U.S. has a cool and very dry March; severe weather outbreak likely today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:08 PM GMT on April 17, 2013

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It was another relatively quiet month for weather extremes in the U.S. during March 2013, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in their latest State of the Climate report. The month ranked as the 43rd coolest March in the 119-year record for the contiguous U.S., and was the coolest March since 2002. This is in stark contrast to what happened in 2012, when the U.S. had its warmest March on record. Eleven states, mostly in the Southeast, experienced a top-ten coolest March on record in 2013. Remarkably, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina had March 2013 temperatures that were cooler than in January 2013. California, Nevada, and Arizona had a top-ten warmest March. The pattern of warmth in the west and cool conditions in the east was due to the fact that the jet stream was stuck in a large loop that allowed cold air to spill out of Canada into the Southeast U.S., and warm air to flow northward over the southwestern states. We can describe the jet stream behavior using the Arctic Oscillation (AO) Index, which is a measure of pressure patterns across the Arctic. During March 2013, the monthly-averaged AO index reached its most negative March value since records began in 1950.

According to NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, the year 2013 has been below average for extremes. The CEI during January - March 2013 was 15%, and on average, about 20% of the contiguous U.S. experiences top-10% extreme weather as defined by the CEI.


Figure 1. Historical temperature ranking for the U.S. for March 2013. Eleven states, mostly in the Southeast, had a top-ten coldest March, and California, Nevada, and Arizona had a top-ten warmest March. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).


Figure 2. Historical precipitation ranking for the U.S. for March 2013. Although only two states had a top-ten driest March--Wyoming and Louisiana--just eight states were wetter than average, making March 2013 the 5th driest March on record for the U.S. as a whole. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Fifth driest March on record in the U.S.
Although only two states had a top-ten driest March in 2013--Wyoming and Louisiana--just eight states were wetter than average, making March 2013 the 5th driest March on record for the U.S. as a whole. Thanks to three major winter storms that crossed the Great Plains during the first half of April, there should be a notable improvement in drought conditions over much of the core U.S. drought region when Thursday's Drought Monitor report is issued, though. The most recent report from April 9 showed a big reduction of the area in the worst drought category, "Exceptional", from 5% to 3%, during the first week of April. About 51% of the U.S. is still in moderate or greater drought. According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the March snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was the 10th largest March snow cover extent in the 47-year period of record. However, snowpack, an important water resource in the West, was below-normal in the Sierra Nevada Mountains as well as the Central and Southern Rockies.


Figure 3. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, April 17, calls for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather over much of Oklahoma, and portions of surrounding states. The main threat appears to be large hail, but there may also be a few strong EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes. You can follow today's severe weather outbreak from our Severe Weather page, and wunderblogger Lee Grenci has a detailed post on today's severe weather threat.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Slamguitar:


Until they feel like they're missing out on the attention and money that they could be getting...

Just saying it could happen. They are a commercial weather service looking to make profit after all.


It could happen tomorrow
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting LargoFl:
FOLKS PUT ON CNN..SOMETHINGS HAPPENING..OFF TOPIC I KNOW BUT..


What is happening?
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Quoting LargoFl:
FOLKS PUT ON CNN..SOMETHINGS HAPPENING..OFF TOPIC I KNOW BUT..


No one cares.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
FOLKS PUT ON CNN..SOMETHINGS HAPPENING..OFF TOPIC I KNOW BUT..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36850

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTHEASTERN
LEE...NORTHERN DE KALB...SOUTHERN BOONE...SOUTHEASTERN WINNEBAGO...
EASTERN OGLE AND WEST CENTRAL KANE COUNTIES UNTIL 1100 AM CDT...

AT 1052 AM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED NEAR MALTA...AND
MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH.

HAZARD...QUARTER SIZE HAIL AND 60 MPH WIND GUSTS.

SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT...HAIL DAMAGE TO VEHICLES AND CROPS IS EXPECTED. EXPECT WIND
DAMAGE TO ROOFS...SIDING AND TREES.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL BE NEAR...
KINGSTON AND KIRKLAND AROUND 1100 AM CDT.

OTHER LOCATIONS AFFECTED...
BOONE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS...LOWDEN STATE PARK...NORTHERN ILLINOIS
UNIVERSITY...ROCK CUT STATE PARK...ROCK VALLEY COLLEGE...ROCKFORD
RIVERHAWKS BASEBALL...ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36850
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Well, I'm actually FOR the naming of strong winter storms and strong lows.

I mean strong low as in sub 995.


Now a quantitative naming guideline like that wouldn't be bad at all!
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36850
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36850
Quoting Slamguitar:


Until they feel like they're missing out on the attention and money that they could be getting...

Just saying it could happen. They are a commercial weather service looking to make profit after all.


Well, I'm actually FOR the naming of strong winter storms and strong lows.

