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Veteran’s Day Cold Blast Northern USA (more details on “Haiyan” – remembering the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940)


Canadian Appetizer

Yesterday was another meteorological disconnect, gazing out at a supernaturally-green lawn in need of one last mowing – long shadows cast by a feeble sun barely clearing the treetops. A fleeting ration of blue sky.

And then things get more interesting. ECMWF (European) model data shows rain changing to snow 1 week from today. Some accumulation is possible as the leading edge of an “arctic gusher” sweeps southward. Think of today as a cold weather appetizer. The main course is 7-10 days away.

It’s premature to contemplate snowfall amounts one week from today – although I don’t envision a major dumping you might just want to plant your driveway stakes within the next week or so.

The pattern favors cold east and mild west. Autumn is finally succumbing to winter.

Happy Veterans Day. Go out of your way to thank someone who has served or is serving. We owe these men and women nothing less than our freedom.

Anniversary Of The Armistice Day Blizzard. November 11-12, 1940 brought extreme changes to Minnesota; large temperature contrasts whipping up a sudden (unpredicted) blizzard. Could the same thing happen today, in spite of computer models and Doppler radar? I’d like to think not (if anything it would probably be over-hyped) but this storm was an abject lesson in humility; a lesson we should never forget. Wikipedia has a good overview of this historic storm: “The morning of 11 November 1940 brought with it unseasonably high temperatures. By early afternoon temperatures had warmed in lower to middle 60s °F (18 °C) over most of the affected region. However, as the day wore on conditions quickly deteriorated. Temperatures dropped sharply, winds picked up, and rain, followed by sleet, and then snow began to fall. An intense low pressure system had tracked from the southern plains northeastward into western Wisconsin, pulling Gulf of Mexico moisture up from the south and pulling down a cold arctic air mass from the north. The result was a raging blizzard that would last into the next day. Snowfalls of up to 27 inches (69 cm), winds of 50 to 80 mph (80–130 km/h), 20-foot (6.1 m) snow drifts, and 50-degree Fahrenheit (30 °C) temperature drops were common over parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In Minnesota, 27 inches (69 cm) of snow fell at Collegeville, and the Twin Cities recorded 16 inches (41 cm). Record low pressures were recorded in La Crosse, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota. Transportation and communications were crippled, which exacerbated finding the dead and injured. The Armistice Day Blizzard ranks #2 in Minnesota’s list of top-5 weather events of the 20th century…”

84 Hour Snowfall Forecast. A surge of Canadian air sets off a streak of snow from the Midwest into the Ohio Valley and Virginias by midweek, lake effect snows kicking in downwind of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. 12 km NAM guidance courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Total Snowfall Amounts By Noon Wednesday. Heaviest snows are predicted over the U.P. of Michigan and the snow belts in northern Indiana, some 6″+ amounts over upstate New York and northern New England, as well as the mountaints of Montana. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Philippines Typhoon Haiyan: “It Was Like A Tsunami”. Of course they’re refering to the storm surge, a dome of water preceding the eye of this record storm, possibly 15 feet or more above sea level. Z News has more details; here’s an excerpt: “Tacloban: The fierce storm that ravaged Philippines on Friday inflicted massive destruction and wreaked havoc in the country with many likening it to tsunami as most of the deaths were caused by the towering sea waves. A top UN disaster management official recalled Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 while describing the situation. “The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami”, Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of United Nations disaster assessment team which visited the area on Saturday, said in his report as cited by the New York Times. “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed,” he added.Philippines Interior Secretary Mar Roxas described the situation as “horrific” adn said that the level of destruction called for an overwhelming level of relief and rescue operations…”

Photo credit above: “The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, is seen Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and scores of people dead.” (AP Photo/Toti Navales).

Scale Of Damage Caused By Super Typhoon Emerges. Here’s a video clip and excerpt from ITV News: “…Experienced aid workers are saying they haven’t seen anything like it since the December 2004 Asian Tsunami, and that’s not a comparison you make lightly. The US military is standing by by ready to give assistance. I was speaking to a colonel in the US Marines today. He had been up with the air force, surveying the worst affected areas. The government of the Philippines has now accepted the UN offer of international assistance…”

858 mbData suggests that the central pressure of Super Typhoon Haiyan may have dropped to 858 mb before reaching the Philippines, an unimaginable 25.33″ of mercury.That would make Haiyan the strongest storm ever observed on the face of the Earth. This is satellite-derived and not yet confirmed.

* here’s a good link with photos and video clips showing the aftermath of Haiyan from The Washington Post.

