Monday, October 31, 2016

Hot Times For Halloween Season Trick Or Treaters As Heat Records Fall

At least one computer model has the entire nation
warmer than normal on November 3 except California.
Many areas in the South and northwestern Plains
should expect record highs on that date. 
We up here in New England are largely missing out on this, but much of the nation is closing out October with many, many record high temperatures, and that trend of record heat will continue into the opening days of November.

Pretty much everybody except  New England and the Pacific Northwest is sharing in the warmth, though the record highs have mostly been in the southern half of the nation.

On Thursday, Phoenix, Arizona had its latest 100 degree on record.

Numerous record highs were set across the South and East Coast as far north as Islip, New York on Long Island, though as you know northern New England escaped the warmth.

It hit 91 degrees in Garden City, Kansas on Friday, an area that had odd 100 degree weather earlier in October. It got up to 86 degrees Sunday in Atlanta,the hottest there for so late in the season.

The Weather Channel says some cities in the South might set record highs pretty much every day this week.

Several American cities will almost certainly have their hottest Octobers on record. Among them are Dallas, El Paso, Tucson and New Orleans.

We here in northern New England, which has had a foretaste of winter over the past week to 10 days will warm up this week, with temperatures definitely above normal, but I doubt we will have record heat.

If you think we've been talking about record heat all this year and not record lows, you're right.

The Weather Channel notes that through October 27, there had been 4,861 reports of daily record high temperatures across the nation but only 482 reports of daily record lows. Normally, you'd expect a nearly equal number of record highs and lows in any given month.

According to Bob Henson at Weather Underground, the number of days when U.S. cities have hit daily record low temperatures is on trend to be the lowest on record this year.

Through October 25, the number of record low temperature reports this year ws 3,920. That's less than half of the second lowest number of record lows through October 25, which was 9,107 in 2012.

Of course, that doesn't mean that trend can quickly reverse if weather patterns change. You can have as many as 10,000 record lows in a single month, as we did in November, 1991.

There are signs in long term forecasts that the weather pattern will change, and it could turn intensely cold in much of the nation in late November and December, which would lead to a big spurt in record low temperatures.

Stay tuned on that one.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sadly, Extreme Weather Just Killed A 600 Year Old Tree In New Jersey

This 600 year old oak tree in Basking Ridge, New Jersey
died this summer, in part because of extreme weather
There's been an ancient oak tree in Basking Ridge, New Jersey for as long as anyone can remember.

Judging from its size, experts estimated it was about 600 years old. George Washington is said to have rested under the then nearly 250 year old or so tree during the Revolutionary War.

The tree, however, finally died this summer amid some pretty bad weather.

A spate of extreme summer weather killed the tree. Like people, older trees are more likely to succumb to extremes and injuries than the spry young fellas and gals.

In Basking Ridge this July, there was two weeks worth of extreme 90 degree heat. It was one of the hottest stretches on record, and was accompanied by very little rain.

As the New York Times notes, trees compensate for such weather. According to The Times:

"(Arborist Rob) Gillies said the tree responded to the initial 'heat stress' by closing off the pores in the rings deep inside, behind the bark. 'These shut down, so it doesn't transpire,' he said. 'Then it was inundated' by almost 12 hours of heavy rain. 'The roots were soaking because it couldn't process the water,' he said."

In other words, if the heat wave weren't quite so intense, and had it ended in light to moderate rains, things might have gone OK. But the weather whiplash - heat and drought to deluge - was too much for this iconic oak.

People in Basking Ridge and in particular the Presbyterian church where the tree is are devastated by the death. When new of the tree's death broke, people who had grown up in Basking Ridge and moved away called the church and town officials, offering condolences.

The church is actually holding a community memorial service for the tree on November 6.

Crews have already removed dead branches from the tree that threaten historic gravestones and nearby old buildings. But the bulk of the tree will come down in the spring. The church will use the wood for an as yet unspecified use.

While some outlets were quick to blame climate change for the tree's death, it probably isn't that simple. True, the odds and frequency of having long torrid hot spells in New Jersey and elsewhere have increased. And extreme rainfall events have also gotten more frequent, and all this is likely due to climate change.

However, the tree was old, and eventually, a inevitable confluence of adverse weather that might have come with or without climate change  killed the tree. The tree had clearly been in decline for several years before it finally succumbed this year.

We'll never know if climate change caused its demise earlier than it would have.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Power Failures Hit As Surprising Amounts Of Snow Fall In Vermont High Spots

From Twitter: Rina Knapp snapped this
midwinter looking photo at Mad River Glen
in Vermont on Friday. 
It snowed again Friday in parts of Vermont and surrounding states, and some of the high elevations picked up some incredible amounts of snow in one week.

At least by October standards.

Jay Peak had about 30 inches of new snow since last Saturday. The Bolton Valley Ski Area had at least 19 inches.

That would represent a pretty golden week in the middle of winter, never mind October.

Although only one Vermont ski area has officially opened (Killington) a lot of people hiked up to the the summits to enjoy some very early season skiing.

The snow came at a price for some people. At mid elevations, the latest dump of snow deposited three to six inches of slush in some spots.

Due to what had been a very warm autumn up until a week ago, there's still a lot more leaves on the trees than there normally are at the end of October.

I can't believe how many colorful sugar maple leaves are still up around my St. Albans, Vermont house at the cusp of Halloween, though only traces of snow fell on my relatively low elevation property over the past week. I've never seen such decent fall foliage so late in the season.

Generally, lower elevations across the North Country did not receive any unusual amounts of snow for October. Just typical Vermont stuff.

Higher up in elevation, the wet snow collected on all those remaining leaves, and that tugged down trees, branches and power lines.

