An upside-down winter: coldest in 25 years in U.S., warmest on record in Canada

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:26 PM GMT on March 12, 2010

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The U.S. just experienced its coldest winter in 25 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The winter period December - February was the 18th coldest winter in the contiguous U.S. over the past 115 years, and the coldest since 1984 - 1985. It was also a wet winter, ranking 19th wettest. The states experiencing the coldest winters, relative to average, were Texas and Louisiana, which had their 5th coldest winters on record. Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina also had a top-ten coldest winter. The only state much above average was Maine, which had its 3rd warmest winter. As I discussed earlier this week, this winter's cold weather over the U.S. is largely due to the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation, which assumed its most extreme negative configuration since record keeping began in 1950. El Niño helped keep things cool from Texas to the Southeastern U.S., as well.


Figure 1. Winter temperatures for the winter of 2009 - 2010. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

A cold February in the U.S.
February temperatures were 2.2°F below average across the contiguous U.S., making it the 29th coldest February in the 115-year record. For the second month in a row, Florida was the coldest state, relative to average. Florida had its 4th coldest February on record. Seven other states had February temperatures between 5th and 8th coldest on record: Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina. Maine had its 3rd warmest February, New Hampshire its 5th, and Washington its 6th. Precipitation across the U.S. was near average in February.

Warmest and driest winter on record in Canada
Canada had its warmest winter on record, 4.0°C (7.2°F) above average, according to Environment Canada. The previous record was 3.9°C above average, set in 2005-2006. Canada also experienced its driest winter on record this year, with precipitation 22.0% below normal. The previous driest winter was 1977-1978 (20.1% below normal). Canadian weather records go back 63 years, to 1948. David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, warned of potential "horrific" water shortages, insect infestations, and wildfires this summer due to the warm, dry winter. Phillips blamed the warm winter weather on El Niño and the severe loss of arctic sea ice last fall. The winter season in Canada has warmed, on average, by 2.5°C (4.5°F) over the past 63 years.


Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average in Canada for the winter of 2009 - 2010. Image credit: Environment Canada.

Brazilian tropical/subtropical storm named "Anita"
The South Atlantic tropical/subtropical storm we've been tracking this week has moved over colder waters and has now transitioned to a regular extratropical storm. Earlier this week, the storm became just the 7th tropical or subtropical cyclone on record in the South Atlantic. According to a statement put out by MetSul Meteorologia, a Brazilian weather company, this storm is now named "Tropical Storm Anita:"

The regional weather centers and the private weather enterprises of both Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, southernmost Brazilian states, in a joint decision, named Anita the rare tropical storm of March 9th and 10th in the coastal areas of the region. The name was chosen considering a historic figure of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, both states affected by the tropical cyclone. Anita Garibaldi (1821-1849) was a heroine of the Farroupilha Revolution (1835-1845), one of the most important events in the Brazilian history that took place in the Southern part of the country. Anita was used in the past to designate tropical cyclones in other basins: North Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Next week, we need to keep an eye on northeastern Australia, where Tropical Cyclone 20 may pay a visit. The storm is under light shear and warm waters, and is forecast to increase to Category 4 strength by Monday. Also of concern is Tropical Cyclone 19, which is expected to hit Fiji as a Category 2 storm early next week.

First tornado death of the year for the U.S
A tornado that hit Cleburne, Arkansas on Wednesday caused three serious injuries and the tornado season's first fatality, a 79-year old man sheltering in his single story wood-frame home. Yesterday, a suspected tornado ripped through Haines City, Florida destroying four condos and damaging fifteen others. One person was injured. Two other tornadoes caused minor damage in central Florida. The severe weather outbreak continues today, as NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a "slight" chance of severe weather over portions of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. After today, the severe weather action should diminish for at least five days over the U.S. The major U.S. weather story this weekend will be flooding in the Mid-Atlantic, where heavy rains of up to four inches are expected. Soils are already saturated and the heavy snows from this winter's major snowstorms will also melt, likely creating moderate flooding problems over much of the Mid-Atlantic.

