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2011 November

Hurricane Irene: New York City dodges a potential storm surge mega-disaster

On August 24, 2011, our most reliable hurricane forecasting model--the European model--predicted that Irene would hit southern New Jersey as a Category 3 hurricane. Just a small perturbation from this scenario would bring Irene over New York City as a Category 2 hurricane, with a storm surge of 15 - 20 feet. Fortunately, the European model was wrong, and Irene hit NYC as a tropical storm. Had Irene hit the city as a Category 2 hurricane, severe global economic consequences would have likely resulted.

JeffMasters, • 4:14 PM GMT on November 30, 2011

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season: another strangely active one

Wednesday marks the final day of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, and it was another very odd year. The season featured a huge number of named storms--nineteen--making 2011 the 3rd busiest year on record for tropical storms. Both 2010 and 2011 had nineteen named storms, making it the second busiest 2-year period in the Atlantic behind 2004 - 2005. The U.S. had far fewer strikes by tropical storms and hurricanes than average, with only two strikes, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

JeffMasters, • 4:08 PM GMT on November 28, 2011

Storm surge barriers: the New England experience

Storm surge barriers in Stamford, New Bedford, and Providence have already proved their worth and prevented damages more than the cost of their construction. Many more such barriers will be needed world-wide in the coming decades, because of sea level rise.

JeffMasters, • 6:22 PM GMT on November 25, 2011

A strange 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season

The Eastern Pacific's late season surprise, Hurricane Kenneth, is falling apart nearly as fast as it intensified. Kenneth, now a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds, was a powerful Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds yesterday, and was by far the strongest hurricane to appear so late in the year. Kenneth is moving over colder water and into a region with higher wind shear, and will continue to deteriorate over the next few days. Kenneth is not a threat to any land areas.

JeffMasters, • 4:25 PM GMT on November 23, 2011

Category 4 Kenneth the strongest East Pacific late-season hurricane on record

Hurricane Kenneth has intensified into an impressive Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds in the Eastern Pacific. Kenneth is by far the strongest hurricane to appear so late in the season in the Eastern Pacific; the previous record was held by Hurricane Winnie of December 5, 1983, a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. There has not been an Atlantic hurricane as strong as Kenneth this late in the season, either; the latest of the seven November major hurricanes in the Atlantic was Hurricane Kate of November 21, 1985.

JeffMasters, • 3:43 PM GMT on November 22, 2011

Rare late-season Eastern Pacific hurricane forms

Tropical Storm Kenneth formed over the weekend in the Eastern Pacific, and appears poised to intensify into a hurricane later today or on Tuesday. Since 1949, here have been just three Eastern Pacific named storms that formed after November 18. If Kenneth grows stronger than a 90 mph hurricane, it will surpass Hurricane Winnie of 1983 as the strongest Eastern Pacific storm so late in the season. Kenneth is moving westwards out to sea, and should not be a threat to land.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on November 21, 2011

Extreme weather and climate change: a new IPCC report

Extreme weather events are already being affected by human-caused climate change, and will increase in destructive power during the coming decades as huge cost, reported the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today. A 1-in-20 year hottest day is at least 66% likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century in most regions. For Eastern North America, a 1-in-20 year heavy rain event is predicted to become a 1-in-7 to 1-in-9 year event by the end of the century.

JeffMasters, • 3:48 PM GMT on November 18, 2011

October 2011 the globe's 8th warmest on record

JeffMasters, • 1:38 PM GMT on November 16, 2011

Thailand's flood gradually subsiding; climate change increasing Thai flood risk

Unprecedented flood waters continue to besiege Thailand and its capital city of Bangkok this November. Heavy monsoon and tropical cyclone rains from July through October, enhanced by La Niña conditions, have led to extreme flooding that has killed 506 people and caused that nation's most expensive natural disaster in history, with a cost now estimated at $9.8 billion.

