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2012 January

Bitter cold in Alaska and Europe; Alaska's -79°F reading bogus

Bitter cold temperatures gripped much of Alaska again this morning, and the month of January is setting numerous records for coldest January on record for much of northern Alaska. The cites of Nome, Galena, and Bettles will all have their coldest Januarys on record. A major atmospheric jet stream pattern change is underway this week, though, which will bring more seasonable temperatures to Alaska by late in the week.

JeffMasters, • 4:08 PM GMT on January 31, 2012

Bitter cold -65°F temperatures hit Alaska

If you're wondering who's getting all the cold air the lower 48 states is missing during this non-winter of 2012, the answer during the past week has been Alaska. Our 49th state is used to intense winter cold, but not like what they've experienced during the past week. Friday night and Saturday night, temperatures plummeted to -50°F and -51°F in Fairbanks, marking the first time since 1999 the city had seen back-to-back minus fifty nights.

JeffMasters, • 5:13 PM GMT on January 30, 2012

2011: Earth's 11th warmest year; where is the climate headed?

The year 2011 tied with 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880. For the Arctic, which has warmed about twice as much as the rest of the planet, 2011 was the warmest year on record. The year 2011 was also the 2nd wettest year over land and the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present. Global temperatures would very likely have been the warmest on record had an El Niño event been present instead.

JeffMasters, • 5:22 PM GMT on January 27, 2012

14 billion-dollar weather disasters for the U.S. in 2011

The tally of billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. during the crazy weather year of 2011 has grown to fourteen, and may reach fifteen, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center announced last week. Tropical Storm Lee and a severe weather outbreak in the Rockies and Midwest in July were added. The fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011 easily surpass the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008. Since 1980, the U.S. has averaged 3.5 billion-dollar weather disasters per year.

JeffMasters, • 3:28 PM GMT on January 26, 2012

Heavy rains drench Texas

Big smiles greeted heavy rains in Texas this morning, where an upper-level low pressure system brought significant soaking rains to eastern portions of the state. The rain was heavy enough to cause minor flooding of some creeks and rivers, and the NWS has posted flash flood watches and warnings for most of Eastern Texas. Austin, Texas received 5.66" of rain this morning, setting a record for the date, and rainfall amounts of 2 - 4 inches have been common across most of East Texas.

JeffMasters, • 5:03 PM GMT on January 25, 2012

Category 4 Funso kills 12 in Mozambique; deadly Alabama tornado rated an EF-3

Earth's first major tropical cyclone of 2012 is Tropical Cyclone Funso, a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds located in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Mozambique. The center of the storm will remain offshore as the storm moves slowly southwards. The outer spiral bands of Funso have dumped torrential rains on Mozambique the past several days, triggering floods that have killed at least twelve people.

JeffMasters, • 2:48 PM GMT on January 24, 2012

Rare January tornado outbreak kills two, injures 100 in Alabama

The calendar says it's the coldest month of winter, but today's weather is more typical of March, as a vigorous spring-like storm system has spawned a rare and deadly January tornado outbreak. Twenty tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee last night and this morning, killing at least two, injuring 100, and causing major damage. The deaths were the first of the 2012 tornado season.

JeffMasters, • 4:46 PM GMT on January 23, 2012

Flooding, heavy snow, ice storm, and fires hit the Western U.S.

A state of emergency has been declared in Oregon and Washington, where a powerful winter storm brought deadly floods, heavy snows of up to 4 feet, a severe ice storm, and damaging winds Wednesday and Thursday. Heavy rains of 3 - 8 inches have fallen over a wide swath of Western Oregon since Monday, causing major to record flooding on multiple rivers and creeks. The rains have tapered off over much of the region today, but renewed rains are expected later today and intermittently into early next week.

