Wettest year on record in Philadelphia; 2011 sets record for wet/dry extremes in U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:00 PM GMT on December 12, 2011

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This year is now the wettest year in nearly 200 years of record keeping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A large, wet low pressure system soaked the Northeast U.S. on Wednesday and early Thursday, bringing 2.31 inches of rain to the City of Brotherly Love, bringing this year's precipitation total in Philly to 62.26 inches. This breaks the old yearly precipitation record of 61.20 inches, set in 1867. In a normal year, Philadelphia receives about 40 inches. According to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt, this is one of the most difficult U.S. city records to break, since rainfall records in Philadelphia go back to 1820. The only other sites with a longer continuous precipitation record in the U.S. are Charleston, SC (1738 -) and New Bedford, MA (1816 -).


Figure 1. Departure of precipitation from average for 2011, as of December 6, 2011. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.

20+ inches above average precipitation in Ohio Valley, Northeast
Philadelphia is not alone in setting a wettest year in recorded history mark in 2011. Over a dozen major cities in the Ohio Valley and Northeast have set a new wettest year record, or are close to doing so. Thanks to rains associated with this year's tremendous tornado outbreaks in April in May, plus exceptionally heavy summer thunderstorm rains, combined with rains from Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene, portions of at least twelve states have seen rains more than twenty inches above average during 2011.



The fraction of the country covered by extremely wet conditions (top 10% historically) was 32% during the period January through November, ranking as the 2nd highest such coverage in the past 100 years. And if you weren't washing away in a flood, you were baking in a drought in 2011--portions of sixteen states had precipitation more than twenty inches below average (Figure 1.) The fraction of the country covered by extremely dry conditions (top 10% historically) was 22% during the period January through November, ranking as the 8th highest in the past 100 years. The combined fraction of the country experiencing either severe drought or extremely wet conditions was 56% averaged over the January - November period--the highest in a century of record keeping. Climate change science predicts that if the Earth continues to warm as expected, wet areas will tend to get wetter, and dry areas will tend to get drier--so this year's side-by-side extremes of very wet and very dry conditions should grow increasingly common in the coming decades.


Figure 2. Percentage of the contiguous U.S. either in severe or greater drought (top 10% dryness) or extremely wet (top 10% wetness) during the period January - November, as computed using NOAA's Climate Extremes Index. Remarkably, more than half of the country (56%) experienced either a top-ten driest or top-ten wettest year, a new record. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Unofficial state yearly precipitation record set in Ohio
The Wilmington, Ohio NWS office announced last week that three stations in Southwest Ohio had unofficially broken the 140-year old state yearly precipitation record. Cheviot, Miamitown, and Fernbank have recorded 73.81", 71.89", and 70.85", respectively so far in 2011, beating the old record of 70.82" set at Little Mountain in 1870. According to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the old record should be 72.08” at Mt. Healthy, Ohio in 1880.

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt summarizes the global weather extremes in November in his latest post.

Jeff Masters

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74. MTWX
This made me giggle a little

... Dense fog advisory in effect from midnight tonight to 11 am
CST Tuesday...

The National Weather Service in Jackson has issued a dense fog
advisory... which is in effect from midnight tonight to 11 am CST
Tuesday.

Fog is expected to develop later this evening with dense fog forming
after midnight and during the overnight hours while lingering into
mid morning Tuesday.

* Visibility: frequently one quarter mile or less.

* Impacts: reduced visibilities will create hazardous driving
conditions through the overnight and early morning hours.


Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A dense fog advisory means visibilities will frequently be reduced to
less than one quarter mile. If driving... slow down... use your
headlights... and leave plenty of distance ahead of you.


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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Speaking of extremes, and it was hard to find this among all the other flooding storms of late, but remember this one?


U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Floods in Southeast Texas,
October 1994

Rainfall in southeast Texas, which
ranged in amounts from about 8 to more
than 28 inches during October 15–19,
1994, caused severe flooding in parts of a
38-county area. A combination of meteorological
events—residual atmospheric
moisture over southern Texas associated
with Hurricane Rosa from the Pacific
Coast of Mexico and low-level moisture
from the Gulf of Mexico drawn inland to
a warm front by a strong low-pressure
system over the southern Rocky Mountains—
spawned vigorous thunderstorms
that produced rainfall amounts that may
exceed records for the area.

