Weather456's Tropical Weather Blog

Snow Causing More Trouble: China

By: Weather456, 3:30 PM GMT on January 27, 2008

Death toll, traffic chaos worsen with more snow, sleet in China

BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- An unprecedented cold spell hitting half of China has caused at least another dozen deaths, injured thousands and stranded multitudes of travelers in the freezing weather by Sunday.

A bus carrying 41 people overturned on a slippery freeway in east China's Jiangxi Province early Sunday, leaving five dead at the scene and injuring 10 others. The victims included three children, two of whom were dead and one seriously injured.

The provincial meteorological bureau has warned drivers to take caution since Friday as continuous sleet has covered highways and all urban and rural roads with ice.

Figure 1. Photo taken on Jan. 26, 2008 shows the snow scenery at the Ancient Shantang Street of Suzhou city, east China's Jiangsu province. A snowfall hit the city on Saturday, leaving picturesuqe snow scenery in the ancient gardens and streets.(Xinhua Photo)

Figure 2. Photo taken on Jan. 26, 2008 shows the snow scenery at Huqiu senic spot of Suzhou city, east China's Jiangsu province. A snowfall hit the city on Saturday, leaving picturesuqe snow scenery in the ancient gardens and streets. (Xinhua Photo)

Figure 3. Photo taken on Jan. 26, 2008 shows the night view of the Ancient Shantang Street covered by snow in Suzhou city, east China's Jiangsu province. A snowfall hit the city on Saturday, leaving picturesuqe snow scenery in the ancient gardens and streets.(Xinhua Photo)

In the mountainous Guizhou Province in the southwest, a hospital in the capital city of Guiyang has received at least 1,500 patients in the last five days, most suffering fractures after falling on slippery roads.

Guizhou has suffered five deaths, 1,631 collapsed homes and widespread blackouts.

At a hospital in the Buyi and Miao autonomous prefecture of Qiannan in the remote south of Guizhou, snow and sleet have cut electricity and tap water since Jan. 15. A hospital had to save power by canceling surgery to light up the emergency ward.

"If the power supply doesn't resume any time soon, heating will be a real problem," said Luo Laiquan, 63, of Qiannan.

The price of charcoal had climbed from eight yuan to 14 yuan a kilo, he said.

The local government said bad weather had also stranded more than 40,000 passengers in at least 5,000 broken-down vehicles on expressways between Guizhou and neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"We're trying to provide them with food and water, but several have passed out in the cold, including a new mother and her one-month-old baby," said Huang Zhengfu, secretary-general with the prefectural government.

He said the elderly and children were taken to a nearby hotel on Saturday.

In the central Hunan Province, one of the worst hit areas, seven people have died and snow is affecting the lives of 25.22 million people in 14 cities and 112 counties across the province.

Among the dead were three power company workers who died when their equipment collapsed as they were removing ice from a 50-meter tall tower on Saturday afternoon.

Heavy snow has also blanketed Diqing, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in the southwestern Yunnan Province, starting from Jan.19. As of Sunday morning, Shangri-La had reported 35 centimeters of snow.

Though no deaths or injuries have been reported, the local government estimated at least 100,000 people were affected as snow has cut roads, power and drinking water, damaged at least 500 homes and destroyed at least 10,000 hectares of cropland.

In the eastern Jiangsu Province, the heaviest snow since 1984 virtually closed the airport in the provincial capital of Nanjing on Sunday. In several cities, the average precipitation was around20 millimeters.

In the aftermath of the massive train delays on the trunk rail link between Beijing and Guangzhou on Saturday, the number of passengers stranded in Hangzhou, capital of the eastern Zhejiang Province, soared to 30,000 on Sunday compared with 5,000 reported on Saturday.

The delays of at least 136 trains in Hunan Province, a result of power failure, stranded almost 150,000 passengers at Guangzhou Railway Station on Saturday night.

Officials in Guangzhou have predicted as many as 600,000 people will be stranded at the Guangzhou railway station if the problems are not solved by Monday.

Local authorities said they were trying to provide shelter to passengers at schools and other public facilities close to the railway station, including the subway tunnels after the subway stops operation at midnight.


Heavier-than-normal rainfall over the past month has brought flooding to parts of southern Africa. The hardest hit areas include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. All together up to 120,000 people have been displaced by the recent flooding along with 45 fatalities. The floods are also expected to have a severe impact on crops. December and January are part of the wet season in southern Africa primarily due to the southward seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (or ITCZ) during the Southern Hemisphere summer. In addition to the regular rainy season, during La Nina, which is currently on going, this area is expected to see enhanced rainfall. Another factor is a 30-to-60 day oscillation known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is a large, slow-moving area of enhanced tropical convective (i.e., thunderstorm) activity that propagates eastward from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific and can effect rainfall over Africa on sub-seasonal time scales.

