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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : California’s Sierra Snowpack Only 12% of Average, a Record Low | Weather Underground

I know it is fashionable in the new age and a lit if the blogosphere to pretend global climate change is a plot, or simply natural variations etc but I have not yet seen even one discussion of this with a tiny little but if valid, logical scientific support or references.

I’m an empirical girl- I don’t believe anything because an authority said so. I test it, I check references, I look at the data.

In 1985 I thought global warming was a silly distraction from toxics and radiation pollution. I didn’t understand why I should care. In college I was exposed to more of the science involved and set out to understand it better.

Yes it is partly natural variations but what science means by “forcing” is that substances we release ( primarily carbon but also methane and others) push that variation to go further faster than it would normally.

Heat per se is not the problem. Its the effects of that increase in heat on systems we depend on to be stable for our survival.

If you’ve ever seen water boil you can understand the instability that added heat csn bring to a system.

I highly recommend the book “Cadillac Desert” for a better understanding of the hydrology and human carrying capacity of the American west.

Be forewarned tho-you will be angry when you read it and you will distrust government management of resources as much as you probably already distrust corporations management of same.

And you might start wanting to dismantle dams. But the information in that book shatters the illusions so many of us have had about society, humanity and our dependence on nature.

Denial doesn’t solve anything. If you disagree with a proposed solution to a problem that doesn’t make the problem unreal.

Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:32 PM GMT on January 31, 2014 +37

California’s first significant snow storm of 2014 hit the Sierras on Wednesday and Thursday, dumping up to 2 feet of snow, with a melted water equivalent of up to two inches. However, this modest snowstorm was not enough to keep the Sierra snowpack from recording its lowest snow amounts in more than 50 years of record keeping during Thursday’s Sierra Snow Survey. The survey found a snow pack that was only 12% of normal for this time of year. Until Thursday, the lowest statewide snowpack measurement at this time of year was 21% of average, in 1991 and 1963, according to the Los Angeles Times. Since snowpack in the Sierras forms a crucial source of water for California, the dismal snow survey results are a huge concern.

Figure 1. Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey Program for the Department of Water Resources, walks leaves a snow covered meadow after the second snow survey of the year near Echo Summit, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Despite the overnight snow storm the survey showed the snow depth at 12.4 inches with a water content of only 1.4 inches for this location at this time of the year. Gehrke said that while the recent snow fall will help, it is not enough to impact the water supply.(AP Photo)

The forecast: little drought relief in sight
One of the most persistent and intense ridges of high pressure ever recorded in North America has been anchored over the West Coast since December 2012. While the ridge has occasionally broken down and allowed low pressure systems to leak though, these storms have mostly brought spotty and meager precipitation to California, resulting in California’s driest year on record during 2013. January 2014 could well be its driest January on record. The ridge inevitably builds back after each storm, clamping down on any moisture reaching the state. Since rain-bearing low pressure systems tend to travel along the axis of the jet stream, these storms are being carried along the axis of the ridge, well to the north of California and into Southeast Alaska, leaving California exceptionally dry. The latest runs of the GFS and European models show that the ridge is now building back, and it appears likely that California will see no significant precipitation until at least February 7. A weak upper level low will move along the coast on Sunday and spread some light rain along the immediate coast, but this precipitation will generally be less than 0.25″–too little to have any significant impact on the drought. The ridge will not be as intense when it builds back, though, which gives me some hope that a low pressure system will be able to break the ridge by mid-February and bring the most significant rains of the winter rainy season to California.

Figure 2. One of the key water supply reservoirs for Central California, Lake Oroville, as seen on January 20, 2014. Image credit: California Department of Water Resources.

Worst California drought in 500 years?
UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram, author of “The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow”, said in an interview, “this could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years.” Her research on tree rings shows that California has not experienced such an extreme drought since 1580. “If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.” It’s no wonder, then, that the overall agricultural impact of the drought could reach $1 billion this year, according to the Fresno-based Westlands Water District.

