Groundhog's Day blizzard pounds U.S.; Category 4 Yasi hits Australia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:50 PM GMT on February 02, 2011

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The great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011 continues to pound a huge swath of the U.S. with heavy snows, destructive freezing rain, and dangerously cold and windy conditions. Over 1/2” of ice has caused power outages in Indianapolis, and up to .9” of ice has hit Columbus, Ohio. Ice amounts in excess of 1/2” have also affected Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey New York, and Pennsylvania. Blizzard conditions continue in Chicago, where heavy snows of up to two inches per hour in high winds have crippled the city's transportation system. As of 9am CST this morning, Chicago's O'Hare Airport had received 19.5” of snow, making it city's third greatest snowstorm on record. Only the January 2 - 4 1999 blizzard (21.6") and January 2 – 4, 1967 blizzard (23”) have dumped more snow on Chicago. Today's blizzard had stronger winds than Chicago's other two record snowstorms, and thus this storm is probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect the city, as far as impacts on travel go. Huge drifts in excess of 6 feet are common in the city, and residents are finding it difficult to leave their houses, much less travel on area roads. Winds last night at Chicago's Calumet Harbor were sustained at tropical storm force, 39 mph, with gusts to 51 mph, and high winds tore off part of a fiberboard roof panel behind home plate at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago buoy, 10 miles offshore in Lake Michigan, had sustained winds of 54 mph, gusting to 66 mph, last night. Winds are slowly decreasing across Chicago, and the blizzard will be over by early afternoon.


Figure 1. Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago on the night of February 1, 2011. Image credit: Viewer uploaded photo from WGN.

According to the National Weather Service, since snow records began in 1886 in Chicago, there have been 43 winter storms that produced 10 inches or more of snow. A 10 inch snow occurs about once every 3 years. A 15 inch snow occurs only once about every 20 years. The closest back to back 10 inch
snows were March 25-26 and April 1-2, 1970 (6 days apart). The longest period of time without a 10 inch snow or greater was February 12, 1981 to January 1, 1999 (almost 18 years). The earliest 10 inch snow was November 25-26, 1895 and the latest 10 inch snow was April 1-2, 1970. The most recent 10 inch snow was January 9-10, 2009.

Chicago's 10 biggest Snowstorms:

1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967
2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999
3. 19.5 inches Feb 1-2, 2011
4. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930
5. 18.8 inches Jan 13-14, 1979
6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931
7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929
8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939
9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918
10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970

The great storm's fury now turns to New England. Boston received 9.7” of snow as of 7am from the storm, and another 4 – 8” is on the way today. Heavy snows in excess of 6 inches are expected in a swath extending from central New York through Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine today. Up to 1/4” of ice is expected through New England along the southern edge of the heavy snow belt. Cities near the coast such as New York City and Philadelphia will receive mostly rain from the storm, though.

Some selected snowfall totals from the Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011, as of 9am EST:

Spring Grove, IL 20.8”
Miami, OK 20”
Jefferson City, MO 18.3”
S. Fort Scott, KS 18”
Tulsa, OK 15”
Schenectady, NY 9.6”
Boston, MA 9.7”
Detroit, MI 7.5”
Oklahoma City, OK 7”
West Hartford, CT 6.5”
Abilene, TX 6”
Cedar Rapids, IA 4.5”


Figure 2. Satellite image of the Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011, taken at 10am EST February 2. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Yasi hits Queensland, Australia
Tropical Cyclone Yasi roared inland over Queensland, Australia at 12:30am local time this morning as a strengthening Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds and a 930 mb central pressure. Yasi is incredibly strong, its winds falling just 5 mph short of Category 5 status. This makes the storm one of the top-ten strongest cyclones to hit Australia since accurate records began in 1970.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology had this to say about Yasi in their advisory last night:

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.


Figure 3. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 03:35 UTC February 2, 2011, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

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 forecast from NOAA using satellite-based rainfall estimates shows 4 – 6” of rain falling along Yasi's track over the next 24 hours. 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 Queensland'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 brought highly destructive winds to a region of coast between the cities of Cairns (population 150,000) and Townsville (population 200,000). 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 missed these two major cities is lucky, since the coast is less populous between the cities.

