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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Quoting PcolaDan:


Talking about me behind my back again are you? ;)


Whoops! Caught again!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
Blue crawfish featured in Audubon Insectarium exhibit


By Richard Thompson, The Times-Picayune
March 12, 2010, 6:23PM


White tigers? Yes. Albino alligators? Heard of that.

But blue crawfish?

You better believe it.

A new exhibit at the Audubon Insectarium features a rare and unexpected member of the "Red Swamp" crawfish species. What's different? You guessed it. It's blue.

"Most visitors ask if they taste the same," said Jayme Necaise, director of animals and visitor programs at the Audubon Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street. "None of us have ever had the heart to put them in a pot and boil them up."

blue_crawfish_photographed.JPGMichael DeMocker/The Times-PicayuneIn the wild, one of about every 10,000 crawfish is blue.

The crawfish on display aren't actually the blue critters that are found in the wild. Experts estimate about 1 of every 10,000 turn that color.

Instead, they are crawfish that Juliette Delabbio, director of Northwestern State University's Aquaculture Research Center, turned blue in her lab by altering the crustaceans' environment. Delabbio is expected to publish a paper soon on the blue crawfish phenomenon.

Audubon officials says the color change is likely the result of factors such as the crustaceans' diet, the water they live in, and their exposure to light.

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Pcola Dan...was in your lovely town a week ago tonight....stayed at Pcola Beach...loved it...it's great spot
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685. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Ului, Category 4 (940 hPa) located at 12.9S 159.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 95 knots with gusts of 135 knots. The severe cyclone is reported as moving west-southwest at 4 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T5.0/5.5/W0.5/12hrs

Hurricane Force Winds
=====================
35 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
==================
55 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 13.2S 158.9E - 105 knots (CAT 4)
24 HRS: 13.5S 158.2E - 120 knots (CAT 5)
48 HRS: 14.0S 158.2E - 125 knots (CAT 5)
72 HRS: 15.7S 159.6E - 125 knots (CAT 5)

Additional Information
==========================
Analysis based on embedded centre with light grey surround and dark grey centre.

DT is 5.0, MET is 5.0 also, Final T 5.0. CI held at 5.5

System has weakened slightly over the last 12 to 18 hours as northern outflow channel has weakened. Outflow to south remains very strong.

---
going away from Australia but towards New Caledonia?
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Hi SSI Guys...Um no. I didn't take an interest in atmospheric science until after the historic 2004 season. Before that my main interest had always been cloud formations and puddles.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11047
I am always serious on here...especially when my pipes are freezing.
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Quoting Grothar:
...and the rest of us will provide a few seconds of comedy relief when things become too tense on the blog.


Talking about me behind my back again are you? ;)
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woosh!

Good evening and goodnight!
Just popping in and out...
Making up for the hour lost this morning.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11047
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


So talking about an argument will start an argument? Is this a Self-reference?

Seriously though, we do tend to have a debate every time someone alludes to global warming, but the debates aren't always unfriendly and can become rather informative.


That was a good "LINK" I have to keep that for future reference. When I see the GW debates, it always reminds me of the old "Abbot & Costello routine about "Niagara Falls or "Susquehanna". The old timers will know what I mean. Maybe somewhere, somehow, someone will post a YouTube of the skit to show you how the GW debate is like that. It is really funny, you should watch it when you have time.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
Quoting altesticstorm10:
24ºC isn't exactly warm enough for tropical development.


Remember Epsilon? It became a hurricane over 21-24C SSTs and moderate shear.
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Quoting Patrap:
Thankfullly..the Good Dr. Masters Blog dosent exist to satisfy any one blogging individual.

Those interested in the science of GW and CC,as well as his tropical expertise.. enjoy His entries on the matters at hand globally,...and admire his openness to dissent on the matters he post and on occasion actually interacts with folks in this entry.

I know of no other PHD's blog in the Blogoshere that does such.

So for that, Im always grateful to him for allowing us to add our lil slices of the pie here as well.



According to post 661, that kind of post would be met with a permaban. Which is kind of exaggerating the forbiddeness of the topic. And AGW isn't a word, it's an abbrevation.
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Quoting RTLSNK:
2010 Hurricane season prediction:

14 new trolls

7 chat room types who never read back to see
their questions were answered already

2 tropical amanda/amander look alikes

1 new JFV shower curtain


Chat room types? I go in the chat room occasionally yet I still have time to check the blog. But during the hurricane season the comments will come quickly and any time 10 minutes pass without one comment the blog will be said to have "died".
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
24ºC isn't exactly warm enough for tropical development.


24
before ya know it
it will be 26 by late april
27 in early may
28 by the start of june
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
Quoting Grothar:


There you go again Astro, trying to start another argument! LOL Yes, Astro you are correct. It is much more interesting to see an exchange of information rather than unfriendly debate. It impresses no one.


So talking about an argument will start an argument? Is this a Self-reference?

Seriously though, we do tend to have a debate every time someone alludes to global warming, but the debates aren't always unfriendly and can become rather informative.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
24C isn't exactly warm enough for tropical development.




Its March ...LOL
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Quoting Ameister12:
Looks to me that Ului is staring to get her act together.


