North American cold wave winds down; Atlantic storm stronger than Sandy winding up

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:05 PM GMT on January 25, 2013

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The January 2013 North American cold wave is winding down, after bringing five days of bitter cold to Canada and the Midwest and Northeast U.S. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Friday morning in just six states east of the Rockies--half as many as on Thursday morning. The coldest spot was Saranac Lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains, which bottomed out at -18°F (-28°). In nearby Malone, NY, flooding is occurring, thanks to an ice jam on the Salmon River caused by this week's cold weather. The weather was a bit warmer on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire today, where the temperature of -17°F (-27°C) combined with a wind of 81 mph to create a wind chill of -61°F (-52°C). The most dangerous winter weather today will be due to the Wrath of Khan--a low pressure system traversing Tennessee and Kentucky has been named Winter Storm Kahn by TWC, and will bring as much as 0.5" of ice accumulation from eastern Tennessee and Kentucky through North Carolina and northern South Carolina, potentially causing major power outages. Snow will impact areas from the Ohio Valley through western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, with 1" expected in D.C. and 1 - 3" in Baltimore.


Figure 1. A powerful extratropical storm with a central pressure of 984 mb begins to wind up about 500 miles east of Newfoundland, Canada, at 10 am EST January 25, 2013.

How low will it go? Massive Atlantic storm winding up
In the Northern Atlantic, an extratropical storm that brought up to 6" of snow to Maryland on Thursday is rapidly intensifying about 500 miles east of Newfoundland, Canada, and figures to become one of the most intense storms ever observed in the North Atlantic. This meteorological "bomb" was analyzed with a central pressure of 984 mb at 12Z (7 am EST) Friday morning by NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center; the GFS and ECMWF models both predict that the storm will deepen by 60 mb in 24 hours, reaching a central pressure of 924 - 928 mb by 7 am EST Saturday morning. This is the central pressure one commonly sees in Category 4 hurricanes, and is a very rare intensity for an extratropical storm to attain. Since extratropical storms do not form eyewalls, the winds of the massive Atlantic low are predicted to peak at 90 mph (Category 1 hurricane strength), with significant wave heights reaching 52 feet (16 meters.) Fortunately, the storm is expected to weaken dramatically before reaching any land areas, and will only be a concern to shipping. The intensification process will be aided by the strong contrast between the frigid Arctic air flowing off the coast of Canada from this week's cold blast, and the warm air lying over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream current. The ultimate strength of the storm will depend upon where the center tracks in relation to several warm eddies of the Gulf Stream along its path. According to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt's post on Super Extratropical Storms, the all-time record lowest pressure for a North Atlantic extratropical storm is 913 mb, set on January 11, 1993, near Scotland's Shetland Islands. The mighty 1993 storm broke apart the super oil tanker Braer on a rocky shoal in the Shetland Islands, causing a massive oil spill.

Other notable Atlantic extratropical storms, as catalogued by British weather historian, Stephen Burt:

920.2 mb (27.17”) measured by the ship Uyir while she sailed southeast of Greenland on December 15, 1986. The British Met. Office calculated that the central pressure of the storm, which was centered some distance southeast of the ship, was 916 mb (27.05”).

921.1 mb (27.20”) on Feb. 5, 1870 measured by the ship Neier at 49°N 26°W (another ship in the area measured 925.5 mb)

924 mb (27.28”) on Feb. 4, 1824 at Reykjavik, Iceland (the lowest on land measured pressure in the North Atlantic)

925.5 mb (27.33”) on Dec. 4, 1929 by the SS Westpool somewhere in the Atlantic (exact location unknown)

925.6 mb (27.33”) on Jan. 26, 1884 at Ochtertyre, Perthshire, U.K. (the lowest pressure recorded on land in the U.K.)

For comparison’s sake, the lowest pressure measured on land during an extra-tropical storm in the United States (aside from Alaska) was 952 mb 28.10” at Bridgehampton, New York (Long Island) on March 1 during, the Great Billy Sunday Snowstorm.


Figure 2. Infrared satellite image of the North Atlantic Storm of January 11, 1993 at 0600Z when it deepened into the strongest extra-tropical cyclone ever observed on earth, with a central pressure of 913 mb (26.96”). Satellite image from EUMETSAT Meteosat-4.