Green Mountain Power reported as many as 32,000 homes and businesses in Vermont without power at various times Thursday night and Friday.

Had the leaves been off the trees, I'm sure the power failures would have been much fewer and farther between.

We're now about to get into a warmer and somewhat drier pattern, so this early shot of love for snow enthusiasts is just about over. (There might have been a little snow falling on the mountain peaks this morning, but it would change to rain.)

The snow lovers will cry to see all their high elevation snow melt, but they'll surely get their chance later this winter.

With the weather turning a bit milder again, it looks like we can finish putting our gardens to bed and buttoning up for the winter without battling snow and bone chilling winds. That will be a nice reprieve.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Antarctic Sea Ice Is Having A Rough Year, Too

A mountain near the western coast of Antarctica with a fractured
ice shelf to the left of it on the water. Ice shelves
are deteriorating in Antarctica, and that could mean
more global sea level rises. 
We've been watching the Arctic sea ice extent off and on all year in this here blog thingy because it's been struggling along at record lows, or near record lows most of the time.

That's not good news, of course, because the sea ice up there has been diminishing for decades, thanks in large part to global warming. That ice loss, in turn, might screw up northern hemispheric weather patterns.

For the record, the Arctic sea ice minimum for the season did not set a record low as some people expected, but after a quick start to the re-freeze season up there in September, lots of warm air has pushed into the Arctic in October, so the re-freeze has slowed down to a disconcerting crawl. 

There's a chance, perversely, that the low sea ice extent might be partly responsible for changes in the jet stream that have brought occasionally brutally cold and snowy winters to parts of North America and western Europe.

And now, let's take a look at the Antarctic, where things this year are not going so great, either. Ice extent there is among the lowest on record, which is a switch because the overall trend has been for increased ice extent around the Antarctic in recent decades.

Oh sure, some of the outer ice shelves have been eroding dangerously, but the overall sea ice has expanded somewhat, thanks to atmospheric circulation changes that caused upwelling of colder water around Antarctica that have promoted more easily freezable waters, notes Bob Henson at Weather Underground. 

Also, summertime melt water has increased from the Antarctic continent, reducing the salinity of the ocean water around there, making it easier to freeze.

This year, though, brought another shift in the weather patterns around Antarctica. It might be a one year deal, but it did break down the ice at the bottom of the Earth, that's for sure.

It remains to be seen if this year's low Antarctic ice extent is a one year shot, or the beginning of a trend.

A more worrisome development around Antarctica is the stability of the ice shelves.

Warmer ocean water seems to be chewing up the undersides of ice shelves along the coasts of Antarctica. These ice shelves act as dams that keep glaciers in place, or at least slow them down so they move at, um, a glacial pace down Antarctic slopes.

In the past, there's been basically an equilibrium. Some glacial ice makes it to the ocean and melts, but new ice is manufactured in the cold Antarctic interior, so all was good.

Since the ice shelves are melting more, that opens the door for the glaciers to move faster, going off into the sea and eventually melting.

The ice that comes down from the land and ends up in the ocean to melt is bad, because that contributes to global sea level rises. The new ice manufacturing process in Antarctica's interior can't keep up with the ice loss created by the newly speedy glaciers.

The problem can keep escalating because the more ice at the bottom of the ice shelf melts, the more is exposed to the warmer ocean water, and the melting just rolls on.

Still, the melting might have recently slowed a little bit, at least temporarily. The most intense ice shelf melting in Antarctica seems to have occurred between 2002 and 2009, notes NPR.

Even so, the fear is the melting will continue and the ice shelves in coastal Antarctic waters will collapse entirely, and the glaciers will flow toward the sea in a gallop. A gallop by glacial standards anyway.

That, in turn would accelerate sea level rises.

So yeah, people in toasty Miami and countless other coastal locations ought to care about what's going on in Antarctica. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leading Edge Of Oncoming Storm Is Snowy

Snow accumulating in Red Hook, New York this morning. 
That well-anticipated storm system was spreading precipitation into New York and southwestern New England this morning, and some of that precipitation is snow. 

Snow was pretty widespread in central New York and Connecticut at mid-morning, and as the storm pushes east and north, other areas of New England, including much of Vermont, could get a burst of snow at the onset of the storm.

A high pressure system in southeastern Canada pushed cold, dry air into the Northeast. The weak sun is pushing temperatures above freezing ahead of the storm.

However, the first bits of precipitation coming from the storm will evaporate in the atmosphere as it falls into the dry air.

When water evaporates, it cools the air. So when more precipitation comes in behind the evaporated stuff,  what would have been rain might come down as snow because of the newly chilled air.

Don't be surprised if you see snow at the onset of the bad weather as it moves into northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire during the day today.  Even some of the "warmer" valleys might get some flakes, but places above, say, 1,500 feet above sea level could easily get some accumulation.

Perhaps even a couple inches of sloppy, slushy snow in spots. Mountain peaks above three or four thousand feet in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains could get well over six inches of snow.

Even not so high elevation places, such as eastern Chittenden, Addison and Franklin counties a few miles away from Lake Champlain, stand a good chance of a slushy coating.

Be prepared for slippery roads on your evening commute today if your travels take you through high elevations. As it looks now, low elevation roads should be just wet.

Warmish air is pushing in with the heart of the storm, so snow will change to rain everywhere overnight tonight except in the very highest elevation

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Update On That Chilly (Slushy?) Thursday Storm

Vermont Public Television's security cameras caught
this image at its transmission tower atop Mount Mansfield,
the other day. The camera will likely capture
similar shots Thursday into Friday.  
As of Wednesday morning, forecasters have backed off a bit on the chances of snow with a very soggy storm coming through Thursday and Thursday night.

That is, unless you live on top of a mountain in northern New York and northern New England.

