Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Deadly Floods in Chile Leave Millions Without Drinking Water in Santiago

Ada Carr
Published: February 27,2017

Rainstorms and landslides triggered by rainfall in Santiago, Chile, left at least three people dead and contaminated a major river, forcing officials to cut off drinking water for 4 million people.
According to ONEMI, the national emergency office, at least 19 people remain missing in the capital city, which has a population of 6.5 million. 
Office director Ricardo Toro told CTV News that a youth died in a car that was swept away by floodwaters in central Chile and two bodies were recovered from a river near Santiago. 
Mudslides and rubble triggered by the rain surged into the Maipo River, which supplies water to most of the homes in the capital city, reports AFP. 
"We are talking about 1.45 million homes that are going to be affected by the cutting off of the water supply, which will be total or partial in 30 districts"  regional governor Claudio Orrego said in a statement obtained by AFP. 
On Monday, Aguas Anginas, the company responsible for providing the capital with drinking water, released a statement saying it has managed to partially resume production of drinking water and roughly 50 percent of homes in Santiago have potable water. The main plant, Plant Las Viscachas, has resumed its operation. 
In addition to the main plant, alternative supply points set up by the company and officials will be maintained until service is fully restored, according to ONEMI. 
When residents were told about the lack of drinking water, many went out with buckets and pans to collect water from emergency taps set up by authorities and others rushed to supermarkets to purchase bottled water, AFP also reports. Restaurants and businesses without drinking water have been ordered to stay closed. The start of lessons for the new school term was also postponed. 
In Cordillera province, bridges were swept away and 1,200 people were cut off, the area's governor Vanessa Marimon told AFP. Overall, 3,300 people were cut off by floods. 
Sunday, three helicopters established an air bridge in San José de Maipo in order to send 1,065 liters of water, 117 food rations and 165 toilet kits, according to ONEMI. 
Though February is part of the dry season in Santiago, a weak upper-level area of low pressure with sufficient moisture provided the spark for the heavy rain event near Santiago, according to weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. Normally, Santiago averages a scant .03 inch of rain for the month.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Chicago Will Have First January-February Without Snow Cover in 146 Years

Jon Erdman
Published: February 27, 2017

Chicago will go through an entire January and February without so much as an inch of snow on the ground for the first time in recorded history – and you thought the Cubs winning a World Series was strange.
According to the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Illinois, Christmas morning was the last day O'Hare International Airport reported at least an inch of snow on the ground.
(INTERACTIVE: When Spring's Last Snow Typically Falls)
Never before in records dating to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 has an official Chicago reporting station failed to measure at least one January or February day with at least an inch of snow cover in the same winter.
Cloud Gate, known as "The Bean," in downtown Chicago under a blanket of snow in December.

The Windy City has also set a record-long winter streak without a one-inch snowfall; the last such occurrence was the weekend before Christmas on Dec. 17.
The winter started out impressively snowy in Chicago, with 17.7 inches of snow falling in two weeks from Dec. 4-18, more than double the average for the entire month (8 inches).
(MORE: Winter Storm Central)
Then, the snow essentially shut off.
Since Dec. 18, O'Hare Airport has measured a pathetic 0.6 inches of total snowfall. Average Chicago snowfall from Dec. 19 through the end of February is 23.4 inches.
Meanwhile, February has been one of the city's warmest on record. Two of the five 70-degree-plus February days on record at O'Hare occurred within a three-day span on Feb. 18 and 20.
(MORE: February Records Smashed)
This led to the odd sight of budding trees in the Chicagoland metro well ahead of schedule.
Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at weather.com and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7.

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MORE: Deepest Snow in All 50 States

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Tornadoes in March: The Start of Spring's Notorious Reputation

