Ice storm cripples Houston; Yasi the 2nd costliest Australian storm on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:13 PM GMT on February 04, 2011

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A significant ice storm is in progress across southeast Texas, much of Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and southern Arkansas this morning, as the latest onslaught from the memorable winter of 2010 - 2011 continues. Houston, Texas recorded 1/10" - 1/4" inch of ice so far from the storm, resulting in a crippling of that city's transportation system. Numerous crashes have closed many area roads, and flights at local airports have been largely halted. Snowfalls of 1 - 3 inches will occur today along the northern edge of the ice storm region, in a swath from northeast Texas to western Kentucky. The storm will move into New England on Saturday, but will not bring heavy snow. The next chance for heavy snow occurs next Wednesday and Thursday, when the GFS model is predicting the formation of a winter storm capable of dropping a foot of snow in the Appalachians and inland areas of New England. However, it is too early to put much faith in this forecast.


Figure 1. Trees snapped off along the Chicago lakefront by winds from the Blizzard of 2011. Image credit: viewer uploaded photo from WGN.

Revisiting the Chicago blizzard
This week's blizzard in Chicago dropped 20.2" of snow on the city, Chicago's third-greatest snowstorm on record. But the tremendous winds that accompanied the blizzard--gusting to 61 mph at O'Hare Airport, and 70 mph at the Lakefront--made the storm Chicago's worst-ever blizzard as far as impacts on travel. Another remarkable feature of the storm were the intense thunderstorms that developed. According to an excellent write-up on the storm posted by the Chicago National Weather Service office, the Blizzard of 2011 had 63 lightning strikes, and several reports of hail. The most extraordinary hourly observation I've ever seen in a U.S. winter storm came at 9:51pm on February 1 at Chicago's Midway Field: A heavy thunderstorm with lightning, heavy snow, small hail or ice pellets, freezing fog, blowing snow, visibility 300 feet, a wind gust of 56 mph, and a temperature of 21°F. Welcome to the Midwest! Thanks go to meteorologist Steve Gregory for pointing this observation out to me.


Figure 2. Snow amounts from the February 1 - 3 blizzard of 2011 peaked at over 2 feet along the shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. Strong northeasterly winds pulled moist air off of the Lake in this region, allowing the "lake effect" to enhance the blizzard's snows in this region. Image credit: Chicago National Weather Service office.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi the second most damaging storm in Australia's history
Tropical Cyclone Yasi has dissipated, but the damage totals from the storm make it Australia's second most expensive tropical cyclone of all-time, according to Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. The storm's $3.5 billion price tag is second only to Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, doing $3.6 billion in damage (2011 dollars.) Yasi roared inland over Queensland, Australia at 12:30am local time on Thursday as a strengthening Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds and a 930 mb central pressure. The cyclone missed the most populous cities on the coast, Cairns and Townsville, but damaged up to 90% of the buildings in the small towns near where the eye passed--Tully, Mission Beach, and Cardwell. A storm surge of 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) was observed at Cardwell, and there was substantial surge damage at the coast. Fortunately, the storm surge hit near low tide, resulting in a storm tide--the height of the water above land--of about 4.5 meters, more than 2 meters below what would have occurred had Yasi hit at high tide. Yasi moved quickly enough across Queensland after landfall so that major flooding was limited to just three locations near the coast. Yasi's central pressure of 930 mb at landfall made the storm the most intense recorded in Queensland since at least 1918, and possibly since 1899. In 1918, there were two cyclones (at Mackay and Innisfail) with measured pressures in the upper 920s/low 930s, but it is quite plausible that the minimum central pressures were lower than that. The 1899 (Mahina/Bathurst Bay) cyclone had a measured pressure (ship near shore) of 914 mb.


Figure 3. The tide gauge at Carwell, Australia during passage of Tropical Cyclone Yasi recorded a 5.4 meter (17.7') storm surge (red line). Since the surge came near low tide, the storm tide--the height of the surge above mean water--was only 4.5 meters (blue line). The storm tide would have been more than 2 meters higher had Yasi hit at high tide, and the damage from coastal flooding would have been huge. The green line shows the expected water levels at Cardwell due to the tide. Image credit: Queensland government.