I mean strong low as in sub 995.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting ncstorm:


So Keep, in those model runs..the red indicates severe weather or just heavy rain?
areas of heavy precip darker the reds more heavy the rains likly related to convective cells when you look at the scale to the left it shows dbz range once dbz exceeds 55 its likly severe thunderstorms once it passes 65 dbz extreme and 75 dbz off the charts
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Goosegirl I'm watching the forecast for Friday.It may happen at night limiting the server risk.
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...A FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 115 PM EDT FOR
MADISON COUNTY...

AT 1114 AM EDT...THE PUBLIC REPORTED A SERIES OF THUNDERSTORMS
PRODUCING FLASH FLOODING OVER THE WARNED AREA.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
RICHMOND...

IN ADDITION...HILLCREST...UNION CITY AND BLUE GRASS ARE INCLUDED IN
THIS FLASH FLOOD WARNING.

FLASH FLOOD PRONE AREAS IN THIS WARNING...
OTTER CREEK BACKS UP ONTO RED HOUSE ROAD.
THE INTERSECTION OF TATE CREEK AND THE KENTUCKY RIVER OVERFLOWS
NEAR TOWN OF VALLEY VIEW.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36850
Quoting FunnelVortex:


Doubt that will happen.


Until they feel like they're missing out on the attention and money that they could be getting...

Just saying it could happen. They are a commercial weather service looking to make profit after all.
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting Slamguitar:


Until they start naming every storm/low pressure. Haha.


Doubt that will happen.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting Barefootontherocks:

Image courtesy of Oklahoma mesonet

Image updates every few minutes to help keep an eye on the bouncing warm sector.

Thanks for the link. Found this image. Seems like two areas where warm, humid air is advancing--[or else where it is raining. oops]

Link
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Quoting FunnelVortex:
One of the reasons I am glad winter is over is because I don't have to listen to people moan and whine about the weather channel naming winter storms. At least not until next November.


Until they start naming every storm/low pressure. Haha.

Part of me is joking. Part.
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
One of the reasons I am glad winter is over is because I don't have to listen to people moan and whine about the weather channel naming winter storms. At least not until next November.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN



So Keep, in those model runs..the red indicates severe weather or just heavy rain?
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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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12z NAM MESO MODEL RUN

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Quoting hydrus:


The northern MCS has quite a bit of rain with it.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873

Image courtesy of Oklahoma mesonet

Image updates every few minutes to help keep an eye on the bouncing warm sector.
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Quoting goosegirl1:


Since I do this several times every day, this comes as a great relief :) Every time I turn the corner into my office, I have no idea why I'm there...


I'm pretty sure this is why sticky notes (Post-it) were invented.....
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Quoting leofarnsworth:


Thanks for asking the only REAL relevant question with regard to 'canes, where r they going?


It's not the only steering influence, and is more relevant for Cape Verde storms.

High pressure off SE Canada increases US landfalls, while low pressure increases the number of recurving fish storms.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Good morning everyone. Anyone have any idea how the A/B High is setting up for this upcoming Hurricane Season? I was thinking now would be a good time to start seeing hints as to where it might be setting up.


Thanks for asking the only REAL relevant question with regard to 'canes, where r they going?
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Quoting PedleyCA:
off topic

This explains it!! And I thought that it was a touch of senility!!!

The following write up explains so much.

"Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was? Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses.

Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what's known as an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next. Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale."

It's not aging, it's the door!

Whew! Thank goodness


Since I do this several times every day, this comes as a great relief :) Every time I turn the corner into my office, I have no idea why I'm there...
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1224
Quoting washingtonian115:
Thank you doc.Thank goodness I won't have to see that political mess today.Today will be in the mid to upper 70's and so will Thursday to Friday.Then the cool down comes over the weekend.This pattern is getting played out quickly.


Keep an eye on Friday- the severe risk increases for the Mid-Atlantic. We may see some t-storm action in our area.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1224
off topic

This explains it!! And I thought that it was a touch of senility!!!

The following write up explains so much.

"Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was? Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses.

Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what's known as an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next. Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale."

It's not aging, it's the door!

Whew! Thank goodness
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Member Since: July 18, 2010 Posts: 50 Comments: 1793
Thanks for the breakdown Dr. Masters. It brings a certain kind of peace to know that you and others are on the job, and have a passions to understand what is going on.

"...the year 2013 has been below average for extremes."

So we are having unusually mild/un-extreme weather? A seeming contradiction, but it makes sense. Just like people, weather is never average? But it makes me think things are a little more 'normal' this year, and I like that. Let's hope the 'average' spring stormy weather takes it easy on us today!

