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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877. oracle28
6:59 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Cochise111:
Oracle (you think very highly of yourself) Do you realize how ridiculous your statement sounds? It's no wonder why this so-called "science" has no credibility in the eyes of the public. The planet is getting cooler, but it is termed "global warming." If the temperature numbers are not massaged, manipulated, smoothed, adjusted and otherwise changed, the earth has shown no warming worth noting. What I do understand is that this has nothing to do with "science." It's all about money such as taxes and "carbon credits." What a farce.


1) First of, I was being sarcastic.
2) Oracle is a software company.
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 596
875. calusakat
6:18 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting from earlier blog:

Post 839. Jedkins01 4:52 PM GMT on January 14, 2011

...A great example is, right now, electric engines are just starting to achieve practical use, but much of that is do to the fact that gasoline still rules with an iron fist.

If demand were to dramatically cast out gasoline engines, and replace them with electric, not only would we afford to develop much more powerful electric engine, but they would also become much more affordable.

I personally can't afford a hybrid car, neither do hybrids offer the power I need that a v8 heavy duty engine does in a truck. But heck if we could topple the oil industry, and fund what it takes to build powerful electric engines that can match and outmatch gasoline engines. I would much rather have an electric 4X4 truck than a gas one if it became practical.

Electric engines actually have a much higher potential for power as we look to the future, and guess what? No emissions! The hard part is getting to that place, toppling greedy industries isn't an easy feat...

***************

Another case of the devil being in the details.

While an electric car might LOOK efficient, one terribly important question that must be answered is...just how efficient was the energy production system that provided the power to operate that vehicle.

What sort of power station provided that energy. Was it gas? Was it coal? Was it Bunker C? Was it nuclear? Was it photovoltaic?

Each of those systems has production efficiencies which defines the amount of energy needed to product a specific output of energy.

For some of those sources, that is important enough to seriously reduce the actual net savings in energy.

This isn't a simple one way system that one size fits all.

That is why AGW is such a silly joke.


Member Since: October 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 716
874. HaloReachFan
5:41 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:


I posted twice on it. Referenced also.


But then again you said I don't post anything about the subject yet you just said I did. Make up your mind blog owner please.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
873. HaloReachFan
5:40 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Yes I demand reasonable discourse. That is a condition I dont negotiate on.

Interestingly ive NEVER really seen an unreasonable blog out of Dr M.




You just right there pretty much stated you run this blog. RIDICULOUS AND DISGUSTING.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
869. oracle28
5:26 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:
 Inappropriate. Unreasoned and unethical.


Yet, accurate.
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 596
867. oracle28
5:19 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Cochise111:
http://sbvor.blogspot.com/2011/01/december-update-current-usa-cooling.html

Seems like it's cooling here.


yes, cooling is a part of global warming. Cooling further proves global warming is occurring.
It's science, you wouldn't understand...
Member Since: July 25, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 596
866. Neapolitan
5:18 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13609
865. hcubed
5:15 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Original question:

If any scientist were to admit he was not a statistician, would you believe anything they wrote if statistics were used?

Answer:

"What does anything mean? - why do we bother with definitions and reasonable referenced discussion anyway?

Why even ask if the answer will be rendered meaningless by a lack of grounding in reality?"

To me this means you either CANNOT answer a question, or WON'T answer a question. You won't, because you know where it's leading...
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
864. Neapolitan
5:11 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting atmoaggie:
We don't necessarily know that which you say here.

Ice cores of CO2 do not fully convey the variability of CO2 concentration on smaller time scales. Think of it as a 100 to 300 year average (which is variable).

Please allow me to repeat: "There is no arguing point in the contrarian's overused quiver that hass been more definitively disproven than the one that says the current CO2 rise is natural".
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13609
863. NRAamy
5:11 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
848. atmoaggie 9:00 AM PST on January 14, 2011
Gee, now we just need SSIGG to come back in here...



he was banned....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
862. HaloReachFan
5:10 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:
 Inappropriate. Unreasoned and unethical.