Flooding was most severe in the San
Jacinto River Basin along the West and
East Forks of the San Jacinto River and
along Spring Creek; in the Trinity River
Basin near Lake Livingston and along
several tributaries to the lake; and in the
Lavaca River Basin. Flooding was also
severe in several coastal basins, notably
Cedar and Pine Island Bayous. Many of
the resulting peak stages (maximum
water-surface elevation above a datum)
and streamflows exceeded all observed
historical values.


I remember that one very well! I had 7 feet of water in my house from Clear Creek in Friendswood (30 minutes south of Houston). It was quite an event!
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Quoting KoritheMan:
62: How old are you now?

13
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LMAO, Florida can't get a winter over there, how does it feel burning up? no hurricane strikes in years, now no winter
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62: How old are you now?
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Quoting Articuno:
Having an awesome birthday today! :DDD

:D
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Dang...Can't even get down to the 50's in West Palm Beach...

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64. N3EG
Quoting Neapolitan:

More than likely, yes. Though that would be a hugely false equivalence, of course. It would be like claiming that while the Green Bay Packers are 13-0, the Indianapolis Colts are 0-13, so the average standing between them is thus 6.5-6.5, meaning there's no difference between the two teams. Though that won't stop "skeptics" from trying...


Proof positive that global warming is affecting football!
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Having an awesome birthday today! :DDD
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Rain continues to pour into E C FL. Daytona Beach international over 3" to Melbourne International with over 2.5" and Jensen Beach with near 8". December average is only 2.4". Lots of deep low level moisture over FL causing big rainfall totals.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
If it was hurricane season I'd think something was spinning up down near Panama
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Lots of clouds, mid level soup deck all over the south
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Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11
TROPICAL DEPRESSION 24
3:00 AM JST December 13 2011
===============================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In South China Sea

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 9.6N 112.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west slowly

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
=======================

24 HRS: 8.9N 110.4E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
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Quoting Neapolitan:

But Dr. Masters is "...simply reporting the weather and records"; it's not his fault if some choose to ignore that reporting.

At any rate, that's an interesting map. The first thing that occurs to the viewer is that only a very small percentage of the coverage area has seen normal YTD precipitation. The second thing that one notices is that a vast portion of the map has seen YTD precip amounts 75% or less of normal, while other areas have seen YTD amounts at least 125% of normal, and in some cases far more. And perhaps most tellingly, the third thing that stands out is the non-random nature of the anomalies: most of the Southwest, the Southeast, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the West Coast have been dry to very dry, while the Ohio River Valley, the Northeast, and the Northern Great Plains have been wet to very wet. And that non-randomness is a sure sign of a greater pattern change, not just a localized and/or seasonal fluke.



Something else that may be worth noting is that semidesert regions that receive 50% of their normal rainfall will be pushed towards becoming desert lands themselves. This would push their surrounding areas into becoming more semidesert, in the nature of their climate. History has taught us, in the U.S., that we do not fair well in desert conditions.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4838
Quoting SPLbeater:


yeah, that last storm was wicked. this one might rival it(maybe)


This one probably won't be as bad, though I expect it will build to a little stronger than forecast (going by the wicked satellite presentation). The storm on thu-fri might be a whopper though.
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Quoting FFtrombi:


Sure, I was just going by Link for the developing hurricane gusts.

Last weeks storm had a recorded gust of 165mph on top of the scottish mountains at cairngorm, only 8mph from the all time strongest gust recorded in the UK. That's serious wind by any measure ;)

(80-100mph gusts at sea level as well)


yeah, that last storm was wicked. this one might rival it(maybe)
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting SPLbeater:


according to Christopher Burt's blog, a few back, you must have 96mph gusts to be clasified as 'hurricane force gust'. im not proving you right or wrong because you gave no number to the gusts reported, so here is the blog if you aint seen it:D here-



Link to it


Sure, I was just going by Link for the developing hurricane gusts.