It IS a chilly week in the North Country. I was planting a client's daffodil bulbs amid persistent snow flurries most of Tuesday afternoon in Richmond, Vermont,  so you know it's chilly.

Today won't be much warmer, and most of the region will get a hard freeze tonight, but tis the season right?

The cold air will sort of be in place as the next storm comes in from the west, but it's early in the season so there won't be much frozen precipitation. If this storm came a month later, hoo-boy!

As it stands now, there might be some snow and sleet Thursday afternoon and evening, especially in the high elevations and east of the Green Mountains.

Most places will go to all rain, with little or no snow accumulation, but the exception could be the high peaks. Places above 2,000 or 2,500 feet in elevation stand to receive 6 to 12 or even a little more inches of heavy, wet snow.

This is on top of the foot or so of snow already resting atop these peaks.

A winter weather advisory is already up for Thursday for the high elevations of New York's Adirondack and Catskill mountains.

This storm will be another drought-denter. The way the forecast looks now, rainfall will range from roughly three quarters of an inch in northwestern New England and northern New York to as much as two inches in parts of eastern New England.

Drink up!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Western Rainy Season Starts Off With A Bang, Which Is Great News For Drought

Expected precipitation for the next seven days shows some rain
for most of California, with heavy rain in the northern
part of the state. Good rains - over an inch of it -
are likely in the Northeast, too, where it is needed. 
The West Coast rainy season has started out strong, which is a good thing because most of the region has been experiencing drought.

Drought or abnormally dry conditions that developed in Washington and Oregon over the summer have pretty much been all erased by a series of very wet Pacific storms that have crashed ashore in the past couple of weeks, and more is coming.  

The change in Washington State has been dramatic.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said 84 percent of that state was abnormally dry or in drought on Oct 11. As of October 18, only a little less than 8 percent of Washington State was abnormally dry, and as noted, more rain is coming.

Drought-weary California is getting into the act, too, but nobody is under the illusion the drought there will be erased any time soon.

Except in the northwest corner of California that is. In nearly 8 percent of the state, all in the northwest corner, the drought is over, says the U.S. Drought Monitor. That isn't much of California, but it's the most real estate in California that is drought-free since March, 2013.
Most of California is still in drought, with extreme
drought in central areas. But recent rains have been
slightly eroding the scope of the drought.  

Coastal northwestern California is in for a lot more rain this week, too. Maybe a foot of it in some places, which could lead to local floods and mudslides.

Some rain will likely extend all the way south in California almost to San Diego this week.

There won't be all that much rain south of San Francisco, but it will rain, and anything is welcome, especially in central California, which is still under extreme drought.

There's no way to tell if this good start to California's rainy season will extend through the winter. (Some indications are it won't)  

So there's no reason yet to celebrate the end of California's long, punishing drought, but every raindrop that falls, every snowflake that comes down in the state's higher elevations, is a gift.

Keep it coming.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, which got some good drought denting rains and snows over the weekend, we're still expecting a fairly wet storm later Thursday and Friday, which will only help some more.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekend Vermont Wintry Storm A Whopper, With More On The Way

From @ABC7NY on Twitter, fall foliage and snow Sunday
near Killington, Vermont.   
That turned out to be a pretty impressive early season rain and snow storm in Vermont over the weekend, with surprising amounts of snow in some spots.

Reports came in of 9 inches of new snow at relatively high elevations in Bolton, Vermont.

Other Vermont towns hitting the snow jackpot include 8 inches in Holland, 7.5 inches in South Starksboro, and 7 inches in Averill, Hyde Park and East Enosburg.

The sun burst through the clouds in all but the Northeast Kingdom in the afternoon, affording us wonderful views of lingering fall foliage with snow on the mid and high elevations.

The storm put a nice dent in the drought, too, though the dryness hasn't been totally erased. Still, most places in Vermont and surrounding states got 1 to 3 inches of rain, with locally more.

As noted previously, the rain came down to hard at once in parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Pennsylvania. Some towns in each of those states had 5 inches of rain in just a few hours over the weekend.

Here in Vermont, nobody got enough rain to trigger flooding, but I notice stream flows in rivers look healthier.

Places that got snow had it fall on unfrozen ground, so that is gradually melting into the soil, too. That will continue to ease the drought slightly.

Satellite imagery at midday Sunday
shows snow in the mountains,  and evidence of
fall foliage. Most of northern Vermont away
from Lake Champlain was still in the clouds
when this shot was taken. 
This week, and into next weekend, there are frequently chances of more rain and snow.

It's an interesting weather pattern coming up, with a series of storms moving through with air temperatures marginal for rain or snow. This is more typical of late November than late October.

A weather disturbance Tuesday will deposit relatively light rain and snow on Vermont. Probably a quarter inch of rain or less in the valleys, and maybe 1 to 4 inches of new snow in the mountains.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont is watching the interaction with Tuesdays cold weather system and the still rather warm Lake Champlain waters. That could enhance rainfall a bit in parts of the Champlain Valley.  

The instabililty in the air could also trigger briefly heavy bursts of snow in the high elevations.

The next storm comes along Thursday and Thursday night.  Again, temperatures will be marginal, especially over the Green Mountains and eastward. Some places might get several inches of wet snow before a changeover to rain.

Even warmer places like the Champlain Valley might get a little snow out of this before a fairly quick changeover to rain. Stay tuned, because forecasts could change.

Looks like there could be another rain/snow event over the weekend.

Overall, there's a chance we could get another inch of rain and/or melted snow over the next week, which would put a further dent in the drought. Good news.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rain Was Too Much, Too Fast Of A Good Thing In Southern New England

Flooding in Worcester, Massachusetts Friday
evening. Photo from WBZ-TV
Late yesterday afternoon and evening, a slug of very heavy rain moved northward across the eastern half of southern New England.