Nope you run this like your own personal blog. Others agree.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
861. HaloReachFan
5:10 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:
BTW HaloReachFan:

You have yet to make a SINGLE referenced and legitimate climate argument today.

Or even a weather post for that matter.

Certainly not a science based one either.

So who is disrespectful this blog again???


Actually I have but you fail to talk about it. GO AWAY!!!!
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
858. atmoaggie
5:09 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
new blog
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
856. HaloReachFan
5:07 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting the IPCC like post 810 did mean's nothing to the real world. They are liars and complete fools who make up facts some of the "brainwashed" folks listen to. That is all truth. I was told I would have an ocean in my backyard well it hasn't even made its way to me yet IPCC. Nobody likes you go away!!!!
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
852. SQUAWK
5:05 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting NRAamy:
post 832...... finally!!

:)


Yup. Hard at work and didn't have time to check the morning fiasco. LOL
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
851. hcubed
5:03 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
"...Unskilled people lack the skill to rate their own level of competence..."

What is it, then that determines the skill of an individual?

I'm not a doctor. So to other doctors, and the rest of the world, I'm unskilled in the field of medicine. I have the ability to rate that incompetence, accept it, and ask for help from the medical community.

I'm also not a statistician. To other statisticians, and to the rest of the world, I'm unskilled in statistics.

Would you believe anything I posted if it concerned statistics?

Shouldn't I ask for help from those who ARE skilled in the field?

If any scientist were to admit he was not a statistician, would you believe anything they wrote if statistics were used?
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
849. HaloReachFan
5:00 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Cochise111:
http://sbvor.blogspot.com/2011/01/december-update-current-usa-cooling.html

Seems like it's cooling here.


Yea Levi put that on a graph yesterday and was told it was wrong even when JFLORIDA failed to even test it out he just assumed it was wrong.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
848. atmoaggie
5:00 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Gee, now we just need SSIGG to come back in here...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
847. HaloReachFan
4:59 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
846

I enjoy how you are an expert on EVERYTHING. If somebody doesn't agree on your expertise then they are casted out as ignorant and annoying.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
844. HaloReachFan
4:56 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Back at you. petty and ignorant of you too BTW.

And I am flagging his comment also.

I didn't think the absurd comment was appropriate or constructive. Its not funny when people are annoying or disruptive to me.




You can dish it out but you can't take it. Typical.
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
842. atmoaggie
4:54 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:

Back at you.

And I am flagging his comment also.

I didn't think the absurd comment was appropriate or constructive. Its not funny when people are annoying or disruptive to me.


Calling anyone else's opinion ignorant is not acceptable and leads this place in a bad direction. Flagging posts not conforming to the Community Standards should be expected. Especially by you.

And, no, you aren't given any more latitude than any troll that does the same. You may be special, but not that special.

And this isn't JFLORALA's blog. This is Dr. M's blog. "Annoying or disruptive" to you isn't at all important...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
840. Chicklit
4:52 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Daniel Goleman has written a couple excellent books on his theory of Emotional Intelligence.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11390
839. Jedkins01
4:52 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting breald:


What if it isn't a cycle? But, for the sake of argument, lets say it is a cycle. Why not do SOMETHING to better our environment anyway? What is the problem with wind farms, or alternate energy that will not be as harsh on our environment regardless?


Oh that I agree with, in fact Ive been saying that all along. I can almost assure you that in the near future, the theories about Climate change and Global Warming will change dramatically. Old ideas will be cast out and proven wrong and new ideas will eventually become new theories as we learn more, its part of science.


What we do know though, is that we certainly are polluting the air. The fact that we don't know for sure how we are affecting it should move us to be better stewards of this planet that has been given to us for its awesome support of life. Even if we can prove we haven't affected the climate drastically, we are still polluting and trashing the Earth. Why not replace the old technology with new technology that will help clean our environment while also increasing energy efficiency.