California’s drought woes are part of an on-going 14-year Western U.S. drought that began in 2000, and peaked between 2000 – 2004. A 2012 study titled,Reduction in carbon uptake during turn of the century drought in western North America, found that the 2000 – 2004 drought was the most severe Western North America event of its kind since the last mega drought over 800 years ago, during the years 1146 – 1151. The paper analyzed the latest generation of climate models used for the 2013 IPCC report, which project that the weather conditions that spawned the 2000 – 2004 drought will be the new normal in the Western U.S. by 2030, and will be considered extremely wet by the year 2100. If these dire predictions of a coming “megadrought” are anywhere close to correct, it will be extremely challenging for the Southwest U.S. to support a growing population in the coming decades.

Megadroughts in the Western U.S. can develop from natural causes, as well, and the current pattern of cooler than average ocean temperatures in the Eastern Pacific and warmer than average ocean temperatures in the Atlantic increase the odds of drought conditions like the ones we have seen during the current megadrought. Edward Cook, director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., said at a presentation last month at the American Geophysical Union meeting that tree ring data show that the area of the West that was affected by severe drought in the Medieval period was much higher and much longer than the current drought. It is “indeed pretty scary,” Cook said. “One lasted 29 years. One lasted 28 years. They span the entire continental United States.” Two megadroughts in the Sierra Nevada of California lasted between 100 and 200 years. Bobby Magill at Climate Center has more on Dr. Cook’s presentation in a post, Is the West’s Dry Spell Really a Megadrought?

Figure 3. Normalized precipitation over Western North America (five-year mean) from 22 climate models used to formulate the 2013 IPCC report, as summarized by Schwalm et al., 2012, Reduction in carbon uptake during turn of the century drought in western North America. The horizontal line marks the precipitation level of the 2000 – 2004 drought, the worst of the past 800 years. Droughts of this intensity are predicted to be the new normal by 2030, and will be considered an outlier of extreme wetness by 2100. The paper states: “This impending drydown of western North America is consistent with present trends in snowpack decline as well as expected in-creases in aridity and extreme climate events,including drought, and is driven by anthropogenically forced increases in temperature with coincident increases in evapotranspiration and decreases in soil moisture. Although regional precipitation patterns are difficult to forecast, climate models tend to underestimate the extent and severity of drought relative to available observations. As such, actual reductions in precipitation may be greater than shown. Forecasted precipitation patterns are consistent with a probable twenty-first century megadrought.” Image credit: Schwalm et al., 2012, Reduction in carbon uptake during turn of the century drought in western North America,Nature Geoscience 5, 551-555, Published online 29 JULY 2012, DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1529, http://www.nature.com/naturegeoscience.

Related posts
Unprecedented Cut in Colorado River Flow Ordered, Due to Drought, my August 2013 post.

Lessons from 2012: Droughts, not Hurricanes, are the Greater Danger, my November 2012 post.

How Two Reservoirs Have Become Billboards For What Climate Change Is Doing To The American West, August 12, 2013 climateprogress.org post by Tom Kenworthy.

Scientists Predicted A Decade Ago Arctic Ice Loss Would Worsen Western Droughts. Is That Happening Already?, June 2013 post by Joe Romm at climateprogress.org.

Twenty Cities At Risk of Water Shortages, August 14, 2013 wunderground news post by Nick Wiltgen

‪If There’s Global Warming…Why Is It So Cold?‬
It’s been top-ten coldest January on record in the Upper Midwest, and much colder than average over much of the Eastern U.S. However, the that isn’t the case over other portions of the globe, including the Western U.S. and Alaska. Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt analyzes the situation in his latest post, How Cold has this January been in the U.S.? He concludes, “this January’s average temperature nationally has probably been close to normal since the western half of the nation has been almost as much above average as the eastern half was below average. The only region that will most likely have experienced a TOP 10 coldest January will be the Upper Midwest.” In the U.S., only four stations set all-time low minimum temperature records in January, compared to 34 that set all-time high maximum temperature records. I’ve been monitoring global temperatures this month, and it appears likely that January will rank between the 5th and 15th warmest January since record keeping began in 1880. Of particular note were the amazingly warm January temperatures in the Balkans. According to weather record researcher Maximiliano Herrera, “over 90% of all stations in the Balkans from Slovenia to Croatia to Bosnia to Serbia To Montenegro to Kosovo etc., have DESTROYED their previous record of warmest January ever (many locations have 100 – 200 years of data.) In many cases the monthly temperatures were 7 – 9°C (13 – 16°F) above average, and the new records were 3 – 4°C above the previous record. This is for THOUSANDS of stations, almost all of them. In Slovenia, for example, Mount Kredarica is the only station in the whole country not to have set its warmest January on record.”

