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2012 December

The Exceptional U.S. Wildfire Season of 2012

The 2012 U.S. fire season was the 3rd worst in U.S. history, with 9.2 million acres burned--an area larger than the state of Maryland. Since the National Interagency Fire Center began keeping records in 1960, only two years have seen more area burned--2006, when 9.9 million acres burned, and 2007, when 9.3 million acres burned. Although the 2012 fire season was close to a record for most acreage burned, the total number of fires--55,505--was the lowest on record, going back to 1960, said scientists at a December 2012 press briefing at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. The average U.S. fire size in 2012 was the highest on record.

JeffMasters, • 5:11 PM GMT on December 31, 2012

Great Drought of 2012 continuing into 2013

Rain and snow from the massive winter storm that swept across the nation over the past week put only a slight dent in the Great Drought of 2012. The area of Iowa in extreme or exceptional drought fell 9 percentage points to 32 percent, thanks to widespread precipitation amounts of 0.5" - 1.5". However, the area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought remained virtually unchanged, and this is the greatest U.S. drought since the Dust Bowl year of 1939.

JeffMasters, • 5:01 PM GMT on December 28, 2012

Two EF-3 tornadoes confirmed from Christmas Day; heavy snows hit 19 states

Winter Storm Euclid continues its U.S. tour today, and is pounding New England with heavy snows, high winds, and coastal flooding. The impressive storm is highly likely to set a record for most tornadoes spawned on Christmas Day, as 11 tornadoes have been confirmed, and there are at least 14 other suspected tornadoes that occurred. The most tornadoes ever recorded on Christmas Day was twelve, back in 1969. Euclid has dumped more than six inches of snow in 19 states.

JeffMasters, • 4:04 PM GMT on December 27, 2012

Heavy snow and largest Christmas tornado outbreak on record slam U.S.

The most impressive U.S. December snowstorm in two years is powering across the eastern third of the country today, bringing blizzard conditions to Indiana and Ohio and tornadoes to eastern North Carolina. The 28 preliminary tornadoes that touched down yesterday will likely put December 25, 2012 in first place for largest Christmas tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

JeffMasters, • 7:33 PM GMT on December 26, 2012

Top Ten U.S. Weather Events of 2012

It was another year of incredible weather extremes unparalleled in American history during 2012. Eleven billion-dollar weather disasters hit the U.S., a figure exceeded only by the fourteen such disasters during the equally insane weather year of 2011. The top ten: Hurricane Sandy, Warmest Year on Record, Great Drought of 2012, Wildfire Season of 2012, March 2 - 3 Tornado Outbreak, June Derecho, Hurricane Isaac, The non-winter of 2011-2012, April 30 - May 1 Severe Weather Outbreak, and a Late-Spring Freeze.

JeffMasters, • 5:04 AM GMT on December 21, 2012

Winter Storm Draco ends record snowless streaks across Midwest

Winter Storm Draco is powering up over the Upper Midwest, and is poised to bring a resounding end to the record-length snowless streaks a number of U.S. cities have notched this year. Snowfall amounts of up to a foot are expected in some of the affected regions. While the heavy snow will create dangerous travel conditions, the .5" - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from the the storm will provide welcome moisture for drought-parched areas of the Midwest.

JeffMasters, • 5:03 PM GMT on December 19, 2012

November 2012: Earth's 333rd consecutive warmer-than-average month

November 2012 was the globe's 5th warmest November on record. November 2012 global land temperatures were the 6th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were also the 6th warmest on record. Including this November, the 10 warmest Novembers have occurred in the past 12 years, and November 2012 was the 333rd consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

JeffMasters, • 2:57 PM GMT on December 18, 2012

A grinch in paradise: Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Evan slams Fiji

Mighty Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Evan walloped Fiji with sustained winds of 135 mph, torrential rains, and a dangerous storm surge on Sunday. Evan's southern eyewall--the most intense part of the storm--brought hurricane conditions to a long stretch of north and west coasts of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. Evan is the strongest tropical cyclone on record to affect Fiji's main island, with records going back to 1941.

JeffMasters, • 4:17 PM GMT on December 17, 2012

Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan bearing down on Fiji

Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan is closing in on the main island of Fiji, where hurricane warnings are flying and torrential rains are already falling. The expected southwesterly track of the storm should keep the calm of the eye just north of Fiji, though the southern eyewall may brush the north coast of the main island of Vici Leva, affecting the tourist town of Nadi. Evan has intensified today to its strongest level yet, with 120 mph winds.