Intense winter storms are expected to increase in number due to climate change
In my 2010 blog post, The future of intense winter storms, I discuss how evidence for an observed increase in intense wintertime cyclones in the North Atlantic is uncertain. In particular, intense Nor'easters affecting the Northeast U.S. showed no increase in number over the latter part of the 20th century. This analysis is supported by the fact that wintertime wave heights recorded since the mid-1970s by the three buoys along the central U.S. Atlantic coast have shown little change (Komar and Allan, 2007a,b, 2008). However, even though Nor'easters have not been getting stronger, they have been dropping more precipitation, in the form of both rain and snow. Several studies (Geng and Sugi, 2001, and Paciorek et al., 2002) found an increase in intense winter storms over both the North Atlantic, but Benestad and Chen (2006) found no trend in the western parts of the North Atlantic, and Gulev et al. (2001) found a small small decrease in intense winter storms in the Atlantic.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), a scientific advisory board created by the President and Congress, concluded this in their 2009 U.S. Climate Impacts Report: "Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent". The USGRP concluded that an increase of between four and twelve intense wintertime extratropical storms per year could be expected over the Northern Hemisphere by 2100, depending upon the amount of greenhouse gases put into the air (Figure 3). If we assume that the current climate is producing the same number of intense winter storms as it did over the period 1961-2000--about 53--this represents an increase of between 8% and 23% in intense wintertime extratropical storms. Two studies--Pinto et al. (2007) and Bengtsson et al. 2006--suggest that the more intense winter cyclones will affect only certain preferred regions, namely northwestern Europe and Alaska's Aleutian Islands. At least three other studies also find that northwestern Europe--including the British Isles, the Netherlands, northern France, northern Germany, Denmark and Norway--can expect a significant increase in intense wintertime cyclones in a future warmer world (Lionello et al., 2008; Leckebusch and Ulbrich 2004; and Leckebusch et al., 2006). None of these studies showed a significant increase in the number of intense Nor'easters affecting the Northeast U.S.


Figure 3. The projected change in intense wintertime extratropical storms with central pressures < 970 mb for the Northern Hemisphere under various emission scenarios. Storms counted occur poleward of 30°N during the 120-day season beginning November 15. A future with relatively low emissions of greenhouse gases (B1 scenario, blue line) is expected to result in an additional four intense extratropical storms per year, while up to twelve additional intense storms per year can be expected in a future with high emissions (red and black lines). Humanity is currently on a high emissions track. Figure was adapted from Lambert and Fyfe (2006), and was taken from Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate, a 2009 report from the the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The USGRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which called for "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change".

Links
Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt's posts on Super Extratropical Storms and World and U.S. Lowest Barometric Pressure Records

Claudio Cassardo's January 23, 2013 post, Very low minima of extratropical cyclones in North Atlantic

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Khan. Yesterday's storm that brought ice and snow to the Mid-Atlantic.
thanks
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Observed at: Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 1:00 PM EST Saturday 26 January 2013
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 30.3 inches
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 15 miles
Air Quality Health Index: 3

Temperature: 24.6°F
Dewpoint: 11.8°F
Humidity: 58 %
Wind: SSW 3 mph
Wind Chill: 21
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Indeed Hydrus, I'm sure marine interests have planned to delay or detour around it for days as long as it's been forecast... Then again, given the storm's size pretty nasty over quite a stretch to completely avoid some impacts... The OSCAT and GFS analysis shows swath 40 kt winds extending well below to near 45N...

EDIT / Add - Thanks for those reports Skye!
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408. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Quoting allancalderini:
I can`t remember the K storm which one was?

Khan. Yesterday's storm that brought ice and snow to the Mid-Atlantic.
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406. Skyepony (Mod)
Lone ship off to the west.
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405. Skyepony (Mod)
Here's ships on the north side. Near 20' waves..
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Quoting beell:


I've been in the Gulf of Mexico on a 200' geo survey boat in 18' seas. I really thought I was Mr. Macho at the time...

LOL, I love monster waves.
Especially when I'm on the beach, or better still, up a hill, watching them roll in and explode.
Been over some big ones in small boats, but I never enjoyed it !
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Quoting DocNDswamp:
LOL, curious if we'll get any ship reports on the winds, wave heights, or lowest pressure anywhere close to the worst quadrants of the Atlantic bomb...
I speak from experience that I would not want to be anywhere near that monster.....I have been through some bad ones. Great Lakes and the Atlantic.
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Quoting beell:
East Northern Section
Storm warnings - Issued: 0800 UTC Sat 26 Jan

At 260000 UTC, low 53 north 37 west 944 expected 58 north 24 west 931 by 270000 UTC. Winds will reach storm force 10 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre in the northwestern semicircle until 262100 UTC. Winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre, later between 100 and 300 miles of the centre, in the southeastern semicircle throughout. Also, winds are expected to reach hurricane force 12 at times between 90 and 120 miles of the centre in the southeastern quadrant until 261600 UTC. Northeasterly winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 in Denmark Strait and the north of West Northern Section from 261300 UTC. Southeasterly winds May also reach storm force 10 later in Norwegian Basin.

metoffice.gov.uk
Beaufort Scale/Wikipedia

Wheeeeeeee!!



