Drought predicted to continue though April; record low Lake Michigan water levels

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:14 PM GMT on January 18, 2013

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Rain and snow from the a series of winter storms that have swept across the nation so far in 2013 have put only a slight dent in the Great Drought of 2012 - 2013, and the drought is likely to extend at least until late April, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report and NOAA Seasonal Drought Outlook, issued Thursday. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought began 2013 at 61%, and is almost unchanged as of January 15, at 59%. According to NOAA's monthly State of the Drought report, the drought peaked during July 2012, when 61.8% of the contiguous U.S. was covered by moderate or greater drought. This made the 2012 drought the greatest U.S. drought since the Dust Bowl year of 1939, when 62.1% of the U.S. was in drought. The 2013 drought will maintain its grip over the U.S. into February, according to the latest 15-day precipitation forecast from the GFS model, which predicts a much below-average chance of precipitation across the large majority of the drought region during the next two weeks. These dry conditions will continue to cause problems for shipping on the Mississippi River, where barge traffic has been limited by near-record low water. However, the river level at St. Louis has risen about a foot since the beginning of the year, and the Army Corps of Engineers blasted away rock formations on the river bottom near Thebes, Illinois over the past two weeks, which should allow limited barge traffic to continue on the river at least through the end of January. The Corps now believes that will be able to keep shipping on the Mississippi River open into the summer. The latest NOAA river level forecast calls for the river to fall below -5' by January 30, which would be one of the five lowest water levels on record for St. Louis.


Figure 1. Predicted 7-day precipitation for the period ending on Friday, January 25. Less than 10% of the U.S. drought regions are predicted to receive as much as 0.5" of precipitation (dark green color.) Image credit: NOAA.


Figure 2. NOAA's January 17 Seasonal Drought Outlook calls for drought to persist over at least 70% of the U.S. drought area through the end of April. The drought is expected to ease some along its northern and eastern edges, but new areas of drought are predicted to develop over Texas, California, and the Southeast U.S.


Figure 3. The latest NOAA river level forecast calls for the Mississippi River to fall below -5' by January 30. The river's lowest level on record, -6.2', occurred in January 1940, after the great Dust Bowl droughts of the 1930s.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron hit all-time record low water levels for January
Low water is also a problem on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. After setting an all-time record low for the month of December, water levels have continued to fall, are are now 1" below the record-lowest January water level, observed in January 1965, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Water levels on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior are predicted to fall 1 - 2" over the next month, due to below average precipitation. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are already at 576.0', so if this forecast verifies, they will set the record for their all-time monthly level, the 576.05' level of March 1964. Lake Superior is still 6" above its all-time low water level, so will not set a new record. Below average ice cover, which allows increased evaporation, is contributing to the low water levels. The low ice cover is due to the record warm year of 2012, which has left the lakes 2 - 3°C above average in temperature, as of January 8. Barges on the lakes are being forced to carry reduced loads due to the low water. Great Lakes water level data goes back to 1918.


Figure 4. The water level on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan measured during 2012 - 2013 (red line) hit an all-time December monthly low during December 2012, beating the record set in 1964. The predicted water levels for January - March call for record lows all three months. Image credit: Army Corps of Engineers.

Long-term drought outlook
NOAA's January 17 Seasonal Drought Outlook calls for drought to persist over at least 70% of the U.S. drought area through the end of April. The drought is expected to ease some along its northern and eastern edges, but new areas of drought are predicted to develop over Texas, California, and the Southeast U.S. I don't see any signs of a shift in the fundamental large-scale atmospheric flow patterns coming, and it is good bet that drought will be a huge concern as we enter spring. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center predicts an increased chance of drier than average conditions over southwestern portions of the drought region during the coming three months. In general, droughts are more likely in the Midwest U.S. when warmer than average ocean temperatures prevail in the tropical Atlantic, with cooler than average ocean temperatures in the tropical Eastern Pacific (La Niña-like conditions.) This is what we had in during most of 2012, and continue to have in 2013. In fact, the equatorial tropical Pacific has cooled in recent weeks to 0.6°C below average (as of January 14). This is similar to the ocean temperatures seen in the spring of 2012, just before the Great Drought of 2012 began. Most of the U.S. drought region needs 3 - 9" of precipitation to pull out of drought.

