The ARkStorm: California's coming great deluge

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:04 PM GMT on January 28, 2011

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For thirty days and thirty nights the rain fell in unending torrents. By the end of the biblical deluge, rivers of water ten feet deep flowed through the streets of Sacramento, and an astounding 29.28 inches of rain had fallen on San Francisco. According to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, in the Sierras, the moist flow of air from Hawaii--often called an "atmospheric river" or the "Pineapple Express"--hit the steeply sloping mountainsides and rose upwards. The air expanded and cooled, causing truly prodigious rains, with the mining town of Sonora receiving 8.5 feet of rain over a 2-month period. The resulting floods inundated California's Central Valley with a lake 300 miles long and 20 miles wide.

The above event occurred in January 1862, and similar extreme rain events have deluged in California seven times in the past 2,000 years--about once every 300 years. Great storms like the flood of 1862 will happen again. If the planet continues to warm, as expected, the odds of such an event will at least double by 2100, due to the extra moisture increased evaporation from the oceans will add to the air. A group of scientists, emergency managers, and policy makers gathered in Sacramento, California earlier this month to discuss how the state might respond to a repeat of the 1862 rain event--the ARkStorm Scenario. The "AR" stands for "Atmospheric River", the "k" for 1,000 (like a 1-in-1000 year event), and of course "ARkStorm" is meant to summon visions of biblical-scale deluge, similar to the great flood of 1862. The team's final report envisions the most expensive disaster in world history, with direct damages and loss of economic activity amounting to $725 billion.

"Atmospheric Rivers" was a term coined in the 1990s to describe plumes of moisture that ride up out of the subtropics into the mid-latitudes along the axis of a cold front. Traditional water vapor satellite imagery does not show these plumes very well, and it was only when microwave satellite imagery from polar orbiting satellites became available in the late 1990s that the full importance of these Atmospheric Rivers came to be revealed. Atmospheric Rivers account for a significant portion of California's cold season rainfall and snowfall, and an entire session was devoted to them at the December 2010 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, the world's largest Earth Science meeting.


Figure 1. The total amount of rainfall one could get if all the moisture in the air were condensed and fell out as rain is called the Total Precipitable Water (TPW). Here, TPW values from microwave satellite measurements are plotted, and show a plume of very moist air connecting the subtropics near Hawaii with Southern California. TPW vales in excess of 20 mm (about 0.8 inches, blue and warmer colors) are "Atmospheric Rivers", and are often associated with heavy rainfall events capable of causing flooding. This Atmospheric River occurred on December 21, 2010, and brought very heavy flooding rains to Southern California. Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS.

California's Delta Region levees at high risk of failure
Much of Central California's water supply and agricultural areas are protected by an antiquated and poorly maintained set of levees along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers that are in serious danger of failure during an extreme flood or major earthquake. The 1,600 miles of levees protect 500,000 people, 2 million acres of farmland, and structures worth $47 billion. Of particular concern is the delta at the confluence of California's Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, about 80 miles inland from San Francisco Bay. The Delta Region receives runoff from more than 40% of California, and is the hub of California's water supply system, supplying water to 25 million people and 3 million acres of farmland. Key transportation and communication lines cross the region. The Delta Region is home to dozens of islands with highly productive farms that have subsided to elevations as much as 25 feet below sea level. Jeffrey Mount, director of the Center for Integrated Watershed Science and Management at the University of California at Davis, said in a recent interview with MSNBC, "The chances of a catastrophic flood occurring in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta sometime in the next 50 years are about two out of three." He called Sacramento, which is only protected to a 1-in-80 year flood by its levees, "the most at-risk large metropolitan area in the country, with less than half the protection that New Orleans had. It is at extreme risk due to levee failure and subsidence."" The most serious catastrophe for the levees in the Delta Region would be a major earthquake occurring during the dry season. Such a quake would allow salt water to intrude from San Francisco Bay, shutting off the fresh water supply for millions of Californians for months. Collapse of the levees during the wet season would be less devastating, as water pressure from the relatively high flow rates of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers would keep salt water from intruding into the Delta Region. There are no good solutions to California's Delta Region water vulnerabilities, but a new $10 billion dollar canal that would route fresh water around the region is being proposed as a possible way Califoria could avoid losing its fresh water supply if a catatrophic failure of the Delta Region levees allowed salt water intrusion to occur.