Chris Dolce
Published: February 27,2017

March typically kicks off the annual escalation of the spring tornado season, as the necessary volatile atmospheric ingredients come together more frequently.
(MORE: Your Local Severe Weather Outlook)
Roughly 76 tornadoes touch down annually during March, based on the average for the 20-year period of 1996 through 2015. Statistically speaking, that makes March the fifth-most tornadic month of the year. It should be noted, however, that March's average is virtually on par with August and September, but those two months have historically seen a boost in tornado activity due to tropical storms and hurricanes.
As you would expect, there are extremes in relation to March's tornado average, both lower and higher, and we have several examples in the past five years.
(MORE: Extreme Tornado Facts)
Average monthly U.S. tornadoes from 1996-2015.
On the active end of the spectrum, 2012 was the fourth-most tornadic March on record dating to 1950, with 154 twisters, while 2016 came in above-average, with 86. Sandwiched between those years, we saw a dearth of tornadoes in March 2013, 2014 and 2015. Those three Marches combined had just 49 tornadoes.
The deadliest March in the past few decades also occurred in 2012, when 41 people were killed by tornadoes. All but one of those tornado-related deaths happened during a March 2 outbreak in the Ohio Valley and South. No other March was deadlier since 1984, according to data from Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert with The Weather Channel.
March is also the month when the worst tornado in U.S. history struck. Known as the "Tri-State Tornado," it carved a path from Missouri to Illinois and Indiana on March 18, 1925, killing 695 people.
(MORE: Tornado Central)

Where Tornadoes Occur in March

With jet stream winds still strong as we head into the spring months, and ample moisture returning north at times, the threat of tornadoes creeps a bit farther north, compared to February.
Tornadoes can form during March from the central Great Plains into the southern Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Deep South. Parts of the South, mid-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley have the highest likelihood of tornadoes, compared to other regions, on average.
This isn't to say tornadoes can't occur outside the red-shaded areas on the March tornado risk map. Extreme warmth in March 2012 assisted in the development of tornadoes as far north as southern Minnesota and northern Michigan. Late-February 2017 provided us another anomalous example, with tornadoes in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
If you don't have one, it's time to review or develop a severe weather plan. For example, do you know where to take shelter if you receive a tornado warning in the middle of the day or night, and how would you receive that warning?
(MORE: Tornado Safety)
MORE: Tornado Outbreak in the South

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Massive Crater in Siberia Is Worsening Due to Climate Change, Scientists Say

Ada Carr
Published: December 28,2016

With the ominous nickname of the “gateway to the underworld,” a gargantuan crater growing in Siberia is growing rapidly due to climate change, according to researchers. 
The Batagaika crater has sunken to depths of nearly 400 feet and has been growing at a rate of more than 60 feet per year, according to Motherboard. Since its creation in the early 1990s, climate change has worsened and caused heat waves that melted layers of glacial ice. 
This melting caused the land underneath to collapse, creating the gaping depression. 
Scientists are calling the Batagaika crater a “megaslump,” which is an enormous void. When permafrost rapidly thaws, it creates rifts and causes “scar zones” that sink into the saturated land.  
“I expect that the Batagaika megaslump will continue to grow until it runs out of ice or becomes buried by slumped sediment,” Dr. Julian Murton told Motherboard. “It’s quite likely that other megaslumps will develop in Siberia if the climate continues to warm or get wetter.”
These craters pose what some researchers have referred to as a “climate time bomb.”
The Arctic’s permafrost contains both methane and carbon dioxide, which could be hazardous to our environment if released. 
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methane could have 25 times the impact of carbon dioxide over the next century. An increase in methane emissions would have a disastrous effect on the planet’s already-troubled atmosphere, as the greenhouse gas is 21 times better at trapping heat. 
According to Murton, the last time Siberia saw this magnitude of slumping was 10,000 years ago. Today’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have climbed to 400 parts per million, have surpassed the carbon dioxide levels of that time, which reached levels of 280 parts per million. 
MORE: Mysterious Giant Hole in Siberia, Russia

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Record Warmth Continues Wednesday in East, South

Brian Donegan
Published: February 28,2017

Just days after last week's warmth shattered thousands of daily records and over two hundred monthly records, another warm up is breaking dozens of record highs from the Midwest to the East and South into Wednesday.
A southward dip in the jet stream over the West has resulted in the jet stream surging northward into Canada over the eastern U.S. In addition, southerly winds ahead of a cold front are allowing warm air to engulf much of the East.
(MORE: East of the Rockies, Signs of Spring Already Beginning to Pop Up)
Several record highs were tied or broken Tuesday, including in Springfield, Missouri (77 degrees), Shreveport, Louisiana (85 degrees), Tyler, Texas (68 degrees), Jacksonville (87 degrees), Tampa (86 degrees), Scranton, Pennsylvania (64 degrees), and Binghamton, New York (58 degrees).
Below, we'll break down how much temperatures will continue to warm up and where additional record highs may be in jeopardy.