A dangerous storm surge in excess of ten feet likely occurred along the left front quadrant of the storm where it came ashore. The tidal was going out when the storm struck, and 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 4. Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Yasi at landfall in Queensland, Australia. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Links to follow:

Live streaming video from Channel 9 in Cairns, Australia

A new look for wunderground
The Weather Underground was the first commercial weather company to set up an Internet web site, way back in 1995. In the sixteen years since, we've steadily expanded our content, but today—in honor of Groundhog's Day—we've launched our first major site re-design. The WunderPress blog has a introduction to the new site, including a slide show that explains the new layout. You can click through the demo by hitting the “>” button. The launch of the redesigned wunderground.com also features our unique forecasting technology, BestForecast. Utilizing Weather Underground's network of personal weather stations (the largest in the world), BestForecast provides the industry's most localized weather forecasts by producing a forecast for every place in the world that has an airport or personal weather station—over 19,000 locations worldwide. We also provide the latest National Weather Service forecast for each county in the U.S., so users can choose which forecast works best for them. Coming soon: verification statistics, so you can see exactly how well the forecasts are doing for your location. We realize that not everyone will be happy with the newly redesigned site, so we still offer the old design at classic.wunderground.com.

Jeff Masters

BLIZZARD! (farmerjen)
Blizzard in SE Kansas. The bird bath will be swallowed by nightfall for sure...
BLIZZARD!
Windswept (jadnash)
A desolate stretch of highway 32 in NE Nebraska
Windswept
School's Out! (jadnash)
A wild bus ride home today! High winds and heavy snow in NE Nebraska. Can't believe I'm actually out here driving, much less snapping pictures...
School's Out!
2011 Chicago Blizzard (weatherzoid1)
2011 Chicago Blizzard

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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
Quoting Patrap:




Dat wuz "She Loves You",,


Lost in translation maybe ?


Hey, I can't remember everything. First time I heard them I was in Germany. LOL They use different words. At least I got the right decade.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Grothar:


Some friend you are. You don't even know enough to come out of the snow and ice. LOL How you doing TD??


hey!

Lol

Im doing great, working about 45 hours a week, keeps me busy haha

how you doing?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8200
388. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number #4
WELL MARKED LOW PRESSURE, FORMER BOB01-2011
5:30 AM IST February 3 2011
================================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Depression BOB01-2011 over southwest Bay of Bengal weakened into a well marked low pressure area over southwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining Sri Lanka.


Animation of past 12 hours INSAT imagery indicates that the convective clusters in association with the system has disorganized. Lowest cloud top temperature due to convection has increased and is around -55C.

Current meteorological conditions and numerical weather prediction models suggest that the system is likely to weaken further.


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

The system lies to the south of tropospheric ridge, which roughly runs along 12.0N at 200 HPA level. Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is moderate (10-20 knots). The Madden Julian Oscilation index lies over the east equatorial Indian Ocean with low amplitude, which is favorable for genesis, but not favorable for further intensification. Sea surface temperature (26-28C) and the ocean heat content over southwest Bay of Bengal is less than 40 kj/cm2, which are also not favorable for intensification. System is also interacting with land surface.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to weaken further.

This is the final tropical cyclone advisory from the India Meteorological Department
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


I don't want to hold your hand, Pat.




Dat wuz "She Loves You",,


Lost in translation maybe ?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
Quoting tornadodude:


LOL

nicee


Some friend you are. You don't even know enough to come out of the snow and ice. LOL How you doing TD??
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Leafgreen:


Your post prompted me to do some research as I started to salivate on the money I could save to take fly down to Australia and help those poor folks down there. Here's a great page that lays out the energy savings. Hope it helps: http://water-heater-tankless.com/2011/02/energy-savings-comparison-of-tank-vs-tankless-hot-water-hea ter/


Your Link

Didn't show up the link owing to the rollover problem noted by others.

Anyway, you have to pay the plumber also to do it so you will have to wait until your old unit gets old, like Gro.

If you have electric rather than natural gas the payout is going to be quicker than I will give; for me the assumption is gas.

For natural gas 150 a year is about right.

The payout can only be achieved if you exchange the old one (since you have to pay the plumber also).

For electric, about an 8 year payout (and if you have extremely high use with electric hot water solar hot water MIGHT pay out but be very careful).

I have gas but I am an energy moron and am driven to show what is possible with efficiency... a heck of a lot it turns out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EnergyMoron:


Did you notice the coal fired plant in the background?

