April in January: spring-like severe weather and record warmth in the Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:19 PM GMT on January 29, 2013

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The calendar says its January, but the atmosphere looks more like April over the Midwest U.S., where a spring-like surge of warm air is interacting with a strong low pressure system to create a dangerous severe weather situation. The warm air surging northwards has already broken high temperature records for the date in Chicago, where the mercury hit 61°F at 7 am CST; a tornado watch is posted for portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. Golf-ball sized hail fell at three locations in Oklahoma already this morning, and a wind gust of 75 mph was reported in a thunderstorm near Omega, Oklahoma. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, and Mississippi in their "Moderate Risk" region for severe weather on Tuesday. This is the first "Moderate Risk" forecast issued during 2013. The primary threat will be damaging thunderstorm winds, but we will also see tornadoes, with the potential for a few strong EF-2 and EF-3 twisters. The surge of warm moving northwards ahead of the cold front spawning today's severe weather is bringing in warmth unprecedented for January in some locations. Monday was the hottest January day on record in Topeka, Kansas, which hit 77°F. That's 36°F above average. and 3° warmer than their previous highest January temperature. Columbia, Missouri tied its all-time warmest January temperature, 77°. Kansas City (74°F) and Wichita (74°F) both fell 1° short of tying their all-time January hottest temperature records. Balloon soundings of the atmosphere taken last night showed moisture levels in the top 5% for a January day over much of the Midwest, and several stations may set all-time rainiest January day records today. One candidate is Flint Michigan, where a heavy thunderstorm moved in at 7:30 am, dumping 0.75" of rain. With another round of thunderstorms expected tonight, Flint is poised to break its record for rainiest January day in its history--the 1.34" that fell on January 18, 1949.


Figure 1. A crazy weather day for the U.S.: our severe weather map from 10 am EST Tuesday, January 29. Severe thunderstorms were occurring in Kansas and Oklahoma, flood watches were posted for Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and winter weather advisories, high wind advisories, and fire weather advisories were posted in other locations.


Figure 2. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, and Mississippi in their "Moderate Risk" region for severe weather on Tuesday. This is the first "Moderate Risk" forecast issued during 2013.

Chicago's wild January weather ride continues
Chicago's craziest January in memory got even stranger today, when a surge of warm air pushed the temperature to 61°F at 7 am, breaking the previous high temperature record of 59°F for the date. Spring-like thunderstorms, accompanied by temperatures in the mid-60s are expected this afternoon--just a week after the city recorded a high temperature of 11°F and a low of -1°F (on January 22nd.) Chicago has been above 65°F in January just once in its history--on January 25, 1950, when the mercury hit 67°F. The average January high in the Windy City is 30°F, and today will be the 4th day the city has been 20 or more degrees warmer than that during January 2013. The roller coaster goes back downhill after the cold front moves through early on Wednesday, though--Chicago's high on Friday is expected to be near 15°F, with a morning low around 5°F. Chicago has also experienced record low snowfall this winter; the city got it's first 1-inch snowstorm of the season on Friday, when 1.1" fell at O'Hare Airport. This was the latest first 1-inch snow in city history, and ended a 335-day streak without a 1-inch snowstorm, the longest such streak since records began in 1872. Chicago has managed just 2.9" of snow during the winter of 2012 - 2013, which is 16" below average.

Chicago's roller coaster of temperatures doesn't compare, though, to what happened in Nowata, Oklahoma during the period February 10 - 17, 2011. A cold air mass combined with a fresh snow pack and calm winds allowed Nowata to hit a low of -31°F on February 10, 2011--the all-time coldest temperature ever recorded in Oklahoma. Gradual warming accelerated over the next week, and temperatures peaked at a record high of 79 degrees on February 17. According to the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla., this 110-degree temperature rise was the greatest change within seven days in Oklahoma history.


Video 1. In this video done by Peter Sinclair for the Yale Forum on Climate Change, I offer my thoughts on the roller coaster ride of temperatures in Michigan this winter, look back at the remarkable weather of 2012, and discuss what 2013 might bring. My main concern: drought.

Jeff Masters

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716. etxwx
Good morning all. Hopefully everyone is safe and sound and will continue to be so during the rest of this stormy weather. We had gusty winds and a nice .25 inches of rain here in East Texas with much more seasonal temps this morning, currently at 56F.

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Quoting WunderGirl12:


Interesting. :-) I can use that for my report. Thanks Aussie

WunderGirl12

Your welcome. Once again, good luck with your report :-)
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Nearly 2" of rain w/ 60 mph gusts for my area today
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
...HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EST
TONIGHT...

