Great Blizzard pounding Chicago; extremely dangerous Cyclone Yasi nears Australia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:31 AM GMT on February 02, 2011

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The Great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011 is wreaking havoc tonight from Texas to Michigan, and is poised to spread dangerous winter weather eastwards to New England during the day Wednesday. Four states have declared states of emergency—Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas—and the National Guard has been called out in Illinois and Missouri. Up to 1/2” of ice has caused power outages in Indianapolis, and blizzard conditions have engulfed Chicago, where heavy snows of up to two inches per hour are falling in high winds. Winds tonight at Chicago's Calumet Harbor were tropical storm force, 39 mph, with gusts to 49 mph. Winds gusts of 60 mph were occurring at the Chicago buoy, 10 miles offshore in Lake Michigan.

The storm will probably be Chicago's biggest blizzard since January 2 - 4 1999, when a storm dumped 21.6" of snow. With tonight's snowstorm expected to have very unstable air aloft, "thundersnow" with snowfall rates of 4 inches/hour is possible, and there is a chance today's blizzard could rival Chicago's greatest snow storm of all time, the blizzard of January 26 - 27, 1967. That immense storm dumped 23 inches of snow on Chicago, stranding thousands of people and leaving an estimated 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses and 50,000 automobiles abandoned on the city streets and expressways. Twenty six Chicagoans died in the blizzard, mostly due to heart attacks from shoveling snow. Strong winds in Chicago today are expected to generate 14 - 18 feet waves on Lake Michigan, with occasional waves up to 25 feet. A significant coastal flooding event is possible for the city, with beach erosion and flooding along Lake Shore Drive. I'll have a full update on the great blizzard in the morning.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011, taken at 8pm EST February 1. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Yasi nearing Queensland, Australia
Tropical Cyclone Yasi continues to intensify as it speeds westwards towards vulnerable Queensland, Australia. Yasi, now a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds, is under light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, and over record warm ocean waters of 29°C (84°C). Low wind shear, record warm sea surface temperatures, and favorable upper-level outflow should allow the cyclone to maintain Category 4 strength until landfall Wednesday evening (local time.)

The Austrailian Bureau of Meteorology had this to say about Yasi in their latest advisory:

YASI IS A LARGE AND VERY POWERFUL TROPICAL CYCLONE AND POSES AN
EXTREMELY SERIOUS THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY WITHIN THE WARNING AREA,
ESPECIALLY BETWEEN CAIRNS AND TOWNSVILLE.

THIS IMPACT IS LIKELY TO BE MORE LIFE THREATENING THAN ANY EXPERIENCED DURING
RECENT GENERATIONS.

On Wednesday morning at 9:30am local time, Yasi hit tiny Willis Island, where a minimum pressure of 938 mb and a peak wind gust of 115 mph was observed before Yasi cut communications and damaged the radar.

Queensland faces three major threats from Yasi. The cyclone will bring torrential rainfall to a region with saturated soils that saw record flooding earlier this month. The latest rainfall rates in Yasi's eyewall as estimated by microwave satellite imagery are 20 mm (0.8") per hour. The GFS model is predicting that a wide swath of Queensland will receive 5 - 10 inches of rain over the next week, due to the combined effects of Yasi and a moist flow of tropical air over the region. Fortunately, Yasi is moving with a rapid forward speed, about 21 mph, and is not expected to linger over Queensland after landfall. The heaviest rainfall will miss Queenland's most populated regions to the south that had the worst flooding problems earlier this month, including the Australia's third largest city, Brisbane.

Yasi will bring highly destructive winds to a region of coast south of the city of Cairns (population 150,000.) Townsville (population 200,000) is farther from the expected landfall of the eyewall, and should see lesser winds. Strong building codes have been in place in Queensland since the 1960s, which will help reduce the damage amounts. The fact that Yasi's eyewall will miss these two major cities is lucky, since the coast is less populous between the two cities.

