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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dont look too bad here..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
Traffic Cam...Raleigh NC.........................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
For those interested, I have written a blog on the latest happenings in Southern California

Link
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gee........................................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Yeah, I'm seeing reports of accidents all over my Twitter timeline from my friends. Hopefully everybody is safe driving! I also hearing that Raleigh area is expecting between .1 to .25 inch of ice from the freezing rain, which is borderline major ice storm.


have a kerosene heater handy or wood for the fireplace..it might be some major power outages coming yall way
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in 2 weeks might get interesting in the Northeast....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
I'm surprised no one has said this yet...


KHAAAAAN!
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The CPC says the Great Lakes are in for cold air for a long while. This is after the warm-up this weekend, of course. The 3-7 day and 8-14 day hazard outlooks both have all of Michigan in the much below average temperature category.

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GFS for sunday..................................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
GFS says more snow saturday......................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
225 PM EST FRI JAN 25 2013

DCZ001-MDZ009-013-VAZ042-052>057-501-502-260200-
/O.CON.KLWX.WW.Y.0005.000000T0000Z-130126T0200Z/
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-MONTGOMERY-PRINCE GEORGES-LOUDOUN-
PRINCE WILLIAM/MANASSAS/MANASSAS PARK-FAIRFAX-
ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA-STAFFORD-SPOTSYLVANIA-
KING GEORGE-NORTHERN FAUQUIER-SOUTHERN FAUQUIER-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...WASHINGTON...GAITHERSBURG...LEESBURG...
MANASSAS...MANASSAS PARK...FAIRFAX...ALEXANDRIA...FALLS CHURCH...
FREDERICKSBURG...WARRENTON
225 PM EST FRI JAN 25 2013

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM EST THIS
EVENING...

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...UP TO 1 INCH.

* TIMING...SNOW WILL INCREASE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE AFTERNOON.
SNOW MAY BE MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY AT TIMES DURING THE EARLY
EVENING.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 20S.

* WINDS...SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS...ROADS WILL BECOME SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY...
RESULTING IN HAZARDOUS TRAVEL DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING
COMMUTE.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
Dont park under any tree's with this ICE coming down............URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC
1259 PM EST FRI JAN 25 2013

...A WINTRY MIXTURE OF PRECIPITATION WILL OCCUR ACROSS CENTRAL
NORTH CAROLINA THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH THIS EVENING...

.A FAST MOVING AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE EAST ACROSS THE
REGION THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING. WITH VERY COLD AIR IN
PLACE... MOISTURE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SYSTEM...WILL RESULT IN A
PERIOD OF WINTRY PRECIPITATION....MAINLY IN THE FORM OF FREEZING
RAIN AND SLEET...ACROSS CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA. THE LIGHT WINTRY
MIXTURE WILL LIKELY END AS AREAS OF LIGHT FREEZING DRIZZLE THIS
EVENING.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
Thanks for the update Doc!!

That sat image of the 1993 extra-tropical storm is beautifully devastating. Incredible.
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like the old ad used to say.."Come'On Down..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36892
Quoting ncstorm:


that looks like a heavy round. I saw online that there are already traffic accidents in Raleigh because of the roads
Yeah, I'm seeing reports of accidents all over my Twitter timeline from my friends. Hopefully everybody is safe driving! I also hearing that Raleigh area is expecting between .1 to .25 inch of ice from the freezing rain, which is borderline major ice storm.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Thanks Dr. Masters; 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

If we assume that the current global warming signals = more intense winter storms (regardless of whether a natural cycle or un-natural one exacerbated by human carbon emissions), then this may have occurred in past eons during past warming events and we will see this same type of frequency-intensity in the coming decades.

At 51, I will be watching the data closely over the next 10-30 years (and witnessing the upcoming events).....God Willing....... :)



I'd like to see a 950 mb extra-tropical low barrel through the gulf in January with an arctic high to it's northeast and with an associated sub-tropical jet in the warm sector, we would see some really interesting weather here in Florida.
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82. overwash12
"Ever wonder what kind of storm would occur if an air mass from the ice covered arctic directly interacted with the tropical air mass?"

Take a look at Hydus at:-89. hydrus

There's your Arctic air mass.
Now Homework for this weekend is :-
You have to put a hurricane in the gulf just under that lot centered south of Texas.

NB ( please note,) let us know in advance if you can do this as we need to take cover, (globally!)
Especially if you can conjure up a cat 5!
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


Ever wonder what kind of storm would occur if an air mass from the ice covered arctic directly interacted with the tropical air mass?


Sure! As Sandy was coming up the coast, I said something like "Wouldn't it bee cool if a cat 5 blew up suddenly in the gulf and the two did the fujiwara up and down the east coast as a subzero arctic front came down and buried Washington DC in 40 feet of snow!

