Damaging freeze hits the Midwest U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:46 PM GMT on April 12, 2012

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Large portions of the Midwest U.S. shivered through a hard freeze (temperatures below 28°F ) this morning, and freezing temperatures extended as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. Though the cold temperatures were not unusual for this time of year, they likely caused widespread damage to flowering plants fooled into blooming by last month's unprecedented "Summer in March" heat wave. Growers of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries worked during the night and early morning to minimize the damage by running large fans and propane heaters in their orchards, and some even rented helicopters in an attempts to keep temperatures a few degrees warmer. While freezing temperatures for an extended period will not kill the trees, they will destroy the flowers and fragile buds that are needed to produce fruit later in the year. Temperatures of approximately 28°F will kill about 10% of fruit tree buds and flowers, while temperatures of 25°F will produce a 90% kill rate. Temperatures of 25° were common over Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota this morning, and I expect that this morning's freeze was severe and widespread enough to cause tens of millions of dollars in damage to the fruit industry. There have been numerous freezes and frosts over the Midwest's fruit growing regions since late March, and orchards are definitely taking a major beating from the weather. It will be several weeks before the extent of the damage is known, but I think that so far it is unlikely that the industry has suffered a billion-dollar disaster, such as occurred in 2007. A warm spell in March that year was followed by cold temperatures in early April that were 10 - 20 degrees below average, bringing killing frosts and freezes to the Midwest and South that caused $2.2 billion in agricultural damage, wiping out apple, peach, winter wheat and alfalfa crops.


Figure 1. Temperatures this morning dipped below freezing across most the northeast quarter of the country, extending into Tennessee and North Carolina. Image taken from our wundermap with the new "go back in time" feature turned on.

History of billion-dollar U.S. freezes
Freezes can cause big damage to agriculture. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, there have been six billion-dollar U.S. freezes since 1980, accounting for 5% of all billion-dollar weather-related disasters. Five of these freezes affected California or Florida; one hit the Midwest. Ranked by damages (in 2011 dollars), here are the six billion-dollar U.S. freeze events since 1980:

1) California Freeze of December 1990. Severe freeze in the Central and Southern San Joaquin Valley caused the loss of citrus, avocado trees, and other crops in many areas. Several days of subfreezing temperatures occurred, with some valley locations in the teens. $5.9 billion in direct and indirect economic losses, including damage to public buildings, utilities, crops, and residences.

2) Florida Freeze of December 1983. Severe freeze central/northern Florida; about $4.5 billion damage to citrus industry.

3) California Freeze of December 1998. A severe freeze damaged fruit and vegetable crops in the Central and Southern San Joaquin Valley. Extended intervals of sub 27° F temperatures occurred over an 8-day period; $3.5 billion estimated damages/costs.

4) Florida Freeze of January 1985. Severe freeze in central/northern Florida; about $2.5 billion damage to citrus industry.

5) East/Midwest freeze of April 2007. Widespread severe freeze over much of the East and Midwest (AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MS, MO, NE, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, VA, WV), causing significant losses in fruit crops, field crops (especially wheat), and the ornamental industry. Temperatures in the teens/20's accompanied by rather high winds nullified typical crop-protection systems. Over $2.2 billion in damage/costs.

6) California Freeze of January 2007. For nearly two weeks in January, overnight temperatures over a good portion of California dipped into the 20's, destroying numerous agricultural crops, with citrus, berry, and vegetable crops most affected. $1.5 billion estimated in damage/costs; 1 fatality reported.

Record warmth in the Western U.S.
As is often the case when one part of the country is experiencing much cooler than average temperatures, the other half is seeing record warmth, due to a large bend in the jet stream that allows warm air to flow northwards. Much of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado experienced record warm temperatures yesterday. Most notably, Jackson, Wyoming hit 72°F, the earliest 70° reading in their history, and 27° above their normal high of 45°.