Much of the Midwest will cool down behind a cold front, but temperatures remain generally 5 to 10 degrees above average. The core of the warmth will set up over the East and South, with temperatures over 30 degrees above average in parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Highs in the 60s will surge northward into upstate New York and southern New England. New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. will easily soar into the 70s. Much of the Southeast will be dominated by temperatures in the 80s, and Jacksonville could be close to 90 degrees.

Forecast Highs Compared to Average Wednesday
Dozens of record highs could be broken Wednesday across the East. This includes (current record in parenthesis): Washington D.C. (77 degrees), Richmond, Virginia (79 degrees), Baltimore (76 degrees), Philadelphia (69 degrees), New York City (69 degrees), Albany, New York (54 degrees), Jacksonville, Florida (84 degrees), Charlotte, North Carolina (76 degrees), and Atlanta (77 degrees).
(MORE: 6 Unusual Things the February Pattern Has Brought)
By late week, temperatures will return to near or just slightly-above average.

How Warm Has This February Been?

The eastern half of the United States has endured one of the warmest streaks of February weather on record. The warmer-than-average temperatures have already broken thousands of records, including over 400 all-time February record highs.
(MORE: As Spring Approaches, Here's When Temperatures Typically Warm Up)
Many locations are currently on track to recording one of their warmest Februaries on record, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center. This includes Dallas, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Memphis.
Several all-time record-high temperatures for February were set Feb. 11 in Texas, including Midland, Lubbock and Wichita Falls, where highs soared into the 90s. Denver also set a new record-earliest 80-degree day on Feb. 10, breaking the previous record by more than a full month.
(MORE: All-Time February Heat in the Southern Plains)
More recently, from Feb. 17-24, roughly 2,900 daily warm records (record highs and record-warm lows) were set across the U.S. Over 250 all-time February warm records (record highs and record-warm lows) were also set, according to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
Number of warm and cold records set from Feb. 17-24, 2017.
For some cities, February 2017 will end up warmer than an average March, including Buffalo and Rochester, New York.
(MORE: March 2017 Temperature Outlook: Widespread Warmth Expected)
MORE: Winter Storm Quid, February 2017

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Snow Returns to Great Lakes, Including Chicago, Following Tuesday's Thunderstorms

Chris Dolce
Published: February 28,2017

Snow will spread across the Great Lakes on Wednesday less than 24 hours after thunderstorms, some severe, rumble through parts of the region. This weather system could even bring a light accumulation of snow to the Chicago metro area, which hasn't seen an inch of snow on the ground since Christmas and saw no snow in all of February.
(MORE: Record Snowless Streak in Chicago)
The setup for this quick-hitting snow event involves colder air wrapping in behind the same low-pressure system spreading severe weather through the southern and eastern states. Just enough moisture will overlap with that cold air on the low's northwest side to result in accumulating snow in portions of Iowa, southern Minnesota, northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
(MORE: Severe Weather Marches East)
Strengthening low pressure moves near the Great Lakes on Wednesday. Colder air wraps in behind the low, resulting in snowfall for some areas.
This isn't expected to be a major snowmaker, but it will add to the snowpack in some areas affected by Winter Storm Quid last week. Interestingly, parts of southern Wisconsin that saw severe storms with hail the size of quarters Tuesday morning could have snow falling less than 24 hours later on Wednesday morning.

Forecast Timing

  • Wednesday: Snow or rain changing to snow is expected in southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Indiana and Michigan.
  • Wednesday Night: Snow ends west of Lake Michigan during the evening but continues in northern Indiana, northern Ohio and Michigan. Rain may change to a brief period of snow in western New York, western Pennsylvania and the mountains of West Virginia.
  • Thursday: Some light snow could linger across interior parts of the Northeast into Thursday morning.
  • City Forecasts: Chicago | Detroit | Grand Rapids | Green Bay | Milwaukee
(MORE: Winter Storm Central)

Wednesday's Forecast

Wednesday Night's Forecast

How Much Snow?