JeffMasters, • 5:19 PM GMT on December 16, 2012

Category 3 Cyclone Evan leaves Samoa, heads for Fiji

Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan is finally done pounding Samoa and American Samoa, after spending two days meandering over the islands. Evan made landfall on the north shore of Samoa near the capital of Apia on Thursday as a Category 1 cyclone with 90 mph winds, and intensified into a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds after the eye wandered back offshore late Thursday. Media reports indicate that Evan has killed two and brought heavy damage to Samoa. Power is off for the whole country.

JeffMasters, • 3:06 PM GMT on December 14, 2012

Category 2 Evan batters Samoa, killing two

Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Evan is pounding Samoa and American Samoa with heavy rains and high winds, after making landfall earlier today on the north shore of Samoa near the capital of Apia. At landfall, Evan had a small 10-mile diameter eye and top winds of 90 mph, but has since intensified to 105 mph winds. Media reports indicate that Evan has killed two, and brought a 12 - 15' storm surge, heavy rains, and severe damage to the island nation.

JeffMasters, • 3:30 PM GMT on December 13, 2012

From the Lee Side: Penn State's Lee Grenci now a featured wunderblogger

"From the Lee Side" is the blog of wunderground's newest featured blogger--Lee Grenci. Lee put up his first post today, an educational piece on "Arctic Air Masses." Lee resides in Pennsylvania, and just retired as senior lecturer in Meteorology at Penn State University, where he was the lead faculty member for their online certificate in weather forecasting. I've been enjoying Lee's writings for many years in Weatherwise magazine, where he is a frequent contributor. Welcome, Lee!

JeffMasters, • 6:24 PM GMT on December 12, 2012

Dallas beats Chicago for first snow of the season; record snowless streak in Chicago

t's been a bad year for building snowmen in Chicago. It last snowed in Chicago on March 4, 2012, and Chicago has now gone 281 days in a row without snow, its longest such streak on record. Weather records for Chicago date back to 1871. Dallas, Texas had its first snow of the season yesterday, picking up 0.1". This is only the second time on record that Dallas has had an earlier first snow than Chicago.

JeffMasters, • 4:23 PM GMT on December 11, 2012

Hurricane Sandy was not an extreme Black Swan hurricane

"Black Swans" are tropical cyclones that are a surprise to the observer, and cannot be anticipated based on the 162-year historical record. Very rare extreme hurricanes that one might expect to occur naturally once every 10,000 years are possible, and climate change has increased the probability of such storms. In terms of storm surge, Sandy was not a black swan, since the 1821 hurricane that hit New York City had a higher storm surge.

JeffMasters, • 3:47 PM GMT on December 10, 2012

Very warm November assures 2012 will be warmest year in U.S. history

The U.S. notched its 20th warmest November since 1895 in 2012. The warm November virtually assures that 2012 will be the warmest year on record in the U.S. The year-to-date period of January - November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.--a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record.

JeffMasters, • 4:39 PM GMT on December 07, 2012

At least 370 dead from Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Bopha has risen to at 270, with hundreds more missing. Bopha (called "Pablo" in the Philippines), slammed ashore on the Philippine island of Mindanao at 4:45 am local time on Tuesday morning as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Bopha is only Category 5 typhoon on record to make landfall on Mindanao.

JeffMasters, • 5:21 PM GMT on December 05, 2012

Typhoon Bopha hits the Philippines at Cat 5 strength; at least 40 killed

Typhoon Bopha slammed ashore on the Philippine island of Mindanao at 4:45 am local time on Tuesday morning as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Bopha is the third Category 5 typhoon to affect the Western Pacific this year, and the strongest typhoon ever recorded to hit Mindanao, which rarely sees strong typhoons due to its position close to the Equator.

JeffMasters, • 5:00 PM GMT on December 04, 2012

Category 5 Super Typhoon Bopha bearing down on the Philippines

Extremely dangerous Typhoon Bopha is bearing down on the Philippine island of Mindanao as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Bopha will make landfall on Mindanao in the early morning on Tuesday local time. Mindanao rarely gets hit by typhoons, since the island is too close to the Equator, and the infrastructure of Mindanao is not prepared to handle extreme typhoon rains.

JeffMasters, • 3:41 PM GMT on December 03, 2012