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2010 December

Wild weather rings out the old year: tornado kills three in Arkansas

The wild weather year of 2010 is closing out in dramatic fashion in the U.S., where a powerful storm system moving through the center of the country has spawned a tornado that killed three people in Northwest Arkansas early this morning. According to media reports, the tornado swept through Washington County in Northwest Arkansas between 6am - 6:10am CST this morning, killing three, injuring many more, and causing significant damage throughout the western portion of the county. Emergency responders are having difficulty reaching the damaged areas due to downed power lines, and power is out over most of the county.

JeffMasters, • 4:31 PM GMT on December 31, 2010

Unprecedented flooding hits Australia's Queensland

Unprecedented flooding has hit the northeast Australian state of Queensland, thanks to a week and a half of torrential rains and the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Tasha on Christmas Day. Though Tasha was a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds and lasted less than a day, the cyclone dumped very heavy rains of 8 - 16 inches (about 200 - 400 mm) on a region that was already waterlogged from months of heavy rains. Springtime in Australia (September - November) had precipitation 125% of normal--the wettest spring in the country since records began 111 years ago.

JeffMasters, • 10:57 PM GMT on December 29, 2010

Northeast U.S. digs out from yet another history-making snowstorm

The remarkable Post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 has ended for the United States. The blizzard dropped epic amounts of snow during its rampage up the U.S. Northeast coast Sunday and Monday, with an incredible 32" falling in Rahway, New Jersey, about 15 miles southwest of New York City. The blizzard of 2010 dumped 20.0" inches on New York City's Central Park, making it the 6th largest snowstorm for the city in recorded history, and the second top-ten snowstorm this year.

JeffMasters, • 4:53 PM GMT on December 28, 2010

Mighty Post-Christmas Nor'easter wallops the Northeast U.S.

A major blizzard continues to pound New England with heavy snow and winds gusting to near hurricane force. The snow has mostly ended across New York City and the mid-Atlantic, where snowfall rates as high as 3 - 4 inches per hour occurred during "thundersnow" snow squalls at the peak of the storm late last night and early this morning. The heaviest snows fell about 50 miles to the west and north of New York City. Lyndhurst, New Jersey, located about 50 miles northwest of New York City, got 29 inches, and several nearby towns also reported snows in excess of 24 inches

JeffMasters, • 3:07 PM GMT on December 27, 2010

November 2010 1st or 2nd warmest on record; ZombieSat saga ends

November 2010 was the globe's second warmest November on record, according to NOAA. NASA rated November 2010 the warmest November on record. Both NOAA and NASA rated the year-to-date period, January - November, as the warmest such period on record. The record November global warmth is remarkable, given that we are in the midst of a moderate strength La Niña episode in the Eastern Pacific. The large amount of cold water that upwells to the surface during a La Niña typically causes a substantial cool-down in global temperatures, making a monthly temperature record difficult to set.

JeffMasters, • 3:50 PM GMT on December 24, 2010

Europe's cold and snowy winter forecast to gradually ease

t will be a white Christmas over most of the UK this year, an unusual occurrence in a nation where heavy snows typically occur just a few times per year. High temperatures in London over the past week have averaged about 6°C (11°F) below the average high of 7°C (44°F), and will remain below average through Christmas. Winter has hit Western Europe hard for over a month, with heavy snows significantly disrupting flights all across the continent. For November, the UK saw its heaviest and most widespread snows and coldest temperatures since 1993, and deepest snows since 1965.

JeffMasters, • 5:25 PM GMT on December 23, 2010

Atmospheric River deluges California and the Southwest

An “Atmospheric River” of extremely moist air continues to affect the Southwest U.S. today, and flooding rains of 1 – 2” with isolated amounts of 2 – 4” can be expected across Southern California, western and central Arizona, southeastern Nevada, and southwestern Utah. The heaviest rains will fall over the coastal mountains south of Los Angeles. The storm began on Friday night, and has brought some rather remarkable rains and snows to the Southwest. Crestline, California, in the mountains just east of Los Angeles, has received 20.05” of rain since Friday. The Sierra Mountains near Sequoia National Park received an astonishing 17 feet of snow at Pescoes since Friday night.

JeffMasters, • 3:25 PM GMT on December 22, 2010

Was the 2010 Haiti Earthquake triggered by deforestation and the 2008 hurricanes?

In the 2008 hurricane season, four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike--dumped heavy rains on Haiti. The barren deforested hillsides let flood waters wash huge amounts of sediment into the ocean, changing the stresses on the Earth's crust below, potentially allowing the great 2010 Haiti Earthquake to occur when and where it did.

