Mighty Post-Christmas Nor'easter wallops the Northeast U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:07 PM GMT on December 27, 2010

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A major blizzard continues to pound New England with heavy snow and winds gusting to near hurricane force as the 976 mb low tracks slowly northeastward into the Gulf of Maine. The snow has mostly ended across New York City and the mid-Atlantic, where snowfall rates as high as 3 - 4 inches per hour occurred during "thundersnow" snow squalls at the peak of the storm late last night and early this morning. At the height of the storm, blizzard warnings were in effect for the entire U.S. coast from Maryland to Maine. The heaviest snows fell about 50 miles to the west and north of New York City. Lyndhurst, New Jersey, located about 15 miles northwest of New York City, got 29 inches, and several nearby towns also reported snows in excess of 24 inches. Though the snow has mostly ended in these regions, strong winds will continue through the early afternoon, creating blizzard conditions in blowing snow.


Figure 1. Satellite image from 8am EST December 27 of the Post-Christmas Blizzard of 2010 over New England. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

The blizzard is in full swing across much of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine, where snowfall rates of 1 - 2 inches per hours are common in heavy snow bands, with high winds creating blizzard conditions. The strongest wind gust from the mighty blizzard was 80mph, measured at Wellfleet on Cape Cod at 10:52pm last night. Wind gusts of 50 - 60 mph have been common along most of the coast of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts. The storm's strong northeast winds whipped up a storm surge of 2 - 3 feet that affected the coast just north of Boston, and in Central Long Island Sound, during the high tide cycle at 3am this morning. Moderate flooding that shut many roads occurred, and some damage to buildings probably resulted. The flooding danger for Massachusetts and Long Island Sound is now past, as the storm moves into Maine and Canada.

Snowfall amounts at major cities for the December 26-27, 2010 storm, as of 8am EST:

Newark, NJ 20.0"
Atlantic City, NJ 19.0"
East Boston, MA 16.5"
Ocean City, MD 13.5"
NYC Central Park, NY 13.0"
Philadelphia, PA 12.4"
East Providence, RI 12.0"
Danbury, CT 11.1"
Augusta, ME 10.0"
Woodstock, VT 10.0"
Bridgeport, CT 8.0"
Boston, MA 6.5"
Wilmington, DE 3.4"

An unusual Nor'easter for a La Niña year
This winter, we are experiencing La Niña conditions in the Equatorial Eastern Pacific, meaning that cold waters have upwelled from the depths off the coast of South America, cooling a huge region of Pacific waters to below-average levels. In most winters, the presence of La Niña acts to deflect the jet stream in such a way the the predominant storm track takes winter storms into the Pacific Northwest, then down through the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley. According to Dr. David A. Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist and Chairman of the Department of Geography at Rutgers University, this sort of flow pattern keeps New England safe from Nor'easters, as storms tend to move from the Ohio Valley northeastwards into Canada, keeping New England in a warm southwesterly flow of air. However, today's storm defied climatology, and gave the mid-Atlantic and New England one of their worst poundings on record for a La Niña Nor'easter. It was the first storm in at least ten La Niña winters, dating back to 1970, to bring 10" of more of snow to New Jersey, according to Dr. Robinson. In Philadelphia, which got 12.4" from this storm, the National Weather Service stated that only one La Niña winter in the past century has had a storm that dumped more than 10" of snow on city--a December 1909 Nor'easter. The reason for the unusual Nor'easter this year is that it happened to get started right when the atmosphere was transitioning from one major flow pattern to another. Since late November, we have been locked into a pattern featuring very weak low pressure over Iceland, and weak high pressure over the Azores--a strongly negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO). This pattern, which has allowed a lot of cold air to spill out of the Arctic and into the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe, is now breaking down and transitioning to a very different winter pattern. This new pattern will feature a more typical configuration for winter, with the Icelandic Low and Azores High close to their usual strengths. Today's Nor'easter managed to sneak in just as the atmosphere was transitioning from one major flow pattern to a new one, resulting in the rare La Niña snowstorm for New England. The new winter flow pattern looks to stay in place for at least the first two weeks of January, resulting in warmer than average winter weather for both the U.S. East Coast and Western Europe.

Jeff Masters

()
Holly Jolly Christmas (GeorgiaPeach)
Snowy berries in our yard on Christmas day.
Holly Jolly Christmas
Out In The Cold (teach50)
Out In The Cold
Blizzard 12-27-2010 New Jersey (xrs21crppn)
My Jeep and husband truck
Blizzard 12-27-2010 New Jersey

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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting Jeff9641:


78 to 82 and humid!