A 2009 study by the California Department of Water Resources concluded:

The Delta Region as it exists today is unsustainable. Seismic risk, high water conditions, sea level rise and land subsidence threaten levee integrity. A seismic event is the single greatest risk to levee integrity in the Delta Region. If a major earthquake occurs, levees would fail and as many as 20 islands could be flooded simultaneously. This would result in economic costs and impacts of $15 billion or more. While earthquakes pose the greatest risk to Delta Region levees, winter storms and related high water conditions are the most common cause of levee failures in the region. Under business-as-usual practices, high water conditions could cause about 140 levee failures in the Delta over the next 100 years. Multiple island failures caused by high water would but could still be extensive and could cause approximately $8 billion or more in economic costs and impacts. Dry-weather levee failures [also called sunny-day events] unrelated to earthquakes, such as from slumping or seepage, will continue to occur in the Delta about once every seven years. Costs to repair a single island flooded as the result of a dry-weather levee failure are expected to exceed $50 million. The risk of flooding in the Delta Region will only increase with time if current management practices are not changed. By the year 2100, Delta levee failure risks due to high water conditions will increase by 800 percent. The risk of levee failure from a major earthquake is projected to increase by 93 percent during the same period.


The ARkStorm scenario and Great Flood of 1862 are discussed in much more detail by weather historian Christopher C. Burt in his latest post.


Figure 2. Levee failure on the Upper Jones Tract in the Delta Region on June 4, 2004. Image credit: California Department of Water Resources. A 1997 flood in the Delta Region did $510 million damage, damaged or destroyed 32,000 homes and businesses, and left 120,000 homeless.

Wilma pounding New Zealand; Australia eyes two potential new tropical cyclones
With February nearly upon us, the traditional peak of the Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone season is here. Activity has picked up markedly this week, with the formation of the year's first two Category 4 tropical cyclones, Tropical Cyclone Wilma and Tropical Cyclone Bianca. Wilma passed over American Samoa as a strong tropical storm, and hit Tonga as a Category 3 storm, causing substantial damage to the islands, but no deaths or injuries. Wilma is currently pounding New Zealand's North Island with heavy rains and strong winds, and is the strongest tropical cyclone to affect that country in fourteen years, according to weatherwatch.co.nz. Tropical Cyclone Bianca is expected to skirt the west coast of Australia over the next few days and rapidly weaken, but could bring heavy rains to the coast near Perth when it makes landfall on Sunday as a tropical storm. Of much greater concern for Australia are two potential tropical cyclones that could hit the flood-ravaged state of Queensland next week. Both the European Center and GFS models predict that the remains of Tropical Cyclone Anthony will regenerate into a tropical storm and hit Queensland early next week. A second and potentially more powerful storm is forecast by the European model to form next week in the islands to the east of Australia, and threaten Queensland at the end of the week. The GFS model has backed off on its prediction of such a storm forming. If the cyclone were to form, it would be a serious blow for Queensland, which is struggling to recover from record floods. As reported in the latest Bureau of Meteorology climate statement and flood summary, the past four months (September - December) have been the rainiest such period in Queensland's history, and the resulting flooding disaster has been Australia's most expensive natural disaster in history.


Figure 3. Tropical Cyclone Bianca, the globe's second major tropical cyclone of 2011, as seen at 06:30 GMT on January 28, 2011 by NASA's Aqua satellite. Biana is expected to rapidly weaken and hit the Australian coast near Perth as a tropical storm on Sunday. Image credit: NASA.

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

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1104. WildcatRudy
4:16 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
I'm like a kid again--huge storm on the way! :D I seem to recall back in the 60s and 70s that we had a lot more storms of this nature than we do now. I recall 19 inches at some point back in the mid 70s that closed school for three days in the Detroit area.
Member Since: June 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
1103. Thundercloud01221991
3:40 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Blizzard warnings will likely be issued later today for portions of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
1102. Midweststorm
3:39 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Goodness, Kansas city is preping for our nice snow wallop (or to use coined terms, snowmageddon) expectations of 10-15 inches. I havent seen that in 4 or 5 years.
Member Since: August 5, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 104
1101. atmoaggie
3:22 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:
Goodnight all. Stay warm while i'll try to stay cool with a top temp of only 107.6F.
Sheesh. Clouds and hopefully not too terribly much rain from a TC would be very welcome to break that hot spell, I'd imagine.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1100. AussieStorm
3:05 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Goodnight all. Stay warm while i'll try to stay cool with a top temp of only 107.6F.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
1099. GetReal
3:00 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
432 am CST Monday Jan 31 2011


Long term...heading into the extended...overall the models are in
decent agreement with the weather features/pattern. That said there
are enough differences in the details which make this forecast very
difficult to discern thus confidence is quite low.


Wednesday and Wednesday night...this should be the quietest day of the week. The
cold front will be well into the Gulf by sunrise and much drier and
colder air will be moving in. Cooler air is actually an
understatement as h925 temperatures of -3 to -5 could be in place across
the northwestern half of the County Warning Area. Our Tuesday system will continue to lift out
embedded in the l/west trough while another wave digs in the backside.
This could set the stage for some interesting weather Thursday and Friday
especially if the colder air can move any further south.