  • The greatest potential for more than 3 inches of snow includes areas from central and southern Wisconsin to northern Lower Michigan. Some locations in that swath could see up to a half-foot of snow.
  • A dusting to a few inches of accumulation is expected for the rest of the area that sees snowfall in the upper-Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes.

Snowfall Forecast Through Wednesday PM
After the Wednesday system moves through, a separate snowmaker could also affect parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes Thursday. Snowfall accumulations are forecast to be light, but brief travel impacts are possible in a narrow zone.
(MORE: Winter Storms So Far This Season)

Thursday's Forecast
MORE: Winter Storm Quid

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

At Least 3 Dead as Severe Weather Outbreak Impacts Midwest

Ada Carr
Published: February 28,2017

At least three people died Tuesday as a severe weather outbreak hammered the Midwest.
Near Perryville, Missouri, at least a dozen vehicles, including a semi truck, were blown off Interstate 55 after a tornado was spotted in the area, according to KFVS. At least two individuals died and several were injured, Fox 2 St. Louis reports. Buildings and structures in the area were also damaged by winds.
A large and dangerous confirmed tornado killed one person in Illinois. The victim was killed by an uprooted tree, according to the Associated Press. The twister was spotted near Utica moving at 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
The LaSalle County Nursing Home in LaSalle, Illinois, sustained significant damage due to a likely tornado. Photos posted to social media showed the debris left behind.
A woman answering the telephone at the nursing home told the Associated Press that several residents reported bumps and bruises but no serious injuries.
An electrical tower was downed at a street intersection and multiple buildings were also damaged in LaSalle due to the storm, NWS also reports. U.S. 60 had to be shut down Tuesday due to hail covering the highway. The hail was reportedly the size of half-dollars.
Initial reports suggested there was significant damage to structures in Naplate following the storm, the News Tribune reports.
A possible tornado was also spotted in Walcott, Iowa, Tuesday. Photos shared online showed a funnel cloud in the sky.
Hail fell so thick in southern Missouri Tuesday that motorists had to pull over and stop.
MORE: Tornado Hits Conway, Massachusetts, Feb. 25, 2017

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Severe Weather Outbreak Underway in Midwest, South and East

Jonathan Belles
Published: February 28,2017

A severe weather outbreak is well underway in the Midwest and South before sweeping into the East Wednesday, with a threat of tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.
(MORE: March's Typical Tornado Risk)
The storms are developing in response to a strong jet stream surging into the eastern half of the country, blasting atop a warm and increasingly-humid air mass. A sharpening cold front will eventually sweep to the East Coast, as well.
Moderate to strong wind shear, the change of wind speed and direction with height, will allow storms to grow and persist. This will also increase the risk of tornadoes, some of which have already occurred in the dark.
(MORE: Nighttime Tornadoes are Particularly Deadly)

Happening Now

Multiple squall lines of thunderstorms, with some embedded supercells, are pushing eastward across the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The biggest tornado threat is from southeast Missouri into southern Illinois and southern Indiana.
(MORE: Tornado Central)

Current Radar, Watches and Warnings
Late Tuesday afternoon, a tornado was reported near Ottawa, Illinois, which lead to at least one fatality. Baseball-sized hail was also reported with this storm by spotters. Hail up to tennis-ball sized was reported earlier Tuesday afternoon near Galva, Illinois, southeast of Davenport, Iowa.
A tornado was also spotted near Perryville, Missouri, Tuesday evening, and the emergency manager reported overturned vehicles on Interstate 55, significant damage to homes and other structures, and at least two fatalities. This tornado then tracked into southern Illinois, where homes were destroyed north of Elkville, and U.S. 51 was impassable north of town. The tornado may have then gone on to impact Mulkeytown, Illinois, where homes were destroyed and numerous trees and powerlines were snapped.
(NEWS: At Least 3 Dead as Severe Weather Outbreak Impacts Midwest)
Another tornado was observed by weather spotters Tuesday evening over Bald Knob, Arkansas, and damage was reported in nearby Kensett. This prompted a shelter-in-place at a basketball tournament in the area.
There were a few severe thunderstorm warnings Tuesday morning in parts of the Midwest. Golfball-size hail – 1.75-inch diameter – was reported in Perty County, Missouri, between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, just after 2:30 a.m. CST.  Hail to the size of quarters was reported in southern Wisconsin late in the morning.

