2010 to start bitterly cold in Alabama

| December 29, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | 35 Replies


A cold front will move through Alabama on New Year’s Eve, bringing cold northerly winds to the state by New Year’s Day. Temperatures will fall into the mid 30s, and then struggle to reach 40 even in the daytime over the weekend with north winds producing wind chills in the 20s.

But, that’s only the beginning. All 4 major computer models (the GFS, Canadian, European, and NOGAPS) agree that a large upper-level low will form and cut-off over the Midwest or Northeast US next week, keeping a steady parade of cold fronts reinforcing the cold air over Alabama, and making it even colder (forecast below). This whole process, on the large scale, is related to the negative Arctic Oscillation we have been in for much of December, and it looks like we will stay in going into January.

The AO (Arctic Oscillation) has been thrown around a lot this year, so I’ll try to explain it a little bit. Basically, the AO is negative when surface pressures over the Arctic are above normal and pressures over mid-latitudes are below normal, allowing Arctic air to more readily push southward into North America and Europe, but leaving places like Greenland warmer than normal. The AO is positive when pressures are lower in the Arctic, not as conducive to the flow of cold air south.

The height of the 500 mb pressure surface, and its deviation from normal, is a good indicator of abnormally warm and cold areas, especially in the winter. Take a look at a loop of 500 mb heights and departures from normal over the Northern Hemisphere for the past 30 days. Notice the warmer than normal air moving around places like Alaska, Greenland, and Hudson Bay, with colder than normal air farther south in the USA and Europe, as the cold Arctic air moves south.


The AO oscillates between positive and negative, of course, but there have only been a few times since 1980 when the AO has been this low over a 3-month period.


The low AO in mid-December was accompanied by things like a rare snowstorm from Houston into Louisiana and Misssippi on Dec 4, with a dusting of snow in Alabama on December 5. Also, extreme cold moved into much of Europe. Take a look at the AO since Aug 31, and its forecast through mid January. Ensemble models indicate it’s going very negative again. Also notice that the models have had a positive bias on the AO, so it may be even worse than anticipated by ensembles.


So, back to the forecast. With a blocking warm anomaly over Greenland, the models are in good agreement on the large upper low mentioned earlier, keeping cold northerly winds blowing from the Arctic, where there has been little to no sun now for weeks, into Alabama. Take a look at the GFS forecast surface map for next Monday evening. Our air is coming from the Arctic Ocean.

And, with a dense snow pack over the northern US, the air won’t have a chance to modify much on its way here.

The models have been fairly consistent, between each other and from one run to the next. Here is a 9-day forecast of high and low temperatures for BHM, based mainly on raw surface temperature forecasts from the GFS, European, and Canadian models. I used the 00Z and 12Z runs, and weighted the averages 30/70. Cold.

Note the highs only in the mid 30s next week, with lows in the lower to mid 20s. This kind of weather can burst pipes, so prepare for that. Also think about how to keep your pets warm, and check on the elderly starting this weekend and be sure they have an adequate, safe source of warmth. The GFS model for the following week (really getting out there) indicates that it will get even colder…with single digits possible in Alabama. But, that’s a long way off.

I know people are wondering about snow. We could see a few snow flurries on New Year’s Day, and the Canadian model indicates a snow storm for central Alabama around the middle of next week. But, the GFS and European models indicate that the cold air will push the storm track out into the Gulf, keeping snow near to the coast. With the El Nino cycle in place also, we’ll have to watch that.


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  1. jeff says:

    WOW!!! looks like the coldes year in years!

  2. Bo Peep says:

    Thank you Dr. Tim for this post. I have been wondering about the AO myself. I really enjoy studying weather and thought I knew quite a bit before I found this gold nugget of a site. Sometimes I post questions that go unanswered, so anytime ya’ll can post some explanations on these sort of things the average Joe doesn’t understand, it’s highly appreciated by me. I’m learnin!! LOL!

  3. Vanessa says:

    Dear Dr. Tim,
    Thanks for this GREAT post! Such good graphs and interesting reading…
    I have been wondering what the NAO really is—this answers my questions. J.B. Elliot talks about how the temps in Deadhorse, AK affect us here in Alabama—how the “big gate swings open” and all that cold air moves south. It is amazing, but I learn something on this site almost every day. 🙂
    Also, I appreciate your explanation and forecast of the bitter cold coming to AL next week. This gives me a chance to take a few necessary precautions: stock up the firewood, make sure I have plenty of propane, check on grandparents, elderly neighbors, etc. and prepare a warm spot for my outside cat.
    Keep these great posts coming.
    God Bless!

  4. BillT says:

    as i understand for the outside animals, cats are ok down to about 20 degrees in the teens it can become harmful to cats and 10 or below is very bad for them.

    dogs can tolerate cold a tiny but better, but they dont handle single digits too well either.

