Early Severe Weather Outbreak across the Gulf Coast and Mid- Atlantic

This week saw a major severe weather outbreak, including a number of killer tornadoes. Most tornado outbreaks in February are confined to the deep South, but even the Mid-Atlantic coast was affected.

Storm began to fire on Tuesday across the Texas Gulf Coast, then quickly became severe as they moved into Louisiana. An EF-3 tornado, a strong tornado (with winds estimated at at least 150 mph) near Convent, La killed two people in a mobile home park.

In Mississippi, a man was killed by an EF-2 (strong) tornado in the town of Purvis.

The storms moved into the southeast, then began to intensify a second day, this time over Virginia. In the town of Waverly, two men and a two year old child were killed when their mobile home was struck by an EF1 (weak) tornado. A fourth person was killed by an EF-3 (strong) tornado in Evergreen with winds as high as 165 mph.

Officials say the 4 tornado deaths in Virginia are the first ever in that state in February.

See the maps below of storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center for Tuesday, February 23rd and Wednesday, February 24.

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Photo Credits: NOAA

Jim Purpura
Certified Consulting Meteorologist
Director, Weather Forecasting
WeatherExtreme, Ltd.

The Record Blizzard of 2016

2016-blizzard-NASAThis past weekend’s snowstorm was one for the record books. Many will refer to it as The Blizzard of 2016″.

So what is a blizzard, anyway? The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a severe snowstorm characterized by strong winds causing blowing snow that results in low visibilities. So the difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind, not the amount of snow.

To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have sustained winds or frequent gusts that are greater than or equal to 35 mph with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 1/4 mi or less. These conditions must persist for three hours or more.

Last weekend’s storm certainly met the wind and visibility criteria, but amazing amounts of snow were produced. Above normal water temperatures off the mid-Atlantic coast helped enhance moisture transport into the storm as the fuel for its “snow engine”.

This storm is also noteworthy for bringing snow totals at or nearing all-time records in multiple large metro areas. Other snowstorms have have higher totals, but none were as widespread. Highest totals include…

New York City – John F. Kennedy Airport 30.5 inches, all-time record
Central Park 26.8 inches 2nd highest of all time

Baltimore – 29.2 inches, all time record

Washington, DC – 17.8 inches 4th largest on record

The satellite image above (from NASA) shows the development of the storm over south Texas as it moved north and east over several days.

Jim Purpura, CCM
Meteorologist, WeatherExtreme Ltd.

Record rainfall, and the developing El Nino and the PDO…

(Photo Credit: NWS)

Above is a table published recently by the NWS in San Diego (credit: NWS San Diego). It shows the observed rainfall at San Diego (Lindbergh), Riverside, and Santa Ana. Rainfall at Santa Ana so far this month is 780% of normal, Riverside 4850% of normal, and San Diego an amazing 5700% of normal, with almost a week to go in the month!

The global image (credit NOAA) found below shows a comparison of the Pacific water temperatures from the record 1997-1998 El Niño, and current water temperatures in July 2015. The darkest red colors indicate the temperatures most above normal.

(Credit: NOAA)

There is a remarkable similarity for July to the 1997-1998 El Niño event in the equatorial Pacific, and waters are considerably warmer than 1997-1998 in the northeastern Pacific. NOAA climate scientists believe the abnormally warm northeastern Pacific water is related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation(click link for details) entering a positive or warm phase.

Our recent record rain event could well be related to these warming waters bringing deep moisture from the tropics, in this case assisted by the remnants of Hurricane Dolores.

James K. Purpura
Certified Consulting Meteorologist

Fires in San Diego County

While some fires have been extinguished, others are still burning in San Diego County.

This is a NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) which is aboard the Terra Satellite. The image is from yesterday, May 14, 2014, showing the fires burning in southern California and the offshore flow blowing the smoke out over the Pacific Ocean.

Today is the final day for extreme heat and offshore winds as this evening things should begin to change tomorrow as the heat begins to diminish and onshore flow starts to dominate once again.

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 2.12.07 PM

Courtesy of San Diego County- California Chaparral Institute