Oh No! (Tropical Storm Bill)

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued their first advisory for Tropical Storm Bill. It is a tropical storm with 50 mph winds. It has tropical storm force winds extending up to 160 miles, especially east of the center.

20150615_02L_2300EDT

The cone has Bill going northwest towards Texas at 12 mph. This means it could make landfall by tomorrow morning on the Texas Coast as a tropical storm. Bill forecasted to be stronger to 60 mph. Here is a wind probability, by 34 knots, 50 knots, and 64 knots.

34 Knots
20150615_02L_34KnotProbability_2300EDT

50 Knots
20150615_02L_50KnotProbability_2300EDT

64 Knots
20150615_02L_64KnotProbability_2300EDT

Coast areas have the highest chance to see tropical storm force winds. As you are further inland, the tropical storm force winds diminish due to land interaction. That means the highest wind on land assuming it is at 60 mph using the 15 percent reduction rule is 51 mph. That means the highest gust could be 77 mph is we multiply by factor of 1.5. Most areas should see 30 to 45 mph winds with gusts of 45 to 68 mph. Hurricane force winds are less likely with Bill. Of course, storms like Bill can rapidly intensify in the Gulf of Mexico if conditions are right.

The waters in the Gulf of Mexico are quite warm. Here is the 26°C or 78.8°F depth map.

20150615_26C_Depth_GOM

Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential
20150615_TCHP_GOM

The warm water is quite deep. An area of very warm on the surface and deep layer of warm water is very favorable for tropical development if there are not a lot of wind shear. The conditions can allow Bill to intensify further. I would not be surprised if Bill did become a hurricane. I suspect more likely a tropical storm.

Rainfall is another issue. It is moving 12 mph, which means if we use the rule of thumb, 100 divided by the motion speed, which is 12, we get about 8 inches of rain. That means Bill could easily dump 8 inches of rain. I suspect Bill will be more of a rain event than a wind event. Many areas could see 5 to 10 inches of rain with isolated areas seeing up to 15 inches of rain. The grounds in Southeast Texas is very saturated from the May and Spring rains. That can allow more flooding to happen from heavy rain if it is prolonged. The ground cannot handle anymore water, which means, flooding risk goes up from Bill.

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Fall 2014

2014FallDivisionalMap

The meteorological Fall from September to November has passed into memory lane again. Wow, time flies fast. It is already the start of the meteorological Winter, which is from December to February. It is also Christmas season, which seems to come faster every year before you even realize it. Ho! Ho! Ho! This Fall was a sharp contrast between warm and cold. Not only Fall was interesting weather wise, it was interesting from the medical aspect as Ebola (I got an Ebola blog, so check it out) came to America in Dallas and New York.

America 2014 Fall
Mean Temperature: 54.13°F
Total Rainfall: 7.12

America Fall Temperature (1895-2014)
Mean: 53.66°F
Median: 53.64°F
Standard Deviation: 1.11
Lowest: 50.89°F (1976)
Highest: 56.58°F (1963)

America Fall Rainfall (1895-2014)
Mean: 6.91
Median: 6.92
Standard Deviation: 1.11
Lowest: 4.21 (1939)
Highest: 9.72 (1985)

Temperature for Fall was within average despite a cold November. There are reasons why this Fall is not as cool as one would expect. First, October 2014 was very warm. How warm was October 2014 was for America?

America October 2014
Mean Temperature: 56.89°F

Top 10 Warmest October In America (1895-2014)
1.) 1963 59.36°F
2.) 1947 58.80°F
3.) 1950 57.47°F
4.) 2014 56.89°F
5.) 2007 56.68°F
6.) 1931 56.57°F
7.) 2003 56.55°F
8.) 1934 56.52°F
9.) 1938 56.41°F
10.) 1900 56.35°F

Pretty warm, that it was the fourth warmest on record since 1895. Let’s see November temeprature statistics.

