Masters: “Strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest smashes all-time pressure records”

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"Masters: “Strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest smashes all-time pressure records”"

‘Weather bomb’ hits Midwest with power of major hurricane

My dad was the biggest Republican that ever walked the earth. He always said: “Actions have consequences.” To pretend that a 38% increase in greenhouse gases isn’t going to have any impact, that we can have our cake and eat it too, and smear it all over our face, and maybe have our grandchildren deal with the hangover, I think it is immoral.

That’s Minnesota meteorologist Paul Douglas in an exclusive interview with Brad Johnson about the “weather bomb” that just hit and the global warming deniers that populate his state.

Weather bomb

Visible satellite image of the October 26, 2010 superstorm taken at 5:32pm EDT. At the time, Bigfork, Minnesota was reporting the lowest pressure ever recorded in a U.S. non-coastal storm, 955 mb. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

But let’s start with meteorologist Jeff Masters, who puts this staggering superstorm in context and examines the climate change angle:

The mega-storm reached peak intensity late yesterday afternoon over Minnesota, resulting in the lowest barometric pressure readings ever recorded in the continental United States, except for from hurricanes and nor’easters affecting the Atlantic seaboard. So far, it appears the lowest reading (not yet official) was a pressure of 28.20″ (954.9 mb) reduced to sea level reported from Bigfork, Minnesota at 5:13pm CDT. Other extreme low pressures from Minnesota during yesterday’s storm included 28.22″ (956 mb) at Orr at 5:34pm CDT, 28.23″ at International Falls (3:45pm), and 28.23″ at Waskuh at 5:52pm. The 28.23″ (956mb) reading from International Falls yesterday obliterated their previous record of 28.70″ set on Nov. 11, 1949 by nearly one-half inch of mercury–a truly amazing anomaly. Duluth’s 28.36″ (961 mb) reading smashed their old record of 28.48″ (964 mb) set on Nov. 11, 1998. Wisconsin also recorded its lowest barometric pressure in history yesterday, with a 28.36″ (961 mb) reading at Superior. The old record was 28.45″ (963.4 mb) at Green Bay on April 3, 1982. The previous state record for Minnesota was 28.43″ (963 mb) at Albert Lea and Austin on Nov. 10, 1998.

Yesterday’s records in context
Yesterday’s 28.20″ (955 mb) low pressure reading in Minnesota breaks not only the 28.28″ (958 mb) previous “USA-interior-of-the-continent-record” from Cleveland, Ohio during the Great Ohio Storm of Jan. 26, 1978 (a lower reading in Canada during this event bottomed out at an amazing 28.05″/950 mb), but also the lowest pressure ever measured anywhere in the continental United States aside from the Atlantic Coast. The modern Pacific Coast record is 28.40″ (962mb) at Quillayute, Washington on Dec. 1, 1987. An older reading, taken on a ship offshore from the mouth of the Umpqua River in Oregon during the famous “Storm King” event on January 9, 1880, is tied with yesterday’s 28.20″ (955 mb.)

The lowest non-hurricane barometric pressure reading in the lower 48 states is 28.10″ (952 mb) measured at Bridgehampton, New York (Long Island) during an amazing nor’easter on March 1, 1914 (see Kocin and Uccellini, “Northeast Snowstorms; Vol. 2., p. 324, American Meteorological Society, 2004.) The lowest non-hurricane barometric pressure reading from anywhere in the United States was a 27.35″ (927 mb) reading at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on Oct. 25, 1977. The lowest hurricane pressure reading was the 26.34″ (892 mb) recorded in 1935 during the Great Labor Day Hurricane….

the famed storm that sank the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald in 1974, killing all 29 sailors aboard, was weaker than the current storm. Indeed, I wouldn’t want to be on a boat in Lake Superior today–sustained winds at the Rock of Ages lighthouse on Isle Royale were a sustained 68 mph, gusting to 78 mph at 3am EDT this morning!

Yet Another Remarkable Mid-latitude Cyclone so far this Year!
Yesterday’s superstorm is reminiscent of the amazing low pressures reached earlier this year (Jan. 19-22) in the West, where virtually every site in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, southern Oregon, and southern Idaho–about 10 – 15% of the U.S. land area–broke their lowest on record pressure readings. However, the lowest readings from that event fell well short of yesterday’s mega-storm with 28.85″ (977 mb) being about the lowest recorded at any onshore site.