Wheeeeeee!! for only those who haven't been there. I have and it's no fun hanging on for dear life and hoping all the welds and bolts holding things together don't break in the strain.

When you've been washed across the deck and slammed into things, this gets old very, very fast. And after that you appreciate the shade of an oak tree all the more.
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LOL, curious if we'll get any ship reports on the winds, wave heights, or lowest pressure anywhere close to the worst quadrants of the Atlantic bomb...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
We now have Winter Storm Luna...other than Euclid (blizzard from Oklahoma to Maine, historic Christmas tornado outbreak across Mississippi Valley), it looks like this one will be the most significant one named by The Weather Channel yet.

I can`t remember the K storm which one was?
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397. beell
Quoting pottery:

A wee bit choppy, out there eh ?


I've been in the Gulf of Mexico on a 200' geo survey boat in 18' seas. I really thought I was Mr. Macho at the time...
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Quoting beell:
East Northern Section
Storm warnings - Issued: 0800 UTC Sat 26 Jan

At 260000 UTC, low 53 north 37 west 944 expected 58 north 24 west 931 by 270000 UTC. Winds will reach storm force 10 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre in the northwestern semicircle until 262100 UTC. Winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre, later between 100 and 300 miles of the centre, in the southeastern semicircle throughout. Also, winds are expected to reach hurricane force 12 at times between 90 and 120 miles of the centre in the southeastern quadrant until 261600 UTC. Northeasterly winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 in Denmark Strait and the north of West Northern Section from 261300 UTC. Southeasterly winds May also reach storm force 10 later in Norwegian Basin.

metoffice.gov.uk
Beaufort Scale/Wikipedia

Wheeeeeeee!!





A wee bit choppy, out there eh ?
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394. VR46L
Winds upto 42 kts here ...

Met eireann
Gale warning

Southerly winds will increase to gale force on all Irish coastal waters and on the Irish Sea this afternoon.
Issued at 12:00 on 26-Jan-2013
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We now have Winter Storm Luna...other than Euclid (blizzard from Oklahoma to Maine, historic Christmas tornado outbreak across Mississippi Valley), it looks like this one will be the most significant one named by The Weather Channel yet.

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392. beell
East Northern Section
Storm warnings - Issued: 0800 UTC Sat 26 Jan

At 260000 UTC, low 53 north 37 west 944 expected 58 north 24 west 931 by 270000 UTC. Winds will reach storm force 10 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre in the northwestern semicircle until 262100 UTC. Winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 between 50 and 200 miles of the centre, later between 100 and 300 miles of the centre, in the southeastern semicircle throughout. Also, winds are expected to reach hurricane force 12 at times between 90 and 120 miles of the centre in the southeastern quadrant until 261600 UTC. Northeasterly winds will also reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 in Denmark Strait and the north of West Northern Section from 261300 UTC. Southeasterly winds May also reach storm force 10 later in Norwegian Basin.

metoffice.gov.uk
Beaufort Scale/Wikipedia

Wheeeeeeee!!




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Quoting txjac:
Can anyone tell me when cooler weather will come back to Houston? 80F just aint right in January.


Wednesday night/Thursday should return temps to just below seasonal norms for this time of year.

What is not know as of yet is whether the heart of the polar air mass will come south over East Texas or possibly some distance to the east. Either way, warmer than normal will continue through about Wednesday and then cooler after that.
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The Bomb.
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GFS ensembles are indicating Missouri and Illinois will see temperatures nearly 20 degrees above normal by Tuesday.

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386. ARiot
I think our "winter" of about two weeks is over in the southern part of the TN Valley.

We had a week of cold rain and a few colder than average lows this week.

Back to warmer or much warmer than average next week.

At least the cold snap stopped things from budding out after the 70 degree week in early Jan.
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Quoting Skyepony:
1900hurricane~ That phase analysis shows it is more shallow now than expected to become. It was pretty shallow yesterday (cloudsat). All I was referring to was that it's not as deep now as it is expected to be. We should also see it become more symmetrical. Wind wise, strength & such, being extratropical the fronts are helping feed it. As it goes more warm core it should weaken some. I agree as far as peak it's somewhere around now. Maybe a touch stronger at 12Z. Said most of that in the gfs wind forecast post.