The primary mission of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite is to measure rainfall over the global Tropics. It was placed into service in November of 1997. From its low-earth orbit, TRMM has been measuring rainfall over the global Tropics using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors. It can be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites. The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center monitors rainfall over the global Tropics. Average daily MPA rainfall totals as well as rainfall anomalies (deviations from the average, which is based on a 9-year climatology) are shown here for the 31-day period 24 December 2007 to 25 January 2008 for southern Africa and the surrounding area. The highest rainfall totals (left panel) for the period (shown in red) are near 20 mm per day (~620 mm or 24 inches for the entire period) and are located over Malawi. Areas on the order of 15 mm/day (~18 inches for the period, shown in orange) cover parts of central Mozambique, Zambia and southeastern Angola. The highest anomalies (right panel) indicating wetter- than-normal conditions (shown in blue) follow a similar pattern. Nearly the entire region is experiencing wetter-than-normal conditions as indicated in green.

Images by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) Caption by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC)

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Fame Strenghtening

By: Weather456, 2:49 PM GMT on January 26, 2008

Tropical Cyclone Fame (08R) Update 4
Southwest Indian Ocean

Issued 1430 UTC 26 Jan 2008 by W456

Tropical cyclone Fame has attained hurricane strength in the Mozambique Channel just west of the Northern Portion of the island of Madagascar. The cyclone is located near 14.1S-44.85E, churning nearly stationary. Estimated surface winds have increase to 65 knots with higher gust and minimum central pressure is 976 mb. Sea surface temperatures are 31C and wind shear is estimated to anticyclonic at 5-10 knots.

Center position was carefully positioned using high-resolution visible imagery with some help from synoptic reports on the periphery of the storm. Visible imagery showed a tight core of fast moving (intense) cumulonimbus clouds with suggests the cyclone is intensifying. Dvorak visible analysis showed a curve band arc of about 1.05, which corresponds to CI 4.0, or 65 knots and 976 mb (see figure below). Multiplatform satellite winds indicate these winds extend outwards to about 21 nmi. The warm-core and upper level anticyclone is well established and the cross-equatorial outflow channel and banding features to the north and east has really ventilated the system. Some additional strengthening is possible in the next 12 hrs as indicated by digital Dvorak analysis. Thereafter, models are indicating a weakening trend up until landfall in 48 hrs on the Northern Coast of Madagascar.

TRMM measurements indicate rainfall amounts could be has high as 6-12 inches. Wave models show a storm surface of about 5-10 ft. The cyclone is expected to affect a sparsely populated region of Madagascar and so structural damage should be minimal to moderate.

By W456

JTWC Stats
1200 UTC - 13SFAME.65kts-974mb-141S-447E

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Britney Spears/Canadian Blizzard

By: Weather456, 10:41 PM GMT on January 24, 2008

Could Britney Spears Stop Global Warming?

One interesting article was posted on January 18 2008 by Warriors and Weasel which I found could work if taken seriously. LOL

Like any reasonably sane individual, I have observed the nation’s strange obsession with Britney Spears with morbid fascination. We follow her every drunken drug-induced step – her trip to the barbershop to get the “skinhead special haircut” – driving to the store with her baby tied to the roof of the car – partying late at the Roosevelt Hotel with thuggish young men that can’t quite grow facial hair – as if she were some hick messiah about to impart an essential message that we dare not miss. When she teeters on the edge of “Anna Nicole Smith-Dom”, we attempt to rush in society’s main faux healer – another baffling celebrity curiosity named Dr. Phil – to save the day.

And one can’t help but wonder “why Britney”? It’s not like she’s Elvis – a guy that not only looked great for most of his career (OK – so he gained a little weight too) but was a legitimate musical genius for over thirty years. Nor even Marilyn – a tragic figure that still managed to make an indelible imprint on society. I seriously doubt that in forty years musical scholars will be analyzing “Oops, I Did It Again”, nor will there be Britney film retrospectives (though her Pepsi ad remains fun to watch). If society is so innately fascinated with pretty hick girls then why didn’t we obsess about Ellie May Clampet or Daisy Duke?

Ah, perhaps the key is not to wonder why, but to use Britney’s strange draw to society’s benefit. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we spent as much time thinking about global warming, genocide, and settling religious conflict as we do about whether Britney and friends are wearing panties? What if we were to re-brand Britney to stand for something other than a blatant example of our celebrity obsession, and its negative and sometimes deadly impact on immature and impressionable young stars?

So, here’s the idea. Give Britney a real cause to promote. Teach her to smile and say “go green” every time a camera is stuck in front of her face. When she shows up at parties, instead of doing body shots out of each other’s belly buttons, have her rally people to replace all the light bulbs with compact fluorescents. Get her to wear hemp lingerie and hang with Ed Begley Jr. instead of Paris Hilton. Perhaps she could be the key to making a new generation aware and active.

Nunavut, Canada, digs out after week long blizzard

ANKIN INLET, Nunavut - Nunavut residents on the western shore of Hudson Bay were digging out Wednesday after a seven-day "granddaddy" blizzard that closed government offices and schools, halted flights, left food shelves nearly bare and resulted in monster snowdrifts that had snowmobilers coming close to overhead power lines.

