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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847. Skyepony (Mod)
Looking at 91L, where the heat is left in the Caribbean, big pic WV loop I'm a little concerned for Haiti/DR. HWRF takes it more toward PR but watching the run 92L isn't nearly as strong as it is on the HWRF run for 92L. I lean toward global models when multiple blobs are in play. GFS doesn't seem to inish 91L well on the last run. CMC has outpaced the rest on 90L 61nm error last 24hrs, 2nd is HWRF with 83nm. Notice CMC is leaning toward Hispaniola.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 224 Comments: 39369
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Quoting sunlinepr:


I don't know you guys, but I don't remember it, but I read it when I was in pre-kinder....


Very funny! LOL
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Anyone think we will be hit in the CONUS??
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Quoting Grothar:


The 60's, boy you must be old to remember that.


I don't know you guys, but I don't remember it, but I read it when I was in pre-kinder....
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Quoting hydrus:
Yes, yes...I remember in the 1960,s we would seed hurricanes. Instead of silver iodide, Geritol tablets.


Man, what a big spinnin monster...
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Quoting hydrus:
Yes, yes...I remember in the 1960,s we would seed hurricanes. Instead of silver iodide, Geritol tablets.


The 60's, boy you must be old to remember that.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Well, I usually don't follow the models as closely as some here do--I tend to use them more as a general idea of what's possible than as a glimpse into what will be--so I honestly couldn't say with any accuracy which of these storms they showed. However, I posted several satellite loops a week or so ago showing the precursor to 91L rolling off the African coast, and I remember one user or another saying, "That's the system the CMC brings to the Caribbean in a week", so that one appears to have been picked up. 90L, of course, has been out there for eight or nine days now, so I don't know whether any of the models saw it. As for 92L, I don't recall hearing or reading about it. I and others mentioned it Tuesday afternoon as "something of possible interest", but that's about it.
i had been watching the GFS all week, and it has had a solution that 91L and 92L would form but yesturday started to hint at 90L forming as well
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818 twhcracker "isn't denier a thread count? like 300 denier cotton sheets right?"

If it were so, this blog would be smoother than silk.

As for palm trees cuz of the Earth tipping to put Greenland on the equator... A little too much warming for palm trees to survive, or mountains for that matter. The energy that'd hafta be expended would be so high that the waste heat would vaporize the oceans, then turn life into carbon dioxide and water before melting the Earth's crust.
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Quoting Grothar:


91L on Geritol.

Yes, yes...I remember in the 1960,s we would seed hurricanes. Instead of silver iodide, Geritol tablets.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22591
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
92L very close to Shary right now...
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Has recon been scheduled for 91L yet?
See post 799. Scheduled for tomorrow.
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Late consensus model for 91L

Link
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Tropical Update Oct. 28th. 2010
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Some early concensus models on 91L

Link
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Quoting Grothar:
Dynamic models out.



The NCEP model shows an active Caribbean Sea for a good part of November...NCEP..Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22591
Quoting stillwaiting:
seems a bit odd imo to see 3 invests form in a not climatologically favorable area for tc development,more like july pattern,imo somethinggg wierd is going on w/the wx,how many times this yr was a tc headed towrds the US and they either fell apart of curved out to sea or into the yucatan area,it doesnt add up....haarp pumping the ridge over the se at times and sending down strong troughs thru the NE in mid august???,if we are messing w/wx patterns were all going to be in for a ride as mother nature will fight back and we will see alot more superstorms and abnormal wx....jmo


Stillwaiting - since you dared to type the word -- I'm going to be BRAVE & jump in w/you..... I've been "thinking" HAARP all season..... and yes, always consequences for action... you don't mess w/MaNature.
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Hope Pottery has his snorkel, and fins handy.
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Quoting RipplinH2O:
Howdy all...it's 28 October, it was 83 degrees at 6:45 this morning and there are 3 invests out there. Did someone flip the wrong switch somewhere?


Must have. Recovering from a allergy attack, which is normal for Spring and the pear tree has several buds blooming. Feels like a normal FL Panhandle Spring.
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Quoting hydrus:
91L is a large system. Geritol is delicious. Isnt it?...:)


91L on Geritol.

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Quoting scooster67:
Nea, How many of the named storms were forecast by the models? Like 92l came out of thin air, it seems.

Well, I usually don't follow the models as closely as some here do--I tend to use them more as a general idea of what's possible than as a glimpse into what will be--so I honestly couldn't say with any accuracy which of these storms they showed. However, I posted several satellite loops a week or so ago showing the precursor to 91L rolling off the African coast, and I remember one user or another saying, "That's the system the CMC brings to the Caribbean in a week", so that one appears to have been picked up. 90L, of course, has been out there for eight or nine days now, so I don't know whether any of the models saw it. As for 92L, I don't recall hearing or reading about it. I and others mentioned it Tuesday afternoon as "something of possible interest", but that's about it.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13796
Quoting Grothar:
Dynamic models out.