Thursday through Friday...as the system continues to dig on the back side of
the elongated l/west trough over the Continental U.S. It will close off over the
Southern Plains. At the same time weak low pressure will begin to develop
in the Gulf with a actual surface low in the eastern Gulf south of
Pensacola. This is where the problems could arise. There will be
cold air in place...how cold is a good question as the European model (ecmwf) has now
shifted a little warmer and the GFS is much colder than it was 24
hours ago. As the surface low develops we will start to see moisture wrap
around at the same time the SW flow aloft will continue to pump in
some Pacific moisture. By Thursday night and into Friday the closed low over
the Southern Plains will begin to push east and move over the lower MS
valley. It as at this time when we could have enough forcing to
develop scattered to numerous rain showers. Also the track of the upper low along
with col ll temperatures could lead to the possibility of some light frozen
precipitation. We are right on the edge of all liquid or some mix and with
the model disagreements
I will continue to hold onto all liquid but
this is something we need to watch and something we can focus more
on after Tuesday/S system.


Things should be much quieter as we head into the weekend. /Cab/


Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8898
1098. AussieStorm
2:46 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
311500Z POSITION NEAR 13.5S 159.5E.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 11P (YASI), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 875 NM
EAST-NORTHEAST OF CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA, HAS TRACKED WESTWARD AT
19 KNOTS OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE
IMAGERY SHOWS DEEP CONVECTIVE BANDS WRAPPING TIGHTER INTO THE LOW
LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER, FUELED BY EXCELLENT RADIAL OUTFLOW. THE
CURRENT INTENSITY IS BASED ON A SOLID DVORAK ESTIMATE OF 90 KNOTS
FROM MULTIPLE AGENCIES INCLUDING KNES, PHFO, NFFN, AND PGTW. TC 11P
IS TRACKING ALONG THE NORTHERN PERIPHERY OF A DEEP SUBTROPICAL RIDGE
(STR) POSITIONED TO THE SOUTH. THE SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO TRACK
WEST- BECOMING SOUTHWESTWARD AS THE STR SHIFTS EASTWARD WITH THE
APPROACH OF A MID-LATITUDE SHORTWAVE TROUGH FROM THE WEST. UPPER
LEVEL ANALYSIS INDICATES THE SYSTEM HAS DEVELOPED A MESOSCALE
ANTICYCLONE ALOFT
AND CONTINUES TO TRACK ALONG AN AREA OF LOW
VERTICAL WIND SHEAR. IN VIEW OF THE FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT, TC YASI
WILL CONTINUE TO INTENSIFY, PEAKING AT 125 KNOTS BY TAU 36. THE
AVAILABLE NUMERICAL GUIDANCE IS IN EXCEPTIONALLY CLOSE AGREEMENT
THROUGHOUT THE FORECAST PERIOD. TC 11P IS FORECAST TO MAKE
LANDFALL JUST SOUTH OF CAIRNS AS A LARGE 100+ KNOT SYSTEM AFTER TAU
48 AND SHOULD DISSIPATE OVER LAND BY TAU 72. MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE
HEIGHT AT 311200Z IS 23 FEET
. NEXT WARNINGS AT 010300Z AND 011500Z.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
1097. IKE
2:41 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Quoting NEwxguy:
Haved live in Massachusetts all my life and don't remember such a long stretch of relentless storms.And this storm gathering strength is going to hit a lot of people all along the northern US,including me again another 10-20 inches,and another set for Saturday.I had put up a white flag,but that got buried a long time ago.
Time to move to Florida!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1096. NEwxguy
2:38 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Haved live in Massachusetts all my life and don't remember such a long stretch of relentless storms.And this storm gathering strength is going to hit a lot of people all along the northern US,including me again another 10-20 inches,and another set for Saturday.I had put up a white flag,but that got buried a long time ago.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 886 Comments: 15950
1095. AussieStorm
2:34 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
1094. islander101010
2:32 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
yasa nature does not care. good luck queenslanders
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4891
1093. AussieStorm
2:26 PM GMT on January 31, 2011