A great example is, right now, electric engines are just starting to achieve practical use, but much of that is do to the fact that gasoline still rules with an iron fist.

If demand were to dramatically cast out gasoline engines, and replace them with electric, not only would we afford to develop much more powerful electric engine, but they would also become much more affordable.

I personally can't afford a hybrid car, neither do hybrids offer the power I need that a v8 heavy duty engine does in a truck. But heck if we could topple the oil industry, and fund what it takes to build powerful electric engines that can match and outmatch gasoline engines. I would much rather have an electric 4X4 truck than a gas one if it became practical.

Electric engines actually have a much higher potential for power as we look to the future, and guess what? No emissions! The hard part is getting to that place, toppling greedy industries isn't an easy feat...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7834
837. Chicklit
4:51 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Jedkins01:


Maybe its cause we are designed to not be dead computer systems. Not everything in life can be explained through reason. Reason has its place in life, however we should be thankful are brains aren't all wired towards reason.


This is true. We are only part rational.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11390
836. bassis
4:50 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Tazmanian:
when did this turn in too a GW blog i think we have a blog for this


Does anyone realize that there are THREE TROPICAL CYCLONES in the Indian Ocean right now?
Member Since: September 8, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 423
835. NRAamy
4:49 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
post 832...... finally!!

:)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
834. atmoaggie
4:48 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting JFLORIDA:



No, just that everything isnt based in your ignorant, simplistic political opinion or should be the topic for inane commentary. Right?

Unreasoned opinion IS factored out of scientific argument by necessity.

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
833. atmoaggie
4:47 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:

Roughly 100ppm more than we were 150 years ago. All those other interglacial cycles over the eons saw CO2 rise and fall by roughly that same 100ppm--but those rises and falls were spread out over 5,000 to 20,000 years.

There's no arguing point in the contrarian quiver that's been more definitively disproven than the one that says the current CO2 rise is natural.

(BTW: the sum total of all CO2 vented by active volcanoes amounts to about 1/150th of anthropogenic emissions. Just so you know.)
We don't necessarily know that which you say here.

Ice cores of CO2 do not fully convey the variability of CO2 concentration on smaller time scales. Think of it as a 100 to 300 year average (which is variable).
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
832. SQUAWK
4:46 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
AMY!!!!!!!
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
831. FFtrombi
4:46 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

I'm having a discussion and making points just like you man. Sorry if we don't see eye to eye. Try the ignore button if you aren't on board with what I am saying. Or continue to whine like a baby. The ball's in your court.


No, actually you think you're making points. What you're actually doing is showing you can't actually converse about the science, so you try to score dumb conversational points.
Member Since: November 6, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 165
829. HaloReachFan
4:45 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting ILwthrfan:


YES! Exactly. How about the use of Tidal force? Solar energy ect. There are things out there that have zero negative feed back.


TUNNELS!
Member Since: September 15, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 563
828. atmoaggie
4:45 PM GMT on January 14, 2011
Quoting breald:
About the whole GW debate, I guess it is easier for some to say "it is a natural process" so they don't have to do anything about it. They don't have to reflect on it. It is always easier to wash your hands of it than to really think about it.

In the mean time, 20 years have gone by and islands that once housed millions of people are underwater. But its a natural cycle. (rolling my eyes)
After reflecting...

And once upon a time, not that long ago, people inhabited the Mississippi River delta. The one that used to extend east of New Orleans. To the present-day Chandeleur Islands. Once was a larger area of land than the present delta, now almost completely open water.

And the transition was entirely natural. The horror.

And once upon a time, in the Bahamas, the water level was 90 feet below present day. People lived there. Patterns on the ocean floor suggest ruins of man-made structures. But nature took away where those people lived. Either that or a Sabre-toothed Jaguar SUV did. You decide.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463

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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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