Strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest smashes all-time pressure records

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:09 PM GMT on October 27, 2010

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Tornadoes, violent thunderstorms, and torrential rains swept through a large portion of the nation's midsection yesterday, thanks to the strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 24 tornado reports and 282 reports of damaging high winds from yesterday's spectacular storm, and the storm continues to produce a wide variety of wild weather, with tornado watches posted for Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, a blizzard warning for North Dakota, high wind warnings for most of the upper Midwest, and near-hurricane force winds on Lake Superior.

The mega-storm reached peak intensity late yesterday afternoon over Minnesota, resulting in the lowest barometric pressure readings ever recorded in the continental United States, except for from hurricanes and nor'easters affecting the Atlantic seaboard. So far, it appears the lowest reading (now official) was a pressure of 28.21" (955.2 mb) reduced to sea level reported from Bigfork, Minnesota at 5:13pm CDT. Other extreme low pressures from Minnesota during yesterday's storm included 28.22" (956 mb) at Orr at 5:34pm CDT, 28.23" at International Falls (3:45pm), and 28.23" at Waskuh at 5:52pm. The 28.23" (956mb) reading from International Falls yesterday obliterated their previous record of 28.70" set on Nov. 11, 1949 by nearly one-half inch of mercury--a truly amazing anomaly. Duluth's 28.36" (961 mb) reading smashed their old record of 28.48" (964 mb) set on Nov. 11, 1998. Wisconsin also recorded its lowest barometric pressure in history yesterday, with a 28.36" (961 mb) reading at Superior. The old record was 28.45" (963.4 mb) at Green Bay on April 3, 1982. The previous state record for Minnesota was 28.43" (963 mb) at Albert Lea and Austin on Nov. 10, 1998.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of the October 26, 2010 superstorm taken at 5:32pm EDT. At the time, Bigfork, Minnesota was reporting the lowest pressure ever recorded in a U.S. non-coastal storm, 955 mb. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Yesterday's records in context
Yesterday's 28.21" (955 mb) low pressure reading in Minnesota breaks not only the 28.28" (958 mb) previous "USA-interior-of-the-continent-record" from Cleveland, Ohio during the Great Ohio Storm of Jan. 26, 1978 (a lower reading in Canada during this event bottomed out at an amazing 28.05"/950 mb), but also the lowest pressure ever measured anywhere in the continental United States aside from the Atlantic Coast. The modern Pacific Coast record is 28.40" (962mb) at Quillayute, Washington on Dec. 1, 1987. An older reading, taken on a ship offshore from the mouth of the Umpqua River in Oregon during the famous "Storm King" event on January 9, 1880, was 28.20" (954.9 mb)--slightly lower than the 2010 storm.

The lowest non-hurricane barometric pressure reading in the lower 48 states is 28.10" (952 mb) measured at Bridgehampton, New York (Long Island) during an amazing nor'easter on March 1, 1914 (see Kocin and Uccellini, "Northeast Snowstorms; Vol. 2., p. 324, American Meteorological Society, 2004.) The lowest non-hurricane barometric pressure reading from anywhere in the United States was a 27.35" (927 mb) reading at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on Oct. 25, 1977. The lowest hurricane pressure reading was the 26.34" (892 mb) recorded in 1935 during the Great Labor Day Hurricane.


Figure 2. Storm reports received by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center from the October 26, 2010 superstorm.

The six most intense storms in history to affect the Great Lakes
According to the Chicago branch of the National Weather Service and Christopher C. Burt, our Weather Records blogger, the following are the six lowest pressures measured in the U.S. Great Lakes region:

1. Yesterday's October 26, 2010 Superstorm (955 mb/28.20")
2. Great Ohio Blizzard January 26, 1978 (958 mb/28.28")
3. Armistice Day Storm November 11, 1940 (967 mb/28.55")
4. November 10, 1998 storm (967 mb/ 28.55")
5. White Hurricane of November 7 - 9, 1913 (968 mb/28.60")
6. Edmund Fitzgerald Storm of November 10, 1975 (980 mb/28.95")

So, the famed storm that sank the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald in 1974, killing all 29 sailors aboard, was weaker than the current storm. Indeed, I wouldn't want to be on a boat in Lake Superior today--sustained winds at the Rock of Ages lighthouse on Isle Royale were a sustained 68 mph, gusting to 78 mph at 3am EDT this morning!