A dangerous storm surge in excess of ten feet can be expected along the left front quadrant of the storm where it comes ashore. The tidal range between low and high tide along the coast near Cairns will be about 2 meters (6 feet) during the evening of February 2. Yasi is expected to hit near midnight, halfway between low and high tide. Thus, the inundation from the storm surge will be about 1 meter (3 feet) less than it would have been had the storm hit at high tide.

Yasi is larger and more dangerous than Cyclone Larry of 2006, which hit Queensland as a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Larry killed one person and caused $872 million in damage (2011 U.S. dollars.) Yasi will bring heavy rains to a region with soils already saturated from record rains, and may become a billion-dollar cyclone.


Figure 2. Tropical Cyclone Yasi as captured by the Willis Island radar, as the western eyewall of Yasi moved over the island. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and kindly grabbed for me by Margie Kieper.

Links to follow:

Live streaming video from Channel 9 in Cairns, Australia

Jeff Masters

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Lucinda Point Observations
Closest to the eye
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Good Morning everyone! This layout does look nice, but I am reserving judgment until I get to work in it awhile. It is easier on the eyes. I just need to get used to where all the buttons are located. A great morning in the Keys. 73 degrees and forecast for another 80 degree day. As they say, another "Chamber of Commerce" day. That said, I hope everyone in the deep freezer is staying inside and warm. And I am saying a prayer for all the people in Australia being impacted by Yasi.
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Quoting MahFL:
The new layout is terrible.
The menus don't work for me, when you hover over them and move down them, they re-collapse. I had to get to this page via an old link.

it was making my laptop lag very badly. I am also using the old layout.
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330. Nolehead



www.roffs.com/deepwaterhorizon
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
you been here awhile pat how do ya like the change on the site

myself iam ok with it

other than changing a bit of code on my blog it seems ok
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
332. MahFL
The new layout is terrible.
The menus don't work for me, when you hover over them and move down them, they re-collapse. I had to get to this page via an old link.
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Eye of TC Yasi minutes away from landfall between Bingil Bay and Dunk Island
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morning everyone...i have a question for all the experts out there...is there a local satellite view of the oil in the gulf of mexico that i can look at?? a recent view if possible...thanks!!
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i guess the whining was too much for wunderpress they have removed the entry


lol
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
Seems the new View Layout entry got a tad too er,..full of feed back eh?

Wunderground News addremove

Last Updated: 2:07 AM CST on February 02, 2011 — Last Comment: 7:48 AM CST on February 02, 2011

This entry has been removed.

Maybe try and let some users give some feedback in a beta version before ya Spring something as big as that next time.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
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Quoting WxLogic:


Indeed... you never know. One thing I'm almost certain, is that if it does come to fruition then it should be a very short duration type event.



Yeah I would hope it would be short lived... Here in Pinellas County FL(Tampa Bay area), our winter started a month early in the beginning of December, we broke records across central Florida for the coldest December ever on record here. I was happy t see the change of season, but I'm over the cold and ready for the return of more normal Florida weather like we have had the last week or so.
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Link

Hope it ain't the super snow bowl, might need to move it to further south next year.
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Looks the the ausi's radar's are that much more terrible and giving a good feedback of tropical cyclone intensity, LOL.

At least we still got the best radars in the world. I'd love to see the day when a radar can give an accurate display of convection intensity of tropical cyclones someday. I always hated when the radar showed "yellow" in a rain band over my area with half inch an hour rain rates, but in reality in actual conditions its a rain rates of 3 to 4 inches per hour of white out torrential rain and damaging winds... lol
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Streaming .TV shows by Ustream
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Quoting Jax82:
Almost a completely symmetrical eye. Stunning.



It sure is...
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Quoting Jedkins01:


looks like overdone long range junk to me, I doubt it will get that cold in Florida next week. The upper air pattern doesn't support massive blasts of cold diving into Florida now. However, that doesn't rule out that it can't or won't happen. You just never know for sure.