Last weeks storm had a recorded gust of 165mph on top of the scottish mountains at cairngorm, only 8mph from the all time strongest gust recorded in the UK. That's serious wind by any measure ;)

(80-100mph gusts at sea level as well)
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Quoting Patrap:
Is it best to always "Cloud Seed" on the Spring Equinox as well?

TIA.


George Noory says anytime is a good time to cloud seed
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Quoting FFtrombi:
Mean looking storm developing in the atlantic by scotland, check out sat24.com. Surface map shows it down to 962mb already and developing hurricane force gusts, and another storm at the same intensity for the weekend! Pretty wild weather, even by UK standards..


according to Christopher Burt's blog, a few back, you must have 96mph gusts to be clasified as 'hurricane force gust'. im not proving you right or wrong because you gave no number to the gusts reported, so here is the blog if you aint seen it:D here-



Link to it
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Is it best to always "Cloud Seed" on the Spring Equinox as well?

TIA.
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Quoting MySecondHandle:
Good point.

But, that version of the plot doesn't really seem to shout "extreme". More "persistent pattern", which doesn't well agree with the underlying theme (beyond that of simply reporting the weather and records).


But Dr. Masters is "...simply reporting the weather and records"; it's not his fault if some choose to ignore that reporting.

At any rate, that's an interesting map. The first thing that occurs to the viewer is that only a very small percentage of the coverage area has seen normal YTD precipitation. The second thing that one notices is that a vast portion of the map has seen YTD precip amounts 75% or less of normal, while other areas have seen YTD amounts at least 125% of normal, and in some cases far more. And perhaps most tellingly, the third thing that stands out is the non-random nature of the anomalies: most of the Southwest, the Southeast, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the West Coast have been dry to very dry, while the Ohio River Valley, the Northeast, and the Northern Great Plains have been wet to very wet. And that non-randomness is a sure sign of a greater pattern change, not just a localized and/or seasonal fluke.

Uh-oh
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
The precip map proves that cloud seeding in the Sierras and Rockies are not working and, in fact, may be having detrimental effects and should be discontinued. For those of you not familiar with this subject, there are over a million weather modification attempts with silver iodide worldwide each year. See "silver iodide" on Wikipedia. Here's a quote "Approximately 50,000 kg/year are used for this purpose, each seeding experiment consuming 10-50 grams."
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Mean looking storm developing in the atlantic by scotland, check out sat24.com. Surface map shows it down to 962mb already and developing hurricane force gusts, and another storm at the same intensity for the weekend! Pretty wild weather, even by UK standards..
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The Singularity.....
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Quoting Patrap:
“We are now very, very close to the attractor….”

Terence McKenna

We are coming close to a tremendous transformation,

and we are going to see it in our own lives,

something so rare and unique which has never happened before,

and will never happen again.
TM is the most well-informed man I've ever heard speak. He and I acquire our information from the same source ;)
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Quoting kinase1:
This is a great example of something that should be yet another warning of the dangers of global warming. On the other hand, if you take the decreased rainfall from drought areas, and combine it with the increased rainfall in the wet areas, you could say that the average precipitation for the entire US was fairly normal, and I expect that's what some will do.



If the Ohio valley had been dry and Texas had been wet, it would be blamed on AGW as well.

Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 768
44. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting lubadoob:
Hi Jeff,

Good map, but perhaps a second map of precipitation excesses and droughts should be included: one showing the PERCENTAGE departures from average precipitation. I say this because many parts of the southwest NEVER get 20 inches of precipitation a year, and so, can't receive 20 inches less than normal. For many locations, five inches below average are extreme drought conditions.


True. A third image would have made the post too image-heavy, though.

Jeff
Quoting lubadoob:
Hi Jeff,

Good map, but perhaps a second map of precipitation excesses and droughts should be included: one showing the PERCENTAGE departures from average precipitation. I say this because many parts of the southwest NEVER get 20 inches of precipitation a year, and so, can't receive 20 inches less than normal. For many locations, five inches below average are extreme drought conditions.
Good point.

But, that version of the plot doesn't really seem to shout "extreme". More "persistent pattern", which doesn't well agree with the underlying theme (beyond that of simply reporting the weather and records).

