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 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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My Mojo is not working against PS anymore! Im going to have to bring out the big guns.....My Wifes Mouth!!
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Quoting scott39:
3 point game

uhoh!
This is serious stuff....
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Quoting scott39:
3 point game


Wonder who is holding the spray now? BTW you don't mind if I use that line? Funny one.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
Hope Grothar has some extra Depends.
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Quoting caneswatch:


Changed it. Happy now? LOL

:):)
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3 point game
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PS MADE 2
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@ Skye, I think the horse floats are trailers.

A friend of mine who lives N of Perth said some pple were joking that the continent was drowning at one end on fire at the other.... They were supposed to get hit by Bianca but it fizzled to a remnant low and they didn't even get the needed / expected rain...
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Ps GOING FOR 2
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I thought you were a wanga guy?

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!
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28-24 gb

standbye to edit

28-25 GB
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TD PS
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Quoting Grothar:


That Fat Lady is clearing her throat.
clog it with more lard before she can clean it
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717. Skyepony (Mod)
Cloudsat of that last storm that snowed the CONUS. It's up by Newfoundland now.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37863
Quoting pottery:

leaving this one alone.


Family blog, pot, family blog.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
Quoting pottery:

leaving this one alone.


Changed it. Happy now? LOL
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Quoting pottery:

Good!
I'm a Green Bay man.
Yep!
Where's my Bud?
Oh, here it is...


I thought you were a wanga guy?
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Quoting caneswatch:
I am enjoying this Packers lead. Always great to see the Steelers go down.

leaving this one alone.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Pottery~ No need to leave.. 28/17Green Bay now.


Got some models on Zaka

Good!
I'm a Green Bay man.
Yep!
Where's my Bud?
Oh, here it is...
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Quoting Skyepony:
Two fuel related explosions today. Romania, 5 or so killed in a coal mine explosion. The other was a train that derailed in OH..5 or 6 exploding cars of grain ethanol. Some of that got in the local waterways.


Any disasters in Albania? Why is it nothing ever happens there?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
I am enjoying this Packers lead. Always great to see the Steelers get whooped.
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Quoting Grothar:


That Fat Lady is clearing her throat.

A Rout?
28-17 plus a touchdown?
Do I interpret the vague and obscure posts correctly?
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Quoting Grothar:


That Fat Lady is clearing her throat.
GB just tossed her some throat spray!
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707. Skyepony (Mod)
Pottery~ No need to leave.. 28/17Green Bay now.


Got some models on Zaka
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37863
Quoting scott39:
TD GB


That Fat Lady is clearing her throat.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
TD GB
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28 - 17 GB
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703. Skyepony (Mod)
Two fuel related explosions today. Romania, 5 or so killed in a coal mine explosion. The other was a train that derailed in OH..5 or 6 exploding cars of grain ethanol. Some of that got in the local waterways.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37863
Quoting PcolaDan:


Where's that sarcasm button when I need it!

right as in left right, not correct
Oh never mind.......

back to my corner

;)

LOL, I need one too.
I saw your intention, and laughed as well!
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Rodgers still Pitching bottom of the 7th
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Quoting pottery:

No it would NOT!
Thanks to Skyepony, I Know The Score!


Where's that sarcasm button when I need it!

right as in left right, not correct
Oh never mind.......

back to my corner

;)
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Quoting PcolaDan:


That would be the.............Right thing to do. :)
Ha! My parents always told me to do the..... Right thing :)
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Pottery, I hope you understand what I was trying to say in my retort to the blogger ...I should have not butted in, but what was said just didnt sit well with me at that time.

No problem with that!
Thanks!
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Quoting scott39:
Yes it was! Take away all the dancers, flashing suits, and big sound stage and you have me singing in the car. It aint pretty!


HA!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
Quoting PcolaDan:


That would be the.............Right thing to do. :)

No it would NOT!
Thanks to Skyepony, I Know The Score!
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Quoting pottery:
674.
that's a bad one.


Pottery, I hope you understand what I was trying to say in my retort to the blogger ...I should have not butted in, but what was said just didnt sit well with me at that time.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
694. Skyepony (Mod)
Yasi followed Anthony as expected & wrecked havoc..

As a series of super-cell storms rolled across the state, thousands of Australians were evacuated from Victoria's flood-stricken towns on Saturday night. The remnant of Cyclone Yasi, which wreaked havoc across Queensland earlier this week, reached Victoria since Friday, bringing about 150 millimeters of rain and wind gusts over 130 kilometers per hour, cutting roads and knocking trees down. Melbourne was one of the worst-affected areas, with Lyndhurst in city's south-east recording the highest rainfall of 174 millimeters. Mildura, in the state's north-west, since 9am on Friday recorded 142 millimeters, which is the highest daily rainfall total ever in the town. After the heavy rainfall, water on Saturday has flooded houses in Melbourne's south-east and lightning strikes cut power to more than 30,000 houses. Four towns of the state, including Koo Wee Rup, Bayles and Cora Lynn in Gippsland, have saw 6,000 household evacuated on Saturday night, as the Lower Bunyip River swelled dangerously upriver, and was tipped to peak at more than 7.2 meters in the early hours of Sunday. Half of train lines in Melbourne has shut down or disrupted. Traffic was heavily clogged on the Monash Freeway for several hours, while Police warned this weekend's conditions were " extremely dangerous". ABC News reported that the State Emergency Service (SES) has received more than 4,700 calls for help and at least 90 people across the state have been rescued in the last 36 hours. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday warned Victorians to brace for major problems following flash flooding and severe storms. Victoria is "heading for some major problems," Gillard told Network Ten on Sunday. "This is going to get very tough indeed." The weather bureau said the flood threat is easing on Sunday, as the showers slowly clear from the state.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37863
Quoting Grothar:


We should take a vote and see which one was better. That show was embarrassing.
Yes it was! Take away all the dancers, flashing suits, and big sound stage and you have me singing in the car. It aint pretty!
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Quoting pottery:

AARRGGHhh!
You guys are going to force me to go to Fox Sports to find out???


