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2013 January

First tornado death of 2013 ends record 219-day streak without a tornado death

A powerful tornado ripped through Adairsville, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta, at 11:19 am EST this morning, killing at least one person in a mobile home park. The tornado caused major structural damage in the downtown district, and overturned approximately 100 cars on I-75. Today's fatality ends the longest continuous stretch without a tornado death ever recorded in the U.S.--219 days.

JeffMasters, • 7:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2013

Record January warmth and moisture fueling April-like severe weather

An April-like severe weather outbreak accompanied by record warmth and atmospheric moisture continues today over the Southeast U.S., where a powerful cold front is creating severe thunderstorms and damaging winds over Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged four preliminary reports of tornadoes along with 264 reports of damaging winds on Tuesday, and another 41 reports of damaging winds between 7 am and 10 am EST so far this Wednesday.

JeffMasters, • 3:42 PM GMT on January 30, 2013

April in January: spring-like severe weather and record warmth in the Midwest

The calendar says its January, but the atmosphere looks more like April over the Midwest U.S., where a spring-like surge of warm air is interacting with a strong low pressure system to create a dangerous severe weather situation. The warm air surging northwards has already broken high temperature records for the date in Chicago as of 7 am CST, where the mercury hit 61°F at 7 am CST; a tornado watch is posted for portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas.

JeffMasters, • 3:19 PM GMT on January 29, 2013

Is it spring or is it winter? Wild roller coaster of temperatures for the U.S.

s it spring or is it winter? The wild roller coaster ride of January 2013 weather continues this week, as Winter Storm Luna spreads snow, sleet and freezing rain across much of the Midwest and Northeast today, to be replaced by a spring-like surge of warm air nearly unprecedented in warmth and moisture for January. Temperatures in Oklahoma City have only reached 80° three times during January since 1890, but threaten to do so again today.

JeffMasters, • 3:19 PM GMT on January 28, 2013

Mighty North Atlantic low bombs to 930 mb

In the Northern Atlantic south of Iceland, an extratropical storm that brought up to 6" of snow to Maryland on Thursday has put on a remarkable burst of rapid intensification over the past 24 hours, with center pressure dropping 58 mb in 24 hours, to 930 mb by 7 am EST Saturday morning. This is one of the lowest pressures attained by an Atlantic extratropical storm in recent decades.

JeffMasters, • 6:04 PM GMT on January 26, 2013

North American cold wave winds down; Atlantic storm stronger than Sandy winding up

The January 2013 North American cold wave is winding down, after bringing five days of bitter cold to Canada and the Midwest and Northeast U.S. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Friday morning in just six states east of the Rockies--half as many as on Thursday morning. The coldest spot was Saranac Lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains, which bottomed out at -18°F (-28°).

JeffMasters, • 4:05 PM GMT on January 25, 2013

U.S. deep freeze continues; dangerous air pollution episode in Utah

The January 2013 North American cold wave continued to bring bitter cold to much of Eastern Canada and the Midwest and Northeast U.S. this morning. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Thursday morning in twelve states east of the Rockies. The most intense cold was centered near the Minnesota/Ontario border, where Embarrass, Minnesota hit -42°F (-41°C) and Crane Lake, Minnesota bottomed out at -36°F (-38°C).

JeffMasters, • 4:27 PM GMT on January 24, 2013

Bitter cold and heavy lake effect snows continue in the Midwest and Northeast U.S.

A classic January North American cold wave continues to bring bitter cold to much of Eastern Canada and the Midwest and Northeast U.S., and heavy lake effect snows to the shores of the Great Lakes. The intense cold was centered near the Ontario/Quebec border this Wednesday morning, where a numbingly low temperature of -45°F (-43°C) was observed at Rouyn, Quebec. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Wednesday morning in eleven states east of the Rockies.

JeffMasters, • 4:18 PM GMT on January 23, 2013

Major cold blast, epic lake effect snows hit North America

A classic January North American cold wave has plunged much of the continent into the deep freeze and brought epic lake effect snows to the shores of the Great Lakes. The intense cold was centered over central Ontario this Tuesday morning, where a remarkable low temperature of -49°F (-44.8°C) was observed at Lansdowne House, Ontario at 7 am EST. In the U.S., below-zero temperatures were recorded Tuesday morning in eleven states east of the Rockies.

JeffMasters, • 4:36 PM GMT on January 22, 2013

Coldest air in nearly two years hits the Midwest U.S.

A blast of Arctic air more intense than anything experienced during the winter of 2011 - 2012 has descended over the Midwest U.S., bringing the coldest temperatures in nearly two years. The low hit -2°F Monday morning in Des Moines, Iowa, marking the first day since February 10, 2011 that Des Moines had dropped below zero. The 710 consecutive days the city had gone without reaching 0°F was the longest such streak on record.