"We've finally had a break in the weather. We're cleaning up," said Paul Waye, chief administrative officer for the community of Rankin Inlet.

"I've been living in the Arctic for 30 years and I can't remember weather like this."

Rankin Inlet and the communities of Whale Cove and Baker Lake were effectively shut down for over a week as a low-pressure system hung around, delivering the snow, swirling winds and -30 C temperatures that cancelled flights that bring in food and fuel.

The weather, with wind chills in the -50s C, also shut down mail service and stranded travellers.

Banks in Rankin Inlet also closed their doors, as did Nunavut Arctic College.

Waye said some flights managed to get in Wednesday.

He said crews did their best to plow roads during the week, and no injuries or fatalities due to the blizzard were reported. He said there were no severe medical emergencies and one childbirth was handled by a midwife.

"People take it in stride," he said. "We had bingo going last night."

In Baker Lake, 250 kilometres northwest of Rankin Inlet, Allan Hart said a fresh supply of perishables like bread and milk had just arrived at his Northern Store, which carries a mix of retail and food goods.

"Nobody's starving. It's not a crisis situation," he said, adding they were never low on basic groceries because those were delivered in bulk by barge earlier in the season.

Hart said the fresh stocks were getting low late last week but that no one panicked as the storm reduced visibility to near zero.

"There were a couple of days when you couldn't see, but it wasn't dangerous," he said.

It's not unusual for the region to get blizzards that last for days at a stretch, but seven in a row was one for the books, said Yvonne Bilan-Wallace, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

"This was a real granddaddy," said Bilan-Wallace, who said the weather office fielded reports of houses swamped to the roofs with snow and drifts that took snowmobilers dangerously close to the lines on the top of power poles.

Although the definitions of blizzard vary from region to region, in that area it's defined as six hours of visibility less than one kilometre sustained by winds blowing at a minimum 40 kilometres per hour. Presently, the region is in darkness 18 hours of the day.

Bilan-Wallace said the respite may be short. Another blizzard was forecast for Thursday, but it was not expected to have the strength to hang around.

"They're very resilient," she said of the residents. "This (blizzard) was three times as long as they could have normally expected to cope with.

"And those temperatures were cold - even for them."

Information courtesy CBS

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Martin Luther King Jr Day/Stock Market

By: Weather456, 9:08 PM GMT on January 23, 2008

Well I know this is off topic but for the past few days I have been hearing it here in the Caribbean, seeing it on television, reading articles and hearing it on the radio. Stocks fell around the world because Wall Street was close on Monday which was Sir Martin Luther King Jr Day. One trader actually said Martin Luther King Jr was an incredible man but he never did anything to help the stock market. Now my question to you:

1. If Independence Day or some other holiday occurred Monday 21 January 2008, would the stock market experienced that crisis they saw?

2. Did it happen because the United States is entering a recession?

3. What does this tell us about Global independence?

In the midst of all this, China's and India's economies are flourishing and growing.

4. Would these economies soon dominate the global market?

Heavy Rains continue across Australia but help ease droughts...

Residents of the town of Emerald, Queensland continue to face devastation caused by heavy rain and flooding. Over than 2500 residents are still unable to return to their homes, with 280 households placed on evacuation stand by. Although the nearby Nogoa River has stopped rising, the water levels remain unsettlingly high, and officials are keeping a close eye on it over the coming days.

The heavy rain has been welcomed in New South Wales, where over the last month the above average rainfall has helped to ease the ongoing drought. Figures show a big improvement in the drought affected area, with 52% of the state now drought declared as opposed to 93% at the same time last year.

The state has already distributed around $73000 US dollars in emergency flood assistance, and for many the worst may not be over. Forecasters expect the area of low pressure currently over southern Australia to move north, bring further showers and thunderstorms to the region over the coming days.

Information courtesy Dan Corbett

Figure 1. The flooded Warrego River flows over a bridge in Charleville.Photo: ABC

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Global Warming Myths and Facts

By: Weather456, 4:31 PM GMT on January 22, 2008

MYTH: The science of global warming is too uncertain to act on.

FACT: There is no debate among scientists about the basic facts of global warming.


MYTH: Even if global warming is a problem, addressing it will hurt American industry and workers.

FACT: A well designed trading program will harness American ingenuity to decrease heat-trapping pollution cost-effectively, jumpstarting a new carbon economy.


MYTH: Water vapor is the most important, abundant greenhouse gas. So if we’re going to control a greenhouse gas, why don’t we control it instead of carbon dioxide (CO2)?

FACT: Although water vapor traps more heat than CO2, because of the relationships among CO2, water vapor and climate, to fight global warming nations must focus on controlling CO2.


MYTH: Global warming and extra CO2 will actually be beneficial — they reduce cold-related deaths and stimulate crop growth.

FACT: Any beneficial effects will be far outweighed by damage and disruption.


MYTH: Global warming is just part of a natural cycle. The Arctic has warmed up in the past.

FACT: The global warming we are experiencing is not natural. People are causing it.


