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2014 January

California's Sierra Snowpack Only 12% of Average, a Record Low

JeffMasters, • 4:32 PM GMT on January 31, 2014

Southeast U.S. Slowly Thaws; Rains in California End Record Dry Streaks

The unusually sharp kink in the jet stream that has brought extreme weather to nearly the entire U.S. in January is finally beginning to straighten out, and a return to more normal winter conditions will begin today and extend into next week. After a morning low of 14°, Atlanta's temperature is expected to rebound into the upper 30s under sunny skies on Thursday afternoon, helping to melt out the hundreds of miles of ice-covered roads left by Winter Storm Leon on Tuesday.

JeffMasters, • 4:00 PM GMT on January 30, 2014

SnowedOutAtlanta: Extreme Travel Chaos in the Deep South

A dangerous winter storm swept through the Deep South on Tuesday, dumping 1 - 4" of snow and 1/4" - 1/2" of ice on a region unused to dealing with severe winter weather. Travel chaos resulted in many cities, and at least nine people died in storm-related accidents. Officially, 2.6" of snow fell at the Atlanta Airport from Winter Storm Leon, and Atlanta streets and highways quickly turned into parking lots during the afternoon snow, as schools, businesses, and government offices all closed simultaneously.

JeffMasters, • 3:40 PM GMT on January 29, 2014

Rare and Dangerous Ice Storm Hits Deep South; Extreme Cold in the Midwest

A rare and dangerous ice storm has begun in the Deep South, where Winter Storm Leon is tracking along the northern Gulf Coast, spreading a nasty mix of freezing rain, sleet, cold rain, and snow along a swath from Central Texas to Eastern Virginia. At 8 am CST, freezing rain was falling at a temperature of 28°F in Austin, Texas, where a 20-car pileup on an overpass was reported. Freezing rain was falling on the north side of Houston, Texas, and in Mobile Alabama.

JeffMasters, • 4:04 PM GMT on January 28, 2014

Record Alaskan Warmth and Rains Trigger Huge Avalanche That Isolates Valdez

The remarkably persistent ridge of high pressure that has blocked rain from falling in California during January has shunted all the rain-bearing low pressure systems northward, bringing exceptionally warm and wet weather to coastal Alaska. Heavy rains, snows, and warm temperatures helped trigger a‪ series of huge avalanches that blocked the only road into Valdez, Alaska on Saturday.

JeffMasters, • 9:06 PM GMT on January 27, 2014

Intense Cold Blast Hits Midwest; Significant Winter Storm Expected in the Deep South

The intense winter of 2013 - 2014 over the Eastern U.S. adds another remarkable cold blast to its resume this week, as a new outbreak of Arctic air surges southwards from Canada. Temperatures of -24°F and colder were common in northern Minnesota on Monday morning, and strong winds were bringing dangerous below-zero wind chills to 23 states.

JeffMasters, • 4:06 PM GMT on January 27, 2014

December 2013: Earth's 3rd warmest December on Record

December 2013 was the globe's 3rd warmest December since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and 4th warmest, according to NASA. December 2013 was the eighth consecutive month (since May 2013) with a global monthly temperature ranking among the top 10 highest for its respective month, and the year 2013 was the 4th warmest year on record.

JeffMasters, • 8:36 PM GMT on January 25, 2014

California's Record Warmth and Drought Won't Stop Outdoor NHL Hockey

No rain or snow fell anywhere in California over the past week, and California's area experiencing extreme drought remained at 63%, making it one of the three worst winter droughts in state history. To break the drought, most of the state needs more than 12" of precipitation--equivalent to more than a year of rainfall in an average year in many areas. On Wednesday, the San Francisco Bay area experienced its 10th consecutive day of record highs, with Oakland hitting 75°.

JeffMasters, • 4:41 PM GMT on January 23, 2014

Heavy Snows Hit Northeast, Mid-Atlantic: 13.5 Inches for Philadelphia

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are digging out today from the snow left by fast-moving and intense Winter Storm Janus. The storm dumped 13.5" on Philadelphia, 11" at New York City's Central Park, and 5.3" at Baltimore. The 3.8" of snow that fell at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC on Tuesday broke a streak of 1073 days (five days short of three years) that the city had gone without seeing at least a two-inch snowstorm. This was the longest such period on record.

JeffMasters, • 2:06 PM GMT on January 22, 2014

2013: Earth's 4th Warmest Year on Record

Earth had another top-ten hottest year on record in 2013, which ranked as the 4th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said today. NASA rated 2013 as the 7th warmest on record. Including 2013, nine out of ten of the warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred during the 21st century (2001–2013). Only one year during the 20th century--1998--was warmer than 2013.

JeffMasters, • 8:26 PM GMT on January 21, 2014

Return of the Polar Vortex

It's "The Return of the Polar Vortex" over the much of the eastern half of the U.S. this week, as another round of bitterly cold Arctic air plunges southwards out of Canada. Like many sequels, "The Return of the Polar Vortex" will not be as impressive as the original, with temperatures averaging about ten degrees warmer than during the original Polar Vortex episode earlier this January. Temperatures 15 - 25° colder than average expected over much of the eastern half of the U.S. Tuesday through Thursday.