Top 20 Coolest November In America (1895-2014)
1.) 1911 37.27°F
2.) 2000 38.03°F
3.) 1951 38.08°F
4.) 1947 38.10°F
5.) 1955 38.23°F
6.) 1896 38.32°F
7.) 1898 38.39°F
8.) 1929 38.41°F
9.) 1976 38.48°F
10.) 1959 38.66°F
11.) 1972 38.93°F
12.) 1940 39.00°F
13.) 1895 39.16°F
14.) 1993 39.22°F
15.) 1919 39.31°F
16.) 2014 39.33°F
17.) 1991 39.43°F
18.) 1935 39.49°F
19.) 1985 39.51°F
20.) 1996 39.63°F

November 2014 was quite cold. In fact it is in the top 10 coldest winter on record, 16th to be exact. Now, that is cold. November 2000 was colder than November 2014, which occurred in a weak La Nina. Interesting see that some of the coldest Novembers occur in El Nino like 1911, 1972, 1976, and 1991.

Let’s look at Texas. Fall was quite turbulent for Texas as Ebola virus paid a visit to Dallas. Three people came down with Ebola and one of them died.

Texas 2014 Fall
Mean Temperature: 65.80°F
Total Rainfall: 8.09

Texas Fall Temperature (1895-2014)
Mean: 65.61°F
Median: 65.63°F
Standard Deviation: 1.55
Lowest: 60.00°F (1976)
Highest: 69.87°F (1931)

Texas Fall Rainfall (1895-2014)
Mean: 7.32
Median: 7.26
Standard Deviation: 2.47
Lowest: 2.95 (1917)
Highest: 13.37 (1919)

Like America, even though November was cold, Fall 2014 was within the mean. The reason has to do with October. Here is the top 10 warmest October for Texas.

1.) 1947 71.80°F
2.) 1931 70.80°F
3.) 1934 70.70°F
4.) 1963 70.30°F
5.) 1950 69.80°F
6.) 2014 69.80°F
7.) 2004 69.70°F
8.) 1956/1962 69.40°F
9.) 1926 69.20°F
10.) 1941 69.10°F

October 2014 is the 6th warmest October on record for Texas. It is even warmer than October 2004, which was very warm for Southeast Texas. At least the Fall rainfall is above average as it is welcomed to put an end to the drought that has plagued Texas. Let’s look at November temperture for Texas.

Top 20 Coolest November In Texas (1895-2014)
1.) 1976 47.80°F
2.) 1929 48.00°F
3,) 1972 48.80°F
4.) 1959 49.10°F
5.) 1895 50.00°F
6.) 1898 50.50°F
7.) 1911 50.70°F
8.) 1932/1991 50.90°F
9.) 1907/1957/1993 51.00°F
10.) 2000 51.10°F
11.) 1979 51.20°F
12.) 1936/1961 51.30°F
13.) 1918/2014 51.40°F
14.) 1920/1947 51.60°F
15.) 1951/1992 51.80°F
16.) 1939 51.90°F
17.) 1980 52.10°F
18.) 1956 52.20°F
19.) 1923/1937 52.40°F
20.) 1926/1940/1997 52.50°F

November was cold for Texas as for most of the US east of the Rocky Mountains. Texas experienced its 13th coolest November on record as it ties with 1918. November 2000 was quite cold for Texas as it was very rainy and wet. Of course nothing compares to 1976, which was very cold. Many of these cold Novembers gave way to cold winters for Texas like in 1898, 1911, 1972, 1976, and 2000. Could this be a harbinger to come? Now, let’s look at Upper Texas Coast.

Upper Texas Coast 2014 Fall
Mean Temperature: 70.13°F
Total Rainfall: 12.52

Upper Texas Coast Fall Temperature (1895-2014)
Mean: 70.22°F
Median: 70.25°F
Standard Deviation: 1.58
Lowest: 64.27°F (1976)
Highest: 74.23°F (1931)

Upper Texas Coast Fall Rainfall (1895-2014)
Mean: 12.35
Median: 11.58
Standard Deviation: 4.90
Lowest: 3.12 (1924)
Highest: 27.47 (1998)

Again, despite a cold November, Fall 2014 had temperatures within the mean. There was a stark contrast between hot October and cold November. Here is the top 10 warmest October for Upper Texas Coast.

