Climate change impact on Nor'easters: An increased storm surge threat

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on February 11, 2013

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The historic Nor'easter that buried New England under up to 40" of snow Friday and Saturday was the most intense winter storm event on record for southeastern Maine, and second most for Long Island, Connecticut, eastern Massachusetts, and perhaps Rhode Island, writes wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt. His rating was based upon both snowfall amounts and winds. For Long Island and Connecticut, the Blizzard of 1888 remains unparalleled, whereas for Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts, the Blizzard of 1978 remains the top event. His rating took into account snowfall and winds, and took into account historical storms going back over 300 years. So, what impact is climate change having upon these great storms?


Figure 1. Is it a hurricane or an extratropical storm? Satellite image of Winter Storm Nemo taken at 3 pm EST Saturday, February 9, 2013 shows a very hurricane-like storm. The storm had undergone a process known as "occlusion", which trapped a shallow area of warm air near the center. These "warm air seclusions" are not uncommon in intense wintertime extratropical storms, and Nemo was not very hurricane-like in structure, despite the appearance of this satellite image. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Climate change impact on Nor'easters: an increased storm surge threat
We should not be surprised to see climate change causing significant changes in the frequency and intensity of Nor'easters, since the atmosphere is undergoing great changes in its circulation patterns and moisture content that will affect all storms. As I wrote in my post, The future of intense winter storms, climate models predict that intense winter storms will become more common globally, and will shift closer to the poles. However, in the Atlantic, intense Nor'easters affecting the U.S. are not predicted to increase in number (but several studies predict an increase in intense winter storms for Northwest Europe.) The number of intense Nor'easters affecting the Northeast U.S. has not increased in recent decades, according to several studies. This analysis is supported by the fact that wintertime wave heights recorded during the period 1975 - 2005 by the three buoys along the central U.S. Atlantic coast showed little change (Komar and Allan, 2008). The damage potential from the storm surges associated with Nor'easters and hurricanes in New England is steadily increasing, though, due to global warming.


Figure 2. Surf from the infamous blizzard of 1978 pounds the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts on February 9, 1978. The storm brought Boston's highest water level on record. Hurricane Sandy brought a higher storm surge to Boston, but the storm hit when the tide was going out, and thus did not set a record high water mark. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library.

An increased storm surge threat for Boston
Of the top ten water levels measured in Boston Harbor since 1921 (all due to Nor'easters), all but one of these events occurred during the the second half of that 92-year period. That's due to rising sea levels. The official top ten storm tides since 1921 at the Boston tide gauge, relative to high tide (Mean Higher High Water, MHHW):

1. 4.82' - February 7, 1978 (Blizzard of 1978)
2. 3.92' - January 2, 1987
3. 3.86' - October 30, 1991 (Perfect Storm)
4. 3.76' - January 28, 1979
5. 3.75' - December 12, 1992
6. 3.70' - December 12, 1959
7. 3.62' - February 2, 1972
8. 3.52' - April 4, 2007
9. 3.51' - May 5, 2005
10. 3.43' - December 12, 2010

Sea level at the Boston tide gauge has risen about a foot (.25 meters) since records began in 1921. Most of that rise is due to the expansion of ocean waters due to global warming, plus increased melting from glaciers and icecaps. According to an excellent analysis by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central, continued sea level rise in Boston will increase the odds of a 1-in-100 year coastal storm surge flood by a factor of 2.5 by the year 2030. Even given the low end of sea level rise scenarios, and without assuming any changes in storms, 1-in-10-year coastal flooding events in the Northeast could triple by 2100, occurring roughly once every 3 years, simply in response to higher sea levels (Tebaldi et al. 2012). Nemo arrives just days after a report the nonprofit Boston Harbor Alliance warned of the region’s growing vulnerability to such storm surge events. The report found that coastal flooding of 5 feet above the current average high tide--a 1-in-100 year flood--would inundate 6.6 percent of the city of Boston. At 7.5 feet above the current average high tide, more than 30 percent of Boston could be flooded, the study found. Boston has gotten lucky two storms in row now--both Hurricane Sandy (storm surge of 4.57') and Winter Storm Nemo (storm surge of 4.21') brought their peak surge near low tide, so the water level during these storms did not make the top-ten list, even though these were two of the four highest storm surges ever measured in Boston. Mr. Burt comments, "it is a bit unsettling that two of the most significant storms in the past 300 years to strike the northeastern quadrant of the U.S. have occurred within just four months from one another." Rising sea levels are already making coastal living at low elevations an increasingly precarious proposition in the Northeast. If Sandy and Nemo are harbingers of a new era of stronger storms for the Northeast U.S., the double-whammy combination of bigger storm surges riding in on higher sea levels will make abandoning higher-risk portions of the coast a necessity.