Drought links:
My post on Lessons from 2012: Droughts, not Hurricanes, are the Greater Danger discussed how drought is our greatest threat from climate change.

Ricky Rood blogs about the Dust Bowl

Wunderground weather news
Wunderground's Angela Fritz has put together a weather news feature that provides a selection of recent media articles on major global weather events. For example, Sydney, Australia's biggest city, set it's all-time heat record today, with the temperature peaking at 45.8 degrees Celsius (114.4 Fahrenheit). The old record, of 45.3 C (113.5 Fahrenheit), was set in January 1939. Also, heavy snow hit Britain today, and a dock from Japan showed up on the coast of Washington.

Featured blogger Lee Grenci has a new post today on the incredibly intense 932 mb low that affected the Aleutian Islands yesterday.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

Old Mission (nmcbill)
Low water level at Old Mission Lighthouse. View taken from Lighthouse. In 1986 the water level was at the green area just in front of the sunbathers. On 45th. parallel 18 miles north of Traverse City, Michigan on the tip of Old Mission Peninsula.
Old Mission

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Are there any 'current snow coverage' maps available for Europe, anywhere online? Or maybe forecasts?
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Little bit of snow up here Tuesday, more on Cape Cod:



Go Patriots!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 88 Comments: 8291


izzojiggawatz Isaac Diener
@reedtimmerTVN Look what 60 mph winds and an Arctic cold front does to the Lake Winnebago shoreline in Wisconsin. #wiwx pic.twitter.com/RhdjoKQF
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Quoting Skyepony:
Click pic for loop.



Hi, check your e-mail... I sent you one of my works...

Im still looking though my pile of work for the Igor crossshatch...
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Brrrr...!
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545. Skyepony (Mod)
Click pic for loop.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 41210
8:10 PM EST UPDATE
_____________
Well, saw some snowfall increments for northern, NJ...Eastern PA and NYC.
Expanded the 3-6" shade westwards to cover more of Long Island, and southeastern New England.
Also added white shade for coastal Mass.



More updates if there are significant changes
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I read the article, however, we have long known that rocks and water have existed on Mars. And we also know that liquid water once was flowing. Their hypothesis doesn't figure to any increase in expectations on life on Mars.

Quoting MontanaZephyr:
'Strongest evidence yet to there being life on Mars'


Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 108 Comments: 11149
Excellent job Tropical, very nice color scheme going there. +1
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 108 Comments: 11149
'Strongest evidence yet to there being life on Mars'

Link
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Current temperatures across this part of the world...

Had to add a -40F to my color scale in preparation of the temperatures across North Dakota and Minnesota tonight.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34176
Quoting indianrivguy:


noooo, go to winter don't bring it to you... I'm in between you and coldness :(

Hey Doug, missed ya this morning, good evening sir!


I've been waving a blanket toward the East, keeping the cold core away from here ... Dakota, Minnesota, "Sconsin... THEY can have it!
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Lots of snow for Europe tonight... I read on the news yesterday that most of it was forcast to hit France and southern Belgium after tearing through the UK, but here in Amsterdam it has been steadily snowing with serious gusts of wind since last night. Only thing that changed is the winds died down in the last 3-4 hours, and the snow is beginning to really drop, I estimate 5-6 inches easy so far, with much larger drifts...

Can someone with more links at their disposal maybe find a recent satellite photo from this afternoon that shows Benelux and the region... or something of the kind?
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Quoting indianrivguy:


noooo, go to winter don't bring it to you... I'm in between you and coldness :(

Hey Doug, missed ya this morning, good evening sir!