Those torrential downpours had the effect of causing some dangerous flash floods in the region of the Northeast with some of the worst drought conditions around.

The irony is, the rain came too hard, too fast to actually solve the drought. It just caused a damaging flood.

The worst hit area was in and around Worcester, Massachusetts, where as much as five inches of rain fell in just a few hours.

It hit at or shortly after rush hour, so dozens of cars got stranded in the flash flood. Fire and rescue crews had to rescue quite a few motorists from stranded cars.

The Worcester Telegram reported Interstate 290 was closed by the flooding, as three or more inches of rain poured down in as little as an hour. Many streets around Worcester were blocked by floodwaters.

According to the Telegram:

"'In my 30 years on the job, I've never seen anything like this,' Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said around 11:15 p.m., as he gazed at a huge pond of water that formed under the bridge that runs over MLK Jr. Boulevard. The hood of a car peeked up through the water."

The area around Worcester is under extreme drought, and this flooding rain won't help all that much. It never had a chance to soak into the ground. It came too hard, too fast. It would have been much better if that five inches of rain fell gradually, over the course of a week or two.

Computer models had shown many hours in advance an area of heavy rain, possibly torrential, would move through the area that was hit. But few people imagined that the downpours would be enough to cause more than minor flooding.

By the way, the computer models have been nailing this storm. They caught in advance that relatively small area of torrential downpours that hit southeastern New England last night.

They also caught a day or two in advance the heavy swath of rain - one to five inches of it - across northern and central New York, clipping the northwestern corner of Vermont.

They models also knew the cutoff in that precipitation to the east would be sharp. Alburgh, Vermont reported 1.91 inches of rain by Friday morning, while Fairfax, just 35 miles to the southeast, only picked up 0.39 inches.

Areas that didn't get all that much rain will get more today as a strengthening storm moves north an northeastward today through New England. For instance, Burlington, Vermont had only picked up about a half inch of rain so far as of midnight last night, but it was raining fairly hard there this morning, so that's good.

Cold air is flooding in, and rain will change to snow in the higher elevations of the Adirondacks and northern New England later today.

It's still kind of unclear how extensive and how low in elevation the snow will get. However, mountain peaks across the North Country can get expect six inches, maybe a foot of snow.

Light snow accumulations might go as low as 1,500 feet above sea level.

Early season hikers Sunday should note that even though they might want a taste of winter, I wouldn't go on a summit hike. Expect midwinter conditions up there with snow, temperatures well below freezing, very strong winds and wind chills that could go to near or below zero.

The strong winds will hit the entire New England region later today through Sunday, with winds gusting over 40 mph to strip most of the remaining autumn leaves off the trees.

Foliage season is over.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Northeast Rain: Mostly Good, But Too Much PA, Too Little In Some Spots

The long anticipated drenching rainstorm is underway in the Northeast, which most places getting some good drought-denting rains.

However, a few places have gotten too much of a good thing, with flooding reported, and some places look like they will get too little, with not a huge amount of rain in the forecast for those areas.

Flooding in Pennsylvania last night. Photo from
the Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania 
As expected a conveyer of moderate to sometimes heavy rain has been moving through western Pennsylvania, western and northern New York, and clipping the northwest corner of Vermont.

That state of affairs will continue to day, although it will nudge eastward with time.

In central Pennsylvania last night, strong, persistent thunderstorms set up, and flash flooding is now occurring. 

The Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania says people have been rescued from flooded homes in Milesburg and Howard, and a state of emergency was in effect early Friday.

Flash flood watches are also up for parts of western Pennsylvania and western New York, as they are expected to receive the most rain from this storm - up to six inches.

The northwestern corner of New England and also parts of eastern New New England will get a good drenching from this storm, too, with a decent one to three inches a fairly good bet.

It'll rain in New York's Hudson Valley, western New York and Connecticut, but as it looks now, it won't be as heavy as elsewhere in the Northeast. So the drought-denting capability of this storm look to be a little less there.

In New England and near the coast of the Northeast today, it will be warmer and more humid than you'd expect in the third week in October, but look for a big chill down, starting this afternoon and slowly spreading east across the entire Northeast Saturday.

It'll be breezy and raw and cool Sunday through much of next week, with scattered showers.

Forecasters have backed off on the amount of snow that will fall in higher elevations of the Northeast, but several inches are still likely in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, and Green and White Mountains.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Will A Big Rain Next Couple Of Days Dent The Northeast Drought? Snow, Too!

Early this morning, it was raining in much of New York and sunrise rainbows were visible to Vermonters looking at the sky to the west.
A faint sunrise rainbow over St. Michael's College in
Colchester, Vermont is a harbinger of much needed
rain in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast.

We are getting into our best chance in months of denting - but not eliminating - the ongoing drought in Vermont and other areas of the Northeast.     

Still, I'll believe it when I see it. The forecast is certainly encouraging, though. 

A strong trough of low pressure and storminess is setting up over the Northeast. Rain looks like it will come down hard, especially in northern New York today.  The rain there will continue off and on into the weekend.

In New York, upwards of six inches of rain could fall over the next couple of days. That would normally raise flooding concerns,  but it's been so dry that's not much of a worry at all.

The rain will slowly edge eastward into Vermont and the rest of New England, today and Friday, and in eastern New England by Saturday,  though the rain won't be as heavy as in New York.  However, forecasters think parts of western New England could get two to four inches of rain, especially across the northwestern half of Vermont.

Part of the reason so much rain could fall is the storm is tapping into some subtropical moisture from a wannabe tropical storm near Bermuda. That storm probably won't really develop, but it's adding some wetness to the storm coming into the Northeast. 

