Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Weird Christmas Weather - Australia Tornadoes and Unusual Warmth in the United Kingdom and the South Pole?!

While large parts of the U.S. experienced serene Christmas skies, violent thunderstorms tore through parts of Australia. Meanwhile, temperatures spiked to record levels in Antarctica and near record levels in the United Kingdom.

Australia thunderstorms and tornadoes.

A Santa on his sleigh or wicked witch on a broomstick? Some Australians were more likely to see the latter December 25. Severe thunderstorms produced damaging winds, flooding rain, “cricket-ball” size hail, and tornadoes around Melbourne. The radar image to the right shows a pronounced “hook echo” indicative of a tornado to the west of Melbourne. Notice the hook is in the northwest part of the thunderstorm, opposite of where it would be located in northern hemisphere. The associated tornado “picked cars off the ground” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The Sydney Herald reports the Bureau of Meteorology called the event “one of the most widespread severe storms [Melbourne] has seen”

Antarctica (South Pole) record warmth.
Meteorologist Paul Douglas at the Minneapolis Star Tribune blog reports that on December 25: “the U.S. South Pole station set a new all-time record for maximum temperature, of -12.3C (9.9 F). The previous record (apart from a nearly identical temperature on 24 December) was -17.2C (1 F) in 1978. A NOAA-18 AVHRR false color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) displayed a variety of low cloud and high cloud features across the region at 11:17 UTC. Station identifier NZSP marks the location of the Amundsen-Scott station. A listing of available NZSP surface reports is shown below — the maximum temperature actually occurred at 02:50 UTC (15:50 local time). Note that there was also snow (S), light snow grains (SG-), or ice crystals (IC) being reported during much of the day that experienced the record high temperature! 

"A NOAA-18 AVHRR 3.7 µm shortwave IR image depicted a number of patches of low altitude clouds composed of supercooled water droplets — these low cloud features appeared darker (warmer) since the shortwave IR channel is also sensitive  to the reflection of solar radiation off the cloud tops. On the other hand, the corresponding NOAA-18 AVHRR 10.8 µm IR image showed that there were high altitude cirrus clouds (cyan to dark blue color enhancement) in the vicinity of station NZSP. These high cirrus clouds could have been contributing to a “seeder-feeder effect” to help produce the periods of light precipitation that were observed on that day."

Read more on Douglas' findings HERE.

United Kingdom warmest in 90 years.

The United Kingdom recorded its warmest Christmas day temperature in 90 years, rising to 15.1 C (59.2) in Dyce, Scotland. That was just 0.5 degrees shy of the UK’s all-time Christmas day high of 15.6 (60 F). "What a difference a year makes! While Christmas Day in 2010 saw most of the United Kingdom blanketed in snow, Christmas Day 2011 has been unseasonably mild. In fact, Murlough in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland saw record-breaking warmth, whereas Dyce in Aberdeenshire in Scotland was the place to be for the highest temperature in the whole of the UK." Source: BBC.

- Washington Post.

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