Top 10 Warmest October In Upper Texas Coast (1895-2014)
1.) 2004 76.80°F
2.) 1931/1941 75.40°F
3.) 1919/1947 75.10°F
4.) 1926/1962 74.20°F
5.) 1934 73.90°F
6.) 1963 73.80°F
7.) 1933 73.40°F
8.) 1956/1984/1998 73.30°F
9.) 1935 73.20°F
10.) 1928 73.10°F
11.) 2014 73.00°F
12.) 1950 72.90°F
13.) 1973 72.80°F
14.) 1954 72.70°F
15.) 1897/1938 72.60°F
16.) 1960/2007 72.50°F
17.) 1899/1927/1971/2006 72.40°F
18.) 1951/1991 72.30°F
19.) 1900 72.20°F
20.) 1946/2000/2013 72.10°F

It is the 11th warmest October on record. It is nowhere near the warmest October, which is 2004 and it was really warm. Interesting to note that following October 2004, it was a stormy and wet November and snow December with snow falling on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Many areas saw 1 to 3 inches with amounts as high as 13 inches! That is on level with the February 14-15, 1895. The Christmas Even 2004 snow event is easily 1 in 100,000 event for December or 1 in 1,000 event between December to March. White Christmas have never been recorded in Southeast Texas. I suspect White Christmas have happened on the Upper Texas Coast in the past, likely in the mid 19th century when there have been some big cold blasts. So, how did November compare to past November?

Top 20 Coolest November In Upper Texas Coast (1895-2014)
1.) 1976 52.80°F
2.) 1929/1972 55.20°F
3.) 1959 55.30°F
4.) 1932 55.40°F
5.) 1911 56.10°F
6.) 1898 56.30°F
7.) 1907 56.50°F
8.) 1895/1936 56.60°F
9.) 1979 56.90°F
10.) 1939/1980 57.00°F
11.) 1991 57.10°F
12.) 1993 57.20°F
13.) 1920/1923 57.30°F
14.) 1941/1992/2014 57.40°F
15.) 1937/1943 57.50°F
16.) 1918/1970 57.60°F
17.) 1926 57.80°F
18.) 1951 58.10°F
19.) 1917 58.30°F
20.) 1912/1947/1997 58.40°F

It was a cold November for Upper Texas Coast as it is in top 20. It ranks 14th coldest November on record. There were cold Novembers back to back from 1991 to 1993. November 1976 is truly an outlier as it was very cold. In fact, there was freezing rain and sleet on November 28-29, 1976. Like most of America, Winter 1976-1977 was a very cold winter for Upper Texas Coast.

Interesting to note that the coldest Fall for America, Texas, and Upper Texas Coast is 1976. The Winter of 1976-1977 was very cold and one of the coldest on record. This past Fall does not come anywhere near 1976. Fall 1976 is truly rare. So, what could Winter 2014-2015 will be like? I will issue a forecast soon.

Fall1976_NothernHemisphere_SurfaceTemperatureAnomaly

Spring 2014 Report

Spring2014Ranks

Spring has passed as we approach summer as the days get longer. So, did winter choose to remain despite the fact the calendar says spring? Some areas were still cold and ice still prevailed in the Great Lakes. It was warm in the Western US as they are still languishing in a drought.

America
Temperature: 51.13°F
Rainfall: 8.01

1895-2014 Spring Statistics
Spring Temperature Mean: 51.06°F
Spring Temperature Median: 50.82°F
Standard Deviation: 1.36

Spring Rainfall Mean: 7.93
Spring Rainfall Median: 7.91
Standard Deviation: 0.97

America as a whole had a largely normal spring because of the stark contrast in temperature and rainfall. Some regions were cooler, while others were warmer. In terms of rain, some regions got more, while others got less. So that cancels each other out. This surface temperature anomaly map shows the eastern half of the US was cooler, while western half of the US was warmer. Most of the cold air was over Canada and Upper Midwest. Most of Arctic, Asia, and Europe had warmer than normal spring.

2014SpringSurfaceTemperatureAnomaly

One wonders why was the Eastern US cooler than the Western US this past spring. Look at a 500 millibar level geopotential height to look for anomalies. A positive anomaly is persistent ridging, while negative anomaly is persistent troughing. Here is a map of the 500 millibar level geopotential height anomaly map.

2014Spring500mbGeopotentialAnomaly

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is in a positive phase, as there is persistent troughing over Greenland and Northeastern Canada. A positive NAO usually means warmer than normal winter when NAO is positive. However, there is persistent ridging over Alaska. That area is called Nort Pacific Oscillation (NPO) or East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). When there is ridging over Alaska, the NPO/EPO is negative, while troughing over Alaska means positive NPO/EPO. The NPO/EPO is similar to NAO, but over the North Pacific Ocean. A negative NPO/EPO gives America a cooler than normal winter. It can have much influence than NAO, like this past winter, which was a cold one. Another cold winter where the NAO was positive, but NPO/EPO was negative is the winter of 1983-1984. That winter was really cold, especially December 1983.