Sweet. 37 here in the backwoods now, and it feels nice enough outside to go without a jacket. But still, I would love to be wearing shorts, a shirt, and flip-flops.
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in southern ontario we should be approaching high 40 maybe 50 with periods of rain fri and saturday then sunday a zonal flow with back to below freezing temps
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting caneswatch:


How warm will it be Sunday for my return?
lets just say flip flops and shorts are not out of the question
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting jeffs713:

Um.. YUM!

Wish it was easier to BBQ down here on new years... Its possible (I live in Houston), but difficult as the outside temp tends to mess with cooking times something fierce.
i use a propane gas BBQ been BBQ'ing in - 20 degree weather and snow flying but it works just takes a little longer my landscapers thinks its great when they come by and they can throw steak on kaiser its great on a cold night outside working cleaning snow done it lots during our winters
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting Jeff9641:
Highs in the upper 70's to low 80's this weekend in C FL is sending my friends and I to my beach house for New Year's Eve celebrations. Not only warm but increasingly humid as well as a front stalls nearby.


How warm will it be Sunday for my return?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
really i took all the lights out of the windows this morning here all i have left now is the tree and the wreath on the front door which will come down on sat morning before my traditional new years day BBQ with t bones and baked potatoes and salad to ring in the new year

Um.. YUM!

Wish it was easier to BBQ down here on new years... Its possible (I live in Houston), but difficult as the outside temp tends to mess with cooking times something fierce.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:

KEEPER, Not quite yet..But I did take my Christmas lights down this morning... Probably about 55 here in Palm Beach county...But the rest of the week is looking good.
really i took all the lights out of the windows this morning here all i have left now is the tree and the wreath on the front door which will come down on sat morning before my traditional new years day BBQ with t bones and baked potatoes and salad to ring in the new year
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
so the cold in fla is done get out the flip flops and tanning oil everyone to the beach

KEEPER, Not quite yet..But I did take my Christmas lights down this morning... Probably about 55 here in Palm Beach county...But the rest of the week is looking good.
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so the cold in fla is done get out the flip flops and tanning oil everyone to the beach
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting pilotguy1:


The trouble with a one track mind is its narrow gauge and lack of switching facilities.


LOL. I think I just found a new e-mail signature!
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Complete Update

232 Hours till vacation in Mexico :)





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting MichaelSTL:
coalgeology.com?

That should be a dead giveaway to their credibility - the fossil fuel industry spends millions to deceive the public (and unfortunately, succeed most of the time). For example:

US oil company donated millions to climate sceptic groups, says Greenpeace
Report identifies Koch Industries giving $73m to climate sceptic groups 'spreading inaccurate and misleading information'

Dirty Money: Big Oil and corporate polluters spent over $500 million to kill climate bill, push offshore drilling



Even the government is suckered by Big Oil/Coal/etc:

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Far Outstrip Renewable Incentives

In 2008, worldwide government subsidies that support the consumption of fossil fuel totaled $557 billion, according to an estimate by the International Energy Agency. Of that amount, $18.2 billion in subsidies were provided by the US government alone. Producers, like Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), and ConocoPhillips Corp. (NYSE: COP), received an additional $100 billion in subsidies. Total global subsidies for fossil fuel production and consumption are estimated at nearly $700 billion, or about 1% of global GDP.

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Good Morning,

Record daily lows this morning in N Florida.

I'm up for a trip to venus, at least it would be warmer. I'll bring some Tums to balance the acid rain.
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253: Looks like pure hokeyness to me. Being able to predict weather conditions thousands of years in advance??? That would certainly make it easier to choose sites to host the Winter Olympics, but, it doesn't seem reasonable to me.

Stoopid Mayans should have gone to Venus. What were they thinking? We must learn from their mistakes!
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Quoting Neapolitan:


The kicker for me, however, was her contention that the Mayans were onto this, too, but failed to act on it in a timely manner and perished, but the rest of us can avoid that fate by moving post haste to Venus (not Mars, however, as we've waited too long and it's already in "its own ice-age").

So, lets move to venus after we find a way to handle crushing atmospheric pressures, sulfuric acid clouds, a CO2-dense atmosphere, and surface temps hot enough to melt lead.
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253. That whole website looks designed more to sell stuff, and provide "shock and awe"... without much in the way of peer-reviewed information. Also, the entire "content" of that page is simply a "teaser" to buy the book. Furthermore, the posting is VERY biased, and references this one person's "notes". Can I go write a few hundred pages of notes, and compile those notes into a book and present it as fact?

