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 StormTracker2K:
This upward motion of the MJO could be one of the reasons why the CPC is expecting above average precip. for FL over the next 2 weeks.


I think we may see the first epac storm in week three. The season is right there!!
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
TOR:CON is up to 7/10 on Saturday, rare to be so high so long beforehand.
I really think Saturday will be high risk event.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842

850 mb vorticity


Hi there Alberto come on out and play...
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
One key difference between today's severe weather and Saturday's: Today mostly rural, sparesly populated areas are being impacted. Saturday we will see major cities like Wichita KS, Tulsa OK, and especially Oklahoma City... Potentially very dangerous


Ya you know

Fly Over States...

If you listen to country music you would understand that...

Isolated thunderstorms more than anything
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Quoting MTWX:


Just because only one is Severe Warned doesn't mean there isn't more to come! Be patient... I see at least a dozen storms on the radar right now that have potential to rapidly become contenders. They are starting to pop both along the dryline, and the warm front.

Oh definitely... We will certainly have more than one major storm, that's just the only one we have now.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
267. MTWX
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Still very limited coverage right now... We really only have one storm, the one in NE Colorado


Just because only one is Severe Warned doesn't mean there isn't more to come! Be patient... I see at least a dozen storms on the radar right now that have potential to rapidly become contenders. They are starting to pop both along the dryline, and the warm front.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
One key difference between today's severe weather and Saturday's: Today mostly rural, sparesly populated areas are being impacted. Saturday we will see major cities like Wichita KS, Tulsa OK, and especially Oklahoma City... Potentially very dangerous


Isolated severe wx today is the key. Widespread severe wx on Saturday as the trough comes out.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Has anyone told you these maps are useless?


Models seem to agree with the CPC so I think your assement may be off.
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This upward motion of the MJO could be one of the reasons why the CPC is expecting above average precip. for FL over the next 2 weeks.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


IMO, 30%. Models are rarely this consistent, this long for a pre season storm, plus it's not weak on the models. It's massive and below 1000 mb at peak. Our most reliable model, the ECMWF has been showing it for two days now.

Not too mention the fact its been the strongest with the system ever since it began forecasting it.
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One key difference between today's severe weather and Saturday's: Today mostly rural, sparesly populated areas are being impacted. Saturday we will see major cities like Wichita KS, Tulsa OK, and especially Oklahoma City... Potentially very dangerous
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Gonna be a lot of happy people next week in FL if this pans out.

6-10 days

8-14 days


Has anyone told you these maps are useless?
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We may have to start watching for early season TC developement over the Caribbean over the coming weeks.


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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Still very limited coverage right now... We really only have one storm, the one in NE Colorado

Coverage will probably stay limited regardless...that is the reason the SPC never issued a Moderate risk.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Quoting cyclonekid:
New MD is out concerning yet another possible Tornado Watch.


Still very limited coverage right now... We really only have one storm, the one in NE Colorado
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
New MD is out concerning yet another possible Tornado Watch.

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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0500
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0334 PM CDT THU APR 12 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...NWRN TX THROUGH WRN OK

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 122034Z - 122200Z

SEVERE STORMS COULD DEVELOP FROM NWRN TX THROUGH WRN OK DURING NEXT
FEW HOURS. SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF VERY LARGE HAIL AND ISOLATED
TORNADOES WILL BE THE MAIN THREATS.

THE ATMOSPHERE HAS DESTABILIZED IN MOIST AXIS EAST OF THE DRYLINE
FROM WRN TX NWD THROUGH WRN OK WITH MLCAPE TO 2000 J/KG AND 7.5 C/KM
MID LEVEL LAPSE RATES. A WEAK BOUNDARY WAS ALSO INDICATED FROM
N-CNTRL NWWD THROUGH NWRN TX ALONG THE OK/TX BORDER. NORTH OF THIS
FEATURE WINDS ARE BACKED ESELY RESULTING IN 200-250 M2/S2 EFFECTIVE
STORM RELATIVE HELICITY. LOW CLOUDS CONTINUE TO DIMINISH FROM THE
WEST WITHIN ZONE OF DEEPER MIXING ACROSS NWRN TX WHERE A FIELD OF
CUMULUS AND A FEW SHOWERS HAVE DEVELOPED. ISOLATED STORMS MAY
EVENTUALLY FORM WHERE THIS ZONE INTERSECTS THE BOUNDARY FROM NWRN TX
INTO SWRN OK. EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR FROM 40-45 KT FAVORS
SUPERCELLS...AND 0-1 KM HODOGRAPH SIZE WILL INCREASE FURTHER AS THE
LOW LEVEL JET STRENGTHENS DURING THE EVENING.

..DIAL.. 04/12/2012
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
For anybody wondering, this is where "Alberto" comes from. Surface analysis reveals a slow-moving cold front draped across the western Atlantic. As we head into the weekend, models show this front stalling farther east and then a piece of energy forms off it, which moves southwest and forms into Alberto.

Interesting to say the least. I'd say there is a 40% chance of this occurring.



Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Quoting PedleyCA:


Your link is broken....


Should be fixed...

Link

Second time in 2 days that's happened...
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Gonna be a lot of happy people next week in FL if this pans out.

