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Wild Weekend Weather for Contiguous U.S.

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:51 PM GMT on October 06, 2013

Wild Weekend Weather for Contiguous U.S.

For what may have been the first time in modern records the contiguous U.S. faced a simultaneous threat from a tropical storm, blizzard, tornado outbreak, and extreme wild fire threat this weekend. However, with the dissipation of Tropical Storm Karen, only a 'trifecta' was achieved. On the other hand, record heat occurred in the mid-Atlantic and flooding hit Louisville, Kentucky. Here is a brief roundup of the superlatives.



A map of how the ‘weather-Palooza’ played out across the lower 48 U.S. states. Map courtesy of Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel.

1). Tropical Storm Karen: Karen degenerated into a post-tropical low-pressure system on Sunday ending any serious threat to the Gulf Coast. For more details see Jeff Master’s blog for all the latest news about the storm.

2. Blizzard in the Plains: The winter storm that struck Wyoming, western South Dakota and Nebraska on Friday and Saturday will go down in the record books as one of the, if not the, most extreme such so early in the season on record for any region in the United States. Rapid City, South Dakota measured 23.1” downtown, the city’s 2nd greatest snowstorm on record (for any month), just falling short of a 25.6” snowfall in April, 1927. The Black saw phenomenal totals with 58.0” reported near Beulah and 55.0” in Lead. This would be the heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record for the state of South Dakota (previous record at Lead with 52" reported on March 14, 1973). The blizzard was accompanied by peak wind gusts to 71 mph at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, 70 mph at Harrison, Nebraska, and 69 mph at Kings Canyon, Wyoming. Snowfall in Wyoming up to 36.0” accumulated in the mountains south of Casper. Casper itself picked up 16.3”, its 10th greatest snowstorm on record (for any month and 3rd greatest October total).



A photograph of the blizzard raging in the Rapid City area on Friday. Photographer not identified.

3. Red Flag (Wild Fire) Warnings: A very intense Santa Ana wind event ramped up in Southern California on Saturday. So far, only a few fires have broken out. 1500 acres is burning near Camp Pendleton in the San Diego area causing the evacuation of 260 residents. A fire near Oxnard in Ventura County destroyed 4 buildings and displaced 78 people on Saturday. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph occurred at several locations with a peak gust of 90 mph reported on Laguna Peak at the 1100-foot elevation. Here is a list of the 70-mph+ reports (note that it is a running list, so Laguna Peak is mentioned three times).



In the San Francisco Bay Area high winds up to 60 mph (in the Oakland Hills) caused spotty power outages and minor tree damage. They also fueled several grass fires in the vicinity of Fairfield, the largest of which burned 1000 acres and consumed a farm structure.

4. Tornado and Extreme Storm Outbreak An exceptionally strong tornado outbreak for October occurred on Friday producing 17 (preliminary count) tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. The most intense was an EF-4 monster that struck Wayne, Nebraska on Friday evening. The tornado injured 15 people in the town and destroyed dozens of building along its 19-mile-long path. At one point it reached a width of 1.38 miles. It is only the sixth F-4 of F-5 (or EF-4, EF-5) tornado to occur in the U.S. during October since 1950.



A photograph of the EF-4 tornado as it bears down on Wayne, Nebraska Friday evening. Photo from TornadoTitans storm chaser group.

But wait…there’s more!

Tropical Storm Karen may have dissipated but moisture from the storm system became entrained in a southerly flow in advance of a strong cold front moving through the Midwest resulting in flooding downpours in Louisville on Saturday and Sunday morning. 6.92” of precipitation was measured at Louisville International Airport between noon on Saturday and noon on Sunday. This was the 2nd greatest 24-hour precipitation event in the city’s modern history (records go back to 1872), following a phenomenal 10.48” measured on February 28-March 1, 1997 (which stands as the Kentucky state record).



Rainfall map for western Kentucky depicting the 24-hour totals for the 7 am. To 7 a.m. October 5-6. The figure for noon to noon was 6.92” in Louisville. Map from NWS-Louisville.



Flash flooding in Louisville has prompted some evacuations and caused extensive damage to roads and homes in the area. Boat rescues are underway as I write this (4 p.m. EDT) Sunday). Photo by Scott Utterback, AP.

Temperatures in parts of the mid-Atlantic states broke several daily records on Saturday in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Salisbury, Maryland hit 92° breaking their previous daily record of 88° set in 1959. Dulles Airport outside of Washington D.C. hit a record 90° (tying the same in 1967) and Bluefield, West Virginia reached 84° breaking their previous daily high of 81° set in 2007.