Video 1. ‪If There’s Global Warming … Why Is It So Cold?‬ The latest video from climate videographer Peter Sinclair on the Yale Climate Forum website demonstrates that while it was a very cold January in the Midwest, this has been counterbalanced by record warmth over the Western U.S. and Alaska, caused by an unusually extreme kink in the jet stream.

Another Unexpected Disaster That Was Well Forecast. Based in Atlanta, TWC’s Bryan Norcross concludes that “WARM GROUND + VERY COLD AIR + SNOW + WORKDAY = CHAOS. If the decision-makers understood the formula above, this information should have been sufficient to trigger a proper response.”

Jon Stewart Lays Into Georgia’s Snowpocalypse

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

Crystallized Beauty

Ice in the swamp


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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Earth’s Record 41 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013 | Weather Underground

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog


Earth’s Record 41 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:00 PM GMT on January 17, 2014 +45

Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued this week. Despite the record number of billion-dollar disasters, weather-related natural disaster losses (excluding earthquakes) were only slightly above average in 2013, and well below what occurred in 2012. That’s because 2013 lacked a U.S. mega-disaster like Hurricane Sandy ($65 billion in damage) or the 2012 drought ($30 billion in damage.) The most expensive global disaster of 2013 was the June flood in Central Europe, which cost $22 billion. The deadliest disaster was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed about 8,000 people in the Philippines. Four countries set records for most expensive weather-related disaster in their history, as tabulated by EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, and adjusted for inflation:

Germany, June flooding, $16 billion. Tied with $16 billion in damage from the August 2002 Elbe River floods.
Philippines, Super Typhoon Haiyan, $13 billion. Previous record: $2.2 billion, August 2013 floods near Manila.
New Zealand, Jan – May Drought, $1.6 billion. Previous record: $0.3 billion, January 2001 heat wave.
Cambodia, Oct – Nov floods, $1 billion. Previous record: $0.5 billion, August 2011 flood.


U.S. sees nine billion-dollar weather disasters
In the U.S., there were nine billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013, which was one below the ten-year average of ten, according to Aon Benfield. NOAA’sNational Climatic Data Center gave a lower number of U.S. billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013: seven, compared to their average of six billion dollar weather disasters per year over the previous ten years. The seven billion-dollar weather disasters of 2013 marked the 5th highest total of these disasters since 1980. NCDC consistently rates fewer disasters than Aon Benfield as billion-dollar disasters. Billion-dollar events account for roughly 80% of the total U.S. losses for all weather-related disasters.


Forty-one billion dollar weather disasters is a huge number of these highly disruptive events to experience in one year. This is especially so given that 2013 was a neutral El Niño year, and the previous record of 40 billion-dollar weather disasters was set in 2010, when we had both a strong El Niño and a strong La Niña event in the same year. Strong El Niño or La Niña events tend to cause an increase in weather extremes capable of causing major disasters, so seeing 41 disasters in a neutral El Niño year gives me concern that climate change could have been responsible for a portion of this huge tally. However, looking at disaster losses to make an argument that climate change is affecting our weather is a difficult proposition. The increasing trend in weather disaster losses is thought to be primarily due to increases in wealth and population, and to people moving to more vulnerable areas–though the studies attempting to correct damage losses for these factors are highly uncertain. To find evidence of climate change, we are better off looking at how the atmosphere, oceans, and glaciers are changing–and there is plenty of evidence there. I discuss this topic in more detail in a 2012 post, Damage Losses and Climate Change.