Ok, I must have misunderstood you. I thought you were talking the depth of the pressure (intensity), not the depth of the warm core itself.
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Looks like that storm has moved off and doesn't look like anything is going to replace it. Thought there was more out there.

58 °F
Overcast
Humidity: 90%
Dew Point: 55 °F
Wind: Calm
Pressure: 29.91 in (Rising)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Pollen: 3.40 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 4900 ft
Overcast 6000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 817 ft

And I see the KSOX radar is down....
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381. Skyepony (Mod)
1900hurricane~ That phase analysis shows it is more shallow now than expected to become. It was pretty shallow yesterday (cloudsat). All I was referring to was that it's not as deep now as it is expected to be. We should also see it become more symmetrical. Wind wise, strength & such, being extratropical the fronts are helping feed it. As it goes more warm core it should weaken some. I agree as far as peak it's somewhere around now. Maybe a touch stronger at 12Z. Said most of that in the gfs wind forecast post.
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Did I scare everybody off?
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What a beast!

Loop
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Quoting Skyepony:
The core has yet to get as deep as expected.

I would have to disagree. Being as deep as possible is not the same as being as warm as expected with an extratropical cyclone in most cases. With this current storm, the peak is about now or very soon. However, as it slowly winds down, it should briefly become more warm core as it separates from the baroclinic dynamics that spawned it in the first place. During that time, the thickness contours should become more unidirectional with the storm's isobars, indicating a stacked system. The greater thickness values at the center of the low versus the surrounding environment indicates that it is warm core.



06Z GFS @ initialization. Bombgenesis is winding down and the low is beginning to go warm core (as seen by the thickness contours). However, baroclinic forcing is still driving the bus so to speak with lots of thickness contours crossing isobars (particularly in the SE quadrant), and there is still a clear warm front and cold front attached to the low, which can be more or less seen on the thickness chart.



06Z GFS @ 24 hours. This is the time that the phase diagram you posted indicated the deepest warm core. By this point, the low is beginning to wind down from a max of 12 hours earlier. The low has completely separated from the frontal structures that it had earlier and is very warm core, with the thickness contours following the isobars. The cyclone will continue to slowly wind down from this point and decay.

*EDIT to fix image and clarify paragraph 2.
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376. txjac
Can anyone tell me when cooler weather will come back to Houston? 80F just aint right in January.
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375. Skyepony (Mod)
MODIS
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A significant ice storm is likely to begin affecting the Midwest tomorrow afternoon as a short wave trough, currently in the desert Southwest, ejects into the northern Plains. Many locations are expecting a quart of an inch to up to three-quarters of an inch. This type of ice accumulation will lead to significant travel disruption. Chicago, a city that broke its never-ending streak of days without a 1" snowfall, is expected up to a half an inch of ice accumulation.

Winter weather products are being issued for the area at this time...primarily for sleet and freezing rain and not snow, though some accumulation is possible the farther north you head.

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Quoting hurricane23:
Looking for some 1km sat close-ups of intense tropical low in north atl if you have any links please share.


best i can get

no link its make your own

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Good morning/afternoon/evening all. I hope Australia gets some better weather soon.
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371. VR46L
This is kinda cool Norway met imagery of the storm formation through present
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Quoting hurricane23:

Looking for some 1km sat close-ups of intense tropical low in north atl if you have any links please share.

Terra/MODIS, 1 km

Near Real Time (Orbit Swath) Images

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369. Skyepony (Mod)
The core has yet to get as deep as expected.
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368. Skyepony (Mod)
The wind forecast has it peaking around now.
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Quoting nymore:


Not even close to living up to the hype by some on here but then things rarely do.
It may set no records (though that remains to be seen), but, IMO, a barometric pressure drop of 50-plus millibars in just a day is pretty amazing no matter what the final outcome.
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DAY 4-8 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0325 AM CST SAT JAN 26 2013

VALID 291200Z - 031200Z

...DISCUSSION...
LATEST SUITE OF MODEL GUIDANCE PRESENTS A BETTER GENERAL CONSENSUS
IN THE FORECAST EVOLUTION OF THE LARGE SCALE PATTERN ACROSS THE
CONUS INTO THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK...ESPECIALLY WHEN COMPARED TO
THIS TIME YESTERDAY. WHILE THERE REMAIN DIFFERENCES IN THE
CONFIGURATIONS AND MAGNITUDES OF THE VARIOUS FLOW FIELDS AND
PARAMETERS...ANALYSIS OF THE GFS/ECMWF/UKMET/CMC/GFS ENSEMBLE AND
DPROG/DT LOOPS LEND SUFFICIENT SUPPORT FOR THE REINTRODUCTION OF A
SEVERE WEATHER FORECAST...NOW VALID FOR D4/TUESDAY...WITH A
CONTINUING THREAT INTO AT LEAST PART OF D5/WEDNESDAY.

