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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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
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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*
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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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The one to watch, most dangerous, is 91L, due to its S location. The other two invests are going Fish.... to the Atl
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Quoting sunlinepr:




Its percentages should go way up when I get home from school today...
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The tale of the tape:

90L: 35 knots | 1010 mb | 26.9N/41.1W | 50% (orange)

90L has been dropped from a low back to a disturbance, pressure's risen two millibars, winds have dropped, and low-level circulation is becoming elongated. Lots of shear, and this one doesn't look very good at all right now.

91L: 30 knots | 1006 mb | 07.2N/48.6W | 20% (yellow)

91L continues to improve, and is moving a bit north of due west so may miss the SA coast. Pressure's down two millibars, and satellite appearance is improving by the hour.

92L: 30 knots | 1009 mb | 24.1N/58.7W | 60% (red)

92L has been upgraded to a low from a disturbance. Pressure and winds are steady at 1009mb and 30 knots (respectively), and it looks healthy on satellite, as well, though a bit top heavy convection-wise.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13800
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
take care big fish don't go to the bad side of town

Dont listen to him, Orca.
The 'bad' side is where all the fun is....

Off to do stuff.
There are clouds to my East, and it feels damp.
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91L...the yellow...30kt 1006mb
90L...the orange...35kt 1008mb
92L...the red...30kt 1009mb
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90L is the wave far away from Bermuda...the 50%.

91L is the wave to the east of the island...the 20%.

92L is the wave to the north of the islands, near Bermuda....the 60%.

I expect 2 Sub Tropical Storms or Tropical Storms when I get home from school today.
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Statement as of 4:34 PM EDT on October 27, 2010


Good morning

... Record high temperature broken at Orlando... a record high temperature of 91 degrees was set at Orlando Wednesday.
This breaks the old record of 89 which last occurred in 2009.
Source: Wuground.
Have a great day everyone.
Another packed day for me today.



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Jeff,

I know it is way too early to say but some of the models are showing the system near south america to go WNW and get as far as the central or western caribbean due to a strong high above it then being picked up by the trough due to the strong east coast storm.

I saw two runs where the storm is pulled over cuba then close to florida; however, as of now Florida is not even in any path of this (yet eventhough it is too early to say anything).

what do you think as the system develops? does this look more like an east coast US storm or florida and GOM in the future?
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Good morning all....

DDR, I still cannot access the Radar.
But looking at the Rainbow Loops, the weather looks to be interesting during the next couple of days.
Going Down the Islands tomorrow.
HUH!
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Current conditions in New Orleans...

Here comes the drier, cooler air though...just a couple of more hours.

Harvey Canal, Harvey, Louisiana (PWS)
Updated: 1 sec ago
77.8 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 95%
Dew Point: 77 °F
Wind: 0.0 mph
Wind Gust: 7.0 mph
Pressure: 30.08 in (Rising)
Heat Index: 80 °F


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778. DDR
Morning all
Heavy rain showers approaching Trinidad this morning,may pick up around 4 inches by weeks end.Its been dry here for 3 weeks now with the odd shower.
Radar...Link
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take care big fish don't go to the bad side of town
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Ah, aqua, no corner, no blushing; just getting the kids up and off...just another of the thrills of single parenthood. ;-)

It's going to be very interesting to watch the possible development and/or interplay of the three invests. It's intriguing that 92L is the only one singled out by the NHC as a possible subtropical system; to my non-expert eye, 90L would seem to be a better candidate for that. One thing people should remember: the NHC's odds are only for the 48 hours after a particular TWO; they are not necessarily indicative of whether they think a TC will eventually form some days down the road--so don't assume they necessarily feel 91L won't eventually be something...

Meanwhile, the sad and scraggly remains of Richard are meeting up with the tail end of the big cold front draped across the country, and the result is a bit of convergence-based convection in the western GOM. I'm not in any way implying that something will come of this, just so you know; just brought it up for the sake of those who may find it interesting...

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image


Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13800
Off to Vancouver... I will update again tonight.


Complete Update



AOI
AOI AOI AOI

AOI AOI AOI

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
3 disturbances could develop and if they do that gives us 20 for the year. And yet, not one of them will make a direct hit on the U.S. which is stunning that we could have 20 storms and not one would make a direct U.S. landfall.


