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2011 February

Into the Storm: A book review

Meteorologist Reed Timmer, star of Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers, and writer Andrew Tilin have teamed up to write a highly entertaining and solidly educational book that is filled with gripping stories, detailing Timmer's amazing career as a storm-chasing meteorologist. Into the Storm begins in 1998, when Timmer enrolled as an undergraduate in the University of Oklahoma's meteorology program. His early chase stories leave one marveling that he is still alive.

JeffMasters, • 4:42 PM GMT on February 25, 2011

Drought in China adds pressure to world food prices

China's key wheat producing region, lying just south of Beijing, has received just 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) of rain since September. If no rains come during the remainder of February, it could become the worst drought in 200 years. The latest precipitation forecast from the GFS ensemble model predicts the possibility of rains of around 1/2 inch for Shandong Province early next week, but these rains would help only a little. A longer-range 2-week forecast from the operational GFS model shows little or no rain for the region from late next week well into March.

JeffMasters, • 2:49 AM GMT on February 23, 2011

Dakotas blizzard adds to extreme spring flooding risk

Heavy snows in excess of six inches have piled up over much of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota today, with a storm maximum of 16 inches reported at Midland, South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm has added more than another half inch of melted rainfall equivalent to a snowpack that already had a record water content. When all that snow melts in late March, we can expect another spring of major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, or the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis.

JeffMasters, • 2:13 AM GMT on February 21, 2011

January global temperatures 11th - 17th warmest on record

January 2011 was the globe's 17th warmest January on record, according to NOAA, and 11th warmest, according to NASA. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were average. The global cool-down from November, which was the warmest November on record for the globe, was due in large part to the on-going moderate strength La Niña episode in the Eastern Pacific. Notably, the January 2011 global ocean temperature (11th warmest) was the warmest on record among all Januaries when La Niña was present. The ten warmest Januaries occurred during either El Niño or neutral conditions.

JeffMasters, • 2:14 PM GMT on February 18, 2011

-28° to 72° in 6 days: a wild ride in Oklahoma

The plants and animals of northeast Oklahoma are officially freaking out. Cold air pouring in behind last week's remarkable snowstorm over northeast Oklahoma brought unprecedented cold to the state on February 10, with a bone-chilling -31°F recorded at Nowata and -28°F at Bartlesville. These were the coldest temperatures ever measured in Oklahoma. But yesterday afternoon, just six days after experiencing -28°F, Bartlesville hit 72°F--an incredible 100°F temperature swing in just six days.

JeffMasters, • 3:09 PM GMT on February 17, 2011

La Niña weaker; may be gone by summer

A significant shift is occurring in the Equatorial waters of the Eastern Pacific off the coast of South America, where the tell-tale signs of the end to the current La Niña event are beginning to show up. A borderline moderate/strong La Niña event has been underway since last summer, with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) about 1.5°C below average over a wide stretch of the Equatorial Pacific. But in the last few weeks, SSTs in the Equatorial Pacific have undergone a modest warm-up, and these temperatures are now about 1.2°C below average.

JeffMasters, • 4:03 PM GMT on February 15, 2011

Category 3 Bingiza hits Madagascar

Tropical Cyclone Bingiza roared ashore over Northern Madagascar early today as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Rainfall amounts of up to 8 inches are being predicted along Bingza's path over northern Madagascar for the coming 24 hours, which are capable of causing dangerous flooding. The storm's winds and storm surge likely caused serious damage in the moderately heavily populated area where it came ashore.

JeffMasters, • 1:25 PM GMT on February 14, 2011

Another amazingly snowy winter for the U.S.

So far this winter, the Northeast U.S. has seen three Category 3 (major) or higher snow storms on the Northeast Snowfall Impact (NESIS) scale. This scale, which rates Northeast snowstorms by the area affected by the snowstorm, the amount of snow, and the number of people living in the path of the storm, runs from Category 1 (Notable) to Category 5 (Crippling.) This puts the winter of 2010 - 2011 in a tie for first place with the winters of 2009 - 2010 and 1960 - 1961 for most major Northeast snowstorms.

JeffMasters, • 3:18 PM GMT on February 11, 2011

Oklahoma's coldest morning on record: -31°F ; storm leaves 2 feet of snow

Cold air pouring in behind yesterday's remarkable snowstorm over northeast Oklahoma has brought unprecedented cold to the state this morning, with a bone-chilling -27.4°F recorded in Bartlesville. This is the coldest temperature ever measured in Oklahoma. The previous coldest temperature in Oklahoma was -27°F set in nearby Watts on January 18, 1930. There is a good chance that a nearby official National Weather Service COOP station got even colder, since a personal weather station in nearby Hogshooter Valley hit -28°F this morning.

