Spring 2012: most extreme season in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:08 PM GMT on June 08, 2012

Spring 2012 in the contiguous U.S. demolished the old records for hottest spring and most extreme season of any kind, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. With the warmest March, third warmest April, and second warmest May, the March - April - May spring season was 5.2°F above average--the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States. What's truly remarkable is the margin the old record was broken by--spring 2012 temperatures were a full 1°F above the previous most extreme season, the winter of 1999 - 2000. All-time seasonal temperature records are very difficult to break, and are usually broken by only a tenth of a degree. To see the old record crushed by a full degree is a stunning and unparalleled event in U.S. meteorological history.


Figure 1. Temperature rankings for spring 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Thirty-one states were record warm for the 3-month period, and an additional eleven states had top-ten warmth. Spring 2012 beat the previous record for hottest spring on record, set in 1910, by an remarkable 2°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

U.S. heat over the past 12 months: a one in half-a-million event
The U.S. record for hottest 12-month period fell for the second straight month in May. The June 2011 - May 2012 temperatures smashed the previous record by a startling 0.4°F, which is a huge margin to break a record by for a 1-year period. The past twelve months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer, 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring on record. Thirty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional ten states were top ten warm. Each of the 12 months from June 2011 through May 2012 ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. According to NCDC, the odds of this occurring randomly during any particular month are 1 in 531,441. Thus, we should only see one more 12-month period so warm between now and 46,298 AD--assuming the climate is staying the same as during the past 118 years. The unusual warmth was due, in part, to a La Niña event in the Pacific that altered jet stream patterns, keeping the polar jet stream much farther to the north than usual. However, it is highly unlikely that the extremity of the heat during the past 12 months could have occurred without a warming climate. Some critics have claimed that recent record warm temperatures measured in the U.S. are due to poor siting of a number of measurement stations. Even if true (and the best science we have says that these stations were actually reporting temperatures that were too cool), there is no way that measurement errors can account for the huge margin by which U.S. temperature records have been crushed during the past 12-month, 5-month, and 3-month periods.




Figure 2. Three of the top ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.




Figure 3. The average temperature during January - May 2012 was the warmest on record: 5°F above the 20th century average for the period, and 1.3°F above the previous record set in 2000. January - May temperatures have been rising at about 1.8°F per century since 1895. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Second warmest May, warmest year-to-date period on record
May 2012 was the second warmest May in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. Twenty-six states had a top-ten warmest May, and no states had a top-ten coolest May. The January - May 2012 period was the warmest January - May period since record keeping began in 1895, with temperatures 5°F above the 20th century average for the period. This broke the previous record set in 2000 by an unusually large margin--1.3°F.



Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for spring (March - April - May) shows that 2012 had the most extreme spring on record, with 44% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Most extreme spring and January - May period on record
NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 44% during the spring March - April - May period. This is more than twice the average value, and spring 2012 was the most extreme season of any kind in U.S. history. A list of the top five most extreme seasons since 1910, as computed using the CEI, show that two of the three most extreme seasons in U.S. history occurred in the past 12 months:

Spring 2012: 44%
Winter 1979: 42%
Summer 2011: 39%
Fall 1985: 39%
Spring 1934: 38%

Remarkably, 81% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically during spring 2012, and 71% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions during spring was 18%, which was the 19th greatest since 1910. Extremes in 1-day spring heavy precipitation events were the 8th largest on record. The year-to-date January - May period was also the most extreme such period in U.S. history, with a CEI of 43%. Climate change theory predicts that, in general, the climate should warm, wet areas should get wetter, and dry areas should get drier. The spring 2012 Climate Extremes Index reflects this pattern.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post. None of the computer models is predicting tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic through June 15.

Jeff Masters


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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168HR!:)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Then after that it shows the caribbean storm?

Maybe... The run is still coming in but it already has a 1006mb low at 162 hours so it may try to blow it up on this run.
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1233. hydrus
.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Possible weak development off the NC coast in 6-7 days?

Then after that it shows the caribbean storm?
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159HR
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1230. hydrus
East Atlantic.
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Possible weak development off the NC coast in 6-7 days?



