Record January warmth and moisture fueling April-like severe weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:42 PM GMT on January 30, 2013

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An April-like severe weather outbreak accompanied by record warmth and atmospheric moisture continues today over the Southeast U.S., where a powerful cold front is creating severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, and tornadoes over the Southeast. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged four preliminary reports of tornadoes along with 264 reports of damaging winds on Tuesday, and another 71 reports of damaging winds between 7 am and 12 pm EST so far this Wednesday. A powerful tornado hit Adairsville, Georgia at 11:19 am EST this morning, and there are reports of major structural damage in the downtown district, with cars overturned (see eyewitness video here, with swear words.) The spring-like surge of warm air accompanying the severe weather outbreak has broken numerous daily high temperature records. The most notable heat record set Tuesday was the 91°F high in Corpus Christi, Texas, which tied their record for all-time warmest January temperature, set on January 30, 1971. The 62°F measured at Rockford, Illinois on Tuesday was just 1° shy of that city's all-time January temperature record. Tornado watches are posted for a wide swath of the Southeast today, from Alabama to Virginia, and numerous tornado warnings have been issued this morning. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed most of the Southeast in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather on Wednesday, a step down from the "Moderate Risk" potential issued on Tuesday for the Midwest.


Figure 1. A wild weather day in the Heartland: NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged four preliminary reports of tornadoes on Tuesday, along with 264 reports of damaging winds.


Figure 2. Satellite image of the U.S. taken at 9:45 am EST January 30, 2013. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 3. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed most of the Southeast in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather on Wednesday.

Record moisture and rains
Accompanying the exceptional January warmth yesterday were record levels of January moisture, as a flow of unusually moist air rode northwards from the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures were about 0.5°F above average. Meteorologists use a term called "precipitable water" to discuss how much water vapor is in the atmosphere. Precipitable water is defined as how much rain would fall on the ground if one took a vertical slice of the atmosphere above a given location and condensed all the water vapor into rain. Precipitable water levels tend to be highest in the summer, since warm air holds more waver vapor, and can exceed two inches in the Midwest U.S. In winter, though, it is rare to see precipitable water values higher than one inch. However, Tuesday night, precipitable water was well over an inch well into Canada, and two upper air stations--Detroit, MI and Lincoln IL--set all-time records for January moisture. From the 00Z Wednesday January 30 upper air balloon soundings taken at the 73 radiosonde stations in the contiguous U.S., we observed these precipitable water values for January:

Detroit, MI: New Record: 1.21" Old record: 1.20" 1/11/75
Lincoln, IL: New record: 1.46" Old Record: 1.35" 1/12/60
Alpena, MI: 2nd place, 0.99". First place: 1.01", 1/5/97
Buffalo, NY: 2nd place, 1.21". First place: 1.34", 1/15/95

Green Bay (4th), Shreveport (6th), and Little Rock (3rd) all had top-ten January precipitable water values. Radiosonde data goes back to 1948.

The exceptional moisture led to record rains in many regions of the Midwest, with numerous locations setting daily precipitation records. Two airports recorded their wettest January day on record, including Madison, WI (1.84", previous record 1.80" on January 1, 1892) and Houghton Lake, MI (1.21", old record 1.08" on in 1938.) Top-five wettest January days in recorded history were also set at Muskegon, MI (2.48"), Marquette, MI (1.21"), and South Bend, IN (1.94".) Here where I live, in Southeast Michigan, being outside yesterday was like walking through a surreal white soup. Rains like nothing I've ever seen in January fitfully poured from the sky throughout the day, ponding up on the frozen ground. Eerie white fog swirled over the sodden snow drifts as thunder rumbled overhead in temperatures 25°F above average. What planet was this? The heavy rains of 1.60" that fell in 26 hours at the nearby Flint airport made this month our wettest January in recorded history, with 3.66" of precipitation.

Jeff Masters

()
H2O over ice... (linear)
ice fishing has been suspended...
H2O over ice...

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87. wxmod
6:28 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Lots of activity polluting the pristine pacific today.

Member Since: October 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1772
86. Bluestorm5
6:26 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
There's a rotation that is not tornado warned going straight toward West Atlanta.

Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
85. GeorgiaStormz
6:24 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 130 PM EST FOR
NORTHEASTERN FULTON...EXTREME NORTH CENTRAL COBB AND CHEROKEE
COUNTIES...

