Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:58 PM GMT on July 25, 2012

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Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organization's Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that 97% of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12--an event completely unprecedented in 30 years of satellite measurements. In a July 24 press release from NASA, Nghiem said, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Multiple satellite data sets confirmed the remarkable event, though. Melt maps derived from three different satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted, as a strong ridge of high pressure set up over Greenland. By July 12, the melting had expanded to cover 97% of Greenland. As I blogged about last week, temperatures at at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 10,551 feet (3216 meters) above sea level, and 415 miles (670 km) north of the Arctic Circle, had risen above the freezing mark four times in the 12-year span 2000 - 2011. But in mid-July 2012, temperatures eclipsed the freezing mark on five days, including four days in a row from July 11 - 14. Interestingly, ice core records show that in 1889, a similar pronounced melt event occurred at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and such events occur naturally about every 150 years. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig, a NASA/Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. Such an event could occur as early as this weekend: the latest wunderground forecast for the Greenland Summit calls for above-freezing temperatures to return again by Saturday through Tuesday, with a high of 36°F (2°C) on Tuesday. This would come close to the record warm temperature at Summit of 3.6°C set just two weeks ago. Exceptionally warm temperatures in Greenland this July have been made more likely by the fact that Arctic sea ice area has been at record low levels so far this month. Furthermore, the Greenland Ice Sheet has become darker this July than at any point since satellite measurements began (Figure 2), allowing Greenland to absorb more solar energy and heat up.


Figure 1. Extent of surface melt over Greenland's ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. Image credit: NASA.



Figure 2. The albedo (reflectivity) of the Greenland Ice Sheet at its highest elevations (2,500 - 3,200 meters, or 8,200 - 10,500 feet) has steadily decreased in recent years as the ice has darkened due to increased melting and dark soot being deposited on the ice from air pollution. This July, the high elevations of Greenland were the darkest on record, which helped contribute to the record warm temperatures observed at the Greenland Summit. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.


Video 1. Melt water from the record July temperatures in Greenland fed the raging Watson River, which smashed two bridges connecting the north and south of Kangerlussuaq (Sønder Strømfjord), a small settlement in southwestern Greenland. The flow rate of 3.5 million liters/sec was almost double the previous record flow rate.

Greenland's Petermann Glacier
Greenland's glaciers have seen significant changes in recent years, as they respond to warmer air and water temperatures. Northwest Greenland's Petermann Glacier has seen two massive calving events in the past two years, though it is uncertain if these events were caused by the warming climate. The most recent event came on July 16, 2012, when the glacier calved a 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan. The same glacier calved an iceberg twice as big back on August 4, 2010--the largest iceberg observed in the Arctic since 1962. The freshwater stored in that ice island could have kept the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years, or kept all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days. According to a university press release by Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, “While the size is not as spectacular as it was in 2010, the fact that it follows so closely to the 2010 event brings the glacier’s terminus to a location where it has not been for at least 150 years. Northwest Greenland and northeast Canada are warming more than five times faster than the rest of the world, but the observed warming is not proof that the diminishing ice shelf is caused by this, because air temperatures have little effect on this glacier; ocean temperatures do, and our ocean temperature time series are only five to eight years long — too short to establish a robust warming signal.”


Figure 3. The massive 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan that calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier on July 16, 2012, as seen on July 21, 2012, using MODIS satellite imagery. Image credit: NASA.

Related posts
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Jeff Masters

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Its happening

A NEW SEVERE TSTM WATCH WILL BE ISSUED THIS EVENING ACROSS
ADDITIONAL PORTIONS OF EASTERN MI INCLUDING THE THUMB REGION/PARTS
OF SOUTHEAST MI...LIKELY BETWEEN 02Z-03Z.
SUMMARY...SUPERCELL AND ASSOCIATED SEVERE HAIL/SOME TORNADO
POTENTIAL WILL EXIST IN THE SHORT TERM ACROSS FAR EASTERN WI INTO
NORTH-CENTRAL MI. HOWEVER...IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT BOW ECHO
DEVELOPMENT WILL OCCUR THROUGH THE MID/LATE EVENING HOURS...WITH A
HEIGHTENED WIND DAMAGE POTENTIAL. PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MI HAVE BEEN
UPGRADED TO A MODERATE RISK WITH THE 01Z DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
It's fun to watch other peoples destruction.J/K J/K.Lol.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17081
rainy along warm front heavy cell to my nw