JeffMasters, • 2:06 PM GMT on January 21, 2014

Nine Nations or Territories Set All-Time Heat Records in 2013

It was another notable year for all-time heat records in 2013, with six nations and three territories tying or setting records for hottest temperature on record. No nations set an all-time cold record in 2013. For comparison, five countries and two territories set all-time hottest temperature records in 2012. Since 2010, 45 nations or territories have set or tied all-time heat records, but only one nation has set an all-time cold temperature record.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on January 20, 2014

Earth's Record 41 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013

Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, according to insurance broker Aon Benfield. Weather-related natural disaster losses were only slightly above average in 2013, because 2013 lacked a U.S. mega-disaster like Hurricane Sandy. The most expensive global disaster of 2013 was the June flood in Central Europe, which cost $22 billion. The deadliest disaster was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed about 8,000 people in the Philippines.

JeffMasters, • 2:00 PM GMT on January 17, 2014

Historic January Drought Intensifies in California

Record warmth and dryness have hit California this month, as one of the worst drought in state history continues to intensify. San Francisco Airport observed its warmest January day on record on Wednesday: 73°. The most widely used measure of drought in the U.S., the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), shows that December 2013 drought conditions in California were the 2nd most intense for any December going back to 1895.

JeffMasters, • 5:31 PM GMT on January 16, 2014

2013: A Warm and Wet Year in the U.S.

After experiencing its hottest and second most extreme year on record in 2012, the contiguous U.S. weather in 2013 was much closer to average. It was the 37th warmest year in the 119-year record, and the 21st wettest year. Michigan and North Dakota had their wettest year on record, and California had its driest year on record. No states had a top-ten warmest or coolest year on record.

JeffMasters, • 4:57 PM GMT on January 15, 2014

DIRECTV Drops The Weather Channel

As of today, The Weather Channel is no longer available on DIRECTV, which refused to come to an agreement on a market-based carriage deal. The loss in revenue from DIRECTV's 20 million subscribers would be a major funding blow to The Weather Channel, and would also negatively affect the financial situation of the Weather Underground.

JeffMasters, • 2:10 PM GMT on January 14, 2014

Category 4 Ian Pounds Tonga; 91W Kills 20 in Philippines; First Tornadoes of 2014

The year 2014 has just begun, but the tropical cyclone seasons in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have already claimed victims. Summer is in full bloom in the Southern Hemisphere, where two Category 4 storms formed last week: Tropical Cyclone Colin, which reached sustained winds of 135 mph midway between Madagascar and Australia on January 11, and Tropical Cyclone Ian, which intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds before roaring through Tonga.

JeffMasters, • 2:55 AM GMT on January 13, 2014

Great Lakes Ice Cover at Highest Levels in 20 Years

This week's intense Arctic cold blast has brought the highest ice coverage on the Great Lakes in twenty years, according to data from the Canadian Ice Service. Ice coverage over Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario increased from 12% to 26% over the past week, reaching levels not seen at this time of year since the last Great Lakes cold blast of this intensity, in January 1994. Most notably, Lake Erie is now more than 90% frozen over.

JeffMasters, • 4:03 PM GMT on January 09, 2014

U.S. Cold Blast WInds Down, Fails to Set Any All-Time Cold Records

As notable as this week's cold wave was--bringing the coldest air seen since 1996 or 1994 over much of the nation--the event failed to set any monthly or all-time record low minimum temperature records at airports and cooperative observing stations monitored by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The only significant thing about the cold wave is how long it has been since a cold wave of this force has hit for the some portions of the country.

JeffMasters, • 4:00 PM GMT on January 08, 2014

Extreme Cold Wave Invades Eastern Half of U.S.

A remarkable Arctic cold blast--the most severe since 1996 or 1994 in much of the U.S.--is smashing daily low temperature records across the Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast today. The counter-clockwise flow of air around powerful Winter Storm Ion, a 961 mb low centered just east of Hudson Bay at 9 am EST, is pushing frigid air from northern Canada deep into the U.S., bringing freezing temperatures as far south as Central Florida.

JeffMasters, • 4:33 PM GMT on January 07, 2014

Extreme Cold Blast and Heavy Snow Hit Midwest U.S.

The most extreme cold air outbreak since 1994 is in store for much of the U.S. on Monday and Tuesday, as Arctic air behind a major winter storm invades the Midwest. The powerful 989 mb storm blasted the Upper Midwest on Sunday, bringing snows in excess of a foot over portions of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio. The 11.4" that fell on Sunday in Indianapolis, Indiana made it that city's second snowiest day on record; Flint, Michigan also recorded its second snowiest day on record: 14.5".

JeffMasters, • 4:26 PM GMT on January 06, 2014