Indeed... you never know. One thing I'm almost certain, is that if it does come to fruition then it should be a very short duration type event.
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319. Jax82
Almost a completely symmetrical eye. Stunning.

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Live streaming video by Ustream
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Quoting WxLogic:
00Z GFS Precipitation Type:



Current 06Z GFS:



Should be interesting if things shape up.


looks like overdone long range junk to me, I doubt it will get that cold in Florida next week. The upper air pattern doesn't support massive blasts of cold diving into Florida now. However, that doesn't rule out that it can't or won't happen. You just never know for sure.
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315. Jax82
What day in weather. Massive snowstorm paralyzing the U.S., and a catastrophic hurricane in Australia. Simply incredible. I dont know which one to follow more closely. It is 70 degrees outside where I am though which is quite pleasant compared to 90% of the rest of the country!
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Landfall is Misleading as to IMPACT always.

When the Eye Crosses the Coast,,fully half the Storm is onshore with most of the Surge.

Conditions will go downhill fast as the Left Side of the Eyewall closes in on the Coast.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Things looking pretty hectic on the Oz coast right now.

http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR211.shtml

New site looks cool, WUG rocks.
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00Z GFS Precipitation Type:



Current 06Z GFS:



Should be interesting if things shape up.
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Yasi looks to make landfall within the next 30 minutes or so after passing directly over Dunk Island. Cardwell, which isn't a large place, looks for now as though it will be the coastal city chosen as the recipient of the worst.
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310. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Brisbane
Tropical Cyclone Advice #23
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE YASI (14U)
11:00 PM EST February 2 2011
=========================================

At 11:00 PM EST, Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Category Five (930 hPa) located 17.7S 146.6E, or 125 km southeast of Cairns and 65 km east southeast of Innisfail has 10 minute sustained winds of 110 knots with gusts of 155 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest at 13 knots.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi, CATEGORY 5, will continue to move in a west-southwesterly direction and is expected to cross the coast near Mission Beach close to midnight.

AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SEA LEVEL RISE [i.e. storm tide] will occur between Innisfail and Ayr, peaking between Cardwell and Lucinda, as the cyclone approaches, crosses the coast and moves inland.

Higher than normal tides exceeding the high water mark, and damaging waves will continue between Cairns and Proserpine until at least the morning high tide.

VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts up to 290 km/h are developing between Cairns and Ingham and the adjacent ranges.

Due to the large size of the cyclone, people in the path of the VERY DESTRUCTIVE WINDS are likely to experience these conditions for about 3 to 4 hours.

DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts in excess of 125 km/h between Cape Tribulation and Ayr are expected to spread inland overnight.

DAMAGING WINDS with gusts to 90 km/hr are occurring in remaining coastal areas between Cape Flattery and Proserpine, and are forecast to spread inland and west to Mt Isa during Thursday.

Winds are forecast to gradually ease about the east coast during Thursday morning as the cyclone moves inland.

FLOODING RAINS will develop from Cooktown to Proserpine tonight and gradually extend inland.

Tropical Cyclone Watches/Warnings
==================================
A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Cape Flattery to Proserpine, extending west across the tropical interior to the Northern Territory border.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45751
Quoting AussieStorm:

Evening all, The Eye of yasi has taken a jump to the SW, Innisvale will not get any part of the eye. Dunk Island will get a servere dunking. Yasi looks to make landfall at Cardwell. i will try and post radio links, soon.
Aussie. I've got several friends evacuated from Cairns up to Kuranda. They are up in the high tablelands there but will still see very high winds I think. Hope the surge is not too severe for Cairns on the back side of the eye wall. Dunk Is' & Mission Beach not looking good though.Thoughts?
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308. IKE

Quoting FtMyersgal:

Sun is out here too, we are currently 66 in Ft Myers and expecting 81 today.
Lucky:(
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Good Morning...

Hope those in Queensland, Australia have completed preparations.

