Top U.S. weather event of 2010: Snowmageddon

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:44 PM GMT on January 05, 2011

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As we ring in the new year, it's time to look back on 2010 and reflect upon what a remarkable weather year it was. Today, I'll focus on the U.S. While 2010 certainly had its share of violent and destructive weather events in the U.S., I am thankful for two things:

1) The sustained period of northerly winds needed to blow oil from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe into the Loop Current never materialized, and the Florida Keys and U.S. East Coast were spared oil damage.

2) The 3rd busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record resulted in minimal damage to the U.S., with only one minimum strength tropical storm (Bonnie) making direct landfall in the U.S.

Here, then, is my list of the top three most significant weather events in the U.S. in 2010:

#1: Snowmageddon
The top U.S. weather story of 2010 has to be "Snowmageddon", the remarkable February blizzard that buried the mid-Atlantic under 2 - 3 feet of snow. Snowmageddon set the all-time record for heaviest snowfall in Delaware history, thanks to the 26.5" that fell in Wilmington (old state record: 25" in the President's Day storm of 2003). "Snowmageddon" dumped the second heaviest at Philadelphia 28.5"), second heaviest at Atlantic City (18.2"), third heaviest at Baltimore (24.8"), and the 4th heaviest at Washington D.C. (17.8"). Several locations in Maryland saw over three feet of snow, with the northern Washington D.C. suburb of Colesville receiving 40", and the southern Baltimore suburb of Elkridge receiving 38.3". While the blizzard was not an exceptionally strong storm--the central pressure was a rather unimpressive 986 mb at the height of the blizzard--it was an exceptionally wet storm. The melted equivalent precipitation for the blizzard exceeded three inches along its core snow belt. That's an phenomenal amount of moisture for a winter storm. The blizzard formed a very unstable region aloft where thunderstorms were able to build, and there were many reports of thundersnow during the height of the storm. These embedded thunderstorms were able to generate very heavy snow bursts of 2 - 3 inches per hour.

"Snowmageddon" was followed just three days later by a second massive snowstorm which dumped another 1 - 2 feet of snow on the mid-Atlantic. By the time the flakes stopped flying, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Atlantic City all had their snowiest winters on record. The February snowstorms killed 41 people and did up to $2.4 billion in damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.


Figure 1. There's a car under here somewhere! Maryland resident digs out after Snowmageddon. Image credit: wunderphotographer chills.

#2: The Tennessee and Nashville floods
An atmospheric river of moisture originating in the East Pacific subtropics surged northwards into the southeast U.S. during the first two days of May, unleashing unprecedented rains that caused a 1000-year flood in Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Mississippi. The floods killed 31 people, making it the deadliest non-tropical storm or hurricane flood disaster in the U.S. since the October 1998 Central Texas floods that killed 31 when a cold front stalled over Texas. The 2010 flood did more than $1.5 billion in damage, much of it in Nashville, Tennessee, where ten fatalities were reported. The city had its heaviest 1-day and 2-day rainfall amounts in its history. A remarkable 7.25" of rain fell on May 2, breaking the record for most rain in a single day (6.60", set September 13, 1979.) Nashville's third greatest day of rainfall on record occurred on May 1, 2010, when 6.32" fell. Nashville also eclipsed its greatest 6-hour and 12-hour rainfall events on record during the May 2 deluge, with 5.57" and 7.20", respectively. By the end of May 2, it was already the rainiest May in Nashville's history. Rainfall records were smashed all across Tennessee and Kentucky, with amounts as high as 17.73" recorded at Camden, TN, and 17.02" at Brownsville, TN. According to Christopher C. Burt, the author of the excellent book Extreme Weather, the 13.30" that fell on Camden in 24 hours just missed eclipsing the state's all-time 24-hour precipitation record, the 13.60" inches that fell on Milan on September 13, 1982.


Figure 2. Parking via Mother Nature. A scene in Nashville after the May, 2010 flood. Image credit: wunderphotographer jannash.

#3: May 10 tornado outbreak
On May 10, a massive tornado outbreak affected large areas of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, with the bulk of the activity in central and eastern Oklahoma. Over 60 tornadoes, including two violent EF-4 twisters and six strong EF-3s, hit the region. The tornadoes and associated severe thunderstorms caused approximately $2 billion in damage, according to Swiss Re Insurance Company. The most destructive tornadoes caused severe damage in southern suburbs of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area and just east of Norman, Oklahoma. Three people were killed by the tornadoes.


Figure 3. Video of the May 10, 2010 tornado near Norman, OK. Dr. Rob Carver's blog has many more videos from this spectacular outbreak linked.

I'll be back with a new post on Friday.

Our extreme weather blogger, Christopher C. Burt, has an interesting post on historic episodes where large numbers of dead birds have fallen from the sky.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting notverylikely:


it is surprising that being with a 4 year old boy isn't a violation of your probation
Uncalled for!
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
"The day the squirrel went biserk..