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I love when storms threaten my area... It's fun... Of course I don't want myself or others injured and I don't want to see damage but the fact is since we can't control Mother Nature we might as well enjoy it.
Me too, just when damaage happens and you are stuck in your home for 3 days with a power pole on the street with trees down( July 15th 2010) then its not good.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting Tribucanes:
I'm sure it's a fairly rare event, but I've known a handful of people who have had lightening come through their windows at night while they were in the given room. They didn't make it sound enjoyable. It comes in, goes to the nearest electrical source, and in a few cases I heard firsthand; it turns the light on. I'm not crazy thinking that it's a very very low chance this will ever happen to me; am I?


Yes, that's pretty rare.

I had lightning hit the telephone demarcation unit on the back of our house once. It melted a telephone cable stretched across the room in to the carpet and destroyed the phone. I was rather glad I wasn't on it.
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Quoting pcola57:


Ok..didn't know that wxchaser97..thanks.. :)

Your welcome, trying to help others.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting wxchaser97:
You need the standard version of the NWS radar, there is a button on the page to take you there.


Ok..didn't know that wxchaser97..thanks.. :)

Maybe this will work..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm sure it's a fairly rare event, but I've known a handful of people who have had lightening come through their windows at night while they were in the given room. They didn't make it sound enjoyable. It comes in, goes to the nearest electrical source, and in a few cases I heard firsthand; it turns the light on. I'm not crazy thinking that it's a very very low chance this will ever happen to me; am I?
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Quoting Tribucanes:
Cap just broke over SW Wisconsin and storms are firing now there too. Looks like a good bet I'll be getting my first severe storm of the year. Detroit to be under the gun seriously tonight too wxchaser97. Storms look to be very intense, stay safe. Going to be in your area just before midnight it's looking like. Love my new place but it's small with no area away from windows except the stairwell leading up. The view is incredible, I can see storms coming for miles in all directions. Just when they get here I'm a little more uneasy than I would normally be in a severe storm. Have to literally leave my apartment to get away from the windows.
The wording they are using is uneasy, thing will be bad tonight. Stay safe everyone.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I love when storms threaten my area... It's fun... Of course I don't want myself or others injured and I don't want to see damage but the fact is since we can't control Mother Nature we might as well enjoy it.
Having no power for days..having to clean up damage..road ways impassable...stores running out of food..don't wanna go through it again...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17081
Quoting pcola57:


You need the standard version of the NWS radar, there is a button on the page to take you there.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:



Here's something for you wxchaser97... :)

Yes, it may seem strange but Im begging for storms. I afraid to see the drought monitor tomorrow so we need rain. Im on the edge of the MDT risk, in a significant hatched area, and a chance of a tornado.
Things could get interesting tonight, I will keep everyone posted on the severe threat tonight.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting washingtonian115:
Well I'm glad it's over you and your happy about that.I don't want any of that coming for me.

I love when storms threaten my area... It's fun... Of course I don't want myself or others injured and I don't want to see damage but the fact is since we can't control Mother Nature we might as well enjoy it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cap just broke over SW Wisconsin and storms are firing now there too. Looks like a good bet I'll be getting my first severe storm of the year. Detroit to be under the gun seriously tonight too wxchaser97. Storms look to be very intense, stay safe. Going to be in your area just before midnight it's looking like. Love my new place but it's small with no area away from windows except the stairwell leading up. The view is incredible, I can see storms coming for miles in all directions. Just when they get here I'm a little more uneasy than I would normally be in a severe storm. Have to literally leave my apartment to get away from the windows.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good news! I'll be returning home from VT tomorrow morning so I should be able to see some storms...