That is why they really died.

Maar je bent te oude te herrinert alles. :)

Houston is niet zo koud vanavond... zoals gisteren als ik herrinert.

Wel te rustig.



I didn't notice that.

Ik heb zo veel gelegen, ik weet niet hoe oud ik echt ben. Maar ik herinner me veel. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting flsky:
Is there any weather to talk about tonight???


right here!


Tonight's forecast:

"Rainy with a 100% Chance of pity, fool."
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8200
382. flsky
Is there any weather to talk about tonight???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
..and you Know that cant be bad


I don't want to hold your hand, Pat.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Well that might be funny.....if I were a MAN...Gotcha? LOLOLOL


LOL

nicee
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8200
Quoting Grothar:


I see we have the same sick sense of humor.


Did you notice the coal fired plant in the background?

That is why they really died.

Maar je bent te oude te herrinert alles. :)

Houston is niet zo koud vanavond... zoals gisteren als ik herrinert.

Wel te rustig.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

But, you cant spell...

it's not 'sick sense' . it's 'sixth sense'. (dont bite your tongue...)
Get with it, Gro!


Oh boy, not TED ? Yikes!!!!!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

But, you cant spell...

it's not 'sick sense' . it's 'sixth sense'. (dont bite your tongue...)
Get with it, Gro!



I believe there is an apostrophe between the n and the t in can't and in don't. :P How is Pot, tonight?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Complete Update






Member Since: Posts: Comments:
..and you Know that cant be bad
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
Quoting Grothar:



My wife and I fell in love at first sight... maybe I should have taken a second look.

I'll never get married again. I'll just find a woman I don't like and buy her a house.


Well that might be funny.....if I were a MAN...Gotcha? LOLOLOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Grothar...HELP..I'm feeling like the Aflack duck again........say something humorous..



My wife and I fell in love at first sight... maybe I should have taken a second look.

I'll never get married again. I'll just find a woman I don't like and buy her a house.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Grothar:


I see we have the same sick sense of humor.

But, you cant spell...

it's not 'sick sense' . it's 'sixth sense'. (dont bite your tongue...)
Get with it, Gro!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EnergyMoron:


The insanity of having power outages even without snow. We are expected to reach a winter record of 56,800 MW generation tomorrow... it is a slam dunk that even the homes alone in Texas are wasting 9,000 MW tomorrow (maybe not electricity, but doesn't really matter).



I've been tracking my usage since I went tankless (after installing a solar water heater). The solar water heater did nothing; energy improvements to my house halved my gas bill, and going tankless has rocked.

Okay, the difference in the last two curves is simply energy radiated into space. I have a lot bigger tank than most with the solar (still use it as a pre-heat, and pretty much as is during the summer) but it is the winter where all the loses occur. You can see that I was losing about 1 kWH/DD/day.

So, here in Texas we have outdoor water heaters for the most part (and a few tankless, but not intensive)

9 million households.

35 degree days below normal.

That is 13,500 MW of loses into outer space outside of the conditioned area for our state assuming everybody has a traditional water heater.

Our about 25% of our record energy use!

The tankless company I chose (a hybrid with a small tank... I heat the house also with water) had on their ad somewhere a calculation of how many coal plants they could put of out business with this technology.

Oh, gas bill for December? Less than 30 dollars.

Texans are heating outer space right now!




Your post prompted me to do some research as I started to salivate on the money I could save to take fly down to Australia and help those poor folks down there. Here's a great page that lays out the energy savings: http://water-heater-tankless.com/2011/02/energy-savings-comparison-of-tank-vs-tankless-hot-water-he ater/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Grothar...HELP..I'm feeling like the Aflack duck again........say something humorous..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


I do get the message, I click on here to allow, and no box appears..Now tell ya what....I'll get my grandson to show me how tomorrow...I feel like a complete a@@@ right now...TY so much for trying to help :)


I forgot to tell you. You then have to click "LINK" again, then the box will appear. Go ahead, give it the "Old College Try" Give one for the Gipper. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Ossqss:


Hey, I got a trophy, once! :P



I see we have the same sick sense of humor.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


I do get the message, I click on here to allow, and no box appears..Now tell ya what....I'll get my grandson to show me how tomorrow...I feel like a complete a@@@ right now...TY so much for trying to help :)


lol, it's not you, it's the browser settings. Hope your gs can get it right for you!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
If the sentence is too long I can't read it.
The words are there I just can't see them.