  5. Dana says:

    Be careful not to confuse the NAO with the AO. The NAO is the North Atlantic Oscillation, which likewise is trending WAY down according to the models over the next couple of weeks:


  6. Bo Peep says:

    Dana, how does the NAO affect our weather here? I understand the AO opens us up to Artic air, so with the NAO trending down as you say, what does that mean for us here in Bammy?

  7. Sue says:

    I love this cold weather. I will probably wear a coat or sweater this weekend. How long has it been since we have had this cold weather, seems like we haven’t had below 0 or close in a very long time.

  8. Rod says:

    Sue- In 1989 just before Christmas it was bitter cold for several days. Highs in the teens and lows around 0.

  9. CWK says:

    This looks like a historic Actic outbreak. We could stay in the 20’s and 30’s for highs for 10 to 15 days. Thats historic for this area. Not to mention the chances of snow over the next 2 or 3 weeks. And believe me they will come if only in the form of clipper systems.This outbreak will make 89 look mild and that is the coldest I can personaly remember. We also got almost an inch of snow on Christmas morning here in etowah co.in 89 I think everyone who dreams of living in a colder climate will be quiet pleased this month.

  10. Chuck says:

    DR. Tim. Great post, wish I was in Alabama for the warm weather…LOL. Considering currently here where I live at Hanscom AFB, it is:

    Bedford, Hanscom Field
    Lat: 42.47 Lon: -71.29 Elev: 133
    Last Update on Dec 29, 4:56 pm EST


    12 °F
    (-11 °C)
    Humidity: 46 %
    Wind Speed: NW 18 G 36 MPH
    Barometer: 29.95″ (1016.0 mb)
    Dewpoint: -5 °F (-21 °C)
    Wind Chill: -6 °F (-21 °C)
    Visibility: 10.00 m

    Which means it is toooo cold for the Alabama boy transplanted to the frozen North.


  11. BeninGrantley says:

    Like CWK said above the pettern here looks very ominous for some of the coldest weather as far as the length of this cold weather outbreak is concerned. It looks like we will flirt with a period of about 4 days where we will be below freezing. The only thing preventing us from getting snow from this would be lack of moisture as even the GOM will in effect have its warm weather valve shut off. My fear is that this El Nino pattern will gear up again midway through this arctic outbreak with ample moisture and slam someone in the southeast with a pretty hefty snow. Looks like we will have a few shots at this.

  12. Dana says:

    Bo Peep, it’s kind of the same as the AO…when it’s negative, it usually translates into colder than normal temps in the eastern part of the country. Having both “teleconnections” as they’re called strongly negative increases the confidence that it’s going to be pretty darn cold in the Southeast in the next couple of weeks. There’s a pretty good explanation here:


  13. curt0521 says:

    good post chuck…… i think its funny,here in Bama an artic outbreak and bitter cold is highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s or teens. People up north would probably agree thats kinda cold.
    I agree its cold, dangerous cold in ways…. here.
    But everyone here knows there are places in the world, in the U.S. that during this time of year highs in the 30’s and 20’s aint bad at all. Its normal.
    I love snow and i dont like it when its 92-95 degrees with a heat index of 100.
    But i dunno if i could deal with the real bitterly cold temps that the northern U.S. experiences during the winter months every year.

  14. Bo Peep says:

    Thanks Dana =)


    Honestly, that does not look that cold. I live in Atlanta, and like BHAM, we have been much colder than this before..Jan 21 1985 I had -11 here in Atl. Dec 24th it was 0 at 10pm, the coldest Christmas eve and Christmas day in record keeping. So 22 and a high of 34, big deal us southerners can take that…This is not unusually cold, I mean we really have already had this so far, I am confused?????

  16. Chris M. says:

    I’m with you Brent- I was thinking the same myself. I live in Huntsville- put some single digits on there for lows and then I’ll be concerned. Wasn’t there a string of days not so many years ago the highs didn’t get above freezing? I also think back to someone last year forecasting “Epic Cold” that didn’t materialize. Was it NWS Huntsville Dr. Tim

  17. chris says:

    I agree. that is not that cold. I remember when we had temps in the single digits.

  18. CWK says:

    Guys, I think it’s the possibilities that are so interesting. This set up with a negative NAO and an expansive snow pack to our north makes it very possible to see temps near zero and highs in the teens and twenties especialy if we were to get a couple of inches of snow from one of these clipper type systems. Not to mention it looks like we could stay cold for a very long time. If your not saying wow at the weather possibilities this month you need to check your pulse!