JeffMasters, • 12:39 PM GMT on January 20, 2012

Major flooding in Oregon, heavy snows in Washington and California

A major atmospheric pattern change is underway, and the Pacific storm door is open. A major winter storm supported by an atmospheric river of high moisture is pounding Oregon, California, and Washington today, bringing record flooding, heavy snows, freezing rain, and damaging winds. The ridge of high pressure that had brought much of Northern California its driest winter period on record during the past two months has retreated, allowing the subtropical jet stream to dive underneath the ridge.

JeffMasters, • 4:07 PM GMT on January 19, 2012

Major winter storm pounds Pacific Northwest

A ferocious winter storm is pounding the Pacific Northwest, bringing heavy snow, flooding rains, and winds near hurricane force over coastal waters. The snow is falling in earnest in Seattle this morning, where 3 - 5 inches are expected. The storm's heaviest snows have fallen in Southwest Washington, just north of Portland, Oregon, where Toutle, Washington received 18" as of 6 am PST this morning. The storm also brought 2 inches of snow to Portland, Oregon overnight, causing power outages to 30,000 people.

JeffMasters, • 3:24 PM GMT on January 18, 2012

Bill Read to retire as director of the National Hurricane Center

Bill Read, the director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) since 2008, will be retiring on June 1, Read took the post of NHC director in 2008 after Bill Proenza stepped down following a stormy six-month tenure where much of staff revolted against him. In the wake of the turmoil stirred up by Proenza, Read brought stability to the Hurricane Center. His management ability, easy-going style, and solid communication skills made Read an excellent choice for director of NHC, and he will be missed.

JeffMasters, • 4:28 PM GMT on January 16, 2012

Extreme temperatures of 2011: 7 national all-time heat records; 1 cold record

The year 2011 was the tenth warmest year on record for the globe, but the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present. Seven nations and one territory broke all-time hottest 20 nations set all-time hottest temperature records. One all-time coldest temperature record was set in 2011; this was the first time since 2009 one of these records was set. The all-time cold record occurred in Zambia, which ironically also set an all-time hottest temperature record in 2011.

JeffMasters, • 4:14 PM GMT on January 13, 2012

U.S. weather in 2011: unprecedented rains and wet/dry extremes

Rains unprecedented in 117 years of record keeping set new yearly precipitation totals in seven states during 2011. An extraordinary twenty major U.S. cities had their wettest year on record during 2011. This smashes the previous record of ten cities with a wettest year, set in 1996. Precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. during 2011 was near-average, ranking as the 45th driest year in the 117-year record, since Texas had its driest year on record.

JeffMasters, • 3:07 PM GMT on January 11, 2012

Heavy rains, snows, and season's first tornadoes hit Texas

The nation's first major winter storm rumbled through Texas yesterday, bringing much appreciated heavy rains. The storm set also spawned the year's first two tornadoes, and brought record-setting heavy snows to West Texas. A wide swath of 3 - 5 inches of rain fell over much of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana, bringing isolated flooding to the drought-ravaged region. Houston, Texas received 4.06" of rain.

JeffMasters, • 2:41 PM GMT on January 10, 2012

Remarkably dry and warm winter due to record extreme jet stream configuration

Flowers are sprouting in New Hampshire, the Sierra Mountains in California are nearly snow-free, and lakes in much of Michigan still have not frozen. It's 2012, and the new year is ringing in another ridiculously wacky winter for the U.S. In Fargo, North Dakota yesterday, the mercury soared to 55°F, breaking a 1908 record for warmest January day in recorded history, and the entire state of North Dakota had no snow on the ground this morning.

JeffMasters, • 4:06 PM GMT on January 06, 2012

Damage losses and climate change

Insured losses due to thunderstorms and tornadoes in the U.S. were at least $25 billion in 2011, more than double the previous record set in 2010. Damages from thunderstorms and tornadoes since 1980 have shown a clear increase since 1980. Disaster losses world-wide from weather-related natural disasters have also shown a significant increase in recent years, as has the number of these disasters.

JeffMasters, • 10:58 PM GMT on January 03, 2012