One rain storm won't cure the drought, but we'll take what we get. As an example, precipitation in Burlington, Vermont is running nine inches below normal so far this year, and Burlington isn't the driest place in New England.

If Burlington gets three inches of rain out of this storm, which is a stretch, the city will still be six inches behind normal. As you can see, it'll take several wet storms to get us out of the drought. 

Plus, there's potential this storm could be a bust. Maybe the moisture won't get brought into the system as much as forecasters think. Maybe there will be gaps in the precipitation so some local areas could miss out. We'll have to see hows this plays out.

This storm is going to feature a sharp, slow moving cold front and it will get seasonably chilly behind it. 

There will be a sharp temperature contrast across New England Saturday with lower 40s in the northwest and readings near 70 in southeastern New England,

The cold air coming in means the first decent snow in the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and White Mountains is a pretty good bet over the weekend.

Some mountain peaks could get six to 12 inches of snow. We have to watch this, because mid-elevation towns, maybe above 1,500 feet above sea level, could get several inches of wet snow. This is especially true in northern New York and the northern half of Vermont.

There are still some leaves on the trees, so if that snow does fall, it'll accumulate on the leaves, pulling down trees, branches and power lines. 

It's still uncertain how low in elevation accumulating snow will get, but it's something to watch. 



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sixteen Month Stretch Of Record Global Heat Ends, Sort Of

By one measure at least, September, 2016 was not the hottest month on record for the entire earth.

September, 2016 was either the hottest or second hottest
month on record for the globe, depending on who's measuring.
If that's the case, September ended an incredible streak of 16 consecutive months that the world has seen record high temperatures.    

According to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, September, 2016 was "only" the second warmest on record, just a few hundreds of a degree cooler than September, 2015.

Data from NASA, however, says September, 2016 was barely the warmest on record, just a smidge warmer than last year. Basically, it's a tie between the two Septembers. 

The end of the incredible worldwide record hot streak has long been expected, because global temperatures tend to peak during an El Nino and several months after an El Nino ends. 

There was a strong El Nino earlier this year, which has since faded away. El Nino, an unusual patch of very warm water that sometimes forms in the eastern Pacific, boosts worldwide temperature.

The recent El Nino, combined with global warming caused by greenhouse gases, created the record hot streak.

October, November and December, 2015 were off the charts hot worldwide, so the rest of this year probably won't see record high temperatures.

But given the super heated first eight months of 2016, this year will likely be the hottest on record.

Also, most scientists expect that, though the coming months are unlikely to be record hot, they will almost certainly much warmer than the long term average from the 20th century.

Global warming is here to stay, with or without El Ninos.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Blast Of October Heat Crosses The Nation

A larg wildfire in Colorado Monday set off by
record heat and dry conditions. 
It might be well into fall, but summer is living on this week in much of the nation.

In some places, in a big way.    

Dodge City, Kansas, for instance, got all the way up to 101 degrees Monday. That's the hottest it's been there in October since they started keep track of such things in the late 1800s.

It's all the more impressive since we're well into October, not the warmer beginning of the month.

Not to be outdone, the little town of Slapout, Oklahoma reached 102 degrees on Sunday, as did Perrytown, Texas. That's the lastest in the season it's been so hot in those areas, too.

Lots of cities over a widespread area of the nation reported record highs Monday, including St. Louis, Missouri at 91 degrees, Nashville, Tennessee at 86, Tulsa, Oklahoma at 90 degrees and La Guardia airport in New York at 83 degrees.

The hot, dry weather set off wildfires, including a bad one in Colorado that destroyed at least one home and forced the evacuation of nearly 200 others.

Record warmth will continue today in the eastern third of the nation.  High temperatures will get into the 80s as far north as Vermont today.

Southern California is under a fire alert this week as hot, very dry and windy weather is forecast.

It is October, so it won't last. It looks like it might snow a little in the higher elevations of northern New England by Saturday.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vermont, New England Drought Pushes On

Smoke from a forest fire mars this scene of fall
foliage last week near Richmond, Vermont 
The drought that began in many parts of the Northeast is dragging on, and there are only limited signs things could ease soon.

The drought gets a little worse or a little less bad in any particular location depending on where the light rain showers we've been wringing out of the mostly dry sky have landed.

Southern New England has seen some rain, but parts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine remain in extreme drought as do parts of western New York, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

Here in Vermont, if anything, things have gotten worse. The southwestern two thirds of the state is in moderate drought now, and a tongue of severe drought extends from northern New York into Chittenden County, especially around Burlington.

Residents of Dorset are facing overnight water shutoffs as the community scrambles to save what little water is left in their reservoir. All 201 customers on that system should also boil their water until further notice, because of the low water, says Vermont Public Radio. 

Lake Champlain doesn't have tides, but it certainly looks like low tide as the water has reached a low not seen in decades. The water level in Lake Champlain at last check was 93.33 feet above sea level.
That's less than a foot above the all time record low in the lake of 92.61 feet on December 4, 1908.

The lake level, by the way, is still slowly fallling.

Thayer Beach on Lakc Champlain in Colchester, Vermont
shows a very low lake. Photo by
Pamela Jacobs via Twitter. 
The other day, the fall foliage southeast of Richmond, Vermont was marred by smoke from a forest fire burning on Robbins Mountain.

Fire officials say the fire is burning mostly underground, a testiment to how deep the dryness in Vermont has gotten. Luckily, the smoldering fire is not threatening any structures.

As there has often been the case this summer and fall, there are signs we could get a good rainstorm next weekend, but we've heard that song before.    

Tantalizingly wet weather patterns seem to want to develop, with a round of showers or even a couple of thunderstorms late tonight that could bring up to a third of an inch of rain.

