Early 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecasts

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:22 AM GMT on April 07, 2011

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Hi everybody, this is Dr. Rob Carver filling in for Dr. Masters. 

A continuation of the pattern of much above-average Atlantic hurricane activity we've seen since 1995 is on tap for 2011, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued April 6 by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). They are calling for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The new forecast is nearly identical to their forecast made in December, which called for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. Only six seasons since 1851 have had as many as 17 named storms; 19 seasons have had 9 or more hurricanes. The 2011 forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (48% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (47% chance, 30% chance is average). The Caribbean is forecast to have a 61% chance of seeing at least one major hurricane (42% is average.) Five years with similar pre-season November atmospheric and oceanic conditions were selected as "analogue" years that the 2011 hurricane season may resemble: 2008, 1999, 1996, 1955, and 2006.  The first four years listed all had neutral to La Niña SST's during hurricane season, while 2006 had El Niño SST's.  The average activity for these years was 12.6 named storms, 7.8 hurricanes, and 4.8 major hurricanes.

This year, the forecasters have introduced a new statistical model for their  April forecasts.  There are four components in this model:

1. Average sea-level pressure in March around the Azores in the subtropical Atlantic.

2. The average of January through March sea-surface temperatures (SST's) in the tropical Atlantic off the coast of Africa.

3. Average sea-level pressure in February and March for the southern tropical Pacific ocean west of South America.

4. Forecasts of September's SST in the tropical Pacific using a dynamical model from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) 

The first two components are loosely linked together.  Statistical studies have shown that a weaker subtropical high near the Azores, combined with warmer SST's off the coast of Africa in March are associated with weak winds near the surface and aloft from August to October.  This decrease in wind speeds reduces wind shear which can disrupt forming storms.  These March conditions also are associated with warmer SST's in August to October, which is also favorable for more tropical storms.   For this forecast, the first component is strongly favorable for increased hurricane activity, while the second component is weakly negative.

The last two components represent the changes in sea-surface temperature and sea-level pressure that are the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  Briefly speaking,  El Niño conditions (warm sea-surface temperatures) are not favorable for Atlantic hurricanes.  For more info on ENSO and hurricanes, Jeff has this article.

Using the ECMWF model as guidance (see Figure 1), the CSU group believes that SST's in the tropical Pacific will be neutral (less than 0.5°C from normal).  This would have a small negative effect on hurricane activity.  However, the tropical Pacific sea-level pressure shows that the atmosphere looks like a La Niña event is still going on.  This is strongly favorable for Atlantic hurricane activity in the CSU group's model.

Figure 1. Forecasts of El Niño conditions by 20 computer models, made in March 2011. The ECMWF forecast used by the CSU group is represented by the dark orange square.  The forecasts for August-September-October (ASO) show that 5 models predict El Niño conditions, 7 predict neutral conditions, and 5 predict a weak to moderate La Niña. El Niño conditions are defined as occurring when sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America ( the "Niño 3.4 region) rise to 0.5°C above average (top red line). La Niña conditions occur when SSTs in this region fall to 0.5°C below average. Image credit: Columbia University.

How accurate are the April forecasts? While the formulas used by CSU do well in making hindcasts--correctly modeling the behavior of past hurricane seasons--their April hurricane season forecasts have had no skill in predicting the future. This year's April forecast is using a new system and has not yet produced a verified forecast.  The scheme used in the past three years successfully predicted active hurricane seasons for 2008 and 2010, but failed to properly predict the relatively quiet 2009 hurricane season. A different formula was used prior to 2008, and the April forecasts using that formula showed no skill over a simple forecast using climatology. CSU maintains an Excel spreadsheet of their forecast errors ( expressed as a mathematical correlation coefficient, where positive means a skilled forecast, and negative means they did worse than climatology) for their their April forecasts. For now, these April forecasts should simply be viewed as an interesting research effort that has the potential to make skillful forecasts. The next CSU forecast, due by June 1, is the one worth paying attention to. Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years.


Figure 2.
Accuracy of long-range forecasts of Atlantic hurricane season activity performed by Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray of Colorado State University (colored squares) and Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (colored lines). The CSU team's April forecast skill is not plotted, but is less than zero. The skill is measured by the Mean Square Skill Score (MSSS), which looks at the error and squares it, then compares the percent improvement the forecast has over a climatological forecast of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. TS=Tropical Storms, H= Hurricanes, IH=Intense Hurricanes, ACE=Accumulated Cyclone Energy, NTC=Net Tropical Cyclone Activity. Image credit: TSR.