Summary

Although the ‘quadruple whammy’ I blogged about last Friday never came to pass (thanks to the dissipation of TS Karen), this weekend was surely one of the most varied, extreme weather-wise, in the nation’s meteorological history. October is normally considered a relatively ‘quiet’ month of the year by meteorologists (exclusive of tropical storms of course) so this weekend in October is going to be remembered for some time to come.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Underground

Extreme Weather Heat Precipitation Records Blizzard Wind Fire Flood Tornadoes

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

Reader Comments

Some notable October tornado outbreaks -

10/26-27/2010 - 62 tornadoes in 21 hours from 4am on 26th through 1am on 27th.
10/17-18/2007 - 45 tornadoes in ~33 hours.
10/13/2001 - 32 tornadoes (60 in 3-day total; 11 on 11th, 17 on 12th).
10/4/1998 - 29 tornadoes
10/23-26/1997 - 61 tornadoes (22 on 23rd, 8 on 24th, 11 on 25th, 20 on 26th).

_______

Pre-doppler

10/16/1984 - 15 tornadoes
10/13/1981 - 15 tornadoes
10/17/1980 - 16 tornadoes (33 3-day total 15-17)
10/30/1979 - 14 tornadoes
10/28-31/1974 - 38 tornadoes in 4 days (12 on 28th)
10/17/1971 - 21 tornadoes
10/24/1967 - 21 tornadoes
Luckily, Penn St E-wall has re-analysis charts going back to 1979.

Here's the 10/26/2010 event:



Culprit is a 960mb low pressure close to International Falls, MN.


Here's the 10/18/2007 event:



This time it's a ~982mb low over central Minnesota but a similar set-up.

Here's the 10/13/2001 event:



Quite a bit different with a full-latitude trough and several weaker areas of low pressure stretched out along the cold front.
Wasn't that the same storm that set the record low pressure in Minnesota? In Oct 2010?
Quoting 3. BaltimoreBrian:
Wasn't that the same storm that set the record low pressure in Minnesota? In Oct 2010?


"The cyclone's lowest minimum pressure of 953 mbar (28.11") made it the most intense extratropical cyclone ever recorded in the continental United States, surpassing the lowest US pressure of 958 mbar from the Great Ohio Blizzard of 1978."

I love Wiki
If it was set in October 2010, it's probably the same storm.

Here's the satellite loop of that one:

But I remember
before there was wiki and
my brain is stronger
Quoting 2. sullivanweather:
Luckily, Penn St E-wall has re-analysis charts going back to 1979.

Here's the 10/26/2010 event:



Culprit is a 960mb low pressure close to International Falls, MN.


Here's the 10/18/2007 event:



This time it's a ~982mb low over central Minnesota but a similar set-up.

Here's the 10/13/2001 event:



Quite a bit different with a full-latitude trough and several weaker areas of low pressure stretched out along the cold front.


The BIG difference is that this storm has occurred in the FIRST week October not the last week. October is a transition month, so many historic extra-tropical storms have occurred in the last half of October, but few in the first half, let alone the first week.
Chris,

The only suitable comparison I find in recent times is the 10/4-5/1998 storm.

First week of October.
Large tornado outbreak ahead of the storm
Big snowfall and blizzard conditions on the cold side of the low. The main difference was the area of snowfall was a bit more confined and elevated due to warmer temperatures but snowfall totals were impressive, including 33.4" recorded at Lead, SD.

10/4/1998 storm:

There's also this:

October 4-5, 1995:



What's here is another big storm over the Black Hills - 16.9" of snowfall from this one @Lead, SD - and Hurricane Opal about to make landfall.
Quoting 9. sullivanweather:
There's also this:

October 4-5, 1995:



What's here is another big storm over the Black Hills - 16.9" of snowfall from this one @Lead, SD - and Hurricane Opal about to make landfall.


Excellent sullivanweather! Thanks for this. Both events very similar to what occurred this weekend although not as extreme as this past weekend in both cases (1995 and 1998) so far as all the various weather extremes observed (aside from Opal which was a significant hurricane). An earlier comment (on my Friday blog) mentioned 1906 as perhaps being the closest parallel to this weekend but more difficult to research.
Quoting 10. weatherhistorian:


Excellent sullivanweather! Thanks for this. Both events very similar to what occurred this weekend although not as extreme as this past weekend in both cases (1995 and 1998) so far as all the various weather extremes observed (aside from Opal which was a significant hurricane). An earlier comment (on my Friday blog) mentioned 1906 as perhaps being the closest parallel to this weekend but more difficult to research.