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I'm ready to see some tropical action.
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1226. hydrus
Quoting allancalderini:
could Chris develop from the convection in the central Atlantic?
That blob is supposed to be in the Western Caribbean by the 18th, interact with the MJO and surrounding low pressure to form a monsoonal low.
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18z GFS 126 hours... Carlotta about to go off the screen

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could Chris develop from the convection in the central Atlantic?
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
On August 22nd 1995, 3 tropical storms formed while one dissipated.....
Do you know how the blog would have been?!
The doom con will be up to 9000.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:
On August 22nd 1995, 3 tropical storms formed while one dissipated.....
Do you know how the blog would have been?!

In September 2010 we had Igor at nearly Category 5 intensity, Karl rapidly intensifying into a Category 3 hurricane, and Julia reaching its peak as a Category 4 hurricane.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
On August 22nd 1995, 3 tropical storms formed while one dissipated.....
Do you know how the blog would have been?!
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1220. hydrus
Quoting washingtonian115:
The storm back in 93 originated in the gulf.It brought a lot of rain to some of the same areas being affected now.Minus the storm surge...
Hello 115.. I have to differ with you that this system is like the 93 storm you are referring to. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Storm of the Century (1993) {{{alt}}}
Satellite image by NASA of the superstorm on March 13, 1993, at 10:01 UTC.
Storm type Cyclonic blizzard, Nor'easter
Formed March 2, 1993
Dissipated March 15, 1993
Maximum amount 69 in (180 cm) Mt. Le Conte, TN*
Lowest pressure 960 mb (hPa)
Lowest temperature
Damages $6.65 billion (2008 US$)[1]
Fatalities 310
Areas affected Canada, United States, and Cuba
^* Maximum snowfall or ice accretion

The Storm of the Century, also known as the 1993 Superstorm, or the (Great) Blizzard of 1993, was a large cyclonic storm that formed over the North Atlantic Ocean on March 2nd, 1993 and dissipated two weeks later on March 15. It is unique for its intensity, massive size and wide-reaching effect. At its height, the storm stretched from Canada towards Central America, but its main impact was on the Eastern United States and Cuba. The cyclone moved through the Gulf of Mexico, and then through the Eastern United States before moving into Canada. Areas as far south as central Alabama and Georgia received 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) of snow and areas such as Birmingham, Alabama, received up to 12 inches (30 cm) with isolated reports of 16 inches (41 cm). Even the Florida Panhandle reported up to 4 inches (10 cm), with hurricane-force wind gusts and record low barometric pressures. Between Louisiana and Cuba, hurricane-force winds produced high storm surges across northwestern Florida, which along with scattered tornadoes killed dozens of people. Record cold temperatures were seen across portions of the South and East in the wake of this storm. In the United States, the storm was responsible for the loss of electric power to over 10 million customers. It is purported to have been directly experienced by nearly 40 percent of the country's population at that time. A total of 310 people, including 10 from Cuba, perished during this storm.
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18Z GFS is coming out now!:)
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
It also brought snow to the gulf coast. In fact Thunder snow which I think Cantore was in it.
It brought snow all the way up the eastern sea board.I remember getting a good 3-4 feet in my yard.Anyway back to the topic.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
It also brought snow to the gulf coast. In fact Thunder snow which I think Cantore was in it.


i want something like that to happen again, since i havent seen more that 6 in of snow, so i am excited about an el nino.
And in el ninos, GA actually seems to get severe weather, instead of every storm succumbing to the state line curse at the AL and TN state lines.

also a nice line forming:
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Quoting reedzone:


If this pattern doesn't change in the next 2 months, it's going to lead to a very bad Hurricane Season.
We have already had 1 landfalling tropical storm. And should Chris form in the Caribbean that will make landfall as well just don't know where exactly.
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1215. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Models are in amazing agreement with the track and intensity of Invest 93E despite the fact that it hasn't even formed yet. Pretty impressive.

LGEM brings it up to 80 knots (90 mph) in 120 hours. Definitely not out of the question.