Now, let’s look at the great state of Texas’s spring.

Texas
Temperature: 64.13°F
Rainfall: 6.12

1895-2014 Spring Statistics
Spring Temperature Mean: 64.75°F
Spring Temperature Median: 64.73°F
Standard Deviation: 1.77

Spring Rainfall Mean: 7.26
Spring Rainfall Median: 7.05
Standard Deviation: 2.16

Like America, Texas had a normal spring in terms of temperature and rainfall. The temperature is below average, but within average. Texas saw normal March rainfall as it got beneficial rains to put a dent on the drought. However, Texas needs more rain to end this drought, which will hopefully be case with El Nino. So, how did Houston area fared in Spring.

Upper Texas Coast
Temperature: 66.93°F
Rainfall: 11.12

1895-2014 Spring Statistics
Spring Temperature Mean: 68.50°F
Spring Temperature Median: 68.39°F
Standard Deviation: 1.68

Spring Rainfall Mean: 10.38
Spring Rainfall Median: 9.91
Standard Deviation: 4.28

It is not your imagination that Spring 2014 was cool in Southeast Texas. It was cooler than normal despite the fact that Texas and America had normal spring. The Upper Texas Coast cracked the top 20 coolest spring on record. It is even cooler than Spring 2013. Winter prevailed in Spring 2014 for Upper Texas Coast. This is despite the fact it is within the mean, but close enough to be outside the mean to be considered abnormal. Here is the top 20 coolest spring in the Upper Texas Coast.

Top 20 Coldest Spring
1.) 1931 63.37°F
2.) 1915 64.87°F
3.) 1926 65.53°F
4.) 1913 65.63°F
5.) 1983 65.67°F
6.) 1914/1969 65.87°F
7.) 1952 65.90°F
8.) 1924/1960 66.07°F
9.) 1941 66.40°F
10.) 1947 66.53°F
11.) 1970/1993 66.57°F
12.) 1912 66.60°F
13.) 1919 66.63°F
14.) 1917 66.67°F
15.) 1932 66.77°F
16.) 1942 66.83°F
17.) 1937 66.90°F
18.) 2014 66.93°F
19.) 1928/1962 67.03°F
20.) 1930 67.07°F

Spring 2014 is the 18th coolest spring on record since 1895! Spring 2013 is 22 coolest spring on record and ties with Spring 1901 as the average was 67.13°F. Interesting to note following a cool spring, a major hurricane has made landfall on the Upper Texas Coast in these years. Here are the correlation values between Spring Temperatures (March to May) and tropical landfall on the Upper Texas Coast.

Tropical Storm
r = 0.03
p = 0.71

Hurricane
r = 0.11
p = 0.22

Major Hurricane
r = -0.21
p = 0.02

All Landfall
r = 0.00
p = 0.99

There is a significant negative correlation between cool springs and major hurricanes making landfall on the Upper Texas Coast. Cooler the spring, the more likely a major hurricane is likely to make landfall. It is significant because the p-value below 0.05. Anything above 0.05 is not significant. Four of the top 20 coolest spring had a major hurricane make landfall during the hurricane season from June to November.

Major Hurricane
1915-Galveston Hurricane of 1915 (Category 3)
1932-Freeport Hurricane (Category 4)
1941-Hurricane #2 (Category 3, Based on Reanalysis)
1983-Alicia (Category 3)

Hurricanes
1947-Hurricane 3 (Category 1)

Interesting to note that San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Championship, a hurricane made landfall. Here are the championship years for Spurs and hurricanes that made landfall.

1999-Bret
2003-Claudette
2005-Rita
2007-Humberto
2014-?

Two are Category 3 or above, while the other two are Category 1. In Humberto’s case, had it stayed over the Gulf of Mexico longer, it easily would have been a Category 3 or above hurricane. Thankfully that never happened as it made landfall east of Galveston on September 13, 2007 at 2:00 AM. Eerily, exactly one year later on that day and time, a much larger hurricane, Hurricane Ike, made landfall on the eastern part of Galveston Island.

