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2016 February

Winston's Damage Highest in South Pacific History; Extreme February Warmth in Eurasia

The nation of Fiji is struggling to recover from the staggering blow Tropical Cyclone Winston delivered on February 20 when the mighty storm made landfall at Category 5 strength on multiple islands. The storm killed at least 42 people, making it the deadliest in Fiji history. The damage estimate of $468 million makes it the most expensive tropical cyclone in South Pacific history.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 3:19 PM GMT on February 29, 2016

Tornado Researchers Head to Alabama for VORTEX Southeast

The venerable series of studies known as VORTEX is about to enter its third chapter in 22 years, this time with a change in venue. VORTEX Southeast gets an official kick-off with a media day on February 29 in Huntsville, Alabama, the experiment’s home base. As its name implies, VORTEX-SE is focused on the southeastern U.S., where tornadoes can ravage the heavily forested, densely populated landscape at just about any time of year--including February, as highlighted in this week’s deadly outbreak on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bob Henson • 4:50 PM GMT on February 26, 2016

At Least 5 Killed as Tornadoes, Howling Thunderstorm Winds Rake Eastern US

Whipping northward at interstate speeds, multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms raced from the Carolinas to New England on Wednesday and early Thursday. The springlike round of severe weather--which extended unusually far north for February--took one life in South Carolina and at least four in Virginia, making Wednesday the latter state’s deadliest tornado day since the notorious Super Outbreak of April 27, 2011. At least 17 tornado reports and more than 300 reports of high wind extended from Florida to Maine. While the Eastern Seaboard grappled with springlike storms, areas from Missouri to Michigan were plastered by a more seasonable round of heavy snow.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 5:58 PM GMT on February 25, 2016

Tornadoes Kill Three in Southern U.S.; Significant Tornado Outbreak Today in VA, NC

The deadliest severe weather outbreak thus far in 2016 hit the Deep South on Tuesday, when at least eighteen tornadoes tore across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Hardest hit was Louisiana, where the town of Convent saw a tornado rip through an RV park, killing two and injuring 31.

Jeff Masters • 4:25 PM GMT on February 24, 2016

Late-Winter Severe Weather on Tap Across Southeast; Strong Tornadoes Possible

A compact, potent upper-level storm diving into the Southeast on Tuesday is expected to trigger widespread severe weather into Wednesday, with the potential for a regional tornado outbreak across the Deep South late Tuesday. The set-up has some of the earmarks of earlier outbreaks this winter that have brought intense storms to the central Gulf Coast and Florida, but in this case the dynamics in play are especially powerful. Strong tornadoes are possible Tuesday afternoon and evening over southern Mississippi and Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, with the area at greatest risk on Wednesday afternoon across eastern North Carolina.

Bob Henson • 7:45 PM GMT on February 23, 2016

Incredible Destruction and at Least 21 Deaths in Fiji From Tropical Cyclone Winston

At least 21 deaths had been reported by late Monday Fiji time as the island nation slogged through the daunting early stages of recovery from ferocious Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. Officials expect the death toll to rise when they're finally able to reach outlying islands that were hit hardest by the powerful storm, and it would not be surprising if Winston ends up being the deadliest and costliest natural disaster in Fiji's history. Only one other tropical cyclone on record--Super Typhoon Haiyan--is known to have made landfall with higher winds than Winston.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 5:32 PM GMT on February 22, 2016

Winston's 180 mph Winds in Fiji: Southern Hemisphere's Strongest Storm on Record

The strongest storm in recorded history for the Southern Hemisphere--mighty Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston--smashed through the islands of Fiji Friday night and Saturday morning with top sustained winds estimated at 185 mph. These winds make Winston the second strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history.

Jeff Masters • 6:47 PM GMT on February 20, 2016

Fiji Pounded by its First Category 5 Storm on Record: Tropical Cyclone Winston

Mighty Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston, upgraded to 165 mph winds at 1 pm EDT Friday by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), is now the strongest tropical cyclone and first Category 5 storm on record to hit the South Pacific island nation of Fiji. The eye of Winston passed over the small Fiji island of Vanua Balavu near 1 pm EST Friday, when the storm was at Category 5 strength.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 10:22 PM GMT on February 19, 2016

Trouble in Paradise: Cat 4 Winston May be Fiji's Strongest Tropical Cyclone on Record

The strongest storm ever to threaten the South Pacific island of Fiji, Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Winston, is poised to make a direct hit on the island nation on Saturday, with sustained winds of 145 - 150 mph.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:58 PM GMT on February 19, 2016

Earth Rings in 2016 With its Warmest January on Record

January 2016 was Earth's warmest January since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA. The month had the second warmest departure from average (+1.04°C) of any month since 1880, with only December 2015 being warmer.