2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast from Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.

The  British  private  forecasting  firm  Tropical Storm Risk, Inc.  (TSR),   issued  their  2011  Atlantic hurricane season forecast on April 5. They are also calling for  a  very  active  year: 14. 2 named storms, 7.5 hurricanes, and 3.6 intense hurricanes. We would round that to 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes.   This  compares to their forecast issued in December of 15.6 named storms, 8.4 hurricanes,   and intense hurricanes. TSR predicts a 55%  chance  of  an  above-average  hurricane season, 28% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 17%  chance  of  a  below normal season. TSR bases their April forecast on predictions  that  sea  surface temperatures this fall in the tropical  Atlantic  will  be  above  about  0.08°C above average, and trade  wind  speeds  will  be  about 0.2  m/s  slower  than average.  The decrease in the trade wind speeds is favorable for enhanced hurricane activity, while the forecast SST's are expected to be neutral for hurricane activity.

TSR puts their skill level right next to the forecast numbers: 13% skill above chance at forecasting the number of named storms, 11% skill for hurricanes, and 10% skill for intense hurricanes. That's not much skill, and really, we have to wait until the June 1 forecasts by CSU, NOAA, and TSR to get a forecast with reasonable skill.

Rob's critiques of the April forecasts
I have to note that Jeff and I wrote this article together.  He wrote the general framework before the forecasts were issued, while I wrote the details based on the actual forecasts.  So the preceding text is a joint production.  However, I have a few observations to make that are my responsibility alone.

First, I am disappointed that the CSU group has changed forecast models only after three seasonal forecasts.  This makes it very difficult to assess the skill of the current forecast using past performance.  This is very important for forecast users, and they do it everyday.  For example, I tend to discount a forecast of rain if it comes from a source that over-forecasts rain (The boy who cried wolf problem).

In the documentation that came with the April forecast, the CSU group argue that the hindcasts show the new forecast model has skill.  However, I think hindcasts are a poor substitute for real forecasts in understanding the skill of a statistical forecast model, like that of the CSU's group.  As Jeff noted, the previous forecast model did well with the hindcasts and yet had mixed results with the actual forecasts.  This does not give me confidence that the new forecast model will be superior to the previous model.

From a philosophical viewpoint, I am inherently cautious about statistical forecast models like the one used by the CSU group.  Essentially, they look at what happened in the past and use that to predict the future.  However, for making forecasts, we assume that the relationships in space and time between the predictors (such as the average March sea-level pressure around the Azores) and the predictands (Atlantic hurricane activity) does not change as we move forward in time.  In a world with climate change, that's a tricky assumption to make.

In any event, it is customary in the meteorological community to continue running older forecast guidance models after the introduction of newer models.  This allows forecasters and forecast users to leverage their knowledge of the forecast skill of the older model and gain insight into the forecast skill of the new model.  The CSU group really should have included the forecast from the previous statistical forecast system in this forecast.     

I am uneasy with some of the methodology choices made in implementing the forecast model.  Data for the first three predictors was obtained from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), NOAA's newest and most advanced reanalysis product.  However, CFSR data for 2010 and 2011 has not been released yet, so the CSU group used NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis (NNR), NOAA's first-generation reanalysis, to fill in the gaps.  Due to differences in design, resolution, etc., CFSR and NNR can have different depictions of the state of the atmosphere.  So using NNR's March 2011 average SLP instead of CFSR's could alter the forecast in unexpected ways.  It would be interesting to see how CFSR's 2010-2011 data changes the results. 

In any event, we will have to wait and see what the Atlantic hurricane season of 2011 brings.

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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1633. Levi32
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Levi...the term "spitting out" is really befitting here..lol....BTW, it's good to see ya on the blog and hope to learn even more from you this season :)


Thanks :) I'm always happy to be here.
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Quoting SeALWx:

Nice straw man you built there. I didn't make a stance on AGW, but brought up the temp record and paleoclimatology issues. Neither of which you decided to mention or talk about. Try again...or not, its your choice.
paleoclimatic issues are paleoclimatic issues.

I'm trying to make the point that currently we are warming. You paleoclimatic problems have nothing to do with that, and do nothing to prove we aren't warming.
Quoting TampaSpin:


YOU MIGHT WANNA check on your account of the melting of the Antarctic melting.........most sources say its growing. Just another example of ........well you know!

Calm yourself Tampa, believe me, I've checked. The antarctic hasn't shown much in the way of decreasing sea ice levels, nor in the way of increasing sea ice levels.

