Meteor over Russia causes shock waves that injure at least 950

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:12 PM GMT on February 15, 2013

Allthough this blog is mostly about meteorology--the science of the weather--it's worth commenting on the incredible meteor that streaked through the skies of Russia over the Ural Mountains near 9:20 am local time on Friday. The shock waves from the meteor blew out windows, collapsed the walls and ceiling of a zinc factory, and injured over 950 people. According to astronomer Margaret Campbell-Brown of the University of Western Ontario, in an interview with nature.com, today's meteor was 15 meters in diameter and weighed 40 tons, making it the largest one to affect Earth since the 1908 Tunguska meteor in Siberia. The number of injuries reported from today's event is unprecedented in modern human history for a meteor. The meteor appeared less than a day before asteroid 2012 DA14 will make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid to Earth since sky surveys began in the 1990s--about 17,150 miles, which is closer than the orbit of the GOES weather satellites. According to NASA (as posted on spaceweather.com), "the trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. Information is still being collected about the Russian meteorite and analysis is preliminary at this point. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14's trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north." The odds of the largest meteor strike in 100 years occurring on the same day as the closest asteroid approach in 15 years are about 1 in 200 million, assuming these events are not correlated--truly a cosmic coincidence! The root word meteor comes from the Greek meteōros, meaning "high in the air", and the science of meteorology is the study of weather (notably hydrometeors--things like rain and snow and hailstones that fall from the sky.)


Figure 1. In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, a meteor contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring at least 950 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/ Chelyabinsk.ru)


Figure 2. In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru, municipal workers repair damaged electric power circuit outside a zinc factory building with about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof collapsed after a meteorite exploded over in Chelyabinsk region on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/ Oleg Kargapolov, Chelyabinsk.ru)


Figure 3. A hole in Chebarkul Lake, Russia claimed to be from meteorite debris from today's meteor. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.


Video 1. A Russian dashboard camera caught this incredible video of the February 15, 2013 fireball over Russia. In case you were wondering why there are so many Russian dash board camera videos on the Internet, geek.com explains that it's a combination of the bad weather and corruption in the country.


Video 2. The massive shockwave from the the blast hits at about 0:30 into this video, followed by lots of sonic booms. Thanks go to skyepony for posting this in my blog comments.

Links
engadget.com has a compilation of five impressive videos of the event.
rt.news has an excellent collection of still images and videos.

NASA TV will begin streaming live coverage of the fly-by of asteroid 2012 DA14 at 2 pm EST (19:00 UTC.) The asteroid's closest approach to Earth will be at 2:25 pm EST Friday. The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.

Jeff Masters

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773. aspectre
11:09 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
deleted
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
772. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
9:59 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
771. barbamz
9:59 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Good night folks. Some very hard weeks in my job lay behind me, and it was very good to take a day in your company to recover. Have a nice Sunday!
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 11056
770. BahaHurican
9:54 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Neapolitan:
I'm sure this has been covered, but for those who may have missed it, NASA has this updated info on yesterday's Russian bolide:

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor’s airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds.

The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones."
The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.


Anyway you slice it, that's a big rock: 55 feet in diameter; roughly 170 feet around the equator; approximately 10,000 tons; and all of it moving at greater than 10 km a second. One saving grace is that the impactor entered the atmosphere at such a shallow angle (less than 20 degrees); had it entered over Chelyabinsk vertically--that is, closer to 90 degrees--the energy would have been violently expended in just a few seconds instead of the more than 30 it took, and there likely would have been more than windows broken and 1200 injured.

It's odd to me that no pieces larger than the size of gravel have yet been found. I imagine it'll be just a matter of time, however, until the object's strewn field is defined, then picked over by an army of scientists and private collectors.
Any more word on the alleged meteorite in Cuba?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26811
769. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:52 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr54
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
768. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:51 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr51
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
767. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:50 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr48
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
766. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:49 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr12

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
765. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:48 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr9

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
764. TropicalAnalystwx13
9:48 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Chapelhill:
I forgot where you are...near Greenville?