AS INDICATED IN THE D3 OTLK...A WARM MOIST BOUNDARY LAYER IS
EXPECTED TO RESIDE ACROSS THE SCNTRL U.S. AHEAD OF A STRENGTHENING
LARGE SCALE TROUGH AND ASSOCIATED DEVELOPING COLD FRONT. WHILE ECMWF
CONTINUES TO FORECAST A SLIGHTLY SLOWER AND LESS FULLY-PHASED UPPER
TROUGH WHEN COMPARED WITH GFS/UKMET MODELS...EVEN IT COMES AROUND TO
FORECASTING AN AMPLIFIED AND SUBSTANTIALLY PHASED LARGE SCALE UPPER
TROUGH ACROSS THE SCNTRL AND ERN U.S. BEGINNING D4/TUESDAY AND
CONTINUING THROUGH D5/WEDNESDAY. THIS PROCESS WILL CONTRIBUTE TO A
RAPID ONSET OF DEEP-LAYER ASCENT AND SUBSEQUENT TSTM DEVELOPMENT
ALONG AND AHEAD OF A SHARPENING COLD FRONT THAT WILL SWEEP EWD/SEWD
ACROSS THE CNTRL/SRN PLAINS DURING THE DAY TUESDAY...AND THEN TO THE
TN VALLEY/NRN GULF COAST AND SOUTHEAST THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SHEAR AND
INSTABILITY AS CURRENTLY FORECAST WILL PROMOTE ORGANIZED STORMS IN
EITHER SUPERCELL OR LINEAR FORMS FROM NORTHEAST TX ACROSS THE
ARKLATEX TO SERN MO/WRN TN. SQUALL LINE OR LINE SEGMENT EVOLUTION
SHOULD BECOME MORE LIKELY WITH TIME AS COLD FRONT/CONVECTIVE COLD
POOLS FURTHER INTENSIFY AMIDST MODEST INSTABILITY. DAMAGING
WINDS...POSSIBLY WIDESPREAD...WILL BE THE GREATEST HAZARD WITH THIS
CONVECTION. HOWEVER...LOW LEVEL SHEAR WILL BE STRONG ENOUGH FOR
TORNADOES AS WELL.

EXPECT THE STRONG FORCING AND SHEAR TO MAINTAIN A QLSC WITH DAMAGING
WIND POTENTIAL AT LEAST INTO THE TN VALLEY THROUGH EARLY
WEDNESDAY/D5. BEYOND THIS TIME...GREATER MODEL SPREAD AND RESULTING
UNCERTAINTY BEGIN TO IMPACT FORECAST CONFIDENCE IN SEVERE WEATHER.
HAVE OPTED TO RELY ON GFS ENSEMBLE JOINT PROBABILITY FORECASTS FOR
INSTABILITY AND SHEAR THROUGH LATE WEDNESDAY. THESE PRODUCTS SUGGEST
THAT SEVERE WEATHER POTENTIAL WILL BE MUCH MORE UNCERTAIN WITH EWD
EXTENT DESPITE STRONG QPF AND UVV SIGNALS ALONG THE ADVANCING FRONT
TO THE EAST COAST. PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHEAST MAY BE ADDED IN LATER
OUTLOOKS IF MODEL CONSENSUS IMPROVES.

..CARBIN.. 01/26/2013
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365. Skyepony (Mod)
Atlantic bomb
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364. VR46L
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Our friend in the North Atlantic sure is a looker!



LOL ...Its no friend of mine .... The front associated with it is bringing at the moment gusts of 37 knots and rain ...

ascat of UK and Ireland



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363. Skyepony (Mod)
Atlantic bomb~ so huge OSCAT can only capture 1/2 of it.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Queensland wild weather gallery, January 2013

Just one of the photo's from this gallery.


Goodnight all.


The coastal region of QLD around Brisbane and areas somewhat to the north and south of there has a remarkably similar climate, especially in the summer, to much of Florida. It is quite humid, afternoon thunderstorms are very common and localized tornado events are also sometimes experienced.

Perhaps the only significant difference is that the southern half of QLD is not nearly as susceptible to tropical cyclones, due to the arrangement of the land masses there, vis-a-vis the ocean and typical tropical cyclone tracks. North QLD does see some TC activity.
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Our friend in the North Atlantic sure is a looker!

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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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