Multi-month drought disasters of 2013
Drought Disaster 1. Drought in Central and Eastern China during the first eight months of 2013 caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, making it the 6th most costly weather-related disaster in Chinese history. Here, we see villagers digging deeper for water at a dried-up well at Dabu village on August 13, 2013 in Loudi, China. Drought dried up most rivers and reservoirs in Hunan province, leaving over 3 million people short of drinking water. Image credit: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Drought Disaster 2. Drought in Northeast Brazil during the first five months of 2013 caused an estimated $8 billion in damage, making it Brazil’s second most expensive natural disaster in history, behind the $8.2 billion inflation-adjusted cost of the 1978 drought. Here, we see farmers from the Brazilian northeast carrying out a demonstration, holding cattle skulls in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on December 4, 2012. The protesters demand the cancellation of their debts and help from the government to alleviate the effects of the drought. Image credit: Pedro Ladeira/AFP/Getty Images.

Drought Disaster 3. The record U.S. drought of 2012 continued into 2013, bringing record low water levels to the Mississippi River that restricted navigation. Although the drought was less severe than in 2012, it still caused $3.5 billion in damage. This Nov. 28, 2012 photo provided by The United States Coast Guard shows a WWII minesweeper on the Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri. The minesweeper, once moored along the Mississippi River as a museum at St. Louis before it was torn away by floodwaters in 1993, is normally completely under water. However, it has become visible–rusted but intact–due to near-record low river levels on the Mississippi in early 2013. (AP Photo/United States Coast Guard, Colby Buchanan.)

Drought Disaster 4. Drought in New Zealand during the first five months of 2013 cost $1.6 billion, and was that nation’s most expensive weather-related disaster in history. Image credit: Federated Farmers of New Zealand, via Daniel Corbett of the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited.

Disaster 1. A woman talks on her mobile as she travels on a flooded road using an improvised raft in Jakarta on January 23, 2013. Widespread flooding hit Jakarta, Indonesia between January 20 – 27, killing 41 and causing $3.31 billion in damage. This was the 3rd costliest natural disaster in Indonesian history. Image credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images

Disaster 2. Widespread flooding, due, in part, to Tropical Cyclone Oswald, hit Queensland, Australia between January 21 – 30, killing six and causing $2.5 billion in damage. The city of Bundaberg had its worst flood disaster in history. Image credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

Disaster 1. Mourning doves endure blowing snow on February 24, 2013 during Winter Storm Rocky in Manhattan, Kansas. Rocky killed three and did $1 billion in damage. Image credit: wunderphotographer tomcat.

Disaster 1. Hail up to the size of tennis balls fell on McComb, Mississippi, as documented by wunderphotographer sirencall on March 18, 2013. The hailstorm was part of a severe weather outbreak that cost $2 billion and killed two people.

Disaster 2. Late-season winter weather affected much of Europe throughout the month of March, bringing an extended period of heavy snowfall, sub-freezing temperatures, high winds, ice and flooding. At least 30 fatalities were reported, and damage was estimated at $1.8 billion. Among the hardest-hit areas were northern France, Germany and Ukraine. In this photo taken by wunderphotographer tonylathes on March 24, 2013, we see one of March’s heavy snowstorms that affected Wardlow Village in Derbyshire, United Kingdom. March 2013 was the 2nd coldest March in the U.K. since 1910, exceeded only by March 1962.

Disaster 1. A large storm system brought hurricane-force wind gusts across parts of California and the rest of the West on April 7 – 8, and spawned heavy snowfall in the Rockies and the High Plains. The storm brought severe thunderstorms, hail, high winds, and tornadoes across the Plains, Midwest and Southeast through April 11, with at least 23 tornado touchdowns, including an EF-3 twister with 145 mph (230 kph) winds in eastern Mississippi. Total damage was estimated at $1.75 billion, and three people were killed. In this image, we see damage from a tornado in Shuqualak, Mississippi, taken by wunderphotographerrichardlove310.

Disaster 2. Severe flooding in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April, 3, 2013 submerged half the city in waters up to 2 meters (6.6′) deep. The flooding killed 86 and did $1.3 billion in damage. The 400 millimeters (15.74 inches) of rain that fell in just two hours in the La Plata region was more than the city had ever recorded during an entire month of April. Image credit: focolare.org.