Yet Another Remarkable Mid-latitude Cyclone so far this Year!
Yesterday's superstorm is reminiscent of the amazing low pressures reached earlier this year (Jan. 19-22) in the West, where virtually every site in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, southern Oregon, and southern Idaho--about 10 - 15% of the U.S. land area--broke their lowest on record pressure readings. However, the lowest readings from that event fell well short of yesterday's mega-storm with 28.85" (977 mb) being about the lowest recorded at any onshore site.

Commentary
We've now had two remarkable extratropical storms this year in the U.S. that have smashed all-time low pressure records across a large portion of the country. Is this a sign that these type of storms may be getting stronger? Well, there is evidence that wintertime extratropical storms have grown in intensity in the Pacific, Arctic, and Great Lakes in recent decades. I discuss the science in detail in a post I did earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from that post:

General Circulation Models (GCMs) like the ones used in the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report do a very good job simulating how winter storms behave in the current climate, and we can run simulations of the atmosphere with extra greenhouse gases to see how winter storms will behave in the future. The results are very interesting. Global warming is expected to warm the poles more than the equatorial regions. This reduces the difference in temperature between the pole and Equator. Since winter storms form in response to the atmosphere's need to transport heat from the Equator to the poles, this reduced temperature difference reduces the need for winter storms, and thus the models predict fewer storms will form. However, since a warmer world increases the amount of evaporation from the surface and puts more moisture in the air, these future storms drop more precipitation. During the process of creating that precipitation, the water vapor in the storm must condense into liquid or frozen water, liberating "latent heat"--the extra heat that was originally added to the water vapor to evaporate it in the first place. This latent heat intensifies the winter storm, lowering the central pressure and making the winds increase. So, the modeling studies predict a future with fewer total winter storms, but a greater number of intense storms. These intense storms will have more lift, and will thus tend to drop more precipitation--including snow, when we get areas of strong lift in the -15°C preferred snowflake formation region.

Invest 90L
A low pressure system (Invest 90L) in the middle Atlantic Ocean has developed a broad circulation, but has very limited heavy thunderstorm activity. NHC is giving 90L a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Friday. Another area of disturbed weather a few hundred miles west of 90L is disorganized, and is also being given a 10% chance of developing.

Next update
I'll have an update on Thursday morning. I'm at the National Hurricane Center in Miami this week, as part of their visiting scientist program, and hopefully the weather in the rest of the country will slow down enough so I can write about goings-on here at the Hurricane Center!

Christopher C. Burt is responsible for most of the content of this post, with the exception of the commentary, which I wrote.

Jeff Masters

The Big Blow! (pjpix)
This photo and the other in my series were both take from the same spot ... just different directions and just a representative scene mirroring so many others here in the midwest. These were taken yesterday morning right after the thunderstorm front had gone through but the winds continued to increase in intensity as the barometer dropped ... to a record low in some midwest spots. The big Blow was the equivlant of a Cat 2 or Cat 3 hurricane and indeed a very unusual storm in the upper midwest for this time of the year.
The Big Blow!
Cell Rotation Animation (SunsetSailor)
Gif Created on Make A Gif
Cell Rotation Animation
()
Disappearing Pier 5 (mactoot)
I posted a video of continuous hits at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckrpWF-dXwU
Disappearing Pier 5
October Storm (cambuck1)
October Storm

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Quoting CybrTeddy:


92L has the most model support though.
True. Both the GFS and ECMWF develop 92L. Only the ECMWF develops 91L.
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Good Evening all.

3 Invests????
We are all DOOM?
What's going on?

Nice day here with occasional gentle showers.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24674
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
91L currently poses the biggest threat to develop, IMO. 850mb vorticity has strengthened and become more concentrated near the heaviest convective activity. Additionally, 91L has something that all the other invests do not have...and that is favorable upper-level winds. 91L has a well-defined 200mb anticyclone sitting atop 91L providing for about 5-10 knots of anticyclonic wind shear.


92L has the most model support though.
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Quoting reedzone:


This was the Storm of the Century (Superstorm 2010) for the Midwest. This was actually a little bit stronger then the 1993 Superstorm in terms of pressure.


The 1993 Superstorm was actually a hurricane at one point.
Member Since: October 15, 2008 Posts: 11 Comments: 2312
91L currently poses the biggest threat to develop, IMO. 850mb vorticity has strengthened and become more concentrated near the heaviest convective activity. Additionally, 91L has something that all the other invests do not have...and that is favorable upper-level winds. 91L has a well-defined 200mb anticyclone sitting atop 91L providing for about 5-10 knots of anticyclonic wind shear.
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For those of you debating GW, why not discuss the effect that global deforestation has, or will have on earth's climatology? That way you can have a more quantitative, scientific approach in your discussion???.....

