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 DontAnnoyMe:


LOL, I aim for immediate relief ;-)

Did you submit your myriad complaints?


No, I'm afraid they'll pull my paid membership! I guess the new blog is not that bad. Just takes older people like me longer to get used to something new.
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Quoting Grothar:


You forgot to say, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning"!!!!


LOL, I aim for immediate relief ;-)

Did you submit your myriad complaints?
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Can anyone spot the cold front passing through Sydney????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks, Pat. Reinforces my instinct that the GoM is not particularly warm[er than usual].

I'm also considering [ominous thoughts lol] the impact of greater than normal heat in the MDR long before expected.... if nothing else likely to impact - potentially, anyway - steering patterns....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


I'll do all of that. Thanks, again..your're a nice guy....you could be Grothars son !


LOL, TY!
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
TCHP Maps








1 year ago



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129090
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Goodnight WB A great profile pic,btw


Thank ya
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2218
Quoting weatherlover94:
well Folks i got to get off and get to bed got a busy day tomorrow...Good night everyone


Goodnight WL A great profile pic,btw
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The other interesting thing I am noticing about the anamoly pattern is the persistent cold anomalies south of the equator in the ATL, PAC and IND oceans. I'm sure this is part of a signature associated w/ La Nina, but I am wondering about the implications for ice loss at the poles.

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
well Folks i got to get off and get to bed got a busy day tomorrow...Good night everyone
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2218
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Yes, I noticed that too. Can't say why it won't behave for you. Maybe try signing out, delete history, cache, and cookies, restart browser, sign back in.



You forgot to say, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning"!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The GOM Loop Current
Joanna Gyory, Arthur J. Mariano, Edward H. Ryan


The clockwise flow that extends northward into the Gulf of Mexico and joins the Yucatan Current and the Florida Current is known as the Loop Current (Hofmann and Worley, 1986). Historically, average transport values for these three currents have been around 30 Sv (e.g. Morrison and Nowlin, 1977; Nowlin and McClellan, 1967; Schmitze and Richardson, 1968). Although recent measurements (Sheinbaum et al. 2002) contend that the mean transport is 24 Sv. Near-surface velocities approach 80 cm s-1 in the Yucatan Current (Coats, 1992) and have been reported as high as 150 cm s-1 (at 300 m) (Nowlin and McLellan, 1967). Additionally, the Yucatan and Florida current have been shown to be within 10% of each other's volume at any given time (Molinari and Morrison, 1988). Thus, variability in both the Loop and Yucatan currents would be expected to have a strong impact on the Florida Current as well.

The Loop Current is variable in position. At one extreme, it has an almost direct path to the Florida Current, causing the shear in the flow to set up a quasi-permanent clockwise recirculation known as the Cuban Vortex. This feature may help initiate Loop Current expansion. (Coats, 1992; Nowlin and McLellan, 1967; Cochrane, 1972; Hoffmann and Worley, 1986). At the other extreme, the Loop Current intrudes into the Gulf of Mexico, forming an intense clockwise flow as far north as 29.1N. Occasionally this loop will reach as high as the Mississippi river delta or the Florida continental shelf (Wiseman and Dinnel, 1988; Molinari and Mayer, 1982; Huh et al., 1981; Vukovich et al., 1979). It was this large loop phase of the current from which Nowlin and McClellan (1967) derived the name Loop Current. The Loop Current returns to its direct configuration by slowly pinching off its extension to form a large, warm-core ring that then propagates westward at speeds of 2-5 km day-1 (Coats, 1992; Elliott, 1982; Shay et al., 1998). The 900 km (Auer, 1987) expanse of Loop Current position is reminiscent of the variability in position at the Gulf Stream Extension region.

Early accounts attempted to identify a spring seasonal signal in the Loop current intrusion (Leipper, 1970; Behringer et al, 1977; Nowlin and Hubertz, 1972; Maul, 1977). However, although the intrusion may tend to form more frequently in the spring, it can occur in any season and has periods varying from 6-17 months (Molinari, 1980). Changes in the Yucatan current position have been correlated with Loop Current position, allowing it to serve as index to the extent of the intrusion (Molinari and Cochrane, 1972). However, the manner in which the two currents affect each other with regards to position is as yet unclear. The Loop Current draws its waters from the Yucatan Current, which is ultimately fed by the Caribbean Current, Guiana Current and North Equatorial Current. This provides a vital link between North Atlantic and South Atlantic waters. However, analysis of 12 years of data indicated no significant correlation between monthly Loop Current position and Florida Current transport (Maul and Vukovich, 1993). Although the frequencies of ring separation vary, Sturges (1992) also was unable to correlate ring separation and changes in transport of the Florida Current. The annual fluctuations in Loop Current flow are apparently due to wind forcing (Sturges and Evans, 1983).





That makes since
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2218
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Yes, I noticed that too. Can't say why it won't behave for you. Maybe try signing out, delete history, cache, and cookies, restart browser, sign back in.