Figure 3. Severe beach erosion on Plum Island, MA, observed on February 10, 2013, in the wake of Winter Storm Nemo. It was lucky the peak storm surge hit near low tide, or else the coastal damage would have been far more severe. Image credit: Mike Seidel.


Figure 4. Sea level at the Boston tide gauge from 1921 - 2011 shows 2.77 mm/year of rise, or .98 feet (.25 meters) in 91 years. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Links and references
My blog post, The future of intense winter storms

My blog post, Heavy snowfall in a warming world

Andrew Freedman of Climate Central's post, Blizzard of 2013 Brings Another Threat: Coastal Flooding

Joe Romm of climateprogress.org has a post, Climate Change and Winter Storm Nemo that has an excellent discussion of how climate change has modified the environment within which storms form, increasing their potential to cause heavy precipitation events.

Komar, P.D. and J.C. Allan, 2008: Increasing hurricane-generated wave heights along the U.S. East coast and their climate controls. Journal of Coastal Research, 24(2), 479-488.

Tebaldi, C., B.H. Strauss, and C.E. Zervas, 2012: Modelling sea level rise impacts on storm surges along US coasts. Environmental Research Letters, 7, 014032

Tom Niziol has an interesting post showing why Connecticut got so much snow from the storm: Northeast snow storm--the pivot point

Lee Grenci discusses how the two winter systems that combined to create the mighty snowstorm didn't really merge, but instead rotated around each other: Looming Snowstorm and the Fujiwhara.

Jeff Masters

Digging Out (steelrail)
Residents begin to dig out after a February Nor'easter dumped 29 inches of snow on Huntington, NY
Digging Out
()
Cornish, ME (Mottoole)
Cornish, ME

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Quoting Levi32:
339.

I'm pretty sure it's as obvious as a pink barn that a discussion of nor'easters is regional.


LOL! My neighbors offered to repaint my barn for me. ... As long as it wasn't pink .... again.
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It's clearly everything start with the The Industrial Revolution!!!!!!!!the global warming is humans fault





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339.

I'm pretty sure it's as obvious as a pink barn that a discussion of nor'easters is regional.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Never seen one quite that deep, but it sounds very plausible to me. There was one back in 2007 (the week after I played at Carnegie actually) which dropped to 959 or so, and that storm was in mid April, so I don't see why not. I think they recorded a 950ish mb pressure about half a century ago in the northeast with a nor'easter, so it's in the realm of possibility.
I hask because GFS it's not the most acurate sourse...
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Never seen one quite that deep, but it sounds very plausible to me. There was one back in 2007 (the week after I played at Carnegie actually) which dropped to 959 or so, and that storm was in mid April, so I don't see why not. I think they recorded a 950ish mb pressure about half a century ago in the northeast with a nor'easter, so it's in the realm of possibility.

Just looked it up; change half a century into a whole century.

Link
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Quoting Luisport:
Hey guys is this 950Mb low really possible?

Never seen one quite that deep, but it sounds very plausible to me. There was one back in 2007 (the week after I played at Carnegie actually) which dropped to 959 or so, and that storm was in mid April, so I don't see why not. I think they recorded a 950ish mb pressure about half a century ago in the northeast with a nor'easter, so it's in the realm of possibility.
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7News‏@7News

BREAKING: Mayor Menino: Boston Public Schools closed Tuesday.
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Quoting Levi32:


I submit that the correct version of your last sentence should be:

The only way we will know if there are changes, is when we have a significant sample size, given these changing climatic conditions.

If you can't determine what the changes are due to small sample size, how can you know whether there are changes at all based on the same sample?