There is a line between personal opinions, and scientific research. This particular book falls much more on one side than the other.
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Quoting HawksNestPoint:
Dr. Masters
I respect your expertise and insight, (and recommend Wunderground to everyone I know). I ran across this today - http://coalgeology.com/true-planetary-motions-and-rhythmic-climatic-changes-based-on-an-orbiting-sun /10164/

Can you comment on the value of these theories?
Thanks

I'm not Dr. Masters, of course, but my own first take after reading all the PR pieces sent out: Look-Yat was a bit of a quack, and the book appears to be full of junk science ranging from the unverified to the ridiculous.

The self-published book's author's daughter (the person behind the PR push) claims that her father discovered the "true planetary motions", yet sat on this discovery for thirty years until his death, after which she sat on them for another 13. She states that he chose to "not place emphasis on a traditional college education". She further claims that his closely-held discovery highlights the "deficiencies" in the astronomical work done by pioneers such as Galileo and Kepler--revising and making obsolete the work of the latter--and that in fact his work is the single most "astronomically significant discovery of the millennia and all time", and is "worthy to be recognized by the Nobel Prize!"

The kicker for me, however, was her contention that the Mayans were onto this, too, but failed to act on it in a timely manner and thus perished, but the rest of us can luckily avoid a similar fate by packing up and moving post haste to Venus (not Mars, however, as we've waited too long and it's already in "its own ice-age").

To summarize: I think a person would find more logic on a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. But that's just my "elitist" opinion. ;-)
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Dr. Masters
I respect your expertise and insight, (and recommend Wunderground to everyone I know). I ran across this today - http://coalgeology.com/true-planetary-motions-and-rhythmic-climatic-changes-based-on-an-orbiting-sun /10164/

Can you comment on the value of these theories?
Thanks
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning everybody. Just took in my casual thermometer at 6:25, which was reading 55 deg. F at the time. Now, after 10 min inside, it's only reading 60! I gotta get on the road relatively early this a.m. - by 7:15 - and this kinda temperature is not very encouraging .... however, skies are mostly clear and the wind is not blowing right now, so I suppose it could be worse... :o)
Maybe just a little!!! LOL
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Walked outside to check on the well.. entire grass as far as the eye could see was covered in frost. 25 right now here in Hillsborough.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24580
Getting back to normal for south Florida...

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It bottomed out at 23.8 degrees in north hillsborough co.
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Won't let me embed the data from my PWS this morning. Drag. Anyway temp bottomed out at 21.4 Currently 21.9F.
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2010...Gone, but not forgotten.
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Where is "Chicken Little" now? I wish he would use some of his ill gotten loot to help pay my heating bill!
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.

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37.2 here in Lake Worth.
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241. hud3
Hi, Folks.

I'm having trouble getting any of my NOAA links to load. I've tried clicking on the satellite image links on this site as well, with no luck. I don't have any problems with any other sites, just NOAA, NHC and related sites. For example, I can't get any of the sites listed on this Wunderground page to load: Tropical Weather: Weather Underground
Anyone else having problems? If not, I suspect one of the periodic software updates has screwed around with my settings somehow. Thanks for any insights offered.

Hud
Nevis, West Indies
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BRRRRRRRRRR, Goood Morning Everyone 18.5 outside
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Morning everybody. Just took in my casual thermometer at 6:25, which was reading 55 deg. F at the time. Now, after 10 min inside, it's only reading 60! I gotta get on the road relatively early this a.m. - by 7:15 - and this kinda temperature is not very encouraging .... however, skies are mostly clear and the wind is not blowing right now, so I suppose it could be worse... :o)
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22736
Now it says this, obviously wrong.
Tampa Executive
32 °F
Light Snow
1:00 AM EST
Link
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Quoting skubaaruba:
Most of the time a major pattern change is proceeded by a major storm. The East Coast happened to be on the wrong side of this storm. It looks like by the weekend the storm will be just a memory with the possibility of 50 degree temperatures!


only the northeast will be spared.
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Tampa Executive
30 °F
Freezing Fog
12:20 AM EST
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Now there's something with feeling and emotion!
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Quoting caneswatch:
Well, i'm off for the night guys. See y'all tomorrow.



G'night friend. Sleep well!
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Well, i'm off for the night guys. See y'all tomorrow.
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U2 does disco with Lemon--according to Wikipedia.

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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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