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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I'll put my faith in Edgar Cayce rather than St. Olaf's Madame La Sorda.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think Drak's "too much knowledge" is a euphemism for too many know-it-alls.
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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.
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633. JRRP
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Wow! That's a good set-up for Fujiwharas. Now do you think there's the possibility for storms to round the north end of the Bermuda High around 35N and recurve southward west of Africa to become a born-again Cape Verde System or enter the Mediterranean?

Sorry but i am not an expert
i can´t answer with certainty that
:)
but all is possible
who knows
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6165
Quoting StormW:


I hear that!


I hope you heard the second part too ^^
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LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i AM JUST LAUGHING AT YOUR PREDICTIONS
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


21 storms
14 canes
5 majors
2 cat 5's



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? ;)
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting StormW:


No



The red is the Canary Islands and the smaller island group north of it is Madeira. According to Wikipedia the Canaries are around 28N and the Azores closer to 38N. Which storm are you referring to and when did it track toward that area?
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
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?
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Quoting StormW:


Damn Drak...where ya been?

Good to see ya! Definitely gonna have a buttload of knowledge on the blog this season.


I've been attending to my life... lol

Yes the season will be full of knowledge, but too much knowledge can be a bad thing.
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Quoting JRRP:
i do not know if this season will look like this

but will be pretty active
Link


Wow! That's a good set-up for Fujiwharas. Now do you think there's the possibility for storms to round the north end of the Bermuda High around 35N and recurve southward west of Africa to become a born-again Cape Verde System or enter the Mediterranean?
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
No comment.


:P
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Quoting Drakoen:
The current conditions, climate model forecasts, and analog years are supportive of a well above-average year for the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The heat build up in the tropics at this time surpasses that of 2005 due to the negative NAO resulting in below average tradewind speeds. Models show a decay of El Nino towards neutral conditions before the start of hurricane season and possibly working its way into La Nina conditions. Models show above average Sea-Surface temperatures in the MDR with the maximum heat building in the Caribbean in the August-September-October critical period. Wind shear forecasts from the CFS of shear being below average in the MDR between 2-4m/s slower represents a dominant subequatorial ridge.

My preliminary forecast is:

16-18 named storms
8-10 hurricanes
3-5 major hurricanes


21 storms
14 canes
5 majors
2 cat 5's

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
Quoting Skyepony:
Stormchaser2007 ~ took me a minute, you've got sea surface instead of near surface layer posted. Still scary.. at least it's been ~.33C above & not 1C above like the near surface.


My original calculation was that February 2010 was 0.96C above 1979-1998 levels. Apparently it was only +0.61C.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting Levi32:


Lol does posting ONE article to refute ONE man's claims somehow make me narrow-minded? I have never debated anything about Al Gore on this blog in my life until that post. He made a claim, I posted an article refuting it, because that's my opinion. I fail to see how that makes me a bad guy here....honestly.

We have spent hours during the last couple weeks exchanging posts about SSTs, PDO, etc....all in reference to global warming. And yet you say I'm only bringing up Al Gore in my argument? Come on Astro.


That comment was directed more specifically at the article, but in general deniers do tend to bring up Al Gore when a specific debate has nothing to do with any one person.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
No comment.
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By the way, four weeks ago I gave my predictions on the upcoming season and no one commented at all.

20 named storms
11 Hurricanes
4 major

1 depression that will cause a lot of flooding rains.
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You sure put your foot in your mouth on that one Grothar!
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Dis..Dat...buttload...Your vernacular has changed this season StormW...LOL
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Everyone starts anew this Hurricane season…past faux pas, attitudes and opinions are history. It’s a year later. I’ll listen to almost all the bloggers who seem to know what they are talking about.


Attitude, what attitude? No one on here has an attitude. Eveyone is always polite to everyone else. And faux pas??? Hasn't anyone ever told you it was rude to write in another language on the blog? (Joke mode)
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Everyone starts anew this Hurricane season…past faux pas, attitudes and opinions are history. It’s a year later. I’ll listen to almost all the bloggers who seem to know what they are talking about.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:
Drak, You Got Mail from a month ago from me which you never answered lol. It's about...you know what.


I think my post 534 answers the mail you sent me
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607. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Yeah...I kinda rushed to get that and accidentally shot the wrong graph.

My bad.


All good, I hadn't checked that one all year..had forgot it was even there. Wild to see where it was at..

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606. JRRP
i do not know if this season will look like this

but will be pretty active
Link
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6165
Quoting Skyepony:
Stormchaser2007 ~ took me a minute, you've got sea surface instead of near surface layer posted. Still scary.. at least it's been ~.33C above & not 1C above like the near surface.


Yeah...I kinda rushed to get that and accidentally shot the wrong graph.