Which is tiny, but it's something.

Then, toward the end of the week and the weekend, many forecasters, including the National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont are at the moment anyway expected a rather soggy storm that could dump an inch of rain on us.

Maybe. That's the hope, anyway. We've been burned before.

What we need, of course, is several storms like the hoped-for one at the end of the week. Maybe one such storm a week until the ground freezes. The chances of that are low, though, because that usually doesn't happen normally, and the overall weather pattern favors relatively dry weather for the rest of the autumn in the Northeast.

So, we'll have to pray for a snowy winter and a fairly wet spring.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rare, Damaging Tornadoes Sweep Oregon Coast; New Big Storm Still Coming

Aftermath of a destructive tornado in coastal
Manzanita, Oregon on Friday.  
Coastal Oregon suffered the very rare spectacle of damaging tornadoes on Friday.

The hardest hit town was the coastal town of Manzanita, where the tornado damaged homes, ripped down trees and cut power.  

You can see a video of the tornado taken from a nearby hillside at the bottom of this post.

The Manzanita tornado was among the most destructive in Oregon history, says television station KATU in Portland, Oregon. 

In Manzanita, one home and two businesses were destroyed. At least 128 other homes were damaged in the EF2 twister, which packed winds of between 125 and 130 mph.

Tornadoes happen from time to time in Oregon, but their rarely this strong. KATU reports that there have been 106 tornadoes in Oregon since 1950, but only four were rated EF2 or higher. The rest were weaker.

Another tornado touched down in Oceanside, Oregon Friday, but that one caused little if any damage.

The Oregon twisters were part of an intense series of storms hitting the Pacific Northwest this weekend. Elsewhere in the Northwest, strong winds downed power lines and some rivers went into flood as a strong storm crashed ashore Friday.

The worst might be yet to come. Though chances of more tornadoes are relatively slight, another strong storm will hit the Pacific Northwest today. It's energized by the remnants of Typhoon Songda.

Fears have subsided that this would be as bad as the epic, destructive storm of 1962, widespread damaging winds are likely today in Oregon and Washington. Even in relatively protected Seattle, winds could gust to 65 mph late this afternoon and evening.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Matthew's Legacy: Massive Agricultural Pollution, Maybe Higher Meat Prices?

From Mother Jones, this areal photo of a farm
with a manure lagoon swamped by flooding and \
manure flowing into the river was taken by
Rick Dove of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The floods from last week's Hurricane Matthew continue to devastate large swaths of North Carolina, and it continues to get worse in spots.

River crests are slowly making their way downstream, and more towns and cities are flooding as a result. 

So far, 22 people in North Carolina have died in the flooding.

That's the most tragic part.

Beyond the grieving, the thousands of ruined houses and businesses, and the long cleanup, are other long lasting effects that will affect many people, including some of us far from the flood zone.

The area most affected by the North Carolina flooding has a high concentration of massive chicken and pork farms and producers. Millions of chickens have drowned in the flooding, as have many pigs.

This could raise meat prices across the nation. Paying a little bit extra for meat pales in comparison to the people actually suffering through the floods in North Carolina, but it's still an effect.

Also, according to Mother Jones magazine, the affected chicken and hog farms also had their huge manure lagoons flooded and breached by raging, flooded nearby rivers. That's a major pollution problem to say the least.

Says Mother Jones: 

"Hog manure is loaded with pathogenic bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant ones, antibiotic residues, and plenty of nitrate, with fouls drinking water and also feeds dead zone algae blooms. "

The pollution will likely mostl affect lower income African communities, notes Mother Jones 

The harm will probably be widespread. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd caused massive flooding in the same chicken and hog farm location as Matthew hit. Back in 1999, the resulting flooding and manure pollution created a 350 square mile dead zone in coastal estuaries.

It's too soon to say whether the pollution will be as bad as Floyd in 1999, but the fact that there are more chicken in hog farms in the flood zone than back then, and the flooding is very severe this time, it doesn't bode well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Nicole Slams Bermuda

A total white out of wind and rain as viewed
out a window during Hurricane Nicole in
Bermuda todayk 
Bermuda is a tiny island in the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Which means chances are, any of the many  hurricanes that pass at close to Bermuda would score a direct hit there.    
 
But today, Hurricane Nicole did, bringing quite a blast to that normally calm, wonderful resort island way out there in the Atlantic.

Nicole was a Category 4 hurricane before landfall, but "weakened," if that's the right word, before the eye crossed Bermuda.

Still wind gusts to 119 mph were recorded in Bermuda. It was the strongest hurricane to  hit there in 13 years.

It was pretty cool seeing videos on social media of the intense winds on Bermuda, then the utter, misty calm of the eye, then another blast of hurricane winds.

Bermuda is frequently affected by hurricanes, even if they don't usually score a direct hit. So they're pretty fortified against such storms. Still, there was structural damage, widespread power failures and coastal damage from storm surges with Nicole today.

I have not heard of any deaths or serious injuries in Bermuda so far.

This is the first time two Category 4 hurricanes have been in the Atlantic Ocean during October. Category 4 storms have winds of between 130 and 156 mph.

Heres a view of the hurricane from a Bermuda living room:

There Could Be An Incredibly Bad Storm In The Pacific Northwest This Evening

A steeple on Campbell Hall at the Oregon College of Education
in Monmouth blows down amid hurricane force
 winds during the famous Columbus Day storm of 1962.
There's a chance of a similar storm in the Pacific
Northwest this weekend. 
The Pacific Northwest is used to big rainy, windy storms roaring in off the Pacific Ocean.

But there's a risk that a storm this weekend could be one for the record books. It all depends on where the storm goes.

The region is off to a start today, with one strong storm coming in. High wind warnings are up for much of Washington and Oregon, and several inches of rain could fall with this one. Some flooding is possible.

