U.S. gets unusually boring January weather; Thursday storm to ease Midwest drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:59 PM GMT on February 16, 2013

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After an unusually intense period of extreme weather during 2011 and 2012, the U.S. had its quietest month in nearly two years during January 2013, according to NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI). The index tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought. The CEI during January 2013 was 14%, which was the lowest since the 12% value during February 2011. On average, about 20% of the contiguous U.S. experiences top-10% extreme weather as defined by the CEI. In 2012, just two months (October and February) had below-average CEI, so the weather of January 2013 was a welcome relief from our recent "new normal" of increased extreme weather. Of course, the month wasn't completely without notable weather--the tornado outbreak of January 29 - 30 generated 57 tornadoes, the second largest January tornado outbreak on record. January 2013 ranked as the 39th warmest January since 1895, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in their latest State of the Climate report. Utah and Nevada had a top-ten coldest January; no states had a top-ten warmest January. The January warmth was enough to make the 12-month period ending in January 2013 the warmest such period for the contiguous U.S., with every state being warmer than average. Sixteen states, across the central U.S. and Northeast, were record warm, and 27 additional states were top ten warm.


Figure 1. Historical temperature ranking for the U.S. for January 2013. Utah and Nevada had a top-ten coldest January, and no states had a top-ten warmest January. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Drought conditions improve slightly; wetter weather on the way to Midwest drought region
January 2013 had slightly above-average precipitation over the contiguous U.S., but there were notable wet and dry extremes. Louisiana had its wettest January on record, and Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi all had top-ten wettest January weather. Florida, California, and Connecticut all had top-ten driest January weather. Heavy rains in Alabama and Georgia helped give that region no areas of exceptional drought for the first time since January 10, 2012. However, the core of the drought area over the Midwest U.S. shrank only slightly, with the area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought going from 61% on January 1 to 56% on February 12. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, issued February 7, calls for new areas of drought to develop over Florida, Texas, and California. However, some improvement in drought conditions is expected over about 40% of the drought region by April 30. The latest forecasts from the GFS and European (ECMWF) model show a modest shift in the jet stream pattern during the remainder of February, which may allow more moisture-bearing low pressure systems to pass through the main portion of the Midwest drought region. One storm for sure will arrive on Thursday, and many areas of the drought region should enjoy their their wettest day in months.


Figure 2. Drought conditions as of February 12, 2013, showed that 56% of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate or greater drought. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.


Figure 3. Predicted precipitation for the 7-day period ending Saturday, February 23 at 7 pm EST. Almost the entire nation is expected to get precipitation, including the core of the drought region. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.

Forward on Climate rally on February 17th in Washington, D.C. 
On Sunday, February 17, at noon EST, what is expected to be the largest climate rally in history will take place in Washington D.C. The rally is a project of the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip Hop Caucus. The organizers mustered 15,000 protesters last year in D.C. to protest the potential approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline (meant to bring oil from Canada's tar sands into the U.S.) Protesting the potential approval of the pipeline will be a major focus of Sunday's rally, as well. More broadly, the rally aims to put pressure on President Obama to make good on the promises he made during Tuesday's State of the Union Address:

"But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late….But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will."

It's about time that the President began talking about the reality of our changing climate, and the need to pursue aggressive actions to combat human-caused climate change. January 2013 was a welcome relief from the intense stretch of extreme weather our nation has suffered over the past two years. But the extreme weather of 2011 - 2012 is going to be more typical of our "new normal" of weather during the coming decades. Earth's climate is warming, and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is the main cause. Extreme weather events are increasing in response to the warming climate. People can take cost-effective actions to limit the damage, and our lawmakers are going to come under increasing pressure from grass-roots efforts like the Forward on Climate rally to act to slow down climate change.

I'll have a new post on Tuesday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Levi32:


Cooler water tends to cool the air above it, encouraging it to sink and form high pressure there. Warm water does the opposite, warming the air and making it more buoyant and prone to rise, creating low pressure.