Forecast Timing


  • One or more squall lines of severe thunderstorms ahead of the cold front will move from the Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic states, trailing south into the Tennessee Valley and Deep South.
  • Damaging winds will be the primary threat, though a few tornadoes can't be ruled out.
  • Cities: Jackson, Mississippi | Birmingham | Nashville | Atlanta | PittsburghWashington D.C.

Wednesday's Thunderstorm Forecast

Wednesday Night

  • A broken line of scattered severe storms may persist from as far north as the New York City Tri-State into the Southeast (Carolinas, Georgia, southern Alabama).
  • Damaging winds will be the primary threat, though a few tornadoes can't be ruled out.
  • Cities: New York | Raleigh | Columbia

Wednesday Night's Thunderstorm Forecast

Very-Welcome Rainfall

Along with the storms, locally heavy rainfall amounts will be seen across parts of the South and Ohio Valley.
A swath of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys is expected to pick up 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. Localized amounts up to 3 inches are possible.

Forecast Rainfall
Much of the South remains in a severe drought that dates back to summer.
With just a few exceptions, the Southeast has seen below-average rainfall since the beginning of February. Parts of Mississippi have seen less than 25 percent of their average February rainfall.
(MORE: 6 Unusual Things February Brought)
Numerous sites across the South and mid-Atlantic states are experiencing one of their top-10-driest Februaries.

Current Drought Monitor
MORE: Severe Storms  January 2017

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

This Date in Weather History for March 1,2017 from weatherforyou.com

Weather History
For Wednesday,March 1,2017
1910 - The deadliest avalanche of record in the U.S. thundered down the mountains near Wellington Station WA sweeping three huge locomotive train engines and some passenger cars, snowbound on the grade leading to Stevens Pass, over the side and into a canyon, and burying them under tons of snow. The avalanche claimed the lives of more than 100 people. The station house at Wellington was also swept away. (The Weather Channel)
1914 - High winds and heavy snow crippled New Jersey and New York State. Two feet of snow were reported at Ashbury Park, and at New York City the barometric pressure dropped to a record 28.38 inches. The storm caused complete disruption of electric power in New Jersey. (David Ludlum)
1980 - Norfolk, VA, received 13.7 inches of snow to push their season total to a record 41.9 inches exceeding their previous record by more than four inches. (David Ludlum)
1980 - An unusually large Florida tornado, 500 yards in width at times, killed one person and caused six million dollars damage near Fort Lauderdale. (The Weather Channel)
1983 - A ferocious storm battered the Pacific coast. The storm produced heavy rain and gale force winds resulting in flooding and beach erosion, and in the mountains produced up to seven feet of snow in five days. (The Weather Channel)
1987 - A storm crossing the Great Lakes Region produced heavy snow and gale force winds from Wisconsin to northern New England, with eight inches of snow reported at Ironwood MI. (The National Weather Summary)
1988 - Thunderstorms produced large hail and damaging winds in north central Texas. Baseball size hail was reported at Lake Kickapoo. Hail fell continuously for thirty minutes in the Iowa Park area of Wichita Falls. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1989 - March came in like a lion, with snow and high winds, in the northwestern U.S. Winds gusted to 86 mph in the Rosario Strait of western Washington State. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1990 - A series of low pressure systems moving out of the Gulf of Alaska spread high winds and heavy snow across western Alaska. Winds in the Anchorage area gusted to 69 mph at Glen Alps, and Talkeetna was buried under three feet of snow in two days. Valdez received 21.4 inches of snow, raising their total for the winter season to 482.4 inches. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
2006 - Dallas/Forth Worth Airport breaks a 107-year-old North Texas temperature record after reaching 93 degrees. Mineral Wells reached 97, Wichita Falls 96 and Fort Worth Meacham Airport 90.
2011 - Snowfall across Idaho broke numerous accumulation records. Pierce received 15 inches, Powell 14.5 inches, Potlatch 12 inches and Kellogg and Plummer 7 inches. The same storm created high winds across the Pacific Northwest. A weather station at 10,000 feet on Mount Ranier measures a wind gust of 137 MPH with a sustained 1-minute wind reading of 112 MPH.

