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Ice storm cripples Houston; Yasi the 2nd costliest Australian storm on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:13 PM GMT on February 04, 2011

A significant ice storm is in progress across southeast Texas, much of Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and southern Arkansas this morning, as the latest onslaught from the memorable winter of 2010 - 2011 continues. Houston, Texas recorded 1/10" - 1/4" inch of ice so far from the storm, resulting in a crippling of that city's transportation system. Numerous crashes have closed many area roads, and flights at local airports have been largely halted. Snowfalls of 1 - 3 inches will occur today along the northern edge of the ice storm region, in a swath from northeast Texas to western Kentucky. The storm will move into New England on Saturday, but will not bring heavy snow. The next chance for heavy snow occurs next Wednesday and Thursday, when the GFS model is predicting the formation of a winter storm capable of dropping a foot of snow in the Appalachians and inland areas of New England. However, it is too early to put much faith in this forecast.


Figure 1. Trees snapped off along the Chicago lakefront by winds from the Blizzard of 2011. Image credit: viewer uploaded photo from WGN.

Revisiting the Chicago blizzard
This week's blizzard in Chicago dropped 20.2" of snow on the city, Chicago's third-greatest snowstorm on record. But the tremendous winds that accompanied the blizzard--gusting to 61 mph at O'Hare Airport, and 70 mph at the Lakefront--made the storm Chicago's worst-ever blizzard as far as impacts on travel. Another remarkable feature of the storm were the intense thunderstorms that developed. According to an excellent write-up on the storm posted by the Chicago National Weather Service office, the Blizzard of 2011 had 63 lightning strikes, and several reports of hail. The most extraordinary hourly observation I've ever seen in a U.S. winter storm came at 9:51pm on February 1 at Chicago's Midway Field: A heavy thunderstorm with lightning, heavy snow, small hail or ice pellets, freezing fog, blowing snow, visibility 300 feet, a wind gust of 56 mph, and a temperature of 21°F. Welcome to the Midwest! Thanks go to meteorologist Steve Gregory for pointing this observation out to me.


Figure 2. Snow amounts from the February 1 - 3 blizzard of 2011 peaked at over 2 feet along the shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. Strong northeasterly winds pulled moist air off of the Lake in this region, allowing the "lake effect" to enhance the blizzard's snows in this region. Image credit: Chicago National Weather Service office.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi the second most damaging storm in Australia's history
Tropical Cyclone Yasi has dissipated, but the damage totals from the storm make it Australia's second most expensive tropical cyclone of all-time, according to Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. The storm's $3.5 billion price tag is second only to Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, doing $3.6 billion in damage (2011 dollars.) Yasi roared inland over Queensland, Australia at 12:30am local time on Thursday as a strengthening Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds and a 930 mb central pressure. The cyclone missed the most populous cities on the coast, Cairns and Townsville, but damaged up to 90% of the buildings in the small towns near where the eye passed--Tully, Mission Beach, and Cardwell. A storm surge of 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) was observed at Cardwell, and there was substantial surge damage at the coast. Fortunately, the storm surge hit near low tide, resulting in a storm tide--the height of the water above land--of about 4.5 meters, more than 2 meters below what would have occurred had Yasi hit at high tide. Yasi moved quickly enough across Queensland after landfall so that major flooding was limited to just three locations near the coast. Yasi's central pressure of 930 mb at landfall made the storm the most intense recorded in Queensland since at least 1918, and possibly since 1899. In 1918, there were two cyclones (at Mackay and Innisfail) with measured pressures in the upper 920s/low 930s, but it is quite plausible that the minimum central pressures were lower than that. The 1899 (Mahina/Bathurst Bay) cyclone had a measured pressure (ship near shore) of 914 mb.


Figure 3. The tide gauge at Carwell, Australia during passage of Tropical Cyclone Yasi recorded a 5.4 meter (17.7') storm surge (red line). Since the surge came near low tide, the storm tide--the height of the surge above mean water--was only 4.5 meters (blue line). The storm tide would have been more than 2 meters higher had Yasi hit at high tide, and the damage from coastal flooding would have been huge. The green line shows the expected water levels at Cardwell due to the tide. Image credit: Queensland government.


Figure 4. Tropical Cyclone Yasi at 04:15 UTC February 3, 2011, as seen by NASA's Aqua satellite.

