Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Riddance to the Coldest December Ever & A Whole Lot of Shake Rattle and Roll to our Weather for 2011!

December 30, 2010 Thursday, 4 p.m.

Today is Good Riddance Day. It is a day you bid farewell to all those setbacks or negative memories of 2010. Speaking of setbacks look at the latest average temperature anomaly for the month of December from the Southeast Climate Center. We are running over 9 degrees below average now for the month of December. Yes, we had a December that felt not like Florida but more like north Georgia or Tennessee.What sticks out like a broken, smashed up thumb is the purple or well below average temperatures for the month that extends throughout the southeast and up into the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. You have survived the coldest December in recorded history here in Jacksonville and it is time to put this month behind us. Since the weather is always changing we have no choice but to move forward and here on Good Riddance Day it is time to write down what you did not like about this year on paper and then shred it up like they are doing in New York. Our autumn was actually quite normal. Check out our temperatures from September through November!

In fact much of the map has above normal temperatures with well above normal temperatures across much of the southeast. Yes, this gives warm weather lovers lots of hope because La Nina years are known for huge flips in temperatures so there is a reason I am showing you this. I do think we are going to snap back to above average temperatures as we start 2011. We will NOT see freezes 12 of the first 14 days of the new year like we did when we brought in 2010. This change is already happening as we hit 66 degrees today or 2 degrees above our average high of 64! It was actually a normal day! If you add up all our normal days (within 2 degrees of average highs) it was only our third December day that behaved like it normally should temperature-wise. It has been like the twilight zone!

Now hold onto your seats the 2011 weather pattern will still be anything but normal and the hurricane season is looking like a bear. This strong La Nina is not close to being done with us yet and our extreme drought could bring one of our worst fire seasons on record. Check back this evening and I will elaborate. I need to take the kids to gymnastics and it will be good to roll down the car windows!

Those girls at St.Johns Gymnastics were working hard tonight at practice and you can see my Abbey getting ready to do a full twist. There is only about two weeks until the first meet and their team looks ready to go right now. They are fired up and so am I. How they do those flips blows my mind! Now back to nature's full twist or big flip in our weather pattern. Yes, we should see warmer than normal temperatures but keep in mind no drought relief and signs are pointing to possibly our worst fire season since 1988-89. We have vegetation that was already killed off by our numerous freezes which creates more fuel for fires to develop. We already have about 20 active small fires in our viewing area. This may be the year we wish for an early tropical system...not of hurricane strength and one that moves nice and slow over our area (not stalling) bringing us a soaking rain.

Speaking of which, the tropical season of 2011 should be every bit as busy as 2010 which produced 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. Normals are 11 named storms/6 hurricanes/2 major hurricanes. The La Nina was strengthening during last year's tropical season while a trough of low pressure set up off the East Coast of the US. This helped protect us from one disaster after another. This year we already have an established La Nina along with above average Atlantic water temperatures. I highly doubt we will be so lucky with the location, location, location this year. Looking a past years, it certainly looks like the combination of the two will likely bring another blockbuster year.
One out of every 4 hurricanes that forms in the Atlantic Basin hits the US. This year was the first time we had 10 or more hurricanes without one land falling storm. There is usually a 95% chance of a land-falling hurricane in the US when it was as busy as we were but that 5% worked in our favor. I am expecting year's numbers just as robust as last year and I think it is safe to say we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So while it may be a busy season hopefully some way somehow, it can help us with our dangerous wild fire situation. We just need to keep those big hurricanes away. Keep in mind 5 hurricanes have hit our area since St. Augustine was founded so they do happen even here in northeast Florida. Stay ready.

Around the country: Hard to believe another earthquake hit Indiana this morning. Yes, I got a few e-mails about folks waking up with their dogs barking up a storm before they felt the shaking. You see what my dog BJ did the last time a much bigger earthquake hit the Lafayette, Indiana area. The good news is there was no damage or injuries were reported and it was a registered a 3.8 on the Richter scale near Kokomo, Indiana which means it was a minor trembler. This was not as big as the one a couple years ago but many still felt it. This brought back fond memories of when I was awoken by an earthquake on April 18, 2008....check out excerpts from the weather blog....

It was a morning I will never forget. It was the first earthquake I have ever felt. We had a weak one here in the Lafayette area back in 2002, but this was our biggest shake due to an earthquake since 1987 here in Lafayette and for portions of our state farther south near Vincennes it was the strongest earthquake since 1968.

Where was I? It was just before 5:40 a.m. and I was sleeping with my wife and then boom, we both woke up to what sounded like a hurricane force gust of wind hitting the house, only it had a sensation I have never heard or felt. Our house was literally shaking and I knew there were no storms and I did not forecast any high winds. So I ran to the window, by time I got to the window the shaking had stopped. I immediately ran downstairs and outside to barking dogs and then I shouted it was an earthquake! I then went in immediately to the US Geological Survey web-site and it was confirmed within 10 minutes. I had goosebumps for at least 30 minutes afterwards while I was relaying this information to WLFI and my family. My daughter said the small TV in her room actually moved. Everybody in our house except Abbey heard it. This earthquake was felt as far north as southern Canada and as far south as Florida. No major injuries or damages have been reported. In Louisville there are reports of damage to a building facade.

This was officially a moderate earthquake was a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale. It was centered near West Salem, Illinois which is located in the Wabash Valley Seismic zone. It is about 180 miles from West Lafayette.This is the norhward extension of the New Madrid Fault line. This type of thing only happens once every 20 years on average in our part of the state. There have been 8 aftershocks reported since the original earthquake hit at 5:36 a.m. The good news is that usually aftershocks are much weaker and we have not felt any of these here in Lafayette.

There is shaking in the Midwest and a whole lot of melting snow! Hard to believe my sister in law is reporting just plain rain in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But do not get used to it. I reminded her that dense fog due to the melting snow pack and warmer air moving in is a warning sign of a blizzard about 60 days later. So circle your calendars especially if you live near Madison, Wisconsin. This Midwest folklore works more than it does not. The next big blast of cold air will likely hold off until around January 15th and the next big snow right around the 21st for  the Midwest in areas primarily east of Minnesota. No break for MinneSNOWta. I am worried about some ice as well with this one so stay tuned in areas farther south in Indiana. Keep in mind the main storm track will be coming through your area over the next several weeks. I think the East Coast may have seen their biggest winter storm during the first week of winter and nature will do what the snow plows failed to do in New York City and that is melt down most of that huge snowfall they saw over the next week.

Have a great night and remember to open the windows tomorrow afternoon! There is a whole lot of shake, rattle, and roll going on around the country weatherwise and otherwise! I will talk to you soon and see you on the air first thing Friday to get your New Year's weekend kicked off in style! We have a lot to talk about!

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