Reuters now estimates the Philippine death toll from Haiyan at “at least 10,000”.

Super Typhoon Haiyan: One Of The Word’s Most Powerful Storms In History From Space. Here’s a reminder of how vitally important weather satellites are across the board, but especially with hurricane tracking and intensity estimates. The USA is the only nation that flies planes (and probes) into hurricanes to get a more accurate 3-D picture of a storm. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has more details at The Capital Weather Gang: “Over the last three days, satellite imagery has provided astonishing views of the storm’s structure. Many meteorologists, myself included, have remarked that they’ve never seen a storm with such an impressive presentation. From its unmistakably clear eye (episodically blurred by small swirls or mesovortices spinning inside it), the towering thunderstorms surrounding it, and its impeccable symmetry – it is a textbook, “perfect” tropical cyclone…” (enhanced IR loop: NOAA).

* more on the Saffir Simpson Scale for rating hurricane intensities, based on wind speed and damage here.

* here’s more information from The Red Cross on how you can help Super Typhoon Haiyan survivors.

Should There Be A Category 6 For Hurricanes? Greg Laden brings up the pros and cons in a post at; here’s a clip: “…There is resistance to this proposal that comes from two mostly distinct places. One is the community of those who deny the science of climate change, or climate change itself, or science itself. Their motivation is to not allow the so called “alarmists” (those who are alarmed at the changes happening on our planet) to have a tool to point out that severe weather can be very severe indeed. The other is the subset of meteorologists who are actually correct, in a way, when they point out that the Saffir Simpson scale, the scale with the five categories, can’t be extended because of the way it is built, but who are very incorrect, I think, when they point out that extending the scale would damage the most important available tool for scaring people into running away (or staying indoors)…”

Scientists Develop A New Way Of Classifying Hurricanes. There are probably more effective ways to communicate the potential damage of a given hurricane, going beyond Saffir Simpson. Here’s an excerpt of a relevant and still-timely May 7, 2013 post fromClimate Central: “…Now, a new study, published in the journal Monthly Weather Review by scientists from Florida State University, proposes a new metric that aims to complement Saffir-Simpson and other recently developed scales by taking into account a storm’s intensity, duration and size. The metric, know as “Track Integrated Kinetic Energy”, or TIKE, builds from an existing measure of storm integrated kinetic energy (IKE), which was developed in 2007…” (Image: NOAA).

After Typhoon, A Look At Powerful U.S. Storms. Here’s a good recap of America’s most extreme hurricanes, courtesy of AP and “A typhoon that slammed the Philippines is among the strongest on record with sustained winds of nearly 150 mph when it made landfall, and the destruction it caused rivals that of some of the most powerful hurricanes to strike the U.S. mainland. A hurricane’s intensity is typically gauged by its barometric pressure. Below are the five most intense hurricanes on record to strike the U.S. mainland, ranked by minimum pressure at landfall, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Forecasters say the accuracy of wind speeds is somewhat uncertain for some historical hurricanes because of limits on technology at the time…”

Photo credit above: “This September 1935 file photo shows the wreckage of an 11-car passenger train that was derailed by a Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys. The Hurricane Center says no wind measurements were available from the core of this small but “vicious” hurricane, which was a Category 5 storm when it reached the Florida Keys. But a pressure measurement taken at Long Key, Fla., makes it the most intense hurricane ever to make landfall on the U.S. mainland. It was blamed for 408 deaths and caused an estimated $6 million (1935 dollars) in damage.” Photo: Uncredited, AP.

Tranquil Year For Tornadoes. 2013 has been the second-quietest year for tornadoes since 1990, according to NOAA SPC. USA Today has a good recap; here’s the introduction: “Hurricanes have been on holiday this year, and so too have their ferocious cousins, tornadoes. The USA is enjoying its second-consecutive below-average tornado season, and one of the calmest years for tornadoes in more than two decades, according to data from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “It’s been a near-record quiet year, especially with respect to strong to violent tornadoes,” said warning coordination meteorologist Greg Carbin of the prediction center…”

Graphic credit above: Storm Prediction Center, Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado; 1 – Numbers are for Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 of each year. 2013 number is preliminary; 2 – NOAA estimated. Janet Loehrke and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY.

China’s Massive Pollution ProblemThe Week has an update; here’s the intro: “How bad is China’s smog? Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China. The air in some cities there is so bad that, at times, visibility drops to 30 feet, traffic slows to a crawl, and nearly everyone wears masks over their noses and mouths. In Harbin, a city of 11 million people, government officials recently shut down roads, schools, and the airport when air pollution levels hit 40 times the safe limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO). During the “airpocalypse” in Beijing earlier this year, the density of small, lung-penetrating particles reached 993 micrograms per cubic meter — a concentration normally not seen outside of forest fires. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers anything above 300 dangerous, and maxes out its scale at 500...”