Rocky Point. North of Wilmington, south of Wallace.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
763. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:46 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
18z nam hires sim ref hr3

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
762. Chapelhill
9:44 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Huge snowflakes are now mixing with the rain here.
I forgot where you are...near Greenville?
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 497
761. Chapelhill
9:42 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting ncstorm:


we got a heavy band heading for us..I hope its thundersnow..never experience it..


That certainly looks convective, so it's possible. It's best after dark, but cool to see/hear anytime. Nonetheless, you are in for some heavy snow. Enjoy!
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 497
760. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9:40 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
we could have a run of systems for a bit

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
759. barbamz
9:39 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Neapolitan:
I'm sure this has been covered, but for those who may have missed it, NASA has this updated info on yesterday's Russian bolide:


Thanks, Nea! Somewhere else I've read from NASA: Russian meteor exploded with force of 30 Hiroshima bombs

That's quite a horrible force!
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 11056
758. trHUrrIXC5MMX
9:38 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
More colorful map... careful there for those of you under alerts

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14876
757. ncstorm
9:36 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Chapelhill:
Glad to see it's finally snowing down east NC. Thundersnow in the upstate of SC!



we got a heavy band heading for us..I hope its thundersnow..never experience it..

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18358
756. Neapolitan
9:35 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
I'm sure this has been covered, but for those who may have missed it, NASA has this updated info on yesterday's Russian bolide:

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor’s airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds.

The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones."
The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.


Anyway you slice it, that's a big rock: 55 feet in diameter; roughly 170 feet around the equator; approximately 10,000 tons; and all of it moving at greater than 10 km a second. One saving grace is that the impactor entered the atmosphere at such a shallow angle (less than 20 degrees); had it entered over Chelyabinsk vertically--that is, closer to 90 degrees--the energy would have been violently expended in just a few seconds instead of the more than 30 it took, and there likely would have been more than windows broken and 1200 injured.

It's odd to me that no pieces larger than the size of gravel have yet been found. I imagine it'll be just a matter of time, however, until the object's strewn field is defined, then picked over by an army of scientists and private collectors.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15276
755. Chapelhill
9:34 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Glad to see it's finally snowing down east NC. Thundersnow in the upstate of SC!

Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 497
754. barbamz
9:33 PM GMT on February 16, 2013

More than 3,000 rail commuters were affected in China on Saturday after a reservoir in the northern Shanxi province partially collapsed due to old age, according to local officials quoted by state media. The top of an irrigation drain of the Quting Reservoir in Hongtong County caved in at about 07:00 am on Friday, leading to the partial collapse of its dam walls, China state television CCTV reported. Chinese authorities sent a rescue team to deal with the flooding caused by the collapse. Workers blocked the breach with sand bags and rocks. No casualties have been reported, but residents downstream from the reservoir were evacuated from their homes. Three provincial railway lines were suspended after the collapse and more than 3,000 passengers traveling at the end of the Spring Festival were affected. Early reports did not make clear if this was due to flooding or as a precautionary measure. CCTV carried footage showing many passengers getting their tickets refunded at the station. Source youtube
China holiday rail
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 93 Comments: 11056
753. ncstorm
9:32 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
its snowing here..finally..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18358
752. TropicalAnalystwx13
9:29 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Huge snowflakes are now mixing with the rain here.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
751. ncstorm
9:25 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
the surface low is beginning to take shape..lets see what this puppy does when it hits the water

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18358
750. trHUrrIXC5MMX
9:23 PM GMT on February 16, 2013


confetti !!!
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14876
749. BahaHurican
9:20 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Gone dark again here, with another round of rain. I expect this will be lighter than earlier, though.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26811
748. trHUrrIXC5MMX
9:20 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Temperatures are expected to be near 10F tomorrow night...with big winds maybe feeling near 0F here
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14876
747. Charmeck
9:13 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
It's snowing hard right now at Carolina Raptor Center near Charlotte Link
Member Since: August 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 145
746. Chapelhill
9:12 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
NWS Raleigh Discussion...