Disaster 1. Flipped vehicles are piled up outside the heavily damaged Moore Medical Center in Moore, Oklahoma, after an EF-5 tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013. A Midwest tornado outbreak on May 18 – May 22 killed 29 people and cost $3.75 billion, making it the most costly weather-related disaster in the U.S. during 2013. Image credit: Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Disaster 2. The Weather Channel’s Mike ‪Bettes‬ and crew caught this image of the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado–the largest tornado ever recorded, with a diameter of 2.6 miles–before the tornado caught them and rolled their vehicle on May 31, 2013. The tornado, rated an EF-5 based on mobile Doppler wind data, but an EF-3 based on the damage it caused, killed tornado scientists/storm chasers Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young. The May 26 – June 2 tornado outbreak that the El Reno tornado was a part of killed 27 and did $2.25 billion in damage.

Disaster 1. Aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany on Friday, June 7, 2013. A historic $22 billion dollar flood disaster killed 25 people in Central Europe after flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia in late May and early June. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. This was Earth’s most expensive weather disaster of 2013. AP Photo/Armin Wegel.

Disaster 2. The closed Trans-Canada Highway in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, along Cougar Creek on Friday June 21, 2013. Torrential rains between June 19 – 24 triggered flooding that cost $5.3 billion and killed four people in Alberta. It was the third most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history, behind the 1977 drought (inflation-adjusted $11.6 billion) and the January 1989 wildfires ($7.9 billion.) Image credit: The Canadian Press.

Disaster 3. Torrential monsoon rains triggered deadly flash floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan Uttarakhand region on June 17. The damage was $1.91 billion and 6748 people died, making the flood Earth’s second deadliest weather-related disaster of 2013, behind Super Typhoon Haiyan. In this image, we see the Kedarnath Temple (center, foreground) after a landslide ripped through on June 18. Image credit: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 4. A man looks at cars on a mud-covered street on June 20, 2013 in Bareges, southwestern France, two days after unseasonal storms caused havoc across huge swaths of the country. Severe thunderstorms spawned tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flash flooding across France and northern Spain on June 18 – 19, killing three and doing $1.25 billion in damage. Image credit: LAURENT DARD/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 1. Heavy flood waters sweep through Beichuan in southwest China’s Sichuan province on July 9, 2013. Rainfall amounts as high as 1,150 millimeters (45.3 inches) of rain fell in the Dujiangyan region, triggering Sichuan Province’s worst floods in at least 50 years. Flooding in China from July 7 – 17, 2013 cost at least $4.5 billion and killed 125 people. Image credit: AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 2. Two men remove the debris after a tree fell on a car on July 29, 2013 in Nice, French Riviera, following violent storms overnight in southern France. Severe thunderstorms affected northern Germany and France July 27 – 28, spawning up to tennis ball-sized hail and causing damages of $4.25 billion. Image credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 3. Cars stranded on the DVP, one of Toronto’s busiest highways, on Monday, July 8, 2013. Flooding in Toronto and vicinity from torrential rains on July 8 cost $1.65 billion. Photo posted to Twitter by Michelle Shephard@shephardm.

Disaster 4. Excessive rainfall brought renewed flooding across China between July 21 – 25, killing at least 36 people and causing $1.4 billion in damage. The rains were most significant in Shaanxi Province, from overflowing rivers and landslides. In this picture from July 23, 2013, people watch on the edge of the Xiaolangdi Reservoir in central China’s Henan Province Yellow River floodwaters are released. Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 5. Rescuers evacuate residents from flood-hit areas on July 2, 2013 in Chongqing, China. Multiple days of torrential rainfall swept across parts of southwestern, central, eastern, and northern China between June 29 and July 3, killing 55 people and causing $1.4 billion in damage. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), a combined 125,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and more than 150,000 hectares (370,650 acres) of cropland were submerged. Image credit: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Disaster 1. Northeast China saw record flooding in August which killed 118 people and cost $5 billion. In this photo, workers use an excavator to clean up mud after heavy rain hit on August 19, 2013 in Fushuan, in the Liaoning Province of China. The Nei River overflowed, killing 54 and leaving 97 missing in Fushuan. Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images.