91L is a large system. Geritol is delicious. Isnt it?...:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22591
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Since when is there a 11AM TWO...? Anyways..

90L: 30%

91L: 40%

92L: 70%

My bad; I meant TWU. You know, update. Which there will be. In just a few moments...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13796
isnt denier a thread count? like 300 denier cotton sheets right?
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Howdy all...it's 28 October, it was 83 degrees at 6:45 this morning and there are 3 invests out there. Did someone flip the wrong switch somewhere?
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Dynamic models out.



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seems a bit odd imo to see 3 invests form in a not climatologically favorable area for tc development,more like july pattern,imo somethinggg wierd is going on w/the wx,how many times this yr was a tc headed towrds the US and they either fell apart of curved out to sea or into the yucatan area,it doesnt add up....haarp pumping the ridge over the se at times and sending down strong troughs thru the NE in mid august???,if we are messing w/wx patterns were all going to be in for a ride as mother nature will fight back and we will see alot more superstorms and abnormal wx....jmo
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Quoting naviguesser:
Regarding palm trees in Greenland:

I remember reading a while ago that there was a theory that the poles of the Earth switch and move every x thousand years. A bit fuzzier recollection is that when this happens, where the "equator" ends up is dependent on where things stop after the shift. According to this line of thought, Greenland could have ended up on the equator and no Global Warming would have been required to grow palm trees there. I have no references for this, but seemed like a great time to stir the pot...

Back on topic, 3 AOIs this late in Oct... could be an interesting November


Was scrolling through the discussion and found this... Wow! People say crazy things on here an I just ignore it 99% of the time, but this takes the cake and I had to comment. So, every once in a while the Poles just switch position, huh? Maybe the equator (which is defined to be such that it evenly divides the hemispheres) will end it up in Alaska. :) Maybe that's what killed the dinosaurs. Even if you don't understand physics, wouldn't you stop and think, "How in the world would this happen?"

It's the magnetic poles, not the geographical poles by the way.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Looks like August. Look at the wave coming off Africa.
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Nea, How many of the named storms were forecast by the models? Like 92l came out of thin air, it seems.
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Here is my guess for the next TWO

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cool, thanks Jeff. but what about the 120mph and florida in relation to the jet stream? what is 120mph? sorry
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Quoting Neapolitan:
10

If just one develops, 2010 will beat the record set in 2005 for the most storms to develop over September and October, and we'll tie 2005 with the most storms to develop over the August-October period (16). If two storms develop, we'll beat that second record as well. (As you may recall, the two prior seasons with eight September storms saw only one October storm combined; 2010 is already well over that.)

My guess for the 11:00 TWO: 90L will be dropped back to yellow (10%-20%), 91L will be raised to orange (30%-40%), and 92L will stay as it is.


Since when is there a 11AM TWO...? Anyways..

90L: 30%

91L: 40%

92L: 70%
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CMC places 91L S of PR; Waiting for Levi's insight

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10
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Its looking like only 2/3 Invests will develop before October ends...

Invest 91L and 92L...90L is weakening.

That leaves us with Shary and Tomas for this month.

Otto Paula Richard Shary Tomas = 5 named storms...

If by chance all three of them develop, we will set and tie another record for 6 storms in October *2005*


If just one develops, 2010 will beat the record set in 2005 for the most storms to develop over September and October, and we'll tie 2005 with the most storms to develop over the August-October period (16). If two storms develop, we'll beat that second record as well. (As you may recall, the two prior seasons with eight September storms saw only one October storm combined; 2010 is already well over that.)

My guess for the 11:00 TWO: 90L will be dropped back to yellow (10%-20%), 91L will be raised to orange (30%-40%), and 92L will stay as it is.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13796
thanks Jeff. one quick thing which I did not understand. what is about the 120mph and florida?

and, is the reason the US should be safe from these storms is because the jet is dipping quite a bit further south which will cause recurve early?
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Quoting 7544:
loooks like 92l wants to keep going west no turn yet there but one is expected out to sea

91L is still the one to watch as it will head for the cariabien at 1006mb now this might develope first imo


Severely doubt that...Its not as well organized as 92L yet.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


US should be safe from 91L as well. Now PR could be a different story and if I lived there I would watch this closely.


On Alert here in PR.....
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Has recon been scheduled for 91L yet?
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
92L very close to Shary right now...
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NOUS42 KNHC 271520 AMD
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1120 AM EDT WED 27 OCTOBER 2010
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 28/1100Z TO 29/1100Z OCTOBER 2010
TCPOD NUMBER.....10-148 AMENDMENT

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK : PSBL LOW LEVEL INVEST
NEAR 9.0N AND 57.5W FOR 29/1800Z WITH FOLLOW ON 6 HRLY
FIXES BEGINNING 30/1200Z IF SYSTEM DEVELOPS. ---ADDED


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798. 7544
loooks like 92l wants to keep going west no turn yet there but one is expected out to sea

91L is still the one to watch as it will head for the cariabien at 1006mb now this might develope first imo
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874

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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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