...THAT TURNS OUR FOCUS DOWNSTREAM ACROSS UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA...TO WHAT WE THOUGHT WOULD BE THE PROVERBIAL "WILDCARD" WITH THIS WINTER EVENT. OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF HOURS...CONVECTION HAS DEVELOPED NEAR GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG(PRODUCED 2 INCHES OF SNOW)...ALONG THE TILTING CUSP OF THE POTENT VORTMAX AND UNDERNEATH TREMENDOUS COOLING/STEEPING LAPSE RATES ALOFT. RADAR AND SATELLITE IMAGERY IS IMPRESSIVE WITH A COMMA HEAD/BAROCLINIC LEAF EMERGING...WITH A GOOD LIKELIHOOD THAT THIS FEATURE/CONVECTION WILL GET BETTER/STRONGER AS
THE UPPER PV ANOMALY CONTINUES TO EXTEND DOWN INTO THE MIDDLE TROPOSPHERE.

THIS AREA WILL HAVE TO BE MONITORED OVER THE NEXT 6 TO 9 HOURS AS IT PIVOTS EASTWARD WITH THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE A CONCENTRATED AREA OF HEAVY SNOW...AND POSSIBLY SOME THUNDER SNOW(EARTH NETWORK LIGHTNING DETECTION SYSTEM HAS DETECTED ONLY ONE LIGHTNING STRIKE AT THIS TIME BUT AN UPTICK IS QUITE POSSIBLE)!
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 497
745. yonzabam
9:10 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting opal92nwf:
First comment, new year, new portrait photo! (: I wonder if this hurricane season will be as querky as the past few years? or be more typical with activity focused in the MDR regions (Caribbean, GOMEX, with real Cape Verde Storms). Not that there hasn't been activity in these regions, but there just has been a lack of robust storms it seems. As Levi says, "We shall see what happens!"


I think it'll be pretty much the same as the last few years. The jet stream loops have moved south, there will probably be the same lack of vertical instability, and any hurricanes that do form will recurve northeastwards
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3560
744. BahaHurican
9:09 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
A few small yellowtail snapper, 2 lane snapper, a very nice triggerfish, and one nice porgy...
Mmm-Mmm! Good eating... lol ... well, we don't eat the triggerfish much here... unless it was a turbot...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26811
743. BahaHurican
9:08 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting aspectre:
Dancing with Wolves... kinda

Just remember to breathe slowly, lest your bubbles scare off the GreatWhite.
Diver looks like a remora... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26811
742. PedleyCA
9:06 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
( Sittin' On ) The Dock Of The Bay
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 8459
741. Chapelhill
9:04 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Bluestorm5:
I know there's 2nd band forming near Charlotte, I just still don't believe we'll get above 3". I also heard that band is dumping 1" to 2" of snow in many area, though... so I don't know. It's hard to forecast snow amounts here in NC.
True, I drove from CH to Raleigh and back earlier; some places had 1-2" on the ground, while other places nothing. It was hit and miss in nature. Some got lucky to be under a heavy burst that dropped the temp more along with heavy snowfall eventhough it has been snowing everywhere all day.
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 497
740. Bluestorm5
9:00 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting mommylynne:




Same here in Clayton
Nice to see someone from my area on WU
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8173
739. TropicalAnalystwx13
8:57 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Jeff Pitrowski is talking about Joplin at ChaserCon.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/severestudios
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
738. trHUrrIXC5MMX
8:57 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Not so weather related but still science..

A 6.2 quake hit south of the Philippine Islands yesterday around midnight EST, near Davao where Typhoon Bopha hit with a category 5 force.




No significant damage reported and no casualties.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14876
737. mommylynne
8:56 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting NCWatch:


Me too here in Nashville, NC.




Same here in Clayton
Member Since: August 24, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
736. Jedkins01
8:48 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
This is very interesting, while there certainly was no winter precip in north Florida this morning, as much colder air advects into the area, the air is so cold aloft it is creating enough instability for convective showers in South Carolina, Georgia, and almost reaching into my area despite the very dry air mass.