Commentary
We’ve now had two remarkable extratropical storms this year in the U.S. that have smashed all-time low pressure records across a large portion of the country. Is this a sign that these type of storms may be getting stronger? Well, there is evidence that wintertime extratropical storms have grown in intensity in the Pacific, Arctic, and Great Lakes in recent decades. I discuss the science in detail in a post I did earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from that post:

General Circulation Models (GCMs) like the ones used in the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report do a very good job simulating how winter storms behave in the current climate, and we can run simulations of the atmosphere with extra greenhouse gases to see how winter storms will behave in the future. The results are very interesting. Global warming is expected to warm the poles more than the equatorial regions. This reduces the difference in temperature between the pole and Equator. Since winter storms form in response to the atmosphere’s need to transport heat from the Equator to the poles, this reduced temperature difference reduces the need for winter storms, and thus the models predict fewer storms will form. However, since a warmer world increases the amount of evaporation from the surface and puts more moisture in the air, these future storms drop more precipitation. During the process of creating that precipitation, the water vapor in the storm must condense into liquid or frozen water, liberating “latent heat”–the extra heat that was originally added to the water vapor to evaporate it in the first place. This latent heat intensifies the winter storm, lowering the central pressure and making the winds increase. So, the modeling studies predict a future with fewer total winter storms, but a greater number of intense storms. These intense storms will have more lift, and will thus tend to drop more precipitation–including snow, when we get areas of strong lift in the -15°C preferred snowflake formation region.

You can read more of the weather records smashed by this superstorm at Capital Climate.

Here is more of Brad Johnson’s Wonk Room post:

Fueled by fossil fuel pollution, an unprecedented, freak “land hurricane” swept through the continental United States, leaving a path of devastation from Saskatchewan to Texas “” while the Republican Party has been taken over by a hurricane of science denial. Our destabilized climate system, supercharged with billions of tons of manmade global warming pollution, is unlike anything in the historical record. “Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Weather Extremes,” Minnesota meteorologist Paul Douglas gasped. “The storm is huge,” Peter Kimbell, emergency preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada, said. “Much of North America is being affected by this storm. It’s covering millions of square kilometers.” Douglas found intensity of the “weather bomb” something “hard to fathom”:

“Yesterday a rapidly intensifying storm, a ‘bomb’, spun up directly over the MN Arrowhead, around mid afternoon a central pressure of 953 millibars was observed near Orr. That’s 28.14″³ of mercury. Bigfork, MN reported 955 mb, about 28.22″³ of mercury. The final (official) number may be closer to 28.20-28.22″³, but at some point the number becomes academic. What is pretty much certain is that Tuesday’s incredible storm marks a new record for the lowest atmospheric pressure ever observed over the continental USA. That’s a lower air pressure than most hurricanes, which is hard to fathom.”

The storm front “” also dubbed the “Chiclone” for the bizarreness of having a cyclone-like system over Chicago “” drew its power from a sharp temperature contrast between record warmth in the southeastern United States and average cold in the north. Thus this record stormfront, though it exhibited hurricane-like power, is unlike actual hurricanes that derive their power directly from heat trapped in the ocean.

In an exclusive interview with the Wonk Room, Douglas “” a nationally renowned meteorologist from Minnesota “” discussed this “unprecedented, historic storm” and the consequences for our nation of our artificially altered climate. “We have to get acclimated mentally and physically for this kind of world where these kinds of supercharged storms are more frequent,” he said, as the atmosphere continues to warm. When asked about the numerous conservative global warming deniers in his own state “” gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Congressional candidates Chip Cravaack and Randy Demmer “” and across the nation, Douglas said he was “ashamed” of the Grand Old Party for ignoring the “writing on the wall”:

“I’m a recovering Republican, and I don’t recognize my party any more. I’m ashamed so many Republicans don’t recognize the science. The writing is on the wall.”

When asked if reducing global warming pollution is a moral challenge and not just an economic debate, he agreed strongly:

“My dad was the biggest Republican that ever walked the earth. He always said: “Actions have consequences.” To pretend that a 38% increase in greenhouse gases isn’t going to have any impact, that we can have our cake and eat it too, and smear it all over our face, and maybe have our grandchildren deal with the hangover, I think it is immoral.”

Douglas said that this election has “been corrupted with money,” as the “energy lobby is obviously well-funded and powerful, and nobody wants to make waves.”

Nobody wants to make waves — except of course this superstorm, which, as Masters noted, was stronger than “the famed storm that sank the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald in 1974, killing all 29 sailors aboard.”

Here are two posts on the connection between human-caused global warming and superstorms that have been devastating the nation and the world during what is likely to be the hottest year on record:

“Given the association of extreme weather and climate events with rising global temperature, the expectation of new record high temperatures in 2012 also suggests that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events could reach a high level in 2012. Extreme events include not only high temperatures, but also indirect effects of a warming atmosphere including the impact of higher temperature on extreme rainfall and droughts. The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat.”

“I find it systematically tends to get underplayed and it often gets underplayed by my fellow scientists. Because one of the opening statements, which I’m sure you’ve probably heard is “Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.” But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.”