A band of cold water north of the tropical Atlantic can cause sinking air that rushes southward at the surface and produces convergence (piling up of air) over the tropical waters which are warm. Since the warm waters south of 20N were already promoting rising air anyway, this added low-level convergence due to the cold water to the north just enhances the process, making the tropical waters a conducive region for thunderstorms to develop.
Are you gonna do a tropical tidbit for the upcoming hurricane season?
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Alright that was my 5 minutes on the blog for the day. Goodnight guys and girls.

Actually it was 9 minutes. LOL
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I can totally affirm the big need of moderators.. It just can't be a better idea to control trolls here. Some anonymous person in the chat is just so immature.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
Quoting KoritheMan:


I meant that tropical cyclones are drawn toward anomalously warm water, which is why we saw such an active MDR season in 2010 relative to the subtropical regions. I get what you're saying, though.



I gotcha, I just like stating the obvious sometimes just because its fun to talk about, lol.
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Quoting Jedkins01:

That description has to apply to tropical waters, because jet streams and their associated upper divergence don't care much about cold water temps, hence the north pacific and its massive deep low pressure systems over cold water :)


I meant that tropical cyclones are drawn toward anomalously warm water, which is why we saw such an active MDR season in 2010 relative to the subtropical regions. I get what you're saying, though.
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Quoting Jedkins01:
Its already 34 here, forecast low of 25, it is shockingly cold to me after it being in the low to mid 70's for several days before this.

You're low is basically going to be my high temp tomorrow. It is already 17F here with the forecast low of 13F. Of course another warmup comes on Monday with a high of 40.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Its already 34 here, forecast low of 25, it is shockingly cold to me after it being in the low to mid 70's for several days before this.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It also makes it more likely for storms to form in the tropical regions, since tropical cyclones are naturally drawn to warm water (all other conditions being equal, of course).

That description has to apply to tropical waters, because jet streams and their associated upper divergence don't care much about cold water temps, hence the north pacific and its massive deep low pressure systems over cold water :)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


It also makes it more likely for storms to form in the tropical regions, since tropical cyclones are naturally drawn to warm water (all other conditions being equal, of course).

That almost sounds like a statement from my AP macroeconomics class, lol.

Sigh, the 00z abandoned what it was showing earlier for the late week storm and has went with what the Euro has shown from time to time. This would mean more of a rain/snow mix and way less precip. Of course, it is still a while out and most likely will change. I really hope it changes as I want a good snow system or thunderstorms, not a mess.

Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Quoting Levi32:


Cooler water tends to cool the air above it, encouraging it to sink and form high pressure there. Warm water does the opposite, warming the air and making it more buoyant and prone to rise, creating low pressure.

A band of cold water north of the tropical Atlantic can cause sinking air that rushes southward at the surface and produces convergence (piling up of air) over the tropical waters which are warm. Since the warm waters south of 20N were already promoting rising air anyway, this added low-level convergence due to the cold water to the north just enhances the process, making the tropical waters a conducive region for thunderstorms to develop.


It also makes it more likely for storms to form in the tropical regions, since tropical cyclones are naturally drawn to warm water (all other conditions being equal, of course).
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Quoting aspectre:
67 washingtonian115: All I'm saying is that I do believe. I'm not over-dramatic is all.
Fine. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS!.


I didn't mean to be that provocative.

On the other hand, the World has 3 nuclear*armed states on the borderline of becoming incapable of growing enough crops to feed their LARGE populations. What happens when starving hundreds of millions demand food during an extended multi-year drought, and their governments decide to demand their fair^share of our crops?
Heck. I'm not even sure that Britain is capable of growing enough food to feed its rapidly expanding population in the event of major droughts simultaneously hitting multiple grain-exporting nations.

Double heck, China already has over a trillion USdollars and is working on its second. What happens when they insist upon using their right to purchase our crops?
Legally under WorldTradeOrganization rules -- which were mostly made up by the US -- commodities (such as grains and soybean) must be sold on the open World market.