MYTH: We can adapt to climate change — civilization has survived droughts and temperature shifts before.

FACT: Although humans as a whole have survived the vagaries of drought, stretches of warmth and cold and more, entire societies have collapsed from dramatic climatic shifts.


MYTH: Recent cold winters and cool summers don’t feel like global warming to me.

FACT: While different pockets of the country have experienced some cold winters here and there, the overall trend is warmer winters.


MYTH: Global warming can’t be happening because some glaciers and ice sheets are growing, not shrinking.

FACT: In most parts of the world, the retreat of glaciers has been dramatic. The best available scientific data indicate that Greenland's massive ice sheet is shrinking.


MYTH: Accurate weather predictions a few days in advance are hard to come by. Why on earth should we have confidence in climate projections decades from now?

FACT: Climate prediction is fundamentally different from weather prediction, just as climate is different from weather.


MYTH: As the ozone hole shrinks, global warming will no longer be a problem.

FACT: Global warming and the ozone hole are two different problems.

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Cold Weather From Siberia Brrr!

By: Weather456, 12:17 PM GMT on January 20, 2008

Siberian Express brings Arctic blast across the States by Steph Ball

Over the last few days high pressure has been continuing to build across Siberia bringing unusually cold weather.

On Wednesday weather warnings were issued by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry after forecasters predicted a fall of temperature to –55C (-67F). On Saturday night the temperature in Ojmjakon, Siberia actually fell to -60.2C (-76F). January temperatures across the larger Siberian cities normally range from –15C to –39C (5 to -38F).

Over the last few days this cold air building over the Polar regions of Canada and Siberia, has now been sent southwards across the States in a phenomenon commonly known as the “Siberian Express”.

The Siberian Express is a meteorological term in the United States which describes the plunge of an extremely cold air mass. When high pressure extends north from the extreme western states of the US into northern Siberia it allows this Arctic blast to surge southeast wards across Canada and central and eastern parts of the US, sometimes as far as the Deep South. It often brings with it significantly below-average temperatures.

Over the last few days and into the weekend, the Siberian Express has been felt as far south as the Gulf Coast. Most of south Mississippi, as far east as the western Florida Panhandle, was placed under a winter weather advisory on Saturday. Freezing temperatures were forecast as well as snow. Up to 7.5cm (3 inches) of snow fell across southern Mississippi during the day, before the storm headed east bringing snowfalls across Alabama and Georgia.

Across both the US and Siberia, the cold weather is forecast to intensify over the coming days.

Figure 1. US Current Air Temperatures

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LOL! A large self-destructing Palm Tree/My Hurricane Wilma Video

By: Weather456, 8:01 PM GMT on January 17, 2008

I heard this storm on the radio and so I investigated it and found the following article.

Self destructing palm tree found in Madagascar By Paul Eccleston

A new species of palm tree which flowers spectacularly once in its long life and then dies has been discovered in Madagascar.

It is hoped that seeds can be harvested and the palm grown at botanic gardens around the world

The chance finding of the mystery palm which towers more than 60-feet high has astonished botanists.

The exact location of the small cluster of trees is being kept a secret and seeds are being carefully harvested so the palm can be grown at botanic gardens around the world to ensure its survival.

The tree has a strange lifecycle when after growing for as long as 50 years and to an immense height, the stem tip develops a giant inflorescence and bursts into branches of hundreds of tiny flowers.

Each flower is capable of being pollinated and developing into fruit and drips with nectar attracting swarms of insects and birds. But the effort of the colourful display and the production of fruit is so taxing that the nutrient reserves of the palm run dry as soon as it fruits and the entire tree collapses and dies.

The tree was found by accident by Xavier Metz, a Frenchman who manages a cashew plantation in Madagascar. He and his family were walking in a remote area in the north-west of the island when they stumbled across the giant palm and the huge pyramidal bunch of flowers sprouting out of the tip.

They had never seen anything like it before and took photographs which eventually reached Dr John Dransfield in Britain.

Dr Dransfield, one of the world's leading authorities on palms, said: "I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the images posted on the web.

"Seeing it was one of the most exciting moments in my entire career. This tree is a new genus and a new species - an evolutionary line not seen in Madagascar before. "

Dr Dransfield, co-author of The Palms of Madagascar and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, added: "There are 2,500 species of palm and only a handful flower and die. It is certainly the first self destruct palm we have found on Madagscar."

"Ever since we started work on the palms of Madagascar in the 1980s, we have made discovery after discovery - new species and new genera - but to me this is probably the most exciting of them all."

The palm will be called Tahina spectabilis which is Malagasy for blessed or to be protected. Tahina is the name of one of Xavier Metz's daughters.

Madagascar's native palms are of enormous economic and biological importance used for food, house building, crafts and medicines, and most are found in no other part of the world. The palm is so massive that it can even be seen in Google Earth

Figure 2. The palm is so massive that it can even be seen in Google Earth.

When material from the palm finally reached the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the details of the flowers and inflorescence suggested it was a new, undescribed species.