My hope is that these convective showers will continue into the evening and somehow snow will still manage to occur :)

This is very unlikely as the showers will die with day time heating.

What may be interesting though is along the west coast of Florida, there will be nocturnal showers due to nocturnal instability over water as lows drop into the 30's and 850 mb temps will drop to freezing into Central Florida, therefore any precip could fall as snow, maybe into the nature coast, further south the warmer gulf waters from such a warm winter overall would likely cause any initial snow in the cloud to melt before reaching the ground.


Of course any snow is highly unlikely, but just mentioning that there is an extremely slim outside chance of flurries on the upper west coast of Florida if there is still enough cold air generated instability to create showers as 850 mb temps drop to the freezing point or below.

The problem is, once 850 mb temps get that low, the air will be even that much drier, and surface temps will be much colder as well, therefore instability will be less, thus less lift and a lower chance of any precip. It's worth discussing although controversial :)
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 10450
735. opal92nwf
8:38 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
First comment, new year, new portrait photo! (: I wonder if this hurricane season will be as querky as the past few years? or be more typical with activity focused in the MDR regions (Caribbean, GOMEX, with real Cape Verde Storms). Not that there hasn't been activity in these regions, but there just has been a lack of robust storms it seems. As Levi says, "We shall see what happens!"
Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 15 Comments: 3500
734. PalmBeachWeather
8:34 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Had 3 Bottlenose Dolphin leading the way for a while...I've seen them many times, but what a cool sight they are..
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
733. TropicalAnalystwx13
8:33 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Pouring down rain and gusty here right now. This will turn to ice later when the temperature drops below freezing. Wonder if this will help snow accumulate faster...it's easier to do so on ice than soil.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
732. ncstorm
8:32 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Frank Strait Fan Club
LOL ... nice little bow echo in Union Co, SC with 40 kt wind on radar ... with probably snow. What season is this again? #scwx
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18358
731. PalmBeachWeather
8:31 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting BahaHurican:
What'd u catch?
A few small yellowtail snapper, 2 lane snapper, a very nice triggerfish, and one nice porgy...
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6032
730. wxchaser97
8:28 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
I've got a decent snow band over me with moderate to heavy snow falling. The only problem is, the ground is a little warm causing some of the snow not to stick. I am still hoping for my 1-3" of snow today. Thursday into Friday should be the best chance for snow and Monday into Tuesday the best chance for rain.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 134 Comments: 8005
729. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
8:24 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 200 Comments: 65960
728. aspectre
8:20 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Dancing with Wolves... kinda

Just remember to breathe slowly, lest your bubbles scare off the GreatWhite.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
727. PedleyCA
8:19 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The 12z GFS went insane at the end of its run. Not only does it have a huge snowstorm for much of the East Coast, it has a major tornado outbreak across Florida.


Rut-Roh
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 8459
726. BahaHurican
8:17 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Wow, The wind sure has picked up here in the last half hour...Glad we came in from fishing when we did... We always listen to the radio, it was suggested smaller craft need to head in. But we did catch some fish.
What'd u catch?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 20 Comments: 26811
725. TropicalAnalystwx13
8:13 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
The 12z GFS went insane at the end of its run. Not only does it have a huge snowstorm for much of the East Coast, it has a major tornado outbreak across Florida.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
724. ncstorm
8:11 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Look at the heavy snow bands..as I said below,this is all being reported as snow..

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 18358
723. Bluestorm5
8:07 PM GMT on February 16, 2013
Quoting Chapelhill:
If you look at the KRDU radar, redevelopment is occuring from Danville, Va to Greensboro, NC now. It will be interesting to see where this stalls and pivots later this evening.
I know there's 2nd band forming near Charlotte, I just still don't believe we'll get above 3". I also heard that band is dumping 1" to 2" of snow in many area, though... so I don't know. It's hard to forecast snow amounts here in NC.
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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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