Here's a graph regarding antarctic sea ice level anomalies


Notice, not all climate related graphs show warming or vicious hockey stick patterns you are all afraid of.

Another thing to note, presently, antarctic sea ice levels are below average and have been going down for the last year, so don't get so excited.
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Quoting Levi32:
Cool that the eastern Pacific is already spitting out tropical low pressure systems.



Levi...the term "spitting out" is really befitting here..lol....BTW, it's good to see ya on the blog and hope to learn even more from you this season :)
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Quoting Levi32:
Cool that the eastern Pacific is already spitting out tropical low pressure systems.


That low over Hawaii, has been bringing rain to the area for the last 3 days...

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1629. Levi32
Cool that the eastern Pacific is already spitting out tropical low pressure systems.

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1628. flsky
Pontification gets tiring....
Quoting Neapolitan:

Do you have solid evidence to back your assertion that "a good many regulars left because of the tone" of the blog? I hear that thrown about here from time to time, but never with any backing. The reason I ask: I've been an internet user since the 80s, and in that time I've taken part in dozens and dozens of forums. It's my experience that there are as many reasons for people abandoning any particular one of them as there are people, period--and it very rarely has anything to do with a change of tone.
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1626. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting eddy12:
do you watch the leafs
only when they play golf
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Well, I have to tell ya....I'm totally "worn out" from chasing(online) with the StormChasers today....but I enjoyed every mile....who knows, I may just start a "geriatric chase team "...anyone want to join me?
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1624. SeALWx
Quoting TomTaylor:
im guessing sea ice levels are biased too. Ocean acidity too. Satellite measurements too. Glaciers, migration patterns, etc, they're all biased.

Go conduct the science yourself then. All scientific evidence points in one direction on the topic of global temperatures. and you have zero evidence that all his evidence is biased. None.

As for humans impact, the extent at which we effect the climate is debatable, but the question of if we effect it is not.

Nice straw man you built there. I didn't make a stance on AGW, but brought up the temp record and paleoclimatology issues. Neither of which you decided to mention or talk about. Try again...or not, its your choice.
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1623. Ossqss
Quoting SeALWx:



Trust us Nea. People have left, the tone is different, the science is watered down.
I also don't know if AGW is true or not, but I have seen much evidence that the keepers of the temp record are BIASED and that the paleoclimatology evidence has been rigged to fit a preconceived notion of the 'truth'. You are very full of yourself and your regurgitated ideas. You are quite a grating personality here at WU, not to mention quite a one-trick-pony in your discussion style, since we are spitting out opinions tonight.


Remember the Hockey Shtick?

The Yamal implosion

Science needs to be sound..... period!

Just sayin, the words don't disappear, nor does the inflection of such words......

Be glad we have that of which helps us clear the vision sometimes..........

The pre-Climategate issue that is the issue

out>>>

Yamal

Think about it ~~~~

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomTaylor:
im guessing sea ice levels are biased too. Ocean acidity too. Satellite measurements too. Glaciers, migration patterns, etc, they're all biased.

Go conduct the science yourself then. All scientific evidence points in one direction on the topic of global temperatures. and you have zero evidence that all his evidence is biased. None.

As for humans impact, the extent at which we effect the climate is debatable, but the question of if we effect it is not.


YOU MIGHT WANNA check on your account of the melting of the Antarctic melting.........most sources say its growing. Just another example of ........well you know!
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Quoting SeALWx:



Trust us Nea. People have left, the tone is different, the science is watered down.




Wow, have people left this blog.....hum... is not totally accurate. Many have left but, many just don't comment anymore that was large contributors of this blog. There are just a few on here that are total Smart Asses that love to just challenge a fight it seems. Most know those i talk of. You can read above and back some to figure one out...........JUST SAYN the truth.
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Quoting SeALWx:



Trust us Nea. People have left, the tone is different, the science is watered down.
I also don't know if AGW is true or not, but I have seen much evidence that the keepers of the temp record are BIASED and that the paleoclimatology evidence has been rigged to fit a preconceived notion of the 'truth'. You are very full of yourself and your regurgitated ideas. You are quite a grating personality here at WU, not to mention quite a one-trick-pony in your discussion style, since we are spitting out opinions tonight.
im guessing sea ice levels are biased too. Ocean acidity too. Satellite measurements too. Glaciers, migration patterns, etc, they're all biased.

Go conduct the science yourself then. All scientific evidence points in one direction on the topic of global temperatures. and you have zero evidence that all his evidence is biased. None.