Disaster 2. Typhoon Utor approaches the Philippines in this 375 meter-resolution IR image taken by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi satellite at 04:34 UTC August 11, 2013. At the time, Utor was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Utor killed 86 people in China and did $2.6 billion in damage, and also did $33 million in damage in the Philippines. Image credit: Dan Lindsey, NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research, Fort Collins.

Disaster 3. Torrential rains, due, in part, to moisture from Typhoon Trami, fell in the Philippines August 18 – 21, causing massive flooding on Luzon Island that cost $2.2 billion. Twenty-seven people were killed, and 60% of metro Manila was under water at the peak of the flood. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this was the most expensive natural disaster in Philippine history (until exceeded by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November.) In this photo, pedicabs and makeshift rafts ferry office workers and pedestrians through flood waters that submerged parts of the financial district of Makati on August 20, 2013 in Makati City south of Manila, Philippines. Image credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

Disaster 4. In Pakistan, torrential monsoon rains caused significant flooding that affected 5,739 villages. At least 234 people were killed, 63,180 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of crops were submerged. Damage was estimated at $2 billion, and was Pakistan’s 4th costliest weather-related disaster in history. Pakistan’s four most expensiveweather-related disasters in its history have been floods that occurred in the past four consecutive years. In this photo, Pakistani residents hold onto a rope as they evacuate a flooded area in Karachi on August 4, 2013. Image credit: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 5. A severe weather outbreak in the U.S. Plains and Midwest August 5 – 7 brought baseball sized hail and thunderstorm wind gusts over 80 mph to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Two people were killed, and damage was estimated at $1.25 billion. In this photo, a severe thunderstorm closes in on Edgemont, South Dakota, on August 7. Image credit: wunderphotographer ninjalynn.

Disaster 6. Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects a flooded area from a helicopter flying over Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region, on August 29, 2013. Russia experienced its costliest flood disaster in history beginning on August 4, when the Amur and Zeya rivers along the Chinese border overflowed, flooding 1.7 million acres, damaging or destroying over 11,500 buildings. The $1 billion in damage made it the 4th most expensive natural disaster of any kind in Russian history. Image credit: ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 1. Hurricane Manuel made two landfalls along Mexico’s Pacific coast, generating flooding that caused $4.2 billion in damage and left 169 people dead or missing. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this was the second most expensive weather-related disaster in Mexican history, behind the $6 billion in damage (2013 dollars) wrought by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. In this aerial view, we see the landslide triggered by Hurricane Manuel’s rains that killed 43 people in La Pintada, México, on September 19, 2013. Image credit: http://www.novedadesacapulco.mx/.

Disaster 2. Super Typhoon Usagi made landfall near Shanwei, China on September 22, 2013 as a Category 2 typhoon with 110 mph winds, after skirting the Philippines and Tawian. The storm killed at least 47 people and did $3.8 billion in damage. Property damage was widespread in five Chinese provinces as Usagi damaged at least 101,200 homes. This radar image of Usagi shows that the typhoon had multiple concentric eyewalls as it approached landfall. Image credit: weather.com.cn.

Disaster 3. Record rainfall of 8 – 15″ triggered historic flash flooding across in Colorado September 11 – 12, 2013, killing at least nine people and doing $2 billion in damage. The most significant damage occurred in Boulder, Larimer and El Paso counties after several major rivers and creeks crested at all-time highs. The Office of Emergency Management reported that nearly 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in addition to thousands of businesses and other structures. One person was also killed by flooding in New Mexico. In this image, we see damage to Highway 34 along the Big Thompson River, on the road to Estes Park, Colorado. Image credit: Colorado National Guard.

Disaster 4. Category 1 Hurricane Ingrid weakened to a tropical storm with 65 mph winds before hitting Mexico about 200 miles south of the Texas border on September 16, 2013. Ingrid’s heavy rains triggered flooding that killed 23 and did $1.5 billion in damage, making the storm the 7th costliest tropical cyclone in Mexican history. In this image, we see Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid laying siege to Mexico on September 15, 2013. Tropical Storm Manuel came ashore on the Pacific coast near Manzanillo on the afternoon of September 15, and Ingrid followed suit from the Atlantic on September 16. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Disaster 5. A series of killing freezes during the second half of September led to extensive agricultural damage in central Chile. A state of emergency was declared after farmers reported that frigid air had destroyed 61% of stoned fruit crops, 57% of almonds, 48% of kiwi crops, and 20% of table grapes. Heavy damage to vineyards also affected wine productivity. Total damage was estimated at $1.15 billion, making it the costliest weather-related disaster in Chile’s history.