Links to follow:
Interactive tornado map
Severe weather page


Figure 3. Severe weather forecast for today from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

Jeff Masters

Tornado, Saline County, AR (waltdsgirl)
Tornado, Saline County, AR
deluge of rain... (happytobealive)
We drove west on I-10 today and this is what we encountered near Live Oak, Florida. We pulled to the side of the road for a time because the rain was more than the wipers could clear for safe driving.
deluge of rain...
wind damage (Openmike)
Wind tore the awning from a business on U.S. 19 between Crystal River and Homassaa Springs, Fl., Thursday afternoon. Severe stroms hammered the area, causing wind damage and flooding. A tornado was reported, by a trained spotter, about ten miles South of this location. Check the series for more storm and flood pictures.
wind damage

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288. JRRP

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Hurricane Preparation 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128883
Good Morning/Afternoon to my WU friends. Concerning to relatively cool GOM, that will not last too long. The GOM will warm up to its normal "bathtub temps" by the beginning of July 2010. Combined with the already above normal E ATL and a dimishing El Nino, with neutral conditions expected by 8-2010, I am concerned that the 2010 ATL Hurricane Season will be very active.
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Good morning.

Ului looking pretty nice this morning, with a great outflow pattern and an eye developing. Ului is now a Category 3 cyclone, forecasted to intensify into a Cat 5 over the next couple days.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
284. adb42
Two tropical cyclones in the South Pacific: Tomas is approaching Fiji, and will hit the main islands with winds of 95 knots during Sunday / Monday local time.
Ului is traversing the seas between Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Queensland, intensifying explosively - from 65 knots at 0900 GMT to 105 knots at 1500 GMT. The storm will reach a top intensity of 150 knots tomorrow. No land threatened directly, although the Solomon Islands are under gale warning, and I'm concerned about the Louisiade Islands, southeast of Papua New Guinea. Queensland is way too far off (about 1200 miles) to make any prediction at all.
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Wow Ului is supposed to be a cat 5
to think just 5 days ago there was nothing
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Good Morning to all, Quite a rain event in w c fl it was i got 5.77 inches in two days. Zephyrhills Fl. Have a great day.
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Quoting aquak9:
79 days, eh, Keeper? Ya think Mother Nature uses the same calender we do? :)

I'm coastal and it's been 46 years since we've seen hurricane-force winds, from a named system.

Let's go for 50 years, ok?
if i could i would but i can't so i won't
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
79 days, eh, Keeper? Ya think Mother Nature uses the same calender we do? :)

I'm coastal and it's been 46 years since we've seen hurricane-force winds, from a named system.

Let's go for 50 years, ok?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26128
Quoting CybrTeddy:


2009 was the downplaying season.


yes it was
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Quoting aquak9:
Good Morning WU-Bloggers.

Ya'll can start downplaying Season™ any time now. I'm tired already of the impending doom-and-gloom.


2009 was the downplaying season.
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Quoting aquak9:
Good Morning WU-Bloggers.

Ya'll can start downplaying Season™ any time now. I'm tired already of the impending doom-and-gloom.
ya but look at it this way by the time the season does start 79 days from now all these early forecasters will be suffering tropical burn out by then
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
Good morning Storm.The subsurface is still very warm in the eastcentral Pacific.When do you see it starting to cool?

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good morning guy whats up
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Good Morning WU-Bloggers.

Ya'll can start downplaying Season™ any time now. I'm tired already of the impending doom-and-gloom.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 169 Comments: 26128
Canada may not have been as cold as in the past, but it could hardly be called warm. For example, -30 C is warmer than -40 C but neither is actually warm.

When extremely cold air moves south from Canada into the U.S. less cold air moves in to replace it. For example, it isn't unusual for southern Alaska to warm to above freezing when -10 C air moves into Kansas.