Member Since: November 5, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 204
Quoting hurricane23:


Unfortuantely its really impossible to predict who will be impacted this season but if you live were hurricanes threaten you should be prepared even if predictions call for 1-1-1. All you need is a 2 week window with an unfavorable steering pattern and things can get bad. Important thing to watch for is what the conditions are that steer the storms when there is a storm in the area. Timing is critical. A pattern that would steer a Cape Verde Hurricane directly into Florida for example could exist for two months, but if there is no Hurricane to be steered the pattern is meaningless. The determining factor of where a storm will make landfall is going to be dependent on what the CURRENT steering patterns are. Our atmosphere is just to complex and coupled to be able to determine what absolute locations may possibly be affected.


That is correct Adrian. The weather patterns change constanly that is the challenge that the pro met people have to deal with day to day and maybe hour by hour. For example,that is why anyone can't assume about high pressure being in the Atlantic and in hours is weakens from 1030 mbs to 1024 mbs and at the same time it moves more east than anticipated.
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Good Afternoon Peeps! Trouble is on the horizon..

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GFS showing waves trying to form in west Africa.

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Everyone just loves correcting/seeing the Washingtonian corrected.
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I'm impressed that Florida got a top 5 coldest for March. Perhaps it was much colder in the panhandle, or south Florida just was more like north central. I didn't bring plants indoors for extended periods, or scrape frost off my windshield at all this winter or walk on crispy grass.
Perhaps the lack of frost was because it was dry, but it is hard to see how March was exceptionally cold in my part of the state. Was there crop damage that I missed?
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45. hurricane23 10:49 AM EDT on April 17, 2013

100 +................
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Quoting hurricane23:


Unfortuantely its really impossible to predict who will be impacted this season but if you live were hurricanes threaten you should be prepared even if predictions call for 1-1-1. All you need is a 2 week window with an unfavorable steering pattern and things can get bad. Important thing to watch for is what the conditions are that steer the storms when there is a storm in the area. Timing is critical. A pattern that would steer a Cape Verde Hurricane directly into Florida for example could exist for two months, but if there is no Hurricane to be steered the pattern is meaningless. The determining factor of where a storm will make landfall is going to be dependent on what the CURRENT steering patterns are. Our atmosphere is just to complex and coupled to be able to determine what absolute locations may possibly be affected.
Unfortunately in late August of 2011 and October 2012 the trough that was along the east coast moved out of the way and allowed hits.We were prepared however for the hurricanes.I think It'll be interesting to see if troughiness sets up along the east coast for majority of the time (2010).But we'll see.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting Neapolitan:
I spent much of the past week doing work in the area between Lawton, Oklahoma, and Wichita Falls, where I saw weather ranging from the mid-20s with sleet to the mid-80s with a strong, dry wind blowing. I wish I could have extended my stay so I could participate in today's severe weather, but, alas, a contract is a contract, so I'm back in Florida. Ah, well...

Anomalously cold as March was across the US, things aren't looking much different this month; unless something unexpected happens next week, I imagine April's rankings will come in very close to those for March.


What kind of work?
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Quoting washingtonian115:
Remember how in past years ridging was strong during April only to have a barrier (trough) set up along the east coast and protect the U.S.Seriously after seeing so many recurvatures over the last three years I have my doubts the gulf will see many threats this year.


Unfortuantely its really impossible to predict who will be impacted this season but if you live were hurricanes threaten you should be prepared even if predictions call for 1-1-1. All you need is a 2 week window with an unfavorable steering pattern and things can get bad. Important thing to watch for is what the conditions are that steer the storms when there is a storm in the area. Timing is critical. A pattern that would steer a Cape Verde Hurricane directly into Florida for example could exist for two months, but if there is no Hurricane to be steered the pattern is meaningless. The determining factor of where a storm will make landfall is going to be dependent on what the CURRENT steering patterns are. Our atmosphere is just to complex and coupled to be able to determine what absolute locations may possibly be affected.
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Tornado's? Yawn.Well track until your hearts conetent and with that I'm out.Have a good day everyone.And what's this!.He actually sounds normal!.Did someone take their meds!.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383


This is a contour plot of total totals index with a contour interval of 2. The TT field shows instability in the atmosphere based on the lapse rate from 850 to 500 mb plus dewpoint at 850 mb. Where TTs are greater than 45, thunderstorms are possible. The higher the number, the more unstable the atmosphere is and as a result, the bold the thunderstorms could become. Values of 52 or higher indicate areas where severe thunderstorms are possible. Values <40 indicate areas of stable weather where skies are generally clear.

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I spent much of the past week doing work in the area between Lawton, Oklahoma, and Wichita Falls, where I saw weather ranging from the mid-20s with sleet to the mid-80s with a strong, dry wind blowing. I wish I could have extended my stay so I could participate in today's severe weather, but, alas, a contract is a contract, so I'm back in Florida. Ah, well...

Anomalously cold as March was across the US, things aren't looking much different this month; unless something unexpected happens next week, I imagine April's rankings will come in very close to those for March.
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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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