* China and India have proven they have ICBM capabilities by successfully inserting satellites into orbit. And Pakistan is well on the way. The UK has US-built Trident SLBMs as well as its own record of successful missile-building.
^ It's easy to foresee their basic argument: "It was mostly your pollution that caused the Drought, we should receive compensation."



Although what you have said is a bit scary, and not necessarily the future, it also could be, and can't be ignored, interesting points.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

DOOM
Where you been Gro? haven't seen you on when I've been around. Made a Blog about 2013 last week, just click my username ;)


I haven't been around much. I'll check it out.
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Alright that was my 5 minutes on the blog for the day. Goodnight guys and girls.
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Quoting Terradad:


The GOM, Carribean, and Atlantic S of about 20N. But the Atlantic N of 20N is colder. Not sure if that matters much, but it is interesting. Thanks for the image!

it's colder because 2012 exhausted the tropical energy in the subtropical region (20N or higher) so YEAHHHH. Not good for us living in the Caribbean and GOM because the storms that pass this warmer water can only get stronger (typically).
My blog discusses this... Lol I like how Im promoting my blog without trying to really draw attention to myself. :P
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
we still got 32 days of winter before start of spring so it could cool a little yet

I'm pretty well ready for spring and tornado season. Winter has been up and down with temps and snowfall.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7928
Quoting SteveDa1:
Well, Japan is to the southwest of the low... ;)

Astrometeor

What about the theory that very small disturbances (such as someone sighing heavily or a butterfly clapping its wings) can have an effect on the weather thousands of miles away?

Yes you are correct, Sorry. I should of said Kuril Islands and SE Russia
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Quoting Grothar:
The Atlantic and Caribbean are much warmer this year than last.

2012



2013


DOOM
Where you been Gro? haven't seen you on when I've been around. Made a Blog about 2013 last week, just click my username ;)
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158. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


Cooler water tends to cool the air above it, encouraging it to sink and form high pressure there. Warm water does the opposite, warming the air and making it more buoyant and prone to rise, creating low pressure.

A band of cold water north of the tropical Atlantic can cause sinking air that rushes southward at the surface and produces convergence (piling up of air) over the tropical waters which are warm. Since the warm waters south of 20N were already promoting rising air anyway, this added low-level convergence due to the cold water to the north just enhances the process, making the tropical waters a conducive region for thunderstorms to develop.


Thank you Levi !! and for answering in a manner that all can understand !

Edit .. you have a unique ability to do that !!
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Quoting whitewabit:


Can you explain why Levi ??


Cooler water tends to cool the air above it, encouraging it to sink and form high pressure there. Warm water does the opposite, warming the air and making it more buoyant and prone to rise, creating low pressure.

A band of cold water north of the tropical Atlantic can cause sinking air that rushes southward at the surface and produces convergence (piling up of air) over the tropical waters which are warm. Since the warm waters south of 20N were already promoting rising air anyway, this added low-level convergence due to the cold water to the north just enhances the process, making the tropical waters a conducive region for thunderstorms to develop.
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156. whitewabit (Mod)
Gulf SST's ..

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Quoting Astrometeor:


That mainly has to do with everyday life, and not particularly the weather. It is a cliche phrase so to speak, that imparts to the hear-er, that even small deeds can make an impact on someone's life. It is meant to encourage volunteering in one's neighborhood or just routinely offering help to those who are in need.


Makes a lot of sense! Thanks for the response.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
here is another compare map for ya



yep says the same thing
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we still got 32 days of winter before start of spring so it could cool a little yet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
152. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


It's actually better (for storms) for the waters north of 20N to be colder relative to normal than the waters south of 20N.


Can you explain why Levi ??
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

really now and us here in Cayman Islands did not see or hear jack of jill of any of the exsistence and may I remind you we are sitting right beside cuba almost kissing it


you know what that could mean for the Caribbean this hurricane season

this is going to be one hell of a year
here is another compare map for ya


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53308
Quoting SteveDa1:
Well, Japan is to the southwest of the low... ;)

Astrometeor

What about the theory that very small disturbances (such as someone sighing heavily or a butterfly clapping its wings) can have an effect on the weather thousands of miles away?


