Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:06 PM GMT on January 22, 2014
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are digging out today from the snow left by fast-moving and intense Winter Storm Janus. At 4 am EST, the deepening 985 mb low was several hundred miles offshore from the New Jersey coast. The snows from the storm had mostly ended, except over Eastern Massachusetts. The storm dumped 13.5" on Philadelphia, 11" at New York City's Central Park, and 5.3" at Baltimore. The 3.8" of snow that fell at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC on Tuesday broke a streak of 1073 days (five days short of three years) that the city had gone without seeing at least a two-inch snowstorm. This was the longest such period on record, with the previous record being 700 days, beginning on February 5, 1975. Tuesday would have been an interesting day to play the Super Bowl, as East Rutherford, NJ, site of the February 2 Super Bowl game, received 13" of snow. The top snowfall amounts by state, as compiled in the 4 am EST Wednesday NOAA Storm Summary:
New Jersey, 15.8": Manalapan
Pennsylvania, 14.8": Brookhaven
New York, 13.3": Lindenhurst
Maryland, 11": Northeast Heights
Connecticut, 10.5": Geeenwich
Delaware, 12": Pike Creek
West Virginia, Kline Gap: 9"
Virginia, 8.5": Dulles Airport
Illinois, Oak Park: 8.5"
Michigan, 6.3": Munising
Figure 1. MODIS visible satellite image of a heavy lake effect snow band over Lake Michigan on January 21, 2014. At the time, snowfall rates of 3" per hour were occurring at Gary, Indiana. Ice is visible on the east and west shores of the lake, and had been sculpted into an interesting wave-like pattern by currents on the east shore of the lake. Image credit: NASA.
Heavy lake effect snowstorm dumps nearly two feet of snow on Indiana
Powerful north-northwest winds blowing around the back side of Winter Storm Janus streamed over Lake Michigan on Tuesday, creating a classic lake effect snowstorm over Northwest Indiana. Snowfall rates as high as 3" per hour were observed in the late morning, and Gary, Indiana received 18" of snow between 7:30 am and 12:50 pm, and a storm total of 20". The highest snow amounts from the lake effect blizzard were in nearby Griffith, Indiana, with 22.3".
Cold air invades the Eastern U.S.
A frigid blast of Arctic air is pouring southeastwards across the eastern U.S. today, and will bring temperatures 15 - 25° below normal Wednesday and Thursday. The cold air brought several record lows for the date on Tuesday (-22°F at Gaylord, MI, and -13° at Flint, MI). At least one record low for the date has been set so far on Wednesday: a low temperature of -30°F in Massena, New York. However, this cold blast isn't intense enough to set many records, since it is competing with one of the greatest cold waves in North American history: the great January 21, 1985 cold wave, one the two most intense cold waves on record. Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a fascinating account of the records set in that historic event in his latest post, Anniversary of the Great Cold Wave of January 21, 1985. Chicago (-27°), Norfolk, VA (-3°), Jacksonville, FL (7°), and dozens of other major cities set their all-time cold records during the cold wave.
Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average at 2 meters (6.6') as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A strongly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) created a sharp kink in the jet stream (Figure 3), which allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath ridges of high pressure over Alaska and Greenland. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
Figure 3. Winds at a height where the pressure is 250 mb show the axis of the jet stream, seen here at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A sharp trough of low pressure was present over the Eastern U.S., and unusually strong ridges of high pressure were over the Western U.S. and the North Atlantic. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
NOVA show on Super Typhoon Haiyan: Wednesday at 9 pm
The PBS NOVA series is airing a show on Super Typhoon Haiyan called "Killer Typhoon", on Wednesday, January 22 at 9 pm ET on most PBS stations. I've had a chance to preview the episode, and thought it was well-done, with impressive storm surge footage and excellent graphics. Commentary is provided by hurricane experts Kerry Emanuel and Jeff Weber, storm surge expert Dr. Hal Needham, and the current head of the American Meteorological Society, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd. Here's the web site for more info: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/killer-typhoon.html. I wrote NOVA an article on Haiyan that is published here.
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