* LOCATIONS...THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA...NORTH INTO THE
MOUNTAIN EMPIRE OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA...AND SOUTHERN WEST
VIRGINIA.

* HAZARDS...VERY STRONG AND DAMAGING WIND GUSTS.

* WINDS...SOUTH 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 60 MPH.

* TIMING...BEGINNING BY NOON...ENDING AS THE FRONT MOVES EAST
AFTER SUNSET.

* IMPACTS...DOWNED TREES AND POWER LINES LIKELY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HIGH WIND WARNING MEANS A HAZARDOUS HIGH WIND EVENT IS EXPECTED
OR OCCURRING. SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS OF AT LEAST 40 MPH OR GUSTS
OF 58 MPH ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE SPORADIC POWER OUTAGES...FALLEN
TREES...MINOR PROPERTY DAMAGE...AND DANGEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS
FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. RESIDENTS SHOULD MOVE UNFASTENED
ITEMS...SUCH AS GARBAGE CANS AND DECK FURNITURE...INDOORS.

THE PUBLIC IS ENCOURAGED TO REPORT ESTIMATED WIND GUSTS OR WIND
DAMAGE TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE VIA EMAIL AT
RNK.SKYWARN@NOAA.GOV OR AT PHONE NUMBER 1...8 6 6...2 1 5...4 3 2
4.

&&

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36905
TORNADO WATCH 18 REMAINS VALID UNTIL 1 PM CST THIS AFTERNOON FOR
THE FOLLOWING AREAS

IN ALABAMA THIS WATCH INCLUDES 28 COUNTIES

IN CENTRAL ALABAMA

AUTAUGA BIBB CHILTON
COOSA DALLAS ELMORE
LOWNDES MONTGOMERY PERRY
SHELBY ST. CLAIR TALLADEGA

IN EAST CENTRAL ALABAMA

CALHOUN CHAMBERS CLAY
CLEBURNE LEE MACON
RANDOLPH RUSSELL TALLAPOOSA

IN NORTHEAST ALABAMA

CHEROKEE ETOWAH

IN SOUTHEAST ALABAMA

BARBOUR BULLOCK PIKE

IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA

HALE MARENGO

THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF...ALABASTER...ALEXANDER CITY...
ANNISTON...ASHLAND...AUBURN...BRENT...CENTRE...CE NTREVILLE...
CLANTON...COLUMBIANA...DEMOPOLIS...EUFAULA...FORT DEPOSIT...
GADSDEN...GREENSBORO...HEFLIN...JACKSONVILLE...LA NETT...LINDEN...
LINEVILLE...LOWNDESBORO...MARION...MILLBROOK...MO NTGOMERY...
MOODY...MOUNDVILLE...OPELIKA...PELHAM...PELL CITY...PHENIX CITY...
PRATTVILLE...ROANOKE...ROCKFORD...SELMA...SYLACAU GA...TALLADEGA...
TROY...TUSKEGEE...UNION SPRINGS...UNIONTOWN...
VALLEY AND WETUMPKA.

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36905
Quoting AussieStorm:

Willy-Willies are also known as Dust Devils. They are known in the USA as "dancing devil", "dirt devil".


Interesting. :-) I can use that for my report. Thanks Aussie

WunderGirl12
Member Since: January 9, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 810
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36905
Quoting WunderGirl12:


Thats right. My mistake. :-) Aren't they also called Willy - Willys down under? Thanks!

WunderGirl12

Willy-Willies are also known as Dust Devils. They are known in the USA as "dancing devil", "dirt devil".
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real breezy here now...............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36905
Quoting AussieStorm:

You mean Australian Cyclones. I hope you get A+. Good luck with it.


Thats right. My mistake. :-) Aren't they also called Willy - Willys down under? Thanks!

WunderGirl12
Member Since: January 9, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 810
706. Skyepony (Mod)
Similar to a few weeks ago it looks like this feature that is mid-Atlantic at the moment should form a low that gets shunted south by a strong high building in off Spain. Expected to be stronger than the last, outside chance of a Feb invest this week, though it's expected to fall apart at the end of five days..so probibly not.

Fresh ASCAT of it.
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Quoting Thrawst:
Pretty solid supercell headed into downtown Atlanta right now...
Just went over me. Had decent tops on it compared to other storms. 32,000ft.
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Pretty solid supercell headed into downtown Atlanta right now...
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Storm SE of Birmingham looks really dangerous. Just got tornado warned.
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@MMoon_WREG3 melissa moon
Storm damage. Toone, TN

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Quoting stormchaser43:
Has anyone seen TheOnlyBravesFan. She is usually gung-ho with this severe weather stuff?????