The past 12 months have been the hottest on record, according to NASA.  So perhaps it isn’t completely surprising that we are seeing these record-smashing deluges.  But the number of these beyond-extreme events just in the United States alone ought to make people take notice:

And, of course, another part of the world has been even more devastated by deluges and flooding, albeit while receiving only moderate attention in this country (see Juan Cole: The media’s failure to cover “the great Pakistani deluge” is “itself a security threat” to America).

And then there was the devastation to Russia, a country that always thought it was going to benefit from climate change:

This is all one big coincidence for the anti-science disinformers.  But for the rest of us, the really scary part is that we’ve only warmed about a degree Fahrenheit in the past half-century.  We are on track to warm nearly 10 times that this century (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F “” with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F ).

In short, we ain’t seen nothing yet!

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66 Responses to Masters: “Strongest storm ever recorded in the Midwest smashes all-time pressure records”

  1. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    I personally hope the entire country gets hit by several more of these superstorms before the elections.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Cyclone_Gafilo Increasingly intense storms are a predicted consequence of climate change, since more heat energy in the atmosphere can fuel more powerful storms.

    But storm intensity may vary by location. The tropics could see stronger storms throughout the year, while the middle latitudes may see weaker summer storms and heavier winter storms, especially in the northern hemisphere. http://news.discovery.com/earth/storms-may-strike-unevenly.html

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Put oil firm chiefs on trial

    call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/23/fossilfuels.climatechange

  4. burk says:

    And we might note that the climatological crap we are handing to the next generation is very real, quite unlike the federal debt, which is a chimerical non-issue. The debt is a bunch of bonds held as savings by everyone in our society. They are literally our retirements, and their only role in the future is to give those holding them, like pension funds, the right to cash them in for real goods if available at that time, in dollars. No one in the future has to pay their money into some kind of wormhole. The debt/savings represents also costs virtually no interest at all and has zero solvency risk. The money could just as well be disbursed as dollar bills to all those savers holding the bonds, and they could stick them into their mattresses. The savings and “debt” implications would be just the same. Bottom line- we don’t ever have to “pay” it back. See Modern Monetary Theory for more details.

    The climate mess, on the other hand, will decrease our future real living standards and real resources across the board. That is real and far more important than the financial non-issue that is the so-called debt.

  5. MarkF says:

    I read this today:

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    You wonder what it’s going to take to wake people up.

    Here in Wpg, on the edge of this, we have missed the worst, but received a lot of rain, for this late in the fall, and violent winds, lasting several days so far.

  6. Diesel Kitty says:

    So what do the GCMs say the storms will be like in 2100, when the Arctic is 20 degrees F warmer? If today’s limited warming is giving us record storms, will ten times as much warming give us storms with 100x the energy? What would such a storm look like? This week’s storm spawned dozens of tornados — Can we expect waves of hundreds of tornados sweeping across the midwest in the future?

  7. Michael Heath says:

    I live in Gaylord, Michigan in a home surrounded by very tall skinny Maple trees which are currently rocking. Here’s a link with the highest report wind speeds in Michigan: http://www.9and10news.com/weather/

    Gaylord is about 50 miles south of the Mackinac Bridge (which connects our two peninsula) where the winds reached 78 mph.

    Gaylord currently has the 9th and 13th highest recorded wind speeds according to source linked above. While we are inland we’re the highest town in Michigan at about 1350 altitude so its typically windy here. Lake MI’s elevation is a little under 600 ft. IIRC.

  8. Dan B says:

    What is especially eerie is another mega-storm was happening at nearly the same time off the coast of Washington State & BC. It petered out at the same time the weather-bomb was reaching its peak. It was a huge storm that generated nearly 45 foot waves at it’s peak. My hunch is we’re seeing enormous amounts of heat being transported from the tropics to the arctic. With 60 – 70 MPH surface winds (100 MPH at 1000’+?) this would carry heat from nearly a million square miles to the arctic in a couple days.

    The scale and organization of these storms is reminiscent of “The Morning After” (bad science but some interesting special effects). There could be similar outcomes for this winter.

  9. Lore says:

    While the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”, was just an entertaining piece of science fiction, the image above does bare a creepy resemblance to some of the CGI shots in the show.

  10. Richard Brenne says:

    Typhoon Megi drew fuel from sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of 82 F (28C) before hitting Luzon in the Philippines and 86 F (30C) after in the South China Sea.

    In a butterfly effect some (I’m guessing little) of this moisture and energy hitched a ride with a 200 mph-plus jet stream racing across the Pacific that created waves in buoys off the Washington Coast of 40 to 45 feet, which can mean much higher waves when they reach shallow water near shore. According to an Oregon State paper, higher waves will do much more damage than sea level rise (the entire West Coast is generally rising due to the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North America plate) in Oregon and by association probably up and down the West Coast (I just met with the California State Geologist who confirmed this, in his opinion).