This Date in Weather History for February 28,2017 from weatherforyou.com

Weather History
For Tuesday,February 28,2017
1900 - A massive storm spread record snows from Kansas to New York State. Snowfall totals rangeD up to 17.5 inches at Springfield IL and 43 inches at Rochester NY, with up to 60 inches in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. (David Ludlum)
1952 - An intense storm brought coastal sections of southeastern Massachusetts to a halt, stranding 3000 motorists on Lower Cape, and leaving ten thousand homes on the Cape without electricity. Winds gusting to 72 mph created mountainous snowdrifts of the 18 inches of snow which buried Nantucket and Hyannis. A barometric pressure reading of 29.02 inches was reported at the center of the storm. (The Weather Channel)
1987 - A powerful storm produced severe thunderstorms in Louisiana and Mississippi early in the day. About mid morning a monstrous tornado touched down near Moselle MS and grew to a width of two miles as it passed near Laurel MS. The tornado traveled a distance of 40 miles killing six persons, injuring 350 others, and causing 28.5 million dollars damage. The tornado swept homes right off their foundations, and tossed eighteen wheel trucks about like toys. Strong straight line winds associated with the powerful storm system gusted to 70 mph at Jonesboro AR and Carbondale IL. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1988 - Thunderstorms in California produced severe weather during the early morning hours. Strong thunderstorm winds, gusting to 74 mph, downed trees in the Sacramento area. Unseasonably mild weather prevailed in the northwestern U.S. The afternoon high of 71 degrees at Portland OR was a February record. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1989 - Thunderstorms in the southeast corner of the nation produced winds gusts to 58 mph at Fort Lauderdale FL, and a total of seven inches of rain. Heavy snow whitened parts of the Northern Plateau and the Northern Rockies, with ten inches reported at Marion MT. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1990 - Showers and thunderstorms over the Southern Plains Region capped a record wet February for parts of Oklahoma. Totals for the month ranged up to 9.11 inches at McCurtain, with 4.63 inches reported at Oklahoma City. Snow and sleet fell across northern Oklahoma, with four inches reported at Freedom and Jefferson. Snow also spread across southern Kansas into Missouri and Arkansas, with six inches of snow reported at Harrison AR. In Alaska, February temperatures at Nome averaged 21 degrees below normal, ranging from -38 degrees to 29 degrees during the month. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
2012 - The first confirmed February tornado in Nebraska state history struck Lincoln and Logan Counties shortly after 4PM. The EF-0 tornado was on the ground intermittently for up to six minutes and traveled 3 miles before dissipating in southwest Logan County. The path of the tornado was over open rangeland and cropland where limited damage occurred. Patches of snow were still on the ground at the time. (NWS North Platte)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Climate change may boost mercury in ecosystems, food chain

By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather staff writer
February 27,2017, 11:03:00AM,EST
Rising temperatures may cause localized increases in the amount of toxic mercury introduced into ecosystems, impacting wildlife and the food chain.
According to a recent study published in Science Advances, mercury in ecosystems has risen two- to five-fold since the dawn of the industrial age. Today, climate change may be causing an even greater problem for some areas as an increase in organic matter enters waterways.
"Increased temperature may regionally cause increases in precipitation and runoff, and if so, in export of organic matter from land to water," the study's author and environmental chemist Erik Björn said.
This relation is complex and projected to vary highly for different geographical regions, he added.
Eastern Brook Trout
Björn, and his fellow researchers, used the mesocosm research infrastructure at the Umeå Marine Science Centre in Sweden to construct different model ecosystems. This system consisted of 12 plastic tubes measuring at 75 centimeters in diameter and 5 meters high.
Each tube was filled with 2,000 liters of water and a sediment at the bottom. This allowed the researchers to control temperature, light conditions and the addition of nutrients and organic matter to form different types of model ecosystems.
"We combined this approach by the addition of isotopically enriched mercury tracers. We added three tracers to the sediment and two to the water phase to simulate different pools of mercury in the ecosystem," he said. "We then monitored throughout the experiment how methylmercury was formed and accumulated in biota for these different isotope tracers."
Because of the increases in natural organic matter from the soil, water becomes more brownish in color. This decreases the amount of sunlight that can penetrate, causing a decrease in photosynthetic production of the photoplankton.
Instead, bacteria that use part of the organic matter for their metabolism can then increase.
"This causes a change in the structure of the food web, from being dominated by phytoplankton to being dominated by bacteria," Björn said, adding that there are a larger number of steps in the bacteria-based food web compared to the phytoplankton-based food web.
Methylmercury is formed by certain types of microorganisms that use inorganic mercury located in soils, sediment and water. The inorganic mercury mainly originates from atmospheric depositions, both naturally and from emissions related to human activity.
A fraction of the toxic methylmercury will bind to sulfide and chloride, which can be then be available in the cellular uptake in bacteria and plankton, he added.
"Methylmercury has strong neurotoxic properties. Observed effects in wildlife like fish, birds and mammals, include behavioral, neurochemical, hormonal and reproductive changes," Björn said.
The impact of increased runoff on the aquatic ecosystem is due to increase precipitation among other things and is dependent on the watershed and water surface areas.
For example, in certain regions, temperature-driven increases in precipitation may be accompanied by increases in the evaporation of water from the soil and have only minor effects in runoff.
How rapid Arctic sea ice melt may alter global weather patterns
20 global landmarks that climate change may destroy
The atmosphere's efficiency as a heat engine is increasing in response to climate change

