Here's my picks for the most significant weather events for 2012 in the Northeast. I choose these after careful consideration. There might be an event that you think should be on the list......if so let me know and we can discuss it on my weather page and in the blog.....Before I get started I was asked by someone what states make up the Northeast? The Northeast region borders Canada to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and abuts the Middle West and South East regions. The region's states include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia. With that out of the way...let's get started.
February 29 Thru March 1 Snowstorm:
A complex multi-part snowstorm that lasted as long as 36 hours struck parts of New York State and New England. The storm blanketed the southern Adirondacks, southern Green Mountains, greater Capital Region, and western New England with 3-15 inches of snow. Snowfall was heavy at times with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour during the afternoon into the early evening hours.
The storm would have dropped even more snow. However, a secondary low began to form in the mid-Atlantic region early Thursday morning. This resulted in a double-barreled low pressure system which moved eastward during the day Thursday. The wintry mix transitioned back to snow which persisted most of the day. However, the snow had trouble accumulating in some locations as temperatures warmed. This limited significant accumulations from occurring across the Capital District and to points to the south and east.
So even though the winter of 2011-2012 had virtually no snow for most areas....we did have one decent snowstorm, in fact if not for this storm many of us might not have seen any snow.
10) Snowstorm December 26-27, 2012:
Now I know this was not a major snowstorm. But due to the fact that this was the largest snowstorm we've seen in almost two years makes it noteworthy. From western NYS and PA into New England saw between 6-18” of snow over a 24 hour period. which was a welcomed relief from the snow lovers and ski resorts.
9) September 18th Severe Event:
We saw a very complex and powerful low pressure system moved across the region on September 18th The storm system brought damaging winds and widespread heavy rainfall. The system approached the region from the southwest during the day. At roughly the same time as a strong cold front approached the region form the Great Lakes. These systems merged and moved across the northeastern United States. Moisture was transported into the region on a very strong low level jet. With a very strong environmental wind field aloft (60-70 kt at 850mb and 50-60 kt at 925mb) The setup was such that a tornado watch box was issued for the entire Eastern NYS and parts of western New England, except for southern VT. However, with surface based or mixed layer CAPE in the 200 - 250 J/Kg range and poor lapse rates across the area kept instability fairly limited. So, no tornadoes occurred in the Northeast.
Inspire of a lack of instability, the wind field overhead was so strong that showers and low-topped thunderstorms were able to transport stronger damaging winds to the surface. The heaviest rainfall occurred along a wide stripe from the southwestern Catskills extending northeastward through the eastern Catskills, through Albany County. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 7 inches were common. Despite dry ground conditions, flash flooding occurred first in portions of Greene and Ulster County due to extreme rainfall rates and 5 to 7 inches of rain falling in less than six hours. Flash flooding also occurred into portions of the Capital Region, where 3 to 5 inches of rain fell in a relatively short amount of time. Most of the flash flooding reported was due to road closures in urban areas.
8) September 8th, 2012 Severe Event:
An increasing warm and moist southerly flow of air moved into the region in advance of a powerful cold front. The combination of partial sunshine, increasing instability and strong wind dynamics with this system placed our region into a rare Moderate Risk by the Storm Prediction Center. Several supercells developed in advance of the main squall line (QLCS) with the potential for tornadoes. The main hazard with this event was straight line damaging wind gusts that resulted in numerous power outages and trees down.
7) May 16, 2012 Severe Event:
The synoptic set up was conducive for severe weather in the Northeast, with a strong negatively tilted mid level trough and cold front moving out of the Great Lake and through the region. A strong mid level wind max, with the core positioned just to the northwest of our area, was associated with this upper level disturbance and was mainly responsible for the large magnitude of deep layer vertical wind shear of 40-50 knots. Storms started to build west of Utica, around 11:00 AM. With mid level lapse rates at 7.1 C/Km and Cape between 1500-2000 J/Kg, at 12:27 AM EDT, the first Mesoscale Discussion (0824) for the Northeast for the severe season was issued by the SPC.