Levi, I am not certain as to what you are saying here - "The only way we will know if there are changes, is when we have a significant sample size, given these changing climatic conditions." - I realize that you only changed the wording from "what" to "if", but you said that this is the correct way to word the sentence. So, you start off by stating that we will not know if there are changes and end it by stating that there is changing climatic conditions. How can we observe one without observing the other? A changing climate would lead to a changing in the weather patterns. A long term trend in changing weather patterns would be indicative of a changing climate. Do you speak only in terms of Nor'easters? That would simply be regional and not global and weather and not climate.

"If you can't determine what the changes are due to small sample size, how can you know whether there are changes at all based on the same sample?" - This would be true only if you were looking at regional changes in the weather patterns and not global climate pattern changes. Is this correct, or am I missing something in what you are saying here?

The following images were posted by 1911maker on Dr. Rood's blog:


Source


Source

Research article that supports the second image
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Quoting Luisport:
RyanMaueRyan Maue 5 h


Minimum Sea-Level Pressure for potential 7-day storm is 950 mb. That's about as deep as it gets in Gulf of Maine Link
Hey guys is this 950Mb low really possible?
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322.

There's nothing conclusive about the long-term trend of SSTs off the eastern seaboard.

These are the SSTs from ERSSTv3 for the region 30-45N, 75-65W.



Data Source
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RyanMaueRyan Maue 5 h


Minimum Sea-Level Pressure for potential 7-day storm is 950 mb. That's about as deep as it gets in Gulf of Maine Link
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The New York NWS discuss in a detailed way what to expect with the next two events.

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
330 PM EST MON FEB 11 2013

.SYNOPSIS...
A FRONTAL SYSTEM MOVES ACROSS THE AREA THIS EVENING. HIGH PRESSURE
BRIEFLY BUILDS IN TUESDAY BEFORE A DEVELOPING LOW PRESSURE
APPROACHES ON WEDNESDAY. LOW PRESSURE MOVES TO THE MID ATLANTIC
COAST BY WEDNESDAY EVENING...THEN TRACKS TO THE SOUTH AND EAST OF
LONG ISLAND WEDNESDAY NIGHT. WEAK HIGH PRESSURE TRANSITS ACROSS THE
AREA THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT. THIS IS FOLLOWED BY AN AREA OF LOW
PRESSURE MOVING ACROSS SOUTHEASTERN CANADA FROM FRIDAY INTO
SATURDAY...THAT GIVES WAY TO A COASTAL LOW TRACKING TO THE SOUTH AND
EAST OF LONG ISLAND SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY. HIGH PRESSURE THEN
BUILDS IN TO THE REGION INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK.

&&

.LONG TERM /WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY/...
TWO FORECAST CHALLENGES IN THIS TIME FRAME/ FIRST THE COASTAL LOW
TRACKING TO OUR S/E WEDNESDAY NIGHT...AND SECOND THE POTENTIAL FOR A
COASTAL LOW THIS WEEKEND.

GOOD AGREEMENT THAT A DEEP LAYERED RIDGE SLIDES TO OUR EAST BY
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON...ALLOWING FOR INCREASING ISENTROPIC LIFT AND
LOW LEVEL ADVECTION TO DEVELOP BY LATE AFTERNOON MAINLY ACROSS THE
SW 1/2 OF THE CWA. PRECIPITATION SHOULD BEGIN MAINLY AS RAIN WITH A
RELATIVELY WARM BOUNDARY LAYER TO GET STARTED...HOWEVER WITH WET
BULB TEMPERATURES IN THE LOWER 30S...EXPECT RAPID COOLING AS THE
PRECIPITATION STARTS...AND WOULD EXPECT PRECIPITATION TO CHANGE TO
ALL SNOW BY EVENING.

12Z ECMWF HAS TRENDED NORTHWARD WITH THE SURFACE LOW - MAINLY
BECAUSE IT NOW HAS A MORE REASONABLE LOW PLACEMENT COMPARED TO ITS
500 AND 700 HPA FEATURES COMPARED TO THE 00Z ECMWF - WHICH HAD ITS
SURFACE LOW TO FAR TO THE S/E COMPARED TO ITS UPPER AIR FEATURES.
THE 12Z NAM IS A STRONG OUTLIER BY AROUND 50M WITH THE STRENGTH OF
ITS 500 HPA TROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT...SO DO NOT BUY INTO ITS QPF.
THE INTERESTING THING IS THAT ALOFT THE SOLUTIONS AMONG THE VARIOUS
MODELS ARE NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT...ITS AT THE SURFACE AND BOUNDARY
LAYER WHERE THE DIFFERENCES LIE. NOTING THAT MOST SOLUTIONS SEEM TO
BE TENDING TOWARDS ONE LIKE THE 12Z GFS...HAVE USED IT AS THE
GENERAL BASIS FOR THE FORECAST FROM WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY
MORNING. HOWEVER...GIVEN THE KNOWN PROGRESSIVE BIAS TO THE
MODEL...HAVE LINGERED CHANCE POPS INTO THURSDAY MORNING OVER FAR E
ZONES.