Canadian moisture depends upon low pressure systems moving along the border with the U.S. As they move east they draw up moisture from the U.S. that didn't happen this year and the air in the U.S. was too cold and dry for significant moisture to reach Canada.
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anyway guys I'm out be back around early-mid morn
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


REMEMBER SUNDAY MORNING AT 2 AM EST YOU MUST SET YOUR CLOCK AHEAD 1 HOUR AS WE SPRING AHEAD INTO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME OR EDT

If you are in the US (for DST) east coast (EDT) that is. After resetting the microwave and thermostat clocks, its off to a combined Albert Einstein Birthday Bash and Pi Day Recital. Consider the first 10K digits included here.......
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CybrTeddy -- per my post immediately following yours, if we are in a La Nina by August, watch out!
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Quoting WunderFul:
Storm, if still out there, a couple questions:

1. Aren't we still officially in an El Nino pattern? If so, couldn't that create continued hostile shear conditions like most of last year until it abates? Or, have we officially transitioned to El Modiki or even a neutral phase again? Seems like the season will likely start slow as long as El Nino is still hanging around.

2. Also, the very cold winter in the south has really knocked down the Gulf water temps. Won't that also potentially suppress cyclogenesis a bit?

Seems like a couple pretty big factors that would argue for at best an average tropical season to me. If I were a betting person, I'd bet slow start, hot finish, ending with near average totals. Welcome comments on this.


I'm not storm but I'll try to answer that. The El Nino will likely transform into a Neutral by May. 2005 and 2008 were both neutral years. Later on this season will likely become a Weak La Nina which should conduce tropical cyclones because of the lesser trade winds in the Atlantic, even Neutral will do that.

In regards to the GOMEX, yea its cold because of the extreme chilly weather the south has been having. But its likely that this summer will be a much warmer than average one too, that will likely heat up the SSTs to average-above average in the GOMEX.
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REMEMBER SUNDAY MORNING AT 2 AM EST YOU MUST SET YOUR CLOCK AHEAD 1 HOUR AS WE SPRING AHEAD INTO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME OR EDT
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
Storm, if still out there, a couple questions:

1. Aren't we still officially in an El Nino pattern? If so, couldn't that create continued hostile shear conditions like most of last year until it abates? Or, have we officially transitioned to El Modiki or even a neutral phase again? Seems like the season will likely start slow as long as El Nino is still hanging around.

2. Also, the very cold winter in the south has really knocked down the Gulf water temps. Won't that also potentially suppress cyclogenesis a bit?

Seems like a couple pretty big factors that would argue for at best an average tropical season to me. If I were a betting person, I'd bet slow start, hot finish, ending with near average totals. Welcome comments on this.
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Quoting Levi32:


The NASA model set's March forecast has us going into a steep fall in May, bringing us to central-neutral in June, and into La Nina conditions by July or August.



A Moderate La Nina by the looks of it too, strongest since 2007. If the high builds in strong enough we could see strong storms trucking through the Caribbean like in 2007 and part of 2008 (Dolly)
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259. JRRP
Quoting altesticstorm10:
20 tropical storms
11 hurricanes
5 major hurricanes
2 Cat. 5 hurricanes


Agreed?

within 40 years we will see another superactive hurricane season
jejeje
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
20 tropical storms
11 hurricanes
5 major hurricanes
2 Cat. 5 hurricanes


Agreed?

something along the line or there about +/-
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257. xcool
Levi32 THANK ALOT :)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting xcool:
Levi32:
do you have LINK to Japanese model Temperature Anomalies Worldwide ???


LINK
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
255. xcool
Levi32:
do you have LINK to Japanese model Temperature Anomalies Worldwide ???
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting altesticstorm10:
20 tropical storms
11 hurricanes
5 major hurricanes
2 Cat. 5 hurricanes


Agreed?

seems a little high
besides cat fives rarely accurately portray the rest of the season, we could get 20 storms without a single cat 5
H season is still 3 months away
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250. JLPR
Quoting Levi32:


It may not necessarily be that steep of a fall, but I do think we're headed for a La Nina by the end of the hurricane season as we look towards next winter.


ahh thats nice to hear :D
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DEEPENING LOW PRESSURE MOVING UP THE MID ATLANTIC COAST COMBINED WITH HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE CANADIAN MARITIMES WILL RESULT IN A STRENGTHENING PRESSURE GRADIENT ACROSS THE REGION. EASTERLY WINDS GUSTING TO 40 MPH SATURDAY MORNING WILL SLOWLY INCREASE DURING THE DAY AND GUST TO 50 MPH ESPECIALLY ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COAST BY EVENING.