Well I'm glad it's over you and your happy about that.I don't want any of that coming for me.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17081
On that Watson River video, the problem is obvious & I can't believe no one noticed it ........

....... At 00:30, someone forgot to turn the water off coming from that drain pipe. Dummies, now look what happened.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxchaser97:
Any thoughts on metro Detroit for tonight?
There is a possible mcs tonight and I want to know if its worth staying up for.



Here's something for you wxchaser97... :)
Info is a couple of hours old but I hope it helps...

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 1590
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0625 PM CDT WED JUL 25 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...EASTERN WI INTO MUCH OF LOWER MI

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH LIKELY

VALID 252325Z - 260100Z

PROBABILITY OF WATCH ISSUANCE...95 PERCENT

SUMMARY...SEVERE HAIL AND /MORE SO/ DAMAGING WIND POTENTIAL IS
EXPECTED TO STEADILY INCREASE THIS EVENING WITHIN A CORRIDOR FROM
EAST-CENTRAL WI INTO A LARGE PART OF /ESPECIALLY CENTRAL/ LOWER MI.
A WATCH WILL LIKELY BE ISSUED SOON.

DISCUSSION...A RECENT/SLOW INCREASE IN THE CU FIELD/INITIALLY
NON-LIGHTNING PRODUCING RADAR ECHOES HAS BEEN NOTED IN CENTRAL WI
SINCE 2230-2300Z. THIS IS OCCURRING IN VICINITY OF A SURFACE LOW AND
ADJACENT COLD/WARM FRONT TRIPLE POINT...WITH SURFACE PRESSURE FALLS
MAXIMIZED ACROSS FAR EASTERN WI INTO MUCH OF LOWER MI. WHILE THE
REGION HAS REMAIN CAPPED THIS AFTERNOON UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF WARM
TEMPERATURES ALOFT/WEAK SHORTWAVE RIDGING...A WEAK MID-LEVEL
IMPULSE/SPEED MAX IN VICINITY OF SOUTHERN MN LATE THIS
AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING SHOULD INFLUENCE DEVELOPMENT THIS
AFTERNOON...IN ADDITION TO A NOCTURNAL LOW-LEVEL JET/WARM ADVECTION
INTENSIFICATION IN VICINITY OF THE AFOREMENTIONED WARM FRONTAL ZONE.
A RELATIVELY STRONG NUMERICAL GUIDANCE CONSENSUS /INCLUDING HIGH RES
CONVECTION ALLOWING MODELS/ SUGGESTS SUSTAINED SEVERE
TSTMS...INCLUDING SOME SUPERCELLS...IS PROBABLE PRIOR TO STORMS
CONGEALING/LIKELY UPSCALE GROWTH THIS EVENING INTO LOWER MI...WITH A
DISTINCT DAMAGING WIND THREAT POSSIBLE.

..GUYER/MEAD.. 07/25/2012


ATTN...WFO...DTX...APX...GRR...GRB...MKX...

LAT...LON 44438935 44898784 44648547 44298396 43768329 42808361
42648540 43318909 44438935




Storm Prediction Center...
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SPC has added a moderate risk area for tonight:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Moderate risk in MI for tonight!
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Good news! I'll be returning home from VT tomorrow morning so I should be able to see some storms...

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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GAYLORD MI
859 PM EDT WED JUL 25 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GAYLORD HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
MISSAUKEE COUNTY IN NORTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN...
NORTHEASTERN WEXFORD COUNTY IN NORTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN...

* UNTIL 945 PM EDT

* AT 855 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR MANTON...OR 9 MILES NORTHWEST OF LAKE
CITY...AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
LAKE CITY...JENNINGS...MOREY...STITTSVILLE AND MERRITT.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS TORNADO WARNING REPLACES THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING THAT
WAS IN EFFECT FOR THE SAME AREA. GO TO A BASEMENT OR SMALL INTERIOR
ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR!