HAVE USED A BLEND OF NAX/MAX GUIDANCE WET BULB TEMPERATURES FOR THE
LOW TEMPERATURE AND HOURLY TEMPERATURE GRIDS WEDNESDAY NIGHT - UNDER
CUTTING THE FORECAST TEMPERATURES IN THE MAV/MET GUIDANCE BY A FEW
DEGREES. AS A RESULT - WITH NO WARM LAYER FORECAST
ALOFT...PRECIPITATION SHOULD FALL AS ALL SNOW WEDNESDAY NIGHT. FOR
NOW FORECASTING A GENERAL 3-6 INCH SNOW FALL ACROSS THE TRI-STATE -
WITH HIGHEST AMOUNTS ACROSS NYC METRO/LONG ISLAND/COASTAL CT. THIS
IS SOLIDLY IN THE ADVISORY CATEGORY. CURRENTLY CONFIDENCE AT WARNING
LEVEL SNOW FALL IS NOT AT 30% - SO WILL NOT BE MENTIONING THIS STORM
IN THE HWO AT THIS TIME.

RIDGING BUILDS BACK IN FOR THURSDAY...WITH DRY WEATHER OUTSIDE OF
POSSIBLY SOME LIGHT SNOW TO GET STARTED OVER FAR EASTERN ZONES.

MODELS ALL AGREE IN SW FLOW ALOFT SETTING UP FROM THURSDAY NIGHT
INTO AT LEAST FRIDAY NIGHT...THEN DIVERGE FOR THE UPCOMING WEEKEND.
APPEARS MOST SHORTWAVE ENERGY STAYS FAR ENOUGH TO THE N THURSDAY
NIGHT TO KEEP THE AREA DRY...THEN IS CLOSE ENOUGH FRIDAY AND FRIDAY
NIGHT TO WARRANT SLIGHT CHANCE POPS THEN.

ECMWF AND TO SOME EXTENT THE GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN DO NOT SUPPORT THE
IDEA OF A SIGNIFICANT COASTAL STORM IMPACTING THE AREA - WHILE THE
GFS/CMC-GLOBAL/UKMET/ECMWF ENSEMBLE MEAN ARGUE FOR A COASTAL LOW.
FOR NOW HAVE TRIED TO BLEND THE TWO CAMPS WITH NO CLEAR SIGNAL WHICH
ONE OF THE TWO COULD BE ULTIMATELY MORE CORRECT. SO A VERY LOW
CONFIDENCE FORECAST FOR THE UPCOMING WEEKEND.

HAVE SLIGHT CHANCE POPS SATURDAY AS IT APPEARS THAT SOME SHORTWAVE
ENERGY SHOULD CROSS THE REGION...THEN HAVE LOW END CHANCE POPS
SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY AS THIS APPEARS TO BE THE MOST LIKELY TIME
FRAME FOR ANY COASTAL LOW TO IMPACT THE AREA. GIVEN THE FORECAST
TRACK TO THE S/E OF LONG ISLAND AND BOTH ECMWF AND GFS LOW LEVEL
THERMAL PROFILES SUPPORT SNOW - CURRENTLY DO NOT EXPECT ANY P-TYPE
ISSUES - ONLY SNOW AT THIS TIME. BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY IT IS TO
EARLY TO SPECULATE ON EVEN WHETHER THERE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT
SNOWFALL ACROSS THE REGION THIS WEEKEND.

DEEP LAYER RIDGING BUILDS IN MONDAY BEHIND THE DEPARTING UPPER
TROUGH WHICH WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY WINTER STORM WE MIGHT HAVE
THIS WEEKEND.