Leaf fragments were sent to the Jodrell laboratory at Kew for DNA analysis, where it was confirmed, that the palm was not just a new species but an entirely new genus within the palm tribe Chuniophoeniceae.

There are only three other known genera in the tribe, scattered across Arabia, Thailand and China and the palm is from an evolutionary line not previously known to exist in Madagascar and mystery surrounds how it got there.

Details of the find are published today in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, the world's oldest biological society where the tree was officially named for the first time.

The tree flowered and fruited before botanists had a chance to react but miraculously a second tree in the same area flowered last September and the fruits are due to fall this month.

Although there are known to be bigger palms the Madagscar find is believed to be the most massive with a huge trunk which towers over 60-feet high (60 feet) and fan leaves which are 16-feet in diameter - making it among the largest known in flowering plants. The palm is so massive that it can even be seen in Google Earth.

When Dr Dransfield travelled out to meet the tree's discoverers, Xavier and Nathalie Metz, it took three days travel in a 4x4 vehicle to reach the remote area where it grows.

It was concealed at the foot of a limestone outcrop in the rolling hills and flatlands of the Analalava district which is dry for eight months a year and has a mean annual temperature of 27°C. But when the rains come in January the area of deep fertile soil is flooded.

Dr Dransfield couldn't believe that the enormous palm had never been discovered before and concluded that its life-cycle must lengthy for the extremely rare flowering and death sequence to have never been detected.

He estimates the palm was between 35-50 years old when it burst into flower for the first and only time.

"We are hoping to harvest seed from the palm that will be ripened slowly in dozens of botanic gardens. They will also be sent to arboretums and schools in Madagscar. Some seeds will be sold through an agency and the profits funnelled back to the villagers," he said.

"If we are successful we can persuade the villagers that the trees have value and they will help conserve it.

"There are thousands of seeds but only a small portion will be harvested the rest will be left to fend for themselves."

Hurricane Wilma Video
I made this video in November of 2005 and uploaded in to youtube in April of 2006, and because of its success I wanted to share it with you all.


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Destination Sydney, Australia

By: Weather456, 11:14 AM GMT on January 16, 2008

White beaches, blue harbours, gilded lifestyles and lots of flash.

Sydney is Australia's oldest city, the economic powerhouse of the nation and the country's capital in everything but name. It's blessed with sun-drenched natural attractions, dizzy skyscrapers, delicious and daring restaurants, superb shopping and friendly folk.

Although it's come a long way from its convict beginnings, Sydney still has a rough and ready energy, and offers an invigorating blend of the old and the new, the raw and the refined. While high culture attracts some to the Opera House, gaudy nightlife attracts others to Kings Cross.

When to go

Sydney is comfortable to visit at any time of year, but unless you enjoy humidity, broken by the odd torrential downpour, keep away in summer. Autumn is delightful, especially around March and April, with clear, warm days and mild nights. In Spring (September to November) there's more chance of rain, but it usually clears quickly. Average temperatures are around 25°C (77°F), though it can get to over 40°C (104°F) in summer. By and large, Sydneysiders enjoy well over 300 sunny days a year.

Figure 1. Sydney Harbour Bridge, looking particularly romantic. Source: Lonely Planet

Figure 2. Sunbathers at North Bondi Beach on summer afternoon. Source: Lonely Planet

Tropical Cyclone Funa (10F)/Tropical Cyclone 12P

Issued 1000 UTC JAN 12 2008 by W456

Tropical Depression 10F was upgraded to Tropical Cyclone Funa located near 15.0S-165.0E moving slowly towards the east. Estimated surface winds are near 40 knots with a minimum central pressure of 995 mb. Wind shear is 10-20 knots and SSTs are 85F.

Center fix was based using Dvorak analysis of the tropical cyclone, which place the center at the cloud system center (CSC). Based on QuikSCAT and infrared channel 2 imagery, the low level circulation center (LLCC) has become a lot more define producing winds of 30-40 knots extending outwards 25 nmi. Dvorak classifications place the system at CI 2.75, which corresponds to 40 knots and 995 mb. This seems appropriate for a tropical cyclone of this level of organization. However, raw Dvorak numbers reached CI 3.0. The moderately sheared tropical cyclone continues to gain organization, producing bands of vigorous thunderstorms. The cyclone has good ventilation in the upper levels causing the core to warm (warm-core) and expand. In addition, the kinetic energy being release is slowly increasing. The tropical cyclone will continue towards the east, threatening the northern islands of Vanuatu, then recurve back southwest under the influence of a transitory anticyclone.

by W456

JTWC Stats:
0600 UTC 12P FUNA.35kts-996mb-151S-1646E

Figure 3. Enhanced infrared imagery of Funa.

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La Nina-MJO Floods Australia

By: Weather456, 7:20 PM GMT on January 14, 2008

A harsh monsoon season has brought heavy rain and widespread flooding to parts of Australia over the weekend. Two storms struck Townsville in northern Queensland, dumping more than 50mm (1.97inches) of rainfall in less than an hour. Emergency services spent Sunday night rescuing stranded drivers and homeowners from the floodwaters.