Good eve back at cha! I was on briefly like I am most mornings. I try to follow what's going on here and get my weather updates in the am. Ravens, 7-3
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 798
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Keeps...I wanna see some of that blue in south Florida...Please get to work on that. Thank you!


noooo, go to winter don't bring it to you... I'm in between you and coldness :(

Hey Doug, missed ya this morning, good evening sir!
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GO Ravens!!


And cold air too!
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they are forecasting a low of 16 tonight i dunno may get colder its already 18.5 and its only 7 pm
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Getting a bit nippy there Keep....
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Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 7:00 PM EST Sunday 20 January 2013
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 30.1 inches
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 15 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 2

Temperature: 18.5°F
Dewpoint: 6.6°F
Humidity: 59 %
Wind: W 11 mph
Wind Chill: 6
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Sensei in the House...
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Keeps...I wanna see some of that blue in south Florida...Please get to work on that. Thank you!
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Quoting Grothar:


I disagree :)


You quoted that whole thing just to say " I disagree"...Geez...Waste of blog space...huh
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Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 6:00 PM EST Sunday 20 January 2013
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 30.1 inches
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 15 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 2

Temperature: 19.2°F
Dewpoint: 5.4°F
Humidity: 54 %
Wind: WNW 18 gust 25 mph
Wind Chill: 4
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Miami NWS Disco

BOTH GFS/ECMWF AGREE ON THE COLD FRONT ASSOCIATED WITH THE
AFOREMENTIONED SHORTWAVE TO MOVE ACROSS SOUTH FL SATURDAY
MORNING OR EARLY IN THE DAY. HOWEVER, BIG DIFFERENCES ABOUND ON
THE STRENGTH OF THE COLD PUSH INTO THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED
STATES...AND EACH ARE HOLDING FIRM ON THEIR OWN DIFFERING
SOLUTIONS. ECMWF CARVES OUT A DEEP, MORE AMPLIFIED TROUGH AND AIMS
THE BRUNT OF THE COLD AIR TOWARDS FLORIDA, BRINGING A SIGNIFICANT
COLD BLAST TO SOUTH FLORIDA WITH TEMPS BARELY RISING ON COLD AIR
ADVECTION SATURDAY, THEN TUMBLING INTO THE 30S AND 40S SATURDAY
NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING. THE ECMWF SOLUTION POINTS TO A FREEZE
POTENTIAL SUN-MON MORNING FOR THE INTERIOR. HOWEVER, THE GFS
CONTINUES RUN AFTER RUN TO BE MUCH LESS AGGRESSIVE...NOT CARVING
OUT AS DEEP OF A TROUGH AND HENCE NOT NEARLY AS COLD HERE WITH THE
BRUNT OF THE MODIFIED ARCTIC AIR BYPASSING SOUTH FL JUST OFF TO
THE NORTHEAST. 850 MB TEMPS ARE SOME 10C DEGREES WARMER SUN
MORNING ON THE LATEST 12Z GFS RUN COMPARED TO THE ECMWF RUN. GFS
DOES BRING COOLER AIR IN A "BACK-DOOR" STYLE SAT NIGHT-SUN, BUT
NOT NEARLY AS COLD AS THE ECMWF. THE FORECAST FROM THE PREVIOUS
SHIFT WAS A COMPROMISE OF THE TWO SOLUTIONS AND HAS BEEN KEPT DUE
TO VERY LOW FORECAST CONFIDENCE DURING THIS PERIOD. STAY TUNED.


