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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Quoting RTSplayer:
This is going to be a lot like last year, unfortunately.


Are you referring to the late April tornado super outbreak?
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Quoting Grothar:


Here is another image of that area.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14071
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO CA
814 PM PDT THU APR 12 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN SAN MATEO COUNTY IN WESTERN CALIFORNIA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF...SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO...SAN BRUNO...
PACIFICA...MILLBRAE...DALY CITY...BURLINGAME...

* UNTIL 845 PM PDT

* AT 809 PM PDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL. THIS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR EL GRANADA...OR 7 MILES SOUTHWEST OF
PACIFICA...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DOPPLER RADAR HAS INDICATED SOME WEAK ROTATION WITHIN THIS STORM.
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HAMweather is calling for a 4.5 to 5 day outbreak, starting tomorrow.

Barometer Bob's show basically said the same thing, going all the way down to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

So, not looking good at all.


You can already see a sort of flow set up between the High near Florida and the low over Mexico feeding all this energy north, priming the atmosphere.

Regional radar product from NWS you can see it just fine.

This is going to be a lot like last year, unfortunately.

I guess the biggest difference at this point is the Mexican low is weaker this year. Last year, it was also a 988mb low, so that's a big difference, but this year it looks like it will be closer to the water and close the Brownsville on the 15th.

Core of the whole ordeal is starting to hit California and Oregon right now.


NOAA and NWS are supposed to have some big press conference about it tomorrow, because they are trying to get the public informed ahead of time before the worst of it happens.
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I think we will have to watch those early GOM Padawan's, some can tap the Force in the Deep Eddy Pools and do the Nasty on those not aware.






Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Quoting Patrap:


I just worry about those GOM Death Stars in late August.

They can mess up a whole sector.



The Force is strong with them.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


As long as Tarkin doesn't decide to blow us up next.


I just worry about those GOM Death Stars in late August-Late Sept.

They can mess up a whole sector.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Klotzbach also mentioned at Barometer Bob show that if the kelvin wave that transports the warm waters from the Western Pacific breaks up,then El Nino will not show up as they have forecast and is another reason apart from the MDR actual little warming to up the numbers in the June 1rst forecast.


I knew they would come around to my way of thinking. I have done an analysis and on the day they released their numbers, I disagreed. I think it will be an above average season. Here are my numbers:

Tropical Storms: Between 0 and 17
Hurricanes: Between 0 and 10
Major: Between 0 and 5.
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Quoting Patrap:
..looks kinda like Alderaan.



As long as Tarkin doesn't decide to blow us up next.
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..looks kinda like Alderaan.

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I didn't think I would be posting my globe for a few months. Good work, Nigel and TropicalA.



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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


KOG...use the 500mb one for SHEAR for Tornado's.....
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Well yesterday had more tornadoes then today. Night everyone! Going to be setting up my tracking station for Saturday, going triple monitor setup.
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Quoting weatherh98:


What does it do


Brings warm waters into the eastern Pacific, triggering El Nino.
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Quoting weatherh98:


What does it do


In this particular instance, we are focused on the warming it causes across the equatorial Pacific. The mean surge of westerly flow associated with this feature pushes warm waters from the western Pacific eastward.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


An eastward-propagating atmospheric or oceanic wave, usually accompanied by westerly winds at the low-levels.


What does it do
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting weatherh98:


What's a kelvin wave


An eastward-propagating atmospheric or oceanic wave, usually accompanied by westerly winds at the low-levels.
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451. j2008
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Looks like it has alot of dust out in front of it, doubt it survives. Nevertheless it is very intresting to see something of that magnitude at this time of year.
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Quoting nigel20:

That's very important, as this could be the difference bettween an active or unactive hurricane season


What's a kelvin wave
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Klotzbach also mentioned at Barometer Bob show that if the kelvin wave that transports the warm waters from the Western Pacific breaks up,then El Nino will not show up as they have forecast and is another reason apart from the MDR actual little warming to up the numbers in the June 1rst forecast.

That's very important, as this could be the difference bettween an active or unactive hurricane season
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7881
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting nigel20:

Whats up NCHurricane2009...i'lll have a read when I can.
Thanks much


Not much...just another evening here after work...alone in my apartment. Getting used to it though since I moved up here (in SE Michigan) from NC...

Part of the entertainment lately has been the unusual weather & reading about it here...
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This is going to be nuts for the next 3 days of weather.