On a note in the US... next week could be a mini event like we had in Jan. 2010 w/ Wintry WX in FL, but this time it could be confined to NCFL and up.
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It looks like Chicago will get its 20" of snow, or very close to it. And what a mess; there are many preliminary spotter/law enforcement reports of 16" - 21" of new snow, and still falling. Also a number of 6' - 8' snowdrifts. Officially, O'Hare has seen 17.3".

Here in Naples: 68 and sunny, headed for the low 80s. Come on down!
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305. IKE

Quoting bluheelrtx:


I like the aesthetics of the new layout, for the most part, but I don't like the fact that the long range forecast and favorites now require large numbers of mouse clicks. I dislike mouse clicks. I liked having all that information on one page before.
That's exactly what I don't like.
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Quoting tkeith:
I hope they leave the classic option, but I'm gonna try the new format out for a bit.

...old dog, new tricks, we'll see.


I like the aesthetics of the new layout, for the most part, but I don't like the fact that the long range forecast and favorites now require large numbers of mouse clicks. I dislike mouse clicks. I liked having all that information on one page before.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
302. Jax82
CIVIL EMERGENCY MESSAGE
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LAKE COUNTY ILLINOIS
RELAYED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO IL
547 AM CST WED FEB 2 2011

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT LAKE COUNTY ILLINOIS.

BECAUSE OF LIFE THREATENING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS...ROADS ACROSS
LAKE COUNTY ARE CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC. EMERGENCY RESPONDERS ARE
HAVING DIFFICULTY REACHING NUMEROUS STRANDED MOTORISTS. DRIVING
WILL CONTINUE TO BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS.
IF YOU BECOME STRANDED...EMERGENCY VEHICLES MAY NOT BE ABLE TO
REACH YOU.

IF YOU ARE STRANDED...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE. RUN YOUR VEHICLE
10 MINUTES PER HOUR. MAKE SURE YOUR EXHAUST PIPE IS NOT SNOW
COVERED...AND CRACK OPEN A DOWNWIND WINDOW FOR VENTILATION.

ALL RESOURCES ARE BEING USED TO REACH STRANDED MOTORISTS. PLEASE
DO NOT DRIVE UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. DOING SO WILL PUT YOUR
LIFE AT RISK.


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128 km Cairns Radar Loop
Link
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Quoting tkeith:
I wonder if the new and "improved" format is troll proof?
well from looking at all the comments in wunder press with the date of join feb 2 trolls don't seem to happy about it

lol
me iam ok with it
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
Quoting tkeith:
I wonder if the new and "improved" format is troll proof?
BAwahahahaaaa -- don't you know that was my FIRST THOUGHT - lol
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Quoting tkeith:
I hope they leave the classic option, but I'm gonna try the new format out for a bit.

...old dog, new tricks, we'll see.


Old Dog - not too happy w/the new trick - specially when I'm late for work -- like stumbling around a room w/no lights.

PrayersUP for all in the Land Down Under -- They're UNDER the weather for sure
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning all. Looks like the back side of Yasi is going to be pretty bad. Looking at the WunderMap for Cairns, the eye looks to be coming in just between Cairns and Innesfall, but there is now a large area of pink in the even larger CDO of red.... all on the back side. It's going to be a challenging six hours in QLD....

Evening all, The Eye of yasi has taken a jump to the SW, Innisvale will not get any part of the eye. Dunk Island will get a servere dunking. Yasi looks to make landfall at Cardwell. i will try and post radio links, soon.
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This is worst case scenario.
Extreme flooding followed by extreme cyclone.

Meanwhile, a co-worker thinks he is flying out of Orlando to NYC today. Flights were canceled yesterday. Any opinions about whether he'll have better success today?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
Quoting atmoaggie:
0 UTC NAM just coming out...same solution as 18 UTC.

Starts with snow from NOLA to Mobile at 15 UTC, Thursday.