I disagree :)
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Miami NWS Disco

BOTH GFS/ECMWF AGREE ON THE COLD FRONT ASSOCIATED WITH THE
AFOREMENTIONED SHORTWAVE TO MOVE ACROSS SOUTH FL SATURDAY
MORNING OR EARLY IN THE DAY. HOWEVER, BIG DIFFERENCES ABOUND ON
THE STRENGTH OF THE COLD PUSH INTO THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED
STATES...AND EACH ARE HOLDING FIRM ON THEIR OWN DIFFERING
SOLUTIONS. ECMWF CARVES OUT A DEEP, MORE AMPLIFIED TROUGH AND AIMS
THE BRUNT OF THE COLD AIR TOWARDS FLORIDA, BRINGING A SIGNIFICANT
COLD BLAST TO SOUTH FLORIDA WITH TEMPS BARELY RISING ON COLD AIR
ADVECTION SATURDAY, THEN TUMBLING INTO THE 30S AND 40S SATURDAY
NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING. THE ECMWF SOLUTION POINTS TO A FREEZE
POTENTIAL SUN-MON MORNING FOR THE INTERIOR. HOWEVER, THE GFS
CONTINUES RUN AFTER RUN TO BE MUCH LESS AGGRESSIVE...NOT CARVING
OUT AS DEEP OF A TROUGH AND HENCE NOT NEARLY AS COLD HERE WITH THE
BRUNT OF THE MODIFIED ARCTIC AIR BYPASSING SOUTH FL JUST OFF TO
THE NORTHEAST. 850 MB TEMPS ARE SOME 10C DEGREES WARMER SUN
MORNING ON THE LATEST 12Z GFS RUN COMPARED TO THE ECMWF RUN. GFS
DOES BRING COOLER AIR IN A "BACK-DOOR" STYLE SAT NIGHT-SUN, BUT
NOT NEARLY AS COLD AS THE ECMWF. THE FORECAST FROM THE PREVIOUS
SHIFT WAS A COMPROMISE OF THE TWO SOLUTIONS AND HAS BEEN KEPT DUE
TO VERY LOW FORECAST CONFIDENCE DURING THIS PERIOD. STAY TUNED.
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Mean Temperature 61 °F 55 °F
Max Temperature 77 °F 67 °F 85 °F (2009)
Min Temperature 45 °F 44 °F 24 °F (1948)

made it to 77 at the Airport (KRAL) 74.5 here....
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Quoting islander101010:
mavericks surf contest is a go for today large long period waves are expected. could be some freak extra large sets too. hope no one meets their end.
Quoting Xulonn:
Photobucket
Thanks for the notice. Although I don't surf, I am an avid surf/wave watcher. Until I retired last year to the mountains of western Panama, I lived in coastal northern California and used to check for significant wave heights in the winter and go to the coast when the waves were likely to be breaking against the rocks spectacularly.

Although the stormsurfing.com LINK report does not show HUGE waves, the break is forecast to be about 30', and the favored "long-period" swells can build up to much higher breaks. In this case, the swells are probably from peak of that monster North Pacific storm that formed last week northeast of Japan.

The swells must be coming from the right direction to "activate" the break over the unique bottom contour that creates the offshore Mavericks surf.

Here's hoping that they get some good, clean waves, and some spectacular rides.

(Interestingly, the surf forecast for SW Ireland at the same time is for over 40'. If you haven't seen pictures and movies of big-wave surfing in Ireland, Google it. They get some very thick, heavy monster waves in that relatively unknown surfing region.)
Watch the Maverick's Invitational Live here

Edit: Event is over now.

Swell is running around 8ft @ 20 seconds. Could see some waves about 2.5 times that height for the largest sets. This same swell is coming from the massive 932mb low that bombed off Japan several days ago.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:

Hopefully the Ravens win the next game so we can have Harbaugh Bowl.