    Further fuel from naturally cold Canadian air meeting record or near-record temperatures coming up from the Southern U.S. was like adding electricity via jumper cables to the bolts on either side of this Frankenstorm’s ears.

    As regular CP commenter Leif Knutsen so adeptly points out, there doesn’t need to be record or terrible damage like the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (to some music critics the greater tragedy was Gordon Lightfoot’s maudlin song about it) in the sixth most-powerful Midwestern storm in 1975 to have the potential for such tragedy. This storm of the last few days is now the strongest of all Midwestern storms (measured by the lowest barometric pressure, which indicates the energy of a storm).

    Leif says it’s like seeing a housecat (representing most storms) walk through your backyard most days, then suddenly one day seeing a full-grown tiger. It might not kill or eat anyone, but it sure has more potential to do so.

    Some deniers on this and other websites crow that global warming must not be happening because the U.S. dodged another hail of bullets when no major hurricanes made direct landfall in the U.S. again this year.

    My metaphor as an answer to that is that when hurricanes intensify, which record or near-record SSTs allow, it’s kind of like a blindfolded, enraged drunk is firing shotgun blasts indiscriminately around a small, sealed room we can’t escape. We (representing the U.S.) might dodge those shotgun blasts some or even several years, but we won’t dodge them indefinitely, and probably not for another five or at most ten years. There will be more Andrews and Katrinas, and even storms that dwarf those in impact.

    There will also be more of these kinds of previously rare “land hurricanes” that draw on the kinds of energy sources I mention above instead of warm SSTs and high oceanic heat content as tropical cyclones including hurricanes do. One degree Fahrenheit increase since 1970 means 4 per cent more water vapor as ammunition and 90 per cent of the heat goes into the oceans, the equivalent to putting 190,000 nuclear reactors continuous energy output into the system. Every expert I know feels we’ll see more and more bizarre, record and dramatic storms of all kinds as a result.

    What we most need is for people like Joe Romm, Kevin Trenberth, Jeff Masters, Heidi Cullen, Bill McKibben, Cliff Mass and Stu Ostro and many more like them (though few if any have their expertise) to communicate the connection between climate change and severe weather for all to see and hear.

    Each is doing their best, but until the Weather Channel and all major networks and all other mainstream media outlets report these connections daily instead of uber-occasionally, the public is really in the dark about this most critical connection.

    I’d like to see these and others banding together here at CP or however to create a major media outlet, growing Climate Progress itself if possible but collaborating however to get this done, even if it means creating a new network. “How hard could that be?” one might jokingly ask, but the answer is “A helluva lot easier than picking up the pieces when nobody does it.”

  11. paulm says:

    Have to agree with you the Lore … about 2mins in…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnvqsWVluCE

  12. Peter M says:

    As Hansen said in his book- these storms will grow in number and intensity as we go through the transitional stages to a much warmer world over the next few decades.

  13. James says:

    Slightly off-topic, but it seems to me that the ‘actions have consequences’ line of argument is one that should be used a lot more by people campaigning on climate change. I’d say its more effective than talking about being a ‘climate hawk’. Paul Douglas, who has the excellent opening quote in this article, should be on mainstream media not just liberal websites!

  14. Horace Smith says:

    It seems we are missing hurricanes the last few years. Not supposed to be in the forecast.

  15. Leif says:

    For a West Coast Meteorologist’s take on the Mid West storm go to:
    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/ Last few days.

    A short quote if I might:
    “The media is going nuts about a storm that had maximum winds of 81 mph. Big Deal. Our storms regularly have winds over 100 mph and sometime over 125.”

    As mentioned by Dan B @ 8, this system, that compares to the midwest storm in every way, is getting almost no media attention and was probably somewhat instrumental in feeding the midwest system.

    While I am glad to see these mega storms receiving attention, I would like to emphasize Joe’s point above. This is just the beginning folks. One degree and climbing. No end in sight if GOBP get its way!

    Last winter on this sight another commentator did the math and 4% added moisture represents the ~ volume of water in 1.5X Lake Superior. About 3X by 2050. This water must fall as rain or snow in the winter. Even the GOP Tea Baggers must realize that what goes up must come down in a closed gravitational system. Another point, this is the new normal and the falling precipitation is quickly replaced with fresh evaporation from the warmed environment.

  16. Gestur says:

    As one who lives in Minnesota and always reads and occasionally comments on Joe’s great site, I know from experience that Paul Douglas has been doing a fantastic job in his weather blog that appears daily in the Minneapolis StarTribune. com online paper. Almost every blog contains a summary of one or more important studies on climate change, and he isn’t deterred from doing so by the deniers who occasionally troll by. I have thought on occasion to remark in a comment in Joe’s blog on his efforts to educate those in Minnesota about climate change. I’m glad to see him featured here as I personally think the man deserves an award for his efforts and I let him know frequently how important I think his efforts are. I have no idea how much of an outlier he might be in this regard, but I am very grateful for his continued efforts at rising our awareness of ACG here in MN.