At the surface, as is typical for this area, there were at least two distinct boundaries present. One was a pre-frontal trough that progressed eastward from central NY during the morning/early afternoon. Dewpoints dropped in the upper 40s to lower 50s to the west of this boundary, while to the east dewpoints were in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Convection was initiated along this boundary, over the western Adirondacks and Mohawk Valley early to mid afternoon and progressed eastward. The second boundary was a cold front over western NY. By 1:30 PM Temps were approaching 80 and winds were increasing, in the Western Mohawk Valley. Around 1:54 PM a line of thunderstorms started to form west of Utica, The areas at most risk were southern Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, and Otsego Counties. The thunderstorms were responsible for dozens of hail and wind damage reports. Here is an image of the line in Central NYS, Litchfield and Hartford were already under a Thunderstorm Watch , outlined in Pink.
6) The Winter That Wasn’t:
Sometimes the lack of something can be noteworthy. While no two winters are alike, the winter of 2011-2012 was in a league all its own. winter is one we'll all remember. The contiguous U.S. saw its 3rd lowest snow cover on record during both winter and spring, and the winter of 2011 – 2012 was the 4th warmest and 24th driest winter in U.S. history, going back to 1895. The primary cause for the warm temps and lack of snow; a large ridge of high pressure parked itself over the Great Lakes region for much of the season. The abnormally warm air allowed for a large tornado outbreak (one of very few in 2012) to impact the Midwest and Ohio Valley on March 2. I did a blog post on this outbreak that can be found here.The jet stream that largely stayed to the north of its usual winter configuration, outside a couple of dips south, it more or less stayed in this configuration for most of the winter.. We also had an extremely positive NAO index (+2.52) in December, which was the largest difference in pressure between Iceland and the Azores ever observed during the month of December. The positive NAO for most of the winter stopped arctic air from plunging into the United States. Because of this most areas saw a near record lack of seasonal snowfall. The lack of snow had more to do with temperatures than precipitation. Several of our winter storms brought rainfall across the region.
5 ) The Dry/Warm Summer:
After the virtually snowless winter; we had a abnormally dry and warm spring heading into the Summer. To give you an idea how warm it was even before we got to summer, "799 daytime heat records were broken in the first five days of January in the US," says Jake Crouch, a climate scientist from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Breaking the 2012 warm spell down by state, it was the warmest first seven months of the year in the 4 New England states, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Northern NYS saw its 2nd warmest summer on record during 2012. The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that the average temperature in the 12-state region was 49.9 degrees from January through July. That's the warmest seven-month period since 1895, the year systematic record keeping began. The second-warmest comparable period was 1921, when the seven-month average was 49.2 degrees. The Northeast endured a sweltering July with record-breaking temperatures around the region. Syracuse hit 101 on July 17 and Washington's Reagan National Airport recorded 105 degrees on July 7. It also was the warmest 12-month period in the Northeast through July.
Here is data issued by NWS Albany:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ALBANY NY 959 PM EST TUE JAN 1 2013 ...2012 GOES DOWN AS THE WARMEST ON RECORD FOR ALBANY NY...
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR ALBANY NY FOR 2012 WAS 51.6 DEGREES WHICH IS 3.3 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. THIS MAKES IT THE WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD SINCE 1820. THE OLD RECORD WAS 51.4 DEGREES SET BACK IN 1828. 2012 HAD 13 DAYS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 90+ DEGREES. THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES WERE 98 DEGREES ON JULY 17TH AND ZERO DEGREES ON JANUARY 15TH AND 22ND.
PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL FOR ALBANY IN 2012 WITH 36.99 INCHES WHICH IS 2.36 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. THIS WAS QUITE A CHANGE FROM 2011 WITH 53.68 INCHES. THE LAST TIME ALBANY`S PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL WAS IN 2010 BUT IT WAS ONLY BY 0.76 INCHES...UNLIKE IN 2001 IN WHICH ONLY 28.59 INCHES OCCURRED.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR GLENS FALLS NY FOR 2012 WAS 48.7 DEGREES WHICH IS 3.8 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. THIS MAKES IT THE SECOND WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD SINCE 1949. THE WARMEST YEAR OCCURRED IN 1998 WITH AN AVERAGE TEMPERATURE OF 48.8 DEGREES. 2012 HAD 8 DAYS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 90+ DEGREES. THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES WERE 96 DEGREES ON JUNE 21ST AND JULY 17TH AND 6 DEGREES BELOW ZERO ON JANUARY 22ND. PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL FOR 2012 WITH 34.76 INCHES WHICH IS 4.30 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. 2011 CAME IN WITH 46.90 INCHES.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR POUGHKEEPSIE NY FOR 2012 WAS 53.4 DEGREES WHICH IS 3.6 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. THIS MAKES IT THE WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD SINCE 1949. 2012 HAD 22 DAYS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 90+ DEGREES. THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES WERE 96 DEGREES ON JUNE 29TH...JULY 17TH AND JULY 18TH AND 1 DEGREE ABOVE ZERO ON JANUARY 22ND. PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL FOR 2012 WITH 36.48 INCHES WHICH IS 10.05 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. 2011 CAME IN WITH 59.19 INCHES.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR BENNINGTON VT FOR 2012 WAS 49.4 DEGREES WHICH IS 3.4 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. 2012 HAD 7 DAYS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 90+ DEGREES. THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES WERE 94 DEGREES ON JULY 17TH AND 4 DEGREES BELOW ZERO ON JANUARY 16TH. PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL FOR 2012 WITH 32.50 INCHES WHICH IS 8.20 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. 2011 CAME IN WITH 46.91 INCHES.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR PITTSFIELD MA FOR 2012 WAS 48.8 DEGREES WHICH IS 3.5 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. 2012 HAD 3 DAYS WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES OF 90+ DEGREES. THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES WERE 91 DEGREES ON JUNE 20TH AND JULY 17TH AND 8 DEGREES BELOW ZERO ON JANUARY 16TH. PRECIPITATION WAS BELOW NORMAL FOR 2012 WITH 36.35 INCHES WHICH IS 9.03 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. 2011 CAME IN WITH 59.46 INCHES.
4) The 29 May, 2012 Severe Outbreak:
On May 29th the first significant severe weather outbreak of the summer season occurred . This event occurred during the climatologically favored time period of late May to early June, when some of the biggest severe weather outbreaks have occurred in the past in the Northeastern United States. We had a warm front move through and stall over Vermont into central Massachusetts and down into Rhode Island. Because of this A warm, humid and unstable air mass was in place across the region. Thunderstorms broke out in the Adirondacks over into Rutland County in Vermont late in the overnight into the morning of the 29th. These storms caused small scale outflow boundaries to form...These boundaries would have a key part into what was to unfold later in the day.
The daytime temperatures quickly rose, by the afternoon these temps would be in the upper 80s and lower 90s with dewpoints hovering around or slightly higher than 70°. The instability overhead also increased through the morning and the afternoon. With the aid of cap (warm layer aloft). CAPE (convective available potential energy) climbed to between 3000 and 4000 j/kg. CAPE values this high allow for strong updrafts, supportive of severe weather. We had all the ingredients in place now we needed a match. That match came in the form of a cold front and neutrally tiled trough aloft. As the front slowly approached western New York a pre-frontal trough over the west-central part of the state broke the cap and allowed thunderstorms to explode. The conditions were such that SPC issued a tornado watch at 1230 pm.
