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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It could get very dangerous out there if discrete cells form ahead of the line. Conditions today are favorable for a couple strong and possibly long tracked tornadoes. Stay safe out there, everybody!
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


The temps from that storm-that-must-not-be-named were around 100 and the humidity was higher as well. That was a rare even, and not likely to be repeated anytime soon.
Oh no I know the storm-who's-name-will-not-be-mentioned will never be surpassed anytime soon.The temp was 106 degrees at my house with very of the scale humidity levels.It was like a blanket the best way I can described the weather tat day before the storm.The sad thing is is that it didn't even cool things off.However if humidity is still in the air before the front arrives the storms can get a boost.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
Just a reminder of our tornado outlook as of a few hours ago:

Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting washingtonian115:
I'm just hoping that when the front get's to me the thunderstorms are "normal".However before that front arrives Friday is suppose to be in it's 80's(again this is D.C so I wouldn't be surprised if some localtions are in the mid 80's to upper 80's) with humidity..only giving more power to the storms like the June 29th storm who's name will not be mentioned..


The temps from that storm-that-must-not-be-named were around 100 and the humidity was higher as well. That was a rare even, and not likely to be repeated anytime soon.
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Quoting wxchaser97:
And here we go, tornado watch issued.


take care Chaser97
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
686. VR46L
Quoting Slamguitar:
Ah! I can't take myself away from the weather today! The intense band around 60 dBZ coming off of Lake Michigan is headed right for me.



Stay safe !!

Its nasty looking stuff






BTW Hello Folks !!
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I'm just hoping that when the front get's to me the thunderstorms are "normal".However before that front arrives Friday is suppose to be in it's 80's(again this is D.C so I wouldn't be surprised if some localtions are in the mid 80's to upper 80's) with humidity..only giving more power to the storms like the June 29th storm who's name will not be mentioned..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
Quoting RitaEvac:












Yes, sadness today. We live 55 miles away, heard it, and thought it was thunder. I have been there for Westfest, it is only a community of like 2800.

USGS says, " The magnitude 2.1 measures only the ground motion, not the air wave, so is substantially less than the true size of the event. "
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Quoting wxchaser97:
And here we go, tornado watch issued.


They should just cancel my classes/tests so I can track this all day!

After all, this is a StormReady university! :D
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
For a PDS to be issued we would have to see descret cells forming out ahead of this line and that isn't the case right now.


ACTIVITY MAY BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING STRONG TO
LOCALLY EXTREME WIND DAMAGE...REGARDLESS OF WHETHER TORNADIC OR
STRAIGHT LINE IN NATURE,
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And here we go, tornado watch issued.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
It was a good thing for Bermuda to because most models were forecasting a cat 3/4 headed right for them.I forgot what the problem was on why Leslie couldn't get it's act together.


Dry air from the drought-stricken CONUS I would guess.
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Ah! I lied, I can't take myself away from the weather today! The intense band around 60 dBZ coming off of Lake Michigan is headed right for me.

Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
For a PDS to be issued we would have to see descret cells forming out ahead of this line and that isn't the case right now.



dos not really matter we could see strong nados with in that line or vary damging winds of 80 too 100mph
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677. MTWX
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Just updated from the NWS. 26 tornadoes from last week's outbreak and no moderate risk was issued but yet they issued on yesterday which only featured 2 tornadoes.



Risk levels aren't based on just tornadoes... They base them on any of the 3 variables (tornadoes, wind, hail). The hail yesterday was significantly worse than last weeks.

Also tornado reports does not mean number of tornadoes... Most of the reports from last week were from a single tornado.
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Quoting FunnelVortex:


Leslie epicly failed at being a tropical cyclone.

It was a good thing for Bermuda to because most models were forecasting a cat 3/4 headed right for them.I forgot what the problem was on why Leslie couldn't get it's act together.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
What I need is a good hurricane to track.No Ernesto's/Isaac's/Nadine's please...I should add ugly Leslie to the list as well as one of the most annoying storms of 2012..Micheal and Chris were just perfect and beautiful..So was Kirk.


Leslie epicly failed at being a tropical cyclone.

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For a PDS to be issued we would have to see descret cells forming out ahead of this line and that isn't the case right now.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36880
This just an average squall line right now.


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TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 123
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
935 AM EDT THU APR 18 2013

TORNADO WATCH 123 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 500 PM EDT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

MIC021-023-027-059-149-182100-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0123.130418T1335Z-130418T2100Z/

MI
. MICHIGAN COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BERRIEN BRANCH CASS
HILLSDALE ST. JOSEPH
$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36880
Quoting Slamguitar:
Last one before I'm out:




The sun is shinning outside right now. For me, that's a good thing. There should be more instability for the storms, I'm excited.
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A watch will be issued for southern Michigan soon.
Link
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WW0123 RADAR Thumbnail Image Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) Tornado Watch #123
Issued/Updated: Apr 18, 2013 at 1329 UTC
Expires: Apr 18, 2013 at 2100 UTC
Tornado Watch 123 Status Message has not been issued
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Just updated from the NWS. 26 tornadoes from last week's outbreak and no moderate risk was issued but yet they issued on yesterday which only featured 2 tornadoes.

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What I need is a good hurricane to track.No Ernesto's/Isaac's/Nadine's please...I should add ugly Leslie to the list as well as one of the most annoying storms of 2012..Micheal and Chris were just perfect and beautiful..So was Kirk.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
wow PDS

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Quoting pcola57:
Drought Monitor released this am..