GeorgiaStormz Where Is She Hiding Out???
She? He is at school.
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Quoting WunderGirl12:


Hi Aussie!

I will post my report as soon as it if finished. :-) I am in the beginning stages of writing it. I might use your hurricane names when I include the part about Austrailian Hurricanes. :-) Thanks!

WunderGirl12

You mean Australian Cyclones. I hope you get A+. Good luck with it.
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Quoting Chapelhill:
It passed just west of the NWS office in PTC. Now that it has cleared the radar site, it was showing some weak rotation, but the overall appearence shows weakening. Plenty more on the way there!
They finally let us out the of hallways. The storm was not even close. Not to mention looked really weak. Starting to get the storm down in Collage Park.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Would like to see your report if you could. Did you include any of mine?


Hi Aussie!

I will post my report as soon as it if finished. :-) I am in the beginning stages of writing it. I might use your hurricane names when I include the part about Austrailian Hurricanes. :-) Thanks!

WunderGirl12
Member Since: January 9, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 810
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
There is a storm near the airport in Atlanta. Its south of the tornado warned storm and looks healthy. Typeing from my iphone. I ment to ask if anyone can give there thoughts on the storm.
It passed just west of the NWS office in PTC. Now that it has cleared the radar site, it was showing some weak rotation, but the overall appearence shows weakening. Plenty more on the way there!
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Good morning all! Very active in the east.. Cold as all get out and snow here in Breckenridge. Yesterday was the coldest ski day I've ever experienced. The high in town was 7F! Up on the mountain, below zero. Expecting 2 to 4 inches today and 3 to 6 tonight.
I just heard tornado warning is in effect for Atlanta! Y'all stay safe today!
1.2F and light snow at the moment.
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Good Morning





Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14462
There is a storm near the airport in Atlanta. Its south of the tornado warned storm and looks healthy. Typeing from my iphone. I ment to ask if anyone can give there thoughts on the storm.
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Current Jet Stream..



Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
There were nearly 250 damaging wind reports yesterday.




@WHAS11Ben Ben Pine
Wow, damage in Marion county, Kentucky. Prayers to this family!
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Quoting WunderGirl12:


I'm in Volusia County. :-) I am gathering my information today for my report. I really appreciated your comment. I also deduced that people remember very tramatic things. For example, the most named hurricanes were Katrina, Camille, and Andrew. And what do they have in common? They were all Category 5 hurricanes at some point in their life. :-)

WunderGirl12

Would like to see your report if you could. Did you include any of mine?
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There were nearly 250 damaging wind reports yesterday.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31466


Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
How is everyone fairing with this severe weather?
Stay safe all.
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Quoting WunderGirl12:


I'm in Volusia County. :-) I am gathering my information today for my report. I really appreciated your comment. I also deduced that people remember very tramatic things. For example, the most named hurricanes were Katrina, Camille, and Andrew. And what do they have in common? They were all Category 5 hurricanes at some point in their life. :-)

WunderGirl12


Good luck with your report..
I'm sure you got alot of help/info from your fellow bloggers..
You had quite a few post in your blog ..
Best of luck.. :)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
657 VR46L: I drop by occasionally, [stormchaser43]. Kinda busy yesterday. I saw Wash has said she won't be around until till May. The others I honestly Don't Know but I do miss Tomball

TomballTx said she was going skiing with her daughters.
I think StormTracker2K has tended to post Atlantic HurricaneSeason-only, with occasional entries during large tornado outbreaks.
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Been siting in a hallway for the past 20 min. I hope they cancel the warning soon.
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682. VR46L
Quoting pcola57:


Great image VR46L..
80 mph winds is very dangerous indeed..
Hope all goes well for you..


The BBC weather forecaster said it would be a quite breezy day before telling folk in scotland that theywere going to get 120 mph gusts...lol

I will be fine . You take care with those tornado warnings.

See you folk later
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681. VR46L
Quoting stormchaser43:

I'm pretty sure with all of this VR46L...


Thats Great ! Chaser
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680. emguy
Up here in Lexington, KY. We did have the Tornado Sirens go off when the squall line passed a few hours agao, and there were quite a few tornado warnings. It was a quick hitting line of storms that definately had some teeth to it. Enough to affect trees and power lines...However, this has totally been a straight line wind event. No reported tornadoes.