"A larger watershed area to water surface area means a larger potential impact from land runoff, although several other factors also contribute," he added. "As a consequence, small boreal lakes and coastal regions are more impacted by runoff than the open oceans."
A further consequence of this is the establishment of a new type of “intermediate” predatory organisms like protozoa which feed on the bacteria.
"Methylmercury is enriched approximately by a factor of 10 in each step of the food web, and therefore the amount of methylmercury in zooplankton and higher predators increases in the bacteria-based food web," he added.
For predatory organisms, including humans, the main exposure route for methylmercury is through food consumption.
"In each step in the food chain, methylmercury gets concentrated approximately 10 times, which means that the concentrations increases throughout the food chain and is highest in top predators," Björn said. 
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Like · Reply · 1 hr
Vicky Bruno
Well, with the new EPA Boss that Chump appointed, and all the regulations for the fossil fuel industries he wants to get rid of and start allowing big oil, big Coal and other industrial pollution Giants to run amock, all for the sake of their profits, we are only going to see the die off of more species, more toxic chemicals polluting our land, air and water, that mercury in fish will be the least of our worries in a few short years.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Michael Mootsey ·
No one has ever seen God, or ever proven a fact about any faith,but somehow that is never questioned as bunk like climate change, deniers scoff at every study and won't believe the truth even when confirmed. We will never learn. Keep your heads in the sand.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Tony Berg ·
A warming planet is not all bad news yet that's all we hear.
Dan McMartin ·
I went into the wrong line of work. I should have gotten into climate science. I could live on generous government grants, probably be tenured at some university and get a nice fat penion too. All for publishing a bunch of mights and what ifs that my collegues gush over, most people can't understand and nobody ever really verifies.
Like · Reply · 2 · 5 hrs
Ed Gleason ·
So, we're all going to die. Again. BTW, 2020 will be the golden anniversary of the earth ending in just ten years. RSVP now, and beat the rush!
Steve McGlamery ·
The sky is falling, the sky is falling.
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Don Rehberg ·
Thanks for putting this on your WEATHER site. sarc/off
Like · Reply · 3 · 8 hrs
Michael Hawryluk
May cause, might cause, could cause... Yep, the science is settled.
Like · Reply · 4 · 8 hrs
Gary French
Amazing how no one was worried about this when the James Bay Project was introduced and implimented, flooding an area the size of France, making the waters so polluted with mercury from decaying trees, vegitation, people couldn't eat the fish. Migrating animals were drowning because their crossing lands were now flooded.
Like · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs
Renee Koenitzer
And the more people breed with no thought to the consequences, the more this will happen. Or, at least, breed and think they're all entitled to the same goodies as previous generations.
Like · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
Scott Davis ·
Well, this is good news, since there is NO climate change, we don't have to worry about Mercury!! Yay!!
Like · Reply · 3 · 11 hrs · Edited
Ray Jupina
Like · Reply · 9 hrs