As for humans impact, the extent at which we effect the climate is debatable, but the question of if we effect it is not.
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1617. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting eddy12:
well that does make sense your only as smart as your internet rofl
i live in the eastern suburbs of toronto
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting InconceivableF6:

Is Sunline that enormous boat outlet company in Puerto Rico?


SunlinePR was a students project in high school, to synchronize the taking of sunset digital photos in diferent spots latitudes, (North to south) but at the same longitude (Western coast) and compare the results to see if the photos were alike.... They tried to explain what variable made the photos look diferent...
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1612. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting InconceivableF6:

I just checked myself and it's actually supposed to rather seasonal at best. And snowpack, are you kidding? Maybe in KOTG's neighborhood, but not up by you. At least that's what I'm seeing.
no snow here been no snow for a couple of weeks now and its getting warm maybe a cool down after the 20th for a couple of days maybe see some flurries but snow naw thats done till next winter
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
More than half of North Dakota has at least 2" of snow cover, with up to 16" in some areas. Roughly one-third of Minnesota (all in the north) still has 2 or more inches of snow cover. Nearly 3/4 of Montana is still covered in snow. And, of course, the snow is much thicker in parts of southern Canada where many American rivers have their headwaters, and even these areas will be well into the 40s and 50s tomorrow. Again, have a look for yourself: http://water.weather.gov/ahps/

Well, I'm out; I've had enough stunning logic and eloquent writing thrust upon me for one evening. Play nice...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
Quoting Baybuddy:

A good many of the regulars left because of the tone of this blog. I have my doubts concerning AGW, mainly the method by which, and from whom, the data was compiled and have said as much. So that makes me a "flat earther," or a right wing kook.

It was also on this blog, where a guest blogger of Dr. M suggested that Global Warming may have contributed to the collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge the day after the event in 2007 without any data to support such a claim. I believe her words were "global warming has not been ruled out as a contributing factor in the collapse."

If one were to hang a plum-bob from the masthead of this web page, it would come to rest well to the left of center. That is okay by me.

Wunderground is simply a liberal weather site that thinks it is center. I treat it as such.

Dr masters supports Agw, so it would only be logical that the majority of the posters on here would reflect this sentiment.

In any case, would you rather this be a primarily gw denial blog? The earth is obviously warming, all evidence we have indicates it. I don't care if you don't believe scientists, you can find the evidence on your own, just make the trip to the arctic, or Antarctica for yourself. Conduct your own research. Come to realize what thousands of scientists have already realized.

What contribution humans have on this trend is not fully understood. Clearly we have some effect.




Honestly, anyone who can't come to grip with any of these ideas is in flat out denial. I have no idea why you would want a blog where the majority of posters are in denial.
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1609. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting alfabob:
I can't believe that it's 76F at 11pm right now, the average high for July is 82F.. Almost want it to be winter again.



Mine shows 79deg right now at my house
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting alfabob:
Almost want it to be winter again.


:(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Baybuddy:

A good many of the regulars left because of the tone of this blog. I have my doubts concerning AGW, mainly the method by which, and from whom, the data was compiled and have said as much. So that makes me a "flat earther," or a right wing kook.

It was also on this blog, where a guest blogger of Dr. M suggested that Global Warming may have contributed to the collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge the day after the event in 2007 without any data to support such a claim. I believe her words were "global warming has not been ruled out as a contributing factor in the collapse."

If one were to hang a plum-bob from the masthead of this web page, it would come to rest well to the left of center. That is okay by me.

Wunderground is simply a liberal weather site that thinks it is center. I treat it as such.
why would you explain the reason why many bloggers left and then bring up the very topic that caused many bloggers to leave?

I really don't understand that logic.
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1602. Ossqss

Show me the MONEY! :)
Quoting Neapolitan:

You may be surprised to know that the internet is available in all 50 states, and Puerto Rico. ;-)
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Quoting eddy12:
well neo tell me where to look your right don't know what's going on I just live here why don't you go to the nws site out of grand forks nd and look at their information or I could take word for it from florida lol

You may be surprised to know that the internet is available in all 50 states, and Puerto Rico. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1595. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Patrap:
I believe we have had Invests in May the last 3 outta 4 years.

yep and we will get'em again this may and i would watch april could be a surprize invest as we get towards the end and east pacfic should start burping up some rains by then as well
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting Baybuddy:

A good many of the regulars left because of the tone of this blog. I have my doubts concerning AGW, mainly the method by which, and from whom, the data was compiled and have said as much. So that makes me a "flat earther," or a right wing kook.