That mainly has to do with everyday life, and not particularly the weather. It is a cliche phrase so to speak, that imparts to the hear-er, that even small deeds can make an impact on someone's life. It is meant to encourage volunteering in one's neighborhood or just routinely offering help to those who are in need.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Update on the meteorite explosion over Cuba lastnight..

Cuba apparently experienced a phenomenon similar to the meteorite that detonated over Russia this week, island media reported, with startled residents describing a bright light in the sky and a loud explosion that shook windows and walls. There were no reports of any injuries or damage such as those caused by the Russia meteorite, which sent out shockwaves that hurt some 1,200 people and shattered countless windows. In a video from a state TV newscast posted on the website CubaSi late Friday, unidentified residents of the central city of Rodas, near Cienfuegos, said the explosion was impressive. "On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun," one local man said in the video. "My home shook completely," said a woman. "I had never heard such a strange thing." Marcos Rodriguez, whom the video identified as a specialist in anthropology, said all signs point to a meteorite. A reporter said a similar phenomenon was observed in 1994 elsewhere in Cienfuegos province. The video said Cuban authorities were looking for any fragments that may have fallen to the earth.

really now and us here in Cayman Islands did not see or hear jack of jill of any of the exsistence and may I remind you we are sitting right beside cuba almost kissing it

Quoting Grothar:
The Atlantic and Caribbean are much warmer this year than last.

2012



2013


you know what that could mean for the Caribbean this hurricane season

this is going to be one hell of a year
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Grothar posted a video of space rocks falling over Europe last Spring, and he got a brief ban for it. I saw a news item not long ago that said that pieces of that same rock bounced off the atmosphere, went around the Earth again, and then landed in California, near SF, I believe, about 90 minutes later.

I also read that Tunguska in 1908 generated pressure waves that were measured in England. That is one big Butterfly!

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Quoting Terradad:


The GOM, Carribean, and Atlantic S of about 20N. But the Atlantic N of 20N is colder. Not sure if that matters much, but it is interesting. Thanks for the image!


It's actually better (for storms) for the waters north of 20N to be colder relative to normal than the waters south of 20N.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


so there are three...Russia, Al or MS and Cuba?


... and California ...

may I offer a "conspiracy" theory (there are plenty)?

It's the arrival of the Volgon's preparing for the new hyperspace bypass

- good eve.
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Quoting Grothar:
The Atlantic and Caribbean are much warmer this year than last.

2012



2013



The GOM, Carribean, and Atlantic S of about 20N. But the Atlantic N of 20N is colder. Not sure if that matters much, but it is interesting. Thanks for the image!
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Well, Japan is to the southwest of the low... ;)

Astrometeor

What about the theory that very small disturbances (such as someone sighing heavily or a butterfly clapping its wings) can have an effect on the weather thousands of miles away?
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Quoting SteveDa1:
But check out the 964 low heading toward NE Japan.

I think you got your hemispheres confused. :)

um no... It is labeled as a low and JMA says it's heading NE so um, you need to check again.

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Quoting Astrometeor:


I won't laugh.

The meteor in terms of size and energy released is nowhere near big enough to have a measurable difference on the atmosphere's gears of progress. The air wasn't really effected much, no different then a jet breaking the sound barrier, just a bit bigger with the finesse.

Hope it answers your question.


It does thanks
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streak of snow right up the eastern seaboard
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Quoting Kahlest:
...Comes out of lurkdom...

OK I am probably going to get laughed at here but I have a question. With the meteor disrupting that much air over Russia and over Cuba, can it affect weather patterns around the globe and if so how?

I am curious.


I won't laugh.

The meteor in terms of size and energy released is nowhere near big enough to have a measurable difference on the atmosphere's gears of progress. The air wasn't really effected much, no different then a jet breaking the sound barrier, just a bit bigger with the finesse.