FOR TEMPERATURES THURSDAY-MONDAY USED A BLEND OF MEX/MEN/ECE/HPC
GUIDANCE...BLENDING IN NAM 2-METER TEMPERATURES AND A MIX DOWN FROM
950 HPA NEAR THE COAST AND 925 HPA INLAND FOR HIGHS ON THURSDAY.
EXPECT NEAR NORMAL TEMPERATURES ON THURSDAY...THEN ABOVE NORMAL ON
FRIDAY...FOLLOWED BY BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES SATURDAY AND SUNDAY.
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333. VR46L
Quoting Bielle:


Did you miss "sometimes"?


I dont think she ever is .. She is a straight shooter a honest weather blogger . Who puts alot time and effort in here.
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6927
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY RUSKIN FL
533 AM EST MON FEB 11 2013

FLZ039-042-043-048>052-055>057-060>062-065-GMZ830 -850-853-856-870-
873-876-112300-
LEVY-CITRUS-SUMTER-HERNANDO-PASCO-PINELLAS-HILLSB OROUGH-POLK-
MANATEE-HARDEE-HIGHLANDS-SARASOTA-DESOTO-CHARLOTT E-LEE-
TAMPA BAY WATERS-TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 NM-
BONITA BEACH TO ENGLEWOOD OUT 20 NM-
TARPON SPRINGS TO SUWANNEE RIVER OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
ENGLEWOOD TO TARPON SPRINGS OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
BONITA BEACH TO ENGLEWOOD OUT 20 TO 60 NM-
533 AM EST MON FEB 11 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST
FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

...WIND AND SEA IMPACT...
SOUTHEAST WINDS OF 15 TO 20 KNOTS WITH SEAS UP TO 4 FEET WILL
RESULT IN UNFAVORABLE BOATING CONDITIONS FOR SMALLER CRAFT THIS
MORNING. WINDS AND SEAS WILL BEGIN TO DIMINISH BY THIS AFTERNOON.

...DENSE FOG/SMOKE IMPACT...
FOG IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP TONIGHT ESPECIALLY FROM THE TAMPA BAY
AREA NORTHWARD. CONDITIONS WILL ALSO BECOME MORE FAVORABLE FOR SEA
FOG TO DEVELOP. SOME FOG MAY BECOME LOCALLY DENSE REDUCING
VISIBILITIES TO UNDER A MILE AFTER MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY.

AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL PASS NORTH OF THE REGION ON WEDNESDAY
DRAGGING A COLD FRONT INTO THE STATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AND
EVENING. SOME THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRECEDE THE FRONT BUT SEVERE
STORMS ARE NOT EXPECTED.

A SECOND AREA OF LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE NORTH OF OUR REGION ON
SATURDAY DRAGGING A STRONGER COLD FRONT THROUGH THE STATE.
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRECEDE THE FRONT...THEN IT WILL
TURN BLUSTERY AND COLDER AFTER THE FRONT PASSES LATE SATURDAY AND
SATURDAY NIGHT.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting Bielle:


Did you miss "sometimes"?


Calm down.
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Y'all are acting childish fighting and arguing. Get over it and MOVE ON.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8027
Quoting Bielle:


So you go back to a comment made 2 and a half hours, and 200 comments, ago, and bring it forward, and you wonder why sometimes you are adjudged a troublemaker?


Bielle, I was working..sorry I couldnt respond when he posted it well after the discussion had ended..only people who think I am a troublemaker are people who dont have the same views as I do which I dont think of differing opinions the same way but its okay, I will live..

and so will my grandchildren and their grandchildren contrary to some here believe..

apologies to the blog..
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Quoting VR46L:


OMG

NCSTORM is one of the best weather bloggers here during the season IMO. Posts models taking time out of her day to do it . And great sat images too.

How is that a troublemaker ?


BTW You can call me one too if NCSTORM is considered a troublemaker . I would be proud of that label if she is labelled as such!!


Did you miss "sometimes"?
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
326. VR46L
Quoting Bielle:


So you go back to a comment made 2 and a half hours, and 200 comments, ago, and bring it forward, and you wonder why sometimes you are adjudged a troublemaker?


OMG

NCSTORM is one of the best weather bloggers here during the season IMO. Posts models taking time out of her day to do it . And great sat images too.

How is that a troublemaker ?