12 Week animation of Drought Monitor..


Thank goodness it's ending.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting AussieStorm:
The Historic Derecho of June 29, 2012
Service Assessment (PDF)


I did the shallow dive into this report, since I am supposed to be working right now :) Bottom line? I found out there was going to be a severe event at 3 pm, with info I read on this blog. The storm hit at 9:00 that evening. I had six hours of lead time because I read this blog, but of course a huge majority of West Virginia residents don't frequent here. They only had an hour or two to prepare. I got home from work at 7pm that day and had to tell my husband as he had not seen the forecast yet. And he works outside as a landscaper/gardener! NWS just did not get the warning out quickly enough.

Please make note I am not trying to point fingers- climatology will tell you that the Appalachians will chew up and spit out storms like this... most of the time. But now experience needs to tell us we can't depend on that- we have to prepare for the worst and hope the forecast is a bust.

As for the recovery, that was just pathetic. The utilities were grossly unprepared to handle an event of that sort. I have a good friend in Belington, WV that waited until July 11- yes, that long- to get her power back on. I hope Potomac Edison is reading that report today :) Maybe they will beef up crews for severe weather season.
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Drought Monitor released this am..



12 Week animation of Drought Monitor..

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Last one before I'm out:



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Quoting FlyingScotsman:
This storm may have been a bust as far as tornadoes are concerned, but a flooding catastrophe is unfolding in Illinois. Check out this gauge on the west side of Chicago.

That gauges seems to have a decent period of record, too:
http://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/il/nwis/peak?site_ no=05532500&agency_cd=USGS&format=html

Looks like the early values can't be compared with present values due to a likely datum shift in 1944. But from roughly 1944 to present, the maximum flow at that location has been just a hair under 10kcfs and the stage never exceeded 9.9ft. 630sq mi is a decent contributing area as well.

An estimated 4-6" of rainfall seems to be widespread across the western portions of metro Chicago and a Flash Flood Emergency is now in effect with numerous main arterials inundated.

I justed notice this note from the USGS regarding the Des Plaines River @ Riverside gauge...
"Prior to January 2011, the gage was located 400 feet downstream of the current location...a current reading of 6.00 ft would approximately equate to a reading of 5.55 ft at the old location and a current reading of 10.00 ft would approximately equate to a reading of 9.15 ft at the old location."
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Quoting RitaEvac:










Yikes.Looks like tornado damage if I didn't know any better.But it wasn't.That was a pretty impressive explosion.I know it was bad but if it happened in a metropolitian area it could have been much worse.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
Looks like EF4 type tornado damage near the blast site
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Their are pop up showers around this morning.It's muggy outside right now.I expect this disgusting feeling to go away when the sun comes back out and moisture leaves the area.
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Quoting LargoFl:
SLAM STAY ALERT AND SAFE TODAY OK..SOME BAD STORMS AROUND


I'll do fine. I'm always alert in these cases. I'm more worried about my friends and family that think tornadoes and severe storms aren't a big threat in lower MI. I've been letting them know to keep informed and safe today. :)
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Quoting RitaEvac:










yes its horrible rita..prayers for all over there..
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Quoting Grothar:
Big cluster south of Panama. Not quite a blob.




Has a Blob-ish look to it.
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Flying the skies: atmospheric research flying

From UK Met Office
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Quoting LargoFl:
GET THIS..AGAIN...NEXT WEEK GEEZ.............
That's good except for the server weather.That was practically absent in 2012.We need these rains.Nature more please and serve for seconds thirds fourths and so on.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16409
Climate science: A sensitive matter

From The Economist Newspaper
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
ILC019-183-181345-
/O.NEW.KILX.SV.W.0021.130418T1305Z-130418T1345Z/

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LINCOLN IL
805 AM CDT THU APR 18 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LINCOLN HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN CHAMPAIGN COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ILLINOIS...
NORTHERN VERMILION COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ILLINOIS...

* UNTIL 845 AM CDT

* AT 800 AM CDT...A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WAS LOCATED ALONG A
LINE EXTENDING FROM 5 MILES SOUTHEAST OF PAXTON TO 5 MILES
SOUTHWEST OF GIFFORD...AND MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.

HAZARD...70 MPH WIND GUSTS AND NICKEL SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED.

IMPACT...EXPECT CONSIDERABLE TREE DAMAGE. DAMAGE IS LIKELY TO
MOBILE HOMES...ROOFS AND OUTBUILDINGS.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
RANKIN...POTOMAC...HOOPESTON...ROSSVILLE...PENFIEL D...ARMSTRONG...
COLLISON...MIDDLE FORK WILDLIFE AREA...HENNING...BISMARCK AND
ALVIN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

FOR YOUR PROTECTION MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
BUILDING.

&&

LAT...LON 4020 8753 4020 8814 4040 8809 4041 8794
4048 8794 4049 8793 4050 8759 4050 8753
4049 8752
TIME...MOT...LOC 1305Z 261DEG 43KT 4041 8796 4025 8800

HAIL...0.88IN
WIND...70MPH

$$

GOETSCH
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its going to be a real active day today weather wise huh.......
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36880
Looks like Indiana and Illinois will get some severe weather already today.


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Thanks for the blog update Dr. Masters..



State of the Climate..National Overview Report..March 2013

For Maps and full report Click HERE



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Quoting Slamguitar:
Good morning everyone. Just popping in before I head out for a busy day. I had a lot of thunder an hour or so ago and it looks like the next round is more intense and will come the Chicago area pretty soon.
SLAM STAY ALERT AND SAFE TODAY OK..SOME BAD STORMS AROUND
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36880
Big cluster south of Panama. Not quite a blob.


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Good morning everyone. Just popping in before I head out for a busy day. I had a lot of thunder an hour or so ago and it looks like the next round is more intense and will come the Chicago area pretty soon.
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FOLKS STAY ALERT TO WARNINGS.................
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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.