  19. Wayne In Georgia says:

    Don’t know if “Medicine Man” will be back on tonight but on J.B.’s subject just below he made a comment and ask a question 1.Mentioned moderate to heavy snow in Central Fla around 10-7-10 and 2.ask if there’s ever been a snow storm in Central Fla. Having lived there from 1970 to 1990 I have what I remember during the bitter cold outbreak mentioned above around Christmas 1989. There was snow during that 1989 artic breakout in Fla. Around Gainsville they had about 4″ of snow. It shut down I-75 and we had flurries just north of Orlando. Yes the “GATORS SWAMP” had snow in it. In 1977 we lived in Lakeland Fl. In Jan that year it snowed enough to leave a heavy “dusting”. The local paper’s headline said “SNOW”. Having grown up in So.Indiana I hit the floor laughing when I read “snow deep enough with the wind has lead to 2″ drifts in some spots”. Yes I’m not kidding 2″ drifts were mentioned in a front page story. It did ice the roads. It also snowed in Orlando the same night in ’77. The am headlines in the Orlando Sentinel said “LET IT SNOW”.Final note: Today’s 18Z GFS Fine does shows the 0 line on 1-7-10 across Fla from Fort Myers to West Palm with the whole state shaded in light green.

  20. James (Tuscaloosa) says:

    Bedford, Hanscom Field
    Lat: 42.47 Lon: -71.29 Elev: 133
    Last Update on Dec 29, 4:56 pm EST


    12 °F
    (-11 °C)
    Humidity: 46 %
    Wind Speed: NW 18 G 36 MPH
    Barometer: 29.95? (1016.0 mb)
    Dewpoint: -5 °F (-21 °C)
    Wind Chill: -6 °F (-21 °C)
    Visibility: 10.00 m

    Which means it is toooo cold for the Alabama boy transplanted to the frozen North.


    If ya’ll remember the great Lewis Grizzard, he said it was the Chicago winters thayt did him in and hastened his return to the South.

    The good thing about this cold n one has mentioned, is it will kill a good deal of insects that haven’t been killed off due to our run of mild winters.

  21. BeninGrantley says:

    This isn’t an EPIC Arctic blast as in pure numbers meaning the coldest we have ever seen…It could be Epic in its leangth of staying power. I don’t know about you guys but today was the first day here in Grantley that we rose above 40 since the 24th. So looking at the duration of this artic air we could be talking about 15-18 day duration of temps not getting above the 40’s and near 5-7 days below freezing. In the south…thats a pretty stiff arctic blast. BTW…our coldest temp I have ever recorded here was -15 back on January 21, 1985. Im also pretty sure the coldest temp anyone around this area recorded was the artic blast of 1899 when it got down to a balmy -38…or so I was told by those much older than myself that. So, no this won’t be anywhere near that.

  22. Chris M. says:

    FYI. The lowest recorded temperature for Alabama is -27 degrees F on 30 January 1966 in New Market.

  23. James (Tuscaloosa) says:

    I’m sure I’ll get SOMETHING when I go to Texas between the 2nd and 11th (UNLESS (heh-heh) I somehow manange a miracle of an unexpected trip to Pasadena).

  24. BeninGrantley says:

    that -27 is the “offical” recorded lowest temperature in Alabama…it is not even close to some of the temps that have been recorded by non offical in this state. I think the coldest non offical temp was like -44 also in 1899, that wss toward the end of our mini north american Ice Age.

  25. Medicine Man says:

    Wayne in Ga. (I have an Uncle Wayne in GA and hope its not you!) Thank you for the information on FL. snow storms! Good stuff. I remember a hard freeze in New Symrna Beach back in the early 80’s? that killed all of a particular type of tropical pine. I remember the landscape had changed overnight. It was sad for a kid like myself, for these trees were excellent for climbing, the needles were 10 to 12 inches long and the sea breeze sounded great blowing through. Every tree on the island was killed during the freeze. I am sure that 30 years later some have grown back. Focusing on the comming cold, I would like to think we can handle highs in the 30s and 40s? When you have extended periods of highs in the 20s and long streches of lows in the single digits things get busy for the plumbers! Lowes home improvement has R25 roll insulation 22’x 15″ plastic wraped on sale for $9.98 a roll (regular price is $19) Perfect for attics and great timing with the tax credit for 2009!

  26. roll tide! says:

    wow! 20’s and 30’s. How is that epic? I enjoy seeing how they forecast this stuff but i keep thinking to myself…. it may be cool but they are always wrong when it comes to snow so what’s the point of these models if they dont work!

  27. Chris M. says:

    yeah Ben my Uncle Louie tells me a lot of stories too- doesn’t mean I believe a one of ’em! It also seems like your temperature goes down like 5 or 6 degrees each time you tell it. Are you Uncle Louie? 🙂 I’ll stick what’s official. Nuff said on it from me.

  28. BeninGrantley says:

    Chris M. I can promise you I’m not your uncle Louie. I also have figured out that you the kinda show me guys that prolly doesn’t believe we landed on the moon or what not…cause you weren’t there. Good thing is your opinions aren’t relevant. Nuff Said!!!!