Disaster 1. Category 2 Typhoon Fitow hit the southern Japanese Islands on October 4, killing two people. Fitow weakened to a tropical storm and made landfall in China just north of Taiwan on October 7, dumping torrential rains that caused $10.4 billion in damage and killed six. In this MODIS image from 02:15 UTC October 5, 2013, Category 2 Typhoon Fitow is approaching China. Image credit: NASA.

Disaster 2. Winter Storm “Christian” hit the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia on October 28, killing 18 and causing at least $2 billion in damage. A new all-time wind speed record in Denmark of 192.6 kph (120 mph) was measured that day at Kegnæs on the Baltic Sea, close to the German border. In this image, large waves break against the dyke at the entrance of the port of Boulogne, northern France, on October 28, 2013. Image credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 3. Tropical Cyclone Phailin hit the northeast coast of India on October 12, 2013 as a weakening Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds. Due to strong preparedness efforts by India, the storm killed only 46 people, in a location where 10,000 people had been killed by a similar-strength cyclone in 1999. Damage from Phailin was estimated at $1.1 billion, making it the 6th most expensive tropical cyclone in India’s history (adjusted for inflation.) In this image taken at approximately 4:30 UTC on October 11, 2013, Phailin fills the Bay of Bengal as a top-end Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Disaster 1. Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Central Philippines on November 8, 2013, as one of the strongest tropical cyclones in world history, with peak surface winds estimated at 195 mph by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Haiyan killed over 7,700 people and did at least $13 billion in damage, making it the costliest and deadliest disaster in Philippine history, and Earth’s deadliest natural disaster of 2013. In this image, we see an infrared VIIRS image of the eye of Haiyan taken at 16:19 UTC November 7, 2013. At the time, Haiyan was at peak strength with 195 mph sustained winds. Image credit: NOAA/CIRA.

Disaster 2. The most expensive November tornado outbreak on record hit the U.S. on November 17, killing ten and causing damage estimated at $1.6 billion. This image shows an aerial view of Washington, Illinois on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, after an EF-4 tornado tore through the area, one of three EF-4 tornadoes from the outbreak. AP Photo/Alex Kareotes.

Disaster 3. Heavy monsoon rains caused the Mekong River in Cambodia to overflow its banks in October and November 2013, causing $1 billion in damage and killing 188. According to the International Disaster Database, EM-DAT, this would make the disaster Cambodia’s most expensive and 6th deadliest natural disaster in its history. In this photo, we see Cambodian children swimming in flood waters at a village in Kandal province on October 7, 2013. Photo credit: TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images.

Disaster 1. Winter Storm Xaver brought extreme winds and the second highest storm surge of the past 200 years to Northern Germany. The storm killed 15 and did $1.5 billion in damage. In this photo, we see a 14 meter (46′) high, 1000 kilogram (2200 lb) Tyrannosaurus replica that was standing in front of the German climate museum Klimahaus in Bremehaven, which had the bolts which connected its base plate to the ground sheared off by the force of Xaver’s winds. A peak wind gust of 78 mph (126 kph) was recorded in Bremerhaven during the storm. Image credit: Christine Sollmann and Michael Theusner of Klimahaus.

Disaster 2. Some of the worst flooding in 90 years affected parts of southeastern Brazil during the second half of December, killing at least 48 people and doing $1.4 billion in damage. Here, we see an aerial view of a flooded area in Vila Velha, Espirito Santo state, Brazil, on December 27, 2013. Image credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.