Washingtonian took offense and has never forgiven me! And back then, I thought that that was a guy that lived in Washington state.

Anyways, it would be a fun weather event, No?
Member Since: May 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 437
re: 87. dabirds

Back in 1988, the 1st night parade here fell on Feb 5th.. and had to be cancelled / rescheduled as it got snowed out! Started as a hvy 2-day cold rain event, changed over to thick, large wet clumps of hvy snow at expected time of parade, lasted until nearly 3 AM next morn. I measured 3-4" snow accumulation in spots.
;)
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Guess that's why TWC had red over us on Wed. this morning, hydrus. (I think it was for Wed. anyway. Don't always pay a lot of attention to forecast more than 3 days out.)
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Seriously? haha

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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Well, here come Round 2 for Raleigh area, except it's heavier this time. I think we'll see major icing all over the area.



that looks like a heavy round. I saw online that there are already traffic accidents in Raleigh because of the roads
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impressive squall line on the latest GFS...
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Record intensity need not be broken in order for storms to be "becoming stronger".

If there are 4 extra storms per year, and they are on average stronger than the long term average, then on average the storms are getting stronger and more frequent.

Similar reasoning applies with hurricanes. We need not have a Camille or Labor Day every year for hurricanes to be worse on average. A Sandy or an Isaac, not even "majors" by the current classification system, having every year or two would quickly add up to being much, much worse than the long term average in the existing records.

It's not just about minimum central low pressure, nor maximum winds, but size, duration, and forward movement speeds, and most of all in terms of human consequences is location.

I think neither is the case, we have weather and it can be tranquil at times and extreme at times. It does seem there is a pattern(cycles)in the long run.
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Well let's hope that maybe the continuing drought forecast is wrong then, Doc. I was in NO in '93 just before the major festivities began that year. It is early this year, so no surprise if a little colder. I rem it was in 80s and humid in '93. Little later in Feb. that year I believe. Hope it gets cold for you, but turns nice for Mardi Gras, and the midwest gets some rains this year (and no more than minor flooding).
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Quoting overwash12:
We could build a massive water heater,On the Isle of Newfoundland and pump it into the ocean... wait ,what the heck am I thinking!


LOL, or we could either build a dam, or get our Wunderground friend "cyclonebuster" to deploy a fleet of his tunnels between Iceland and Norway and block the AMOC from the havoc it's causing... that oughta do it...
;)

Alright, work calls,
G'day all!
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I lifted this from Luisport at post 39:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhmggMcJTPo&featur e= player_embedded ciclone Gong last saturday in Portugal

Although the above isnt a hurricane its what we get a lot of on the western edge of Europe.
Interesting that the locals hide from the effects, then come out and tidy the place up a bit like ants after something disturbed their nest. Well worth a watch, at least the first 10 minutes of it.

With this Atlantic storm, ( we could call it Thor or Oden, something powerful from the past.)
From an engineering point of view what seems apparent is that the west (US/Canada) side is going to pull a lot of air and not too cold waters which are part of the gulf stream according to the sages who can post maps on here, down into the mid Atlantic.
Meanwhile the East (Europes) side is going to throw warm air and water up into the North Atlantic. Iceland is in the way for a perfect circulation, so it gets warmed up as well and its not too cold at the moment anyway.
Now then, this is the second really big Atlantic storm in a few months, Sandy being the other. Could this become a "Trend?"
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Quoting overwash12:
It's almost believable that storms are becoming stronger in the Atlantic. But then there is this history thing! LOL


Record intensity need not be broken in order for storms to be "becoming stronger".

If there are 4 extra storms per year, and they are on average stronger than the long term average, then on average the storms are getting stronger and more frequent.

Similar reasoning applies with hurricanes. We need not have a Camille or Labor Day every year for hurricanes to be worse on average. A Sandy or an Isaac, not even "majors" by the current classification system, having every year or two would quickly add up to being much, much worse than the long term average in the existing records.

It's not just about minimum central low pressure, nor maximum winds, but size, duration, and forward movement speeds, and most of all in terms of human consequences is location.

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting wxchaser97:
Oh boy, I am starting to get emails and letters from colleges.

1.4" of snow in my area in SE MI and it is still snowing.

I got an email from 3 colleges so far... and snow starting here
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


Ever wonder what kind of storm would occur if an air mass from the ice covered arctic directly interacted with the tropical air mass?
We could build a massive water heater,On the Isle of Newfoundland and pump it into the ocean... wait ,what the heck am I thinking!
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77) Do they have real time feedback on your finals, you must have done well! :)
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Quoting dabirds:
A balmy overcast 35 in S C IL currently. Not a drop of sleet, rain, or snow from the system last night. Hope all of you in Mid South and Mid Atlantic keep your power.

Good job ILwthr, nc was wrong, got a response from Doc and everything civil, so far.