My bad.
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AACCCHKKK!!
Press, how COULD you?
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603. Skyepony (Mod)
Stormchaser2007 ~ took me a minute, you've got sea surface instead of near surface layer posted. Still scary.. at least it's been ~.33C above & not 1C above like the near surface.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Al Gore probably doesn't have the time to debate every single time, and science isn't all about debate. I read a book about a contributor to the IPCC who was asked to debate for a right-wing talk show, and it turned out that the commentor was extensively biased and wouldn't even listen to the person's points, and at one point he asked "you really aren't interested in the answers to these questions, are you?" Also, simply bringing up Al Gore in a debate about global warming suggests you're a climate denier.


Lol does posting ONE article to refute ONE man's claims somehow make me narrow-minded? I have never debated anything about Al Gore on this blog in my life until that post. He made a claim, I posted an article refuting it, because that's my opinion. I fail to see how that makes me a bad guy here....honestly.

We have spent hours during the last couple weeks exchanging posts about SSTs, PDO, etc....all in reference to global warming. And yet you say I'm only bringing up Al Gore in my argument? Come on Astro.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
And here, in the interest of fairness, is the idealogical voice of the deniers:
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Oliver North was a military hero also???
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Quoting Patrap:



AL dosent publish,and this aint FOX,

LOL
One man isnt a ideology,and demeaning a Man,any man,who has served the country in many capacities, for doing his best to educate the masses does him a disservice young Jedi.


Pat....I'm not attacking him personally, as most of these people are indeed nice, good people. Don't turn this into a "he's an american hero, so don't flame him for anything at all" thing. That's utter crap Pat. With all due respect, it is. I am not demeaning his person but I am condemning his agenda and his refusal to look at the other side of the argument. If he doesn't understand the other side, he can't prove that his side is true.

I don't attack or hate people personally. I dislike their ways of practicing science and the political polution of scientific objectivity. To say that I'm demeaning a man by challenging that is quite far from the truth.

And no one man isn't an ideology, but Al Gore has in many ways become the main face of global warming, and posting an article to refute HIS claims is not wrong. Period. I posted facts, not political opinion.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26684
You decide...

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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


yeah cmon levi, i mean we wouldn't have the internet without him...


FALSE. Link
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Edit.
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Quoting Patrap:



AL dosent publish,and this aint FOX,

LOL
One man isnt a ideology,and demeaning a Man,any man,who has served the country in many capacities, for doing his best to educate the masses does him a disservice young Jedi.


"Don't shoot the messenger".

Attacking a single person in any debate or discussion about a global issue simply makes the attacker's standpoint moot.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
This upcoming Hurricane season just has an odd feeling to it.

I dont like the way things are shaping up as shown by the long range climo models.
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Quoting Levi32:


That's all you've got? Lol....Al Gore doesn't understand all the physics of Meteorology. He simply shouts anything he hears that agrees with what he says. Why do you think he refuses to debate every time he's asked? Why should he be scared to publicly debate with somebody if he's so right? He was dead wrong on this one.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm out for a while, later all.


Al Gore probably doesn't have the time to debate every single time, and science isn't all about debate. I read a book about a contributor to the IPCC who was asked to debate for a right-wing talk show, and it turned out that the commentor was extensively biased and wouldn't even listen to the person's points, and at one point he asked "you really aren't interested in the answers to these questions, are you?" Also, simply bringing up Al Gore in a debate about global warming suggests you're a climate denier.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
591. Skyepony (Mod)
Hadn't checked the lowest level atmo temps all week. Climo wise we always about seem to take a little dive this week but not this year & wow..we are so above past years & have been since Jan 11th. To run above the rest for a month was odd but now for 2 months with the spread widening is crazy. Should be an interesting year.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
The unnamed May 22nd, 2009 Tropical Storm in the GOMEX. Likely to be added during the PSA.



I think that was the system that I thought would develop into a tropical storm after looking at GFS models. I predicted by then that the first storm of the season would form by May 23.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
That site has been down for a long time. Hope they get it back up and going.
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Quoting hurricane23:


We typically see an increase in TC activity -- both frequency and intensity --in seasons immediately following an El Nino event...as long as it isn't a strong La Nina event with howling upper-level easterlies that shear off tropical waves and/or make them propagate westward toof ast for the low-level circulation and convergence zone/forcing to organize. A weak La Nina pattern like we had in 2005 produces the most favorable upper-level environment for TCs to develop and become quite intense. Even if el nino goes poof during the coming months i'am still having a hard time believing there wont be any lingering effects from this strong Nino that (could) trouble the hurricane season. As i stated a few days back 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.


2005 was actually more of an El Nino than a La Nina.

SST anomalies for May 1, 2005 (notice the 3C anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific!):



EPac El Nino anomalies peaked around May 5, which is probably why spring predictions for the season stayed low. This could actually happen again this year as the subsurface warm anomaly migrates upward to near 100W around May.

By September 1, the equator had cooled down into a mix of El Nino and La Nina-like conditions (just like what's expected for this season):

Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835

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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.