That would be the.............Right thing to do. :)
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URGENT - MARINE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
342 AM CST SUN FEB 6 2011

...STRONG COLD FRONT MAY CAUSE GALES ACROSS ALL COASTAL WATERS
MONDAY...

.SUSTAINED NORTHERLY WINDS OF 25 TO 30 KNOTS ARE EXPECTED BEHIND
A STRONG COLD FRONT MONDAY. THE POSSIBILITY OF FREQUENT GUSTS TO
35 TO 40 KNOTS WILL BE THE CAUSE FOR A GALE WATCH ONCE THE FRONT
MOVES THROUGH. THESE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO LAST THROUGH MUCH
OF MONDAY NIGHT.

...GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE MONDAY
NIGHT...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A GALE
WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE
MONDAY NIGHT.

* WINDS AND SEAS: SUSTAINED WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO BE IN THE 25 TO
30 KNOT RANGE WHILE FREQUENT GUSTS WILL BE 35 TO 40 KNOTS. SEAS
WILL RISE TO 4 TO 5 FEET IN SOUNDS AND LAKES AND 6 TO 9 FEET
OVER OPEN GULF WATERS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A GALE WATCH IS ISSUED WHEN THE RISK OF GALE FORCE WINDS OF 34 TO
47 KNOTS HAS SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED...BUT THE SPECIFIC TIMING
AND/OR LOCATION IS STILL UNCERTAIN. IT IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE
ADDITIONAL LEAD TIME FOR MARINERS WHO MAY WISH TO CONSIDER
ALTERING THEIR PLANS.
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Quoting RecordSeason:


How's that AGW thing coming?

I wonder what 2 feet of snow does for the earth's albedo?

If we don't stop AGW soon, everyone is going to freeze to death! Those heating bills are nuts. Haha!

I wonder who's going to eat it this spring during flood season? All that ice caused by global warming is going to get in the rivers eventually.

Oh yeah, I forgot, we're playing reverse thermodynamics with the AGW theory, so maybe those rivers will freeze over in spring when the ice hits them. That would be perfect harmony with "climate change." Everything is predicted by AGW. Whether it warms or cools, floods, or droughts; it's all AGW! The laws of the universe mean nothing!
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53863
Quoting pottery:

True.


OK, from you.. that hurt.
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688. Skyepony (Mod)
21/17 Green bay is winning..

After a break from epic fires, they are back. 6 Firefighters were killed in China today.

& in Australia..
More than 100 people have fled their homes in Perth's east where a bushfire is burning out of control. The blaze broke out around 9.15pm (WST) yesterday and had burnt through about 750 hectares by mid morning today. An emergency warning remains in place for four bush-edge communities in the city of Swan. Around 150 firefighters assisted by five helicopters are battling the blaze threatening homes in Brigadoon, Baskerville, Millendon, Red Hill and Herne Hill. Many residents evacuated overnight with 158 registering at a relocation centre at nearby Midvale. Denise and Lorry Cole were among those watching the fire's progress down a bushclad ridge from a police roadblock on Sunday morning, unable to return until given the the all-clear. They packed their toy poodle Monty, pet parrot Livingstone, photos and documents into their car and left their Padbury Avenue property in Herne Hill after midnight when authorities advised evacuation. "The sky was bright red and sometimes you could see the flames, the wind was really gusty," Ms Cole said. "The guys are doing their best. We're ex-army so we take these things in our stride." The Coles got no sleep overnight but were glad of coffee at the relocation centre where some evacuated residents turned up with horses in horse floats. Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) spokesman Rick Tyers said at 10.15pm (WST) that no houses had been lost but the fire was still out of control, fast moving and unpredictable. "We are just working our butts off to get this under control with the winds we have got." There was a risk of spot fires with embers moving ahead of the main blaze. Mr Tyers said it was not known at this stage what caused the fire.

What are horse floats?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37863
Quoting Orcasystems:


OMG.. I just had a flash... other then dates with SWMBO... the last time I went on a date was in 1978.
Crud... I am old :(

True.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


I bet your holding the abacus upside down.

LOL.
But I happen to know that there is no upside down on an abacus.
Once the batteries are good...
But it is impossible to use one, while dancing a jig.
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Quoting scott39:
I watched that longer than the half time show.


We should take a vote and see which one was better. That show was embarrassing.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153
Quoting Grothar:



Show you how long it's been since I was on a date. LOL
Forgot about that one, Orca.


OMG.. I just had a flash... other then dates with SWMBO... the last time I went on a date was in 1978.
Crud... I am old :(
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I think I heard the Steelers Kicker yell "four" as that one Faded hard left.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your confused again... its suppose to be "Whats your sign" no wonder he doesn't know the score :)

AARRGGHhh!
You guys are going to force me to go to Fox Sports to find out???
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your confused again... its suppose to be "Whats your sign" no wonder he doesn't know the score :)



Show you how long it's been since I was on a date. LOL
Forgot about that one, Orca.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26153

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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.