See post 334. No joke! lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
If the sentence is too long I can't read it.
The words are there I just can't see them.


Go to "Tools" and click on Compatability settings. Make sure wunderground is added. Then close that and click "Compatability view" it should reset it. You may have to do it twice.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Chicklit:
If the sentence is too long I can't read it.
The words are there I just can't see them.

There are adult literacy classes....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


You just made me choke, you Twit!! LOL Sorry, I can't top that one.


Hey, I got a trophy, once! :P

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
If the sentence is too long I can't read it.


Just take your time and read every word slowly. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting Grothar:



Do you get a little message that reads "The website is using a scripted window.........It should appear in yellow. If you get that, just right click and click on "Temporarily allow scripted" Windows" then the box will appear.


I do get the message, I click on here to allow, and no box appears..Now tell ya what....I'll get my grandson to show me how tomorrow...I feel like a complete a@@@ right now...TY so much for trying to help :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If the sentence is too long I can't read it.
The words are there I just can't see them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:


I see the problem is with the mouse :)



You just made me choke, you Twit!! LOL Sorry, I can't top that one.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051

Quoting EYEStoSEA:


NO box opens when I click on link
The box only appears when you click "Link" or "Image" in the comments box.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


NO box opens when I click on link



Do you get a little message that reads "The website is using a scripted window.........It should appear in yellow. If you get that, just right click and click on "Temporarily allow scripted" Windows" then the box will appear after you click "Link" again.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
I know I'm annoying dont annoy me
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, my little 386 works just fine. Maybe if I upgrade to Windows 95, it might help.



I see,,,,,, the problem is with the mouse :)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


NO box opens when I click on link


What happens when you click on the others?

What browser?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:


Ya gotta get off that dialup :)



Hey, my little 386 works just fine. Maybe if I upgrade to Windows 95, it might help.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


OK. When you are entering a comment, just above is a line of buttons (aka boxes). Bold, Italic, Link, and Image. See them?


NO box opens when I click on link
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


a box opens? I'm lost


OK. When you are entering a comment, just above is a line of buttons (aka boxes). Bold, Italic, Link, and Image. See them?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EnergyMoron:


ERCOT is still saying they are possible tonight and tomorrow and is urging conservation:

Link

Now only if they could urge conservation the other 363 days of the year when we are not setting summer and winter records.

At least I wasn't in an elevator when a blackout rolled through.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting muddertracker:
Schools in the Austin and Cedar Park area experienced rolling blackouts today. Can you imagine a school full of middle school students with all the lights out? Now that should be enough for hazard pay!


ERCOT is still saying they are possible tonight and tomorrow and is urging conservation:

Link

Now only if they could urge conservation the other 363 days of the year when we are not setting summer and winter records.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Did you click Link and paste the URL in the box which opens? You should overwrite the http:// that's already there.


a box opens? I'm lost
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
To speed up loading, you can also press ESC or the stop button a few seconds after refreshing. But you might cut a recently posted pic or map off if you do that. In which case, you can just r. click and choose View image.
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Quoting Grothar:


Do you think the person who redesigned this new format will get promoted. It si so slow, I can make 3 pots of coffee waiting for it to refresh.


Ya gotta get off that dialup :)

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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


LOL..that WAS my try......what did I do wrong? First time I've ever cut and pasted.....


Did you click Link and paste the URL in the box which opens? You should overwrite the http:// that's already there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Do you think the person who redesigned this new format will get promoted. It si so slow, I can make 3 pots of coffee waiting for it to refresh.


Hey Gro!

IMO, the refresh slowness is due to all the maps and pics being posted. That problem isn't happening on other blogs. I view 50 comments to cut down on that; it really helps.

Re the promotion: hehe.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Still afraid to try that link button, Eyes? ;-)


LOL..that WAS my try......what did I do wrong? First time I've ever cut and pasted.....
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
classic.wunderground.com.

TropA13....here is link to old format....see if it's the same there


Still afraid to try that link button, Eyes? ;-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Tools/Compatibilty view. Or FireFox. Or wait for IE9.


Do you think the person who redesigned this new format will get promoted. It si so slow, I can make 3 pots of coffee waiting for it to refresh.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 68 Comments: 25051

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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.