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2012 April

Did Hurricane Wilma have 209 mph sustained winds?

Dr. Eric Ulhorn of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division estimates that the maximum wind averaged around the eyewall in Hurricane Wilma (2005) at peak intensity could have been 209 mph, plus or minus 20 mph--so conceivably as high as 229 mph, with gusts to 270 mph. Yowza. That's well in excess of the 200 mph minimum wind speed a top end EF-5 tornado has. The Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado of May 22, 2011, which killed 161 people, had winds estimated at 225 - 250 mph.

JeffMasters, • 1:00 PM GMT on April 28, 2012

Moderate Risk of tornadoes for Kansas; 1-year Super Outbreak anniversary

A dangerous severe weather threat is developing for Kansas today, where a small but potent storm system in the western part of the state will intensify and move east. By late this afternoon, the storm will spawn supercell thunderstorms capable of bringing large hail and strong tornadoes to eastern Kansas and extreme western Missouri. The region is in the "Moderate Risk" area for severe weather, the second highest level of alert. Cities in the Moderate Risk area include Topeka, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.

JeffMasters, • 2:21 PM GMT on April 27, 2012

Extreme 111° heat hits Texas; floods kill 9 in Haiti

Another round of unprecedented April heat hit the U.S. yesterday, and this time it was Texas' turn to see large sections of the state with the hottest April temperatures in over a century of record keeping. Seven major airports in Texas set all-time April high temperatures yesterday, including Amarillo,Lubbock, Dalhart, Borger, Midland, Abilene, and Childress.

JeffMasters, • 2:25 PM GMT on April 26, 2012

March 2012: Earth's 16th warmest on record

March 2012 was the globe's 16th warmest March on record, but the coolest March since 1999. March 2012 global land temperatures were the 18th warmest on record, and ocean temperatures were the 14th warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were near average. Notably, the U.S., Norway, Iceland, and Scotland all recorded their hottest March temperatures on record.

JeffMasters, • 1:30 PM GMT on April 25, 2012

Death Valley's 113°: hottest April temperature on record in U.S.

An unprecedented April heat wave brought a second day of sizzling temperatures to the Western U.S. yesterday, where temperatures ranging 20 - 30 degrees above normal have toppled numerous all-time April heat records. Most notably, the 113°F measured at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California on Sunday, April 22 tied for the hottest April temperature ever recorded in the U.S.

JeffMasters, • 2:37 PM GMT on April 24, 2012

Late-season Nor'easter socks Northeast U.S.

Heavy snow, high winds, and torrential rains are lashing the Northeast U.S. today, thanks to a powerful late-season Nor'easter approaching New York from the south. Wind gusts of 54 mph and 58 mph were recorded last night at New York City's La Guardia Airport and Staten Island, and heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches have been common across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Southeast New York since Sunday. The heavy rains are a boon for the region, which is under moderate to severe drought.

JeffMasters, • 2:27 PM GMT on April 23, 2012

Wunderground launches new Local Climate Change section

In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, wunderground has launched a new Climate Change Center, which gives people resources to understand how the climate is changing both globally and in their local neighborhoods. Our Local Climate Change feature allows one to see how temperature and precipitation have changed over the past 100+ years at the nearest station with a long period of measurements. Predictions from climate models on what the next 100 years may bring are overlaid for each station.

JeffMasters, • 6:10 PM GMT on April 20, 2012

Southeast U.S. drought: another Tropical Storm Alberto needed

Landfalling hurricanes can alleviate drought. The biggest winners tends to be Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, where about 20% - 50% of all droughts between 1960 - 2009 were busted by a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane. It is uncommon for Texas to see a drought busted; less than 10% of all Texas droughts have been ended by a hurricane or tropical storm.

JeffMasters, • 11:26 AM GMT on April 19, 2012

91L no concern; more postcards from the AMS hurricane conference

JeffMasters, • 1:12 PM GMT on April 18, 2012

Postcards from the AMS hurricane conference: Bob Simpson honored

The 30th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology of the American Meteorological Society opened yesterday with a remarkable blast from the past, when Dr. Bob Simpson, one of the originators of the familiar Saffir-Simpson scale, gave the opening talk. Dr. Simpson has been a meteorologist since 1940, and is in amazing shape for someone who turns 100 years old later this year.