  17. Isolated extreme events, whether hot or cold, neither prove nor disprove global warming. Please refrain from posting about the latest weather event, and I will do the same on my site.

    Thank you.

    [JR: I can’t tell if this is Watts or not, but the statement is laughable. Year after year, WUWT has post after post after post on weather events attempting to make certain false points about the climate, primarily focusing on non-record-breaking cold or misrepresenting things like the implications of Snowmaggeddon. In any case, uber-extreme record-smashing weather events that climate scientists have been projecting would become more common are well worth reporting on.

    Watts can keep posting his disinformation — I’ll stick with information.]

  18. Leif says:

    When extreme warm events exceed extream cold 2+ to one, don’t you think at least one of those events can be attributed to global warming Anthony? Don’t you see a trend here? After all, isn’t climate just an average of lots of daily weather events.

  19. catman306 says:

    Gaia has a few tools to set things straight with our ecosystem: earthquakes, volcanos, and extreme weather. If Gaia has to reboot our ecosystem, extreme weather will be how it happens. Film at 11.

    Anthony Watts, climate warming has dramatically reduced my firewood consumption this October. So I guess we are both winners. Besides notoriety, what has climate change done for you, Mr. Watts?

  20. How many “Isolated extreme events” do we need in a single year for it to be significant? This is the second record-low-setting storm since January.

  21. Michael Heath says:

    Gaylord, MI’s local paper of record putting this storm into context:

    The most recent storm of this magnitude occurred on Nov. 10, 1998. According to Herald Times’ archives, the storm brought local wind gusts in excess of 70 mph, with the highest gusts of 95 mph reported on Mackinac Island. Great Lakes wave heights reached 18 feet on the 23rd anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The NWS classified the event as a “land hurricane.”

    Gaylord’s historical wind storm happened six weeks earlier, on Sept. 26, 1998.

    The “historical wind storm” was a whopper that knocked a lot of trees down.

    I thought this forum would appreciate this year’s storm being compared to two storms in 1998. Almost none of the audience for this paper will see how 2010 relates to 1998.

  22. with the doves says:

    Hi Anthony,

    this isn’t an isolated event.

    thanks for your concern, though, and good luck with your site.

  23. Paulm says:

    “Welcome to the Land of 10,000 Weather Extremes,”……welcome to Eaarth. Or should that be Eaaaaaaaarth!

  24. Daniel Bailey says:

    Re: Leif (15)

    Unless my math skills have completely deserted me, Lake Superior’s volume of water [1.21 x 10 to the 16 kg] is fairly similar to that of the entire atmosphere [1.27 x 10 to the 16 kg)), so the 4% increase of water vapor in question does come reasonably close to the volume of Lake Erie (119 cubic miles vs that of Lake Superior at 2,900 cubic miles), but not that of Lake Superior herself.

    Thus, the added volume of water vapor due to the increased carrying capacity caused by rising temperatures could be said to equal the volume of Lake Erie. Not that anyone would welcome the mental picture of Lake Erie water raining/snowing down on them. :)

    But it does mean a lot of extra fuel for the gas tanks of storms like the one we’re seeing right now.

    PS: Living in the UP of Michigan, this storm in question has packed the highest sustained winds locally since that storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald. Twice today my Jeep was nearly blown completely off the road, sideways. But memory, which lies like an old dog, says it was still worse that day in ’75. Now THAT was a nasty day!

    The Yooper

  25. Michael T says:

    NBC Nightly News’ coverage of the record breaking storm:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/ns/nightly_news/#39879188

  26. Ben Haslem says:

    Interesting to note that SE Australia earlier this month experienced a very intense low pressure system, producing the lowest ever pressure recorded in the nation’s capital, Canberra of c.985mb. Also brought snow to the NSW southern and central ranges and to close to sea level in Tasmania.

  27. Scrooge says:

    Well this was a blast from the past some of my fond childhood memories are family camping near Bigfork. Glad to see Douglas who I did meet a few years ago doing what I believe more meteorologists should be doing and that is tying in regional weather and climate change and explaining it. He is doing a great service for his children and grandchildren.

  28. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Not just very low pressure but lowest ever US mainland storm pressure, well worth reporting.

    You could well be facing another snowmageddon, Arctic Heat breaks down the circumpolar circulation and down comes the cold (relatively).

    Fings is diffent now.

    Oregon is starting to look real good.

  29. Scrooge says:

    OK. Just have to say one more thing about this blast from the past. Gordon Lightfoot and the Fitzgerald. I remember in school during the dark ages plotting that storm system by hand and making a forecast. Thanks for letting the old guy reminiscence.