The storm near the Aleutians near Alaska is going to be down to 973 to 974mb according to GFS and Canadian models.

the Mexico low will be near Texas but also very much over the western side of the Gulf.

The main system over the plains will be in the high 980 mb to low 990mb pressure ranges, with max Vorticity at the top or off the color scale on the canadian model.


We're probably going to get some sort of extreme precip events and severe weather events one way or another.

Looks like the worst of it may actually be on the 15th at about 7p.m. central time.


Meanwhile, at least 3 good models insist "Alberto" will form.
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Klotzbach also mentioned at Barometer Bob show that if the kelvin wave that transports the warm waters from the Western Pacific breaks up,then El Nino will not show up as they have forecast and is another reason apart from the MDR actual little warming to up the numbers in the June 1rst forecast.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14071
.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Evening all...

I posted a discussion of the current Atlantic basin dynamics given that a subtropical cyclone is possible in the next days.

Please leave comments/questions, I am deciding whether or not to do these extensive discussions daily during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. I hope it provides more detail than the discussions on the NHC webpage and can help in understanding what is going on each day during hurricane season.

Whats up NCHurricane2009...i'lll have a read when I can.
Thanks much
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7881
Quoting bappit:
Another comment that follows up on Kate's remark.

"Nice article. Note that although ECMWF doesn't have the same operational requirements as the other centres, Met Office, JMA and Meteo-France do have roughly the same time constraints as US operational centres, and are all doing very well in comparison. Of course the rankings change whenever a centre gets a new supercomputer or has a major change to its algorithms -- this was seen with the introduction of 4D-Var and then Hybrid-Var at various operational centres."


The US also provides their product free to the Weather Channels, Accuweathers and Wundergrouds of the world while ECMWF and UKMET charge for use of their products. This will not be getting any better with further budget cuts.

The GFS is scheduled for EnKF this June, and resolution increase about a year from now, but we will be in a catch-up mode for a long, long time.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
shear in the Caribbean is droping now starting to see orange, yellow and even some green spots on the map

It can take its time...
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shear in the Caribbean is droping now starting to see orange, yellow and even some green spots on the map

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Evening all...

I posted a discussion of the current Atlantic basin dynamics given that a subtropical cyclone is possible in the next days.

Please leave comments/questions, I am deciding whether or not to do these extensive discussions daily during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. I hope it provides more detail than the discussions on the NHC webpage and can help in understanding what is going on each day during hurricane season.
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Quoting pottery:
Hey, Aussie!
Congratulations on winning the First Test in Barbados.
Good Game....

For me, there was Elation, Optimism, Doubt, Despair, and General Excitement.
Test Cricket as it should be.

Just had another nice shower here.
Put me in a mood for Sleep......

Yeah it was good. Didn't watch much due to the time difference.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
If this was august oh boy!.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


He makes a point that the MDR has warmed in the past couple of weeks and if that trend continues,they may have to up the numbers when they release the next forecast on June 1rst.

He's also saying that the NAO forecast will be in the neutral range...i guess this will allow the warm steadly over the next week or two
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
cape verde?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Monsoon Trough looks active right now.
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Quoting nigel20:

Thanks for the link topicsweatherpr


He makes a point that the MDR has warmed in the past couple of weeks and if that trend continues,they may have to up the numbers when they release the next forecast on June 1rst.
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Tornado in Stockton CA? Forget Climate Change... It be Climate Crazy!
Link
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Dr Phil Klotzbach of CSU is on right now at Barometer Bob show.

Link

Thanks for the link topicsweatherpr
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

How is he in his 30s? He looks 16.


Yeah,looks very young there.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
The OUTBREAK OF TORNADO'S on Saturday will be one of the worst we have seen all year.....All you have to do is look at all the MODELS...WOW...this is going to be a bad one coming that is going to change many people lives for days to come!


Definitely end some too
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
The OUTBREAK OF TORNADO'S on Saturday will be one of the worst we have seen all year.....All you have to do is look at all the MODELS...WOW...this is going to be a bad one coming that is going to change many people lives for days to come!
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Dr Phil Klotzbach of CSU is on right now at Barometer Bob show.

Link

How is he in his 30s? He looks 16.
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Severe wx bust
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Dr Phil Klotzbach of CSU is on right now at Barometer Bob show.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14071

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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.