AT 118 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A TORNADO. THIS TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR BRIDGEMILL...MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 65 MPH.


i know people in bridgemill and canton.
hope they are ok
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
84. lostinohio
6:23 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
We have at least 8 homes damaged on Boone Ford Road area in Calhoun,Ga on the Northe East side of town. Farmville is just north and east of boone ford. It looks like the Tornado was near EF3 level as it did major structure damage in Adairsville and Calhoun.
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 146
83. GeorgiaStormz
6:19 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
CNN Weather Center ‏@CNNweather
Working to confirm: Gordon County EMA: "major structural damage, people trapped in Farmville area of Gordon County" via @NWSAtlanta Chat
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
82. lostinohio
6:17 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Don't know if you guys have seen this from WSB TV..............http://bcove.me/xilbtxvg
Member Since: January 26, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 146
81. JustPlantIt
6:07 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting aspectre:
69 Dr. Jeff Masters: On Twitter, #gawx is giving reports of 100+ cars flipped on I-75 near Adairsville

Can't have cars on an interstate unless there are people inside. And it takes mucho POWER to flip a car.
If #gawx is correct, there's gonna be a LOT of casualties reported soon.
Yes, very unfortunate... this tornado was huge and moving very fast in the video that I saw. I would be very suprised if this was not an EF-3. Just waiting my turn here for the front to arrive.
Member Since: November 13, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 488
79. washingtonian115
6:02 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting PedleyCA:
Capital Gang

Link to Wash115's Post
Thank you.The server weather season is getting of to an early start.I'll be in lurk mode.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17831
78. aspectre
6:01 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
69 Dr. Jeff Masters: On Twitter, #gawx is giving reports of 100 cars flipped on I-75 near Adairsville

Can't have cars on an interstate unless there are people inside. And it takes mucho POWER to flip a car.
If #gawx is correct, there's gonna be a lot of casualties reported soon.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
77. Bluestorm5
6:00 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Look like Dallas, GA took a hit from this storm. Hopefully they're okay.
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75. ScottGridley
5:59 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
http://www.wsbtv.com/s/news/live/
Member Since: June 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10
74. GeorgiaStormz
5:56 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting JeffMasters:

On Twitter, #gawx is giving reports of 100+ cars flipped on I-75 near Adairsville, GA, and a manufacturing plant destroyed. Some of the linked videos show a very serious looking tornado sweeping through town.

Jeff Masters


the manufacturing plant was on live tv here.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
73. Chapelhill
5:56 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Bartow County, Georgia, reporting 1 storm-related death.

and i'm now under another tornado warning.
Strengthening rotation.
That cell near you is looking worse every update. Not Good!
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
72. Bluestorm5
5:55 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Bartow County, Georgia, reporting 1 storm-related death.

and i'm now under another tornado warning.
Strengthening rotation.
Yeah, the storm does look strong.

Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8075
71. JustPlantIt
5:55 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Temp is climbing in SE PA... 63 degrees.
Member Since: November 13, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 488
70. PedleyCA
5:53 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Capital Gang

Link to Wash115's Post
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6253
69. Dr. Jeff Masters , Director of Meteorology (Admin)
5:53 PM GMT on January 30, 2013

On Twitter, #gawx is giving reports of 100+ cars flipped on I-75 near Adairsville, GA, and a manufacturing plant destroyed. Some of the linked videos show a very serious looking tornado sweeping through town.

Jeff Masters
68. GeorgiaStormz
5:47 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Bartow County, Georgia, reporting 1 storm-related death.

and i'm now under another tornado warning.
Strengthening rotation.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
67. PedleyCA
5:36 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Link is broken (#65)
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66. nymore
5:35 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
I-75 shutdown both directions. It sounds like it went through the south side of town. I know there is a mobile home park and an Rv park right there. I have been through there many times. You can get more info live on the police scanner from radio reference, it sounds like they are a little over whelmed right now.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2260
65. washingtonian115
5:34 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather -gang/post/squall-line-poses-heavy-rain-and-strong -wind-risk-tonight-for-washington-dc-area/2013/01/ 30/9b383ce2-6af0-11e2-af53-7b2b2a7510a8_blog.html. Sorry y'all.For D.C region.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17831
64. washingtonian115
5:32 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17831
63. ILwthrfan
5:27 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Anybody with any information on the outlook for the U.S. after the 8-14 day time frame? Specifially Feb 14th through 18th. Thanks in advance. Anything would be helpful.
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1540
62. JustPlantIt
5:24 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


yeah.
i think maybe ef-2
Maybe even an EF-3. Monster. Time will tell. Hope that there were no fatalities with this.
Member Since: November 13, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 488
61. Jedkins01
5:17 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


yeah.
i think maybe ef-2


A large EF2 if it is one. It's hard to say until a survey crew heads out though.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8028
60. GeorgiaStormz
5:16 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting Jedkins01:



