Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Weirdest Weather Events of 2017 So Far

Jon Erdman
Published: June 28,2017

This year has already delivered its share of winter storms, tropical cyclones, heat waves, cold outbreaks, severe weather outbreaks, flooding and droughts. But there are some weather events every year that are just plain weird.
The events we consider strange are weather phenomena happening repeatedly in one place, in a place where you wouldn't think they would occur or during an unusual time of year. Some are phenomenon you may not find in a Weather 101 textbook.
(MORE WEIRD LISTS: 2016 | 2015 | Strangest Weather I've Seen in My Lifetime)
Here are some of weirdest weather events this year, somewhat chronological order.

From Almost 100 Degrees to Snow in Days

Temperature and dew point trace at Mangum, Oklahoma from Feb. 11-14, 2017.

On Feb. 11, an Oklahoma Mesonet station in the far southwest Oklahoma town of Mangum, measured a high temperature of 99.4 degrees, tying a February all-time high for the state. Just three days after this winter near-century mark high, snow fell in Mangum on Valentine's Day. The snow was light enough and, as you could imagine, it had a hard time coating ground that had seared in near 100-degree heat just a few days earlier. 
(FULL RECAP: Weird Oklahoma Temperature Lurch)

State's First February Tornadoes on Record

Embedded in a squall line, a pair of EF1 tornadoes tore through the towns of Conway and Goshen, Massachusetts, on Feb. 25.  In modern records dating to 1950, this was the first February tornado in the Bay State, a month typically featuring major Northeast snowstorms. There were even reports of severe thunderstorm wind damage in far Upstate New York, almost to the Canadian border, something not seen that far north in February since 1950.
(FULL RECAP: Strange Late February 2017 Northeast Severe Weather)

Lightning Strikes the Space Needle ... While It Snows

While lightning typically strikes Seattle's most famous landmark several times a year, what happened in late February was a pretty rare occurrence. A lightning strike was captured while it was snowing in the city. You can see the flakes falling a bit clearer in this later video of a second lightning strike.
On average, the chances of both snow and thunder occurring there on any November through March day was only 0.04 percent.

Chicago's Record Lack of Snow Cover in the Heart of Winter

Visitors look over the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park on February 28, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
For the first time in records dating to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the 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. After barely managing a White Christmas with a 2-inch snow cover, it took until March 14 – when Winter Storm Stella and its odd late-season lake-effect snow hit – before the city would see the white stuff again.
(MORE: 5 Best and Worst U.S. Winter Cities of 2016-2017)

Minnesota's Record-Earliest Tornadoes

A side of a house is destroyed from a tornado in Orrock Township near Zimmerman, Minnesota, on Monday, March 6, 2017.
(David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)
EF1 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in or near the Minnesota towns of Bricelyn, Clark's Grove and Zimmerman on March 6.
Before that, the earliest in the year a twister had struck Minnesota was almost two weeks later on March 18, 1968, the National Weather Service said.
The tornado near Zimmerman, about 35 miles north-northwest of downtown Minneapolis, occurred about 100 miles farther north than the previous record earliest tornado in 1968.
Less than two weeks earlier, North Dakota experienced its record earliest severe hail report on Feb. 21.

State's Largest Wildfire on Record ... In Winter

On March 17, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured a natural-color image of the scars left by a wildfire near Ashland, Kansas. Burned areas appear black. The first image shows the same area on March 1, 2017.

In early March, four large fires scorched nearly 800,000 acres in Oklahoma and Kansas, claiming six lives.
The largest of the four fires, dubbed the Starbuck fire, ignited March 7 near the Oklahoma-Kansas border and quickly spread toward the Kansas communities of Englewood, Ashland and Sitka, becoming the largest in the state's history. The fire destroyed 26 homes and killed numerous livestock.

Binghamton's Snowstorm Record Smashed Twice in a Winter Season

Cars along a street are buried by snow from Winter Storm Stella in Binghamton, New York, on March 15, 2017.
(Wally Dion/Instagram)
In less than four months, Binghamton, New York, was lashed by its two heaviest snowstorms in more than 60 years of records.
After a four-day, pre-Thanksgiving crushing from Winter Storm ArgosWinter Storm Stella buried this central New York city with a whopping 35.3 inches of snow March 14-15. The majority of that snow, 31.2 inches, fell on March 14.
Stella's snowfall exceeded what Binghamton received all of the previous winter season 2015-2016, when a meager 32 inches piled up and ranked as the least-snowy season on record there.

