Record snows hit New England; Brazilian floods kill 350; Brisbane underwater

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:16 PM GMT on January 13, 2011

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The Northeast U.S. is digging out today from the winter's third major snowstorm, and the nation's South continues to deal with travel disruptions caused by the nasty coasting of ice, snow and sleet the storm left behind early this week. Yesterday's Nor'easter has exited into Canada, and the storm is over for the U.S. It was a pretty average Nor'easter as far as intensity goes--the storm's central pressure bottomed out at 982 mb, and just the Massachusetts coast was subject to high winds that merited blizzard warnings. The storm did generate one hurricane-force wind gust--Provincetown airport on the tip of Cape Cod had sustained winds at 43 mph, gusting to 79 mph, at 6:35am EST yesterday, and a personal weather station at Humarock Beach in Scituate, southeast of Boston, recorded a wind gust of 64 mph at 5:51am EST yesterday.


Figure 1. A bit of work today needed before one can step out of the door in Southborough, Massachusetts! Image credit: wunderphotographer Megmdp.

But what was remarkable about the January Nor'easter of 2011 were its snow amounts. This rather ordinary-strength Nor'easter managed to assemble the perfect mix of conditions needed to transport moisture to a region of the storm highly favorable for heavy snow formation. Many heavy snow bands with snowfall rates up to 3 inches per hour formed over New England, with some of these bands intense enough to generate lightning and thunder. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont all came within an inch of setting all-time state 24-hour snowfall records yesterday. North Haven, Connecticut received 29.5", falling just short of the 30.2" 24-hour snowfall record for the state, set at Fairfield in February 2006. Savoy, Massachusetts received 34.5", falling just short of that state's all-time 24-hour snowfall record, the 36" recorded at Milton in February 1997. Wilmington, Vermont got 36" in yesterday's storm, just missing the state record of 37", set at Peru in March 1984. The capital of Connecticut, Hartford, had its greatest snowstorm in history yesterday, with 24". The old record was 23.5", set in a February 1899 storm.

Some selected storm total snowfall amounts, taken from the latest NOAA storm summary:

New York City, NY 9.1"
Albany, NY 13.2"
Worcester, MA 21.1"
Boston, MA 14.6"
Augusta, ME 14.5"
Portland, ME 9.2"
Concord, NH 22"
Somerset, PA 15"
Philadelphia, PA 5.2"
Providence, RI 9.5"
Brattleboro, VT 19"
Elkin, WV 10"
Danbury, CT 17.9"
Wilmington, DE 4.3"

According to our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, in his latest blog post titled, "Snowstorms in the South: A Historical Perspective", the 8.9" that fell on Huntsville, Alabama from this week's storm was that city's third heaviest snow on record. The post has a nice summary of the remarkable heavy snow storms that have hit the South in the past.


Figure 2. Flooding at São José do Vale do Rio Preto in Brazil photographed on Thursday, January 13, 2011.

Brazilian floods, landslides kill at least 350
The globe's parade of massive flooding disasters in recent months continued yesterday in Brazil, where heavy rains of up to 10 inches in 24 hours inundated the region about 60 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. At least 350 are dead and 50 people missing, and the death toll is expected to go much higher once rescuers reach remote villages that have been cut off from communications. Brazil suffers hundreds of deaths each year due to flooding and mudslides, but the past 12 months have been particularly devastating. Flooding and landslides near Rio in April last year killed 246 people and did about $13 billion in damage, and at least 85 people perished last January during a similar event.


Figure 3. A woman trapped on the roof of her car awaits rescue during the Toowoomba flash flood on Monday. Image credit: Wikipedia.

New floods ravage Australia's 3rd largest city
Flood waters swept today into Brisbane, Australia's 3rd largest city, inundating 14,400 homes and businesses, partially submerging another 17,200, and cutting power to 118,000, as the Brisbane River peaked at its highest level since 1974. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who has called the recent floods in Queensland the greatest natural disaster in their history, said, "What I'm seeing looks more like a war zone in some places. All I could see was their rooftops...underneath every single one of those rooftops is a horror story. We are facing a reconstruction effort of post-war proportions." Much of Brisbane's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, including 55,000 miles of roads. The Port of Brisbane, one of Australia's busiest, has been closed because of debris, and the city's largest sports stadium is under several feet of water.

The search for bodies continues in Toowoomba, about 60 miles west of Brisbane, where freak rains of 6 inches in just 30 minutes triggered a flash flood that killed 12 and left 61 missing on Monday. The flood waters from the Toowoomba disaster poured into the Brisbane River, contributing to its rampage through Brisbane yesterday. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported that only scattered light rains less than 1/3" fell in the Brisbane area over the past 24 hours, and no further significant rains are forecast in the Brisbane area until Tuesday next week, so the worst of the flooding is now over for Queensland. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the December - January floods in Queenland are the most significant flooding event in Australia since at least 1974. In 2010, Australia had its wettest spring (September - November) since records began 111 years ago, with some sections of coastal Queensland receiving over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. Queensland typically has its rainiest years when La Niña events occur, due to the much warmer than average ocean temperatures that occur along the coast. The BOM notes, "Previous strong La Niña events, such as those of 1974 and 1955, have also been associated with widespread and severe flooding in eastern Australia. Sea surface temperatures off the Queensland coast in recent months have also been at or near record levels." The BOM's annual summary also reported, "Sea surface temperatures in the Australian region during 2010 were the warmest value on record for the Australian region. Individual high monthly sea surface temperature records were also set during 2010 in March, April, June, September, October, November and December. Along with favourable hemispheric circulation associated with the 2010 La Niña, very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring." Beginning in December, the Queensland floods have killed at least 22, and damage estimates are now as high as $20 billion. Queensland has an area the size of Germany and France combined.

2010 tied for warmest year in Earth's history
Earth's warmest year in history occurred in 2010, NASA reported yesterday. The globe's temperature beat the previous record set in 2005 by just .01°C, so we should consider 2010 and 2005 tied for the warmest year on record. Reliable global temperature records go back to 1880. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also announced yesterday that 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, with temperatures during 2010 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average. I'll have a full blog post on the subject Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

storm car burried (slimfast)
on a lowell mass street 1/12/11 taken off hampshire street lowell mass our streets are buried in snow we have 24-36" of snow we had unsafe intersecting roads every where un safe driving also large buildings with flat roofs are unsafe many colapsed buildings
storm car burried
Brilliance..2 (suzi46)
a brilliant mid-Winter's day..blue skies and sunshine on the clear ice of the brooks creating wonderful images..
Brilliance..2
How Many Cars? (stoneygirl)
Can you tell how many cars are under all that? We had a whopping 2 plus FEET of snow today and the snow drifts were upwards of 3 and 4 feet. Gotta love winter.
How Many Cars?

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625. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Brisbane
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin
TROPICAL CYCLONE ZELIA (10U)
2:00 PM EST January 14 2011
==========================================

At 1:00 PM EST, Tropical Cyclone Zelia, Category One (992 hPa) located at 12.5S 151.3E, or 770 km northeast of Cairns and 445 km north northeast of Willis Island has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east at 8 knots.

Gale Force Winds
=================
60 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0/3.0/D1.0/24HRS

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 13.5S 152.1E - 40 knots (CAT 1)
24 HRS: 14.9S 153.1E - 50 knots (CAT 2)
48 HRS: 18.6S 159.1E - 65 knots (CAT 3)
72 HRS: 25.5S 166.0E - 70 knots (CAT 3)

Additional Information
========================

DT based on 0.65 curved band on VIS imagery. System is small so may undergo rapid intensity fluctuations. Standard development expected to due to low wind shear on forecast track.

The next tropical cyclone bulletin will be issued at 7:00 AM UTC..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
If you are as energy efficient as you claim to be, you would keep more of your money under cap and trade.

Obama cut your taxes too.


Well, we agree on a lot but go back and study the Enron kyoto post. Cap and trade will only enrich wall street.

Obama is a disaster on AGW since he lacks the guts to tell America they are living beyond their means... oh... his own lifestyle....

what is his carbon footprint and what is he doing to reduce it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting spathy:


And if that jet setter is my boss I just gave up my raise!
Think about it!!!!!!
Where do you think this Gov money comes from?
I am a horticulturist!
And a darn good one!
I dont think I have the ability to create a money tree!
And neither does the Gov and all its Scientists on MY DOLL!


Integrity is your greatest asset.

Over a decade ago I had to tell a VP "no" to a direct order that was unlawful and got my "just rewards"

His name is now posted on my door in the newspaper settlement of his, well, to be precise, civil violations (without admitting or not admitting guilt).

If you are afraid to tell your boss the truth there is a name for that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
619. Skyepony (Mod)
LoveStormsatNight~ That just keeps going up by the hour.

I'm surprised Australia is having it's most costly disaster & a tropical storm isn't even involved.
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617. Skyepony (Mod)
River forecasters for the National Weather Service underestimated the flood level that a major river would reach during Nashville's fatal May floods because they relied on inaccurate data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the service concluded in a report released Wednesday.
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
That's a good point energymoron. Why would anyone as energy efficient as spathy claims be against tax credits for energy efficiency--paying lower income taxes?


Spathy is obviously against paying lower income taxes from subsequent comments.

Not a Republican probably from other comments.... Republicans tend to like "breeders"

Movie social analysis of breeders

Modification... identified as horticulturalist (therefore blue collar tending).

You have to convince them that an energy tax will be offset with lower taxes elsewhere.

Or be used to pay off the deficit before our credit rating goes bad...
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608. Skyepony (Mod)


Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil the Product of Global Warming, Say Scientists
Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN
DIEGO) -- The pictures Thursday from around the world of dramatic
rooftop rescues from raging waters make it seem as though natural
disasters are becoming an everyday occurrence. But they're not all that
natural; climate scientists say man-made global warming is the sudden
force behind the forces of nature.

In the mountains of southeast
Brazil, more than 340 people have died after fierce mudslides swept away
homes. At least 50 are still missing and victims continue to search for
loved ones. On the other side of the globe, floods in Queensland,
Australia have ravaged an area the size of France and Germany combined.

And
in Sri Lanka, officials say flooding there has affected more than a
million people, and the death toll has risen to 23. Sewage lines and
holding tanks have overflowed in the floods, and a spokesperson for the
health ministry there said officials are concerned about waterborne
diseases like typhoid and diarrhea.

"If left unchecked, climate
warming will continue so the things that we're having hints of now,
foretastes of now, will come stronger," Richard Sommerville, a climate
scientist at the University of California at San Diego and author of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change, said.

The
extreme weather the world has seen is part of a larger trend, he said.
"The world is warming up....It's warming for sure and science is very
confident that most of the warming is due to human causes."

Every
time we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, Sommerville
said, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, climate
scientists see "the changed odds, the loaded dice that favors more
extreme events and more high temperature records being broken," he said.

The
decade that just ended saw nine of the 10 warmest years on record, and
warmer temperatures mean more moisture in the air. That moisture can
fall as torrential, flooding rains in the summertime or blizzards in the
winter.

"Because the whole water cycle speeds up in a warming
world, there's more water in the atmosphere today than there was a few
years ago on average, and you're seeing a lot of that in the heavy rains
and floods for example in Australia," Sommervile said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"...1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it absorbs a specific infrared wavelength.
2. The greater concentration of greenhouse gases, the greater the warming effect.
3. Humans are adding to the level of CO2 in the air..."

Since you list this, I'll agree to #3.

But, for #1 and #2, consider this:

If CO2 absorbs IR, then wouldn't it stand to reason that even if there were no change in CO2, that changes in the IR levels would also cause warming?

Up until recently, it was assumed that the TSI didn't change much (the "solar constant"). Well, recent data from satellites (the SORCE satellite) shows INCREASED levels of IR, and DECREASED levels of UV.

SORCE

"...SIM suggests that ultraviolet irradiance fell far more than expected between 2004 and 2007 -- by ten times as much as the total irradiance did -- while irradiance in certain visible and infrared wavelengths surprisingly increased, even as solar activity wound down overall..."

"...If these SIM measurements indicate real solar variations, then it would mean you could expect a warmer surface during periods of low solar activity, the opposite of what climate models currently assume," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeling specialist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City..."
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Perhaps I overinterpreted. But he sure seems to resent other classes.

It's not just blue collar that makes us great. So do professionals, scientists, teachers, soldiers. The whole shebang.



I'm white collar myself but often find disdain for the blue collar workers... you know how the Republicans like to rant against unions... heck Ronald Reagan was a card carrying union member!

Good night.

Agreement reached with somebody.

Right Gro? The goal?
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604. Skyepony (Mod)
MANILA, Philippines - The government's weather bureau chief said Friday that the Philippines will be battered by stronger and more frequent typhoons during the rainy season this year.

Graicano Yumul, chief of weather bureau PAGASA, said the La Niña phenomenon prevailing over the Pacific Ocean is expected to end by May but will continue to affect the Philippines until August this year.

"Starting June that is typhoon season. Stronger and more frequent typhoons in 2011," he said.
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
That's a good point energymoron. Why would anyone as energy efficient as spathy claims be against tax credits for energy efficiency--paying lower income taxes?


Precisely.

There is a way to present carbon taxes rationally even in this political environment.

And Dr. Hansen thinks this is the way (so does the Tea Party outstead Rep. Ingles... my hero with a 94% conservative voting record who accepts science).
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
Wow. Jet setting hypocrites. Sounds like spathy believes in marxist class warfare to me.


Probably more like blue collar, the backbone of what makes America great.
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Quoting spathy:


Here is my carbon footprint up the posterior of jetseting hypocrites!!!!!!!!
My water-heater is turned off for 20 hrs per day and you want me to pay more taxes you!!!@@@@???%%%%####


Actually, if you are as energy efficient as you say you are you would love the proposal to offset the carbon tax treasury income with income tax reductions.

You would win big and the jet-setters would have to pay for having money to burn...

and this is consistent with the Federalist 36.

I like the Constitution.
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Quoting spathy:


Here is my carbon footprint up the posterior of jetseting hypocrites!!!!!!!!
My water-heater is turned off for 20 hrs per day and you want me to pay more taxes you!!!@@@@???%%%%####


I agree with you on jet travel. Very bad if abused.

Perhaps doubling the carbon tax on jet end use would be a good idea.
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modify comment... foot in mouse disease
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Quoting spathy:


JF
I consider you to be pretty smart.
Your comment above tells me that the rush to pass cap and trade legislation was a bad idea.
I am glad it failed here.
But it has been implemented elsewhere.
And where has there been any benefits?
As opposed to the austerity programs now in place due to over spending/over taxation?
Has it produced any reduction in co2 output?
Or just moneys made while transferring credits?
Who made those moneys?
Are "they" going to give aid to the Loyalty Islands?
No!
Its as feel good shell game with a net loss to society!



Spathy:

Short answer for cap and trade (I have the original evidence posted) is Ken Lay was the original beneficiary.

A family member of mine whom I am very proud fought Lay on ethanol and lost. The battle (hopefully not the war).

Carbon tax... Hansen recognizes the potentially regressive nature but here Publius on taxation (Federalist 36)... tax the rich, please.

And if you have money to burn through not being efficient sorry, you act like you are rich. Whatever your income level.

"As to the suggestion of double taxation, the answer is plain. The wants of the Union are to be supplied in one way or another; if to be done by the authority of the federal government, it will not be to be done by that of the State government. The quantity of taxes to be paid by the community must be the same in either case; with this advantage, if the provision is to be made by the Union that the capital resource of commercial imposts, which is the most convenient branch of revenue, can be prudently improved to a much greater extent under federal than under State regulation, and of course will render it less necessary to recur to more inconvenient methods; and with this further advantage, that as far as there may be any real difficulty in the exercise of the power of internal taxation, it will impose a disposition to greater care in the choice and arrangement of the means; and must naturally tend to make it a fixed point of policy in the national administration to go as far as may be practicable in making the luxury of the rich tributary to the public treasury, in order to diminish the necessity of those impositions which might create dissatisfaction in the poorer and most numerous classes of the society. Happy it is when the interest which the government has in the preservation of its own power, coincides with a proper distribution of the public burdens, and tends to guard the least wealthy part of the community from oppression!"

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Quoting TomTaylor:


Yah, I like short argumentation so here is one my 11 year old at the time daughter taught me:

"What is your carbon footprint and what are you doing to reduce it"?

I'm really into energy efficiency...
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Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
I do prefer Cap and Dividend.



That is st
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
I do prefer Cap and Dividend.



it is fee and dividend in Hansen's proposal. Basically Hanson is smart enough to have figured out that a straight carbon tax is regressive (as is cap and tax...) and is trying to deal with how to reward conservation without imposing a regressive tax... personally I would just be in favor of adjustments to the income tax since there would be less redistribution.

But I give Hanson credit for thinking about the regressive taxation issue.

Unlike those who push cap and tax.
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Quoting gatorojo:

Yep, it is like reinventing the wheel over and over. All it takes is a couple of corporate schills to spin out scientific sounding falsities and enough confusion will be caused amongst those who either don't understand the scientific method, latch onto ideology instead of reason, or are prone to conspiratorial irrationality, and a problem that should have been addressed in the 70's is still being debated.

I don't foresee any action being taken until we have to start building seawalls to prevent our cities from going under. I understand that much of the denialism is fueled by anti-tax sentiments. For myself, low taxes and small government are a good thing, but to cling to these ideas dogmatically at the expense of reason is insane. It is going to cost many times more to deal with this problem in the future then it is to deal with it now. AGW denialism is not only bad science, but bad economics.


Exactly, which is why what kills me most is watching all the pro GW folk going to every website ever made finding every graph ever composed and each word ever spoken to prove to these blind bats their wrong.

The anti GW folk put an average of 2 minutes making their argument, while someone like STL will spend all day proving them false. And its great what he does, I learn from him all the time. But at the same time he shouldn't have to waste so much time on people not giving him the time.

Which is why every time I see an agw argument I try to keep it as simple as possible basing my argument on the three things that REALLY matter:

1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it absorbs a specific infrared wavelength.
2. The greater concentration of greenhouse gases, the greater the warming effect.
3. Humans are adding to the level of CO2 in the air.

From these most basic points, we can deduce humans are adding to the warming.

Agw folk have nothing against the above argument and its simple, so I use it every time.


POINT BEING: to all the pro GW folk, keep your argument simple.

When you make long and complex responses, GW folk learn, but for agw folk, it only gives them more room to try and deny the claims. And it is only harder for hem to understand, making them less likely to listen to you.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting LoveStormsatNight:
The reason that Cap and Trade hasn't helped control greenhouse gas emissions is because we haven't passed a cap and trade law yet spathy.

A little basic knowledge really helps in debates like this.


Dr. James Hanson on "Cap and Fade"

Enron Kyoto Cap and Trade memo

I am a moron, I am a moron, I don't know, I don't know.
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I'm embraced by how the IPCC's 24 models predicted a dry and average temperature year. After all, we pay for all these scientist's by taxes on our poultry lives.
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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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