Figure 2. Severe weather risk for Saturday, April 14, 2012, from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

Tornado outbreak possible Saturday in Kansas and Oklahoma
A significant tornado outbreak is possible on Saturday, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. A warm, unstable airmass will collide with cold air funneling down from Canada, and strong jet stream winds will create plenty of wind shear. There is the potential for long-track strong tornadoes over Oklahoma and Kansas on Saturday, and SPC has has issued their second highest level of alert, a "Moderate Risk," for the region.

First named storm in the Atlantic possible next week
Both the GFS and ECMWF models are predicting that an extratropical "cut-off" low will separate from the jet stream early next week several hundred miles east of Bermuda, and linger for several days over subtropical waters with temperatures in the 22 - 24°C range. These ocean temperatures may be warm enough to allow the storm to organize into a named subtropical storm. However, climatology argues against such an occurrence; there has been only one named April storm in the Atlantic since 1851. If a subtropical storm does form next week, it would probably not affect any land areas.

Jeff Masters

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April 12, 2012
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Looking forward (and I just started catching up on this blog so if this has been discussed i apologize) what is happening in Texas this weekend? I understand there may be a setup for dangerous thunderstorms. Can any of the meteorologists chime in and let me know what's happening to cause this possibility?

thanks in advance....
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52233
Quoting Neapolitan:
I lived in a town about 90 minutes or so southeast of Jackson for several years, and am in complete agreement. The record daily lows there through the middle of April were in the single digits, with a few subzero records thrown in. So, yes, 78 degrees in early April is quite extraordinary (not to mention very welcome).
There's not much out there... Pinedale? Farson? Lander? LOL

I get up to that area every summer I can afford it... still haven't climbed any mountains yet [except in a car], but I'm sure I'll get there one day.... lol

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April 12, 2012
Quoting weatherh98:


What's a mega thrust
Tia
Sorry for my ignorance

Megathrust earthquakes are those that occur on subduction zone (convergent boundary in which one plate moves under another tectonic plate). While these plates are subducted by each other...large sections of these plates get stuck and when a sudden slip in one of these plates occur we get a megathrust quake.
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Quoting MTWX:


I sort of agree with you. On one hand they want to make people in tune with how serious this event has the potential to be, but on the other hand may induce panic too.. And you know now... If the event ends up not being comparable to last years outbreak, the the general public will crucify the SPC!


Maybe they should tell the general public how to react. Every time there's a chance for a major severe weather outbreak, the public in the area is warned, appropriately.

It might go something like this... In caps to make it sound more serious, obviously.

You are in an area where there is a high probability for a major severe weather outbreak including tornadoes. Please note that not every area in the region will get hit but most likely, more than a few places will. These weather events may drastically change your lives if affected by either very strong winds, tornadoes, very large hail and localized flash flooding from downpours. As stated, however, not every locale will get hit by some form of severe weather in the risk area. Be on the lookout throughout the day for signs of severe weather.

Many people don't know that a risk area means a probability that a certain region will get hit by severe weather because I think it isn't clear enough that it is a probability and not a certainty. Some people's perspective on life is so narrow that they think that if they are in the warned area and nothing happens TO THEM then they are disappointed and lose confidence. It should therefore be clearly stated that there isn't a 100% chance that one will see severe weather in the risk area. Obviously, many people will not see severe weather in the risk area every time there's an outbreak so there's bound to be at least a large portion of people losing trust until it is clearly stated.