TROPICAL CYCLONE TECHNICAL BULLETIN: AUSTRALIA - EASTERN REGION
Issued by BRISBANE TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE
at: 1301 UTC 31/01/2011
Name: Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi
Identifier: 14U
Data At: 1200 UTC
Latitude: 13.4S
Longitude: 160.6E
Location Accuracy: within 30 nm [55 km]
Movement Towards: west [275 deg]
Speed of Movement: 19 knots [34 km/h]
Maximum 10-Minute Wind: 80 knots [150 km/h]
Maximum 3-Second Wind Gust: 110 knots [205 km/h]
Central Pressure: 963 hPa
Radius of 34-knot winds NE quadrant: 120 nm [220 km]
Radius of 34-knot winds SE quadrant: 140 nm [260 km]
Radius of 34-knot winds SW quadrant: 140 nm [260 km]
Radius of 34-knot winds NW quadrant: 90 nm [165 km]
Radius of 48-knot winds NE quadrant: 50 nm [95 km]
Radius of 48-knot winds SE quadrant: 70 nm [130 km]
Radius of 48-knot winds SW quadrant: 70 nm [130 km]
Radius of 48-knot winds NW quadrant: 40 nm [75 km]
Radius of 64-knot winds: 30 nm [55 km]
Radius of Maximum Winds: 20 nm [35 km]
Dvorak Intensity Code: T5.0/5.0/D1.5/24HRS
Pressure of outermost isobar: 1000 hPa
Radius of outermost closed isobar: 180 nm [335 km]
Storm Depth: Deep
FORECAST DATA
Date/Time : Location : Loc. Accuracy: Max Wind : Central Pressure
[UTC] : degrees : nm [km]: knots[km/h]: hPa
12: 01/0000: 13.9S 156.9E: 050 [095]: 090 [165]: 951
24: 01/1200: 15.0S 153.7E: 080 [150]: 095 [175]: 944
36: 02/0000: 16.4S 150.5E: 115 [210]: 100 [185]: 939
48: 02/1200: 17.5S 147.5E: 145 [270]: 105 [195]: 932
60: 03/0000: 18.8S 144.5E: 195 [355]: 060 [110]: 976
72: 03/1200: 20.3S 142.1E: 240 [445]: 030 [055]: 997
REMARKS:
Centre embedded within CDG to give DT 5.0. MET 4.5 with PAT 5.0. FT based on DT.
Improved organisation with rapid development during last 6 to 12 hours. Expect
system to continue intensifying within favourable environment of low shear and
good upper outflow.

Copyright Commonwealth of Australia
==
The next bulletin for this system will be issued by: 31/1900 UTC by Brisbane
TCWC.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
1092. Inyo
2:18 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
I spent a lot of time in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. Like the Mississippi Delta, the main reason for catastrophic flood threat is the mismanagement and destruction of wetlands, riparian areas, and watershed function in general. We've been abusing our watersheds for well over 100 years and it can't go on forever. A delta can't be maintained as a static system of unchanging channels. It just can't You can produce lots of food that way in the short and medium term, but in the long term we'll be out of luck.

We need to find a way to use the deltas for food production while letting the rivers meander and wetlands rebuild. Perhaps a fishery would work better than farmland, or perhaps a series of rice fields or other water-loving crops that allow for sediment depositon.

Most likely, though, we'll keep doing what we are doing until we reach catastrophic failure. Then, many lives will be lost because we won't be able to properly deal with the situation we've created. People will call it a 'natural disaster' but it will be entirely our fault.

On a more fun note, looking forward to the foot of snow that will soon be dumped on Vermont.

-C
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
1091. AussieStorm
2:11 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
North Queensland battens down for Cyclone Yasi's fury

QUEENSLAND'S island resorts are being evacuated and ports closed ahead of Cyclone Yasi, which threatens to develop into one of the worst storms the state has seen.

Premier Anna Bligh today said Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays, was starting to evacuate its guests, and other resort islands were preparing to evacuate tomorrow.

The Bureau of Meteorology upgraded Yasi to category three at 5pm today.

It was sitting about 1780km east northeast of Townsville, moving west towards Queensland at about 30km/h.

Wind gusts near the centre were already reaching 185km/h and increasing.

The cyclone was expected to intensify into a category four by 10am tomorrow as it moved west over the Coral Sea.

It is forecast to cross land between Innisfail and Mackay late Wednesday or early Thursday.

A cyclone watch has been declared for coastal and island communities from Cooktown to Yeppoon, and damaging winds would be felt from Wednesday morning.
Ms Bligh said authorities were preparing for the cyclone to trigger a storm surge that could flood low-lying areas between Innisfail and Mackay.

Residents in low-lying waterfront areas there should consider staying with friends from Tuesday, she said.

"This is a very serious threat," Ms Bligh said in Brisbane.

"We have to take this very seriously and we're preparing for it.

"In addition to a very significant cyclone, possibly one of the largest we have ever seen in Queensland, we expect to see this event become a significant rainfall event in areas to the south and surrounding where it crosses the coast."

Falls of up to 1000mm could hit areas that have already been flooded this month, and the Government was working on models to show what that would mean for central Queensland.

Ports from Cairns to Mackay will be closed from late tomorrow.

Yasi was not expected to dissipate quickly, or turn off the coast, Ms Bligh said.

"All of the modeling right now says this is going to cross our coast ... and it may well be one of the largest and most significant cyclones that we've ever had to deal with," she said.

"We will need to take every precaution and make every preparation and that is what we are doing."

If it hits as a category three, wind gusts up to 200km/h can be expected, and 250km/h if it builds to a four, as Cyclone Larry was when it devastated Innisfail and surrounding communities in March 2006.

It's currently off Vanuatu, about 1975km east, northeast of Townsville, and moving westward at about 30km/h.

"At this stage we're expecting it to continue moving towards the Queensland coast and intensify ... and it's likely to reach the coast early on Thursday morning," Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Ann Farrell said.

"By that stage we will be looking at a severe tropical cyclone so certainly at least a (category) three, and a category four we wouldn't be ruling that out by any means."