Amazon Deforestation (Not considering other global deforestation areas)





NASA 2019s Landsat 5 satellite captured the left-side image on July 19, 1986, while NASA 2019s Landsat 7 satellite captured the right-side image on December 11, 2001. Densely forested areas are deep green.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
hahaha!

yeah, nevermind.... we dont need you getting banned...

;)
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Quoting NRAamy:
hey Grothar.....

Yo!

;)


Yo! Hey, Amy, 3 Invests. I haven't been this excited since......well, never mind!
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Hey neighbor, I'm in Orange Co. This is from the latest RAH AFD:

CURRENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE LEADING EDGE OF THE CONVECTION WILL REMAIN OVER THE WESTERN PIEDMONT THROUGH MOST OF THE EVENING THEN PROGRESS SLOWLY BUT STEADILY EAST OVERNIGHT INTO THU MORNING. EXPECT LEADING EDGE OF CONVECTION TO REACH THE TRIANGLE AREA AROUND OR AFTER MIDNIGHT...AND INTO THE SANDHILLS AND COASTAL PLAIN DURING THE OVERNIGHT HOURS. WHILE THE BEST PARAMETERS TO SUPPORT SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND THIS EVENING...POTENTIAL FOR SEVERE WEATHER TO OCCUR WELL INTO THE OVERNIGHT EXISTS DUE TO THE FAVORABLE WIND PROFILE. THE DRAWBACK FOR SEVERE WEATHER IS THAT THE NEAR SURFACE AIR MASS WILL GRADUALLY STABILIZE OVERNIGHT. THUS AS WE GET PAST 10 PM-12 MIDNIGHT...EXPECT SEVERE STORMS TO BE LESS NUMEROUS WITH SEVERE STORMS THOSE THAT HAVE CORES OF SUFFICIENT DEPTH TO
TRANSLATE STRONG WINDS TO THE SURFACE.


Thanks for that post. Orange County I think is more likely to get activity than Wake county here! Stay safe!
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Quoting Skyepony:


I suppose the experiment that demonstrates salt raising the boiling point was what I was thinking. It was odd to be disagreeing with Aspectre on GW, that should have been my first clue to rethink that.


Sky, try this link, it is a hoot. Remember to click the "Add solute" button. and see what happens
Link
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Arggh, I don't know what to expect tonight here in Raleigh.

First, I here that there is a gap in the squall line (no warnings to the west). Then I hear that this could be worse tonight than it is now (when the squall line comes).

I really need to keep an eye on this. Don't have a weather radio for the overnight.
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278. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting OviedoWatcher:
Skyepony, you have that back to front. We put salt on roads to lower the melting/freezing point so that it is still liquid below 32F. Aspectre is correct.


I suppose the experiment that demonstrates salt raising the boiling point was what I was thinking. It was odd to be disagreeing with Aspectre on GW, that should have been my first clue to rethink that.
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Okay, I guess I am not in the tornado watch. Wake County (where I am at in Raleigh) is not in the watch, but the county next door (Chatham County to our west) is. I still am keeping a wary eye on that T-storm squall because we are so close to the tornado watch.


Hey neighbor, I'm in Orange Co. This is from the latest RAH AFD:

CURRENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE LEADING EDGE OF THE CONVECTION WILL REMAIN OVER THE WESTERN PIEDMONT THROUGH MOST OF THE EVENING THEN PROGRESS SLOWLY BUT STEADILY EAST OVERNIGHT INTO THU MORNING. EXPECT LEADING EDGE OF CONVECTION TO REACH THE TRIANGLE AREA AROUND OR AFTER MIDNIGHT...AND INTO THE SANDHILLS AND COASTAL PLAIN DURING THE OVERNIGHT HOURS. WHILE THE BEST PARAMETERS TO SUPPORT SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND THIS EVENING...POTENTIAL FOR SEVERE WEATHER TO OCCUR WELL INTO THE OVERNIGHT EXISTS DUE TO THE FAVORABLE WIND PROFILE. THE DRAWBACK FOR SEVERE WEATHER IS THAT THE NEAR SURFACE AIR MASS WILL GRADUALLY STABILIZE OVERNIGHT. THUS AS WE GET PAST 10 PM-12 MIDNIGHT...EXPECT SEVERE STORMS TO BE LESS NUMEROUS WITH SEVERE STORMS THOSE THAT HAVE CORES OF SUFFICIENT DEPTH TO
TRANSLATE STRONG WINDS TO THE SURFACE.
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If 92L and 90L have a northerly component, why would 91L move westward ?
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Lots of damage up here near Ishpeming in Upper Michigan. Tons of power outages and many downed trees. We lost over dozen trees in the back yard. One 70ft jackpine crushed a fence in the backyard. A few pieces of sheet metal were also ripped from roofs.
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Person County tornado damage not bad. Just saw the photo, only 1 house on Apple Tree Lane with roof missing, old lady in the house just fine. Thank goodness!
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90L



91




92

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269. afj3
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


This is tough for that thing off of South America. If its starts to go north, bam, westerly wind shear will be a problem for development. If it stays south, well I don't know if it has enough Coriolis effect to develop that far south. I mean, this thing is spinning around 6 N latitude, that's really far south.