Morning thoughts...
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Quoting hydrus:
No faith in our high station government people R.E.?..:)


Women and children first you say? that is what they are... ;)
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Good news. As long as the US government officials are sitting in the CONUS, than no crust destabilization is taking place any time soon. If they all dissapeared, then we'd have to be worried that they are getting on the ships.
No faith in our high station government people R.E.?..:)
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Quoting Patrap:
"Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES.
Much PAIN but still time.
BELIEVE
There is GOOD out there.
We OPpose DECEPTION.
Conduit CLOSING (BELL SOUND)


Sounds like a Wall Street quote...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsw w/ Maps/ortho/90_90.gif
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
1099. 1911maker 12:40 AM GMT on April 12, 2012 +1
Quoting Patrap:
Three Friday the 13ths, 13 weeks apart, a rarity




Thanks, and from the link

It's hard not to feel something about Friday the 13th, Fernsler says. "I find that 95% of people in the world are superstitious about something, and the other 5% are liars," he said.
Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: February 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 208


its the 2012 luck of the draw

Charley hit us on Friday the 13th.. And I dont mind saying that I am superstitious about certain things.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Good news. As long as the US government officials are sitting in the CONUS, than no crust destabilization is taking place any time soon. If they all dissapeared, then we'd have to be worried that they are getting on the ships.


LOL!
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Quoting TxKeef:
Two more in the past 30 mins 5.0+

MAP 5.6 2012/04/12 14:50:53 37.539 141.568 23.2 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
MAP 5.0 2012/04/12 14:46:28 3.287 93.729 27.8 OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA

USGS/a>

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A Megathrust quake is a large quake, usually in a subsidence zone boundary, where one side of the boundary is thrust up past the other boundary. They are usually accompanied by large tsunami, due to the ocean water displaced by the quake. Some recent examples are the Indonesian quake of 2004, and the Japan quake of 2011.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Good news. As long as the US government officials are sitting in the CONUS, than no crust destabilization is taking place any time soon. If they all dissapeared, then we'd have to be worried that they are getting on the ships.
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Two more in the past 30 mins 5.0+

MAP 5.6 2012/04/12 14:50:53 37.539 141.568 23.2 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
MAP 5.0 2012/04/12 14:46:28 3.287 93.729 27.8 OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA

USGS/a>
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55. MTWX
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That may have been a bad idea to post


I sort of agree with you. On one hand they want to make people in tune with how serious this event has the potential to be, but on the other hand may induce panic too.. And you know now... If the event ends up not being comparable to last years outbreak, the the general public will crucify the SPC!
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the Pacific Rim. I hope this isn't a prelude to a major quake/tsunami.


Neutrinos heating up the Earth's core.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52233
Quoting TXMegaWatt:

Is that a forecast for Saturday?
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


I agree. I remember my professor saying that once you start seeing it become active then a major quake will likely happen somewhere along that rim. I'm thinking somewhere along the North or South America pacific coast.


Never know, Somewhere on the west coast of CONUS could have a mega quake in minutes, hrs from now.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That may have been a bad idea to post


Y?
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting nigel20:
Thanks Dr. Masters...good morning all. What is happening one more quake and it's on "the ring of fire"...i think we should be prepared for the next possible mega thrust quake


What's a mega thrust
Tia
Sorry for my ignorance
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting nigel20:
Thanks Dr. Masters...good morning all. What is happening one more quake and it's on "the ring of fire"...i think we should be prepared for the next possible mega thrust quake


I agree. I remember my professor saying that once you start seeing it become active then a major quake will likely happen somewhere along that rim. I'm thinking somewhere along the North or South America pacific coast.
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Quoting MTWX:
Just posted on Facebook by the SPC:

"Did you know that a moderate risk issuance on day 3 occurs on average only once per year? The last time a day 3 moderate issued was for the 27 Apr 2011 outbreak."

That may have been a bad idea to post
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Another rain event on tap for you guys in Houston I see. I saw a story about the drought over TX and they said that last year some areas were 30" to 45" below normal last year. Amazing so keep that rain coming!


Yes you are indeed correct about those deficits. We will take all the rain we can get! It kind of sucks that these precip graphs are not very accurate. Hopefully this one pans out though!
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
Thanks Dr. Masters...good morning all. What is happening one more quake and it's on "the ring of fire"...i think we should be prepared for the next possible mega thrust quake
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Great news coming up in the long from TX to FL as the models are now showing this front stalling over FL generating a daily afternoon thunderstorm pattern. This will be interesting to see if this wet pattern is beginning to set up.