I'll do all of that. Thanks, again..your're a nice guy....you could be Grothars son !
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The GOM Loop Current
Joanna Gyory, Arthur J. Mariano, Edward H. Ryan


The clockwise flow that extends northward into the Gulf of Mexico and joins the Yucatan Current and the Florida Current is known as the Loop Current (Hofmann and Worley, 1986). Historically, average transport values for these three currents have been around 30 Sv (e.g. Morrison and Nowlin, 1977; Nowlin and McClellan, 1967; Schmitze and Richardson, 1968). Although recent measurements (Sheinbaum et al. 2002) contend that the mean transport is 24 Sv. Near-surface velocities approach 80 cm s-1 in the Yucatan Current (Coats, 1992) and have been reported as high as 150 cm s-1 (at 300 m) (Nowlin and McLellan, 1967). Additionally, the Yucatan and Florida current have been shown to be within 10% of each other's volume at any given time (Molinari and Morrison, 1988). Thus, variability in both the Loop and Yucatan currents would be expected to have a strong impact on the Florida Current as well.

The Loop Current is variable in position. At one extreme, it has an almost direct path to the Florida Current, causing the shear in the flow to set up a quasi-permanent clockwise recirculation known as the Cuban Vortex. This feature may help initiate Loop Current expansion. (Coats, 1992; Nowlin and McLellan, 1967; Cochrane, 1972; Hoffmann and Worley, 1986). At the other extreme, the Loop Current intrudes into the Gulf of Mexico, forming an intense clockwise flow as far north as 29.1N. Occasionally this loop will reach as high as the Mississippi river delta or the Florida continental shelf (Wiseman and Dinnel, 1988; Molinari and Mayer, 1982; Huh et al., 1981; Vukovich et al., 1979). It was this large loop phase of the current from which Nowlin and McClellan (1967) derived the name Loop Current. The Loop Current returns to its direct configuration by slowly pinching off its extension to form a large, warm-core ring that then propagates westward at speeds of 2-5 km day-1 (Coats, 1992; Elliott, 1982; Shay et al., 1998). The 900 km (Auer, 1987) expanse of Loop Current position is reminiscent of the variability in position at the Gulf Stream Extension region.

Early accounts attempted to identify a spring seasonal signal in the Loop current intrusion (Leipper, 1970; Behringer et al, 1977; Nowlin and Hubertz, 1972; Maul, 1977). However, although the intrusion may tend to form more frequently in the spring, it can occur in any season and has periods varying from 6-17 months (Molinari, 1980). Changes in the Yucatan current position have been correlated with Loop Current position, allowing it to serve as index to the extent of the intrusion (Molinari and Cochrane, 1972). However, the manner in which the two currents affect each other with regards to position is as yet unclear. The Loop Current draws its waters from the Yucatan Current, which is ultimately fed by the Caribbean Current, Guiana Current and North Equatorial Current. This provides a vital link between North Atlantic and South Atlantic waters. However, analysis of 12 years of data indicated no significant correlation between monthly Loop Current position and Florida Current transport (Maul and Vukovich, 1993). Although the frequencies of ring separation vary, Sturges (1992) also was unable to correlate ring separation and changes in transport of the Florida Current. The annual fluctuations in Loop Current flow are apparently due to wind forcing (Sturges and Evans, 1983).



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129090
Quoting Ossqss:


Humm, not sure how they handle complaints here?

Might be a conflict with the mouse maybe ?




Cruel, but funny! You humor is almost as twisted as mine.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
did ya see when I said only the blogs that have quotes are shortened...cut-off...may be just a glitch to be worked out..


Yes, I noticed that too. Can't say why it won't behave for you. Maybe try signing out, delete history, cache, and cookies, restart browser, sign back in.

Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting Grothar:


What, are you getting psychic now?? LOL I think we are all getting slap-happy. Now, was it the first question that wasn't asked or the 2nd question???


LOLOL...I know....dittzy here......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


So here's the map for the US east coast, and there are real anomalies starting just off the NEngland coast. The actual GoM seems about normal or slightly cooler than average, so something else has to be impacting the SSTs in that area.

Any guesses?

And if such anomalies persist, it does mean that any storms that make it that far north have more fuel to help them keep their tropical characteristics.... IIRC
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Night All...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
I must have been reading ur mind, since I went ahead and posted a reply to the qtn u hadn't asked me.... lol


What, are you getting psychic now?? LOL I think we are all getting slap-happy. Now, was it the first question that wasn't asked or the 2nd question???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


It does, except when there are some animated maps.


Those animated maps are what I LOVE. Gotta have'em
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
I gotta tellya... the new webside is loading much, MUCH faster.....


It does, except when there are some animated maps.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:
Eyes - have you been refreshing after you make the changes?

Gro - you're right, at least for this blog. But for the Revision blog, it has to be on. That blog isn't a good test though - there's nothing on it that would stretch it. Maybe some weird code.

See Support link at bottom of page.

Taz - no. lol


Yes....have tried all ways, deleting, re-entering, refreshing...did ya see when I said only the blogs that have quotes are shortened...cut-off...may be just a glitch to be worked out..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I gotta tellya... the new webside is loading much, MUCH faster.....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Looking at the current sea surface temps as warm as they are in the east Atlantic i bet we get some early season tropical activity this year. I also wander whats with that little strip of warmer waters in the Gulf of Mexico? Wander whats causing that?
Member Since: September 8, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2218
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Totally gone...deleted....not there...;}
And the right side is still cutting off???