Authorities in Queensland are keeping an eye on a low pressure system just off the coast after the heavy rain caught many people by surprise. Meanwhile further south in Sydney, many suburbs still remain without power, with a number of bridges and roads still closed from the flood damage.

The current La Nina in the Pacific will maintain a very wet weather pattern across eastern Australia due to the oceanic warm pool and vertical lift. In contrast, this part of the world saw severe drought last year. Despite the rain easing in Sydney, more rain is forecast for northern Queensland, meaning the worst may not yet be over.

A variety of factors combined to deliver heavy rains to parts of Australia this past week, bringing a mixture of drought relief as well as some severe flooding. A substantial amount of rain along the northern coastline was due to Cyclone Helen on January 4 2008.

In addition to the rains from Helen, the northern coastline of Australia was already experiencing wet weather due to the interaction of a monsoon trough, a trough of low pressure associated with the inter-tropical convergence zone that is a focus for shower and rain activity, with a 30-to-60-day oscillation known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). There are areas of much higher amounts--namely the northern part of the York Peninsula where amounts range upwards of 300 mm (~12 inches, shown in orange) and in the far northwest.

Not All That Bad.....
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia have been both a blessing and a curse for drought-hit farmers, but more rain is needed to break a seven-year drought.

Farm officials say a series of storms have delivered heavy, but sporadic, rain in two of Australia's largest agricultural states, Queensland and New South Wales.

Some farmers who planted big summer sorghum crops have benefited, and some irrigators who had been facing zero water supplies have seen their water rations restored to 100 percent.

But others are still staring at bone dry paddocks, while some farmers already on government drought assistance are now applying for flood aid after rivers burst banks causing millions of dollars worth of damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure.

"We are a long way from getting out of the drought," Lyndon Pfeffer, grains president of farm group AgForce Queensland, said on Monday.

"The main cropping area has certainly missed out. It is still a bit sporadic, it is still just storm rain, general rains have not given everybody a good soaking," he said.

Pfeffer said good rains had fallen in northeast Queensland's sugar growing region and in the west of the state.

"Overall things are promising but there are still pockets light on and looking for rain," he said.

Figure 1. TRMM one week rainfall totals ending 0900 UTC 14-Jan-2008.

Figure 2. The Porgression of the MJO measured by Outgoing Long-wave Radiation (OLR)

Figure 3. Raindrops are seen on a car windscreen as mist obscures power-lines and chimneys from the coal-burning Mount Piper Power station, located in the Central West region of New South Wales, around 150 kilometres (93 miles) west of Sydney, DEC 19, 2007. Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia have been both a blessing and a curse for drought-hit farmers, but more rain is needed to break a seven-year drought. REUTERS/David Gray

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Snow In Middle East But Global Warming Rages On

By: Weather456, 2:55 PM GMT on January 13, 2008

Afghanistan, Iran and a number of other central Asian countries have been hit by a severe cold snap over the last few days, resulting in around 50 deaths. Overnight temperatures in Kazakhstan have plummeted to -25C (-13F) in some places, with Uzbekistan experiencing its lowest temperatures for almost 40 years.

Heavy snow has covered a number of Afghan provinces and has been blamed for many avalanches which have taken place over the weekend. The snow has blocked roads and prevented the transport of vital food and supplies. More than 15,000 animals have perished in the cold weather, which has brought snow to parts of neighbouring Iran for the first time in living memory.

The Iranian president made a visit to the north of the country, where the cold weather has caused a number of unprecedented gas shortages. Although the snow has eased somewhat over the last day, forecasters expect further snow flurries over the coming days.

Last year was among the six warmest years since records began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific.

"We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean," Delju told Reuters. "The decade from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend is still continuing."

This year has started with odd weather including the first snows in Baghdad in memory yesterday and a new year cold snap in India that killed more than 20 people. Frost hit some areas of Florida last week but orange groves escaped mostly unscathed.

Iraqis welcomed snow as an omen of peace. "It's the first time we've seen snow in Baghdad," said 60-year-old Hassan Zahar. "I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished."

Last year, parts of the northern hemisphere had a record mild winter with Alpine ski resorts starved of snow.

Delju said climate change, blamed mainly on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would bring bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that will mean more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"The more frequent occurrence of extreme events all over the world -- floods in Australia, heavy snowfall in the Middle East -- can also be signs of warming," he said.

Figure 1. A man walks in the street yesterday during Baghdad's first snowfall in memory. Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud, Reuters

Figure 2. MODIS Image of Snow covered Afghanistan and surrounding countries. Image taken 12-01-2008.

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Destination Barbados

By: Weather456, 2:14 PM GMT on January 12, 2008

Barbados, the pearl of the Caribbean, is the eastern-most Caribbean island. It is actually an enormous and ancient coral reef that was formed approximately one million years ago. It has been dubbed 'the real fantasy island', an appellation that points to its exotic resorts and glorious beaches. It enjoys 340 days of sunshine a year, numerous well-developed amenities, a throbbing nightlife and friendly inhabitants, making it one of the most desirable holiday destinations.