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43. MTWX
Just posted on Facebook by the SPC:

"Did you know that a moderate risk issuance on day 3 occurs on average only once per year? The last time a day 3 moderate issued was for the 27 Apr 2011 outbreak."
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:


Another rain event on tap for you guys in Houston I see. I saw a story about the drought over TX and they said that last year some areas were 30" to 45" below normal last year. Amazing so keep that rain coming!
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Euro has it Become a 999 MB Sub-tropical Storm, and weakens as it is pushed Westward. Afterward its sucked up into a trough.
Euro: 00Z

GFS has it attatched to the trough, and gets it way far north, then its cut off from the trough, and is pushed SSW.
GFS: 06Z

The Nogaps Detatches it from the front, but only brings it to 1007 MB.
Nogaps: 00Z

Last, but not least.
The canadian matches the nogaps with the way the trough comes through. Though its much stronger with it, and brings it far north, It becomes a strong Sub-tropical storm near 38N, and then shortly after is picked up by a second trough.
CMC: 00Z
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:


That's new
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...the crust is destabilizing earlier than we projected Adrian....

*the Indian scientist who's name I can't remember ATM...*
2012
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Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
Look east of FL and you can see the mositure pooling on the backside of this trough. Infact there was some nice lightning flashes off the east coast of FL very early this morning.


THE 12/00Z RUN OF THE GFS GUIDANCE HAS REVERSED COURSE FROM ITS
PREVIOUS DRY WEEKEND FCST AND NOW INDICATES 20-35PCT POPS ACRS THE
CWA ON FRI...LINGERING 15-20PCT OVER THE SE CWA INTO FRI NIGHT. THE
MODEL APPARENTLY IS FOCUSING ON A MOISTURE BAND TRAILING THE FRONTAL
TROF CURRENTLY TRANSITING THE CENTRAL PENINSULA. AS THE
AFOREMENTIONED RIDGE PUSHES INTO THE MID ATLC COAST ON FRI...THE
MOISTURE BECOMES TRAPPED BEHIND AN INVERTED TROF THAT DVLPS OVER THE
FL PENINSULA THRU THE H100-H70 LYR. AS THE ERLY FLOW BECOMES
PREVALENT...POSITIVE MOISTURE ADVECTION OCCURS AND SHRAS RESULT.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Models are now developing a slug of moisture east of FL and pushing it ashore tomorrow. Well see as I'll take any rain at this point.



That streak off the coast that goes north is "Alberto"
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting fireflymom:
In Louisiana you will just ride the ground wave not likely to feel anything.



I'm aware haha we dont feel squat I remember a year ago there was a 3 northwest of me but haha I'm not too worried
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Models are now developing a slug of moisture east of FL and pushing it ashore tomorrow. Well see as I'll take any rain at this point.

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In Louisiana you will just ride the ground wave not likely to feel anything.
Quoting weatherh98:


It's the effect of the big one, now If I feel a frieking earthquake in Louisiana imma freak out

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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Where on the Pacific Rim hasn't there been a large quake recently....



Looks like South America and the Canadian Pacific Northwest...

South America let loose within the last few years, so they are OK. The points of concern right now from my eyes lie from about the US-Mexico border up through Alaska (including the Aleutians). I'm also a bit concerned with the far western portion of the Pacific plate, near the Phillipines, as that section is bracketed by two major quakes in the last 18 months.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Thanks, DocM, for mentioning the Saturday severe risk out here in "the middle."

Watching those Oklahoma Skies.
:)
Member Since: April 29, 2006 Posts: 147 Comments: 17483
19 weatherh98: Yea and the Mexico city one was a 6.5

Yep, but it wasn't near Mexico*City... and the magnitude for that quake was downshifted by the USGS at least thrice over several hours instead of the normal once (if at all) within a few minutes.
[Corrected from blog2069comment1116]
Magnitude6.5earthquake at 18.390n102.652w at a depth of 65.6kilometres(40.7miles)
~39miles(63kilometres)NW of LazaroCardenas(LZC)
and ~245miles(395kilometres)WSW of MexicoCity(MEX)


1014 ncstorm: Didn't Mexico City just have an earthquake a couple of weeks ago?