JeffMasters, • 12:49 PM GMT on April 17, 2012

Weekend tornado outbreak: 1 EF-4, 2 EF-3s, 6 dead, damage near $300 million

Damage surveys continue in the Plains in the wake of Saturday's major tornado outbreak. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 110 preliminary tornado reports, with an additional 10 reports from Sunday. One tornado was a violent EF-4, which hit mostly unpopulated areas in Ellsworth County, Kansas. Six people died in Woodward, Oklahoma.

JeffMasters, • 2:09 PM GMT on April 16, 2012

Damaging Tornadoes Slam Plains

Widespread severe weather was noted from Nebraska through Oklahoma on Saturday. Many tornadoes were noted, with the strongest tornado hitting Woodward, Oklahoma early Sunday morning. A separate long-track tornado threatened the Wichita metro area.

Shaun Tanner • 6:50 AM GMT on April 15, 2012

Dangerous tornado outbreak expected Saturday; Gulf of Mexico SSTs warmest on record

A dangerous tornado outbreak is expected on Saturday over the Plains. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has has issued their highest level of alert, a "High Risk," for portions of Oklahoma and Kansas for Saturday. Included in the "High Risk" area are the cities of Wichita and Oklahoma City. This is the second time SPC has issued a "High Risk" forecast this year; the first "High Risk" forecast came for the March 2 tornado outbreak, which killed 41 people and did $1.5 - $2 billion in damage.

JeffMasters, • 2:57 PM GMT on April 13, 2012

Damaging freeze hits the Midwest U.S.

Large portions of the Midwest U.S. shivered through a hard freeze (temperatures below 28°F ) this morning, and freezing temperatures extended as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. Though the cold temperatures were not unusual for this time of year, they likely caused widespread damage to flowering plants fooled into blooming by last month's unprecedented "Summer in March" heat wave. Damage was likely in the tens of millions of dollars for the fruit industry.

JeffMasters, • 1:46 PM GMT on April 12, 2012

March 2012: warmest in U.S. history

March 2012 was the warmest March in the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895, it was also the second most extreme month for warmth in U.S. history, said NOAA yesterday. The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March, and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. weather records began in 1895, only one month--January 2006--had a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.

JeffMasters, • 2:12 PM GMT on April 10, 2012

First U.S. billion-dollar disaster of 2012: March 2-3 tornado outbreak

The first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2012 for the U.S. was the March 2 - 3 tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast. The total cost of the tornadoes that killed 41 people in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Alabama was $2 billion. There has been just one other billion-dollar disaster in the world this year--severe flooding in Australia in late February and early March that caused $1.58 billion in damage.

JeffMasters, • 1:17 PM GMT on April 09, 2012

CSU: expect a quiet 2012 Atlantic hurricane season; EF-3 tornado confirmed in Texas

Expect one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995 this year, say the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 4. They call for an Atlantic hurricane season with below-average activity: 10 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 - 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.

JeffMasters, • 2:47 PM GMT on April 05, 2012

Tornadoes rip through Dallas metro area

At least three tornadoes have ripped through the Dallas metro area this afternoon, one passing between Dallas and Fort Worth, bearing down on the Dallas-Fort Worth airport but narrowly missing to the east. The mayor of Arlington, Texas has declared a state of disaster for the city, which sustained extensive damage.

AngelaFritz • 9:36 PM GMT on April 03, 2012

Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns

Earth has seen some highly unusual weather patterns over the past three years, and three new studies published this year point to Arctic sea loss as a potential cause. The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.

JeffMasters, • 2:40 PM GMT on April 02, 2012

April Fools weather humor; all-time March warmth in WY, NE

I've never gotten a letter quite like the one KVUE morning and midday meteorologist Albert Ramon in Austin, Texas recently received after talking at a local school: "Some day when I become supreme Ultra-Lord of the universe I will not make you a slave, you will live in my 200 story castle where unicorn servants will feed you doughnuts off their horns."

JeffMasters, • 3:41 PM GMT on April 01, 2012