Records fall along with snow, temperature

Link

Looks like the record won't last long.
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IDQP0005
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Queensland
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

Media: Transmitters serving the area from Cape Flattery to Proserpine and inland
to the Northern Territory border are requested to USE the Standard Emergency
Warning Signal before broadcasting the following warning.

TOP PRIORITY
TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 23
Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 10:56pm EST on Wednesday the 2nd of February 2011

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Cape
Flattery to Proserpine, extending west across the tropical interior to the
Northern Territory border

At 11:00 pm EST Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Category 5 was estimated to be 125
kilometres southeast of Cairns and 65 kilometres east southeast of Innisfail and
moving west southwest at 25 kilometres per hour.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi, CATEGORY 5, will continue to move in a west-southwesterly
direction and is expected to cross the coast near Mission Beach close to
midnight.

AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SEA LEVEL RISE [i.e. storm tide] will occur between
Innisfail and Ayr, peaking between Cardwell and Lucinda, as the cyclone
approaches, crosses the coast and moves inland.

Higher than normal tides exceeding the high water mark, and damaging waves will
continue between Cairns and Proserpine until at least the morning high tide.

VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts up to 290 km/h are developing between Cairns
and Ingham and the adjacent ranges.

Due to the large size of the cyclone, people in the path of the VERY DESTRUCTIVE
WINDS are likely to experience these conditions for about 3 to 4 hours.

DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts in excess of 125 km/h between Cape Tribulation and
Ayr are expected to spread inland overnight.

DAMAGING WINDS with gusts to 90 km/hr are occurring in remaining coastal areas
between Cape Flattery and Proserpine, and are forecast to spread inland and west
to Mt Isa during Thursday.

Winds are forecast to gradually ease about the east coast during Thursday
morning as the cyclone moves inland.

FLOODING RAINS will develop from Cooktown to Proserpine tonight and gradually
extend inland.

People in the path of the very dangerous cyclone should stay calm and remain in
a secure shelter, above the expected water level, while the very destructive
winds continue.
- Do not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the cyclone; very
destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any time.
- Follow the evacuation advice or directions of Police, Emergency Services
personnel and local authorities.

People in remaining areas between Cape Flattery and Proserpine and extending
west across the tropical interior to the Northern Territory border, should
complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place.
- Boats and outside property should be secured.
- For cyclone preparedness and safety advice, visit Queensland's Disaster
Management Services website [www.disaster.qld.gov.au]
- For emergency assistance call the Queensland State Emergency Service [SES] on
132 500 [for assistance with storm damage, rising flood water, fallen trees on
buildings or roof damage].

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 11:00 pm EST:
.Centre located near...... 17.7 degrees South 146.6 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 20 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the west southwest at 25 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 285 kilometres per hour
.Severity category........ 5
.Central pressure......... 930 hectoPascals


Please ensure that neighbours have heard and understood this message,
particularly new arrivals or those who may not fully understand English.

The next advice will be issued by 12:00 am EST Thursday 03 February.

This warning is also available through TV and Radio Broadcasts; the Bureau's
website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 212. The Bureau and the State
Emergency Service would appreciate this warning being broadcast regularly.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
According to MSNBC, people were being turned away from overcrowded shelters in northeastern Australia.

Not good...

MSNBC

"...We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions," Queensland state premier Anna Bligh said after Yasi was upgraded to a maximum-strength category five storm.

"All aspects of this cyclone are going to be terrifying and potentially very, very damaging."

She had daunting words for those yet to find a refuge.

"It is now time for all movement and evacuation to cease," she said, adding 10,680 people had now crammed into evacuation centers.

More than 400,000 people live in the cyclone's expected path, which includes the cities of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay..."
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I hope they leave the classic option, but I'm gonna try the new format out for a bit.

...old dog, new tricks, we'll see.
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Quoting IKE:

You're welcome. Sun is out here and 44.8.

Sun is out here too, we are currently 66 in Ft Myers and expecting 81 today.
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Oops
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
classic.wunderground.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
I wonder if the new and "improved" format is troll proof?
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TC Yasi Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.