  30. Leif says:

    Daniel, @ 24: Here is the link and the math done by johna back in ~February.
    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/20/president-obama-explains-the-science-behind-climate-change-and-extreme-weather-climatologist-kevin-trenberth-and-meteorologist-jeff-masters-on-npr/
    Comment #14.. To my knowledge there has been no peer review so there may in fact be errors. That is how science works however. Either way it is a lot of water looking for a place to land. I will be happy to pass on corrected math.

  31. Michael Heath says:

    Scrooge – the local radio station played Lightfoot’s song twice that I heard. It was the song of the day in my town.

  32. Warmer and more humid air makes weather more energetic. This is basic physics. The frequency and strength of these storms is likely to increase as humans keep driving global warming.

    You don’t need a weatherman to know which the wind blows.

  33. Shelly says:

    Global warming deniers populate every state. Minnesota is probably less full of them than more southern states, since our winters are warmer and shorter than they used to be, lately.

    The problem is the brain-dead conservative right-wing politicians who deny science. In fact, that’s always the problem isn’t it?

  34. Deborah Stark says:

    I am about to read the post but I have to say right now that the accompanying map is downright frightening.

    Current temperature in Boston, MA at 10:24pm – 68 degrees.

  35. Dan B says:

    Richard Brenne @ 10;

    I agree that a robust climate media is essential to steering the game changers, big money, and the public in the right direction. I’ve got lots of connections with climate change non-profits and media types who would probably love to be part of formative discussions.

    If Joe or his interns would set up a conference call or wiki I’d rustle up some of the local movers and shakers in media and marketing. At the very least it would be fascinating to find out if they’ve been paying attention to the rapidly escalating changes in climate we’ve experienced. This year alone has been astounding. Did the majority of the world have record breaking or catastrophic weather this year? Is the new “strange weather” breaking no records in a year?

  36. Dan B says:

    Diesel Kitty @ 6;

    When the temperature differences between the tropics and the polar regions are nearly the same most “weather” will cease. We could expect severe weather at the equinoxes as the temperature difference between one pole and the other shifts.

    Peter Ward wrote an apocalyptic book about it, ‘Under a Green Sky’ seems like the name.

    In the transition phase “weather” could be brutal in almost every region. People talk about survivors in Alaska or Oregon. With a 400% – 700% increase in forest fires, melting tundra, Cascades volcanoes glaciers and permafrost melting – producing lahars and eruptions, there will not likely be much to like except for adequate rainfall compared to the rest of the continent.

    Adapt, migrate, or go extinct is a silly description of evolutionary pressure. Personally I’d rather be riding the electric train and enjoying my zero-energy home and hooked into the super-grid’s solar, geothermal, and offshore wind turbines for the few energy needs I have. And about those personalized transport pods!!

    One sure thing, the future will be interesting.

  37. Shelly says:

    In response to comment #17 — whoever you are, you are not paying attention. This summer was FULL of violent weather events. In fact, several months before our Category 3 hurricane over land (that continues tonight to a lessened degree) we had a day in June with 39 tornadoes, which broke all tornado records for MN. Our warm temperatures and shorter winters are obvious and they are a trend, not isolated events. Maybe you live in the south where it’s not so apparent, but in the north, global warming is obvious and our increasingly violent weather is scaring a lot of people who thought they’d “seen it all”.

  38. Mike Roddy says:

    Richard Brenne, I agree with everything you said, and liked the tiger metaphor too.

    The Weather Channel is owned by a right wing global warming denier, so we can’t expect anything there. Just like The History Channel brings us crap like Ax Men and Ice Road Truckers, and Discovery Channel shows a lot of junk, too. The content is pretty bad on all of these channels, leading one to believe that the audience is at fault, but there’s no way of knowing- you just don’t see consistent quality programming on any network or cable channel except HBO, and they mostly do fiction.

    Are you listening, Soros?

  39. For the record, please note that this low pressure started in the mid latitude of the Pacific and then hit the West Coast, passed over the Rockies and down into the Midwest.

    These sorts of systems have been more and more frequent since last November, and seem to coincide with negative Arctic Oscillations.

    This anecdotal, of course.

    You can watch these things here (needs Java):

    http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/mosaic/movies/moswwvbbm/moswwvbbmjava.html

  40. Jim Groom says:

    Yes indeed this storm did pass over our little piece of paradise this last weekend. We live near Grass Valley, Ca at approx 3000 ft elevation on the western slope of the Sierra. In a little over 36 hours we received 10.5 inches of rain. The town itself nearly 5 inches and we are only 5 miles out of town. This was our first storm of the season so I can hardly wait for the raining part to begin. The months after the turn of the new year are usually the worst.

  41. Deborah Stark says:

    10/27/10
    Boston weather breaks records — for mildness
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/10/boston_weather.html?p1=Upbox_links

    Tossing off those blankets at night? Wondering why it’s so darn warm? Blame the New England weather for taking a walk on the mild side.