JeffMasters, • 2:13 PM GMT on February 10, 2011

WInter storm dumps 2 feet of snow on Oklahoma, Arkansas

Yet another major snowstorm in the memorable winter of 2010-2011 has blasted the U.S. with over two feet of snow--this time in northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. The snow continues to pile up at a rate of an inch per hour across portions of Arkansas today, and snows of 1 - 4 inches are expected today through Thursday across northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and Tennessee. The heaviest snows have fallen in northeast Oklahoma, with 25 inches reported at Jay. Several locations in northwest Arkansas, including Gravette in Benton County, have recorded 24" of snow.

JeffMasters, • 8:25 PM GMT on February 09, 2011

Arctic sea ice at a record low again; a warmer February for the U.S. coming

Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was the lowest on record for the month, and marked the second consecutive month a record low has been set. Most of the missing ice was concentrated along the shores of Northeast Canada and Western Greenland. Relative to the 1979 - 2000 average, the missing ice area was about twice the size of Texas, or about 60% of the size of the Mediterranean Sea. Hudson Bay in Canada did not freeze over until mid-January, the latest freeze-up date on record, and at least a month later than average.

JeffMasters, • 1:42 PM GMT on February 08, 2011

Renewed flooding in Sri Lanka kills 11, affects 1.05 million

Renewed flooding in Sri Lanka due to heavy monsoon rains has killed 14 people and inundated the homes of 1.05 million people over the past week. The floods occurred over the central, north, and east portions of the island, and have the potential to devastate the rice crop and cause hundreds of millions in damage. Many of the areas affected were also hard-hit by January's 100-year flood, which killed 43 people, affected over 1 million people, and did at least $500 million in damage.

JeffMasters, • 10:21 AM GMT on February 07, 2011

Ice storm cripples Houston; Yasi the 2nd costliest Australian storm on record

A significant ice storm is in progress across southeast Texas, much of Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and southern Arkansas this morning, as the latest onslaught from the memorable winter of 2010 - 2011 continues. Houston, Texas recorded 1/10" - 1/4" inch of ice so far from the storm, resulting in a crippling of that city's transportation system. The storm will move into New England on Saturday, but will not bring heavy snow. The next chance for heavy snow occurs next Wednesday and Thursday, when a winter storm capable of dropping a foot of snow in the Appalachians and inland areas of New England may occur.

JeffMasters, • 4:13 PM GMT on February 04, 2011

Nation digs out from massive blizzard; Cyclone Yasi rips through Australia

Chicago's third worst snowstorm on record is history, leaving in its wake a remarkable 20.2” of snow, snowdrifts up to ten feet high, and frigid below zero temperatures. Only the January 2 - 4 1999 blizzard (21.6") and January 2 – 4, 1967 blizzard (23”) dumped more snow on Chicago. The Groundhog's Day blizzard of 2011 had stronger winds than either of Chicago's other two record snowstorms, and thus was probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect the city, as far as impacts on travel go.

JeffMasters, • 2:05 PM GMT on February 03, 2011

Groundhog's Day blizzard pounds U.S.; Category 4 Yasi hits Australia

The great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011 continues to pound a huge swath of the U.S. with heavy snows, destructive freezing rain, and dangerously cold and windy conditions. Over 1/2” of ice has caused power outages in Indianapolis, and up to .9” of ice has hit Columbus, Ohio. Ice amounts in excess of 1/2” have also affected Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey New York, and Pennsylvania. Blizzard conditions continue in Chicago. Chicago's O'Hare Airport received 19.5” of snow, making it city's third greatest snowstorm on record

JeffMasters, • 3:50 PM GMT on February 02, 2011

Great Blizzard pounding Chicago; extremely dangerous Cyclone Yasi nears Australia

The Great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2011 is wreaking havoc tonight from Texas to Michigan, and is poised to spread dangerous winter weather eastwards to New England during the day Wednesday. Four states have declared states of emergency—Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas—and the National Guard has been called out in Illinois and Missouri. Up to 1/2” of ice has caused power outages in Indianapolis, and blizzard conditions have engulfed Chicago, where heavy snows of up to two inches per hour are falling in high winds.

JeffMasters, • 1:31 AM GMT on February 02, 2011

Great Blizzard pounds Midwest; Australia braces for Category 4 Yasi

The Great Blizzard of February 1 - 2, 2011 is here. Oklahoma City is experiencing whiteout conditions, with heavy snow of 2 inches per hour being driven by ferocious winds of 36 mph, gusting to 46 mph. With a temperature of just 9°F, this is an extremely dangerous storm for the city, and all of Oklahoma has been placed under a state of emergency. Many major cities will likely receive over 12 inches of snow, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Detroit, and Boston. Widespread freezing rain is expected to bring over 1/4" of ice to Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and New York City.

JeffMasters, • 2:37 PM GMT on February 01, 2011