The event came in two stages. The first part went from 12:30 pm thru 4 pm and impacted Herkimer, Hamilton, Fulton, Warren, northern Saratoga, Washington and Rutland counties. between 12:30pm and 4pm. Some to the thunderstorms that developed were also discrete supercelluar type thunderstorms (storms with rotating updrafts). These mesocyclones (small scale rotating centers) produced very large hail, torrential rain, and frequent lightning.
The second stage of the event developed as storms expanded further south through the remainder of the Mohawk valley and Capital Region and developed into Otsego and Delaware counties. These storms were more linear in structure, forming into short multicell lines and clusters developing into bowing segments. The severe mode shifted from giant hail to more of a damaging straight line wind and smaller hail situation, with significant pockets of wind damage in Fulton, Saratoga, and Washington counties reported.
The line segment that went through Saratoga County late in the afternoon produced almost continuous lightning and torrential rain in addition to damaging wind and hail up to one inch in diameter. Locally severe multicell storms propagated south into the mid Hudson valley and Berkshire and Litchfield counties, pulling out of Berkshire and Litchfield counties between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. From here it moved into other parts of New England. In the storms wake there were over 200 severe reports.
Most of the damage occurred in New York (114 reports) and Pennsylvania (77 reports). Vermont and Western New England (over 50 reports). This severe weather event included a confirmed EF0 tornado near Glover, Vermont, along with numerous reports of large hail and damaging thunderstorm winds. Hail up to baseball size was reported near Crown Point, New York and trees and power lines were down in Milton, Vermont from the powerful storms. Furthermore, the thunderstorms were accompanied by very heavy rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches with localized radar estimates near 6 inches across the southern Champlain Valley, which caused significant flash flooding. Many roads were washed out and numerous rivers and streams had sharp rises, as a result of the heavy rainfall.
Taken near Machanicville, NY photographer unknown
3) The June 1st Maryland And Virginia Tornado Outbreak:
A few days later on June 1st severe weather stuck again. This time in Maryland and Virginia. New York State and Western New England dodged a bullet if the system had been just a little more to the east, we would have seen this too. A large upper-level low pressure system, and its attendant surface storm northwest of Maryland, set the stage for rotating thunderstorms across Maryland and Virginia. A warm front crossing the area during the day helped focus the threat, a a cold front swept through Triggering the tornadoes.
The NWS filed 58 wind damage (mostly downed trees) and 28 flash flooding reports from northern Virginia, central Maryland, and the District of Columba. Maryland saw the worst of it. The NWS has confirmed 12 tornadoes in Maryland. The two most powerful in Maryland were in the Watersville area of Howard and in the Pleasant Hills area of Harford, where two injuries were reported. Harford County MD saw the worst of it with over $1,000,000 dollars in damage. A tornado in the Hampton, Va., area was estimated at 98 mph. A second Virginia tornado, near Petersburg, was estimated at 80 to 85 mph. In Montgomery, two tornadoes touched down near Damascus and a third in the Countryside area, the Weather Service said. In Prince George’s, the tornado touched down in the Springdale area, east of Route 50 and the Capital Beltway.
Fortunately, none of the tornadoes were very strong or long-lived locally. Heavy rain and flash flooding turned out to be the biggest impacts from this tornado outbreak, but there were scattered wind damage reports, numerous funnel cloud sightings.
Brambleton, VA picture taken by Kalina Malina Z
2) The July 26th NYS Southern Tier And Pennsylvania Tornado Outbreak:
On the afternoon of July 26th, a significant severe weather event impacted portions of the NWS Binghamton forecast area. By the late morning/early afternoon, a warm front had lifted north through the region placing much of the Binghamton forecast area in a moderately unstable airmass. We also had several upper-level shortwave troughs moving out of the Great Lakes during the early afternoon hours; this helped in energizing the thunderstorms that would develop. Another key factor for what was to develop was dry air in the mid levels, which set the stage for strong damaging winds.
Early in the afternoon, thunderstorms started to develop over southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. The atmosphere was such that the storms quickly matured into a multicell line. Based on reports out of western NYS, multiple severe weather warnings were issued at 2:25 PM for Steuben County, NY.