  29. Chris M. says:

    Well since you bring it up yes, being I work for NASA, I do believe we landed on the moon. You, however should learn the difference between history and folklore. Seems that your figuring skills are about as good as your storytelling. Tell ya what- take your stories and your weather forecast ideas and start your own blog and see how much attetion you can get there.

  30. Sam Baker says:

    Your own sentence Quote: “The AO oscillates between positive and negative, of course, but there have only been a few times since 1980 (1980) when the AO has been this low over a 3-month period” supports my theory.

    I believe that the California and Haiti’s Earthquake are related to the

    The Arctic Oscillation
    The Arctic Oscillation refers to opposing atmospheric pressure patterns in northern middle and high latitudes.
    The oscillation exhibits a “negative phase” with relatively high pressure over the polar region and low pressure at midlatitudes (about 45 degrees North), and a “positive phase” in which the pattern is reversed. In the positive phase, higher pressure at midlatitudes drives ocean storms farther north, and changes in the circulation pattern bring wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia, as well as drier conditions to the western United States and the Mediterranean. In the positive phase, frigid winter air does not extend as far into the middle of North America as it would during the negative phase of the oscillation. This keeps much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains warmer than normal, but leaves Greenland and Newfoundland colder than usual. Weather patterns in the negative phase are in general “opposite” to those of the positive phase, as illustrated below.
    Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phases. Starting in the 1970s, however, the oscillation has tended to stay in the POSITIVE PHASE, causing lower than normal arctic air pressure and higher than normal temperatures in much of the United States and northern Eurasia.

    Effects of the Positive Phase | Effects of the Negative Phase
    of the Arctic Oscillation of the Arctic Oscillation
    (Figures courtesy of J. Wallace, University of Washington)

    We are NOW in the NEGATIVE PHASE causing higher than normal arctic air pressure and lower than normal temperatures in much of the United States northern Eurasia.

    p.s. Meteorologists and Geologists are used to think ONLY ABOVE the SURFACE forgetting that Meteorological patterns ALSO AFFECT the UNDERNEATH the SURFACE!

    Cyclogenesis –
    The Development of
    Mid-Latitude Cyclones

    In the mid-latitudes, fronts usually occur as parts of larger storm systems known as mid-latitude cyclones. A mid-latitude cyclone is a weather system that includes a well-defined surface low-pressure area and associated warm, cold, and occluded fronts.
    Cyclogenesis is a term that refers to the development of such a weather system. Mid-latitude cyclogenesis often occurs when an upper trough of intermediate wavelength (2500­5000 km, or 1500­3000 miles) interacts with a surface frontal zone. The low-pressure system grows in the presence of vertical wind shear (winds increasing with height) and thermal instability (convection). The factors that lead to lowering of the pressure at the surface are:
    • Diverging airflow at high altitudes that reduces the mass of the air over the surface low.
    • Inflow of warm, moist air at low and mid levels.
    • Latent heat release caused by convection in the warm air mass sector of the growing storm system.
    When these conditions exist together, a storm system is most likely to develop. The most common type of cyclogenesis is referred to as leaf-to- comma cyclogenesis. This type of storm development begins with a cloud system known as a leaf cloud, and concludes with a comma-shaped cloud system. An illustration of the cloud patterns that form during this type of cyclogenesis can be in the following diagrams. It should be noted that there are many types of cyclogenesis, and each storm is unique when studied in detail.
    Leaf stage
    Storm systems often start out as a cloud formation known as a leaf cloud. This feature is usually found on the east side of an upper-level trough, and is often elongated and leaf-shaped. Leaf clouds have well-defined borders and contain vertically deep and thick clouds. They show up very clearly on both IR and VIS imagery.
    The poleward side of a leaf cloud has a very distinct border that often forms a flat S shape. Leaf clouds can often be identified by a curved notch on the western or southwestern edge of the leaf. This pattern is caused by the jet stream pushing into the western edge of the cloud system. The first illustration depicts a typical leaf cloud formation. The highest cloud tops in a leaf cloud are often located over the eastern portion of the leaf. Cloud top height decreases westward, with middle-level clouds appearing over the westward portion of the notch. Low clouds are found along the top portion of the notch. Usually a cold front is located along the equatorward border of the leaf or within the leaf cloud structure. The leaf cloud is a significant region of clouds and precipitation, even if cyclogenesis does not occur. The western edge of the leaf has a well-defined border and associated notch. This leaf has formed on the eastern side of a relatively high-amplitude jet stream trough.
    Open comma stage
    Within a leaf cloud, the air is rotating or spinning around a point of maximum vorticity (the region of maximum spin). As the air circulates around this point, the cloud system becomes distorted. If the whole system remains stationary, the clouds will gradually develop into a comma shape. If the system moves eastward, the cloud system will undergo further distortion into a cloud pattern called a comma cloud, shown in the second and third illustrations. Comma clouds appear in all sizes and shapes, depending on the development of the vorticity pattern. They range in size from small thunderstorms to large-scale mid-latitude cyclones, and they can change very rapidly.
    Comma clouds have many characteristics that are important to identify when studying these storms. The back edge of a comma cloud, the part of the comma that is most easily identified, has a well-defined S shape. The point at which the back edge curvature changes from cyclonic (counterclockwise) to anticyclonic (clockwise) is called the inflection point. The front edge of a comma cloud is less clearly defined and tends to become very ragged as upper-level winds spread the clouds out. A comma cloud usually has the beginnings of a dry slot, also known as the surge region, where the jet stream crosses the system. This region usually forms as the notch in the leaf cloud expands. Here the jet causes the clouds to move more rapidly with respect to the other clouds, and they become more advanced downstream. The comma head generally lies to the west of the maximum winds. It tends to lag behind and to show the greatest tendency to rotate. The tail of the comma extends from the surge region southward. It generally lies more parallel to the axis of the maximum winds. A cold front is usually located along the tail.
    As the comma develops, pressures in the storm system usually fall. The surface low migrates toward the western edge of the cloud mass, near where the inflection point and the jet stream are located. A warm front (often hard to see in satellite imagery) extends eastward from the inflection point.
    Mature (occluded) stage
    As the storm continues to develop, the low-pressure circulation may become cut off or isolated from the jet stream that it was originally associated with. Without the momentum from the jet stream and the associated temperature gradients that occur along the jet stream, the storm system loses its ability to deepen. The central pressure in the storm stops falling and may even begin to increase. The clouds in the comma system spiral around the center of the storm, and the cold front begins to overtake the warm front. It is at this stage that the system becomes occluded. The point at which an occluded, a cold, and a warm front all come together is referred to as the triple point; it is often seen in satellite imagery near where the jet stream cuts across the system.
    Shearing stage
    As the storm system continues to weaken, upper-level winds tend to tear it apart. The comma head is often cut off from the tail, and the cloud system loses its \organizational pattern. The comma head and its associated low pressure may lag behind and continue to rotate. This is referred to as the start of a cut-off, cold-core low. Such lows weaken slowly with time and tend to be very persistent. Some may last a week or more.