BTW You can call me one too if NCSTORM is considered a troublemaker . I would be proud of that label if she is labelled as such!!
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FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS BATON ROUGE LA
318 PM CST MON FEB 11 2013

...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS BATON ROUGE HAS ISSUED
A FLOOD WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN LOUISIANA...

THE AMITE RIVER NEAR DARLINGTON AFFECTING ST. HELENA PARISH

THE AMITE RIVER AT DENHAM SPRINGS AFFECTING EAST BATON ROUGE AND
LIVINGSTON PARISHES

THE AMITE RIVER AT BAYOU MANCHAC POINT AFFECTING EAST BATON ROUGE
PARISH

THE AMITE RIVER AT PORT VINCENT AFFECTING ASCENSION AND LIVINGSTON
PARISHES

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

FORECAST CRESTS ARE BASED UPON RAINFALL THAT HAS OCCURRED ALONG WITH
ANTICIPATED RAIN FOR THE NEXT 12 HOURS. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE FORECASTS
WILL BE MADE IF ADDITIONAL HEAVY RAINFALL OCCURS.

DO NOT DRIVE CARS THROUGH FLOODED AREAS. REMEMBER...TWO FEET OF
RUSHING WATER CAN CARRY AWAY MOST VEHICLES INCLUDING PICKUPS. TURN
AROUND AND DON`T DROWN.

A FOLLOWUP PRODUCT WILL BE ISSUED LATER. STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER
RADIO...LOCAL TV AND RADIO STATIONS...OR YOUR CABLE PROVIDER...FOR
THE LATEST INFORMATION. THE LATEST GRAPHICAL HYDROLOGIC INFORMATION
CAN ALSO BE FOUND AT WEATHER.GOV.
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Quoting Bielle:


So you go back to a comment made 2 and a half hours, and 200 comments, ago, and bring it forward, and you wonder why sometimes you are adjudged a troublemaker?
oh SNAP (and it is a beautiful afternoon here in Mid TN!)
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Expert: Global warming boosts storm power

By Doug Fraser
dfraser@capecodonline.com
February 09, 2013 - 2:00 AM

Last year was the 10th-hottest year on record globally. And, eight of the nine warmest years ever have occurred since 2002. So, are this week's nor'easter and Hurricane Sandy payback for turning the Earth into a hothouse?

Yes, said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as the lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's assessment of global warming impacts on climate. "Global warming doesn't cause these storms, but it does add to their intensity," Trenberth said. "Sea temperature is higher, and there is more moisture over the ocean as a result, waiting to be sucked up by the storm."

Ocean temperatures warm winter air, and for every degree Fahrenheit that the temperature increases, there is a 4 percent jump in the amount of water that can be held in the atmosphere, Trenberth explained. That can translate into 10 percent more snow.

While sea temperatures always have some natural variability, the Atlantic Ocean warmed by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit between 1895 and 2011, and New England waters experienced the hottest summer ever in 2012, more than 11 degrees over the historic average in some spots.

That supplies more fuel for big storms, Trenberth said, which can draw moisture from subtropical areas even as the weather systems are heading up the East Coast. The result is more rain or snow in intense bursts.

...
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Quoting ncstorm:


I did let it go..about 3 1/2 hours ago..no point in tying up the blog with it or coming back with posts way after the discussion has ended..right?

no misunderstanding on my part though..



So you go back to a comment made 2 and a half hours, and 200 comments, ago, and bring it forward, and you wonder why sometimes you are adjudged a troublemaker?
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florida folks,models give us a good chance for rain finally..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Valentine's Day :) and weekend storm

JMA




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Link for: The future of intense winter storms

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comm ent.html?entrynum=1441
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some Good News...............NEAR TO ABOVE RAINFALL OBSERVED SINCE LATE DECEMBER CONTINUES TO
SLOWLY ERODE DROUGHT CONDITIONS ACROSS NORTHEAST TEXAS...SOUTHWEST
ARKANSAS...AND SOUTHEAST OKLAHOMA...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting Tribucanes:
Levi, we've had three large Nor'easter storms from 2005-2013, which would lend some credence to what Dr. Masters was saying about increased chances of them. Perhaps the same could be said for the increased chances of hurricanes affecting the NE too. With two monster canes in as many years in the NE, one begins to question whether it's coincidence or climate change driven. I personally wonder if NYC has more than a 5/10 year window before a major hits there.
We had three major Nor'easters in a shorter time period, 1991-1993. There were three major Nor'easters 71-78 (including the Blizzard of 78). Not sure what can be inferred from such.
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From the link in Dr. Masters article above:

"the future of intense winter storms"

"In summary, the best science we have shows that there has been an increase in the number of intense wintertime extratropical storms in the North Pacific and Arctic in recent decades. Increased wave heights have been observed along the coasts of Oregon and Washington during this period, adding confidence to the finding of increased intense storm activity. The 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. Wintertime top 5% heavy precipitation events (both rain and snow) have increased over the Northeast U.S. in recent decades (Groisman et al., 2004), so Nor'easters have been more of a threat to cause flooding problems and heavy snow events. In all portions of the globe, tracks of extratropical storms have shifted poleward in recent decades, in accordance with global warming theory. ..."
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its going to be an interesting weather week huh...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
...ACCUMULATING SNOW EXPECTED TUESDAY NIGHT IN NORTHERN ARKANSAS...

A FRONT WILL REMAIN STATIONARY ALONG THE GULF COAST TONIGHT. A STORM
SYSTEM WILL MOVE ACROSS TEXAS LATE TONIGHT AND TUESDAY MORNING...
AND WILL INTERACT WITH THE FRONT. MOISTURE WILL BE PULLED NORTHWARD...
WITH RAIN OVERSPREADING ARKANSAS ON TUESDAY. AS THE SYSTEM MOVES
TOWARD THE SOUTHEAST UNITED STATES TUESDAY NIGHT...COLDER AIR WILL
CHANGE RAIN TO SNOW TOWARD THE MISSOURI BORDER.

IT APPEARS THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE IN NORTHWEST SECTIONS OF THE
STATE TOWARD FAYETTEVILLE...HARRISON...YELLVILLE AND JASPER.
TWO TO THREE INCH SNOW ACCUMULATIONS ARE IN THE FORECAST IN
THESE AREAS. OTHERWISE...HALF INCH TO INCH ACCUMULATIONS ARE
EXPECTED NORTH OF BOONEVILLE...CLINTON AND BATESVILLE...WITH
SOME SPOTS RECEIVING UP TO TWO INCHES.

DATA HAS BEEN TRENDING TOWARD MORE AVAILABLE MOISTURE...AND
A FASTER CHANGEOVER TO SNOW. IT IS POSSIBLE SNOW COULD BEGIN
EVEN SOONER THAN EXPECTED IN THE NORTHWEST...OR SOMETIME TUESDAY
AFTERNOON. ALSO...THERE ARE SOME INDICATIONS THAT A RUMBLE OF THUNDER
OR TWO COULD ACCOMPANY THE SNOW...WHICH COULD LEAD TO LOCALLY
HEAVIER AMOUNTS.

TEMPERATURES IN MUCH OF THE NORTH WILL REMAIN ABOVE FREEZING
DURING THE EVENT...AND ROADS WILL TEND TO BE MOSTLY WET. HOWEVER...
WHERE SNOW IS HEAVIER IN THE NORTHWEST...ROADS COULD BECOME
HAZARDOUS.

IN THE CENTRAL THIRD OF THE STATE...THERE COULD BE SOME SNOWFLAKES
TOWARD DAWN WEDNESDAY. HOWEVER...LITTLE OR NO ACCUMULATION IS
EXPECTED.

ALL PRECIPITATION WILL END WEDNESDAY MORNING...WITH TEMPERATURES
CLIMBING INTO THE 40S DURING THE AFTERNOON. WHATEVER SNOW FALLS
WILL MELT QUICKLY.

THIS SITUATION WILL CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED CLOSELY BY THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. ARKANSANS SHOULD CHECK LATER FORECASTS...
AND MAKE PLANS ACCORDINGLY.

$$

46
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting ScottLincoln:

If you are not trying to start a fight, then you should read up on the topic, figure out your misunderstanding, and let it go.


I did let it go..about 3 1/2 hours ago..no point in tying up the blog with it or coming back with posts way after the discussion has ended..right?

no misunderstanding on my part though..

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15662
311. VR46L
Quoting LargoFl:
Long time out but............