Photo credit above: “A Chinese man covers his nose and mouth as he walks on the street during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province Monday Oct. 21, 2013. Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in the northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season.” (AP Photo)

Remembering The “White Hurricane” Of Mid-November, 1913. Here’s a great recap of a wild storm that whipped up 90-mph winds and 30-40 foot seas on the Great Lakes in 1913, courtesy of the Detroit office of the National Weather Service: “During the infamous “White Hurricane” of November 1913, intense lake-effect snow occurred downwind of the Great Lakes as cold, arctic air moved over the relatively warm lake water. The wind and snow combined to cause whiteout conditions, paralyzing many cities across the Great Lakes Region. Port Huron, Mich., and Cleveland, Ohio, were two of the hardest-hit cities, experiencing both heavy snowfall and tremendous snow drifts. Cleveland broke its 24-hour snowfall record, with 17.4 inches in one day and a three-day total of 22.2 inches. High winds caused extensive power outages across the Great Lakes, effectively cutting off communication via telephone and telegraph.”

Fear Of The Dark. How real are the risks of a major failure of the power grid? The New York Times takes a look – here’s an excerpt: “…Energy in general is something people like to worry about, said Mr. Apt, and grid failure is the latest target of that anxiety. “It echoes the ‘peak oil’ theme,” he said, referring to the alarmist concern, especially before the advent of fracking, that oil supplies had peaked and were about to shrink, with catastrophic results. The idea of a sustained blackout resonates in the public’s mind, agreed David Ropeik, an expert on risk perception, particularly because it could come from either cyberattack, physical attack by terrorists or even Mother Nature as a side effect of solar flares. “It is one of those low-probability, high-consequence events that every once in awhile scares the bejesus out of us,” he said…”

Climate Stories…

Credit here.

South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising WatersThe New York Timeshas the story – here’s a clip: “…Much of Florida’s 1,197-mile coastline is only a few feet above the current sea level, and billions of dollars’ worth of buildings, roads and other infrastructure lies on highly porous limestone that leaches water like a sponge. But while officials here and in other coastal cities, many of whom attended a two-day conference onclimate change last week in Fort Lauderdale, have begun to address the problem, the issue has gotten little traction among state legislators in Tallahassee. The issue appears to be similarly opaque to segments of the community — business, real estate, tourism — that have a vested interest in protecting South Florida’s bustling economy…”

Super Typhoon Haiyan: A Hint Of What’s To Come? Climate Central meteorologist Andrew Freedman takes a look at how warming oceans may be impacting the intensity of hurricanes and typhoons; here’s a clip: “Super Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most intense tropical cyclones at landfall on record when it struck the Philippines on Nov. 7. Its maximum sustained winds at landfall were pegged at 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph. Some meteorologists even proclaimed it to be the strongest tropical cyclone at landfall in recorded history. Haiyan’s strength and the duration of its Category 5 intensity — the storm remained at peak Category 5 intensity for an incredible 48 straight hours — raises the question of whether manmade global warming tipped the odds in favor of such an extreme storm. After all, the global atmosphere contains 4 percent more water vapor than there was in the 1970s and global air and sea surface temperatures are higher now than they used to be, due in large part to manmade global warming as well as natural climate variability. These changes would, in theory at least, lead to stronger and wetter storms…”

Image credit above: “Graphic showing the total amount of heat energy available for Super Typhoon Haiyan to absorb, not just on the surface, but integrated through the water column. Deeper, warmer pools of water are colored purple, though any region colored from pink to purple has sufficient energy to fuel storm intensification. The dotted line represents the best-track and forecast data as of 16:00 UTC on Nov. 7.” Credit: NOAA.

More information on the image above provided by NOAA:
The intensification of Super Typhoon Haiyan is being fueled by “ideal” environmental conditions – namely low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures. Maximum sustained winds are currently at 195 mph, well above the Category 5 classification used for Atlantic and East Pacific hurricanes. Plotted here is the average Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential product for October 28 – November 3, 2013, taken directly from NOAA View. This dataset, developed byNOAA/AOML, shows the total amount of heat energy available for the storm to absorb, not just on the surface, but integrated through the water column. Deeper, warmer pools of water are colored purple, though any region colored from pink to purple has sufficient energy to fuel storm intensification. The dotted line represents the best-track and forecast data as of 16:00 UTC on November 7, 2013.”



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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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