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

&&

LAT...LON 4446 8487 4421 8486 4433 8545 4451 8542
TIME...MOT...LOC 0059Z 297DEG 33KT 4439 8532

$$
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


i think it will eventually form the mcs, but it depends on how the storms form up.
As for staying up, of course you should do that, until you see if its coming or not.
i have a feeling it may form something
I will be staying up for the storms. I want to get storms just because im a spotter now. I'll also stay up for the 00z gfs run.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting pcola57:


No dates here..but They do come with a vengence sometimes..


k.
I just remember there were a few that went hundreds of miles N-S across the US, nearly cross country.
They were way cool.
If i remember right :)

nite
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
As for me the swimmer, my allotted time awake has come to an end.

Good night everyone, see you tomorrow morning for the severe weather...
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


and to me squall line makes me see this:


i remeber a few years back having a few of these oriented north south from near the gulf coast to near canada along very strong february cold fronts with severe tstorm warnings the whole way.
They are the coolest things to see.

I dont remember any of the dates, perhaps some of you might


No dates here..but They do come with a vengence sometimes..
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810. Zappy
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Expect a derecho by tomorrow afternoon. Widespread damaging winds and large hail.


Gee, that's lovely. Irene, Snowtober, and then a derecho. I enjoy watching storms, but when the power cuts out, it becomes miserable.
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Quoting Zappy:
Does anyone think something will happen in CT? They placed us under a t'storm watch yesterday but the sky was blue all day. Specifically in the Hartford area? My local weather guys seem to be downplaying the threat.


Quoting Tribucanes:
Ya Zappy only calling for tenth to quarter inch in your area, but at the same time they say spotters will be needed tomorrow for your area. Surprised your forecaster is downplaying this. He may well be right, but sounds like he's out on a limb.


ALWAYS error on the side of caution Zappy...
Like Tribucanes said even the best mets can get it wrong..
Inform yourself as much as you can and try checking in here at WU as much as you think you should..
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Any thoughts on metro Detroit for tonight?
There is a possible mcs tonight and I want to know if its worth staying up for.


i think it will eventually form the mcs, but it depends on how the storms form up.
As for staying up, of course you should do that, until you see if its coming or not.
i have a feeling it may form something

this from the watch to your north:

INITIAL STORM MODE
MAY BE SUPERCELLULAR WITH A RISK FOR LARGE HAIL AND POSSIBLY A
TORNADO. UPSCALE GROWTH INTO A BOW ECHO IS ANTICIPATED LATER ACROSS
LOWER MI WHERE CORRIDORS OF WIND DAMAGE WILL BE POSSIBLE
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Whenever some met casually throws out the term "derecho" now to describe a small line of storms:





margusity says it was a derecho:

. By the definition below from the SPC, the derecho yesterday met all the requirements. While not as big as the June 29 Super Derecho, the derecho yesterday was moving over 50 mph, had wind damage all along its path and moved over 240 miles. The highest wind speed was 80 mph at Crown Point Lake, Ind.

To point things in perspective, we typically see these types of derechos at least 3-5 times a summer. The Super Derechos, we see every 5-10 years on average, so you can see how some might think yesterday's was not one.

he may be right
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Any thoughts on metro Detroit for tonight?
There is a possible mcs tonight and I want to know if its worth staying up for.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting Tribucanes:
Ya Zappy only calling for tenth to quarter inch in your area, but at the same time they say spotters will be needed tomorrow for your area. Surprised your forecaster is downplaying this. He may well be right, but sounds like he's out on a limb.


well he can downplay the fact that they are not in the highest risk area completely, they are on the edge of the MDT.
I would not expect that they would downplay the severe risk to not much, only GA mets do that, but that actually is what happens in GA, so it helps here
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting txjac:


Thanks for responding Pat ... I guess then it couldnt be forecast or foreseen?

I have another question concerning the GW. When studies are done concerning ice melts ...are both poles ice measured? How does the south pole measure up against the north pole?


This type of comparison is often brought up by those looking to discredit AGW while glossing over the fact that you can't really compare them. The arctic and Antartic ice are governed by completely different dynamics. About the only thing they share in common is that they are both ice.