While today's storm is really big, especially for this early in the season, it's not a record breaker. There will be power failures and local flooding, but they'll get over it.

On Saturday, there's a risk of a much, MUCH bigger storm, powered by the remnants of Typhoon Songda.

The National Weather  Service in Seattle says there's roughly a one in three chance this Saturday storm will be extreme in Washington and Oregon.

If it plows onshore in Washington, expect a historic storm something like the Columbus Day Storm of 1962, which was spawned by similar weather conditions as those now over the Pacific, notes the Seattle Times.

In 1962, a storm powered by the remains of Typhoon Freda slammed into the Pacific Northwest, killing 46 people and causing extreme wind damage. Winds during that storm gusted to an estimated 150 mph in spots, or even 180 mph at the coast, but it's hard to know since so many wind measuring sites were damagted.

There's a good video summary of the 1962 storm, with some dramatic footage, at the bottom of this post.

Of course, the National Weather Service in Seattle, thankfully says there's a better chance, maybe two in three, that the storm will curve northward, way off shore.

That would mean the Northwest has a very stormy, windy weekend with some power failures and flooding, but again, it would be something they're used to. Still, some computer models are unloading one to two feet of rain on coastal Pacific Northwest, and up to seven inches of rain in Idaho.

You can see why they're worried about flooding.

Parts of British Columbia, Canada are under the gun with this stormy weather, too.

Here's that video of the 1962 storm:


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Epic Matthew Flooding Continues In North Carolina

Areal view of Lumberton, North Carolina. Photo
by Chris Keane/Reuters  
So far 11 people have died in the huge flooding in North Carolina, all caused by departing Hurricane Matthew, which dumped up to 15 inches of rain on the state over the weekend.

The flood highlights the principal danger of hurricanes - water - and the continued threat of enormous floods from a warmer atmosphere.  

Though a single storm like Matthew cannot prove or disprove global warming, some of what happened with Matthew in North Carolina might have the finger prints of climate change on it.

It wasn't entirely global warming, obviously. There have always been hurricanes on the East Coast, and many of them throughout history  have caused serious flooding.

However, certain aspect of the atmosphere might have made the North Carolina flooding even worse than it otherwise would have been.

As Capital Weather Gang notes, the Atlantic Ocean waters off the coast of North Carolina were at near record highs as Matthew came into the picture.

Record ocean temperatures increased evaporation, which put record high amounts of moisture into the atmosphere. That, combined with the strong hurricane winds propelling the moisture inland, a weather front that set up along the coast created a temperature contrast in which the wet, warm air was forced to rise over some cooler air.

Rising air unleashes even more rain, so the downpours became extreme, dumping at rates of up to four inches an hour. (For reference, here in Vermont during the summer, it normally takes four or five weeks to accumulate four inches of rain.)

The North Carolina floods come in a year that has seen other extreme so called 100-year floods in the nation, including in West Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana and Texas.

It's not so much one storm signals climate change (it doesn't.) It's just that the overall trends continue to be troubling.

Here's a kayaker's view of the flooding in Fayettville, North Carolina, which partly includes kayaking through the interior of an inundated building:


Monday, October 10, 2016

Hurricane Matthew's Little Sister Nicole Is A Real Terror

Tropical Storm Nicole, shown here Monday morning, is
expected to strengthen into a hurricane again this week. 
While we have been focusing on now-deceased Hurricane Matthew's rampage through the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, we've also had one eye occasionally on Nicole.

She developed well to the northeast of Matthew when Matthew was approaching Florida. Against all predictions, Nicole became a full fledged hurricane.

Then Nicole petered out, smushed by the outflow and upper level winds of her brother Matthew.  She was supposed to die at sea, not having moved much at all.

Now Matthew is out of the picture and Nicole is ready for her 15 minutes of fame again. She's starting to strengthen, she's starting to move north and could threaten Bermuda with a full fledged hurricane later this week.

As of Monday morning, Nicole's top winds were 65 mph. It probably won't strengthen today, but there's a good chance it will midweek.

Nicole's exact track and speed are of course subject to change, so there's no guarantee Nicole will slap Bermuda.

It's still something to watch.

After her dance with Bermuda, Nicole is expected to accelerated northeastward into the cold North Atlantic, where she will finally die out. At least that's the expectation from forecasters watching this temperamental storm.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Matthew Slogs On, And Away From Matthew, Tornadoes, Snow And Frost

From television station WRAL: A man awaits rescue
on a North Carolina roof amid Hurricane Matthew's flooding
Hurricane Matthew, now a post-tropical storm, took one more deadly swipe, probably the worst yet, on its trip along the southeastern United States coast.

The storm dumped incredible amounts of rain on South Carolina and especially North Carolina Saturday and last night.

That, combined with brutal storm surges, caused another in a series of extreme floods the nation has suffered.

There's been hundreds of water rescues in North Carolina. (You'll see one at the bottom of this post.)

Television station WRAL in North Carolina said so far, four deaths have been reported in the state from Matthew. The television station has counted 574 people saved in 227 water rescues in Cumberland County alone, with more people still on roofs, awaiting rescue.

This sounds very much like the extreme Louisiana flood earlier this year.

According to a WRAL report last night: 

"'The city is under water,' the Raleigh Police Department said as night began to fall. 'Every officer in the city is on a weather-related call. Officers can't respond to anything else at this time. Please, please, please stay home. It is unsafe to be out.'"

Up to 15 inches of rain fell on North Carolina, and winds gusted to 80 mph along the coast. Storm surge flooding and flash floods were still ongoing in North Carolina and southeastern Virginia early Sunday morning.