Bonnie did but that was more like an afternoon thunderstorm.
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we may easily have 20 named storms before November... and I still think 1-2 more in November bringing us up to 22 named storms this year
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91L needs to stay away from Bonaire!
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ABNT20 KNHC 281137
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT THU OCT 28 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW PRESSURE
SYSTEM LOCATED ABOUT 1200 MILES NORTHWEST OF THE NORTHERNMOST CAPE
VERDE ISLANDS HAS BECOMES LESS ORGANIZED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS.
SATELLITE DATA INDICATE THAT THE LOW IS PRODUCING WINDS TO GALE
FORCE. ALTHOUGH UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE ONLY MARGINALLY CONDUCIVE
FOR DEVELOPMENT...AN INCREASE IN ORGANIZATION COULD RESULT IN THE
FORMATION OF A TROPICAL STORM. THERE IS A MEDIUM CHANCE...50
PERCENT..
.OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES SLOWLY WESTWARD.

SATELLITE IMAGES AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT A SURFACE
LOW IS FORMING WITHIN A DEEP-LAYER TROUGH LOCATED ABOUT 700 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF BERMUDA. SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS
CHANGED LITTLE DURING THE LAST FEW HOURS. HOWEVER...ENVIRONMENTAL
CONDITIONS ARE BECOMING MORE CONDUCIVE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
TROPICAL OR SUBTROPICAL DEPRESSION DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.
THERE IS A HIGH CHANCE...60 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT
MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD NEAR 15 MPH.

A VIGOROUS TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED OVER THE TROPICAL ATLANTIC
ABOUT 1000 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS IS PRODUCING
A LARGE AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. ENVIRONMENTAL
CONDITIONS APPEAR FAVORABLE FOR SOME SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF THIS
SYSTEM DURING THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT.
..OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD OR WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 15 TO
20 MPH.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.
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POSS.T.C.F.A.
INV/91L/XX
MARK
7.58N/48.88W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
INV/92L/XX
MARK
25.63N/58.55W
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56059
Quoting clwstmchasr:
3 disturbances could develop and if they do that gives us 20 for the year. And yet, not one of them will make a direct hit on the U.S. which is stunning that we could have 20 storms and not one would make a direct U.S. landfall.
yea but 91 has the potential to put a major monkey wrench in trying to rehab haiti. camping is no fun in a downpour. the u.s. has a vested interest in that area. there is alot of moisture with the system it will be interesting how much rain the windwards get as 91 or whatever passes through
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Is it my imagination or does 91L look like its at least a TD?
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We got heavy rain this morning here in Mobile. We had been dry as a bone until this past week. Dont give up FL.
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Quoting aquak9:
Gambler! good morning! another fine gentleman who makes me swoon with his words- no avatar needed!

(poor nea is off in a corner, blushing)

aislinipps- no rain. Buy a water barrel, the southeast is gonna be in trouble again due to no rain this winter.

16+16=32...see ya'll saturday.


We finally got some rain here this morning. A good little storm.
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91L---20%----Really????
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Today will be a busy day in here
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Eep! go to bed with one blob, get up with three?
What's up with Mother Nature?
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91 knocking on the door of november will the john hope rule apply? living on the islands ive been watching the water closely. no sign of a water rise yet. oh yea 91 the john hope rule falls.
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Gambler! good morning! another fine gentleman who makes me swoon with his words- no avatar needed!

(poor nea is off in a corner, blushing)

aislinipps- no rain. Buy a water barrel, the southeast is gonna be in trouble again due to no rain this winter.

16+16=32...see ya'll saturday.
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Quoting aquak9:
Good mornin wu-bloggers! Good coffee to all.

Oh there he is.

swooon....kerthunk.
Morning Waterpuppy
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Morning, AquaK9 and all. In the seventies here already, I'm ready for the cold front that's supposed to be coming. We're in a high wind advisory and still in a Red Flag Fire Warning. Where's the rain??
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Wow I didn't expect this kind of activity with two forming cyclones on Late October. 20 storms seems likely now. Too bad I need to leave for school.
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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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