JeffMasters, • 2:56 PM GMT on November 14, 2011

Sean brushes Bermuda; largest wave ever surfed; Tipton tornado an EF-4

Tropical Storm Sean brushed by Bermuda this morning, bringing winds near tropical storm force to the island. Top sustained winds at the Bermuda airport were 37 mph this morning, and a gust of 56 mph occurred at 4:38 am AST. Dry air disrupted the circulation of Sean before it reached Bermuda, and the island picked up just 0.08" of rain as of 10 am AST today. Sean is headed northeastward, out to sea, and will cease to exist later today or on Saturday.

JeffMasters, • 3:26 PM GMT on November 11, 2011

Alaska blizzard pushes 8-foot storm surge into Nome; Sean heads towards Bermuda

The most powerful storm to affect the Bering Sea coast of Alaska since 1974 is slowly winding down today, after pounding Alaska's west coast and Eastern Siberia with hurricane-force winds, a destructive storm surge more than 8 feet high, waves up to 40 feet high, and heavy snow. The highest wind gust recorded during the storm, 89 mph, was at Wales at the western tip of the Seward Peninsula. Wave heights as the Bering Sea buoy north of the Aleutian Islands reached 40 feet during the peak of the storm.

JeffMasters, • 2:47 PM GMT on November 10, 2011

Historic hurricane-force blizzard pounds Alaska and Siberia

The most powerful storm to affect the Bering Sea coast of Alaska in 37 years is pounding Alaska's west coast and Eastern Siberia with hurricane-force winds, a destructive storm surge up to 7 feet high, waves up to 35 feet high, and blinding snow. Tin City on the west coast of Alaska recorded sustained winds of 70 mph, gusting to 81 mph. A storm surge of 6 feet hit Nome, Alaska this morning.

JeffMasters, • 2:53 PM GMT on November 09, 2011

Sean, rare Mediterranean hybrid, and AK superstorm forms; quakes and tornadoes in OK

Subtropical Storm Sean formed this morning between Bermuda and the Bahamas. Sean's formation brings this year's tally of named storms to eighteen, tying 2011 with 1969 as the 6th busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record. An unusual hybrid low pressure system has formed in the Mediterranean Sea, about 100 miles south of the coast of France. The low began as an extratropical storm, but has acquired tropical characteristics.

JeffMasters, • 3:52 PM GMT on November 08, 2011

Subtropical storm brewing near Bermuda; earthquakes and tornadoes for Oklahoma

An extratropical low pressure system that moved off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend is camped out over the Atlantic about 400 miles southwest of Bermuda. Satellite loops reveal that this low has developed a respectable amount of heavy thunderstorm activity near its center, and in a curved band to the north. Bermuda radar shows weak rain bands rippling across the island. Sustained winds at the Bermuda airport reached 30 mph, gusting to 44 mph this morning.

JeffMasters, • 1:52 PM GMT on November 07, 2011

Fourteen U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011: a new record

It's time to add another billion-dollar weather disaster to the growing 2011 total of these costly disasters: the extraordinary early-season Northeast U.S. snowstorm of October 29, which dumped up to 32 inches of snow, brought winds gusts of 70 mph to the coast, and killed at least 22 people. The October 29 snow storm brings the 2011 tally of U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters to fourteen, thoroughly smashing the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008.

JeffMasters, • 12:12 PM GMT on November 04, 2011

Preliminary IPCC report predicts increased weather extremes

There is at least a 2-in-3 probability that climate extremes have already worsened because of human-caused releases of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, and some types of extreme weather events will increase in the coming decades as huge cost, says a preliminary draft of an international climate report leaked to the Associated Press this week. The report predicts that some regions of the world might suffer extremes so severe as to leave them "increasingly marginal places to live".

JeffMasters, • 2:26 PM GMT on November 03, 2011

November Atlantic hurricane outlook

The oceans are warm enough to support development of a tropical storm in November over a wide region of the tropical Atlantic, but wind shear will be too high to permit development over most of this area. I predict we are all done this hurricane season with storms that will cause loss of life, but there is still a 70% chance that we will get one or more named storms in the middle Atlantic that will stay out to sea and not affect land.

JeffMasters, • 2:35 PM GMT on November 01, 2011