    Public release date: 5-Jul-2001
    Contact: Vince Stricherz
    University of Washington
    Arctic Oscillation has moderated northern winters of 1980s and ’90s
    The Arctic Oscillation has been linked to wide-ranging climate effects in the Northern Hemisphere, but new evidence shows that in recent decades it has been the key in preventing freezing temperatures from extending as far south as they had previously.

    “Public perceptions that winters are becoming less wintry appear to be as much or more due to the change in the Arctic Oscillation as to global warming,” said David Thompson, an assistant atmospheric science professor at Colorado State University.
    The Arctic Oscillation – also referred to as the North Atlantic Oscillation or the annular mode – is a climate pattern defined by winds circulating counterclockwise around the Arctic at about 55 degrees north latitude (about even with Moscow; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Ketchikan, Alaska). Its effects on weather patterns appear to be as far-reaching as those triggered by El Niño in the South Pacific.

    Thompson, who began his research while a doctoral student at the University of Washington, and John M. Wallace, a UW atmospheric sciences professor, examined daily January-through-March weather data from specific stations for each year from 1958 through 1997. In the July 6 edition of the journal Science, the researchers report finding a strong correlation between the Arctic Oscillation’s negative phase and near-record cold days and snow storms over a much broader region of the hemisphere than was previously thought.
    In its negative phase, the Arctic Oscillation’s ring of air spins more slowly and is more easily disturbed, allowing cold arctic air to spill out of the far-north regions and into midlatitudes. In the positive phase, the ring of air spins faster and acts much as a dam that impedes frigid air moving south.
    **** This friction / jump between the positive phase, summer? and the PRESENT (since November 2009 in Europe) an extreme colder air (that REACHES as FAR DOWN as the Oceans – thus AFFECTING the movement of the Tectonic Plates) MIGHT have caused their sudden movement – resulting in the EARTHQUAKE of California and Haiti.
    Tectonic Plates

    The crust of our planet is cracked into seven large and many other smaller slabs of rock called plates, averaging about 50 miles thick. As they move (only inches per year), and depending on the direction of that movement, they collide, forming deep ocean trenches, mountains, volcanoes, and generating Earthquakes. The “insertion” of hot / cold air into the cracks of the crust activates the movement process – at times RESULTING in Earthquakes.