Hope it answers your question.
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The Atlantic and Caribbean are much warmer this year than last.

2012



2013

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...Comes out of lurkdom...

OK I am probably going to get laughed at here but I have a question. With the meteor disrupting that much air over Russia and over Cuba, can it affect weather patterns around the globe and if so how?

I am curious.
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But check out the 964 low heading toward NE Japan.

I think you got your hemispheres confused. :)
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
==============================

LOW PRESSURE AREA 1006 HPA NEAR 04N 138E WNW 10 KT

That must be the L at the bottom middle of this weather map. But check out the 964 low heading toward NE Japan.
Current


24hrs Forecast


48hrs oo double lows. Not good.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
the weather ch has now name it winter storm PLATO

Um... your a bit slow with that news about 44mins slow to be exact, lol. That is old news now.
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GEFS Mean in 12 Days




Looks like winter is sticking around longer than I expected. MJO forecasts have busted a bit since last time I looked at them (when I expected the latter half of February to be warm). Latest forecasts send the MJO into no man's land, rather than the warm octants. Furthermore, the blocking around the Baffin Bay is now setting up and doesn't look like it wants to leave. Should see a brief warm up next weekend in the East. Later half of February will be cold overall, however.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Perhaps we should call this winter storm Aristocles

...Plato was originally named Aristocles, but one of his teachers gave him the familiar name, either because of the breadth of his shoulders or his speech.


Trust me, it was his speech. The guy never shut up in class.
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131. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
==============================

LOW PRESSURE AREA 1006 HPA NEAR 04N 138E WNW 10 KT
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


so there are three...Russia, Al or MS and Cuba?


Quoting Tazmanian:



there was all so a fireball report overe SFO bay area last night


Fireball reports are nothing really worth noting. They occur every night, just most people are two lazy to go out and look. If one spends 1 hour outside at night in a semi-dark place, you can easily see 5-10 meteors outside of a meteor shower.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Update on the meteorite explosion over Cuba lastnight..

Cuba apparently experienced a phenomenon similar to the meteorite that detonated over Russia this week, island media reported, with startled residents describing a bright light in the sky and a loud explosion that shook windows and walls. There were no reports of any injuries or damage such as those caused by the Russia meteorite, which sent out shockwaves that hurt some 1,200 people and shattered countless windows. In a video from a state TV newscast posted on the website CubaSi late Friday, unidentified residents of the central city of Rodas, near Cienfuegos, said the explosion was impressive. "On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun," one local man said in the video. "My home shook completely," said a woman. "I had never heard such a strange thing." Marcos Rodriguez, whom the video identified as a specialist in anthropology, said all signs point to a meteorite. A reporter said a similar phenomenon was observed in 1994 elsewhere in Cienfuegos province. The video said Cuban authorities were looking for any fragments that may have fallen to the earth.



there was all so a fireball report overe SFO bay area last night
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Quoting Skyepony:
Update on the meteorite explosion over Cuba last night..


so there are three...Russia, Al or MS and Cuba?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
127. Skyepony (Mod)
Update on the meteorite explosion over Cuba lastnight..

Cuba apparently experienced a phenomenon similar to the meteorite that detonated over Russia this week, island media reported, with startled residents describing a bright light in the sky and a loud explosion that shook windows and walls. There were no reports of any injuries or damage such as those caused by the Russia meteorite, which sent out shockwaves that hurt some 1,200 people and shattered countless windows. In a video from a state TV newscast posted on the website CubaSi late Friday, unidentified residents of the central city of Rodas, near Cienfuegos, said the explosion was impressive. "On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun," one local man said in the video. "My home shook completely," said a woman. "I had never heard such a strange thing." Marcos Rodriguez, whom the video identified as a specialist in anthropology, said all signs point to a meteorite. A reporter said a similar phenomenon was observed in 1994 elsewhere in Cienfuegos province. The video said Cuban authorities were looking for any fragments that may have fallen to the earth.
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nam-hires namer
20130217 00 UTC HR60 FINAL
sim_reflectivity

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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.