Jeff Masters


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Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Extreme Cold Blast and Heavy Snow Hit Midwest U.S. | Weather Underground

The most extreme cold air outbreak since 1994 is in store for much of the U.S. on Monday and Tuesday, as Arctic air behind a major winter storm invades the Midwest. The powerful 989 mb storm blasted the Upper Midwest on Sunday, bringing snows in excess of a foot over portions of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio. The 11.4″ that fell on Sunday in Indianapolis, Indiana made it that city’s second snowiest day on record (the all-time record: 12.1″ on March 19, 1906); Flint, Michigan also recorded its second snowiest day on record: 14.5″ (the all time record: 15.0″ on November 28, 1937.) A blast of Arctic air poured into the Upper Midwest on Sunday, and Sunday’s playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers began with a temperature of 5°F and a wind chill of -10°, evoking memories of the legendary Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys Ice Bowl NFL playoff game on December 31, 1967. On that frigid day, the temperature at kickoff was thirteen below zero, with a wind chill of -45°F. It’s lucky that yesterday’s game wasn’t played today: the high temperature inGreen Bay is expected to be near -10°, with wind chills as low as -40°. The temperature in Chicago at noon CST Monday was a remarkable -14°F, with gusty west winds of 20 mph causing a dangerously low wind chill of -40°. This is the 7th coldest noontime temperature ever measured in the Windy City (the record was -21° on January 10, 1982). The record-breaking cold air will spread eastward and southward over the next few days, bringing the coldest temperatures seen since January 1994 to many locations. The high temperature in Detroit on Tuesday is expected to remain below zero; the city’s list of days with a high temperature below zero is a short one, with only three such days in recorded history. The frigid air is being propelled by strong Arctic winds of 15 – 25 mph, which will generate dangerously low wind chill readings in the -30° to -60°F range from Michigan to Minnesota on Monday and Tuesday. From the latest NWS Storm Summary, here are the coldest wind chill readings observed so far:

Comertown, MT: -63
Rolla, ND: -60
Grand Maraia, MN: -55
Hillhead, SD: -53
Mason City, IA: -48
Dexter, WI: -47

Figure 1. At my home in the northern Detroit suburb of Highland, Michigan, we got 14″ of snow on Sunday, which made for some very low electrical output from my rooftop solar array! Photo by Ellie Masters.

The culprit: cold air from Canada and the polar vortex
In the winter, the 24-hour darkness over the snow and ice-covered polar regions allows a huge dome of cold air to form. This cold air increases the difference in temperature between the pole and the Equator, and leads to an intensification of the strong upper-level winds of the jet stream. The strong jet stream winds act to isolate the polar regions from intrusions of warmer air, creating a “polar vortex”of frigid counter-clockwise swirling air over the Arctic. The chaotic flow of the air in the polar vortex sometimes allows a large dip (a sharp trough of low pressure) to form in the jet stream over North America, allowing the Arctic air that had been steadily cooling in the northern reaches of Canada in areas with 24-hour darkness to spill southwards deep into the United States. In theory, the 1.5°F increase in global surface temperatures that Earth has experienced since 1880 due to global warming should reduce the frequency of 1-in-20 year extreme cold weather events like the current one. However, it is possible that climate change could alter jet stream circulation patterns in a way that could increase the incidence of unusual jet stream “kinks” that allow cold air to spill southwards over the Eastern U.S., a topic I have blogged about extensively, and plan to say more about later this week.

Figure 2. From wunderground’s Jet Stream page, we see the large dip in the jet stream over the U.S. responsible for this week’s extreme Arctic air outbreak.

Jeff Masters
Cotton Tree (Nita)

Well, maybe not, but it is a lot of white fluffy stuff. When I took this early this morning, it was so beautiful and serene outside, but now the wind is blowing and howling. Getting a lot f drifting, and things aren’t looking so pretty as early this morning. 😦
Cotton Tree

Solar Panel Snow (JeffMasters)
After two feet of snow in the past week, including 14 inches on Sunday, my solar panels needed a little attention!
Solar Panel Snow

Storm Ion.. (suzi46)
right on schedule but not quite as predicted for us..no big thaw..heavy freezing rain and dense fog with temps holding at 32F before plunging back towards 0F later tonight..a real mess out there!
Storm Ion..

Big Horn Mountain storm

Momentary sun break thru on Big Horn Mountains in Shell area.
Big Horn Mountain storm

Ice bubbles (kesky)
Bubbles can be very hard to capture even when they are frozen!
Ice bubbles

Categories: Winter Weather