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2011 January

Potentially historic winter storm poised to impact 100 million Americans

A huge and potentially historic winter storm is taking shape over the Southern Plains today. Many major cities will likely receive over 8 inches of snow from the storm, including Kansas City, St. Louis, and Detroit. A major ice storm along a swath from Northwest Oklahoma to Massachusetts is also expected, including the cities of St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Some regions could see up to an inch of ice, and widespread power outages due to toppled power lines are likely for millions of people. Damages exceeding $1 billions are possible from this ice storm.

JeffMasters, • 3:16 PM GMT on January 31, 2011

The ARkStorm: California's coming great deluge

For thirty days and thirty nights the rain fell in unending torrents. By the end of the 1862 biblical deluge, rivers of water ten feet deep flowed through the streets of Sacramento, and an astounding 29.28 inches of rain had fallen on San Francisco. The mining town of Sonora receiving 8.5 feet of rain over a 2-month period. The resulting floods inundated California's Central Valley with a lake 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Similar extreme rain events have deluged in California seven times in the past 2,000 years--about once every 300 years. Great storms like the flood of 1862 will happen again.

JeffMasters, • 4:04 PM GMT on January 28, 2011

Yet another record snowstorm wallops New England

The epic winter of 2010 - 2011 delivered yet another major pounding to New England yesterday and today. The heaviest snows from this newest onslaught hit coastal New Jersey and New York City, where snowfall rates up to 4 inches per hour were accompanied by hundreds of lightning strikes. The 19.0" inches that fell in New York City's Central Park made it the 8th largest snowstorm for the city in recorded history. When combined with the heavy snows of 1 - 2 feet that fell during the Nor'easter just two weeks ago, January 2011 now ranks as the snowiest January on record in New York City, Newark, Bridgeport, and Hartford.

JeffMasters, • 3:08 PM GMT on January 27, 2011

Nor'easter poised to dump heavy snows; Australian tropical cyclone season heats up

A developing low pressure system along the North Carolina coast will intensify today and move northeast towards Cape Cod, Massachusetts, bringing heavy rain and snow to the mid-Atlantic and New England. A swath of 6 - 10" of snow is expected over inland regions of New England, from Philadelphia to Boston. A storm surge of up to 2.5' is expected along the Massachusetts coast, which will cause mostly minor coastal floods, but considerable erosion damage. Two tropical cyclones are predicted to threaten flood-ravaged Queensland, Australia next week.

JeffMasters, • 2:31 PM GMT on January 26, 2011

U.S. heavy precipitation events are increasing, but drought is not

Heavy 1-day precipitation events have increased in the U.S. in recent decades. The seven most extreme years since 1910 have all occurred since 1995, with 2010 ranking as the 5th most extreme year in the past 100 years. The intensity and areal coverage of U.S. droughts has not increased in recent decades.

JeffMasters, • 3:12 PM GMT on January 25, 2011

Is the U.S. climate getting more extreme?

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center has developed a Climate Extremes Index using maximum and minimum monthly temperatures, precipitation, and 1-day heavy rain events to see if the U.S. climate has been getting more extreme. For 2010, the Climate Extremes Index showed that the U.S. had a near-average area experiencing extreme weather conditions. Averaged over decades-long time scales, the U.S. climate has been getting more extreme since 1970, but has not changed significantly over a century-long time scale.

JeffMasters, • 2:37 PM GMT on January 24, 2011

2011: Year of the flood

The year 2011 has begun with a remarkable number of high-impact floods world-wide, and much of the blame for this can be placed on the current strong La Niña event occurring in the Eastern Pacific. Whenever a La Niña or El Niño event reaches the strong category, major perturbations to global weather patterns occur. This typically results in record or near-record flooding in one or more regions of the globe. When one combines the impact of La Niña with the increase of global ocean temperatures of 0.5°C (0.9°F) over the past 50 years, which has put 4% more water vapor into the atmosphere since 1970, the result is a much increased chance of unprecedented floods.

JeffMasters, • 3:21 PM GMT on January 21, 2011

Another flooding mega-disaster: Sri Lanka recovers from extreme flooding

At least 43 are dead and thousands still in refugee camps due to extreme flooding in eastern Sri Lanka caused by record monsoon rains. The rains in recent weeks in Sri Lanka have been the heaviest in nearly 100 years of record keeping, and the flood that resulted was a 1-in-100 year event. Rainfall at Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, during the 42-day period December 1 - January 12 was 1606 mm (63"), which is about how much rain the station usually receives in an entire year.

JeffMasters, • 1:14 PM GMT on January 19, 2011

Globe cools slightly in December 2010: 11th - 17th warmest on record

December 2010 was the globe's 17th warmest December on record, according NOAA, and 11th warmest, according to NASA. 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. The large amount of cold water that upwells to the surface during a La Niña typically causes a substantial cool-down in global temperatures. Still, December 2010 temperatures were warm enough to make 2010 tied with 2005 as Earth's warmest year in history.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on January 18, 2011

2010: tied with 2005 for warmest year in history

The year 2010 was tied with 2005 as Earth's warmest year in history, according to separate calculations performed by NASA and NOAA. NOAA reported that the Northern Hemisphere had its warmest year on record in 2010, the Southern Hemisphere its 6th warmest, land areas their 2nd warmest, and the oceans their 3rd warmest. Global satellite-measured temperatures of the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere during 2010 were virtually tied with 1998 for warmest on record. The year 2010 was also the wettest year on record globally.

