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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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.
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classic.wunderground.com.

TropA13....here is link to old format....see if it's the same there
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I have Firefox...It's still doing it.


Try a reboot, if you have not done so, it might clear some buffers for ya. Can't hurt. I have no issues with IE8 (xp-pro) and or FF with regular XP home, or the windows 7 platform. It works fine now on all 5 of my PC's. I did have an issue with IE8/xp a few days ago with the link/image boxes in the post box. They did not appear then. There are lots of scripts here in play. Good luck.

In the mean time, some Weather Report? Sound familiar? :)

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Quoting Grothar:


What do you think of look of the new blog?


Not bad, as long as it wasn't too complicated for us.
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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!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2337
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


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


I have Firefox...It's still doing it.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31588
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


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


You hit the nail on the head....the new format and IE8 just dont jive too well...
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Anyone know how to stop the cutting off of right side of posts?


Tools/Compatibilty view. Or FireFox. Or wait for IE9.
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Quoting caneswatch:


Wow, that looks unbelievable. We'll be seeing more pictures like this during this season.


What do you think of look of the new blog?
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Still getting on and off sleet here tonight.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Anyone know how to stop the cutting off of right side of posts?
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Quoting bappit:
EnergyDude -- any news about the whyfors of the rolling blackouts today?


Two coal fired plants in the north part of the state had leaks owing to burst water pipes.

The gas fired ones couldn't start up owing to low gas pressure.

My neighbor blogged about this today in the Chronicle

Tom Fowler's Chronicle blog
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Never thought I'd fill up some of the gas cans for the standby genny with the possibility of power loss due to an ice storm/snow here in Houston, but there so it has been done. Just fired the genny too, to check the start, and she does. Stabil is such a nice thing to have. Well, if the power doesn't go out, I suppose I can use the gas in the truck.


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!


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EnergyDude -- any news about the whyfors of the rolling blackouts today?
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Hey Folks stopping by to say hi. Havent been on in quite a while hope you are all doing well just letting you all know i am still on the Blog lol
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Quoting AussieStorm:
















Wow, that looks unbelievable. We'll be seeing more pictures like this during this season.
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SUGAR futures have soared to a 30-year high in the US as fears grow that Cyclone Yasi could decimate Australia's sugar crops.
Forecasts estimate the tropical cyclone could cause as much as $505 million in losses to Queensland’s sugar cane fields.
It is the first category 5 cyclone to hit Queensland in almost 100 years.
Sugar prices were already rising on the back of damage from Queensland’s floods of early January, but the threat of Cyclone Yasi has pushed prices even higher.
March delivery sugar reached 36.08 cents in early trade - the highest for a most-active contract since November 1980. In London, prices reached $857 per metric ton, the highest since January 1989.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/business/sugar-price-soars-on-us-markets-as-cyclone-yasi-hits-queensland/stor y-e6frfm1i-1225999207987#ixzz1CrDAjdko
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whoops wrong one.. lol
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The banana Crop and Stock trees are decimated.
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News Video.
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


Loop Eddy Current by the Doc

Gro:

The Doc had a post on this earlier while the Macando well was flowing.


Thanks for the link, EM.

Doe je denkt dat ik dat kan me herinneren. Ik herinner me niet wat ik voor lunch had. LOL

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Never thought I'd fill up some of the gas cans for the standby genny with the possibility of power loss due to an ice storm/snow here in Houston, but there so it has been done. Just fired the genny too, to check the start, and she does. Stabil is such a nice thing to have. Well, if the power doesn't go out, I suppose I can use the gas in the truck.
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SPC Mesoscale Analysis
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting Grothar:
Anyone notice the tongue of warm water into the loop current in the Gulf. Anyone have a comparison to last year's SST in the Gulf? Come on, there is nothing on TV but NCIS reruns.