As the storms rushed east at 50 to 60 mph through southern Steuben County, NY, the line developed a well-defined bow echo. As the storm was entering western Chemung County, a well-defined inflow notch (A signature seen on radar that's characterized by an indentation in the reflectivity pattern on the inflow side of the storm, inflow notches are particularly conducive to severe weather if they ingest high momentum and dry air into the storm). There was also
broad rotation noted around the inflow notch. Doppler radar also noticed a low-level rotational couplet (rotation with strong inbound and outbound velocities) heading towards the Elmira, NY.
As this rotational couplet moved towards Elmira, an EF-1 tornado touched down in West Elmira. The tornado then continued east into Elmira where it affected the downtown district where it cause quite a bit of damage. The tornado lifted just east of the city.
After moving through Elmira, the storm system moved east into the Twin Tiers, where numerous damage reports such as trees and wires down were received. As the system quickly moved into the Binghamton area a tornado warning was issued for eastern Tioga and much of Broome Counties at 4:24 PM. As this storm entered the county, strong mid-level rotation was noted on Doppler radar. A downburst produced straight line wind damage in the Township of Sugarloaf. The storm continued to move east where it produced additional straight line wind damage along East Foothills Drive in the Town of Hazel. As the storm entered western Foster Township, a brief tornado occurred just southwest of Freeland at 5:44 PM
The storm continued to race east causing considerable more damage........The storm produced a total of 7 tornadoes and dozens of wind damage reports due to the eastward moving bow echo.
Here’s a list of the tornadoes and downburst…..the links will take you to the NWS Binghamton site.
New York State
EF1 Tornado Confirmed Approximately 7 Miles South Southwest of Corning in Steuben County New York
EF1 Tornado Confirmed near South Corning in Steuben County New York
EF1 Tornado Confirmed in Elmira in Chemung County New York
EF1 Tornado Confirmed in the Chemung and Tioga Counties in New York
EF1 Tornado Confirmed in the Town of Kirkwood in Broome County New York
EF1 Tornado Confirmed near Bridgewater Township in Susquehanna County Pennsylvania
EF1 Tornado Confirmed in Foster Township in Luzerne County Pennsylvania
A list of the four microburst associated with this event:
Microburst/straight Line Wind Damage Confirmed near Barton in Tioga County New York
Macroburst/Straight Line Wind Damage confirmed in a Swath from Southern Steuben to Southern Chemung Counties in New York
Microburst/Straight Line Wind Damage/Confirmed near Harford in Susquehanna County Pennsylvania
Microburst/straight line wind damage confirmed near Orwell in Bradford County Pennsylvania
For most of us Sandy is a name that will live in our conscious mind for the rest of our lives. Sandy will be remembered along names like Connie, Carol, Hazel, and Diane. To say Sandy caused devastation would be a gross understatement. I won't go into a lot of detail about this monster storm, as most of us know about her all too well.
Sandy developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, quickly strengthened, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Sandy six hours later. Sandy crawled northward toward the Greater Antilles and slowly but surely intensified. On October 24, NHC designated Sandy as a hurricane. Soon after, she made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica, a few hours later, re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Sandy made another landfall on Cuba on October 25 where she weakened to a Category 1 hurricane. in the ensuing days Sandy moved through the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and moved up the East Coast of the US.
Early on October 29 Sandy hit The Greenland block in the Northern Atlantic. Because of this and an incoming storm system over the continental United States, she recurred back toward the US Coast making landfall south of Atlantic City New Jersey. The damage in the US is estimated to be between 60 and 100 billion dollars. Sadly Sandy took at least 253 lives during her lifetime. This tally includes 131 Americans and two Canadian lives. If you want to know more about Sandy, I did several post on her, including a timeline...which can be found here.
Well that’s my list…… I hope you enjoyed reading it….