In the first self-righteous church...":)
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Quoting Patrap:
.."The Force has a considerable effect on the "Weak Minded"..


"He can go about his business" LOL
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Man weather is just wild in the northeast. Slow clipper coming through tomorrow and a possible bigger storm coming in mon-tues. I would love for the storm to track farther inland then on the coast though. I know dc and nyc do not need anymore snow that measures in feet.
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Hotspots in Fountains on the Sun's Surface Help Explain Coronal Heating Mystery


Among the many constantly moving, appearing, disappearing and generally explosive events in the sun's atmosphere, there exist giant plumes of gas -- as wide as a state and as long as Earth -- that zoom up from the sun's surface at 150,000 miles per hour. Known as spicules, these are one of several phenomena known to transfer energy and heat throughout the sun's magnetic atmosphere, or corona.

Thanks to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Japanese satellite Hinode, these spicules have recently been imaged and measured better than ever before, showing them to contain hotter gas than previously observed. Thus, they may perhaps play a key role in helping to heat the sun's corona to a staggering million degrees or more. (A number made more surprising since the sun's surface itself is only about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.)


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
..Everything is Beautiful,..in it's own way"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
711

..Wise,u are.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
Quoting Patrap:
.."The Force has a considerable effect on the "Weak Minded"..


"These are not the droids you're looking for"
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Afternoon Levi, been pretty interesting with all these clippers. going to have a clipper through early next week and it will still reach 45 to 50 as a HI(last year we had seen snow twice and usually would be in the 30's as a HI), so this has been such a great, above average temperature, year. I must say i wish every winter was like this. The past 3 weeks have been in the 60's and 70's. not to mention we hit 80 one of the days. ive worn shorts for most of that time too.
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MDE INVESTIGATES LARGE FISH KILL IN CHESAPEAKE BAY
Natural causes appear to be reason for deaths of estimated 2 million small fish; bay water temperature rapidly dropped below tolerance threshold for fish species involved

BALTIMORE, MD (January 5, 2011) - The Maryland Department of the Environment is investigating a fish kill in the Chesapeake Bay in which an estimated two million fish have died.
More:
http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/PressRoom/Pages/010511.aspx
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.."The Force has a considerable effect on the "Weak Minded"..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Hmmm... I wonder if you know that he was a long term blogger (about 5 years longer than you - or is your current handle even your first one), until some trolls decided to have some fun. The same trolls responsible for recent attacks.
How can trolls block you or cause a permaban on a existing member? You can't take over a bloggers name the system won't allow it, and you can tell by their join date also.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Quoting CybrTeddy:


figures that was post 666. LOL


Now you've done it LOL
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Mass bird deaths and fish deaths now appearing all across the globe and in Florida too (thousands of fish washed up on Cocoa Beach)
Google maps of each reported location of mass bird or fish deaths

Yea, 2012 came early.


figures that was post 666. LOL
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Quoting Levi32:


Thanks Jon, I'll check it out, though I don't know if it will work in OpenOffice (I don't have MS Office).

My first semester went well. I was happy with my grades. Next semester will be a challenge. I return there in less than 2 weeks.


Great news Levi, thanks for the update. I am pretty sure that the process will work just fine in Open Office. Take care young man, and keep doing well in school. I am sure you will do fine.

Let me know if you have any problems with Open Office, I may be able to put it into MS Office and send to you. When you import it into Open Office, the program will make any adjustmenets needed.

Very Respectfully,

Jon
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Quoting Levi32:
I have been looking for a calculator that calculates the square area of any region on the earth's surface defined by 4 lat/lon points. Anyone got a link that I can grab?


Take a look at this:

http://efreedom.com/Question/1-1340223/Calculating-Area-Enclosed-Arbitrary-Polygon-Earths-Surface
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i think the earth will end on 12-12-12
the earth will not end taz just the earth as we know it will
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Quoting MichaelSTL:


Here is more proof that Fox News is misinforming - if not outright lying:

Study Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid

Yet another study has been released proving that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.

So the more you watch, the less you know. Or to be precise, the more you think you know that is actually false. This study corroborates a previous PIPA study that focused on the Iraq war with similar results. And there was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that demonstrated the break with reality on the part of Fox viewers with regard to health care. The body of evidence that Fox News is nothing but a propaganda machine dedicated to lies is growing by the day.

In eight of the nine questions below, Fox News placed first in the percentage of those who were misinformed (they placed second in the question on TARP). That’s a pretty high batting average for journalistic fraud. Here is a list of what Fox News viewers believe that just aint so:

* 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
* 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
* 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
* 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
* 49 percent believe income taxes have gone up
* 63 percent believe the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts
* 56 percent believe Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout
* 38 percent believe that most Republicans opposed TARP
* 63 percent believe Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear)

The conclusion is inescapable. Fox News is deliberately misinforming its viewers and it is doing so for a reason. Every issue above is one in which the Republican Party had a vested interest. The GOP benefited from the ignorance that Fox News helped to proliferate. The results were apparent in the election last month as voters based their decisions on demonstrably false information fed to them by Fox News.