I hope not. I need to get at least one right.
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Just went to the store.... NOBODY on the road in SE PA....
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WINTER WEATHER UPDATE #73
_________________________

For in Honor to Martin Luther King Jr...
SE New England snow



Click picture for 4x larger size...
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Quoting PedleyCA:
SF 28-Atl 24 FINAL

Hopefully the Ravens win the next game so we can have Harbaugh Bowl.
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SF 28-Atl 24 FINAL
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URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PITTSBURGH PA
409 PM EST SUN JAN 20 2013

PAZ007>009-210515-
/O.NEW.KPBZ.WW.Y.0003.130121T1700Z-130123T1100Z/
MERCER-VENANGO-FOREST-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...SHARON...HERMITAGE...GROVE CITY...
GREENVILLE...FARRELL...OIL CITY...FRANKLIN...SUGARCREEK...
TIONESTA
409 PM EST SUN JAN 20 2013

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON MONDAY TO 6 AM EST
WEDNESDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PITTSBURGH HAS ISSUED A WINTER
WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON MONDAY TO
6 AM EST WEDNESDAY.

* TIMING...ALTHOUGH LIGHT SNOW OF AN INCH OR LESS IS POSSIBLE
TONIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING...SNOW INTENSITY IS EXPECTED TO
INTENSIFY MONDAY AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED TO
FALL MONDAY NIGHT...WITH SNOW CONTINUING TUESDAY AND
DIMINISHING TUESDAY NIGHT.

* MAIN IMPACT...HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED DUE TO
SNOW COVERED ROADS AND REDUCED VISIBILITY.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50343
will chicago break that 1-inch snowfall record?...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50343
Quoting pottery:

You now have 13 bags of good nutrients for your garden.
Just place the leaves in a corner of the yard, and next summer use them as manure.

They are filled with all the nutrient that the trees have been sucking out of the ground.
Put it all back and the garden and trees will love you. :):))


In many windy dry places this will not work without added attention. Leaves are high carbon and need a bit of nitrogen and definitely some moisture to decompose. I have a lot of trashpicked five gallon buckets with quarter inch holes drilled in the bottom. I mix used coffee grounds with rinse water and this gets things moving along quite nicely. When the leaves have rotted partially they can then be dug in or recomposted or used as mulch. Coffee grounds are about one percent nitrogen. The buckets can also be used as planters and since white reflects heat they are good for hot climates.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50343
for Wash.D.C..........................THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN OR
SLEET OR SNOW. LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION
40 PERCENT.
.FRIDAY...CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF RAIN OR FREEZING RAIN OR SNOW.
HIGHS IN THE MID 30S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 40 PERCENT.
.FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S.
.SATURDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 20S.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 5 Comments: 50343
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Might be freeze warnings mid-week north florida..........
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SF 28-Atl 24
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............................best chance of rain..Friday
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For Nashville, TN, my weekly forecast.

Edit: What I mean by my is my area, this is a product of the NWS.

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Still 24-21 SF fumbled at the 1 and Atlanta recovered it.
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Quoting nymore:
Your respected journal as you say in line number one is what a week old with one article published. How much respect could they have garnered in this time period. It was rejected by a journal with a history over 115 years long.
Scitechnol--the publisher of GIGS--has been around for many years, and has published tens of thousands of articles over hundreds of issues of its hundreds of publications. That's respect.
Quoting nymore:
I have another question why not fix it and send it back to JGR after all they are the ones who rejected it.
I was involved last year with a paper submitted to and rejected by Nature. Not because of any technical flaws, but simply because Nature is--as JGR is--a very popular journal, and thus receives far more articles than it can possibly publish in a given time. And since the article with which I was involved was time-sensitive--as are the BEST results--the decision was made to publish elsewhere.
Quoting nymore:
Then you try to bring in a strawman argument about Watts who has nothing to do with JGR or this new journal.
It's not, of course, a strawman argument when, during a discussion of a climate science study, to wonder whether a very vocal contrarian will finally abide by a public promise made regarding that very study. (A far better example of a strawman argument would be, say, diverting focus from an article in a journal to talk only about that journal's age. Now that's a diversion.)

Now: do you have anything to say about the actual study? If so, I'd be happy to read it.
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500. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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