She should gradually regain her organization as she continues to increase her distance from the upper low to the northeast, as well as TC Tomas.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455
Quoting Grothar:


There you go again Astro, trying to start another argument! LOL Yes, Astro you are correct. It is much more interesting to see an exchange of information rather than unfriendly debate. It impresses no one.


Hawk!!!!
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Thankfullly..the Good Dr. Masters Blog dosent exist to satisfy any one blogging individual.

Those interested in the science of GW and CC,as well as his tropical expertise.. enjoy His entries on the matters at hand globally,...and admire his openness to dissent on the matters he post and on occasion actually interacts with folks in this entry.

I know of no other PHD's blog in the Blogoshere that does such.

So for that, Im always grateful to him for allowing us to add our lil slices of the pie here as well.

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Looks to me that Ului is trying to get her act together.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4499
663. xcool
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Hurricane Preparation 2010
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2010 Hurricane season prediction:

14 new trolls

7 chat room types who never read back to see
their questions were answered already

2 tropical amanda/amander look alikes

1 new JFV shower curtain
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Holy cow, that forecast is even more high-ended than mine (except for major hurricanes and we have the same number of cat. 5s).

Ontario fever? ;)


these numbers are current pick with current conditions
these numbers will change as current conditions change
we wait on eastern waves and see the angle and strengh they begin rolling off
lots left to come into play current indices are showing enhanced activity watch east pacfic also part of the tale see what becomes of it
fast start in pacific slow start for atlantic
slow start in pacific fast start in atlantic

in 77 days we will know more
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
It's only mid-March. Things can change. Drak could change his forecast as many times as Bill Grey does. But I can attest to the fact, he is pretty accurate.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Levi…your opinions are fine. Contrasting points of view are a good thing. Just for the record, what is your background in the study of meteorology or are you an avid and knowledgeable observer?


My background consists of nothing officially impressive because I just graduated high school a month ago. I have read books my whole childhood and learned a whole ton from watching Joe Bastardi, and from being on this site being able to converse with experts. I still have a lot to learn and I hope I get the privilege to go to a college with a Meteorology program.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 628 Comments: 26455

The GOM is Far from frigid..

GOM 120 Hour Water Surface Temperature Forecast Model
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
Drak, what do you mean by "early start"? Like how early? For instance, when will we see our "G" storm, in your opinion? July?


Early start as in seeing a storm form in May. Pointing out when a specific storm will form, I don't think can be reasonably given out at this time.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


So there are two types of "tennis-match exchanges of information": agreements and disagreements. Both can be informative just as long as it stays friendly and does not become excessively off-topic.


There you go again Astro, trying to start another argument! LOL Yes, Astro you are correct. It is much more interesting to see an exchange of information rather than unfriendly debate. It impresses no one.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
Quoting altesticstorm10:
Intriguing.


March 13, 2010 (Warmer than yesterday)


March 12, 2010


April 11, 2005


This year's SSTs compared to last year (March 6):

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Trust me...once the season starts, off topic comments and posters will be gone!
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.."I gotta tell ya folks..the wunderground blogger's have intuition and experience beaucoup, and were glad to see um every season"..


Back to u guys in the Studio..

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Quoting Grothar:


Madame La Sorda was actually from Boston, about 2 blocks from where Cheers was located.


Okay...sat two seats away from Norm and Cliff.
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Quoting StormW:


It was good. Ya, Drak and I have had our little tiffs, but one thing I'm impressed with is how he has expanded his knowledge, just in the past year. Him, and Levi too...these guys have really studied their butt's off!!


It is becoming more obvious they know an awful lot. I wish you all well.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
Quoting Grothar:
It is true what GeoffWPB said in an earlier blog about this being a new season, etc.

I remember a few nights when StormW and Drakoen were giving excellent reports about some storms and were in almost 99% agreement. It was entertaining as well as informative to watch a tennis-match like exchange of information. I hope that others like Levi32 and Astro might join in something like that this year. It would certainly make for some interesting evenings to see knowledegable people making observations. True, it was slow last season and I think the biggest debate was the correct spelling of Fujiwara (which is correct by the way)

I do hope that the experts will give us good information, and the rest of us will provide a few seconds of comedy relief when things become too tense on the blog. We won't be able to do it too much during the season for obvious reasons, and shouldn't. I truly believe that it is going to be a very active and interesting season based upon what Madame La Sorda told me.


So there are two types of "tennis-match exchanges of information": agreements and disagreements. Both can be informative just as long as it stays friendly and does not become excessively off-topic.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i AM JUST LAUGHING AT YOUR PREDICTIONS


Who was that addressed to? The Caribbean is expected to be pretty active this year.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I'll put my faith in Edgar Cayce rather than St. Olaf's Madame La Sorda.


Madame La Sorda was actually from Boston, about 2 blocks from where Cheers was located.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
Quoting bappit:
I think Drak's "too much knowledge" is a euphemism for too many know-it-alls.


In general, do you disagree with your own quote?
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Quoting altesticstorm10:

With the TCHP setting up this year, your 11:4 hurricane-to-major hurricane ratio seems a bit thin. 11:5 or possibly 11:6.


Ok, I don't want to be perceived as a "downcaster". I'll revise my prediction to 12:6, which is what I wanted to put downin the first place, but did not want to appear over zealous.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23726
I'll put my faith in Edgar Cayce rather than St. Olaf's Madame La Sorda.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.