Jeff Masters

Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld (AliHirst62)
Butler St Tully Nth Qld
Yasi Damage Tully Nth Qld
Chicago Blizzard 2011 (ChicagoMike)
Digging out....over 20 inches of snow and drifts in the 3 to 5 foot range.
Chicago Blizzard 2011
()
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri (tucktan)
Looking outside our front door in Columbia, MO.
Snow Drifts in Central Missouri
RoofShovel (luvne32)
Ice dams are forming, not good for water infiltrating walls
RoofShovel

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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829. KoritheMan
8:17 AM GMT on February 07, 2011

Quoting xcool:

That had better pan out.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
827. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:34 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Wellington
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin
TROPICAL CYCLONE ZAKA (10F)
19:00 PM NZDT February 7 2011
==============================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Zaka, Category One (987 hPa) located at 29.0S 179.5W has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots and is reported as moving south southwest at 20 knots.


Gale Force Winds
===================
120 NM from the center in sectors from north through east to west

60 NM from the center in northwestern quadrant
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
826. xcool
7:19 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
824. Skyepony (Mod)
5:52 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
823. washingtonian115
5:09 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Hmmm just looked at the local forecast,and it seems it'll be cold enough to snow on Thirsday.But as the song goes (Don't belive the hype)!!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
818. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:47 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Patrap:
The NHC needs a Autonomous Robotic Bat Wing Stealth Recon Asset too.

Im on yer Wing Grothar,,Invest bearing 320,,Flt Lvl 220 at 3 o'clock..








i like to see what eyewall winds would do to that
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
815. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:41 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
a non-tropical winter storm invest


below is a real tropical warning...


WTPS31 PGTW 062100
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE 12P (ZAKA) WARNING NR 001//
REF/A/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/060521Z FEB 11//
AMPN/ REF A IS A TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION ALERT//
RMKS/
1. TROPICAL CYCLONE 12P (ZAKA) WARNING NR 001
01 ACTIVE TROPICAL CYCLONE IN SOUTHPAC
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS BASED ON ONE-MINUTE AVERAGE
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
---
WARNING POSITION:
061800Z --- NEAR 25.4S 177.3W
MOVEMENT PAST SIX HOURS - 230 DEGREES AT 13 KTS
POSITION ACCURATE TO WITHIN 060 NM
POSITION BASED ON CENTER LOCATED BY SATELLITE
PRESENT WIND DISTRIBUTION:
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 045 KT, GUSTS 055 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 055 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
050 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
REPEAT POSIT: 25.4S 177.3W
---
FORECASTS:
12 HRS, VALID AT:
070600Z --- 28.5S 179.5W
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 045 KT, GUSTS 055 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 055 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
050 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 24 HR POSIT: 195 DEG/ 18 KTS
---
24 HRS, VALID AT:
071800Z --- 32.0S 179.3E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 040 KT, GUSTS 050 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER WATER
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 055 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
055 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
055 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
045 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 36 HR POSIT: 180 DEG/ 20 KTS
---
36 HRS, VALID AT:
080600Z --- 35.9S 179.4E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 030 KT, GUSTS 040 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
DISSIPATED AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER WATER
---
REMARKS:
062100Z POSITION NEAR 26.2S 177.8W.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 12P (ZAKA), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 800 NM
NORTH-NORTHEAST OF AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, HAS TRACKED
SOUTHWESTWARD AT 13 KNOTS DURING THE PAST 06 HOURS. THIS IS
THE FIRST WARNING FOR TC ZAKA. ORIGINALLY A SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE
ZAKA HAS TRANSITIONED INTO A TC WITHIN THE PAST 06 TO 12 HOURS.
IN ADDITION TO THE TC DEVELOPING A MORE CLASSIC TROPICAL
SIGNATURE IN VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY, A 060900Z ASMSU RADIAL
CROSS SECTION PRODUCED BY CIRA (RAMMB) QUANTITATIVELY SUPPORTS
TROPICAL TRANSITION. GIVEN THE SHALLOW NATURE OF THE CENTRAL
CONVECTION, AND THE SYSTEM'S RECENT TRANSITION TO A WARM CORE TC,
DVORAK INTENSITY ESTIMATES VARY SIGNIFICANTLY AMONG THE FOUR
FIXING AGENCIES. THE INITIAL FORECAST INTENSITY OF 45 KNOTS
FAVORS THE LOWER END OF THE DVORAK SPREAD BECAUSE OF PERSISTENCE
AND THE LACK OF DEEP CENTRAL CONVECTION. THE SYSTEM WILL BEGIN TO
TURN POLEWARD OVER THE NEXT 12 HOURS AS THE MID-LEVEL STEERING
RIDGE TO THE SOUTHEAST BEGINS TO ERODE IN ADVANCE OF A PASSING
LONGWAVE TROUGH IN THE MID-LATITUDES. THE SYSTEM WILL WEAKEN
BELOW 35 KNOTS BEFORE RECURVING INTO THE WESTERLIES DUE TO A DROP
IN SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES AND AN INCREASE IN VERTICAL WIND SHEAR.
THIS FORECAST CLOSELY FOLLOWS THE MODEL CONSENSUS DUE TO SIMILAR
SOLUTIONS AMONG THE MEMBERS. THIS WARNING SUPERSEDES AND CANCELS
REF A, NAVMARFCSTCEN 060530Z FEB 11 TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION
ALERT (WTPS21 PGTW 060530). MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT
061800Z IS 14 FEET. NEXT WARNINGS AT 070900Z AND 072100Z.//
NNNN