IN AND AROUND NEW YORK CITY WINDS OF 55 TO 60 MPH ARE LIKELY ON THE LARGE BRIDGES AND THE UPPER FLOORS OF SKYSCRAPERS.

THE WINDS WILL GRADUALLY DIMINISH LATE SATURDAY NIGHT.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WIND ADVISORY IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS ARE FORECAST TO BE 31 TO 39 MPH OR GUSTS WILL RANGE BETWEEN 46 AND 57 MPH. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT...ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION.

&&

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FLASH FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DES MOINES IA
937 PM CST FRI MAR 12 2010

WEBSTER IA-937 PM CST FRI MAR 12 2010

...FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR ICE JAM FLOODING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR CENTRAL WEBSTER COUNTY UNTIL 1130 PM CST...

AT 935 PM CST...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED THAT FLASH FLOODING CONTINUED ALONG THE DES MOINES RIVER ON THE NORTH EDGE OF FORT DODGE...IN THE BREEN AND RIVERDALE ADDITIONS. WATER WAS SURROUNDING OR ENTERING HOMES IN THE BREEN ADDITION. PORTIONS OF ROADS NEAR THIS
AREA OF THE RIVER WERE ALSO LIKELY UNDER WATER.

WHEN THE ICE JAM BREAKS OR MOVES DOWNSTREAM...SOME OTHER LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLASH FLOODING INCLUDE...THE SCENIC DRIVE ADDITION DOWNSTREAM OF RIVERDALE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLASH FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. IF YOU ARE IN THE WARNING AREA...MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY. RESIDENTS LIVING ALONG STREAMS AND CREEKS SHOULD TAKE IMMEDIATE PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS SWIFTLY FLOWING WATERS OR WATERS OF UNKNOWN DEPTH BY FOOT OR BY AUTOMOBILE.

&&

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Quoting bappit:
#223
"The difference in temps between the poles and tropics is the reason for TCs"

No way, man. Gross misunderstanding.

Right. Busted, sorry. (I guess I am tired.) I need to shut up now and go to bed early.
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WWNT31 KNGU 031312//
SUBJ/NORTH ATLANTIC HIGH WIND AND SEAS WARNING//
RMKS/1. This warning is valid for 131200Z Mar 2010.
2. Warnings are for over water areas only but may overlap some land
and sheltered areas and have been simplified to ease plotting.
3. High wind warnings based on 024 hrs forecast.
a. Gale Warning: Area of 35 kt gale and greater over water bounded by:
40.0N4 072.5W4, 40.2N6 073.0W0,
40.0N4 073.7W7, 39.8N0 074.0W1, 38.3N4 075.0W2,
38.0N1 075.1W3, 37.9N9 075.0W2, 35.0N8 071.2W0,
34.9N6 071.0W8, 34.6N3 070.0W7, 35.0N8 069.0W5,
35.7N5 068.0W4, 36.0N9 067.9W2, 36.2N1 068.0W4,
40.0N4 072.5W4,
Max gale 40kt near 38.4N5 072.7W6.
4. High seas warnings based on 024 hrs forecast.
a. Seas 18 ft or greater bounded by:
37.1N1 073.0W0, 37.0N0 073.0W0,
36.0N9 072.5W4, 35.5N3 072.0W9, 35.4N2 071.0W8,
36.0N9 070.8W5, 37.0N0 071.0W8, 37.1N1 073.0W0,
b. Seas 12 ft or greater bounded by:
39.4N6 071.0W8, 40.0N4 071.8W6,
40.3N7 073.0W0, 40.0N4 073.8W8, 39.9N1 074.0W1,
38.4N5 075.0W2, 38.0N1 075.3W5, 37.0N0 075.1W3,
36.4N3 075.0W2, 35.0N8 074.4W5, 34.1N8 074.0W1,
32.0N5 072.8W7, 30.9N2 072.0W9, 30.0N3 071.4W2,
29.6N7 071.0W8, 29.0N1 070.0W7, 29.0N1 069.9W4,
28.9N9 069.0W5, 29.0N1 068.8W2, 30.0N3 067.7W0,
32.0N5 067.2W5, 33.0N6 067.2W5, 36.0N9 068.4W8,
39.4N6 071.0W8,
Max seas 18ft near 36.6N5 071.8W6.
c. Seas 12 ft or greater bounded by:
71.4N2 006.0E6, 71.2N0 005.0E5,
71.0N8 004.7E1, 70.6N3 004.0E4, 70.0N7 003.2E5,
69.8N3 003.0E3, 69.0N5 002.2E4, 68.0N4 002.1E3,
67.0N3 002.2E4, 66.0N2 002.8E0, 65.8N9 003.0E3,
64.4N4 005.0E5, 64.0N0 006.0E6, 64.0N0 006.1E7,
63.9N8 007.0E7, 64.0N0 008.0E8, 64.0N0 008.2E0,
65.0N1 010.6E7, 65.3N4 011.0E2, 69.0N5 014.7E2,
72.0N9 016.4E1, 73.0N0 016.5E2, 73.2N2 016.0E7,
71.4N2 006.0E6,
Max seas 16ft near 68.0N4 010.0E1.