The islanders call themselves 'Bajans', West Indian by descent, although largely shaped by English custom and culture. These 'influences' pervade much of the island, most evident in the Anglican stone churches (the island is divided into numerous parishes) and in the many cricket games played on the village greens. The 'Little England' legacy dates back to colonial days when the sugar industry reigned supreme. Barbados gained self-government in 1966, and now tourism rather than sugar is the mainstay of the local economy.

The island is a pear-shaped, 20-mile (32km) stretch of soft coral, which is permeated by water and over time has formed fascinating underground caverns. The coral reefs enveloping most of the island entice tourists to its picturesque shores.

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Storm Lashes the West Coast

By: Weather456, 8:55 PM GMT on January 04, 2008

A 958 mb storm is battering portions of the West Coast of North America from Northern California to British Colombia with high and dangerous seas; hurricane force wind gusts; along with heavy rain and snow. Latest observations indicate gale force winds extend well inland along with isolated areas of storm force winds.

Seas/Marine Weather
Lowest pressure recorded today was around 960 mb by buoy 46005 around 1500 UTC. The storm has yet cross several other buoys. Winds reported today were all above 30 knots and was reported by tons of buoys and two or three ships well away from the main action.

If you surf, well take advantage of this storm. Buoy reports, web cam views and models all indicate 30-40 ft swells being pushed onto the Northern California and Oregon Coasts.

Winds/Gusts Inland
For most of the day, stations reported gale force winds concentrated to the area of Northern California and Southern Oregon. Table 1 shows the highest reported gusts for the day across Northern California. Jet stream winds are currently 105 mph coming shore across Northeast California/Southeast Oregon. Figure shows the current wind speeds at 2000 UTC Friday 04 January, while table 2 shows additional observations taken today.

Total Rainfall and Snow Dept
Surprisingly, snow amounts are relatively low so far. Current reports have 24 hr snow at 1-2 inches with some reporting 2-4 inches. Rainfall is coming in at a steady rate with 4-6 inches across Northern California and Southern Oregon. Seems as though this is more of a wind event so far.

Storm Reports
The latest storm reports so far was from Canyon in Western Idaho which reported down power lines and trees. Look for more updates on this section.

Figure 1. Surface winds as at 2000 UTC 04 January 2007.

Figure 3. NWS radar of the Western United States.

Figure 4. The latest QuikSCAT winds of the storm.

Figure 5. Visible satellite imagery taken this afternoon showing impressive storm signatures.

Table 1. Highest reported wind gusts for Northern California.

Table 2. Selected observations across California and Oregon showing some of the highest gusts reported today.

West Coast Powerful Storm to Come

By: Weather456, 10:03 PM GMT on January 03, 2008

Current Storm
A 974 mb low pressure area located over the Northeast Pacific Ocean at 47N/131W is producing gale force winds, heavy rain and snow over the Pacific Northwest. The associated cold front remains offshore but precipitation is moving ahead over California and Oregon. This storm is mild compared to whats behind it. Some of highest winds reported today offshore was 40 knots, while inland winds were around 20-25 knots. The storm crossed over buoy 46005 giving an idea of the intensity. The buoy bottomed out near 974 mb which is also mild to the forecast 958 mb with the second low. Snow cumulations were confined to the higher elevations of Washington were 1-2 inches were reported. And additional 4 inches were reported elsewhere in isolated locals.

Major Storm to come
Winter weather and high wind watches and warnings have been posted for numerous counties across California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in preparation for a large developing system in the Central Pacific (Figure 4). This storm system has the potential to bring dangerous hurricane force winds, 50 ft seas and over 12 inches of snow over the Rockies. More updates on this storm as it approaches the coast.

Figure 1. NWS Doppler Radar for the Pacific Northwest.

Figure 2. Surface winds reported earlier.

Figure 3. Buoy 46005 wind speed sustain, gusts and barometric pressure time series.

Figure 4. Visible imagery of the current low to the left and the more powerful storm developing well offshore.

California Storm Number 1

By: Weather456, 1:43 PM GMT on January 03, 2008

The first of a series of storm is about to impact the Western United States with heavy rain, snow, high wind and surf. Figure 1 shows an infrared image of the storm. This is just one of three storms that is expected to impact the Western portion of North America, and the states most affected will be Norther California, Oregon and Washington.

Figure 2 shows today's precipitation forecast. There is a 70% chance of over 4 inches of rain and a 70% chance of 12 inches or more of snow. Snow will be confined to the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere in the

Blizzard conditions will be confined to the higher interior where the air will cold, and the wind will be near 70 knots. Numerous high wind watches and warnings are in effect for counties across California, Oregon and Washington. Winds up to 45 mph can be expected along with gust up to 65 knots later today and tonight along the lower terrain. A High Wind Warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. High wind speeds or gusts can cause flying debris...uproot trees and down power lines. Residents should take precautions at this time to avoid property damage by securing loose objects outside or bring them indoors.