Loop Eddy Current by the Doc

Gro:

The Doc had a post on this earlier while the Macando well was flowing.
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..Somewhere a PC is too warm..
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http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/02/uah-update-for-january-2011-global-temperatures-in-freefall/

Looks like global temps aren't changing much over the long term
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Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential

Seven Basins

There are seven tropical cyclone "basins" where storms occur on a regular basis:
1. Atlantic basin, including the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea
2. Northeast Pacific basin.from Mexico to about the dateline
3. Northwest Pacific basin.from the dateline to Asia including the South China Sea
4. North Indian basin, including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea
5. Southwest Indian basin.from Africa to about 100E
6. Southeast Indian/Australian basin (100E to 142E)
7. Australian/Southwest Pacific basin (142E to about 120W)

Tropical Cyclone Basins

According to NOAA's National Hurricane Center, approximately 69 percent of the tropical cyclones occur in the Northern Hemisphere, while only 31 percent can be found in the Southern Hemisphere. Approximately 12 percent occur in the Atlantic Ocean, 57 percent occur in the Pacific and the remaining 31 percent occur in the Indian Ocean.
In June 2003 we started providing global near-real time estimates of tropical cyclone heat potential in the seven basins during all year.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
308. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Brisbane
Tropical Cyclone Advice #33
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE YASI (14U)
11:00 AM EST February 3 2011
=========================================

At 10:00 AM EST Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Category Two (980 hPa) located at 19.5S 142.9E 150 km south southwest of Georgetown and 385 km east northeast of Mt Isa has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest at 20 knots.

Storm Force Winds
=====================
45 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
30 NM from the center in northwestern quadrant
45 NM from the center in southeastern quadrant
30 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant

Gale Force Winds
==================
240 NM from the center in southeastern quadrant
170 NM from the center in southwestern quadrant
140 NM from the center in northeastern quadrant
65 NM from the center in northwestern quadrant

YASI CONTINUES TO WEAKEN, BUT IS PRODUCING HEAVY RAIN AND DANGEROUS WIND GUSTS ABOUT THE TROPICAL COAST AND ACROSS THE TROPICAL INTERIOR.

The DESTRUCTIVE CORE of Yasi, with gusts in excess of 125 km/h, will weaken as it continues to move in a west-southwesterly direction. By tonight TC Yasi will be near Mt Isa as a tropical depression.

DAMAGING WINDS, with gusts above 90 km/hr, are occurring along the coast and much of the tropical interior. These winds are forecast to extend to the Northern Territory border including Longreach and Mount Isa.

HIGHER THAN NORMAL TIDES and LARGE WAVES will continue for the next few hours between Port Douglas and Ayr. These conditions are not expected to be repeated again tonight.

HEAVY RAINS will continue about the coast and will result in a continuation of localised and river flooding. HEAVY RAINS are also forecast to move with the cyclone and these rains will cause localised flooding and possible river flooding across the interior.

Tropical Cyclone Watches/Warnings
==================================
A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Port Douglas to Ayr, extending west across the interior to the Northern Territory border, including Mt Isa and Longreach.

Forecast and Intensity
========================
12 HRS: 20.7S 139.9E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
24 HRS: 21.8S 137.4E - 30 knots (TROPICAL LOW)
48 HRS: 23.6S 134.3E - 25 knots (TROPICAL LOW)

Additional Information
========================
Tropical Cyclone Yasi remains a symmetric system as it moves across the north Queensland interior. Convection has weakend around the sytem and cloud top temperatures have warmed since Yasi crossed the coast earlier this morning.

Yasi is expected to maintain a west southwesterly track as it moves towards central Australia over the next couple of days. Although the cyclone is rapidly weakening over land strong and gusty condtions are expected to develop to the south of the system with mixing of low level winds to the surface during the day.

Despite the cyclone being situated well inland gale force winds are continuing in coastal locations between Cardwell and Ayr. Enhanced convergence in this area is producing heavy rain.