Member Since: February 16, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 12
I live outside of Philly, and boy did we get spanked all year. It's hard to imagine that we got almost 65 inches of precipitation, but I believe it. Earlier in the summer we got a small band of rain, with crazy wind. Outside Philly, in 45 minutes we got 1.50 inches of rain and gusts over 60 mph. That was probably the worst storm,, besides Irene. Can't wait to get away from the rain and go to OBX the week of Christmas!!! Hopefully the weather is better :).
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“We are now very, very close to the attractor….”

Terence McKenna

We are coming close to a tremendous transformation,

and we are going to see it in our own lives,

something so rare and unique which has never happened before,

and will never happen again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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NAO may be making a move towards negative, albeit slowly..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24195
OK...This is definitely weather related: I just found out I DO NOT have to go to Cleveland for business Thursday thru Sunday....and I simply couldn't be happier about it...Thanks for letting me shre...
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Yeah your right as I just went back and looked at Newark's total. Also according to the models a lot more will be on the way for the NE US. Heck the way were going the NE US may have a snow less winter.
This will be a strange winter.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24195
Go ohio go ohio woot woot woot!
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Hi Jeff,

Good map, but perhaps a second map of precipitation excesses and droughts should be included: one showing the PERCENTAGE departures from average precipitation. I say this because many parts of the southwest NEVER get 20 inches of precipitation a year, and so, can't receive 20 inches less than normal. For many locations, five inches below average are extreme drought conditions.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
EU economics: Bank collapse rumors keep growing....

Latvia%u2019s largest bank fights off depositor run after rumors of imminent collapse
Posted on December 12, 2011
December 12, 2011 %u2013 LATVIA %u2013 Latvia%u2019s largest bank scrambled Monday to head off a run among depositors who were gripped by rumors of the bank%u2019s imminent ruin. Weekend rumors that Swedbank was facing legal and liquidity problems in Estonia and Sweden sent thousands of Latvians to bank machines on Sunday, with some lines reaching as many as 50 people. Latvians are particularly sensitive to speculation about banks%u2019 health.



Link


Apparently that's not the only one - reports that Commerzbank in Germany is in trouble (may need propping up). World and economy has gone crazy.

Quoting RitaEvac:
I forsee major hurricane/tropical activity to pick up along the Gulf coast. Nature's way of making up for the lack of rain that is plaguing the region. In fact I expect numbers to be above AVERAGE for rainfall at some point in the future.



Wasn't the fifties quite dry? That didn't have loads of hurricane activity in the Gulf (Audrey was the main one, rest was off the East Coast and Caribbean).
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Quoting Patrap:
There are now 374 Giorni Days until the 2012 Winter Solstice.

Enjoy your Monday.


George Noory (my source for all science worth knowing) is covering this in depth
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There are now 374 Giorni Days until the 2012 Winter Solstice.

Enjoy your Monday.
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Panama area keeps under lots of precipitaion....


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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Yeah your right as I just went back and looked at Newark's total. Also according to the models a lot more will be on the way for the NE US. Heck the way were going the NE US may have a snow less winter.

StormTracker2k, I live in Zephyrhills FL and i have had 62.58 inches so far this year. Been dry the last 2 months .24 in oct and .33 in nov.and .006 so far this month.
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And, since the previous records would also be classified as extreme, something we did simply must have caused those, too.

Wiki:
1878: The electric light bulb was first patented in England by 1878 by Joseph Swan after having experimented since about 1850. Thomas Edison in the U.S. was working on improving the bulb patented by Swan and was granted a U.S. patent in 1879.

Ahh, that explains it perfectly. The light bulb did it.
Member Since: February 16, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 12
962mb 12UTC
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
why is it i al always, ALWAYS the last person here!? geez, lol. maybe i am slow with the keyboard, idk xD
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
Quoting hydrus:
Great post, but I dont see your point. That Fort Myers had almost as much rain as Newark?


Yeah your right as I just went back and looked at Newark's total. Also according to the models a lot more will be on the way for the NE US. Heck the way were going the NE US may have a snow less winter.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651

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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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