    “The Arctic Oscillation flips back and forth a lot between positive and negative phases within a winter,” Thompson said. “These changes affect weather throughout much of the hemisphere.”
    Thompson and Wallace found that days on which the Arctic Oscillation is in its negative phase are on average several degrees colder than normal over most of the United States, Northern Europe, Russia, China and Japan. Cities with normally mild winters, such as Seattle, Dallas, Paris and Tokyo, experience most of their subfreezing temperatures and snow and ice storms on those days.
    Positive-phase days show a greater frequency of high winds over northern Europe and North America’s Pacific Northwest. Negative-phase days bring to New England a greater likelihood of strong coastal storms known as Nor’easters.
    In the 1980s and ’90s, the Arctic Oscillation has spent most of the time in the positive phase, the researchers said. That reduced the number and frequency of days with subzero temperatures or substantial snowfall in the midlatitudes. “It is conceivable that this change in the behavior of the Arctic Oscillation could be linked to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Thompson said.
    The research by Thompson and Wallace was paid for by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    The new information suggests that forecasts of the Arctic Oscillation would have widespread practical applications, Wallace said. For example, if oil companies knew in advance that a negative-phase winter was on the way, they could plan to increase supplies to their distributors. Wallace expects the Arctic Oscillation to continue, at least for now, the tendency it has shown in recent decades.
    “If this trend of the last 30 years is human induced and if it continues, snow in Seattle or Dallas or Tokyo will become an even rarer event than it is now,” he said. “But if that trend reverses, all bets are off.”
    Convective instability
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    In meteorology, convective instability or stability of an air mass refers to its ability to resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, vertical air movements (such as in orographic lifting, where an air mass is displaced upwards as it is blown by wind up the rising slope of a mountain range) tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant turbulence, extensive vertical clouds, and severe weather such as thunderstorms.
    p.s. I am NOT a scientist but I LOVE watching programs about the Universe and the working of it. I know that when in a place, such as it was the case on Tuesday 12th January 2010 the SKY is WITHOUT clouds it MEANS that somewhere else in the world there is a CATASTROPHE unfolding

    Adiabatic cooling and heating are phenomena of Rising or Descending Air. Rising air expands and cools due to the decrease in air pressure as altitude increases. The opposite is true of Descending air; as atmospheric pressure increases, the temperature of Descending air increases as it is compressed. Adiabatic heating and adiabatic cooling are terms used to describe this temperature change.
    The adiabatic lapse rate is the rate at which a rising or falling air mass lowers or increases per distance of vertical displacement. The ambient lapse rate is the temperature change in the (non-displaced) air per vertical distance. Instability results from difference between the adiabatic lapse rate of an air mass and the ambient lapse rate in the atmosphere.
    If the adiabatic lapse rate is lower than the ambient lapse rate, an air mass displaced upward cools less rapidly than the air in which it is moving. Hence, such an air mass becomes warmer relative to the atmosphere. As warmer air is less dense, such an air mass would tend to continue to rise.
    Conversely, if the adiabatic lapse rate is higher than the ambient lapse rate, an air mass displaced upward cools more rapidly than the air in which it is moving. Hence, such an air mass becomes cooler relative to the atmosphere. As cooler air is denser, the rise of such an air mass would tend to be resisted.
    Moist air cools when rising at a lower rate (given the same vertical movement) than dry air, and hence has a relatively low adiabatic lapse rate. Thus, moist air is generally less stable than dry air. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (for unsaturated air) is 3 °C (5.4 °F) per 1,000 vertical feet. The moist adiabatic lapse rate varies from 1.1 °C to 2.8 °C (2 °F to 5 °F) per 1,000 vertical feet.
    The combination of moisture and temperature determine the stability of the air and the resulting weather. Cool, dry air is very stable and resists vertical movement, which leads to good and generally clear weather. The greatest instability occurs when the air is moist and warm, as it is in the tropical regions in the summer. Typically, thunderstorms appear on a daily basis in these regions due to the instability of the surrounding air.
    The ambient lapse rate differs in different meteorological conditions, but, on average, is 2 °C (3.5 °F) per 1,000 vertical feet.

    What kind of weather was in the CALIFORNIA / HAITI s region between the 10th and 12th JANUARY 2010?

    Orographic lift
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A gravity wave cloud pattern Analogous to a ship wake in the downwind zone behind the Île Amsterdam, in the far southern Indian Ocean. The island generates wave motion in the wind passing over it, creating regularly spaced orographic clouds. The wave crests raise and cool the air to form clouds, while the troughs remain too low for cloud formation. Note that while the wave motion is generated by orographic lift, it is not required. In other words, one cloud often forms at the peak.
    Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it expands and cools adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions, precipitation.



    Aftershocks mostly spare Oregon as Northern California begins cleanup from 6.5 earthquake
    “Sandra Hall, owner of Antiques and Goodies, In Eureka, north of Ferndale, said furniture fell over, nearly all her lamps broke and the handful of customers in her store got a big scare.

    She said it was the most dramatic quake in the 30 years the Eureka store has been open.”

    Magnitude 7.0 – HAITI REGION

    By The Oregonian staff and wire reports
    January 10, 2010, 12:43PM

    Aftershocks continue today from a Saturday earthquake off the California coast, though so far the rattling today is not strong enough to be felt by Oregon residents who noticed the initial temblor.