The next Tropical Cyclone Advice for Tropical Cyclone Yasi will be issued at 4:00 AM UTC..
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Thanks Pat.
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FROM THE WEATHER CHANNEL HOME PAGE:


More southern snow possible

A new winter storm takes aim at Houston, Jackson, and Birmingham.
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This one is like 7days out and the Euro is almost similar to it as well.. Both models are leaning toward to be quite cold next week for the southeast and probably most of FL as well.. I think we need to watch this if the models do come out to be true.. Right now the last few days it has been consistent with the GFS and Euro..

But right now, We won't get a good idea what this storm will do until the feb 4th-6th system is out of here, and then we watch another system ride down the trough early next week. Models have it cutting up to the GL then bombing out in the NE dropping another Arctic airmass of 1040 MB high into the Central Plains. That brings another shot of cold air with -10C approaching N GA/AL. Then the low in the NE continues to deepen and the next short wave digs into the Texas and a SLP develops tracking along the Gulf coast, then up the Atlantic coast.

So we have two systems being shown before the late next week system that will play an important rule in where the possible storm will track, and how cold it is. Until we get the early next week storm to supply an extra cold shot, then bomb in the NE keeping our system suppressed, if it does, we won't get a good idea of what to expect with late week possible storm. As for now, we just have to wait and c if it pans out or not..

Here is some images.. that are interesting leading up to next week.. Remember just a maps/models..







Wonder what anyone thinks about this potential for next week?
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Al la Ka Zammmmmmmmmm...




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Anyone notice the tongue of warm water into the loop current in the Gulf. Anyone have a comparison to last year's SST in the Gulf? Come on, there is nothing on TV but NCIS reruns.

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Quoting GetReal:
I can tell you that it was all light sleet in Covington with that last bit of precip about 15 minutes ago.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
This years hurricane season will be a bad one for the U.S,and surrounding areas.Something should've came out of now where,and destroyed Yasi.
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OK, I must be bored, but it is too cold out to do anything else, so I am obsessing about the meaning of the word Yasi.....it is really a Fijian word and it is a type of local sandlewood....there! fini!
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Quoting pipelines:


Nah, the guy is a weather nut, can't hold that against him! Plus, thunder snow is pretty amazing if you haven't ever experienced it before.



He's seen it before. Look at the date at the bottom at the very beginning. 1996! I guess he just gets excited easily. LOL

Link
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Quoting lhwhelk:
You take the high road and I'll take the low road.


LOL! A witty ditty!
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1. Yasi
From the Urban Dictionary

A very sexy young girl that causes many men to get very horn_ _
Damn that yasi is fine.
Everytime i look at yasi i get horn_ _!

I just looked up what Yasi means, so I would not suggest naming the baby this!
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Quoting ColoradoBob1:
Weather forecasters have warned of winds reaching speeds of up to 90mph over parts of Scotland during Thursday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ news/ uk-scotland-highlands-islands-12345623
You take the high road and I'll take the low road.
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"AMID the chaos and devastation of Cyclone Yasi, a baby girl has been born at a Cairns evacuation centre.

A Red Cross official told AAP the baby girl was delivered healthy at 6.09am (AEST) after a three hour labour.

The baby has not been named yet, but she won't be called Yasi."

from couriermail.com.au

I personally think that Yasi would be a great name!
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Quoting Grecojdw:



Is that for the future or the storm about to happen? Also, what do you think about the current NOAA special statement for our area. It hardly ever gets to that point:o


Well I think we could see some freezing rain to could change into light sleet later on tonight.. But hopefully we get a surprise.. ;)
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Quoting Grothar:
Another storm for the South and Northeast. (Anyone think Jim Cantore is getting a little dramatic in this video????)

Link


Nah, the guy is a weather nut, can't hold that against him! Plus, thunder snow is pretty amazing if you haven't ever experienced it before.
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Quoting pcbhere:
"Funnily enough the US Weather Channel has gone nuts for the storm in the US, but makes no mention of cyclone Yasi. Their outlook for Cairns is for scattered thunderstorms and a 60% chance of rain."

From the couriermail.com.au
leave it to twc to fail reporting on the biggest tropical cyclone since Typhoon Tip
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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.