JeffMasters, • 2:57 PM GMT on December 20, 2010

Key weather relay satellite survives encounter with ZombieSat

On April 3, 2010, the sun's surface erupted in a magnetic disturbance known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). A chuck of the sun's atmosphere ripped away and hurtled through space towards the Earth, arriving two days later. As Coronal Mass Ejections go, this was a garden-variety one, the kind we see dozens of times per year. However, when the high energy electrons and protons associated with the CME reached Earth's magnetosphere on April 5, an unusually strong solar storm developed, the strongest in three years

JeffMasters, • 3:55 PM GMT on December 16, 2010

Florida shivers; Hot Arctic-Cold Continents pattern is back

Cold air sweeping southwards behind the fierce snowstorm that roared through the Upper Midwest over the weekend is bringing record low temperatures over much of the Southeast this morning. However, preliminary indications are that Central Florida's orange groves fared better than expected, and there were no reports of widespread damage to the orange crop. Record lows this morning included 32°F at West Palm Beach, 50°F in Key West, and 20°F in Jacksonville. Cold air flowing over the relatively warm waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are creating heavy lake-effect snows, with 5 – 9 inches of new snow expected near Cleveland, OH today, and 2 – 5 inches near Syracuse, NY.

JeffMasters, • 5:36 PM GMT on December 14, 2010

Heavy snow collapses Minneapolis Metrodome roof

A raging December blizzard buried Minneapolis, Minnesota under 17 inches of snow over the weekend, triggering the collapse early this morning of the air-inflated roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. The storm roared out of Canada on Friday morning, bringing heavy snow, sustained winds of 25 – 35 mph, and blizzard conditions through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The heaviest snows occurred near Osceola, Wisconsin, where 23 inches fell.

JeffMasters, • 6:22 PM GMT on December 12, 2010

CSU and TSR predict an extremely active 2011 Atlantic hurricane season

An extremely active Atlantic hurricane activity is on tap for 2011, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued Wednesday by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). They are calling for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The new forecast is a very aggressive one, since only six seasons since 1851 have had as many as 17 named storms. The 2011 forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (49% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (48% chance, 30% chance is average).

JeffMasters, • 12:54 PM GMT on December 09, 2010

Major Pacific Northwest winter storm poised to slam Eastern U.S. this weekend

A major winter storm powered ashore today in the Pacific Northwest, bringing heavy rain and snow to the Olympic Mountains. This storm dumped four inches of rain over the Olympics, bringing the Skokomish River to flood stage. Snowfall amounts approaching 2 feet are expected in the Olympic Mountains from the storm, with 1 - 3 feet likely in the Cascade Mountains. The storm is likely to bring a band of heavy snow of 6 - 10 inches over Central Illinois on Saturday afternoon, and impact northern Indiana, northern Ohio, and southern Ontario on Sunday. The biggest cold blast of the season thus far will roar in behind the storm.

JeffMasters, • 2:11 PM GMT on December 08, 2010

Heaviest rains in Colombia's history trigger deadly landslide; 145 dead or missing

Colombia's heaviest rains in history triggered a landslide in the poor hillside community of Bello on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and leaving 125 missing. This year's unprecedented rainy season had already killed 176 people prior to Sunday, making it one of the deadliest flooding years in Colombia's history. In 2009, 110 people died in flooding disasters, and 48 were killed in 2008. This year's rains are the heaviest in the 42 years since Colombia's weather service was created and began taking data.

JeffMasters, • 9:07 PM GMT on December 06, 2010

Amazon rainforest recovering from its second 100-year drought in 5 years

Life-giving rains have returned over the past two months to Earth's greatest rainforest--the mighty Amazon--after it experienced its second 100-year drought in five years this year. The record drought began in April, during the usual start to the region's dry season, when rainfall less than 75% of average fell over much of the southern Amazon. By October, when the rainy season finally arrived, the largest northern tributary of the Amazon River--the Rio Negro--had dropped to its lowest level since record keeping began in 1902. The low water mark is all the more remarkable since the Rio Negro caused devastating flooding in 2009, when it hit an all-time record high, 53 ft (16 m) higher than the 2010 record low.

JeffMasters, • 2:32 PM GMT on December 03, 2010

The Wall of Wind: destroying buildings in the cause of science

One of the most remarkable engineering efforts used in hurricane research is the International Hurricane Research Center's "Wall of Wind" on the campus of Florida International University. Their 2-story high "Wall of Wind" consists of a bank of six 500 horsepower "hot-rod" auto engines with propellers attached, arranged in a box pattern. When the six engines are all fired up, they can generate Category 1 hurricane wind speeds of 90 - 95 mph. Researchers at the Wall of Wind study how full-scale buildings fare under the onslaught of these winds.

JeffMasters, • 1:00 PM GMT on December 02, 2010