Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:28 PM GMT on November 08, 2012
“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a press conference on Wednesday, after Winter Storm Athena punished New Jersey with heavy snows, high winds, and a 3-foot storm surge. The storm brought unexpectedly high snowfall amounts along a swath from Central New Jersey northeastwards across Southeast New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and South Central Massachusetts. The 4.7" of snow that fell at New York City's Central Park was the city's earliest 4-inch snowfall on record. The old record for earliest 4-inch snow was Nov. 23 in 1989. Last year's Snowtober storm brought the earliest 2" snowfall on record in NYC on October 29, 2011, but the city didn't surpass the 4.7" mark until January 21, as winter basically failed to show up. The 5.7" of snow that fell in Newark, NJ Wednesday was the heaviest single-day November snowfall on record in Newark (going back to 1931), and the earliest snowfall of that magnitude on record (the previous record was set just last year, when the Snowtober storm dumped 5.2" of snow on October 29, 2011.) Several locations in New Jersey and Connecticut recorded a foot a more of snow during Athena, with the storm's highest total of 13.5" recorded in Clintonville, CT. High winds combined with the heavy snows and rains to knock out power to 375,000 additional customers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut yesterday, and a storm surge of 2 - 3.5' hit most of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, from Virginia to Massachusetts. The storm brought waves of 20' to the waters offshore of Long Island, NY and near Block Island, RI. The top winds over water were 61 mph, gusting to 76 mph, in Buzzard's Bay, MA. Here are the top wind gusts from Athena as of 8 am EST on Thursday, November 8, 2012:
Figure 1. A resident clears out destroyed household belongings from his flood-damaged home as snow falls on November 7, 2012 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. How often do you see snow falling on hurricane-damaged coasts? This sort of one-two weather punch is unprecedented in my lifetime. Image credit: AP.
The good news for the Northeast is that locusts and pestilence are not next, but rather sunny skies and a substantial warm-up. Athena, currently centered just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, will move off to the northeast today, leaving sunny skies in its wake. Highs will be near 50°F today in New York City, and will warm to mid-60s by this weekend.
Here comes Brutus: major blizzard coming for Montana
Right on the heels of Winter Storm Athena comes Winter Storm Brutus--a powerful low pressure system that is taking shape over Southern Montana this morning. Light snows have begun in Southwest Montana, and will spread to the northwest across much of Montana and into western North Dakota this afternoon through Saturday. As much as 12” to 18” of snowfall is expected for several major cities in Montana, including Great Falls, and over 2 feet is expected in the mountains. According to the Glasgow, MT NWS Facebook page, the current storm total snowfall amounts north of the Missouri River/Fort Peck areas would be within the top 10 two day snowfall totals across this region, going back 115 years. Strong winds will combine with heavy snowfall to produce blizzard conditions across northeast Montana. Brutus is forming in response to an usually large loop in the jet stream over the Western U.S. On the east side of the jet stream axis, a southwesterly flow of air has pumped in record-breaking warm air from the Desert Southwest. Sheridan, Wyoming hit 79°F Wednesday, breaking their previous all-time monthly record of 78° set on Nov. 5, 1975. Records go back to 1893. However, Sheridan will be on the west side of jet stream by Saturday, as the cold front associated with Brutus passes through Wyoming. This will bring Sheridan powerful northwest winds, 4 - 8 inches of snow, and high temperatures 50° colder than Wednesday's.
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