She said the last cyclone of that magnitude to hit Queensland was category four Cyclone Larry.

Larry left a trail of destruction including damage to 10,000 homes and a repair bill of more than a billion dollars.

Ms Farrell said there were many measures on which to judge cyclones, including wind strength and the physical size of the storm.

In terms of wind strength, Yasi had the potential to rival Larry, but it was of a far greater physical size.

"One measure is how far do the gales extend from the central eye. In this case, Yasi is certainly a bigger storm," she said.

She said forecasts for Yasi would be refined as it approached, but all the modelling showed it was on course to hit the coast.

She said Yasi was a fairly fast moving system, meaning it was unlikely, on current information, to stay in the same location and dump vast amounts of rain on an already flood-devastated state.

She said the other factor to consider was the storm surge that would likely accompany the cyclone.

"The more intense the system, the greater the concern about storm surges," Ms Farrell said.

"Certainly that is a distinct threat with this system.

"How far up above the normal high water mark it reaches will depend on the timing and what the tide is. Whether it is high tide or low tide will make a difference."

Premier Anna Bligh yesterday insisted emergency services were ready, saying "we are not battle weary, we are battle ready".

"Yes we have come through a very difficult time and our emergency resources have certainly been tested in the last couple of weeks," she said.

"They have however, I want to reassure people, had ample opportunity to restore themselves and replenish their supplies."

Bowen local Barry Locke said three boats sank outside the marina even before Cyclone Anthony was due to reach land.

The railway worker said he watched as one sank without a trace as wild winds tore at the seafront of the north Queensland town.

"That is not the scary part," he said. "This cyclone is just the dress rehearsal for the other big one out there. He is the one to worry about."
Keen surfers spent six hours in the "once-in-a-year" cyclonic swell at Bowen's Horseshoe Bay, a rare phenomenon in the tropics.

Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter said he had great concerns the Fiji storm could become a large rain depression. If it hit the Fitzroy catchment, it could have a major impact on his city, still recovering from flooding that started last month.

The Abbot and Hay Point coal terminals, Townsville ferries and coastal train services closed yesterday.

Ms Bligh said the Fiji storm, possibly a category four cyclone, carried great threat.

"We are looking at not only a potentially damaging cyclone but more, very heavy rainfall, which depending on where it falls, could fall into river catchments and cause further flooding beyond the cyclone," Ms Bligh said.

Weather bureau regional director Jim Davidson said modelling had repeatedly shown the storm hitting the coast.

"It is not inevitable but there is a good likelihood that we will see a fairly large system on the Queensland coast by Thursday," he said.

"Being so far from the Queensland coast and quite a few days ahead we are playing it safe I guess."
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
1090. Neapolitan
2:04 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
For what it's worth, it's currently -27 in Havre, Montana (with a wind chill of -46).

I read yesterday that springtime flooding is expected to be particularly nasty this year. Wonderful... :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13609
1089. Neapolitan
2:02 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
hi nea

frightening graphic

oh I waved bye to you but you were in the shower

I was looking at some of the temperature maps; it looks like Thursday will be a cold day, with very few spots outside of Florida and the direct West Coast expected to rise above freezing. The coldest temps will be tonight and tomorrow night, however, with all of several states--Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska--plunging below zero. Even the Texas Panhandle will see sub-zero temps two or three straight nights. The good news is that by Saturday, a warm-up will take place, and parts of the northern plains will see temps well above freezing.

Oh, yeah: I saw you, and waved back. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13609
1088. lilElla
2:02 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting IKE:
Good luck to everyone up north. Looks like a long week ahead. Maybe many without power.


Happy Monday WU.

We've been waiting for the "big one" all winter, we are ready! :) Round one just started with light snow, 3 - 7" by tomorrow afternoon and an additional 10 - 18" Tues night/Wed (if the track trends North). Right now, it's a Big if.
Member Since: December 5, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 273
1087. Patrap
1:57 PM GMT on January 31, 2011


THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF COASTAL WATERS
OF SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA AND SOUTH MISSISSIPPI...SOUTHEAST
LOUISIANA AND SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT

DENSE FOG HAS DEVELOPED OVER MUCH OF THE OUTLOOK AREA AND A DENSE
FOG ADVISORY WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST. FOR MORE
INFORMATION ON THE DENSE FOG PLEASE REFER TO THE DENSE FOG
ADVISORY PRODUCT.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS...
THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK OF SEVERE WEATHER ON TUESDAY FOR THE ENTIRE
OUTLOOK AREA. THE MAIN TIME FRAME APPEARS TO BE DURING THE
AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS TUESDAY. SEVERE WEATHER IS
POSSIBLE ACROSS THE ENTIRE OUTLOOK AREA BUT THE AREA OF GREATEST
RISK WILL GENERALLY BE ALONG AND NORTH OF A LINE FROM PIERRE PART
TO POPLARVILLE. ALL MODES OF SEVERE WEATHER ARE POSSIBLE.

