring like a bell," Rietbrock said.

The magnitude 9.1 Sumatran quake in 2004 that generated an Indian Ocean tsunami shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted the axis by about 2.3 milliarcseconds, Gross said.

The changes happen on the day and then carry on "forever", Benjamin Fong Chao, dean of Earth Sciences of the National Central University in Taiwan, said in an email.

"This small contribution is buried in larger changes due to other causes, such as atmospheric mass moving around on Earth," Chao said.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
889. AussieStorm
1:21 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
talk about a dead blog, God Evening all
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
887. wunderkidcayman
12:37 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
hi guys dosen't this look a little...

more where that came from
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12716
886. caribbeantracker01
12:17 PM GMT on March 03, 2010
is it me orr is the sea surface temps excessively hot for this time of d year???????
Member Since: May 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 556
884. tornadodude
9:35 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
goodnight all :p

well morning?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
883. TampaSpin
5:17 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Nite all! Got a long day tomorrow! NITE NITE
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
882. Levi32
4:54 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:


You let me know when you wantta do that and we will get StormW on board also to do the same and do a April Fool joke in August.......LOL


Or for real in April....I'll find something that looks like a tropical wave over Africa lol...

During a real storm would be more fun though :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
881. tornadodude
4:54 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
;)
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
880. TampaSpin
4:53 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting Levi32:


Nah I'm just gonna randomly scare the living daylights out of everyone sometime when the wishcasters are running rampant in here.


You let me know when you wantta do that and we will get StormW on board also to do the same and do a April Fool joke in August.......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
879. taco2me61
4:51 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:


That is not good enough i Want the DOOM FLAG we will be hoisting this year for a Hurricane especially the one that comes toward Sarasota.......LOL......OMG you know i am kidding.


Oh no you are not kidding at ALL the "Flag will go UP"
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
878. Levi32
4:50 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting TampaSpin:


That is not good enough i Want the DOOM FLAG we will be hoisting this year for a Hurricane especially the one that comes toward Sarasota.......LOL......OMG you know i am kidding.


Nah I'm just gonna randomly scare the living daylights out of everyone sometime when the wishcasters are running rampant in here.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
877. TampaSpin
4:48 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting Ossqss:


Na, couldn't be right or associated with the flip thing, could it?

\



Interesting if nothing else. This PDF is free :)

http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3230




That is not good enough i Want the DOOM FLAG we will be hoisting this year for a Hurricane especially the one that comes toward Sarasota.......LOL......OMG you know i am kidding.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
876. TampaSpin
4:45 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting taco2me61:
I don't know if I can leave you guys alone
or something just might happen....

Taco :0)


Bro i would sleep with only 1 eye half shut in fear of what Levi might bring upon us all! You know what an evil AGW person he is.....LOL. HE'S gonna figure out some way of starting an ICE AGE i just know it, just to show the world!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
875. Ossqss
4:45 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:


I agree. Those magnetic fields snap like rubber bands on the sun, sending out a flying ****load of solar energy.


Na, couldn't be right or associated with the flip thing, could it?

\



Interesting if nothing else. This PDF is free :)

http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3230


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
873. taco2me61
4:43 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
I don't know if I can leave you guys alone
or something just might happen....

Taco :0)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
872. TampaSpin
4:42 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
So this year instead of rising the hurricane flag we raise the doom Flag....i know Ossq has something in his arsinal to show us a DOOM FLAG !
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
871. Levi32
4:40 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:


Wow...that was cool! How did that happen? (The double quote...)


You mean like this.....you accidentally hit the quote button twice :P

(yes I'll delete the long post after he sees it lol)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
870. TampaSpin
4:40 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
You all got some issues.....if the sky falls tonite i'm not taking the blame as i usually do on here......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
869. Levi32
4:39 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:


You guys are going to have to remember to lay one of those "doom"s on the blog when a cane makes landfall.


Oh I will....that will beat Drak's line: "OMG PINHOLE EYE WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! RUN!!"


Lol goodnight Oz :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
868. taco2me61
4:39 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Nite Levi and CycloneOz then everybody else....
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
865. tornadodude
4:37 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
LOL!

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
864. Levi32
4:36 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Quoting CycloneOz:
Yep, I'm beddie bye, too.

I hope I don't dream about "crustal shift." I might wake up with sleep in my eyes.


Or with another big DOOM!!! in your face lol.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
862. taco2me61
4:34 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
You too tampaspin

oh yea keep the funds coming....

Taco :0)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
859. Levi32
4:33 AM GMT on March 03, 2010
Night Taco :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700

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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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