But then again, Typhoon Vamei in 2000 developed in the W-Pac really close to the equator. There has never been a document case of development close to the equator before (in the Atlantic basin).

Thanks. I will keep watching!
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Happy Triple Invest Day.

LOL!
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Quoting Tazmanian:
File:invest_al912010.invest
1 KB
10/27/2010
7:16:00 PM


File:invest_al922010.invest
1 KB
10/27/2010
7:25:00 PM




we now all so have 92L

Happy Triple Invest Day.
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Another Low from W Conus

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
File:invest_al912010.invest
1 KB
10/27/2010
7:16:00 PM


File:invest_al922010.invest
1 KB
10/27/2010
7:25:00 PM




we now all so have 92L
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Wow its hot here,

We shattered our record high, now its 87F in Raeligh! Amazing for late October.
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Quoting RipplinH2O:
OK, I've been sitting here quietly reading the debate for years, then just this year signing up so I can actually comment if so moved. I now feel so moved. The climate change debate basically has two sides, each labels the other side with a term meant to provoke and each suspects the other side of an agenda. Until bloggers are willing to accept the possibility of the other side's input, surpress the need to suspect and stop the labeling, it's not a debate, it's trolling...on BOTH sides!

Sorry, my friend, but discussing science at a mature level, and in as non-emotional way as possible, is absolutely not trolling. At least it fits no definition of the term that I've ever heard. GW is an oft-debated subject, so emotions do tend to run high at times, as the two basic sides in the debate each feel they have solid reasons for feeling as they do: those who disagree with the theory of GW generally disbelieve what scientists have to say, while those who agree with that theory generally disbelieve what Big Energy CEOs have to say. Believers rely on the overwhelming data, while non-believers rely on the words of those with a hugely vested interest in keeping things as they are--and never the twain shall meet.

The problem arises, of course, when things get so heated that those on either side lose all sense of decorum and resort to name calling, ad hominem attacks, spouting of baseless "facts" and made up or unsourced "figures", and just general all-around trollish behavior (sock-puppeting, obfuscation, and so on).

However, having said all that, there's this: much as some would like to believe it were otherwise, both sides of the debate are not on equal scientific footing: ever since the days of Galileo, it's been proven that science trumps all. Always has, always will...
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
MENTAWAI ISLANDS, Indonesia %u2013 The death toll from a tsunami and a volcano rose to more than 300
Death toll in Indonesian tsunami, volcano tops 300


Wednesday as more victims of Indonesia's double disasters were found and an official said a warning system installed after a deadly ocean wave in 2004 had broken from a lack of maintenance.

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Quoting xcool:
Breaking news: Tornado warning in Person County


I am watching that too, on this link:

http://www.wral.com/weather/video/8521410/#/vid8521410

Some law enforecement saw a weak tornado with this warning, damage on Apple Tree Lane.

This is several miles north of me. I have to wait till the wee hours of the morning before these severe storms head in my way (I am in Raleigh).
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Skyepony, you have that back to front. We put salt on roads to lower the melting/freezing point so that it is still liquid below 32F. Aspectre is correct.
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Quoting BobinTampa:
just checking in. Three invests. Wow. Are any of these invests scheduled to destroy Tampa in the near future?


Nope.
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254. xcool
brb
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Quoting TampaTom:


You do realize we are scheduled to get a cat 42 storm making direct landfall in Tampa according to the CPB forecast model....


Thank God I didn't take the plywood down.
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252. xcool
Breaking news: Tornado warning in Person County
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Quoting Skyepony:


I have to agree with VaBeach here~ we put salt on roads to help snow & ice melt because by adding salt you raise the melting point. Less salt makes it harder to freeze because a lower temp is needed..


So with all the arctic ice-melt, wouldn't that make the water less saline, therefore making it easier to freeze?
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 596
Whoa 3 DISTURBANCES NOW!!! And before I went to bed last night it was just 1 disturbance with a 10% chance!!! Wow.
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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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