    The strongest aftershock was a magnitude 4.4 earthquake at 6:21 p.m. Saturday. That was felt in Brookings, Klamath Falls and Sisters, said David Oppenheimer, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

    There have been five aftershocks today following a magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck at 4:27 p.m. Saturday, centered in the Pacific Ocean about 22 miles west of Ferndale, Calif. Aftershocks will continue for days, Oppenheimer said, but most will be too weak to be noticed.

    The initial powerful earthquake Saturday was felt hundreds of miles away, in central Oregon and central California. Ferndale is about 200 miles south of Medford.

    Dozens of people suffered minor injuries and thousands lost power. No serious injuries were reported as northern California communities cleaned up today.
    In Eureka, north of Ferndale, residents of an apartment building were evacuated, and an office building and two other commercial structures in the town of about 26,000 people were declared unsafe for occupancy, according to Humboldt County spokesman Phil Smith-Hanes.
    “Our initial reports were that, though this was a pretty decent quake, we survived it well,” Smith-Hanes said, adding that damage assessments would continue today across the county.

    Sandra Hall, owner of Antiques and Goodies, said furniture fell over, nearly all her lamps broke and the handful of customers in her store got a big scare. She said it was the most dramatic quake in the 30 years the Eureka store has been open.

    “We’ll be having a sale on broken china for those who like to do mosaics,” she said.
    More than a dozen aftershocks, some with magnitudes as powerful as 4.5, rumbled for several hours after the initial quake, which had a depth of nearly 10 miles.
    Authorities on Saturday said no major injuries were reported. But several people received minor cuts and scrapes from broken glass at the Bay-shore Mall in Eureka, and an elderly person fell and broke a hip, authorities said.
    “We’re mostly getting reports of bumps, bruises and hits on the head,” said Laurie Watson Stone, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph Hospital, a 146-bed hospital in Eureka. “The emergency room is busy, but we haven’t heard of any major injuries.”
    Amanda Nichols, a dispatcher for Eureka Police Department, said she received a report that an infant was struck in the head with some flying debris at the mall.
    Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman J.D. Guidi said power outages were widespread across most of Humboldt County, affecting about 25,000 customers.
    Nearly 10,000 remained without power some five hours after the quake, and some could remain without power through today, said PG&E spokeswoman Janna Morris.
    No damage was done to the company’s former nuclear power plant outside Eureka, Morris said.
    Several traffic lights fell and numerous residents reported water, gas and sewer leaks, Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services spokeswoman Jo Wattle said.
    “People have chimneys down, and we’re hearing about minor property damage and lots of glassware broken,” Wattle said. “People are really shaken up. It was shaking pretty good, then it had a big jolt to it at the end.”
    Police in Ferndale, a town of about 1,500 residents, said the earthquake caused stucco to fall off City Hall and broke shop windows, strewing the historic downtown streets with glass shards.
    “I thought a tire had blown off my truck because it was so hard to keep control of the vehicle,” Officer Lindsey Frank said. “Power lines were swaying, and I could see people in the fields trying to keep their balance.”

    Eureka city spokesman Gary Bird said because the earthquake hit shortly before dark, only the city’s old town received thorough surveys for damage. Authorities there found fallen bricks and parapets that had fallen off old structures, causing damage to adjacent buildings, he said.
    “There are some frayed nerves, but I think we’ve come through this pretty well for the magnitude of earthquake we’ve had,” Bird said.
    Televisions tumbled and objects were knocked off walls in Arcata, a small town that’s home to Humboldt State University, one resident said.
    “The whole town is kind of freaked out right now,” said Judd Starks, the kitchen manager at a bar and restaurant known as The Alibi.
    California is one of the world’s most seismically active regions. More than 300 faults crisscross the state, which sits atop two of Earth’s major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. About 10,000 quakes each year rattle Southern California alone, although most of them are too small to be felt.
    — The Associated Press and Dylan Rivera of The Oregonian
    Schwarzenegger tours Humboldt earthquake damage
    Thursday, January 14, 2010
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday estimated damage at more than $40 million as he toured an area of this Northern California city affected by last weekend’s magnitude 6.5-earthquake

