Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scary South Pacific Storms To Help Spring Temporarily Vanish In Northeast U.S.

Satelllite view captures the swirl of four
cyclones near, north and east of Australia.  
The oceans near, north and east of Australia exploded with four simultaneous tropical cyclones this week, and at least two of them have spread death and destruction.

Hurricanes are called cyclones in this part of the world and they're fairly common in the region.

But you almost never get so many at once, and you don't get them as strong as the worst one, Cyclone Pam.

According to The Guardian, at least eight people, and possibly dozens, died as the powerful Category 5 strength Pam roared over the small island nation of Vanuatu.

It sounds like a very scary mess.  The Guardian reported that the capital city of Port Vila in Vanuatu was totally trashed:

"Save the Children's Tom Skirrow, speaking from Port Vila said: 'The scene here this morning is complete devastation, homes are destroyed, trees are down, roads are blocked and people are wandering the streets looking for help.'

Care International's Charlie Camon said 'Homes have been blown to pieces, and even evacuation shelters, where people had sought refuge, have been flooded and left exposed to Cyclone Pam.'"

The islands Pam struck are home to nearly 100,000 people. Peak winds with the storm were 155 mph, one of the strongest on record in the region.  
Damage from Cyclone Pam in Port Vila, Vanuatu  

Meanwhile, in northwestern Australia, Cyclone Olywyn slammed ashore, damaging quite a few houses, cutting power, setting of floods and storm surges and trashing agriculture in the region, said the Australian Broadcasting Corp. 

The other two cyclones in the region have not hit any major land areas.


All these storms were able to pop up due to something called the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO.

According to the Weather Channel, the MJO is a wave of energy that moves eastward around the equator every 30 to 60 days or so.

When the MJO goes overhead, it tends to create upward motion in the atmosphere, which can form clouds and thunderstorms, some of which have the potential to create tropical cyclones.

This MJO was particularly strong and was able to contribute to these four cyclones.

If you live in the United States, you should care about the MJO for reasons beyone wanting to help the people in Vanuatu.

That's because this MJO is going to put a temporary stop to spring in the eastern United States.  At first, when the strong MJO was developing, it nudged the jet stream to finally end the persistent frigid weather than had plagued the Northeast for weeks.

Now, with the MJO heading east, for complicated reasons it will help throw the jet stream back into basically the same arrangement it had in February.

The MJO is, of course, is only one of many complicated atmospheric cycles and systems that affect the weather way up here in New England.

Still, the MJO's shenanigans, combined with the way weather circulations are oriented now,  mean spring weather is vanishing from the Northeast.

The opening salvo is a bit of freezing rain this morning in southern New England, and some pretty heavy snows in parts of northern New England and southern Quebec tonight and tomorrow.

Accumulations will probably amount to a slushy coating in central New England, one to three inches in much of central Vermont and central New Hampshire tonight as rain changes to snow, up to five inches in northeastern Vermont, and anywhere from five inches to as much as a foot in southern Quebec, including Montreal, northern New Hampshire and much of Maine.

Winter storm warnings are flying tonight and tomorrow for northern New Hampshire and most of Maine.

After that, we get repeated cold waves in the eastern United States through the end of the month. There might be some little thaws between cold blasts, and given that it's getting into late March, this won't be as bad as February, as I've noted previously.

Still, it sure as hell won't feel like spring for the next couple of weeks.

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