For you far faster weather researchers: any other similiarities between '93 and this year besides a big Jan. extratropical?


Hey dabirds,
Funny you mentioned that about '93 - Have had a mild Winter here in SE LA, with no significant freezes yet at my location, only 3 light freezes and have not dropped into the 20's on my home thermo. So recently, I looked back at our local (Houma LA) records, found during DJF Meteorological Winter '92-93 we recorded NO FREEZING temps, the lowest being a 34F reading (although there were a few other mid-up 30's with frosty morns)...

HOWEVER, that season was bookended by two 27F readings - one on Nov 30th, the other on March 14 during Superstorm '93, lol! Not counting out a Winter blast just yet here.. Actually, being the Winter Fan / sicko that I am, hoping for it! Even if Mardi Gras might get a lil chilly for some...
;)
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Quoting wxchaser97:
Oh boy, I am starting to get emails and letters from colleges.

1.4" of snow in my area in SE MI and it is still snowing.
That's awesome! By the time you're senior, you'll have TONS of emails and letters from colleges. I think I had letters from 10 different colleges and emails from 20 different college. Meanwhile, we're about to get major icing here in NC.
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


ExtraTropical storm tracks.


Thanks FV great info
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6832
Oh boy, I am starting to get emails and letters from colleges.

1.4" of snow in my area in SE MI and it is still snowing.
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Quoting overwash12:
I think the Atlantic storm is being caused by Very cold air from the ICE COVERED ARCTIC OCEAN moving south over the relatively milder waters of the North Atlantic and with the help from a winter jet stream!


Ever wonder what kind of storm would occur if an air mass from the ice covered arctic directly interacted with the tropical air mass?
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I think the Atlantic storm is being caused by Very cold air from the ICE COVERED ARCTIC OCEAN moving south over the relatively milder waters of the North Atlantic and with the help from a winter jet stream!
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Quoting TomballTXPride:


And that inconvenient, stubborn, road-block, history thing unfortunately goes a little further back than the late 1800's...




Only if i could like your post a million times.
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ExtraTropical storm tracks.
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Well, here come Round 2 for Raleigh area, except it's heavier this time. I think we'll see major icing all over the area.

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Quoting Neapolitan:
You've brought up some very valid points. However, it pays to remember that anthropogenic warming is--to use a phrase increasingly popular among scientists--"loading the dice" for such events to occur with greater frequency and intensity. And there is, of course, solid evidence that that is exactly what is happening. So while even before we humans started drastically changing the climate the weather would have occasionally rolled double sixes, our loading of the dice is why higher numbers have and will continue to come along more frequently.

NOTE: I'm not saying tomorrow's North Atlantic Superstorm will be "caused" by global warming. But I am saying that, in our warming world, every weather event is affected by that warming to a lesser or greater degree, and tomorrow's storm will be no exception.
Is there ever a day when your NOT sarcastic?.But I like your style though as I find it hilarious.And I'm not being sarcastic on that :).
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re: #64 PlazaRed

Absolutely agree, this storm would be devastating to Great Britain if it hit. So far, forecast appears it will mostly become (semi)stationary and ramp down... And good point about the Faeroe Islands you and MetTV mentioned, seems they'll get quite a blast from it...
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A balmy overcast 35 in S C IL currently. Not a drop of sleet, rain, or snow from the system last night. Hope all of you in Mid South and Mid Atlantic keep your power.

Good job ILwthr, nc was wrong, got a response from Doc and everything civil, so far.

For you far faster weather researchers: any other similiarities between '93 and this year besides a big Jan. extratropical?
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As the storm winds down, it could still bring isolated thunderstorms to the British Isles according to the Euro CAPE model.

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ECMWF at 45 hours.



This thing looks like something ripped straight from The Day After Tomorrow, its just huge!
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Noting:-59. DocNDswamp
"Sheesh, given this storm's broad, powerful circulation it might enhance the N Atlantic Current's N / northeastward influx of warm water into polar region!"

My thoughts exactly, now then imagine if this storm was a bit lower and it wasn't on course for the Faeroe Islands but was going to hit Northern Ireland and Western Scotland. This would lead to large and significant damage.
The sheer amount of water that is going to get stirred up by this storm is massive if its a bit over a 1000 miles across then it will be affecting about a million square miles of ocean!
Its eastern edge will push masses of warm air and possibly water into the Northern Atlantic.
I think that those who have only read about hurricanes would do well to watch these storms as they are a very good example of first cousins to them.
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PressureDrop I was being sarcastic when I said don't talk to me.Lol that's my way of joking sometimes.I'm jus jealous you guys might get more snow than us again.
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Is it just me, or did the entry become longer than it originally was?

EDIT: just looked back and my suspicions are confirmed. I knew something was amiss!
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Wasn't Jacques Cousteau caught in a fierce Atlantic storm for three days,aboard the Calypso?
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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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