Wow

Moisture throughout the Gulf . that would take some of the dry air out of it .
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6927
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Local weather forecasters still aren't happy about snow chances here.They favor the weekend storm more though..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
249 PM CST MON FEB 11 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NEW ORLEANS HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN PIKE COUNTY IN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI...
WALTHALL COUNTY IN SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Long time out but............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting TomTaylor:
Speaking of that active winter weather pattern. Here's the 6z GFS from Maue's twitter. Yikes




12z GFS has an even stronger storm, though its track is a little different. Euro has a similar wave pattern, but has a less amplified solution, resulting in a weaker storm at the surface. Track on the Euro is also further out to sea.
wow those people just cant catch a break,hope the temps arent freezing when that gets up there
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:



if one quotes the entire sentence:

"We should not be surprised to see climate change causing significant changes in the frequency and intensity of Nor'easters, since the atmosphere is undergoing great changes in its circulation patterns and moisture content that will affect all storms."

...it is easy to understand the point that it would not be a surprise to see significant changes (either more or less frequent or intense)

...since the atmosphere is undergoing great changes in its circulation patterns and moisture content that will affect all storms.

The only way we will know what the changes are, is when we have a significant sample size, given these changing climatic conditions.


I submit that the correct version of your last sentence should be:

The only way we will know if there are changes, is when we have a significant sample size, given these changing climatic conditions.

If you can't determine what the changes are due to small sample size, how can you know whether there are changes at all based on the same sample?

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26652
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi yesterday afternoon, as you are probably are, was rated an EF3 with 145 mph winds as of many hours ago. Some of the damage pictures coming out of the region support a higher intensity and perhaps even rating.
This is why a survey crew always goes to the site. There are many factors that go into ratings that cannot be seen in a photograph. In the picture you posted, the structure is leveled, so it suggests a high rating, but the young pine trees show little damage suggest a lower rating.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
274. - Hence increasing my confusion about the entire paragraph. I'm not sure what he's trying to say. He says the models don't predict an increase, but he seems to say in his topic sentence that they are presently increasing. I'm seeking clarity.


As GHG induce global warming proceeds, the Arctic will warm up more than temperate latitudes. Nor'easters depend on the temperature contrast between air masses from both regions for their strength (as I'm sure you're well aware) so, in theory, nor'easters should diminish in intensity and frequency, if that was the only factor involved.

But, it's not the only factor. The polar jet stream is a huge player, and its activity has changed in recent years, probably due to enhanced Arctic warming. Due to the decreased temperature contrast, the polar jet stream has weakened. This has resulted in its meandering loops travelling further south, causing all sorts of mayhem.

The jet stream was a major factor in bringing the warm low up from the GOM to New England. If this kind of activity persists, there could be more, and stronger, nor'easters, despite the reduced temperature contrast.

It's a chaotic world out there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Speaking of that active winter weather pattern. Here's the 6z GFS from Maue's twitter. Yikes




12z GFS has an even stronger storm, though its track is a little different. Euro has a similar wave pattern, but has a less amplified solution, resulting in a weaker storm at the surface. Track on the Euro is also further out to sea.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi yesterday afternoon, as you are probably are, was rated an EF3 with 145 mph winds as of many hours ago. Some of the damage pictures coming out of the region support a higher intensity and perhaps even rating.
Yeah, NWS Jackson still got long way to go surveying this tornado. However, I haven't seen any damage photo that supports EF4 yet and I've been looking at pictures all day long while home sick.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8027
298. VR46L
Quoting yonzabam:


Nope. Sandy originated in the Caribbean.


She became a storm in the Caribbean but she was a wave that traveled and detached from the Moonsoon trough . I tracked every movement of her . As I got an intensely bad feeling about her from day one of the models showing her.
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6927
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39055

NWS Raleigh,NC extended discission for the weekend:
...MODELS SUGGEST THE UPPER TROUGH MAY BE STRONG ENOUGH TO OVERCOME THE RELATIVELY DRY AIR OVER CENTRAL NC AND PRODUCE SOME LIGHT QPF. FORECAST LOW LEVEL THICKNESSES PLUMMET WELL BELOW 1300M WITH THE SECOND TROUGH ON SATURDAY....SO CONFIDENCE IS MODERATELY HIGH IN THERMAL PROFILES WILL BECOME FAVORABLE FOR SNOW SHOWERS.

More snow would be nice here!
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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.