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2013 December

Remembering a Crazy Flight Through Cat 5 Hurricane Gilbert, 25 Years Later

The year 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of 1988's Hurricane Gilbert--the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever measured up until that point, with a central pressure of 888 mb--a record has since been surpassed only by 2005's Hurricane Wilma. I was on the historic flight that caught Gilbert at its peak intensity, and what follows is my story of that flight, published here for the first time.

JeffMasters, • 5:57 PM GMT on December 27, 2013

A Quiet But Deadly 2013 U.S. Fire Season

It was an unexpectedly quiet and deadly year for wildfires in the U.S. in 2013. The 4.2 million acres burned ranked as the 2nd lowest amount in the past ten years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The total number of wildfires was just over 43,100, which was the lowest number since accurate record keeping began in the early 1980s. However, 2013 was the third deadliest wildfire season for firefighters since records began in 1910, with 34 firefighters perishing.

JeffMasters, • 8:00 PM GMT on December 23, 2013

Haiyan's Storm Surge: A Detailed Look

The Philippines is a nation used to seeing devastating typhoons. Between 1984 and 2012, the Philippines saw seven tropical cyclones that killed at least 1,000 people. In all of these storms, it was destructive flooding due to heavy inland rains that was the main killer. This is in contrast to the Atlantic basin, where storm surge from the ocean has historically been the main killer. However, the vast majority of the 7,900 deaths from Super Typhoon Haiyan were due to storm surge.

JeffMasters, • 8:49 PM GMT on December 19, 2013

Earth has its Warmest November in Recorded History

November 2013 was the globe's warmest November since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and NASA. The year-to-date period of January - November has been the 4th warmest such period on record. November 2013 global land temperatures were the 2nd warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 3rd warmest on record. November 2013 was the 345th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

JeffMasters, • 4:49 PM GMT on December 17, 2013

A Spectacular Tropical Storm-Like Meso-Low Over Lake Superior

A small scale "meso-low" formed in the cold Arctic air flowing over the relatively warm waters of Lake Superior on Sunday, and had a remarkably spectacular tropical storm-like appearance on radar and satellite imagery. As the meso-low moved south over Michigan's Upper Peninsula, it brought sustained winds of 20 - 25 mph and bands of moderate snow that dumped 4 - 7 inches of snow across the region.

JeffMasters, • 3:46 PM GMT on December 16, 2013

Taming Hurricanes With Wind Turbines

How can one significantly reduce the winds of nature’s most destructive storms, and at the same time provide up to half of the world’s electric power? The answer may be to install massive arrays of tens of thousands of offshore wind turbines, which can extract wind energy from hurricanes and dramatically reduce their winds and storm surges.

JeffMasters, • 7:35 PM GMT on December 13, 2013

Holiday Shopping Guide for the Weather Enthusiast

What’s the hottest gift of the year for the weather enthusiast? It’s the 2014 Climate Models Calendar, featuring the world’s hottest climate scientists posing in front of provocative backgrounds. The Climate Models Calendar is a crowd-funded project that raised $10,000 to make this humorous calendar of “climate models”, and includes information about the climate models’ research, favorite datasets, and has memorable dates in weather and climate history.

JeffMasters, • 6:18 PM GMT on December 11, 2013

Brrrr! -135.8°F Measured at Earth's New Coldest Spot

What is the coldest place in the world? It is a high ridge above 13,000 feet in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau where temperatures in several hollows can dip below minus 135.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 92.2 degrees Celsius) on a clear winter night, announced polar scientist Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, at a Monday press conference at the AGU conference.

JeffMasters, • 4:23 PM GMT on December 10, 2013

New Round of Snow and Ice for the U.S.; Extreme Warmth in Alaska

The calendar says we’re still a month and a half away from the peak of winter, but the winter weather gripping most of the U.S. is more typical of mid-January, as a significant outbreak of Arctic air continues to bring temperatures 10 - 30 degrees below normal to much of the nation. Following last Friday’s major winter storm that brought heavy snows and significant icing from Texas to Maine (“Cleon”), a new winter storm dubbed “Dion” followed a similar track on Sunday.

JeffMasters, • 3:42 PM GMT on December 09, 2013

Cold, Ice, and Snow Assault U.S.; Windstorm Xaver Kills 6 in Europe

A frigid winter cold blast has most of the U.S. in an icy grip, as cold air plunging southwards from Canada will bring temperatures 10 - 40 degrees below average to more than 80% of the contiguous U.S. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Riding up the edge of this cold airmass is Winter Storm Cleon, which is spreading a nasty mix of snow, freezing rain, and sleet from Texas to the Ohio Valley. Hardest hit with freezing rain and power outages has been Texas.

JeffMasters, • 3:51 PM GMT on December 06, 2013

Mighty North Sea Storm Xaver Battering Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands

For the first time since 2007, the massive flood gates that protect the Netherlands from the North Sea have been closed, as a mighty North Sea storm hurls a huge storm surge propelled by near-hurricane force winds against the coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Windstorm "Xaver", as it is called by the Free University of Berlin, has already killed one person in Scotland, where a truck driver died when high winds blew his vehicle off the road.

JeffMasters, • 4:09 PM GMT on December 05, 2013

Extreme Windstorm Xaver Poised to Batter Denmark and Germany

A developing extratropical low pressure system over the North Atlantic, dubbed "Xaver", is predicted to "bomb" into a potent storm with winds near hurricane force that will bring damaging winds and storm tides to the coasts of Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark on Thursday. Wind damage may rival that of October's Extratropical Storm "Christian", which killed 18 and did $1.4 billion in damage.

JeffMasters, • 1:44 AM GMT on December 04, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan From Ground Zero: a New Video Record

Super Typhoon Haiyan is one of the biggest weather catastrophes of the past decade. A Category-5 storm making a direct hit on a city of 220,000 is going to make news. This just-released video that tells the story of that terrible morning from the point of view of veteran storm chaser Josh Morgerman, who rode out the typhoon in Tacloban in the Philippines.

Josh Morgerman • 3:47 PM GMT on December 02, 2013