Jeff Masters • 7:26 PM GMT on February 17, 2016

Springlike Warmth in Southwest U.S., Southeast Europe; Sierra Snowpack Below Average

Some of the warmest temperatures on record for this early in the year are enveloping large parts of the southwestern United States and southeast Europe this week. The mildness will work its way across the U.S. as the week unfolds, displacing a stormy pattern that’s brought ice and snow to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast and severe weather along the Gulf Coast. Phoenix may see its earliest 90°F temperature on record this week. The February moisture deficit in California continues to grow: after a promising start to the water year, the total amount of water held in snowpack across all three sections of the Sierra Nevada has dropped below the seasonal average.

Bob Henson • 7:17 PM GMT on February 16, 2016

Moist Flow Sweeping Out Record Arctic Blast over the Northeast

A winter’s worth of cold seemed to be stuffed into this President’s Day weekend across the eastern United States. The most frigid air in years--in some places, in decades--swept through New York and New England from Friday into Sunday. Crisp sunshine allowed a feeble recovery on Sunday, but the bigger shift began on Monday with the gradual organization of a major inland storm. A precipitation shield extending from the mid-Atlantic to New England began as snow but will transition to freezing rain in many areas and eventually to heavy rain by Tuesday. Meanwhile, Westerners are asking “What winter?”, as springlike conditions work their way eastward from California.

Bob Henson • 10:00 PM GMT on February 15, 2016

Huge Temperature Swings to Sock the Northeast Ahead of Early-Week Storm

From frigid, near-record lows this weekend to mild, soggy highs on Tuesday, New York and New England are about to experience one of the most dramatic chill-down-to-warm-up sequences in memory. The brief but sharp cold will extend across the eastern U.S., but the most dramatic temperature swings are expected from Washington, D.C., northward. Some locations in New York and New England will rocket from temperatures near or below 0°F on Saturday night--with much lower wind chills--to readings near or above 50°F by Tuesday. The exact track of an early-week winter storm--impossible to pin down at this point--will dictate how a potpourri of heavy rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow evolve across the eastern U.S.

Bob Henson • 10:01 PM GMT on February 12, 2016

A Mostly Mild and Dry January for U.S., Punctuated by Big Storms

The strong El Niño event dubbed “Godzilla” by one oceanographer behaved more like a hero than a monster in January, at least when it came to conditions across the United States. Mild and dry weather prevailed over much of the nation, and where it was wet or snowy, the moisture was generally well predicted and widely appreciated, apart from a titanic Northeast snowstorm.

Bob Henson • 4:56 PM GMT on February 11, 2016

Northeast Braces for a Frigid, Windy Weekend

A quick but intense shot of blustery cold will sweep across the northeast U.S. this weekend, reminiscent of the “polar vortex” outbreaks from the last two winters. Compared to the multi-day blasts of cold that were common in early 2014 and 2015, this will be more of a glancing blow, but stout breezes will push wind chills far below zero in many areas. The cold will arrive on the heels of record mildness in New England last week. Meanwhile, sunny skies and record warmth have spread across much of the western U.S.

Bob Henson • 6:04 PM GMT on February 10, 2016

Hurricane Patricia's 215 mph Winds: A Warning Shot Across Our Bow

The Eastern Pacific's Hurricane Patricia--rated the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere with 200 mph sustained winds on October 23, 2015--was actually much stronger, with 215 mph winds, said the National Hurricane Center (NHC) last week, after completing a detailed post-season review.

Jeff Masters • 5:12 PM GMT on February 08, 2016

Five Weathercasters Who Made History

In honor of National Weatherperson's Day, we're spotlighting a tiny sample of the hundreds of Americans who made their mark as weathercasters in the early decades of TV.

Bob Henson • 5:05 PM GMT on February 05, 2016

Absurd January Warmth in Arctic Brings Record-Low Sea Ice Extent

This winter’s freezing season in the Arctic is falling short. The extent of Arctic sea ice this week is hovering near record-low values for early February, based on observations that extend back to the start of satellite monitoring in 1979. Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that last month had the lowest overall Arctic sea ice extent of any January in the satellite record. Hand in hand with the skimpy ice cover, temperatures across the Arctic have been extraordinarily warm for midwinter, also setting January records.

Bob Henson • 7:23 PM GMT on February 04, 2016

Groundhog Says: Early Spring! Plus: a Groundhog Day Tornado Outbreak?

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the world's most famous prognosticating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, gloomy clouds prevailed at sunrise on Tuesday morning, preventing him from seeing his shadow. His forecast: an early end to winter!

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 5:02 PM GMT on February 02, 2016

Blizzard Sweeping into Central States; A Cold February in Store?

A powerful winter storm is heading into the Central Plains tonight, with blizzard conditions expected in parts of Iowa just hours after the presidential caucus. The storm brought very high winds to southern California (and thundersnow to Arizona), with coastal rains and higher-elevation snows. January concluded with U.S. temperatures in an El Niño mold, but there are signs of a potentially sharp cold blast in February.

Bob Henson • 6:05 PM GMT on February 01, 2016