    “We will do everything we can in order for you to rebuild your homes, your businesses, your buildings and also your lives as quickly as possible,” Schwarzenegger, flanked by state and local officials, told a news conference in Eureka, the largest city affected by Saturday’s quake.
    Schwarzenegger’s comments followed a tour of a historic district in the city that has seen at least one structure — a vacant building dating from the early 1900s — badly damaged with parts of the roof and east wall collapsing.
    The city council voted Monday to allow the building to be demolished.
    At least two other structures in the city have been deemed uninhabitable.
    County officials say nine county buildings in and around Eureka, including the jail and library, have suffered damage varying from cracks to a broken water pipe. Part of a county road leading from Petrolia to Ferndale was blocked when a hillside gave way, said Phil Smith-Hanes, a spokesman for the county.
    Overall, Schwarzenegger said quake damage is estimated at $43 million. State officials say as of now, $18.3 million will be covered by the state although that figure could change as officials — assisted for the first time Thursday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency — continue to assess the damage.
    The governor declared a state of emergency for the county Tuesday, paving the way for state assistance.
    The quake, centered offshore in the Pacific Ocean, sent about 30 people to emergency rooms, but only one was seriously injured — an elderly person who fell and suffered a broken hip.
    Earthquake Warning for Northern California and Oregon
    SAN FRANCISCO — Following the recent significant earthquake off Eureka, California last week, there is a moderately higher probability of a much stronger quake along the San Andreas fault between San Francisco and Oregon in the next two weeks. According to Jack Coles, an earthquake forecaster, the recent series of quakes, including the 6.5 shaker off the Coast are possibly fore-shocks of something bigger yet to come.
    It’s always a good idea to be prepared in earthquake country — you should keep a few weeks supply of canned food and water on hand, plus sleeping bags, clothing and tents if you need to sleep outside during any aftershocks.
    Also, be sure to pay close attention to your pets and the wild animals in your surroundings. They most definitely have a sense of the vibrations that arrive before the shock waves of a quake hit. One other thing of interest — the famous sea lions of Pier 39 have left the Bay for Oregon. All 500 of them up and left during the last week of November and they are now residing at the Sea Lion Caves, near Florence, Oregon

    One idea why they left is their main food; anchovies have all disappeared from the Bay Area. This is a similar phenomenon to what happened in Indonesia’s Aceh region right before the huge tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands — many fisherman complained that the fishing had become bad because the fish disappeared
    Go to THIS site and WATCH the video clip of the DOG http://beforeitsnews.com/story/3522/Earthquake_Warning_for_Northern_California_and_Oregon.html

    Jack Coles believes that these quakes and in particular the 6.5 off the Coast are possibly fore-shocks.

    The current California quakes hit at 36% probability. They are not acting like main events, but more like foreshocks.




    The lunar calendar is important to follow because the gravitational pull of the moon and tides have been shown to be a possible factor in the cause of earthquakes. Whether or not this prediction comes true, you should have your family prepared with food and water, as well as go through an earthquake drill to pre-arrange meeting spots for school children and also the most efficient ways to get out of your home if you are sleeping or inside.

    Offshore Quake Jostles Northern California
    Communities in Northern California were cleaning up debris Sunday following a powerful offshore earthquake that downed power lines and rattled residents, who escaped with only minor injuries.
    The earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.5, struck at 4:27 p.m. Saturday about 29 miles southwest of Eureka Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake — which could be felt from Eugene, Ore., to the north to Capitola, Calif., a resort town south of San Francisco — was centered about 10 miles under the sea. The USGS warned of a high chance of aftershocks with magnitude of over 5 continuing for seven days following the quake.
    Associated Press
    Eureka Natural Foods employees Joshua Hylton, right, and Brendan Killeen deal with the aftermath of the earthquake, which was centered under the ocean, about 29 miles southwest of Eureka, Calif.
    It was the largest earthquake in the region since June 2005, according to the USGS.
    “I knew from the duration that it was pretty significant,” said Phillip Smith-Hanes, administrative officer of Humboldt County, which was in the affected area. But as the earthquake settled down, he thought, “OK, it’s not the big one.”
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a tsunami wasn’t expected.
    Damage from the quake, including broken windows at a local mall and fallen traffic signals, was focused in Eureka, a coastal town of 26,000 people about 250 miles north of San Francisco. The damage to Eureka’s private and public property, including public docks, was about $12.5 million, according to a preliminary estimate by the city. The estimate doesn’t include damage to the mall nor the city’s schools, said Eureka spokesman Gary Bird. “The expectation is that it could go up,” he said of the costs.
    A police officer at a Eureka, Calif., house knocked off its foundation by Saturday’s magnitude-6.5 earthquake.
    Hospitals in the area’s Humboldt County said there were no reports of major injuries.
    The earthquake cut power to about 36,000 customers of PG&E Corp.’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which within five hours of the quake had restored power to all but 8,000 of those customers, according to David Eisenhauer, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric. The company’s power plant in Eureka wasn’t damaged and remained operational throughout the earthquake, Mr. Eisenhauer said.
    By Sunday morning, PG&E crews had restored power to all of its customers affected by the quake, Mr. Eisenhauer said.
    Most of the damage in Eureka was focused in the town’s historic section, according to city and county authorities. One Eureka home was pushed off its foundation and several chimneys were damaged, said Leslie Lollich, public information officer at the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services.
    “We’re still in the assessment mode and still checking buildings and bridges,” Ms. Lollich said. As of midday Sunday, the county said bridges and major county infrastructure were safe, she said.

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  32. Hazel Rosi says:

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