Yeah it looks quite powerful, dang. Moving very fast too, not much time to take cover if you're not very weather aware.


yeah.
i think maybe ef-2
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
59. Jedkins01
5:15 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Good to know, per the Tennessee report below, that the main squall line is moving through pretty quickly; although the folks in NW GA, in the higher elevations, will be rocked by some pretty strong straight line winds as it blows through.

Back to lurk as reports come in; will let Yall know how we fare in the FL Big Bend later today or this evening.



I'm not too impressed with the severe risk here in Florida, surface instability is quite weak thanks to overcast conditions and inflow riding over cold shelf waters in the gulf.

Also dynamical forcing is not nearly as much near the gulf coast as even 100 miles north.


We'll see if it changes though.

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58. FunnelVortex
5:15 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
TC FELLING!

Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2893
57. LargoFl
5:12 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Hopefully I can get some good rain from this storm..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
56. LargoFl
5:11 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
55. Jedkins01
5:10 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
This may be a legit video of the adairsville tornado.
Link



Yeah it looks quite powerful, dang. Moving very fast too, not much time to take cover if you're not very weather aware.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8028
54. PedleyCA
5:09 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
damage photo.


That looks like a Real Estate sign pole in the foreground.
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53. LargoFl
5:09 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
52. LargoFl
5:08 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
* LOCATIONS...NEW YORK CITY METROPOLITAN AREA...LONG ISLAND AND
COASTAL CONNECTICUT.

* HAZARDS...DAMAGING WIND GUSTS TONIGHT.

* WINDS...SOUTH 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 60 MPH.

* TIMING...STRONG WINDS LATE THIS EVNEING INTO THE OVERNIGHT.

* IMPACTS...STRONG WINDS...IN COMBINATION WITH HEAVY RAIN... COULD
BRING DOWN WHOLE TREES...LARGE TREE LIMBS...POWER LINES AND
UNSECURED OUTDOOR OBJECTS. THIS COULD POSE A HAZARD TO ANYONE
OUT DRIVING OR WALKING TONIGHT...AND TO HOUSES AND OTHER
STRUCTURES NEAR LARGER TREES. DRIVING WILL ALSO BE
DIFFICULT...ESPECIALLY IN HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES AND ON ELEVATED
ROADWAYS AND BRIDGES.

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 OR MORE CAN LEAD TO PROPERTY DAMAGE.

&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
51. TropicalAnalystwx13
5:06 PM GMT on January 30, 2013
I see a missed a strong tornado. Reports of major damage...hopefully no fatalities.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Thanks Doc
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PITTSBURGH PA
1150 AM EST WED JAN 30 2013

MDC023-WVC093-301715-
/O.CON.KPBZ.SV.W.0007.000000T0000Z-130130T1715Z/
GARRETT MD-TUCKER WV-
1150 AM EST WED JAN 30 2013

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1215 PM EST
FOR TUCKER AND GARRETT COUNTIES...

AT 1146 AM EST...SEVERE SHOWERS WERE DETECTED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM 11 MILES NORTH OF GRANTSVILLE TO BLOOMINGTON TO ELK...
AND WERE MOVING EAST AT 55 MPH.

THESE SHOWERS HAVE PRODUCED DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH WITH
TREES DOWN IN PRESTON COUNTY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
GATZMER... KITZMILLER... NEW GERMANY...
BLACKWATER FALLS... GRANTSVILLE... BIG RUN STATE PARK...
THOMAS... GORMAN... BITTINGER...
ELK... MERRILL... PINEY GROVE...

THE FOLLOWING HIGHWAY WILL BE IMPACTED...
I-68 IN MARYLAND BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 16 AND 30.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS LINE OF SHOWERS HAS PRODUCED DAMAGING WIND GUSTS. MOVE INTO A
STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS.