However, none of them had an El Nino developing that year. Most were either Neutral (2003) or going into La Nina (1999, 2005, and 2007). El Nino is forecasted to develop for this year and that reduces storm formation from westerly wind shear. However, during El Nino years, storms form closer to land and increase their chance for landfall. My spring forecast for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season used years that saw El Nino developing early. Looking at it this 2014 analog GIS heat map, many of them end up in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico.

2014AnalogHurricaneHeatMap

Notice the highest risk for storms to hit are the Central Gulf Coast region, which is Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Southeast Texas is also in a high risk area for landfall during an analog season where El Nino is developing. It proves that even a less active season is just as dangerous as an active season.

2013-2014 Winter

Winter2014Ranks

BRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! It was a cold and snowy winter for many. For some, they ask, “Where is winter?” as it felt like that winter never came. This winter has been certainly cold compared to recent winters of 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. So, how cold was this winter?

America
Temperature: 31.27°F
Rainfall: 5.69

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 32.29°F
Winter Temperature Median: 32.47°F
Standard Deviation: 2.01

Winter Rainfall Mean: 6.74
Winter Rainfall Median: 6.69
Standard Deviation: 0.89

It has been quite cold for America. A far cry from last two winters, which were balmy. Winter did not want to come. So, why was this past winter cold? The reason is the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) or East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). Like North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), when EPO goes negative, it causes upper level ridging over Alaska, which allows cold air to go down south. Even if EPO is negative, while NAO and AO are positive, America gets cold. This setup happened in December 1983 and February 1989, where deep freezes hit America.

2013-2014Winter500mbGeopotentialAnomaly

Winter rainfall has been below average. This is mainly due to the dry winter in the Western US. So, how does 2013-2014 rank? Let’s look at top 20 coldest winter since 1895.

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1978-1979 26.61°F
2.) 1894-1895 26.65°F*
3.) 1935-1936 27.78°F
4.) 1898-1899 27.95°F
5.) 1909-1910 28.17°F
6.) 1904-1905 28.69°F
7.) 1928-1929 28.72°F
8.) 1977-1978 29.04°F
9.) 1916-1917 29.10°F
10.) 1917-1918 29.11°F
11.) 1911-1912 29.35°F
12.) 1903-1904 29.89°F
13.) 1976-1977 30.01°F
14.) 1902-1903 30.03°F
15.) 1948-1949 30.14°F
16.) 1936-1937 30.35°F
17.) 1914-1915 30.39°F
18.) 1963-1964 30.40°F
19.) 1983-1984 30.56°F
20.) 1919-1920/1984-1985 30.57°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

Notice there have been some data change for climate division, so the value and ranking is a little different. For example, Winter 2009-2010 was 15th coldest winter on record and now it is 22nd coldest on record. Winter 2013-2014 does not make the top 20 list. It is the 34th coldest winter on record. It is cold considering that last winter was 19th warmest winter on record. Quite a stark contrast right there. Interesting to note that some of the coldest winter occurred in the same decade, 1910s and 1970s and some occurred back to back in the early 1900s, mid to late 1910s, and late 1970s.

Since, this winter had been dry, how does 2013-2014 fare in the rainfall department. Here is a top 10 driest winter on record.

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 1976-1077 4.17
2.) 1930-1931 4.68
3.) 1980-1981 4.72
4.) 1894-1895 4.73*
5.) 1962-1963 4.88
6.) 1946-1947 5.40
7.) 1963-1964 5.47
8.) 1919-1920 5.63
9.) 1903-1904 5.68
10.) 2001-2002/2013-2014 5.69

*December 1894 data is missing.

I got the winter rainfall forecast way off. 2013-2014 is the 10th driest on record and ties with 2001-2002, which had little snow on the East Coast. That lack of snow contributed to the clean up of what used to be the World Trade Center, which tragically was destroyed on September 11, 2001 by terrorists. Initially, it was feared that it could take up to two years to clear the World Trade Center site. The dry winter is due to the severe drought in the Western US, especially in California. If I was in California, I would be more worried about drought than earthquakes. At least earthquakes happen quickly, while droughts are prolonged. Also, droughts can happen anywhere in the world, whether desert or tropical rainforest. A huge earthquake can only happen in areas with active fault lines, which is Pacific Rim or South Asia due to India subcontinent moving further north.