Peru's Devastating Floods From a Coastal El Niño

View of sections of the central railroad track that follows the Rimac River, which suffered severe damage by rising water and flash foods in the town of Chosica, at the foot of the Andes mountains east of Lima, on March 18, 2017.
The world's most deadly and destructive floods of 2017 may have occurred early in the year in parts of Peru.
Hundreds of thousands were left homeless and dozens died in floods that left behind an estimated $3.1 billion in damage, according to the Los Angeles Times. More than 150,000 homes and businesses have been flooded.
What's rather strange about this is that it happened without an official El Niño, usually a key contributor to prolific, disastrous Peruvian flooding. Furthermore, a record-tying strong El Niño peaking in early 2016 failed to lead to similar flooding, there.
Instead only the Pacific waters nearest to the South American coast warmed spectacularly by February, prompting the issuance of a coastal El Niño alert.
(FULL RECAP: Weather Underground Category 6 Blog on the Weird Coastal El Niño)

Sierra Ski Resorts: Too Much Snow?

Just two years after California's Sierra Nevada mountains were so starved for snow an April 2015 snow survey was done on bare ground for the first time, so much snow fell in early 2017 some resorts had to dig out gondolas and lifts.
It was the record wettest water year  (California measures precipitation from October through the following September) in the northern Sierra, topping the notorious El Niño of 1982-1983.
webcams/lift-grooming-status" target="_blank">Squaw Valley planned to remain open not just through the July 4th holiday, but also on subsequent Saturdays as far into the summer as conditions would allow. It had picked up 728 inches, or over 60 feet, of snow at 8,000 feet elevation during the 2016-17 season.
Farther south, Mammoth Mountain planned to remain open well into August with 20 inches of snow depth at the main lodge on June 27.

April Tropical Storm With a Strange Track

The second April Atlantic tropical storm of record in roughly 50 years of satellite coverage was strange enough for Arlene. Even weirder was its path. Instead of the typically stronger jet stream at that northern latitude whisking it away to the northeast, Arlene was captured by another non-tropical low pressure system to its south and pulled west for a time.
(MORE: Strange Start to the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season)

Destructive Lakeshore Flooding

What you see above wasn't from the California coast, but rather from Lake Ontario's shoreline in spring 2017.
One of the wettest springs on record sent Lake Ontario surging to record levels. Then a succession of storms produced pounding waves eroding parts of the shoreline of New York state and Ontario.
Sadly, according to WROC-TV news anchor John Kucko, insurance wouldn't cover erosion, and one insurer threatened to cancel if a cracked foundation wasn't fixed.
(MORE: Before/After Images of Lake Ontario's Damaging Erosion)

The Nation's Surprise Tornado Leader

The three U.S. states with the most preliminary reports of tornadoes in 2017, as of June 26. Note these are not counts of actual tornadoes, which are typically solidified at a later date.
(Data: NOAA/NWS/SPC; Graphic: The Weather Channel/TV)
Georgia, not Texas, Oklahoma or Alabama, led the nation in the number of tornado reports in 2017 through late June, according to preliminary data from the Storm Prediction Center.
This was due to a two-day state-record outbreak of 41 tornadoes Jan. 21 and 22, and a new April record for Georgia, with 35 confirmed tornadoes, according to Jordan McLeod of the Southeast Regional Climate Center.
Over a 20-year period from 1996 to 2015, Georgia averaged only 30 tornadoes a year, 19th among all states both in the number of tornadoes and tornado density (per unit area), according to Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert for The Weather Channel.
(FULL STORY: Georgia Sets State Record For Tornadoes in 2017)

A Low of 111 Degrees

This may reign surpreme in 2017's weird weather.
Weather Underground's Category 6 blog reported Khasab, Oman, had a daily low temperature of 111.6 degrees (44.2 degrees Celsius) on June 17, a new world record hottest daily low temperature.
Let that soak in for a minute. A daytime high of 110 degrees would be extreme in most other non-desert locations of the world. But this port city on the steamy Strait of Hormuz couldn't dip below 110 degrees that night, thanks to strong downslope, warming winds.
For perspective, North America's notorious hot spot, Death Valley, California, averages one day a year with a low temperature of 100 degrees or more.
Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

MORE: Winter Storm Stella (March 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment