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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Quoting Patrap:


That thought did pass thru my BHG.



BHG,,

USMC DI acronym for "Brain Housing Group"

or yer Head.


Probably, the only one on here who understood what he was saying.
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Quoting Grothar:


Now you know what I sound like. LOL


That thought did pass thru my BHG.



BHG,,

USMC DI acronym for "Brain Housing Group"

or yer Head.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

Scripted can also be encrypted :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
No biggee..

atmo went to Texas A& M and that's their Motto,Aggies

Didnt keep LSU from whooping dem in da Cotton Bowl though.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting Patrap:
GAW-CH Conference 2011 (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Auditorium Maximum, Zurich, 18-19 January 2011.

Click here for more information

To see the webcast from the Conference you can go to one of these two web sites:


www.multimedia.ethz.ch/live

http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/webcastzurich.html

First announcement


Now you know what I sound like. LOL
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Quoting RipplinH2O:
Night all...take'n me home
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Night all...
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Phunny,,last time I went to Alabama with atmo,he was Driving and a Guy.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
NEXRAD Radar
Houston-Galveston, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 124 NMI

Port of Houston, Houston, Texas (PWS)
Updated: 3 sec ago
Overcast
38.8 F
Overcast

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
spathy and Atmo have entered a scripted dialog?
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http://www.wunderground.com/blog/HurricaneKatrina/show.html Does anyone know any good schools to become a climatologist? I still cant figure out how that darn ideal gas law works.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 27 Comments: 267
Climate change carbon dioxide including the ice core record of atmospheric CO2. Also the distant past climate. Taken from the excellent National Environmental Education modules.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting KrippleCreekFerry:
While you guys sit around and so pleasantly debate the merits of AGW what you seem to forget is that the vast majority of people don't know what you are talking about and don't care what will determine this debate. Right now they worry about jobs and who will win the superbowl. So while you turn blue in the face posting the same charts and graphs over and over remember this simple fact. No one is listening to you


That's the funny thing; there shouldn't even be a debate here.

Quoting
There is no uncertainty that our planet is warming.

There is no uncertainty that humans are adding CO2 to the atmosphere along with other greenhouse gases.

There is no uncertainty that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and does absorb specific infrared wavelengths.

There is no uncertainty that the greater amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the greater the warming will be.

There is no uncertainty that humans are therefore contributing to the warming.


This is what any, and every, scientist knows.

The only reason a debate remains is because deniers will deny things when given the opportunity. So all the people who understand common sense and logic have to come out and reassert the deniers.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting Neapolitan:

So: ignorance is bliss? ;-)

Seriously, I hope that those concerned about finding a job are on Monster.com tweaking their resumes. And those worried about the Superbowl can visit NFL.com or ESPN.com for in depth analyses of teams and players. After all, I wouldn't visit any of those sites for climate information. Who would?
Did you know Atlanta is only a 2 1/2 point favorite over Green Bay now?
And in Great Britain AGW theory now is up to 20 to 1 odds of being proven convincingly by 2020.
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A drummer always remains a drummer, even a GREAT drummer...


Link
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Quoting MichaelSTL:
Here is a more recent view; temperatures are MUCH warmer than BEFORE the Little Ice Age - which was actually just the coolest part of a 8,000 year long cooling trend (see previous post):

About that historical ice core temperature and CO2...

"It is well known that diffusion processes within the firn layer and the gradual enclosure of the air in the lock-in-zone of the ice lead to a reduced signal of the original atmospheric variability and may obscure high-frequency variations"

In this paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0889.2005.00154.x/full

This is saying that compaction in the ice core can hide CO2 variations on the order of what we have measured in the last 50 years and only exhibit a long-term mean. (By long term, that can mean 100 year average, for example. What is the resulting value valid for? Indeterminable as the compaction will be different for different levels of every core.)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
GAW-CH Conference 2011 (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Auditorium Maximum, Zurich, 18-19 January 2011.

Click here for more information

To see the webcast from the Conference you can go to one of these two web sites:


www.multimedia.ethz.ch/live

http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/webcastzurich.html

First announcement
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089


Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW)



WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Strategic Plan: 2008 - 2015

! GAW programme assisting detection of volcanic ash !

Observations of fires in July-August 2010

The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme of WMO is a partnership involving 80 countries, which provides reliable scientific data and information on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, its natural and anthropogenic change, and helps to improve the understanding of interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere.

The rationale for the Global Atmosphere Watch is the need to understand and control the increasing influence of human activity on the global atmosphere. Among the grand challenges are

*


Stratospheric ozone depletion and the increase of ultraviolet (UV) radiation;

*


Changes in the weather and climate related to human influence on atmospheric composition, particularly, greenhouse gases, ozone and aerosols;

*


Risk reduction of air pollution on human health and issues involving long-range transport and deposition of air pollution

GAW focuses on global networks for GHGs, ozone, UV, aerosols, selected reactive gases, and precipitation chemistry.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting MichaelSTL:
As we can see, the bite in the spectrum is not getting any deeper, but it is getting considerably wider. This is very important for the greenhouse effect, since you will essentially never become “saturated” and thus you will keep getting warming with more and more CO2.
The measurements in 1970 and 2006 do not agree with your copy and paste model results...

No, I don't know why. I'd have to read the model code to know that and seems that there is something with the spectra that isn't understood.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463

...Try da fish
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting spathy:

Michael
What is the light blue line in your graph?


It is interesting isn't it? How when you take many proxies that don't really seem to correlate with each other--even though they're all temperature proxies--and average them all together, you get a nice middle-of-the-road line with very limited variation. Is it an accurate temperature estimate? I have to admit, I'm a bit skeptical.
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Quoting KrippleCreekFerry:
While you guys sit around and so pleasantly debate the merits of AGW what you seem to forget is that the vast majority of people don't know what you are talking about and don't care what will determine this debate. Right now they worry about jobs and who will win the superbowl. So while you turn blue in the face posting the same charts and graphs over and over remember this simple fact. No one is listening to you
But, but, but...that means nobody is going to post the Monty Python spam thing...dam!
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WOT Reputation Scorecard, wunderground.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting KrippleCreekFerry:
While you guys sit around and so pleasantly debate the merits of AGW what you seem to forget is that the vast majority of people don't know what you are talking about and don't care what will determine this debate. Right now they worry about jobs and who will win the superbowl. So while you turn blue in the face posting the same charts and graphs over and over remember this simple fact. No one is listening to you

So: ignorance is bliss? ;-)

Seriously, I hope that those concerned about finding a job are on Monster.com tweaking their resumes. And those worried about the Superbowl can visit NFL.com or ESPN.com for in depth analyses of teams and players. After all, I wouldn't visit any of those sites for climate information. Who would?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13597
Quoting spathy:

Michael
What is the light blue line in your graph?

Since the image comes from globalwarmingart.com I don't think he knows.
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Quoting spathy:

Michael
What is the light blue line in your graph?


Those colored lines are all different proxies from all over the globe; the thick black line is the average.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
While you guys sit around and so pleasantly debate the merits of AGW what you seem to forget is that the vast majority of people don't know what you are talking about and don't care what will determine this debate. Right now they worry about jobs and who will win the superbowl. So while you turn blue in the face posting the same charts and graphs over and over remember this simple fact. No one is listening to you
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here is a more recent view; temperatures are MUCH warmer than BEFORE the Little Ice Age - which was actually just the coolest part of a 8,000 year long cooling trend (see previous post):

Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
Quoting PcolaDan:
Seems to be the norm in here when it comes to politics and global warning.

If I use that, do I have to quote you? Legit question, and I'll send money if required but THAT sums up SO much...
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Quoting DEKRE:


You are perfectly right - you seem to be a rarity on this blog, a reasonable person.

We are in a natural warming period which started at the end of the last glaciation period and we are still far below typical interglacial temperatures. What we are doing which our CO2 emissions is accelerate the process.



Ummm... NO!



God, when WILL people stop posting unsupported assertions!!!
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
Also of interest:

The Azolla event occurred in the middle Eocene period,[1] around 49 million years ago, when blooms of the freshwater fern Azolla are thought to have happened in the Arctic Ocean. As they sank to the stagnant sea floor, they were incorporated into the sediment; the resulting draw down of carbon dioxide has been speculated to have helped transform the planet from a "greenhouse Earth" state, hot enough for turtles and palm trees to prosper at the poles, to the icehouse Earth it has been since.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
Seems to be the norm in here when it comes to politics and global warning.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
486. DEKRE
Quoting spathy:


Please excuse my ignorance.
YOU All Have done so many times in the past.
(Thank You)
Could not the same conclusion from above be.....
Earths natural warming cycle increased the co2?
Would that not explain the temp and co2 discrepancy's?
In the past at least.


You are perfectly right - you seem to be a rarity on this blog, a reasonable person.

We are in a natural warming period which started at the end of the last glaciation period and we are still far below typical interglacial temperatures. What we are doing which our CO2 emissions is accelerate the process.

Member Since: April 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
Quoting MichaelSTL:
It appears that a sudden stratospheric warming may be starting:



Interesting post
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Quoting spathy:


Please excuse my ignorance.
YOU All Have done so many times in the past.
(Thank You)
Could not the same conclusion from above be.....
Earths natural warming cycle increased the co2?
Would that not explain the temp and co2 discrepancy's?
In the past at least.


No, not this time - we can measure the isotope ratio and determine where the CO2 came from; fossil fuel CO2 has a different isotopic ratio because plants prefer the lighter carbon-12 isotope.

It is true though that during the interglacial-ice age transitions the changes in CO2 were due to warmer/colder water releasing/absorbing CO2, amplifying the temperature change (the orbital forcings along are too small to cause such large temperature changes).

So in fact, CO2 can act both ways - it can be a feedback or a direct forcing; it is currently the latter (the oceans are absorbing CO2; only about half of the annual emissions remain in the atmosphere).

Also, past changes (on long time scales) were caused by slow geologic changes (continental drift); for example, increased CO2 emission by volcanoes due to carbon-rich seafloor being subducted, as occurred before India collided with Asia, resulting in an increase in CO2 levels and subsequent warming. Conversely, after they collided, the Himalayas increased the rate of CO2 removal due to the cessation of CO2-rich volcanism and the reaction of CO2 with the uplifted rock. As shown in this figure (note the PETM as well, which was caused by destabilized methane hydrates):

Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
No, we are increasing the CO2 in the air, through fossil fuel consumption. The rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is not a natural cycle.
Comment 484 explains it well.
Quoting spathy:


Please excuse my ignorance.
YOU All Have done so many times in the past.
(Thank You)
Could not the same conclusion from above be.....
Earths natural warming cycle increased the co2?
Would that not explain the temp and co2 discrepancy's?
In the past at least.
Member Since: December 28, 2010 Posts: 8 Comments: 511
It appears that a sudden stratospheric warming may be starting:



For those who don't know, this can have a major impact on the weather if it is strong enough:

Stratosphere Influences Winter Weather

Winter turned fierce in the opening weeks of 2009. A bitter cold snap set in over much of the United States, and temperatures plummeted beyond -30 degrees Celsius (-22 F) in parts of the Upper Midwest. On February 2, portions of Western Europe were doused with heavy snow. England received the brunt of the storm with up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow falling in London. It was the heaviest snowfall southeastern England had seen in nearly 20 years, reported BBC News. So why all the nasty weather? Part of the answer lies in the stratosphere, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) above the Earth’s surface.


Here is an animation of that event, which was the strongest SSW on record:



For comparison, here is what happened last winter:

Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
And in the for what it's worth file: before Nea spams me again on my trite "wait for it" comment 45 minutes ago, I can't believe one of you computer literate people did not post Monty Python's a. spam song or, b. the "I don't like Spam" gig after the spam references by Patrap and NRAamy just prior...so disappointed
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I just had a really "bad boss day" and I am sooo happy to be on the blog right now! Weather makes me happy :)
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Quoting Neapolitan:

You've lost me, friend. I simply cannot keep up with your dizzying intellect and brilliant rhetoric. And with that, I shall leave you to your thoughts...

Or in the words of the world's smartest man living today...Professor Irwin Corey
"Marriage is like a bank account, You put it in, you take it out,...You lose interest"
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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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