The combination of warm sector severe weather and cold sector blizzard from the Cold Conveyer Belt is so common as to be general. Having a TC 4000km away is a matter of chance. The big anticyclone behind an eastern Great Plains cyclone will tend to create Santa Ana conditions. Intensity of 1,2, and 4 may not be matched in the recent searchable records however justifying this post and the comments.

Lead SD just keeps coming up on the list of winners for big dumps esp in early Summer and early Fall. It would be interesting to try to grow a garden there dealing with dessicating downsloping summer winds, chinooks, arctic outbreaks and big snow dumps.
Chris,

That was also me who made the 1906 reference. With the NCDC site down for the time being looking up station data and other things that might help in this research isn't really possible.

In terms of the Black Hills this is likely the largest October snowstorm on record. Of course, with any snowstorm in an area of terrain, depending on which way the wind was blowing determined which locales received the most snow. There's places which only got 4-5" of snow in this 2013 event which got over a foot in other events. But the places where this event was the largest on record (which numbers roughly half of the reporting stations) it is by far the largest storm on record, totaling the most snowfall of all stations.

Here's one example:

OELRICHS (396212)
Extremes
Highest Daily Snowfall (inches)
Days: 10/1 - 10/31
Length of period: 1 day
Years: 1893-2013

Rank Value Ending Date
1 28.0 10/5/2013
2 13.0 10/20/1919
3 12.0 10/28/1991
4 8.1 10/7/1970
5 8.0 10/29/1923
6 7.5 10/23/1925
7 6.0 10/18/1932, 10/30/1912, 10/26/1911
10 5.0 10/31/1995

Here's a 121-year period of record and this storm's total at this station is double the previous record and the 28" which fell is one of the largest totals of all reporting stations.


HOT SPRINGS (394007)
Extremes
Highest Daily Snowfall (inches)
Days: 10/1 - 10/31
Length of period: 1 day
Years: 1894-2013

Rank Value Ending Date
1 13.0 10/19/1919
2 8.0 10/8/1993, 10/7/1970
4 7.0 10/25/1954, 10/8/1932
6 6.0 10/30/1972, 10/28/1971
8 4.5 10/5/2013, 10/30/1912
10 4.0 10/29/2009

Here at this station the 2013 event doesn't look as impressive.
There is a tendancy for heaviest snow dumps to be at the beginning and end of the season esp. in the North. Even the Washingon DC area had its fifth (to that time) largest dump Nov 11, 1987 in the southern and eastern suburbs which got a very intense band and up to 18" of snow in about nine hours. I was luckless enough to be caught in it communting to the northern suburbs from my southern suburb home so it took five hours to get home, the last 20 minutes on foot when I finally got hopelessly buried in a snowdrift.
Rapid City updated their snowfall totals from the blizzard. As expected, higher totals came in from areas out-of-power. Notice how the last report from Lead, SD was @730pm and it continued to snow overnight there. Well, the final results are in.

THE STORM REPORTS LISTED BELOW ARE IN DESCENDING ORDER AND MAY NOT
NECESSARILY BE THE FINAL STORM REPORTS.


SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT

INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
58.00 3 SE BEULAH SD LAWRENCE 1200 AM
6.78 INCHES LIQUID
55.00 LEAD SD LAWRENCE 0600 AM
48.00 2 WSW DEADWOOD SD LAWRENCE 0834 AM
36.00 8 WNW USTA SD PERKINS 0600 AM
35.00 2 E DOWNTOWN STURGIS SD MEADE 0600 PM
35.00 1 NNW PIEDMONT SD MEADE 0930 AM
34.00 2 NNW SAINT ONGE SD LAWRENCE 0315 PM
SNOW BEGAN 0200MDT FRI. SNOW ENDED 0530 MDT
SAT. 6-7 FT DRIFTS. MAJOR TREE AND LIMB
DAMAGE. MAX WINDS ESTMIATED 50-60 MPH.
VISIBILITIES DOWN TO 200FT.
32.00 HILL CITY SD PENNINGTON 0700 AM
31.00 1 SW DOWNTOWN RAPID CIT SD PENNINGTON 0659 AM
31.00 1 WNW DOWNTOWN SPEARFIS SD LAWRENCE 0300 AM
30.00 5 E PORCUPINE SD SHANNON 1058 AM
29.00 5 W HERMOSA SD CUSTER 0917 AM
MANY TREES DOWN, DRIFTS 3-4 FEET
28.00 OELRICHS SD FALL RIVER 0700 AM
26.00 DOWNTOWN SPEARFISH SD LAWRENCE 0815 PM
24.00 2 ESE HAYWARD SD CUSTER 0858 AM
LESS THAN 1/4 MI VISIBILITY OVERNIGHT
24.00 SUNDANCE WY CROOK 0855 PM
STILL SNOWING. MUCH TREE AND LIMB DAMAGE.
23.10 1 E DOWNTOWN RAPID CITY SD PENNINGTON 1200 PM
22.00 2 SSE DOWNTOWN RAPID CI SD PENNINGTON 1200 PM
22.00 5 W DOWNTOWN SPEARFISH SD LAWRENCE 0620 PM
20.00 4 SE KEYSTONE SD CUSTER 0855 AM
20.00 4 N HULETT WY CROOK 0825 AM
DRIFTS 3-4 FEET
18.00 1 SSW DOWNTOWN CUSTER SD CUSTER 0600 AM
1.53 INCHES LIQUID
18.00 RED OWL SD MEADE 0814 AM
16.00 4 SE FOLSOM SD CUSTER 1230 PM
LESS THAN 1/4 MI VISIBILITY MOST OF THE NIGHT
16.00 HULETT WY CROOK 0800 AM
3.07 INCHES LIQUID
15.20 OGLALA SD SHANNON 0800 AM
15.00 WRIGHT WY CAMPBELL 0649 AM
15.00 DOWNTOWN GILLETTE WY CAMPBELL 0715 PM
13.00 LEMMON SD PERKINS 0500 PM
1.30 INCHES LIQUID
12.00 4 ESE FAITH SD ZIEBACH 0855 PM
1.90 INCHES LIQUID
12.00 12 W PHILIP SD HAAKON 1015 AM
ABOUT 12 INCHES SNOW. VISIBIILITY .12 MI.
HUGE DRIFTS
12.00 DUPREE SD ZIEBACH 0800 AM
3.17 INCHES LIQUID
12.00 4 ESE FAITH SD ZIEBACH 0738 AM
100-FT VISIBILITY SINCE 5PM ON 10/4
10.00 HARDING SD HARDING 0800 AM
10.00 BUFFALO SD HARDING 0653 AM
9.00 9 SSE DOWNTOWN GILLETTE WY CAMPBELL 0645 AM
ESTIMATED 8-10 INCHES
8.00 MARTIN SD BENNETT 0100 PM
8.00 2 E KYLE SD SHANNON 0700 AM
1.19 INCHES LIQUID
8.00 EDGEMONT SD FALL RIVER 0700 AM
6.00 DOWNTOWN HOT SPRINGS SD FALL RIVER 0808 AM
6.00 DOWNTOWN NEWCASTLE WY WESTON 0740 PM


WIND GUST REPORTS LISTED BY SPEED (MPH)

SPEED LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
71.00 ELLSWORTH AFB SD MEADE 0639 PM
70.00 8 SE BISON SD PERKINS 0230 AM
70.00 8 WNW USTA SD PERKINS 0605 PM
68.00 ELLSWORTH AFB SD MEADE 0519 PM
67.00 1 E DOWNTOWN RAPID CITY SD PENNINGTON 1150 PM
64.00 1 E DOWNTOWN RAPID CITY SD PENNINGTON 1049 PM
64.00 2 SW BRIDGER SD ZIEBACH 0140 PM
60.00 4 N HULETT WY CROOK 0825 AM
DRIFTS 3-4 FEET
59.00 3 WNW WASTA SD PENNINGTON 0811 PM
59.00 8 S WALL SD PENNINGTON 0120 PM
59.00 1 W WIND CAVE VISITORS SD CUSTER 0919 AM
55.00 1 SW DOWNTOWN RAPID CIT SD PENNINGTON 0305 PM
54.00 8 S WALL SD PENNINGTON 0750 AM
Seasonably hot in the DC area the weekend of 10/5-10/6. Near 90 in early October is unusual but not unprecedented. Columbus day weekend 2007 in Ocean City was a little warmer, 90 Sunday and Monday and with us at the beach.. sometimes we just win one!

October 1941 had the hottest October week, first week averaged over 80F and the month was the warmest October of record.

Until October 2007 which broke that record.

I keep posting that there have been a lot of heat records in DC recently

October 2007, warmest October
June 2010, hottest June, First ever over 80F average
July 2010 tied for hottest month ever with July 1993
JJA 2010 hottest summer ever in DC
July 2011 hottest month ever. SMASHED old record by 1.4F.
March 2012 Warmest March ever.
MAM (spring) 2012 Warmest Spring season ever.
Summers 2010,2011,2012, all three were grossly hot outliers compared with the previous 145 of record. Summer 2013 was still warmer than normal but much more typical of 20'th century summers here.

No cold records of note in this period although the winter of 2009-2010 was the snowiest of record with three separate huge dumps and 41" of snow at my home in an 11 day period. Many locations got much more.
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