Quoting FlyingScotsman:


A bit hasty to be saying that, as the tornado count is sure to rise considerably over the next day or two as they collate reports. If you look through the "wind reports" section, there's an awful lot of them that indicate probable tornado damage, as have a lot of reports on Twitter coming out of Tennessee. However, it is worth noting that most of these reports have come from further east than the 15% hatched area. Arkansas, which was supposed to be in the bullseye, seems to have gotten off alright.
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Quoting pcola57:


Yep thats the cold front that has been wreaking havoc yesterday and last night..
Down where I am at we will get storms and high winds..
When they come off the GOM they can be quite robust..
But really only a 1 day event for me as forecast calls for this front to get legs and move through in just a few hours and then things should settle down some..
Where is your location and did you have any luck with the info I posted on your blog?


I'm in Volusia County. :-) I am gathering my information today for my report. I really appreciated your comment. I also deduced that people remember very tramatic things. For example, the most named hurricanes were Katrina, Camille, and Andrew. And what do they have in common? They were all Category 5 hurricanes at some point in their life. :-)

WunderGirl12
Member Since: January 9, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 810
Quoting VR46L:


Its actually really nice at the moment but another storm is coming in the next few hours supposed to have 80 mph winds coming in later



Great image VR46L..
80 mph winds is very dangerous indeed..
Hope all goes well for you..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
storm looks like a low topped spinup and its already gone.
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line and pre frontal supercells and then broken line of supercells maybe:


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I can't tell if Atlanta cell is strong or not on NWS radar, but people in that area should take a shelter.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7903
Quoting WunderGirl12:


pcola, is that a front I see? Cold weather? (I havent checked my radar maps yet this morning, btw)

WunderGirl12


Yep thats the cold front that has been wreaking havoc yesterday and last night..
Down where I am at we will get storms and high winds..
When they come off the GOM they can be quite robust..
But really only a 1 day event for me as forecast calls for this front to get legs and move through in just a few hours and then things should settle down some..
Where is your location and did you have any luck with the info I posted on your blog?
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
Quoting stormchaser43:
Appears that moderate risk 15% hatched area was overdone. The event seemed like a bust. TA13 was right.


A bit hasty to be saying that, as the tornado count is sure to rise considerably over the next day or two as they collate reports. If you look through the "wind reports" section, there's an awful lot of them that indicate probable tornado damage, as have a lot of reports on Twitter coming out of Tennessee. However, it is worth noting that most of these reports have come from further east than the 15% hatched area. Arkansas, which was supposed to be in the bullseye, seems to have gotten off alright.
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668. VR46L
Quoting pcola57:


Will do VR46L..
Lots of lightening in this mess for me..
We have a great safe place in the home here so not too worried..
My problem is other folks not preparing and their stuff blows around..
Hows your weather today my friend?


Its actually really nice at the moment but another storm is coming in the next few hours supposed to have 80 mph winds coming in later

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
OVER THE GULF COAST STATES...MULTIPLE BANDS OF MORE DISCRETE
STORMS...INCLUDING SUPERCELLS...HAVE RECENTLY DEVELOPED ACROSS AL
WITHIN A CONFLUENT LOW-LEVEL FLOW REGIME DOWNSTREAM FROM THE PRIMARY
QLCS. THE 12Z BHM SOUNDING SHOWED THE PRESENCE OF A MOIST AND
RATHER DEEP BOUNDARY LAYER...YIELDING MLCAPE OF AROUND 1000 J/KG.
WHEN COUPLED WITH EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR OF 60 KT AND EFFECTIVE SRH
VALUES OF 300-350 M2/S2...THE CORRIDOR OVER CNTRL/ERN AL INTO WRN GA
WILL HAVE A HEIGHTENED RISK FOR TORNADOES IN ASSOCIATION WITH ANY
LONGER-LIVED SUPERCELLS THAT PERSIST AHEAD OF THE QLCS.


Tornado Sirens everywhere now.




Stay safe GeorgiaStormz. :-)

WunderGirl12
Member Since: January 9, 2011 Posts: 23 Comments: 810
Good Morning from Tallahassee. As noted in the post below from Tally NWS, we continue to have this "shield" in the Big Bend region of Florida......These squall lines pound the Panhandle then weaken considerably before reaching the Big Bend; I only know of one damaging tornado touchdown (my friend's house was lifted off the foundation and dropped back down with her in it) in the Tallahassee area in the last 10 years. Same thing with hurricanes, they pass us to the West headed towards the Panhandle.

Yall Stay Safe in the Panhandle today and keep posted to media and your NOAA weather radios.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8798

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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.