A VERY STRONG SYSTEM WILL MOVE THROUGH THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI
VALLEY TUESDAY AND DRAG A COLD FRONT THROUGH THE REGION TUESDAY
AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THIS SYSTEM WILL HAVE AMPLE SHEAR...MOISTURE
AND FORCING TO WORK WITH BUT INSTABILITY WILL BE A LIMITING FACTOR
IN COVERAGE OF SEVERE STORMS. ACROSS THE AREA OF HIGHEST
RISK...LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WINDS...AND EVEN A FEW
TORNADOES WILL BE POSSIBLE. ACROSS THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE
AREA...LARGE HAIL WILL BE THE MAIN THREAT. STRONG WINDS AND
TORNADOES WILL BE MUCH LESS LIKELY DUE TO MORE STABLE AIR NEAR THE
SURFACE. STORM TOTAL RAINFALL WILL GENERALLY BE BETWEEN 1 AND 1.5
INCHES. HOWEVER...LOCALIZED HIGHER AMOUNTS WILL BE POSSIBLE.

MARINE...
THIS STORM SYSTEM TUESDAY WILL ALSO BRING STRONG WINDS TO THE
COASTAL WATER TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SMALL CRAFT ADVISORIES
ARE ALREADY IN EFFECT FOR TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON. WINDS OF 20 TO 25 KNOTS WILL BE POSSIBLE OVER ALL OF
THE GULF WATERS DURING THIS TIME AND SEAS COULD REACH 8 FEET IN
THE OUTER WATERS.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
THE ACTIVATION OF STORM SPOTTERS...HAM RADIO OPERATORS...AND
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL IN SUPPORT OF SEVERE WEATHER
OPERATIONS MAY BE NEEDED TUESDAY...FEBRUARY 1ST.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1085. aquak9
1:49 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
hi nea

frightening graphic

oh I waved bye to you but you were in the shower
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26276
1084. Thundercloud01221991
1:47 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
I would say 1 million may lost power if not more
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
1083. Patrap
1:42 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Chicago/Romeoville Illinois
638 am CST Monday Jan 31 2011


Discussion...
short term (monday through wednesday)....


The headliner of winter events doesnt arrive until Tuesday
afternoon...however first we get to deal with opening act
tonight...


Lead shortwave in the southwesterly flow aloft is seen on water
vapor imagery early this morning moving western Kansas/Panhandle region.
As this shortwave rides SW flow into the region tonight look for
snow to break out as it begins to tap into better moisture supply as
a result of 30-40kt low level jet. Broad region of isentropic ascent
and lack of well defined focus makes quantitative precipitation forecast forecast tonight
tricky...however models do seem to be keying in on zone of
strengthening low level frontogenesis over southern County Warning Area for somewhat
higher quantitative precipitation forecast amounts. Southern County Warning Area will also have warmer temperature profile
and with models frequently underestimating magnitude of warming in
strong warm air advection regimes have opted to introduce chance of sleet with the
snow over far southern County Warning Area tonight.


Warmer thermal profile and potential for sleet both argue for lower
snow:liquid ratios south where higher quantitative precipitation forecast occurs. While lower quantitative precipitation forecast
and higher slr's farther north support similar snowfall totals and
generally sticking with a 1-3 inch forecast tonight...though local 4
inch amounts wouldnt be at all surprising. Lead shortwave moves east
of the area by early Tuesday morning with snow tapering off/ending
and possibly even transitioning to a period of freezing drizzle
Tuesday morning into the early afternoon.


Hopefully any frdz will be insignificant enough to provide Road
crews a chance to catch a few hours of sleep early Tuesday before
the big hullabaloo starts Tuesday. Overall agreement in models on
synoptic details associated with this system are excellent...with
just the 00z NAM a little weaker/faster with the system and largely
being discounted.


I cannot stress this point enough:


model accuracy at this distance is not such that its wise to offer
any degree of certainty with respect to snowfall totals. Strong
synoptic systems...such as this one...where middle-level dry intrusions
typically result in very tight gradients in snowfall totals along
the south edge of the heavy snow band. Even with very strong model
agreement...it is not uncommon to see forecast storm tracks in models
shift by 100 miles or more in as little as 24 hours from the arrival
of the storm with rapidly deepening/occluding lows. Such a shift in
storm track could result in areas forecast to get 1 to 2 feet of
snow ending up dry slotted with drastically lighter accumulations.
Given the lingering uncertainty...no plans to make upgrade any of
the watch at this time. Having said all this...here are the
highlights of the storm as they appear now...