6. Next scheduled warning will be 031400z.//

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
Quoting bappit:
#223
"The difference in temps between the poles and tropics is the reason for TCs"

No way, man. Gross misunderstanding.


Yeah that would imply that TCs form due to baroclinic instability. If that statement was true, then hurricanes would form more during the winter, when the temperature difference between the equator and the pole is greatest.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting hurricane23:
More then often in most incases a recurve east of the u.s. is probably with the extra fuel out in the eastern atlantic. You can have 30 hurricanes but if the patttern isn't right then its all for the fish. As ive mentioned before It is that period from August 20th thru Sept. 2Oth. that is critical. If a ridge just happens to set up in the Western Atlantic at 500 mb during that period, there will likely be landfalls. If a trough sets up on or just off the east coast, any storms will not make landfall, except in the West Gulf. Just plain luck and chance. The long wave position is always changing, and rarely stays in one place more than 10-14 days. Were these systems track is anyones guess. It is the nature of warm-core lows in the tropics to spin up and become Cat 5's, and it is the environment mostly wind shear that modulates the intensity.




I have nothing against fish or ships. But if there are 30 hurricanes, they can have everyone of them. I hate to imagine the damage after ten landfalls.
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#223
"The difference in temps between the poles and tropics is the reason for TCs"

No way, man. Gross misunderstanding.
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One of many money pits. (though I do think we are going to need the NPOESS program to function eventually)

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-11-satellite_N.htm

Congress debates new satellite plan
" The Obama administration plans to reorganize and more than double the annual budget for a troubled weather satellite program that is five years behind schedule and more than $7 billion over its original cost estimate.

But the administration first must convince a skeptical Congress that its plan will be enough to fix the project. Lawmakers need to approve a White House request to increase the program's yearly budget by more than $678 million to $1.1 billion in 2011."
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More then often in most incases a recurve east of the u.s. is probably with the extra fuel out in the eastern atlantic. You can have 30 hurricanes but if the patttern isn't right then its all for the fish. As ive mentioned before It is that period from August 20th thru Sept. 2Oth. that is critical. If a ridge just happens to set up in the Western Atlantic at 500 mb during that period, there will likely be landfalls. If a trough sets up on or just off the east coast, any storms will not make landfall, except in the West Gulf. Just plain luck and chance. The long wave position is always changing, and rarely stays in one place more than 2 weeks. Were these systems track is anyones guess. It is the nature of warm-core lows in the tropics to spin up and become Cat 5's, and it is the environment mostly wind shear that modulates the intensity.




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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.