6-10 days

8-14 days
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Quoting Articuno:

not enough convection to become a subtropical storm yet though.


The storm is in place, already, its just gottamove and go
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This is our lone storm so far...

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
ISSUED BY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PUEBLO CO
231 PM MDT THU APR 12 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EASTERN LOGAN COUNTY IN NORTHEAST COLORADO...

* UNTIL 330 PM MDT

* AT 230 PM MDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL. THIS
STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES SOUTHWEST OF FLEMING...OR 14 MILES EAST
OF STERLING...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
FLEMING...PROCTOR...CROOK...TWIN BUTTES AND DAILEY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE WARNED AREA. TORNADOES CAN
DEVELOP QUICKLY FROM SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS. ALTHOUGH NOT IMMEDIATELY
LIKELY...IF A TORNADO IS SPOTTED...ACT QUICKLY AND MOVE TO A PLACE OF
SAFETY INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE...SUCH AS A BASEMENT OR SMALL
INTERIOR ROOM.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WIND IN EXCESS OF 60 MILES PER
HOUR...DESTRUCTIVE HAIL...DEADLY LIGHTNING...AND VERY HEAVY RAIN. FOR
YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF YOUR
HOME OR BUSINESS. HEAVY RAINS FLOOD ROADS QUICKLY SO DO NOT DRIVE
INTO AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD.

&&

LAT...LON 4093 10265 4055 10269 4061 10310 4101 10294
4101 10266
TIME...MOT...LOC 2031Z 225DEG 20KT 4062 10293
WIND...HAIL <50MPH 1.00IN

$$
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
Quoting Articuno:

Look at that swirl on the thing that just came off the N. Atlantic coast.

not enough convection to become a subtropical storm yet though.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2413
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Yeah but radar generally picks up thunderstorms


It doesnt mean that Huge clouds arent forming!!
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
just cause you can't see em does not mean there not there

Yeah but radar generally picks up thunderstorms
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7778
Quoting Gearsts:
Something there in the middle! xD

Look at that swirl on the thing that just came off the N. Atlantic coast.
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2413
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
just cause you can't see em does not mean there not there

...Yes it does.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Good article on how the US is a 3rd rate weather model forecasting group and is doing nothing much to change that...

Why the Euro is the Best


Your link is broken....
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Quoting cyclonekid:
You've got mail! :)


backatchya
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
just cause you can't see em does not mean there not there


Charlie's quote from Santa Claus movie
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

They aren't exactly blowing up out there...
just cause you can't see em does not mean there not there
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
I'm expecting to see the SPC to up the risk to High for Saturday's outbreak as soon a tomorrow. Saturday will likely be the worst outbreak we've seen since March 2.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4975
Good article on how the US is a 3rd rate weather model forecasting group and is doing nothing much to change that...

Link
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Quoting weatherh98:


haha okay im not doin that thanks anyway, how does that work though?
You've got mail! :)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
TOR:CON is up to 7/10 on Saturday, rare to be so high so long beforehand.


Definitley rare.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'm not going to lie, Saturday is going to be a very significant event. I wouldn't be surprised if a High risk is eventually issued.


Oh i have no doubt, have you seen that people think two feet of snow, INSANE for april
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TOR:CON is up to 7/10 on Saturday, rare to be so high so long beforehand.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24016
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Saturday is not the only day that looks worrisome...look at Sunday.


Wow! That looks really bad.

Are you thinking there will be a High Risk on Saturday, since there's already a Mod Risk 3 days out?
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4975
Quoting weatherh98:


The weather channel would have you think saturday is the end all


Saturday for some reason is always the end all for severe weather day..Skyepony posted some information a while back stating why it was that way..
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Quoting cyclonekid:


I just use Google Earth and Microsoft Powerpoint.


haha okay im not doin that thanks anyway, how does that work though?
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Quoting weatherh98:


The weather channel would have you think saturday is the end all

I'm not going to lie, Saturday is going to be a very significant event. I wouldn't be surprised if a High risk is eventually issued.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Quoting weatherh98:


where do you make your maps?


I just use Google Earth and Microsoft Powerpoint.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Saturday is not the only day that looks worrisome...look at Sunday.



that is slowly making its way to the east..I hope it dosent hold together
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I just don't think it's going to happen... What do you think its chances are?


IMO, 30%. Models are rarely this consistent, this long for a pre season storm, plus it's not weak on the models. It's massive and below 1000 mb at peak. Our most reliable model, the ECMWF has been showing it for two days now.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24016
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Saturday is not the only day that looks worrisome...look at Sunday.



The weather channel would have you think saturday is the end all
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Quoting cyclonekid:


Detailed look at the subtropical development possible at the beginning of next week.



where do you make your maps?
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Saturday is not the only day that looks worrisome...look at Sunday.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Hi guys.
Hewro :)
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Quoting weatherh98:


Hey your late. usually u gethere on 251

Yeah...we went places lol.

I see the reasoning of SPC's reluctance to upgrade to a Moderate risk today is aerial coverage.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31985
Here we go storms are starting to fire
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Detailed look at the subtropical development possible at the beginning of next week.

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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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