It was also on this blog, where a guest blogger of Dr. M suggested that Global Warming may have contributed to the collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge the day after the event in 2007 without any data to support such a claim. I believe her words were "global warming has not been ruled out as a contributing factor in the collapse."

If one were to hang a plum-bob from the masthead of this web page, it would come to rest well to the left of center. That is okay by me.

Wunderground is simply a liberal weather site that thinks it is center. I treat it as such.

Do you have solid evidence to back your assertion that "a good many regulars left because of the tone" of the blog? I hear that thrown about here from time to time, but never with any backing. The reason I ask: I've been an internet user since the 80s, and in that time I've taken part in dozens and dozens of forums. It's my experience that there are as many reasons for people abandoning any particular one of them as there are people, period--and it very rarely has anything to do with a change of tone.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555
1592. Ossqss
Quite the interesting item, if ya care.

http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml

BTW, you might want to put this in your back pocket. The alerts, if you want them, can be customized.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
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Anyone watching this storm West of Ft Worth, Tx? Showing a pretty nasty hook echo.
Link

TORNADO WARNING
TXC367-110330-
/O.NEW.KFWD.TO.W.0002.110411T0247Z-110411T0330Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX
947 PM CDT SUN APR 10 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN FORT WORTH HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN PARKER COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS...

* UNTIL 1030 PM CDT

* AT 948 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
DEVELOPING TORNADO 10 MILES SOUTHWEST OF ANNETTA SOUTH...MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
ANNETTA...ANNETTA NORTH...ANNETTA SOUTH AND HUDSON OAKS AROUND 1000
PM CDT...
WILLOW PARK AND ALEDO AROUND 1005 PM CDT...
SANCTUARY AROUND 1020 PM CDT...

THIS WILL IMPACT THE FOLLOWING INTERSTATES...
I-20 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 404 AND 423...
I-30 NEAR MILE MARKER 1.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

MOVE TO AN INTERIOR BATHROOM...CLOSET...OR HALLWAY ON THE LOWEST
FLOOR OF YOUR BUILDING. COVER YOURSELF WITH BLANKETS...PILLOWS...OR A
MATTRESS FOR PROTECTION.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 200 AM CDT MONDAY
MORNING FOR NORTHEASTERN TEXAS.

&&

LAT...LON 3296 9755 3269 9754 3257 9754 3256 9775
3256 9785 3266 9795
TIME...MOT...LOC 0248Z 229DEG 35KT 3262 9778

$$
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1589. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Barefootontherocks:


KOTG,
At that Severe Weather Workshop I went to in March, I chatted with a met from Ontario. She told me most storms up there are low-topped supercells. Maybe not tonight's, though.
:)
true when i first came to ontario back in 83 it was a rare thing to get tornado watches or warnings since the start of 2000 onward they are becoming more common and stronger each time and look it april 10th and we are getting them already ontario's severe weather season normally don't start till after the 15th of may till 15 of sept
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Tornado Weather - 4/10/11 - Crandon, Wisconsin (Forest County)

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Quoting eddy12:
well neo i live in northerm minnesota tomorrow will not be the warmest day so far and as far as snow pack very little left in fact it is 95% gone the rivers in a lot of places have crested already many below forecast tomorrow forecast 52 with up to 25mph winds low 31

I was referring, of course, to the entire multi-state region I mentioned, not just to one single location in Minnesota. According to several official sources, there exists a heavy snowpack across many areas in that northern tier that will see their warmest temps yet tomorrow and into Wednesday. But don't take my word for it. Here, have a look.

Remember, river flooding is kinda like GW: just because you don't see it outside your door at this very minute doesn't mean it's not happening.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13555

A good many of the regulars left because of the tone of this blog. I have my doubts concerning AGW, mainly the method by which, and from whom, the data was compiled and have said as much. So that makes me a "flat earther," or a right wing kook.

It was also on this blog, where a guest blogger of Dr. M suggested that Global Warming may have contributed to the collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge the day after the event in 2007 without any data to support such a claim. I believe her words were "global warming has not been ruled out as a contributing factor in the collapse."

If one were to hang a plum-bob from the masthead of this web page, it would come to rest well to the left of center. That is okay by me.

Wunderground is simply a liberal weather site that thinks it is center. I treat it as such.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Wisconsin.
Lots of other tornado watches, but Wisconsin is clearly busy today.



Reading some of the details...
Dang. Softball hail!
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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.

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