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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Quoting Neapolitan:

Which events? Record heat? Record low ice thickness and extent? Record flooding? Record snowfall and rainfall? Pretty much non-stop extreme weather since the calendar flipped over to January? Those events?


Its something called weather. Its the Earth's climate, if its too harsh for you, there are many other planets in the Universe, but I'm not sure that any of the planets we currently know are any less harsh then the Earth :)
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7268
Quoting Grothar:


I am not that kind of Doctor, but here goes.

Geoffrey is a very sick boy. You have no idea how sick. He should not be in contact with other people. Right now his tummy is upset because he bet on the wrong team and lost a fortune, even though he was told by a very good friend he was wrong. The sound of the Fat Lady singing got his very upset. I think it best that he stay home and recoup. You wouldn't want to see him in this condition.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter


Classic Grothar! Thank you for the laugh! I have a feeling that video is going to pop up soon.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Grothar...Write me a Dr.'s note to call in sick tomorrow.


I am not that kind of Doctor, but here goes.

Geoffrey is a very sick boy. You have no idea how sick. He should not be in contact with other people. Right now his tummy is upset because he bet on the wrong team and lost a fortune, even though he was told by a very good friend he was wrong. The sound of the Fat Lady singing got his very upset. I think it best that he stay home and recoup. You wouldn't want to see him in this condition.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25302
Okay thanks.
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I knew if he kept bringing it up he would get someone to bite... there goes the blog for the night... have fun.
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I had a good feeling about this game earlier this week.

Why?

The snow!!!
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Grothar...Write me a Dr.'s note to call in sick tomorrow.
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The F5 key always refreshes my page...and I am on IE. I have had no problems with the new site.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
I do not find the deaths of persons or animals as comical, however, I find the AGW claims to be ludicrous in light of the events of the past 2 months or so.

Which events? Record heat? Record low ice thickness and extent? Record flooding? Record snowfall and rainfall? Pretty much non-stop extreme weather since the calendar flipped over to January? Those events?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13455
I am normally a lurker but just getting used to the new format...I made no comment, just trying to keep up with the conversation....thank you for answering.
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Will I am,,
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting NCWatch:
Why doe the F5 key sometimes brings you back to where you were and sometimes leaves you at the top of the page?


When you add a comment, you're always taken to the top of the page. Otherwise, you should stay where you are.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Why doe the F5 key sometimes brings you back to where you were and sometimes leaves you at the top of the page?
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Quoting Patrap:
Seems Ben switched off his Targeting computer...

The Death Star will Fire in 50 Secs.


The Death Star fired, Pittsburgh destroyed, Green Bay wins.

Congrats Packers!
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting Patrap:
Congrats to the Green Bay Packers on Winning Super Bowl 45

The Lombardi Trophy is Coming Home

Yeah.
Good on them.
Sounded like a great game.
I'm exhausted...

see you guys another time.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Automated update on the old site? How?

BTW, did you see my suggestion about adding your fave blogs to your fave blogs?

No. Automated updates would be great, on the new site.
And yeah, thanks, I did that. But I still go to the blog index to see who is doing what at the moment.
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Congrats to the Green Bay Packers on Winning Super Bowl 45

The Lombardi Trophy is Coming Home
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
GB- My wife will still love me after tonight!!!!!
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Seems Ben switched off his Targeting computer...

The Death Star will Fire in 50 Secs.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
GB gets the ball back on downs
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Quoting pottery:
I would use the New site if they put in an automated update feature.
This constant refresh thing is spilling my beverage..


Automated update on the old site? How?

BTW, did you see my suggestion about adding your fave blogs to your fave blogs?
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting Orcasystems:


He played the wicket-keeper position didn't he? or was it tight end?

The tighter the better...
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Quoting Patrap:
Im uploading the Halftime show for everyone.

ACK.

Please dont.... Im already going to have night terrors from the first time I saw it!
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Quoting Grothar:


Mind if I tell you where you can upload it?

heheheh
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Quoting Grothar:


Mind if I tell you where you can upload it?


Ditto X2
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Thats a No-fly Zone here Gro.

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
HA! PS has only 1 time out
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Quoting pottery:

He has nothin' on my boy Babe.


He played the wicket-keeper position didn't he? or was it tight end?
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Quoting Patrap:
Im uploading the Halftime show for everyone.

ACK.



Mind if I tell you where you can upload it?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25302
Im uploading the Halftime show for everyone.

ACK.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
Quoting Orcasystems:


Your money is safe... I already said GB was going to win
I would feel alot better if they would have just made a touchdown instead of a stinkin field goal
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OH MAN!!!!

The ending the Steeler's want. 2:08 left with them getting the ball. Gonna be a nail biter!
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Ben will have 2 to get 7.

Ben folds 7 ?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
31 - 25 GB...
that may come back to give them a scare.
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Quoting Patrap:
Dat waz a HUGE Pitch..

He has nothin' on my boy Babe.
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6 point game
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Dat waz a HUGE Pitch..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127536
35-25 GB
coming up
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your money is safe... I already said GB was going to win

and every team I have supported this month is in trouble.
ON, Packers, ON>>>>>>>>>>
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GB running down the clock
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Quoting scott39:
Yea it is. $100 of serious hide coming off my back if GB doesnt win!


Your money is safe... I already said GB was going to win
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I would use the New site if they put in an automated update feature.
This constant refresh thing is spilling my beverage..
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Quoting pottery:

uhoh!
This is serious stuff....
Yea it is. $100 of serious hide coming off my back if GB doesnt win!
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Quoting pottery:

You are straying from the subject at hand.
Wanga's are not part of football lore.
I know about football.
Ask me anything. Like how many goals Babe Ruth scored....
I am a storehouse of football knowledge.
Come on, Packers!



You're a funny one, R.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25302
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Hope Grothar has some extra Depends.


It's only 3 points. Means nothing. I hate when games are this close. P.S. I'll give you something to Depend on.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25302
Quoting Grothar:


Wonder who is holding the spray now? BTW you don't mind if I use that line? Funny one.
Not at all
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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.