Now, let’s look at the great state of Texas’s winter.

Texas
Temperature: 45.93°F
Rainfall: 2.42

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 47.28°F
Winter Temperature Median: 47.22°F
Standard Deviation: 2.32

Winter Rainfall Mean: 4.82
Winter Rainfall Median: 1.83
Standard Deviation: 4.68

It was even cold in the Lone Star State. The cold weather may have kept things dry as it is below standard deviation as I will look soon. It makes an abnormally dry winter. That is concerning as drought is a major problem in Texas. So, how does 2013-2014 rank in Texas?

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1898-1899 41.33°F
2.) 1894-1895 41.55°F*
3.) 1904-1905 42.20°F
4.) 1978-1979 42.83°F
5.) 1977-1978 42.87°F
6.) 1963-1964 43.03°F
7.) 1911-1912 43.43°F
8.) 1983-1984 43.50°F
9.) 1972-1973/2009-2010 43.83°F
10.) 1909-1910 44.23°F
11.) 1917-1918 44.30°F
12.) 1976-1977 44.50°F
13.) 1935-1936 44.53°F
14.) 1962-1963 44.57°F
15.) 1912-1913 44.63°F
16.) 1960-1961 44.67°F
17.) 1914-1915 44.80°F
18.) 1928-1929 44.87°F
19.) 1905-1906 44.90°F
20.) 1947-1948 44.93°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

This winter is not in the top 20 coldest winter as it ranks 27th coldest on record for Texas. It makes the top 30 coldest winter on record. It is the coldest winter since 2009-2010 and that winter was cold. On the topic of rainfall, it was bone dry. That is a very concerning as Texas has been in a drought since 2008. So, how does 2013-2014 compare in the rainfall deparment?

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 2008-2009 1.54
2.) 1908-1909 1.67
3.) 1917-1918 1.72
4.) 1970-1971 1.80
5.) 1916-1917 2.11
6.) 1966-1967 2.12
7.) 1975-1976 2.13
8.) 1995-1996 2.31
9.) 1901-1902 2.32
10.) 2013-2014 2.42

The 2013-2014 Winter is tenth driest on record. The most recent dry winter is also the driest on record, 2008-2009. This past winter is even drier than 2010-2011 and that was a strong La Nina. This past winter was Neutral bordering into La Nina. It shows that El Nino or La Nina is not only factor for winter rainfall and temperature. There are other factors in play. In the meantime, let’s check out the Upper Texas Coast, which Houston is in.

Upper Texas Coast
Temperature: 52.17°F
Rainfall: 4.36

1895-2014 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 53.96°F
Winter Temperature Median: 53.98°F
Standard Deviation: 2.64

Winter Rainfall Mean: 10.24
Winter Rainfall Median: 9.88
Standard Deviation: 3.54

Top 20 Coldest Winter
1.) 1894-1895 47.85°F*
2.) 1977-1978 48.07°F
3.) 1898-1899 48.90°F
4.) 1963-1964 49.03°F
5.) 1904-1905 49.17°F
6.) 1976-1977 49.60°F
7.) 2009-2010 49.67°F
8.) 1978-1979 49.87°F
9.) 1962-1963 50.03°F
10.) 1983-1984 50.07°F
11.) 1911-1912/1972-1973 50.13°F
12.) 1939-1940 50.33°F
13.) 1935-1936 50.50°F
14.) 1905-1906 50.63°F
15.) 1909-1910 50.93°F
16.) 1917-1918 51.13°F
17.) 1967-1968 51.20°F
18.) 1959-1960 51.30°F
19.) 1947-1948/1960-1961 51.37°F
20.) 1958-1959 51.43°F

*December 1894 data is missing.

Like America and Texas, the Upper Texas Coast did not crack top 20 coldest winter. It is the 26th coldest winter on record. It is cold for sure, much colder than the past two winters. 2009-2010 was much colder than 2013-2014 despite more freezing temperatures than in 2009-2010. 2009-2010 had below average temperatures every single day. Winter 2009-2010 still remains in the top 10 coldest winter on record.

The past few months had below normal temperature. In terms of rainfall, it has been dry. The analog precipitation forecast was way off for Upper Texas Coast. The winter rainfall total is well below standard deviation of 3.54. That is very concerning as drought remains a problem. However, I was right in regards of winter precipitation as Houston saw five freezing rain events. Here is how 2013-2014 compared for Upper Texas Coast.

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 2008-2009 2.83
2.) 1917-1918 3.93
3.) 1970-1971 4.05
4.) 2013-2014 4.36
5.) 1908-1909 4.48
6.) 1961-1962 4.97
7.) 1896-1897 5.30
8.) 1975-1976 5.63
9.) 1903-1904 5.74
10.) 1985-1986 5.77

The 2013-2014 Winter is fourth driest on record. For the record, the Winter of 2008-2009 is driest on record since 1895. Driest winters occur usually during a La Nina and we were Neutral. This is very concerning as drought has stricken a good portion of Texas and America. However, I see light at the end of the tunnel. El Nino is developing and word is it could be a strong one like 1982-1983 or 1997-1998. If that is the case, we could see a wet spring or summer and certainly a wet fall and winter. That would be a good thing as it can bring the drought to a screeching halt.

Drought Misery Index

With the ongoing drought, I came up with the Drought Misery Index (DMI), which is similar to the Misery Index for the economy. Here is the formula for Drought Misery Index.

Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) + Precipitation (PCP) = Drought Misery Index

Example:
-8.00 + 1 = -7.00

The more negative the DMI, the worse the drought is. Here is the current DMI, based on September outcome.

America
-2.78
-4.78 (PDSI) + 2.00 (PCP)
Lowest: -6.01 August 1934
Highest: +9.91 May 1983

Texas
-2.49
-3.78 (PDSI) + 1.29 (PCP)
Lowest: -7.22 September 1956
Highest: +15.51 October 1919

Upper Texas Coast
0.38
-2.05 (PDSI) + 2.43 (PCP)
Lowest: -4.64 July 1925
Highest: +20.98 October 1949

All data is from the Division Data and it can change as more data is put in and averaged out.

Hurricane Sandy

The East Coast is cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy, which has so far have so far claimed 160 lives in America and Caribbean. I expect the death toll to rise, especially in the Northeast. Why was Hurricane Sandy so bad despite only being a Category 1 storm? I will look at Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy formed from a tropical wave that moved out of Africa in early October. It entered the Caribbean on October 19 and was tagged as Invest 99L. The Caribbean for the 2012 season is largely not favorable due to wind shear from a weak El Nino that died (indications are that El Nino is returning). The lack of wind shear in the Caribbean and warm water made it favorable for development. The disturbance becomes Tropical Depression 18 and than Tropical Storm Sandy on October 22. Two days later, Sandy becomes a hurricane and heads north towards Jamaica. Sandy makes a direct landfall on Jamaica, near Kingston. Jamaica has not had a landfall since 1988 with Hurricane Gilbert. Than Sandy passes Jamaica and undergoes rapid intensification to 110 mph and makes landfall west of Santiago de Cuba. Satellite presentation suggests that Sandy was most likely a major hurricane and likely will be upgraded.

NAO during Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy heads towards the Bahamas and starts to “weaken”. Actually, Sandy is becoming more extratropical and getting larger. The wind shear has little effect on Sandy as it becomes larger and more intense as the pressure drops. The reason for this is that Sandy is influenced by a trough to the west and maintaining a warm core. Sandy also had the Gulf Stream, which allowed it to intensify further. One would think that Sandy would keep going to the northeast as most storms typically do especially in October due to jet stream. There was a strong high pressure around Greenland and the jet stream around it steered Sandy to the west towards the East Coast. A strong high pressure over Greenland is a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Since that high pressure over Greenland blocked Sandy from going northeast and had no choice but to go westward. A negative NAO also generally means cooler and stormier winters as cold air from the north is pushed southwards.

Infrared image of Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy makes landfall 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City on the afternoon of October 30. By than Sandy is the largest hurricane on record for the Atlantic. It would be like if Super Typhoon Tip hit the East Coast, but not as intense. Most of the heavy rain was near the center, while the strongest winds and storm surge were to the northeast, which puts it over the New York City area. New York area did not get most of the rain from Sandy despite being on the “dirty” side of the storm. Instead they got the highest storm surge of nearly 14 feet at The Battery in Manhattan. The storm surge ravaged New York, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It even ravaged areas north of New York along the Hudson River. Flooding was extensive in Lower Manhattan and Northern New Jersey. By the time Sandy passed, about 8 million people lost power, the second most after the 1993 Super Storm.