Marine Conditions
Red flag gale warnings in effect for coastal waters from Southern California to Southern British Colombia. Seas with the first storm will be around 18ft in south-southwesterly swells then bumping up to 30+ ft with the second storm. Winds will reach Beaufort scale 7 which means unfavorable conditions for marine activities.

Links to track the storm
Satellite Imagery
Radar Imagery
Marine Observations
Land Reports

Figure 1. Infrared image of the first storm.

Figure 2. NAM precipitation forecast valid 1800 UTC Thursday 03 January 2008.

Figure 3. Current wave height and direction valid 1800 UTC today.

More updates to come as the day progresses.

California Storms

By: Weather456, 8:26 PM GMT on January 02, 2008

The forecast still holds for three major Pacific Storms to impact the West Coast of the United States and Canada from California to British Colombia starting 1200 UTC on Thursday. These storms are no joke. The first one is shown in figure 1, and will impact the Sierra Nevada slopes with 50 mph and winds and heavy snow. The second storm, will be even more powerful with winds of hurricane force starting 1200 UTC Friday. The third storm will take bit longer to arrive as seen in figure 3 which shows the storm located in the Central Pacific 1200 UTC Saturday.

The first storm has a 50% chance of bringing near 12 inches of snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Rockies of Oregon, Idaho and Washington. The chance increases to 70% of above 12 inches of snow later on Friday as the second powerful storm moves in.

2 inches of rain per hour is not out of the question for the first storm but this will be confine to isolated areas near the coast. Rainfall of 3 inches per hour possible with the second storm.

The coldest temperatures will be fine to higher elevations more inland. Though chilly temperatures between freezing and 10C is possible near the coast. The second low will bring even chiller air and that would increase the chances of snow.

Marine Weather
Marine weather will deteriorate and become down right dangerous. The first storm (not shown)will bring 20-25 ft swells with 30-40 knot winds. The second low (shown in Figure 4) will bring exceptionally high surf around 40-50 ft and winds of hurricane force. Marine warnings will most likely be issued for unfavorable seas.

Links to Track the Storm
Portola, CA United States
Tahoe City, CA United States
Dunsmuir, CA United States

Figure 1. Surface Forecast valid 1200 UTC Thursday 03 January 2008 for the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Figure 2. Surface Forecast valid 1200 UTC Friday 04 Januaury 2008 for the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Figure 3. Surface Forecast valid 1200 UTC Friday 03 Janaury 2008 for the Central Pacific Ocean.

Figure 4. Significant wave height and direction forecast.

Air Quality at 2008 Olympics

By: Weather456, 3:07 PM GMT on January 01, 2008

Happy 2008 to all!

BEIJING, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Beijing is aiming for more 'good air days' in 2008 as it prepares to host the Olympics in August, a senior official said on Friday, with the city's notorious pollution a major concern for athletes and organisers.

Beijing recorded 244 "blue sky days" by Dec. 28 this year, a day short of its 245-day target. The standard of a "blue sky day" has not been widely recognised by international scientists.

"I predict that we will be able to meet this year's target in the last three days," said Jiang Xiaoyu, spokesman and executive vice president of Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).

"The target number of good air quality days in 2008 will be higher than this year," Jiang told a news conference.
Pollution in Beijing, known for its noxious smog, is a major concern for athletes and officials planning for next August and Olympic chief Jacques Rogge has said some events may have to be rescheduled if the air quality is not good enough.
The host city has already spent 120 billion yuan ($16.4 billion) in environmental programmes to combat pollution and Jiang said there were more efforts to come.

"A new coordination plan to ensure a good environment during the Games by central government, Beijing government and neighbouring provinces is going to be issued soon," he said.

December 27

The rare clear day followed one of the worst air-quality days of the year on Thursday, when pollution hit a maximum "5" reading.

Thursday's air, worsened by a lack of wind, was so bad that Beijingers were warned to stay indoors out of health concerns and visibility was reduced to a few hundred metres (yards).

Beijing is desperate to avoid international embarrassment over the smog, created by soaring car ownership, industrial emissions, dust storms and a massive building boom.

The stakes were raised in August when International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge said some endurance events such as the marathon may be postponed or cancelled to prevent harm to athletes.

Beijing has taken aggressive steps to clean up its air, but the smog has remained a problem, prompting the city to frequently declare "blue sky" days despite obviously hazy conditions.

State-run Xinhua news agency quoted Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the city's environment protection authority, as saying "blue sky" day No. 245 would have been reached earlier if not for persistent "fog", which is often blamed for the city's haze.

The Olympic host city is aiming for at least 256 "blue sky" days, in 2008, or 70 percent of the days of the year, Du said.

Reader Comments: Do you think China should hold the 2008 Olympics and if you was an athlete what would be your concerns?

I will have new blog tomorrow about the California Storm.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Weather456's Tropical Weather Blog

About Weather456

With a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Sciences (2009), began tracking tropical storms in 2002 and is now a private forecaster.