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
813. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:38 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting RecordSeason:
ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 70 --
A. A66/ 28.6N 93.5W/ 07/1200Z
B. AFXXX 14WSA TRACK66
C. 07/0730Z
D. 10 DROPS AS PUBLISHED
E. AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE/ 07/1400Z


Oh no! A invest in the gulf in February!
a non-tropical winter storm invest
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
812. DontAnnoyMe
4:35 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Grothar:



How do you get back from the mail page to the main page without hitting 15 buttons? Now that wasn't so stupid now, was it Ingmar?


Open mail in a new tab.

Or left click on the down arrow on your back button, and choose the first one that says wunder blog.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
810. caneswatch
4:35 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
809. RufusBaker
4:26 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
The triple tone talk
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
808. Skyepony (Mod)
4:24 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Looking at the flight into the Central Pac storm this afternoon...top winds at ~31,000' was 124kts. 34kts was the highest surface wind.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
807. sunlinepr
4:21 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
TALKING ABOUT RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS What about this test flight? Yahoo


Bat-winged drone bomber in test flight: US Navy
LOS ANGELES (AFP) %u2013 A robotic, bat-winged bomber designed to take off from a US aircraft carrier has passed its first test in a debut flight in California, the US Navy said.

The X-47B jet, which looks like a smaller version of the B-2 stealth bomber, stayed in the air for 29 minutes and climbed to 5,000 feet in a test flight on Friday at Edwards Air Force Base, according to the Navy and defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
806. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:19 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
805. Skyepony (Mod)
4:15 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
NOUS42 KNHC 051830
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
0130 PM EST SAT 05 FEBRUARY 2011
SUBJECT: WINTER STORM PLAN OF THE DAY (WSPOD)
VALID 06/1100Z TO 07/1100Z FEBRUARY 2011
WSPOD NUMBER.....10-067

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 70 --
A. A66/ 28.6N 93.5W/ 07/1200Z
B. AFXXX 14WSA TRACK66
C. 07/0730Z
D. 10 DROPS AS PUBLISHED
E. AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE/ 07/1400Z

2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY.....NEGATIVE

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 74
A. P16/ 40.0N 164.0W/ 07/1200Z
B. AFXXX 17WSC TRACK16
C. 07/0615Z
D. 17 DROPS AS PUBLISHED
E. AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE/ 07/1800Z

FLIGHT TWO -- NOAA49 --
A. P81/ 26.2N 167.8E/ 07/1200Z
B. NOAA9 18WSW TRACK81
C. 07/0800Z
D. 20 DROPS AS PUBLISHED
E. 41,000 FT TO 45,000 FT/ 07/1800Z

2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY.....NEGATIVE
WVW
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
804. Grothar
4:13 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I’m in the mood for bird imitations. Park your car underneath my tree in my front yard.


Haven't done that since the Great Herring War.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
803. NCWatch
4:10 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Sheesh
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
802. GeoffreyWPB
4:10 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Grothar:



How do you get back from the mail page to the main page without hitting 15 buttons? Now that wasn't so stupid now, was it Ingmar?