Figure 4. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 04:15 UTC February 3, 2011, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

Jeff Masters

Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld (AliHirst62)
Butler St Tully Nth Qld
Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld
Chicago Blizzard 2011 (ChicagoMike)
Digging out....over 20 inches of snow and drifts in the 3 to 5 foot range.
Chicago Blizzard 2011
()
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri (tucktan)
Looking outside our front door in Columbia, MO.
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri
RoofShovel (luvne32)
Ice dams are forming, not good for water infiltrating walls
RoofShovel

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Staggering, isnt it?

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Im sure glad Bill O'Reilly squared away the Tides Mystery for me as well.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting Jedkins01:



I thought MSNBC only interviews nut cases who aren't actually scientists. Go figure! The progressives are actually progressing :)

No, that would be your good friends over at Fox:

ENVIRONMENT/TODAY: Global Warming Causing More Snow? Come Again? -- FoxNews.com Deadline: Feb 01, 2011 11:00 PM EST

Former Vice President Al Gore told Bill O'Reilly that: "A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species." We need comments from someone who can point out the ridiculousness of his argument, even if you accept the somewhat-implausible argument. I've been assigned this story just now by Fox News in New York for the science and technology desk. I'm looking for comments. Please send comments via e-mail. Please send your name, title and company you represent. Please send comments by 10 p.m. CST. Contact: Gene Koprowski


Did you catch that? Yep, that sounds like honest and credible--and "fair and balanced"--science reporting, if you ask me.

Remember: Fox News makes you stupid. It's time to kick the habit. ;-)
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228. Skyepony (Mod)
The Texas brown out debacle is something.. Caused by cold freezing up & shutting down something like 50 traditional coal & gas plants. The way TX is isolated from the rest of the US grid, worsened the situation.

So in response...

* The Drudge Report has suggested that the Texas blackouts were “a direct consequence of the Obama administration’s agenda to lay siege to the coal industry, launch a takeover of infrastructure under the contrived global warming scam, and help usher in the post-industrial collapse of America.”
* Rush Limbaugh has put the blame on ‘federal red tape’. “It’s not just in Texas, that’s everywhere. And, folks, let me tell you something: If Obama gets his way, rolling blackouts will be the new norm. What do you think ‘green energy’ is?”
* Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) has issued a statement calling the blackouts an unacceptable safety risk that’s the result of federal energy policies run amok. “We have the desire, the resources, the knowhow and the will to build new plants, but federal red tape has blocked construction.”


If it wasn't for wind generated electricity & leaning on Mexico's grid, looks like it would have been more of a blackout.

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Quoting washingtonian115:
Ummm I have a bad vibe from this hurricane season.I know I'm not the only one.Most names on the list sound wimpy.Except for maybe Don.and Jose.I'll be watching the two.
Okay so now I'm adding 4 more names to the "INTIMADATING NAME LIST".Now It's Gert,Havery,Franklin,and Maria.Let's see which one would be a baddie.So far i'm keeping a close eye on Jose.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16971
226. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Jedkins01:



The ice is melting.... CO2 is making it harder on sea snails to build their shells. Oh crap guys I better stop driving my Chevy truck.


Chevy tends to get the better gas mileage when comparing standard size pick-up trucks. Atleast you got the more efficient truck.


I got 86ºF here at the moment. I think I can hear my winter rye dying...
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115 days left until 'cane season.
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Ummm I have a bad vibe from this hurricane season.I know I'm not the only one.Most names on the list sound wimpy.Except for maybe Don.and Jose.I'll be watching the two.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16971
I know there's a brain in that skull...but where he gets his sarcasm and demeaning vocabulary from?

must be his father.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25920
Global Climate Change Indicators
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Cente


Many lines of scientific evidence show the Earth's climate is changing. This page presents the latest information from several independent measures of observed climate change that illustrate an overwhelmingly compelling story of a planet that is undergoing global warming.

It is worth noting that increasing global temperature is only one element of observed global climate change. Precipitation patterns are also changing; storms and other extremes are changing as well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting Skyepony:
The loss of a massive "tongue" of glacial ice on the Antarctic coast — a natural protective barrier nearly four times the size of New York City — could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say. more here



The ice is melting.... CO2 is making it harder on sea snails to build their shells. Oh crap guys I better stop driving my Chevy truck.
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220. Skyepony (Mod)
The loss of a massive "tongue" of glacial ice on the Antarctic coast — a natural protective barrier nearly four times the size of New York City — could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say. more here
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Quoting Patrap:
Dr.Jeff Masters on MSNBC a few weeks ago.






I thought MSNBC only interviews nut cases who aren't actually scientists. Go figure! The progressives are actually progressing :)
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Dr.Jeff Masters on MSNBC a few weeks ago.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
How many days until Hurricane Season 2011???

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Sorry to share this but I just had to,

Oh what a week. you guys there are freezing and we here are melting, or getting blown away.
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Morning all. Snowy day here in Indiana. Was expecting to get 1-2" today but woke up to a Advisory and a 2-4" possibility. Now looking at 5" and if 12z GFS is correct, maybe a bit more than that.

I think mother nature is peeved we dodged the major ice last week, and is paying us back. Little does she know, I'm loving it!

Anybody got any thoughts on the upcoming mid-week system? My local NWS mentions 8" plus snows somewhere, but are uncertain if it'll be north or south of the Ohio River. Gotta love February!
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Quoting IKE:

This could be very bad for New England..Link Two storms in a short time frame.
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212. IKE

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211. IKE

Quoting aquak9:
March 1st in 23+ days.

I love you, man...
lol.
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Link to BBC article on freeze in Northern Mexico:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12370717
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Quoting AussieStorm:
After Yasi
I hope Australia gets a break from severe weather.
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After Yasi
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March 1st in 23+ days.

I love you, man...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25920
Complete Update





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
204. mnsky
Nice pictures..labels=1
labels=1
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203. IKE

Quoting Neapolitan:

Sounds good. It's 71 here, the heavy fog is almost gone, and we're headed to 80 or so, with more of the same tomorrow. Only a few nights in the ten-day call for lows in the 40s. That works for me...
Won't be long now for us to get into Spring. March 1st in 23+ days.
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This to me look like a cold front passing. But its past and it aint cold yet.


Click for loop

Sydney Now
88.2°F falling
Updated at 00:40 EDT
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Thanks for that.... Found the different scales Link

Australian Region
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale
Category Sustained
winds Gusts
Five >107 kt
>200 km/h >151 kt
>279 km/h
Four 86-107 kt
160-200 km/h 122-151 kt
225-279 km/h
Three 64-85 kt
118-159 km/h 90-121 kt
165-224 km/h
Two 48-63 kt
89-117 km/h 68-89 kt
125-164 km/h
One 34-47 kt
63-88 km/h 49-67 kt
91-125 km/h
Tropical
Low <34 kt
<63 km/h <49 kt
<91 km/h

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Morning,
Heavy fog with 46 deg here in Wilmington NC..... vis on the coast is about 100 yards !!!!
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Quoting IKE:
I had .97 inches of rain yesterday. My monthly total is now at 2.06.

Mostly cloudy outside now and 45.0. See a few breaks in the clouds already. Clearing today. Inland Florida panhandle.

I see a light at the end of the tunnel for warmer weather in the 8-14 day forecast....



Sounds good. It's 71 here, the heavy fog is almost gone, and we're headed to 80 or so, with more of the same tomorrow. Only a few nights in the ten-day call for lows in the 40s. That works for me...
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198. IKE
I had .97 inches of rain yesterday. My monthly total is now at 2.06.

Mostly cloudy outside now and 45.0. See a few breaks in the clouds already. Clearing today. Inland Florida panhandle.

I see a light at the end of the tunnel for warmer weather in the 8-14 day forecast....


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Quoting jeffs713:

Also, there is a significant amount of snow on top of the upper faces of the trees... and the amount is near-uniform between all the trees. And as you mentioned, some of them are cleanly sheared at the base, not fractured and splintered.


This looks like a "temporary dumping ground" for downed trees. That's why there are no stumps, and some of them seem to have been sheered off. Notice some of the smaller branches seem to be piled along one edge. It looks as if the trees were dragged or carried here after the big storm, with the blue fence put around them to keep kids off ot something, then subsequent snowfall has covered them with a few inches.
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196. xcool
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195. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DISTURBANCE 10F
12:00 PM FST February 5 2011
=====================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 10F (1008 hPa) located at 22.2S 169.5W. Position POOR based on infrared/visible imagery with animations. Sea surface temperature is around 28C.

Organization has improved in the last 12 hours. Convection remains persistent in the sectors from north through east to southeast. The system lies to the south of an upper trough and in a moderate sheared environment.

Global models have picked up the system and slowly moves it southwestward with slight intensification.

The potential for this disturbance to form into a tropical cyclone within the next 24-48 hours is LOW.
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Quoting oceanbug:
It looks like the photographer was in a multistory building,


That pic was taken from the air, according to WGN

Link
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
It looks like the photographer was in a multistory building, and the trees in that photo are in a bit of a swirl pattern. The winds around the buildings in Chicago can be quite erratic. I don't think root balls pop out of frozen ground like they would from saturated soil. The lack of broken branches is odd. What really strikes me, though, is the snow doesn't seem deep enough! Where are the big drifts along the fence line?
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Quoting Grothar:


Thank you. I post these during the hurricane season a lot. MiamiHurricane009 and I try to outdo each other, who can post them first. Do you want the link?
Alright, alright, you got me this time...
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Bear in mind that that's probably a reference to the Australian tropical cyclone scale, rather than the Saffir-Simpson. In the former, a Category 1 would be equivalent to a weak to moderate tropical storm on our scale.


Thanks for that.... Found the different scales Link

Australian Region
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale
Category Sustained
winds Gusts
Five >107 kt
>200 km/h >151 kt
>279 km/h
Four 86-107 kt
160-200 km/h 122-151 kt
225-279 km/h
Three 64-85 kt
118-159 km/h 90-121 kt
165-224 km/h
Two 48-63 kt
89-117 km/h 68-89 kt
125-164 km/h
One 34-47 kt
63-88 km/h 49-67 kt
91-125 km/h
Tropical
Low <34 kt
<63 km/h <49 kt
<91 km/h
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Quoting Grothar:




" ... cause the ladies like a man with a lederhosen tan ... "
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From the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

"Arctic sea ice extent averaged over January 2011...was the lowest January ice extent recorded since satellite records began in 1979. It was 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles) below the record low of 13.60 million square kilometers (5.25 million square miles), set in 2006, and 1.27 million square kilometers (490,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average...Ice extent in January 2011 remained unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador), and Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). Normally, these areas freeze over by late November, but this year Hudson Bay did not completely freeze over until mid-January. The Labrador Sea remains largely ice-free."

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


"Air temperatures over much of the Arctic were 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in January. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Labrador Sea, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average."

"Warm conditions in the Arctic and cold conditions in northern Europe and the U.S. are linked to the strong negative mode of the Arctic oscillation. Cold air is denser than warmer air, so it sits closer to the surface. Around the North Pole, this dense cold air causes a circular wind pattern called the polar vortex , which helps keep cold air trapped near the poles. When sea ice has not formed during autumn and winter, heat from the ocean escapes and warms the atmosphere. This may weaken the polar vortex and allow air to spill out of the Arctic and into mid-latitude regions in some years, bringing potentially cold winter weather to lower latitudes."

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Local news said that it was a Cat 1 500 miles inland.....
Bear in mind that that's probably a reference to the Australian tropical cyclone scale, rather than the Saffir-Simpson. In the former, a Category 1 would be equivalent to a weak to moderate tropical storm on our scale.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Notice the humid tropical air clashing with the cold front.

kinda like when Wilma hit fla.
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93P in the Pacific. Just a floater for now.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26118
Quoting bappit:
Not a Rush fan, sorry. I like songs like this, from Australia so marginaly on topic. Also features men dancing in lederhosen which maybe Grothar has seen before. I haven't.



Nice, reminds me of the new math they teach now days!:)

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Quoting bappit:

That is an interesting image with the cyclone still going in the middle of Australia and the mid-latitude trough pulling moisture poleward. Looks like there could be some flooding in central Australia, perhaps unusual rain for the location.


Local news said that it was a Cat 1 500 miles inland.....
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Quoting bappit:
Not a Rush fan, sorry. I like songs like this, from Australia so marginaly on topic. Also features men dancing in lederhosen which maybe Grothar has seen before. I haven't.




Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26118
Quoting sunlinepr:

That is an interesting image with the cyclone still going in the middle of Australia and the mid-latitude trough pulling moisture poleward. Looks like there could be some flooding in central Australia, perhaps unusual rain for the location.
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Not a Rush fan, sorry. I like songs like this, from Australia so marginaly on topic. Also features men dancing in lederhosen which maybe Grothar has seen before. I haven't.

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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.