Im not going to say the first poll was good, but the second is biased because its was taken by NBC, a competitor.

Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Quoting Tazmanian:
i think the earth will end on 12-12-12

I sure hope not, Taz! Where's your optimism? Severe cold snap due in Central Texas next week...BRING....IT...ON!
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Quoting Eagle101:


Levi...great to see you on the board. Try this link: Link

It will take you to a PDF which explains how to enter the proper equations into an MS Excel Spreadsheet. Complete with references. I hope this helps.

On a side note, how are you doing in school so far? Hope all is well, and always hoping for the best in your endeavers.

Take care...

Very Respectfully,

Jon


Thanks Jon, I'll check it out, though I don't know if it will work in OpenOffice (I don't have MS Office).

My first semester went well. I was happy with my grades. Next semester will be a challenge. I return there in less than 2 weeks.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


I think some just aren't mentally able to have a sense of humor or they are swinging lefty if you no what I mean.



Having to explain an unexpected image to a four year old grandson because of your stupidity is totally unacceptable.

There can be no excuse for such stupidity.

You owe us all an apology for such an act.


Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
i think the earth will end on 12-12-12
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Quoting Levi32:
I have been looking for a calculator that calculates the square area of any region on the earth's surface defined by 4 lat/lon points. Anyone got a link that I can grab?


Levi...great to see you on the board. Try this link: Link

It will take you to a PDF which explains how to enter the proper equations into an MS Excel Spreadsheet. Complete with references. I hope this helps.

On a side note, how are you doing in school so far? Hope all is well, and always hoping for the best in your endeavers.

Take care...

Very Respectfully,

Jon
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
666. CybrTeddy 11:01 PM GMT on January 06, 2011

Yea, 2012 came early.


not early, just the beginning. look at all your 1 & 6's. sorry just messing with you.

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I have been looking for a calculator that calculates the square area of any region on the earth's surface defined by 4 lat/lon points. Anyone got a link that I can grab?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3 Crow recipes
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
Quoting HRinFM:
Not really, being a SW Florida native of 51 years and seeing the change brought forth by those that moved down from up north (including environmental) I just wanted to see if you were on a Charity mission in Immokalee, or laid up @ Tiburon, Lely or such... FYI, I am anti-development and growth in SW Florida.....

With 51 years here, you've got many more than do I. I first came to Florida in 1979, but didn't visit this area until 1985. I worked here off and on in the late 90s, and moved here most recently five years ago next week. And FWIW, I've done charity work in Immokalee (and elsewhere); I live near Tiburon (in a small LEED-certified home inside an ungated community); I've refereed sports at Lely HS. I golf, but neither very well nor very often, and in fact only when I can afford a few bucks for a cartless round on some ratty municipal course.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14001
Quoting RitaEvac:
Beginning of the end maybe? it only gets worse, next year at this time this stuff could be childs play...
funny thing is they will still be sayin move along nothing to see here its only fireworks
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Quoting JupiterKen:
Well, FOX News viewers are considered the least informed; it's no surprise that their hosts are part of the reason for that

Nea this comment shows what a small person you are.

Really? Patrap posted a link to a story out just today about a particular Fox News host and his apparent lack of scientific knowledge; I disagree that posting a link to a University study out just a few weeks ago showing that very same network's viewer's lack of correct knowledge is somehow "small".
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14001
.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting MichaelSTL:


Right - if it is the usual Mercator projection which skews high latitudes (as below or the SST map I just posted), but those maps show it on a globe. Plus, the SST anomalies are much larger at higher latitudes (-0.2 at the equator and 0.8 in mid-latitudes).

Also, here is the trend since 1990:



Looks like the PDO needs help if it wants to cause "global cooling". Never mind that the PDO only (somewhat) correlates with Northern Hemisphere temperatures, and the cooling there is known to be due to elevated aerosols.


It is a whole lot more than that. Ever notice how the arctic can have insane weekly temperature anomalies of over 20C? Anomalies stronger than 5C are relatively uncommon in equatorial areas, even on land. It is much easier to warm up the arctic, which is why temperature must be based on standard deviation anomalies, not the actual degree temperature anomalies simply averaged out over the globe. It means a lot more to warm the equator by 1 degree Celcius than to warm the arctic by 1 degree Celcius, and the amount of total energy in the global troposphere responds in kind.
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Well, FOX News viewers are considered the least informed; it's no surprise that their hosts are part of the reason for that

Nea this comment shows what a small person you are.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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