I’m in the mood for bird imitations. Park your car underneath my tree in my front yard.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
801. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:09 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting RecordSeason:
Anyway, in regards to performances like this half-time show; these no-talent one hit wonders get by off the morons who go to raves and concerts drunk and high, and wouldn't know half-decent music if they heard it.

It's sad you can be a multi-millionaire in this country for playing a stick and ball game, or for being a no-talent circus clown singing to some drunks or pot-heads.

We've seen this before with that band, the Monkeys, where nobody in the band could even sing or play. They were just lip singing, and they got filthy rich off idiot Brits and Americans.

Sad thing is, if you've heard one of these songs you've heard most.

"I got drunk...blah, blah...
wife/hubby kicked my but out, not gonna pout. gf/bf left me by favorite tree, dog bit my behind, but I'm still doing fine...blah, blah, blah."

(second verse louder and worse with some 3rd grade rhymes and stuff 'cuz that's what makes good music. It helps if you cuss some or make "patriotic" statements about the flag.)

And everyone buys it...


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
800. Grothar
4:06 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Better than anyone I know.



How do you get back from the mail page to the main page without hitting 15 buttons? Now that wasn't so stupid now, was it Ingmar?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
798. GeoffreyWPB
4:02 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting NCWatch:
I am not complaining about the new format, just trying to figure out how things work.


Just play around with it. It's not going to hurt your PC.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
796. NCWatch
4:00 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
I am not complaining about the new format, just trying to figure out how things work.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
795. GeoffreyWPB
4:00 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


Will do, but first, Can I ask a dumb question?


Better than anyone I know.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
794. GeoffreyWPB
3:58 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
I'm on Vista...and F5 works fine.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
793. Grothar
3:58 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Grothar...post the Archies next :)...Ahh Sugar...


Will do, but first, Can I ask a dumb question?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
792. NCWatch
3:56 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Actually, the right click and refresh seems to be working pretty good at the moment. Much better than f5.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
791. GeoffreyWPB
3:54 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Grothar...post the Archies next :)...Ahh Sugar...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
789. PcolaDan
3:53 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
There is an add-on for FF called ReloadEvery 4.0.1
Works great for blogs and other stuff you constantly reload.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
788. GeoffreyWPB
3:51 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
They dance like Elaine Benes.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
787. NCWatch
3:48 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Does right click and hit refresh do anything.. it seems random if you return to where you were.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
786. Grothar
3:46 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Well you got me. I'm A Believer taking the Last Train To Clarksville.



Hey, they weren't too bad. Brings back some good memories of the 60's and a corn cob pipe.



Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
785. GeoffreyWPB
3:45 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


The F5 key doesn't do a thing for me.


To easy.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
784. Grothar
3:42 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
The F5 key always refreshes my page...and I am on IE. I have had no problems with the new site.


The F5 key doesn't do a thing for me.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
783. GeoffreyWPB
3:41 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting RecordSeason:
Anyway, in regards to performances like this half-time show; these no-talent one hit wonders get by off the morons who go to raves and concerts drunk and high, and wouldn't know half-decent music if they heard it.

It's sad you can be a multi-millionaire in this country for playing a stick and ball game, or for being a no-talent circus clown singing to some drunks or pot-heads.

We've seen this before with that band, the Monkeys, where nobody in the band could even sing or play. They were just lip singing, and they got filthy rich off idiot Brits and Americans.

Sad thing is, if you've heard one of these songs you've heard most.

"I got drunk...blah, blah...
wife/hubby kicked my but out, not gonna pout. gf/bf left me by favorite tree, dog bit my behind, but I'm still doing fine...blah, blah, blah."

(second verse louder and worse with some 3rd grade rhymes and stuff 'cuz that's what makes good music. It helps if you cuss some or make "patriotic" statements about the flag.)

And everyone buys it...


Well you got me. I'm A Believer taking the Last Train To Clarksville.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
781. Jedkins01
3:37 AM GMT on February 07, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:

Which events? Record heat? Record low ice thickness and extent? Record flooding? Record snowfall and rainfall? Pretty much non-stop extreme weather since the calendar flipped over to January? Those events?


Its something called weather. Its the Earth's climate, if its too harsh for you, there are many other planets in the Universe, but I'm not sure that any of the planets we currently know are any less harsh then the Earth :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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