JeffMasters, • 5:23 PM GMT on January 16, 2011

At least 611 dead in Brazilian floods: Brazil's deadliest natural disaster in history

Torrential rains inundated a heavily populated, steep-sloped area about 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday and Wednesday, triggering flash floods and mudslides that have claimed at least 511 lives. Rainfall amounts of approximately 300 mm (12 inches) fell in just a few hours in the hardest-hit regions, Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo. Many more people are missing, and the death toll is expected to go much higher once rescuers reach remote villages that have been cut off from communications. The death toll makes the January 2011 floods Brazil's worst single-day natural disaster in its history.

JeffMasters, • 5:05 PM GMT on January 14, 2011

Record snows hit New England; Brazilian floods kill 350; Brisbane underwater

The Northeast U.S. is digging out today from the winter's third major snowstorm, and the nation's South continues to deal with travel disruptions caused by the nasty coasting of ice, snow and sleet the storm left behind early this week. The capital of Connecticut, Hartford, had its greatest snowstorm in history yesterday, with 24". The old record was 23.5", set in a February 1899 storm. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont all came within an inch of setting all-time state 24-hour snowfall records yesterday.

JeffMasters, • 4:16 PM GMT on January 13, 2011

Major Nor'easter pounds New England; icy mess in the South; record floods in Australia

A classic Nor'easter continues to intensify this morning off the New England coast, bringing heavy snow and strong winds from New Jersey to Maine. The snow has ended in New York City, which received 9.1" at Central Park as of 7am EST. The heaviest snow is occurring in Connecticut, where a storm-high 23" has fallen so far at North Haven. Blizzard warnings are now posted for Boston and the surrounding coast of Massachusetts. Winds at the Provincetown airport on the tip of Cape Cod were sustained at 43 mph, gusting to 79 mph, at 6:35am EST.

JeffMasters, • 2:10 PM GMT on January 12, 2011

Snow, ice paralyze South; Nor'easter aims at New England; deadly floods in Australia

Much of the nation's South remains paralyzed today by a major winter storm that left up to a foot of snow and dangerous ice accumulations in its wake. Six states have declared states of emergency, and travel is extremely hazardous in the affected region, including Atlanta, where at least five closures of major interstates occurred this morning due to severe icing. The storm began Sunday in northeast Texas and tracked eastward, bringing snow amounts as high as 7 - 8 inches to northeastern Texas and southern Arkansas, 9 - 11 inches to northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southern Tennessee.

JeffMasters, • 2:49 PM GMT on January 11, 2011

Dangerous winter storm slams South, heads to New England; Indiana sets snow record

A powerful winter storm has brought heavy snow and dangerous amounts of freezing rain to much of the South, in a swath stretching from northeastern Texas to southern North Carolina. The storm dumped 8 - 12 inches of snow on southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and southern Tennessee. As of 9am CST, the heaviest snow amounts were 11 inches at Lawrenceburg, TN and 10 inches at Baldwyn, MS. The worst freezing rain was reported in Texarkana, Arkansas, where 0.5" of ice had accumulated.

JeffMasters, • 3:14 PM GMT on January 10, 2011

Globe's coral reefs take second worst beating on record during 2010

Record warm ocean temperatures across much of Earth's tropical oceans during the summer of 2010 created the second worst year globally for coral-killing bleaching episodes. The warm waters, fueled in part by the El Niño phenomena, caused the most coral bleaching since 1998, when 16 percent of the world's reefs were killed off. "Clearly, we are on track for this to be the second worst (bleaching) on record," NOAA coral expert Mark Eakin in an interview last month. "All we're waiting on now is the body count."

JeffMasters, • 4:50 PM GMT on January 07, 2011

Top U.S. weather event of 2010: Snowmageddon

The top U.S. weather story of 2010 has to be "Snowmageddon", the remarkable February blizzard that buried the mid-Atlantic under 2 - 3 feet of snow. Snowmageddon set the all-time record for heaviest snowfall in Delaware history, thanks to the 26.5" that fell in Wilmington. "Snowmageddon" dumped the second heaviest at Philadelphia 28.5"), second heaviest at Atlantic City (18.2"), third heaviest at Baltimore (24.8"), and the 4th heaviest at Washington D.C. (17.8"). Several locations in Maryland saw over three feet of snow, with the northern Washington D.C. suburb of Colesville receiving 40".

JeffMasters, • 4:44 PM GMT on January 05, 2011

Massive flooding in Australia cuts off city of 75,000

Unprecedented flooding continues in northeast Australia in the wake of weeks of torrential rains. The floods have killed at least ten people and covered an area the size of France and Germany combined, cutting off the coastal city of Rockhampton. Today, the military was forced to fly in food, water, and other supplies into Rockhampton, a city of 75,000, due to the lack of unflooded roads into the city. The local airport, all access roads, and all rail lines into the city are closed.

JeffMasters, • 1:52 PM GMT on January 03, 2011