All Weather News

September 8: Rare Tornado Outbreak Northeast U.S.? and Tracking Leslie

8 Sep 2012, 6:57 am

Only 2 other Day 2 Moderate Risks issued in September over the last 15 years (back to 1998). That makes Friday’s Day 2 Moderate Risk only the 3rd September Day 2 Moderate Risk issued in the past 15 years.

Source: Greg Carbin, NOAA:

September 1, 2002, valid for September 2, 2002
September 21, 2006, valid for September 22, 2006
September 7, 2012, valid for September 8, 2012

September Tornado Outbreak? SPC has issued a “moderate risk” for much of the northeast, including Albany, Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia and Harrisburg. There is a greatly elevated risk of large hail, damaging straight-line winds, even a few long-track, long-lasting violent tornadoes later today. I expect tornado watches (and warnings) to be issued. Map above: SPC and Ham Weather.


4 pm Today. The WRF model shows a squall line developing by late afternoon, sweeping across the northeast, capable of hail, damaging winds, even tornadoes. The same eastbound cool front sparks T-storms from the Carolinas to New Orleans, dry weather persisting west of the Mississippi River.


“Leslie”. Yes, this hurricane is confounding the experts down at NHC. Yesterday it was demoted from a hurricane to a tropical storm. As of late last night it packed 65 mph winds, creeping north at only 3 mph. Models continue to show strengthening, the core of Leslie passing well east of Bermuda, possibly reaching Newfoundland, Canada with 90 mph winds by next Tuesday. Map: Ham Weather.


A Look Back At Hurricane Isaac. Some interesting details from “Hurricane Isaac, the 9th named storm and 4th hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, caused plenty of problems across portions of Hispaniola and the United States during the last week of August. Isaac’s slow movement after making landfall in the U.S. resulted in large flooding across Louisiana and through neighboring states. The slow movement brought upon more tropical moisture to push into the southeast providing flash flooding for parts of Mississippi and Alabama. For some areas, the threat for severe weather and tornadoes were a huge concern.”

Image credit above: “Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi-NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of Hurricane Isaac and the city lights early on August 29, 2012.” Image Credit: NASA.


$3 billion in damage from Hurricane Isaac, with 40 deaths reported. Details below at

13,000 homes damaged or destroyed by Isaac in Louisiana alone. Radar loop above: NOAA,

Second wettest summer on record for the U.K. Only 1912 was wetter.


6 lowest Arctic sea ice levels on record all occurred in the past 6 years. Source: Wall Street Journal.


We Need Ratings For Snowstorms And Heat Waves. I’ve written about this in the past, especially when it comes to snowstorms. A newspaper in Grand Forks gave major winter storms names of famous local hockey players and politicians years ago, but it didn’t last. A rating scale from 1-5, much like tornadoes and hurricanes, might make more sense, and help to set expectations. Isaac was, on paper, a Category 1 hurricane, but the size of the storm and central pressure made it something closer to a Category 2-3 storm, as described in this post at The New York Times; here’s an excerpt: “…For instance, Isaac was rated as a Category 1 storm at its peak intensity, but it was Category 1 only in terms of its maximum wind intensity. Its central pressure, of 964 millibars, would have given it a weak Category 3 rating, and its storm surge qualified it as a Category 2 or 3. Its size, had that been a consideration, would probably have ranked as a 4. So if we had a weighted ranking system, Isaac would have come in as slightly over a 2.5 storm. The billions of dollars of damage caused by Isaac and its impact on the affected region would have justified this higher ranking.”

Earthquake-Resistant Bed Can Withstand 65 Tons Of Falling Debris. Come to think of it, this might not be a bad idea the next time an F-4 tornado catches me snoozing. For your friends in L.A. and the Bay Area? Details from “Following the lead of the Earthquake-proof school desk, Wood Luck is an earthquake resistant bed that can withstand up to 65 short tons (59 metric tonnes) of falling debris. Designed by Shinko Industries, the bed has been built to give users some “good luck” protection during an earthquake. And with the ability to withstand 65 tons of tumbling detritus, it may just become a lifesaving piece of furniture during an emergency situation.”

Favorite recent gadget (“productivity tool”):

Dropcam. If you’re looking for a way to keep an eye on your home or cabin, or dock, or anything, and you have a WIFI signal you can tap into – this is a terrific solution. It sets up in 5 minutes, for PC or Mac, and sends back a live, HD stream accessible on any desktop, tablet or smartphone. Pretty slick. You can even sign up for a DVR service that records video from each webcam, so you can go back and see if the kids were trashing the lakeshore 36 hours ago. It includes audio (I can hear the hawks and crows up at my place north of Brainerd); you can even speak into the system and talk to someone at the other end. 2-way audio? What will they think of next. $149 from And no, I don’t get a commission.

What I’m reading (as if anyone cares):

“Mother of Storms”. A Category 12 hurricane? O.K. This is set in the future (2028), and a sudden and catastrophic release of methane in the Arctic has warmed the oceans to the point where mega-hurricanes now circle the globe. Science fiction? I sure hope so.

Rating Winter Storms?


There was a time when a newspaper in Grand Forks named big winter storms after local hockey players and politicians. Interesting idea.


In recent years NOAA has been testing a 1-5 rating scale for major winter storms, to help set expectations. That may be a better idea. But why stop there? July’s historic heatwave and drought would have been a Category 5.


The truth: no rating scale will cover all the bases and avert weather-related hardship.

Many people underestimated Isaac. “Category 1…how bad can it be?” Plenty bad. According to Christopher Burt at Weather Underground, Isaac’s storm surge, central pressure and diameter was closer to a Category 2-3 hurricane: $3 billion in damage. 40 people lost their lives.

Rating storms and major weather events can help to prepare people, but with weather it pays to be perpetually paranoid. There is still no substitute for common sense, and erring on the side of safety.

An Alberta Clipper whips up PM showers from Duluth to Hayward and Spooner today. Expect a partly sunny sky in Minnesota, with highs in the mid-70s. Sunday looks sunnier with less wind; a few more days above 80 next week.

NOAA has issued an El Nino Watch; a warm phase developing in the Pacific. Will our winter be a Category 1 or a 4?

Stay tuned.



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather





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