    The National Weather Service says records were broken for minimum temperatures Tuesday morning and, quite possibly, this morning.

    Typically, the coldest time of day is the early morning. Early morning Tuesday, the temperature dropped to 61 degrees in Boston, but that was the highest minimum temperature for the day ever recorded, breaking the previous record of 60 set in 1991.

    “It’s never been as mild,” said Charlie Foley, a weather service meteorologist. The normal low temperature would be 43.

    Records were also broken Tuesday morning in Hartford, Providence, and Worcester.

    Similar records could be set for today. The temperature only dropped to 66 degrees this morning in Boston. The highest previous low is 61, set in 1963, Foley said.

    The warm weather is expected to continue through Thursday. By Friday, the area will see much cooler temperatures.

    CURRENT TEMPERATURE at 12:28am 10/28 – 65 degrees.

  42. John Mason says:

    Richard, #10:

    “I’d like to see these and others banding together here at CP or however to create a major media outlet, growing Climate Progress itself if possible but collaborating however to get this done, even if it means creating a new network. “How hard could that be?” one might jokingly ask, but the answer is “A helluva lot easier than picking up the pieces when nobody does it.”

    I fully agree, and furthermore I think the UK could do with something similar. We need independent think-tanks to provide accurate, well-written information to counter the stuff put out by e.g. Nigel Lawson’s GWPF.

    Anthony Watts,

    “Please refrain from posting about the latest weather event, and I will do the same on my site.”

    It’s been said above but it needs repeating: climate is the trend in weather-patterns outside of the short term i.e. over the years. If that trend is away from cold records towards hot records, is towards extreme rainfalls in wet areas and towards extreme droughts in dry areas (“the rich get richer, the poor poorer” – Trenberth), just as the science predicts, the repeated insistence that it’s “just weather” starts to wear very thin indeed. There will come a point where you will have no choice but to abandon that mantra, even if it is way after most other commentators.

    Cheers – John

  43. riverat says:

    Rabid Doomsayer says:
    October 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Oregon is starting to look real good.

    No! Don’t come here! It rains all the time. You wouldn’t like it. Besides, our unemployment rate is over 10%.

    Signed: Hostile Native Oregonian

    (Said with tongue firmly planted in cheek)

  44. FrqtltngCG says:

    Here’s a major stumbling block for any forward thinking meteorologist, climatologist, environmentalist etc. His name is Joe Bastardi and the company her works for is Accuweather. The man is one of the biggest deniers of global warming and he is THE voice of the deniers, leading the way with his global cooling theories. So long as outlets like FNC (the most watched news outlet in America) give him the opportunity to spout his bluster, America (and not just republicans) will never accomplish any climate change initiatives. As far as most are concerned, there is no need to based on his argument…the climate will take care of itself. If I am correct, he is predicting a 30 year slide in temperatures. Backed by Accuweather’s political money, and Bastardi’s ‘science’, (they make a fortune from their energy clients) the energy lobby is well armed to deter any environmentally-conscious candidates.

  45. facepalm says:

    Well, this looks like another thirteen thrown:
    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/tumblin-dice/

    And yes, this single storm cannot be atributed to climate-change, as any single event. But the probability of such storms is increasing as is their strenght. And this rise in probability and strenght IS attributed to climate change.

  46. Dickensian American says:

    Well, this looks like another thirteen thrown:
    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/tumblin-dice/

    Excellent little didactic piece you’ve linked there. Great metaphor. Clear and succinct.

  47. catman306 says:

    From Dickensian American’s link:

    “NOAA point out that Moscow’s average July temperature was 4 standard deviations above the long-term climatology. Since you would expect 99.994% of data values in a normal distribution to fall within 4σ of the mean, calling this a 13 (unprecendented) seems reasonable. And the impact is huge. As Michael points out,

    If we consider the Russia and Pakistan catastrophes as part of the same event, we have easily thirty million people directly affected and loss of life in the tens of thousands.”

    Four standard deviations was good enough for the advertisers of the Ivory Soap of old (99.44 percent pure). Why isn’t it enough for the deniers?

  48. llewelly says:

    Horace Smith says:
    October 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    It seems we are missing hurricanes the last few years

    From 1951 to 2000, the annual mean number of hurricanes in the Atlantic was 5.6 . But what about the “last few years”?
    2010: 10 hurricanes (so far)
    2009: 3 hurricanes
    2008: 8 hurricanes
    2007: 6 hurricanes
    2006: 5 hurricanes

    Annual mean of the last 5 years: 6.4 hurricanes per year. 114% of the 1951-2000 mean.