Snowfall:
intense 60kt low level jet will be very efficient in transporting
Gulf moisture northward...supplying the cyclone with ample moisture
both within the warm conveyor belt and within the developing
trowal/deformation zone. Quantitative precipitation forecast in reasonably good agreement among the
various models and using a reasonably conservative 10-12:1 slr
results in snowfall totals of 8-14 inches Tuesday night alone.
Probably Worth noting that calculating/measuring the actual
snow:liquid ration that occurs may well be difficult or nearly
impossible given the extent of blowing/drifting expected. In
addition...very strong winds could rip dendrites apart...further
lowering the effective snow:liquid ratio.


Some additional accumulating snow is likely Wednesday morning...with
heaviest totals downwind of Lake Michigan in NE Illinois as improving
thermal profiles result in increasingly favorably lake effect set
up. Lake effect should shift east into Northwest Indiana during the
afternoon Wednesday with strengthening cold air advection resulting
in intensifying lake effect snow Showers. Lake effect alone could
result in several more inches of accumulation in NE Illinois and probably
more than that in Northwest Indiana. As mentioned earlier there will be a
sharp north-south snowfall gradient and with GFS/WRF-NAM both
suggesting dry intrusion making it into southern County Warning Area late Tuesday
night...confidence in totals over a foot County Warning Area-wide is moderate.


Wind:
deepening low should result in strong pressure gradient Tuesday
night...with strong winds continuing into Wednesday as strong
isallobaric component kicks in with quick departure and filling of
the low. Forecast soundings from 00z guidance suggests winds will
increase to 25-35 miles per hour with gusts of 40 to possibly 50 miles per hour common.
However...near the lake winds will be even stronger...probably
30-40 miles per hour sustained with gusts of 50-60 miles per hour possible.


Blizzard conditions:
very high quantitative precipitation forecast totals raise doubts about the blow-ability of the snow
that falls. However snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour appear
likely for a time Tuesday night which will probably be enough to
knock visibilities down to less than 1/4sm satisfying the Blizzard
Warning criteria. Further increasing the threat of near zero
visibilities is the potential for thundersnow. Will be a very
dynamic storm system with intense upward vertical velocities as
intense frontogenesis works in concert with tremendous upward motion
resulting from fast moving...rapidly deepening/closing off middle level
circulation becoming negatively tilted as it approaches from the
south. Forecast soundings suggest that 700-500mb lapse rates within
the dry intrusion will increase to between 7 and 8c/km...with some of
that instability likely getting tapped into and probably resulting
in embedded thunderstorms.


Lakeshore flooding:
northeast winds prognosticated to increase to 30-40 miles per hour with gusts of 50-60
miles per hour makes Lakeshore flooding a big concern. High resolution modis
visible satellite imagery from Jan 28th showed that ice that had
accumulated near the Illinois shore had been blown well offshore...and
appeared somewhat fragmented in nature east of the Illinois shore.
There is some uncertainty with respect to how much that ice will
retard wave development near the shore...but with 14-18ft
significant waves and occasional waves over 25ft offshore
potentially taking a toll on ice have opted to err on the side of
caution and hoist a Lakeshore Flood Watch. Its possible that ice
could mitigate the coastal flood potential...but hard to say for
sure and if ice isnt a big deterrent then the coastal flooding could
be very significant.


Izzi
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1082. aquak9
1:41 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Ike I started fretting last night...glad I'm not the only one fretting.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26276
1081. Neapolitan
1:40 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
An incredible sight:

Click for larger and clickable image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


Forecasts for Tuesday:
Chicago - Snow/wind - high 24, low 20
Omaha - Snow showers; high 17, low -1
Cheyenne - Cloudy; high -1, low -15
Fargo - Mostly sunny; high -1, low -22
Naples - Most sunny; high 81, low 62
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13609
1080. Patrap
1:40 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
The Midwest Storm is on a very different track than the March 93 Superstorm,,and Id be wary of comparing a event that hasnt even occurred yet to that System.




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1079. IKE
1:39 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Good luck to everyone up north. Looks like a long week ahead. Maybe many without power.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1078. Thundercloud01221991
1:35 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
This is potentially the worst storm in decades... it probably is worst then the 1993 blizzard
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
1077. Patrap
1:33 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Bowen anxious about Cyclone Yasi

Evan Schwarten
January 31, 2011 - 9:49AM



AAP

Cyclone Anthony has left Bowen relatively unscathed but residents remain anxious about a possible hit by a much larger cyclone expected later this week.

Whitsundays Mayor Mike Brunker said category two Anthony uprooted trees and brought down power lines but caused little structural damage in the coastal Queensland town, south of Townsville.

The cyclone hit on Sunday night and has since weakened to a low pressure system.
Advertisement: Story continues below

"We're certainly very happy that there was only minimal structural damage and no injuries or loss of life," Mr Brunker told AAP on Monday.

But he said the community was more worried about Cyclone Yasi, which forecasters warn could cross the north or central Queensland coast as a category four or five system on Wednesday or Thursday.

"We're certainly keeping an eye on the next one," Mr Brunker said.

"A Category 2 is pretty good if you want to experience a cyclone, but if you're talking a category four or five I certainly wouldn't want to be in my place."