PLEASE REPORT SEVERE WEATHER BY CALLING...412-262-1988...POSTING TO
THE NWS PITTSBURGH FACEBOOK PAGE...OR USING TWITTER @NWSPITTSBURGH.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
THWESTERN GILMER...NORTHWESTERN FANNIN AND SOUTHEASTERN
MURRAY COUNTIES...

AT 1152 AM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A POSSIBLE TORNADO. THIS POSSIBLE TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR
MOUNTAINTOWN...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 65 MPH. THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM
WILL BE NEAR MCCAYSVILLE BY 1215 PM EST.

OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO JONES
MILL...COLWELL...HIGDON...COHUTTA WILDERNESS...BLUE RIDGE...
EPWORTH...MINERAL BLUFF AND MCCAYSVILLE-COPPERHILL.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

GO TO A SAFE PLACE NOW! TORNADOES IN HILLY OR MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN ARE
HARD TO SEE. DO NOT WAIT TO SEE OR HEAR THE TORNADO.

IF YOU SEE WIND DAMAGE...HAIL OR FLOODING...WAIT UNTIL THE STORM HAS
PASSED...AND THEN CALL THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TOLL FREE AT 1 8
6 6 7 6 3 4 4 6 6. YOU CAN ALSO TWEET YOUR REPORT USING HASHTAG GAWX.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 400 PM EST WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON FOR NORTHERN GEORGIA.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
Guess it wasnt rain wrapped after all:

WSB-TV %u200F@wsbtv
WATCH THIS: Ch2's Ross Cavitt recorded amazing video of tornado hitting Adairsville.
Link

also Structures also damaged near Calhoun, GA, per HAM radio.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
Quoting goosegirl1:


I usually post a warning for the DC folks when severe weather is coming- the front
is approaching my area now, about 100 miles north and west of DC. We have winds gusting to about 35 right now, predicted to top 50 during the storm. The doggy storm warning system is barking and shaking, so she must hear thunder. Look for the fun to begin about 2 pm and be safe.
I've got the dog's system too and the cats are hiding. I'm in SE PA. Be safe!
Member Since: November 13, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 488
Car vs Tornado in Adairsville.
Tornado wins.


ouch
and more damage:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
Quoting georgevandenberghe:


I've cynically remarked that spring in winter is followed by winter in spring.


I see no reason to believe it this year though.

Near 70 in DC already at 11AM. Monthly and daily records are 79 and 77 and these aren't in jeopardy but it's plenty warm esp considering the ground is still cold from the arctic outbreak last week.
Worried about mild flash flooding, and very strong straight line winds with thunderstorms early tonight, then back to normal winter.


I usually post a warning for the DC folks when severe weather is coming- the front
is approaching my area now, about 100 miles north and west of DC. We have winds gusting to about 35 right now, predicted to top 50 during the storm. The doggy storm warning system is barking and shaking, so she must hear thunder. Look for the fun to begin about 2 pm and be safe.


Added: the severe storm warning tone just went off on TWC and sent the doggy warning system into orbit:)
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damage photo.
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There have been several papers published recently that link changes in the jet stream to Arctic warming.

Does anyone have a list of those references? If so could you post them here or send them to me via the WU mail system.

Thanks!
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Good to know, per the Tennessee report below, that the main squall line is moving through pretty quickly; although the folks in NW GA, in the higher elevations, will be rocked by some pretty strong straight line winds as it blows through.

Back to lurk as reports come in; will let Yall know how we fare in the FL Big Bend later today or this evening.
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This may be a legit video of the adairsville tornado.
Link
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
This is as text book a debris signature as you get on Dual-Pol Doppler radar #tornado #gawx 11:34amEST



Debris has been lofted as high at 10,000' per the dual-pol data
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
* AT 1124 AM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS CONFIRMED
A TORNADO ON THE GROUND NEAR CALHOUN... OFFICIALS HAVE REPORTED
MAJOR DAMAGE AND NUMEROUS CARS OVERTURNED IN ADAIRSVILLE. THE STORM
IS MOVING NORTHEAST AT 65 MPH.

N GA

finally looks to be winding down though

Per Bartow GA scanner, homes damaged, people trapped in cars overturned near McDonald's in Adairsville, GA #GAwx

Bartow Co. EMA: Major damage reported in downtown Adairsville

I've got friends up there, so i'm interested in this.


I took a peek at the radar during one of my classes and there was a solid rotation near Rome. Hopefully they're okay.
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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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