JeffMasters, • 5:08 PM GMT on January 21, 2013

Drought predicted to continue though April; record low Lake Michigan water levels

Rain and snow from the a series of winter storms that have swept across the nation so far in 2013 have put only a slight dent in the Great Drought of 2012 - 2013, and the drought is likely to extend at least until late April, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report and NOAA Seasonal Drought Outlook, issued Thursday. The area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought began 2013 at 61%, and is almost unchanged as of January 15, at 59%.

JeffMasters, • 6:14 PM GMT on January 18, 2013

DC snowstorm not enough for a white inauguration; extreme heat in Southern Hemisphere

It's snowing in Mississippi and Alabama, thanks to strengthening Winter Storm Iago. Iago is poised to bring up to a foot of snow across the Central Appalachians, and 3 to 8 inches of snowfall across Mid-Atlantic metro areas including cities such as Richmond, Raleigh and Roanoke. Washington DC is on the northern edge of the accumulating snow, and is only expected to see an inch of wet, sloppy accumulation.

JeffMasters, • 5:18 PM GMT on January 17, 2013

2012: Earth's 10th warmest year on record, and warmest with a La Niña

It was another top-ten hottest year on record during 2012, which ranked as the 10th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said today. NASA rated 2012 as the 9th warmest on record. Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001–2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century--1998--was warmer than 2012. The year 2012 was the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present.

JeffMasters, • 7:04 PM GMT on January 15, 2013

Extreme jet stream causing record warmth in the east, record cold in the west

Los Angeles, California recorded its coldest temperature in 22 years on Sunday, and record daily lows fell across large portions of the Western U.S. over the weekend. But meanwhile, much of the Eastern U.S. basked in record-breaking warmth, with temperatures reaching the upper 60s in New York. The jet stream--the upper level river of strong winds that marks the boundary between cold, Arctic air to the north and warm, subtropical air to the south--has worked itself into a very extreme configuration.

JeffMasters, • 4:46 PM GMT on January 14, 2013

Top Ten Global Weather Events of 2012

t was another year of incredible weather extremes globally during 2012. The year featured two of the most expensive weather disasters in world history--Hurricane Sandy and the Great U.S. Drought of 2012, which will both cost more than $50 billion. Thankfully, no disasters had a death toll in excess of 2,000, though the 1,901 people dead or missing due to Super Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines may rank as that nation's 2nd deadliest typhoon ever.

JeffMasters, • 5:34 PM GMT on January 11, 2013

A record 199 days without a tornado death; 1st tornado of 2013 hits Louisiana

The U.S. has set a weather record of the sort we like to see: the longest continuous stretch without a tornado death. We've had 199 days without a tornado fatality, beating the record of 197 straight days that ended on February 28, 1987. The last U.S. tornado death was at Venus in Highlands County, Florida, from an EF-0 tornado associated with Tropical Storm Debby on June 24, 2012.

JeffMasters, • 4:10 PM GMT on January 10, 2013

2012: warmest and 2nd most extreme year in U.S. history

The contiguous U.S. smashed its record for hottest year on record in 2012. The annual U.S. average temperature was 3.3°F above the 20th century average, and was an astonishing 1.0°F above the previous record, set in 1998. It is extremely rare for an area the size of the U.S. to break an annual average temperature record by such a large margin. Nineteen states had annual temperatures which were record warm. An additional 26 states had a top-ten warmest year.

JeffMasters, • 9:01 PM GMT on January 08, 2013

Historic heat wave brings Australia its hottest average temperature on record

It's been a summer like no other in the history of Australia, where a sprawling heat wave of historical proportions is entering its second week. Monday, January 7, was the hottest day in Australian history, averaged over the entire country, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The high temperature averaged over Australia was 105°F (40.3°C), eclipsing the previous record of 104°F (40.2°C) set on 21 December 1972.

JeffMasters, • 2:27 PM GMT on January 08, 2013

Hurricane Isaac's legacy: wetland destruction, and a test of the New Orleans levees

Hurricane Isaac's large size, large storm surge, and the extended battering it gave the coast will likely make 2012 one of Louisiana's highest years on record for wetland loss. Over the past 25 years, Louisiana has lost an average of 17 square miles per year of wetlands, and I expect Louisiana lost 30 - 70 square miles of wetlands in 2012, primarily due to Isaac.

JeffMasters, • 5:05 PM GMT on January 07, 2013

Superstorm Sandy and the importance of polar orbiting satellites in forecasting

On the 23rd of October, the 18th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Sandy, was born in the Central Caribbean. As is common for late-season storms in the Caribbean, Sandy moved northwards across Cuba. The official forecasts from the National Hurricane Center issued on October 23 and 24 called for Sandy to turn to the northeast after crossing Cuba, head into the Central Atlantic, and not threaten any more land areas. This forecast was based on the output from five of our top six computer models, which all predicted that an upper-level low pressure system in the Central Atlantic would be strong enough to pull Sandy northeastwards. Just one trusted model predicted Sandy's turn to shore. Why?

JeffMasters, • 8:19 PM GMT on January 03, 2013