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Quoting Grothar:
Is there a place we can send the problems we are having with this new site.

1. The gray band on top with the printing is too
light. Can't see mail lit up. Missed a bunch.

2. Can not easily navigate back from mail page to
blog.

3. When you make an entry, the box is too big and
you have to scroll down to hit SEND.

4. Also, I enjoy complaining.




I keep mail in a separate tab, and refresh it occasionally.

Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting Grothar:
Is there a place we can send the problems we are having with this new site.

1. The gray band on top with the printing is too
light. Can't see mail lit up. Missed a bunch.

2. Can not easily navigate back from mail page to
blog.

3. When you make an entry, the box is too big and
you have to scroll down to hit SEND.

4. Also, I enjoy complaining.




Humm, not sure how they handle complaints here?

Might be a conflict with the mouse maybe ?

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting BahaHurican:
Yah, I noticed that too.... lol.

Was being a bit facetious with that comment.... :o)

Did u take wunderground out of ur Compatibility View Settings list? Otherwise every time u refresh it puts the setting back again.... I think.


Totally gone...deleted....not there...;}
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Whoops...wrong person...lol sorry
I must have been reading ur mind, since I went ahead and posted a reply to the qtn u hadn't asked me.... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Eyes - have you been refreshing after you make the changes?

Gro - you're right, at least for this blog. But for the Revision blog, it has to be on. That blog isn't a good test though - there's nothing on it that would stretch it. Maybe some weird code.

See Support link at bottom of page.

Taz - no. lol
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


But he didn't say he was having problems...
Yah, I noticed that too.... lol.

Was being a bit facetious with that comment.... :o)

Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey DAM....it's me again..I have been following instructions about compatibily veiw (have had that on forever), even lowered my IE security setting to medium...nothing changes the cut-off. I will tell you, only the post that contain quotes are being cut off....if that helps...Thanks, you're appreciated :)
Did u take wunderground out of ur Compatibility View Settings list? Otherwise every time u refresh it puts the setting back again.... I think.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Whoops...wrong person...lol sorry
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
That area at 40N is the Gulf Stream, isn't it? It looks much warmer than usual along the western part. I'm going to look at the anomalies map for the US east coast area in a minute.


Well..Com. View is there, justed not clickable...dont know correct term...silenced?..lightened?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:



oh? what do you mean?
That area at 40N is the Gulf Stream, isn't it? It looks much warmer than usual along the western part. I'm going to look at the anomalies map for the US east coast area in a minute.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hello Grothar, You might be on to something there....I click on tools, the drop down has only the Compatibility View Settings available...


That is all that is there????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Make sure Compatability View is clicked OFF.


Hello Grothar, You might be on to something there....I click on tools, the drop down has only the Compatibility View Settings available...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:


You might enjoy this site for some interesting optics and explanations. It is really a pretty good informative site on atmospheric optics :)


http://www.atoptics.co.uk/





Nice site!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Is there a place we can send the problems we are having with this new site.

1. The gray band on top with the printing is too
light. Can't see mail lit up. Missed a bunch.

2. Can not easily navigate back from mail page to
blog.

3. When you make an entry, the box is too big and
you have to scroll down to hit SEND.

4. Also, I enjoy complaining.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:


You might enjoy this site for some interesting optics and explanations. It is really a pretty good informative site on atmospheric optics :)


http://www.atoptics.co.uk/





Thank You so much...you can bet, I will enjoy them. I'm a very visual person, too bad the ole eyes are not as good.:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey DAM....it's me again..I have been following instructions about compatibily veiw (have had that on forever), even lowered my IE security setting to medium...nothing changes the cut-off. I will tell you, only the post that contain quotes are being cut off....if that helps...Thanks, you're appreciated :)


Make sure Compatability View is clicked OFF.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


WOW...what a spectacular sight!


You might enjoy this site for some interesting optics and explanations. It is really a pretty good informative site on atmospheric optics :)


http://www.atoptics.co.uk/



Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting Tazmanian:
is DAM a bad word lol?


Now Taz you know I don't use bad words...lol..Just been asking for help from DontAnnoyMe :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
is DAM a bad word lol?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Which browser?


Hey DAM....it's me again..I have been following instructions about compatibily veiw (have had that on forever), even lowered my IE security setting to medium...nothing changes the cut-off. I will tell you, only the post that contain quotes are being cut off....if that helps...Thanks, you're appreciated :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Aha.... so I'm very surprised 2 believe u r having problems in Firefox, given comments I've seen on here... lol



But he didn't say he was having problems...
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Introducing Compatibility View
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting BahaHurican:
Also note the anomalies along 40N.....



oh? what do you mean?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Aha.... so I'm very surprised 2 believe u r having problems in Firefox, given comments I've seen on here... lol

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22563
Quoting flsky:
Actually, I use Firefox


No option for that in FF, it doesn't need it.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.