As a rudimentary refutation of such a comparison, arctic ice is comprised mainly out of ice that has been around for multiple years. Without the thick multi-year ice, the arctic would completely melt out every summer (which will probably happen in the near future). The antarctic sea ice is comprised almost entirely out of one-year ice that pretty much melts out every summer. The long term ice is locked up on the land mass.

There is warming in the antarctic, but not nearly as much as the arctic. Again, this comes down to the differences between the two "systems".
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Quoting pcola57:
I dunno about anyone else here but when someone mentions "Derecho"...I see this in my head..



Derecho definition according to Wiki


and to me squall line makes me see this:


i remeber a few years back having a few of these oriented north south from near the gulf coast to near canada along very strong february cold fronts with severe tstorm warnings the whole way.
They are the coolest things to see.

I dont remember any of the dates, perhaps some of you might
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Ya Zappy only calling for tenth to quarter inch in your area, but at the same time they say spotters will be needed tomorrow for your area. Surprised your forecaster is downplaying this. He may well be right, but sounds like he's out on a limb.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Any thoughts on metro Detroit for tonight?
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7948
Quoting Zappy:
Does anyone think something will happen in CT? They placed us under a t'storm watch yesterday but the sky was blue all day. Specifically in the Hartford area? My local weather guys seem to be downplaying the threat.

Expect a derecho by tomorrow afternoon. Widespread damaging winds and large hail.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32267
Quoting Tribucanes:
ncstorm ya all ready a huge swath under moderate risk but I agree with you, looks like they may have to expand it even more. Might even have to bump the medium up to high if nothing changes before morning. Can you say couple thousand wind and hail reports tomorrow. Not good at all.


only way we are getting a high risk is if the squall line/bow echo/ derecho is particularly dangerous and intense and they put a 60% wind just ahead of it while it is in progress.

Other than that, its not happening
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting Zappy:
Does anyone think something will happen in CT? They placed us under a t'storm watch yesterday but the sky was blue all day. Specifically in the Hartford area? My local weather guys seem to be downplaying the threat.


Here's your WU outlook...check it out.. :)
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796. Zappy
Does anyone think something will happen in CT? They placed us under a t'storm watch yesterday but the sky was blue all day. Specifically in the Hartford area? My local weather guys seem to be downplaying the threat.
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the mess down by Texas looks more interesting than the northern gulf...is the NHC dropping the ball or what???
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Derecho gets thrown around here a lot, but tomorrow may be the real deal.
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Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop
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AND IS PUMPING LATENT HEAT
INTO THE COLUMN ABOVE


These GOM Lows can build a warm column and then, well things can get interesting with a slow mover and warm SST's.

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Bumpy night through Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan too. The cap has popped and I'm expecting 200/300+ reports this evening and tonight alone. Under a severe watch here now in SC Wisconsin. I have experienced 0 severe storms so far this year. So we shall see. Wisconsin is not seen as tornado alley but check out some of the F5's we've had through the years; some real killers, and one F5 out of nowhere in the middle of the night.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Quoting Patrap:
A trough was shown earlier ,but now we may be seeing a mid level Spin offshore.





I had plenty o dry lightening this afternoon...
That lil spinner thing bothers me...a little..
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From the Mobile NWS
ANYTIME DEEP CONVECTION IS PERSISTENTLY DEVELOPING
IN RELATIVE WEAK DEEP LAYER WIND SHEAR AND IS PUMPING LATENT HEAT
INTO THE COLUMN ABOVE...AS IS THE CASE OVER THE PAST TWO DAYS...IT MUST BE CLOSELY MONITORED FOR POSSIBLE SURFACE DEVELOPMENT. That is the only NWS on the northern gulf coast that I have found that even mentions the mess in the gulf
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well this is the NAM for tomorrow..


Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15666
I dunno about anyone else here but when someone mentions "Derecho"...I see this in my head..



Derecho definition according to Wiki
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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.