Mr Brunker said Anthony had left thousands in Bowen and Airlie Beach without power, but had not had the same impact as Cyclone Ului which hit the region as a category three last year.

"This one was less frightening that Ului."

He said the community had been well prepared for Anthony's arrival.

"They (residents) have all bought up emergency provisions, filled up on fuel and removed stuff from their yards, it's been generally really good."

© 2011 AAP
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1076. Patrap
1:30 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
ooooofh.


Yasi


Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (1 km Mercator, MODIS/AVHRR)



Time of Latest Image: 201101310847
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1074. Patrap
1:25 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Yasi


Multiplatform Tropical Cyclone Kinetic Energy and Intensity



Time of Latest Image: 201101311200
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1073. Patrap
1:21 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Dense Fog Advisory

Statement as of 1:17 AM CST on January 31, 2011

... Dense fog advisory in effect until 9 am CST this morning...

The National Weather Service in New Orleans has issued a dense
fog advisory... which is in effect until 9 am CST this morning.

Clouds are clearing from west to east and this is allowing
widespread fog to develop. The fog should become dense leading to
visibilities less than a quarter of a mile over much of the outlook
area.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A dense fog advisory means visibilities will frequently be
reduced to less than one quarter mile. If driving... slow down...
use your low beam headlights... and leave plenty of distance ahead
of you.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1072. Patrap
1:19 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Yasi

Visible Imagery (1 km Mercator, MODIS/AVHRR)




Time of Latest Image: 201101310105
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1071. Patrap
1:16 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Yasi

Enhanced Infrared (IR) Imagery (4 km Mercator)



Time of Latest Image: 201101311214


2km Storm Relative IR Imagery with BD Enhancement Curve
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
1070. IKE
1:15 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Quoting aquak9:
Ike- I am bug-eyed from the NWS I been reading, too.

whiskey tango foxtrot
lol.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1069. IKE
1:15 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Quoting severstorm:

Well i had alittle over 3inches on jan 10 from that front and yes 1.23 with last weeks front
Looks like we get more up here then down there, with this next system.

Spring will be here soon for peninsula Florida. 6-10 day and 8-14 day temperature outlook for your area is normal to above normal.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1067. islander101010
1:14 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
atmospheric rivers of moisture can come out of western carib too and head north east. going to be a interesting hurricane season coming 2011
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4891
1066. aquak9
1:12 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Ike- I am bug-eyed from the NWS I been reading, too.

whiskey tango foxtrot
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26276
1065. severstorm
1:11 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting IKE:

You must to have had 1-2 inches last week when that line moved through?

Well i had alittle over 3inches on jan 10 from that front and yes 1.23 with last weeks front
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959
1064. IKE
1:08 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Fayetteville,Arkansas for Wednesday night....WTH?

Wednesday Night

Mostly cloudy in the evening then becoming partly cloudy. Lows 8 below to zero.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1061. Orcasystems
12:58 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Complete Update






Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1060. IKE
12:57 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Quoting severstorm:

Yep its crazy, dont get those kind of rain in wcfl but i'll take it. No fire danger.
You must to have had 1-2 inches last week when that line moved through?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1059. severstorm
12:49 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting IKE:

Jeez....that's quite a bit.

Yep its crazy, dont get those kind of rain in wcfl but i'll take it. No fire danger.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959
1058. severstorm
12:48 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
I really feel for those people that will be in the one inch ice area. I remember those days back in the 80's in Pa.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959
1057. IKE
12:47 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

Quoting severstorm:

Had a few sprinkles here overnight and this am. My monthly total is 6.97.
Jeez....that's quite a bit.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1056. severstorm
12:46 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting IKE:
I did too. Thinking about getting my driveway fixed up soon. My yard slopes to a lake. My front yard needs to be leveled. My neighbors did it when they moved in a few years ago.

I've never done it, but it needs it. The rain has stopped here now. Gonna check my gauge.

............................................................

I had .23 inches of rain over night. My monthly total is at 3.61 inches.

Had a few sprinkles here overnight and this am. My monthly total is 6.97.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959
1055. IKE
12:39 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting severstorm:

Morning Ike, You are right its going to be a warm week in fl. A few showers or rain won't hurt anything. Had a great leaf burning on saturday how about you?
I did too. Thinking about getting my driveway fixed up soon. My yard slopes to a lake. My front yard needs to be leveled. My neighbors did it when they moved in a few years ago.

I've never done it, but it needs it. The rain has stopped here now. Gonna check my gauge.

............................................................

I had .23 inches of rain over night. My monthly total is at 3.61 inches.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1054. severstorm
12:36 PM GMT on January 31, 2011
Quoting IKE:

I did on Saturday. Got my front yard in decent shape. Got into the low 70's here Saturday.

Morning Ike, You are right its going to be a warm week in fl. A few showers or rain won't hurt anything. Had a great leaf burning on saturday how about you?
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959

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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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