The Four-fold Fiesta of Foul Weather!

Jan 29, 2016


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October arrived with a bang! For the first time in modern records the US experienced a simultaneous threat from tornadoes, blizzards, extreme wildfires and—oh yes—an approaching tropical storm.

Ugh! Everywhere you looked, the US faced rotten weather.

On October 4, the NOAA hazard map warned of Blizzards, Severe Weather, High Winds, Wildfires, and Tropical Storm Karen!
Click to enlarge picture above.

The problem is that the Arctic air mass is unusually cold. It was the coldest Arctic summer on record. The Atlantic was warmer than average. When two air masses with extremely different temperatures crash–they produce explosive weather. That’s what we saw during October’s first weekend.

Fortunately, not all of the weather events happened. The Northern Plains had a roaring blizzard. Tornados ravished Nebraska. Hot Santa Ana winds and wildfires burned California. Despite the warnings, however, Tropical Storm Karen wimped out in the Gulf of Mexico.

The blizzard rumbled through Wyoming and the High Plains on Friday, October 4. By Saturday, some areas in South Dakota’s Black Hills reported more than four feet of snow with drifts over 15 feet high. Several feet of snow covered Wyoming and South Dakota and thousands were left without power.

This is the first week in October? Source: Wikipedia

The collision of the cold air with the warmer air in the south and east triggered severe storms and tornadoes. Multiple tornadoes—one of them a mile wide—struck Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. There were seventeen reported cyclones and fifteen people were hurt, but fortunately, no one was killed.

Strong winds ruled the West as well. Hot, dry Santa Ana winds blasted Southern California with some gusts reaching 90 mph.  The heat, drought and broken power lines triggered numerous fires, including one at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton, forcing residents and hospital patients to evacuate.

Tropical Storm Karen died out before it hit the Gulf.

Amid all the chaos, the one area that got a break was the Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Karen, predicted to become a hurricane, wimped out. High sheering winds shredded the storm and it died out into a depression before it hit land. It will bring soaking rains as it surges inland and the remnants move up the East Coast, but there will be little wind damage.

It was a record-breaking weekend. Let’s hope the rest of October is more boring.

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to "Weather Whispers" by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these blog posts. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Reader Comments

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What is the weather going to

What is the weather going to be like in Elizabethton,TN and Roan Mountain,TN?

What is the weather going to

What is the weather going to be like for Casper Wyoming this winter?
Can we expect a lot of Snow?

what is in store for Central

what is in store for Central NY this winter ???

Sure would luv to have one

Sure would luv to have one good snowfall here in Central NC ?

You probably will. (Shiver!)

You probably will. (Shiver!)

Hope is it will snow knee

Hope is it will snow knee high to a moo cow :) right on Christmas Eve.

Just wondering what kind of

Just wondering what kind of weather I get to look forward to here in the great state of Missouri winter?

I live in the western valley

I live in the western valley of Oregon (The Pacific Northwest),& I always hope we get at least one good snow-storm! Do you think there's a good possibility of seeing one this winter?

Most years similar to this

Most years similar to this year had snow in your area. Good luck!

Welcome to October! All

Welcome to October! All passengers please keep your hats, coats, and mittens on until we come to a complete stop in March. Thank you for boarding the Winter Express! Our next stop will be the east coast. The back half of October looks to be downright chilly for the US.. just in time for Halloween. Spooky!
With all of this cold air from the arctic entering the US, does this mean we will have many more of these cold snaps in the waning days of fall and early winter for the eastern part of the country as the doors from the arctic open? I hope we could have some snow soon in southeastern Ohio. This is going to be a bumpy ride!

You are probably going to

You are probably going to have your snowy wish granted this winter. (Shiver!) You are so right about a bumpy ride.

I find the NAO a very

I find the NAO a very interesting weather aspect. I like to watch how the NAO plays out in the fall and winter months. When the NAO goes negative, it means cold will flood south into the eastern US and strong storms can make their way up the coast. It is now almost mid October and the NAO is about to go very negative so I am looking for a chilly blast of air sometime in the future. I dont know how this winter will play out, but I hope it stays interesting. Winter is a very exciting time to watch these different weather patterns! I hope the pattern does switch and allows some colder temperatures to come into the eastern US. I love snow and cant wait for our turn!

There is a very strong

There is a very strong correlation between a warm North Atlantic and the NAO going negative. The Atlantic is warmer than normal right now, so your wish is likely to be answered. Enjoy the snow!

Well we just went through a

Well we just went through a blizzard (Rapid City, SD that I haven't seen any thing like this since I was a child. We had thunder snow where it was thundering and lighting when it was snowing. We have been in a drought for sometime and then this summer we had severe thunderstorms/hail. We had hail storms in mid September, all summer has been off for us. Then here comes Oct. 4-5 and 6th bizzard. I'm wondering what we can expect this coming winter...are we forcasted for alot of moisture since our summer was so different that we are used to. Joyce

Most forecasters have warned

Most forecasters have warned that South Dakota will continue to get colder than unusual temperatures. A large number feel that the eastern portion of the state will have more moisture than normal.

Thunder snow -- how cool!

What are the indications for

What are the indications for the rest of October into November around the Virginias? I certainly don't want to run my AC anymore this year. I'm not a fan of record heat. Just some quiet, sunny and cool weather for the leaf peepers this year :D

I would not be surprized to

I would not be surprized to see Virginia be a real drama queen this autumn, especially in the eastern portions of the state. Sorry!


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