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If this pattern doesn't change in the next 2 months, it's going to lead to a very bad Hurricane Season.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
The storm back in 93 originated in the gulf.It brought a lot of rain to some of the same areas being affected now.Minus the storm surge...
It also brought snow to the gulf coast. In fact Thunder snow which I think Cantore was in it.
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amazing how close alberto and beryl were to being in the same locations for part of their journeys:
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I'm out keep, keep on Keeping on.Sorry for the association.
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looks lik NE FL is getting some more benficial rains, not the floods like in pensacola
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


how, i wasnt alive yet for that one, but i hear the snow was great.
The storm back in 93 originated in the gulf.It brought a lot of rain to some of the same areas being affected now.Minus the storm surge...
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1207. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
are ya watchin doc
more wacky weather
for the 2012 collection
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Quoting washingtonian115:
This reminds me of the origins of that storm back in 93.


how?
i wasnt alive yet for that one, but i hear the snow was great.
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This reminds me of the origins of that storm back in 93.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
WTPN21 PGTW 092030
MSGID/GENADMIN/JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI//
SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION ALERT CANCELLATION//
REF/A/MSG/JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/082021ZJUN2012//
AMPN/REF A IS A TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION ALERT//
RMKS/
1. REMARKS: THIS CANCELS REF A (WTPN21 PGTW 082021). THE AREA OF
CONVECTION PREVIOUSLY LOCATED NEAR 4.6N 152.9E, IS NOW LOCATED NEAR
5.2N 150.2E, APPROXIMATELY 165 NM SOUTHWEST OF CHUUK. ANIMATED
MULTISPECTRAL SATELLITE IMAGERY DEPICTS DIURNAL FLARING DEEP
CONVECTION OVER AN ELONGATED LOW LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER (LLCC).
DESPITE A STRONG (ALTHOUGH WEAKENING OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS)
MIDLEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER, A 091555Z AMSU-B PARTIAL 85 GHZ IMAGE
INDICATES A POORLY-DEFINED LLCC WITH WEAK CONVECTIVE BANDING.
THEREFORE, THE SYSTEM APPEARS TO BE TRACKING SLOWLY WEST-
NORTHWESTWARD AND DYNAMIC MODEL DEVELOPMENT HAS BACKED OFF. A
090739Z WINDSAT IMAGE SHOWED A WEAK (05-10 KNOTS) ELONGATED
CIRCULATION (AS WELL AS THE UW-CIMSS 850MB VORTICITY PRODUCT).
ADDITIONALLY, SURFACE OBSERVATIONS FROM THROUGHOUT THE AREA ARE
CLIMATOLOGICALLY HIGH AT 1008 TO 1009 MB WITH WEAK (5 TO 10 KNOT)
WINDS. UPPER LEVEL ANALYSIS DEPICTS A MARGINAL ENVIRONMENT WITH
MODERATE, DIFFLUENT EASTERLY FLOW AND WEAK POLEWARD FLOW INTO A TUTT
CELL NEAR 17N 153E. ANIMATED WATER VAPOR IMAGERY ALSO DEPICTS
CONVERGENT FLOW ALONG THE EASTERN PERIPHERY OF THE UPPER-LEVEL
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE OVER GUAM, WHICH MAY HINDER FUTURE DEVELOPMENT.
THE SYSTEM HAS NOT CONSOLIDATED AS MUCH AS PREVIOUSLY ANTICIPATED.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED SURFACE WINDS ARE ESTIMATED AT 10 TO 15 KNOTS.
MINIMUM SEA LEVEL PRESSURE IS ESTIMATED TO BE NEAR 1007 MB. THE
POTENTIAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE
WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS IS DOWNGRADED TO MEDIUM.//
NNNN

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My final point is, if we don't use our supercomputer's to address the complex scenarios, that are out there and keep playing I don't live there, so it's not my problem. All I can say is good luck to us all, because the last time I checked it was the United States of America. No matter how hard some wish it wasn't.
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:











Is the GOM storm tropical?


it is a tropical airmass, so yes the rainfall is tropical, but it is mainly just a low in the wrong place at the wrong time leading to all of these tropical rains.
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1201. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1200. hydrus
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Can you imagine what Chris would do flooding wise following all of this?

in pensacola, 12.99 was the last official report i remember, they probably are past the record now:

The 12.99 inches is now the second wettest day on record next to October 5th, 1934 when 15.29 inches of rain fell.
It does not even have to have a name. Any wet system that comes along after this one will cause serious problems. The models keep showing a large system in 200 hours or so. This would allow some time for flood waters to recede providing the rain from seasonal seabreeze collisions dont keep dumping rain on saturated areas. This type of thing has happened many times before, and the people there know what to do. It did not seem like they had much warning for the flooding conditions there having now. GFS wants to take the low,or whatever this becomes across the southern part of the state, which is good. The bad news is that a frontal system may stall over the region, making a bad situation worse....228 hours..
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Quoting JrWeathermanFL:











Is the GOM storm tropical?


No, it's completely Extratropical.. Sort of similar to those winter Gulf Lows, except it's happening in late spring.
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
3 1/2 inches here in Lake Worth Florida from 2:30 to 3:30 pm yesterday


Yeah I had 2.03 yesterday, and just under 7 total since Tuesday. Perfect drought relief because we had 1 to 2 inches every day Tuesday through Friday. Having all 7 inches in one event with a drought in place doesn't allow as much of it to soak in.
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Is the GOM storm tropical?
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1196. SuzK
Quoting pottery:

To me, that's incredible...
Rainfall like that, here, would result in high death-tolls and Major damage.
3000' mountains with large-catchment valleys and towns built in the narrow mouths of the valleys.

It would be awful....
6" in a day here, is plenty rain.


We live in the ridge and valley of Northeast PA. 4" of rain will bring the creek into my yard...so far we haven't been tested above 9" of rain in one storm. I am always horrified when I see 15" of rain, but I know that is southern tropical rain and far more than I might expect locally. Nowadays the only thing predictable about the weather is its unpredictability! Hey, that's the chaos theory isn't it?
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1195. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting help4u:
Someone to post facts that's about it.Just like in 1992 the ozone hole was going to kill mankind,sorry God is in control not us.
joe is that you
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:


new storms brewing down south, look at the new t-storm bursts:


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Quoting PlazaRed:
Evening All
Well we've got quake of the day over in Taiwan, around a 6 at the moment just offshore.

I was just thinking if you get Chris there is going to be a lot of surplus water around in the south of the US.


the earthquake was at a depth of 44 miles, so i dont think it was too bad for taiwan.

Heavy rain would be probably the greatest problem from chris if it hits around the pensacola mobile area, especially if the heavy rains continue inland as heavily as they have fallen near the shore.
i referenced this in post 1182
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State of emergency in Escambia:

Several areas of Escambia County are being flooded this afternoon, prompting Escambia County officials to declare a state of emerency as of 3 p.m. today.

Here is the latest news from the county:

• The National Weather Service is forecasting and additional 12 to 15 inches of rainfall between now and midnight Sunday night. This makes the total projected rain fall for this event between 20 and 30 inches.

• Residents living in low-lying areas and areas prone to flooding are encouraged to evacuate.

• Escambia County Emergency Management has activated its Citizen Information Line. Residents can call (850) 471-6600 for information.

Link
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Evening All
Well we've got quake of the day over in Taiwan, around a 6 at the moment just offshore.

I was just thinking if you get Chris there is going to be a lot of surplus water around in the south of the US.
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Hot dry winds in Northern New Mexico. Lots of fires down south with reports of new ones popping up all the time. Just a matter of time, sadly.
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Wow, extreme rainfall, dang...
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1188. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1172 gordydunnot: Yes much to the commercial insurance industries chagrin, and a few republicans. Florida will become the first self insured state at this rate.

Even if that were to happen, it'd be only partially self-insured. Federal flood insurance and various FEMA services will continue to strongly underwrite and subsize catastrophic coverage.
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1186. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1185. K8eCane
Quoting Neapolitan:
Twitter users are reporting a plane down in the East River off Manhattan. No word on size, type, cause, etc. Possible false alarm; awaiting word.
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Taiwan just had a magnitude 6.4 earthquake... Probably some damage with that one.

Edit: Just got downgraded to 5.8 by EMSC, USGS says 6.0



Dear Lord, time for more xanax
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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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