Let’s look at how Sandy stacks up.

Central Pressure: 945.5 Millibars
Sustained Winds At Landfall: 90 mph
Highest Rainfall: 12.55″ Easton, Maryland
Highest Snowfall: 36″ Richwood, West Virginia

Sandy is the most intense hurricane to hit north of Cape Hatteras. It beats the 1938 Long Island Express Hurricane, which ravaged the East Coast and claimed 600 lives. Sandy was a large rainmaker for areas east of Washington, DC. Not only Sandy dumped heavy rain, it dumped heavy snow in Appalachian Mountains. West Virginia got their first snow of the season in the form of a blizzard. Another interesting thing about Sandy is, it is one of the few hurricanes to make landfall on New Jersey from a westerly direction. Most storms that hit New Jersey are coming from the south, like Hurricane Irene did in 2011. The last storm to hit New Jersey like Sandy did was in 1903 and dubbed Vagabond Hurricane. The Vagabond Hurricane hit in September as a Category 1 hurricane and made landfall near Atlantic City.

2011 Climate Review

What was 2011 like in the climate department? 2011 had extreme weather from extreme wet to dry or extreme cold to hot. 2011 had many deadly tornado outbreaks that killed many people. 2011 goes down a memorable year in the weather world with many billion dollar disasters. So, how did 2011 stack up in terms of rainfall and temperature?

USA
Rainfall
28.78

Temperature
54.53°F

The rainfall was within average, which is 29.18 inches. There is a wide gap between a lot of rain and little rain. It ranks 45th driest or 73rd wettest on record. New York City and Philadelphia had their wettest year on record, largely due to the heavy rains in August and Hurricane Irene. On the other hand, Amarillo and Wichita Falls had their driest year on record. That is a huge difference wet and dry However, the temperature is above normal, which is largely due to the hot summer that plagued the nation. Summer 2011 is the second hottest summer after summer of 1936. 1936 was very hot and dry, especially in the Midwest. It was also the center of the Dust Bowl. 2011 ranks 95th coolest or 23rd warmest on record. It was indeed a warm year for America.

Texas
Rainfall
14.89

Temperature
67.17°F

2011 goes down as the driest year on record going back to 1895. That is no surprise that Texas is in its worst one year drought. Pecos, Texas had (drums rolling please) 1.06 inches of rain in one year! Talk about really dry right there! If true, it would be the driest year in Texas history, beating 0.64 inches of rain at Presidio, Texas in 1956, another severe drought year. The lack of rain would make life boring right there. It was quite warm in Texas despite the cold winters of 2010-2011. Summer 2011 was the hottest on record and for America! It was a very hot summer and hopefully we will never see that again in our life time. It was toasty in Texas that it is the second warmest year after 1921. 1921 was the year that Central Texas got hit by a massive flood from a hurricane remnant. Thrall, Texas saw 38.2 inches of rain in 18 hours! Sadly, 215 people lost their life in the flood, which is the deadliest non-storm surge flood in Texas to this day.

Upper Texas Coast
Rainfall
25.37

Temperature
70.85°F

The same can be said about the Upper Texas Coast as well in the rainfall department. 2011 was the driest year on record for Upper Texas Coast. However, at Houston had 24.57 inches, which is the third driest on record thanks to rain in the fall and winter. We still have plenty to catch in the rain department. 2011 was a warm year alright, which ranked 7th warmest year on record. 2011 ties with 1950, which also a La Nina year. The reason for this rank was that the winter of 2010-2011 was cooler than normal. Had the winter of 2010-2011 had been warmer, 2011 would have been easily number one warmest year on record. Houston’s annual average was 71.8°F, which is second to 1962.

So, what will 2012 be like? Only time can tell. However, since we had the heavy rains on January 9, 2012, I am thinking it could be like 1989. The last time we had heavy rain and flooding in January was on January 18, 1989, when up to 5 inches of rain fell in Houston and led to flooding. There was also a severe drought that time from 1988 and it was La Nina. However, that is another topic. Until than, let us hope that 2012 is a better year in the weather world.

All data is from Division Data.