The 20March earthquake was a magnitude7.4 at 16.662n98.188w
about midway between Acapulco(ACA) and Oaxaca(OAX)
and ~199miles(321kilometres)SSE of MexicoCity

* It appears that the soil of MexicoCity quivers like a bowl of jelly for any moderately strong earthquake within 300miles(483kilometres), setting off reports of swaying buildings from there.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the Pacific Rim. I hope this isn't a prelude to a major quake/tsunami.


It's the effect of the big one, now If I feel a frieking earthquake in Louisiana imma freak out
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Current tally for temperature record breaks.

77 hot breaks

4 cold breaks.


The cold breaks were two ties, one 1 degree break and one 2 degree break.


There were at least 3 hot breaks of 6 degrees or more.

There were many hot breaks of 3 degrees or more.


Considering most of the western states also have fewer stations (or so it seems) I'd say the heat wave in the west more than made up for the cold snap in the east and mid-west.

Daily ratio:

hot to cold : 19.25 to 1.

Weekly ratio:

Hot to Cold : 1.15 to 1.

So week was very close to even.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Quoting RitaEvac:
7.1 at 2:15Am CDT in the Gulf of California after the 7.0 quake in southern Mexico early evening yesterday


Makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the Pacific Rim. I hope this isn't a prelude to a major quake/tsunami.
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New one.
Magnitude 4.7
Date-Time

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 14:31:37 UTC
Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 08:31:37 PM at epicenter

Location 4.187°N, 92.551°E
Depth 29.7 km (18.5 miles)
Region OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA
Distances

341 km (212 miles) WSW (245°) from Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
433 km (269 miles) SSW (192°) from Misha, Nicobar Islands, India
1022 km (635 miles) W (277°) from KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 22.6 km (14.0 miles); depth +/- 8.1 km (5.0 miles)
Parameters NST= 41, Nph= 41, Dmin=500.9 km, Rmss=1.29 sec, Gp=112°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=4
Source

Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Event ID usc00091kw
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I am surprised the SPC has not issued a moderate risk for today. Sure, there Is a pretty large 10% area, but a 120 knot jet streak deserves a moderate risk...gotta wait until later I guess

Btw, thanks for the blog dr. Masters, I was quite surprised you mentioned the possible tropical storm.


Looks like Forbes is taking that into account, they said the moisture levels weren't quite what they thought though
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting BahaHurican:
As a point of comparison for the Jackson WY high temp record, when I was in WY three years ago, I had lunch in Jackson. The temp was 81 as I drove out of town, only 3 degrees higher than yesterday's high. And that was the last week in July / first week in August. There were a couple days that week I was there where daytime highs were in the low 50s - in late July! And this was out on the plains not in the mountains....

So a high of 72 in April is pretty abnormal....
I lived in a town about 90 minutes or so southeast of Jackson for several years, and am in complete agreement. The record daily lows there through the middle of April were in the single digits, with a few subzero records thrown in. So, yes, 78 degrees in early April is quite extraordinary (not to mention very welcome).
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13265
Quoting RitaEvac:
7.1 at 2:15Am CDT in the Gulf of California after the 7.0 quake in southern Mexico early evening yesterday


Where on the Pacific Rim hasn't there been a large quake recently....



Looks like South America and the Canadian Pacific Northwest...
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I am surprised the SPC has not issued a moderate risk for today. Sure, there Is a pretty large 10% area, but a 120 knot jet streak deserves a moderate risk...gotta wait until later I guess

Btw, thanks for the blog dr. Masters, I was quite surprised you mentioned the possible tropical storm.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246

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About JeffMasters

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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