    But what if we include the rest of the decade?
    2005: 15 hurricanes
    2004: 9 hurricanes
    2003: 7 hurricanes
    2002: 4 hurricanes
    2001: 9 hurricanes

    Annual mean of the last decade: 7.6 hurricanes per year. 136% of the 1951-2000 mean.

    Horace, you have no clue.

  49. Dickensian American says:

    To be clear, that was facepalm’s link–not mine. I was just quoting it to clarify that I was referring to the story he linked to!

    Credit where credit is due. :)

  50. MapleLeaf says:

    Can anyone please point me to a paper which has explored long-term trends in so-called “bomb” events (rapidly intensifying lows) around the globe and/or similar trends in cyclogenesis? Thanks.

  51. Joy Hughes says:

    Here in S. Colorado, the storm front was so abrupt I saw a tumbleweed crossing the road in front of me suddenly reversing direction. Hands are still sore from gripping the steering wheel. Temp dropped to 20F later that afternoon.

  52. Michael says:

    llewelly (48) – I think that Horace is referring to the lack of hurricane landfalls on the U.S. this year, and last year. Of course, a lack of landfalls (only for the U.S., Mexico and other countries have gotten hit, several times in some cases) doesn’t mean that there were no hurricanes! Also, I recall some saying the same thing in 2007, despite a couple Cat 5s making landfall on Central America, a similar two year period with no significant U.S. landfalls.

  53. MapleLeaf (#50),
    Masters has a review of the science in his earlier Weather Underground post, The future of intense winter storms, including a link to a recent review paper, “Extra-tropical cyclones in the present and future climate: a review” (open access), which in turn has many references.

  54. Artful Dodger says:

    Catman306: Ha Ha, good one! Except that a 99.44% probability (in a 2-sided distribution) equates to a Z-score of only 2.77 so I guess the Ivory Soap folks were convinced at only two and three-quarter Standard Deviations from the Mean.

    Speaking of “mean”, this inland Cat-3 Hurricane was 2,000 miles in diameter. Are there any records keep for the size of these things?

  55. Colorado Bob says:

    Just in case anyone comes across this being hailed as proof of the coming little ice age :

    Yesterdays records Oct 27 –
    Daytime highs vs lows

    147 – 35

    Night time highs vs lows

    326 – 5

    Oct 26 –
    Daytime highs vs lows

    142 – 25

    Night time highs vs lows

    312 – 2

    439 new precipitation records for these 2 days

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records.php?ts=daily&elem=mint&month=10&day=26&year=2010&sts=US&submitted=Get+Records#recs

  56. Deborah Stark says:

    Whoa. Go BOB!!!!

  57. Prokaryotes says:

    @llewelly

    2010 hurricane season 6th most active on record The 2010 hurricane season continues to move up the list of the top ten most active seasons on record with the development of the 17th named storm

    2010 Top Ten Hurricane Season

    With the development of Richard, the 17th named storm, the 2010 hurricane season is the 6th most active season since 1851!

    If one more storm forms, the 2010 season will tie 1969 as the top 5 most active season on record with 18 named storms.

    Top Five Hurricane Seasons

    1. 2005- 28 named storms
    2. 1933- 21 named storms
    3. 1995- 19 named storms
    4. 1887- 19 named storms
    5. 1969- 18 named storms

    http://www.examiner.com/weather-in-jackson/tropical-storm-richard-takes-shape-the-caribbean-2010-hurricane-season-6th-most-active-on-record

  58. Colorado Bob says:

    Deborah –

    I find the 638 to 7 night time numbers particularly instructive. As I said yesterday, this thing really wasn’t “cold”.

  59. MapleLeaf says:

    CapitalClimate@53,

    Thanks !:)

  60. paulm says:

    Storms of our Grand Children…more like storms of our children or us.
    Each couple of years is going to be wild from here on in…

  61. llewelly says:

    Prokaryotes says:
    October 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm:

    If one more storm forms, the 2010 season will tie 1969 as the top 5 most active season on record with 18 named storms.

    And now we have Tropical Storm Shary.

  62. Edward says:

    “second 500-year rainfall in 11 years” Classic!

  63. I doubt if any of current politicians can truly realise what is happening around us. Human’s activity impact in environment started almost 60 years ago and is still continuing. The sudden weather changes are the consequence of that. An obsolete technology cannot create any reputable predictions about weather changes. We should have to persuade everyone whom it may concern to act about it very quickly…

  64. llewelly says:

    Prokaryotes says:
    October 28, 2010 at 2:23 pm:

    If one more storm forms, the 2010 season will tie 1969 as the top 5 most active season on record with 18 named storms.

    And now we have Tropical Storm Shary.

    And now we have Tropical Storm Tomas.

  65. From Peru says:

    And now Tropical Storm Tomas seem poised to become a MAJOR HURRICANE this weekend!
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at1.shtml?5-daynl?large#contents

    Stunning!