OTHER WEATHER:

A tornado in Kansas Thursday, proof that Matthew wasn't
the only wild weather in the nation this week.  
While we were all glued to the antics and destruction of Hurricane Matthew, the weather sort of went off the rails in other parts of the country as well.

In Kansas Thursday, several tornadoes touched down ahead of a fairly strong cold front.

The Wichita Eagle reports three houses damaged east of Salina. Several outbuildings were also damaged, schools went on lockdown to protect students who would have gone out in threatening weather in the afternoon, and power was cut to some neighborhoods.

No injuries were reported.

The Storm Prediction Center received reports of 20 tornadoes in Kansas and western Iowa.

Meanwhile, behind the cold front, snow fell in places like northwestern Nebraska, parts of Colorado and Wyoming and northern Minnesota.

Frost and freezes were widespread across the northern Plains this morning, too.

It might be warm where you are, but winter is still coming.

The cold front that caused the weather in Plains is heading toward New England in weakened form. The Indian Summer weather we're now enjoying in Vermont is going by the wayside in favor of seasonably cool autumn weather Sunday and Monday.

That means highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, with scattered frost. Very typical for this time of year.

Here's a clip of a tornado lumbering through Kansas two days ago:




 Here's a water rescue in North Carolina as workers save a baby and his mom from a flooded car:

 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Maybe Matthew Was (Almost) As Bad As People Feared

Wreckage in Daytona Beach, Florida after Matthew.  
UPDATE, 2 P.M.  EDT SATURDAY

Hurricane Matthew is beginning to turn into an extratropical storm, as opposed to a hurricane, and that's bad for North Carolina in particular.

When this kind of thing happens along the coast, the heaviest rains usually fall northwest of the center. That's where North Carolina is.

And these rains during a transitioning storm are often horribly torrential. As is the case today.

A good foot of rain or more is likely to fall on parts of South Carolina eastern North Carolina. Rainfall rates are as high as four inches per hour in the state this afternoon.

What we have, then, is another extreme flash flood disaster. Just like South Carolina had last October. And numerous locations in the United States and around the world are having with increasing frequency.

The ironic thing is the worst U.S. damage from Hurricane Matthew might be coming this afternoon, when winds are falling below hurricane strength.

It's EXTREMELY dangerous in North Carolina now. If you are in that area, don't travel unless you must evacuate, or have been told to evacuate by local emergency managers.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

There was a whiff of complaining yesterday as Hurricane Matthew decided not to barrel into Florida with destructive force, but instead paralleled the coast, causing plenty of misery but not apocalyptic ruin in any one place.

I'm not sure what people were whining about. It's a good thing it wasn't worse. I guess they're saying that the warnings were overblown.

But all along, forecasters said the storm might stay offshore, lessening the damage. They always say, plan for worst case and hope for the best.

The worst case didn't happen, but what did happen wasn't the best.

Matthew will still be one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, not because it devastated any one city, but because it caused damage in a long stretch of heavily populated coastline.

As I wrote this at 7 a.m. EDT Saturday, Matthew's eye wall was in Charleston, South Carolina, causing wind damage, and worse, a damaging storm surge.  The storm eventually made landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina late Saturday morning.

Matthew's storm surge has been causing most of the damage. (See videos of the surge at the bottom of this post.)

Cities like Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Savannah have all suffered storm surge flooding from Matthew. That's a lot of businesses, homes, cars and other property that's been damaged.
This car floated out of a driveway in St. Augustine, Florida during
Matthew's storm surge. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images 

Add to that the wind damage in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina: Roofing stripped from houses, trees falling and crashing into buildings, power lines shredded, windows busted out, siding peeled away.

So far at least five people have died in the United States from Matthew's effects. The death toll down in Haiti is soaring, up past 800 at last check. This is truly a terrible disaster.

Matthew will continue along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts today, creating more destructive storm surges inland flooding and wind damage

Videos: First is a view from a Jacksonville high rise of the storm surge engulfing that city:




Here is a security camera view from inside a Florida home as a storm surge smacks into it. The occupants of the home had wisely evacuated before the storm:


Next up, a storm surge view from inside a St. Augustine, Florida bed and breakfast:


Friday, October 7, 2016

Matthew Hammering Florida, Haiti Reeling, Dumb Storm Conspiracy Theories

Radar image of Matthew near
  Cape Canaveral early this morning.  
Winds were starting to gust to near 100 mph around Cape Canaveral, Florida before dawn today as Hurricane Matthew slowly trudged northward along the Florida coast.

So far, the hurricane has been in a position ever so slightly east of where many forecasters thought it would be.

That's great news, because even this slight eastward jog has kept much of the worst winds away from Florida. At least so far.

Still, there's going to be a lot of wind damage and flooding in that area, and in coastal Georgia and South Carolina, too.

Before dawn Matthew was going through what is known as an eyewall replacement cycle. During these cycles, the eye of the storm rearranges itself, either becoming bigger or smaller.

During eye wall replacement cycles, powerful hurricanes like Matthew temporarily weaken a little, and that's what Matthew did, which is also a bit of good news.

 Maximum sustained winds had dropped to 120 mph - still horrible, but a tad less horrible than yesterday.

Once the eyewall replacement cycle is over, Matthew won't have a chance to restrengthen. Interaction with land as it moves along the coast, and increasing upper level winds, will make Matthew slowly weaken further over the next few days as it first makes a run at the South Carolina coast, then heads east offshore, then south.

The really good news is Matthew is tracking northward a little offshore, a bit more than forecasters thought. So things are really bad in eastern Florida, but not as bad as they could have been had Matthew went inland.

As it stands now, it looks like Matthew could hit the Bahamas or even Florida again in a few days as it does a loop off the coast. Only this time it would do so as just a fairly weak tropical storm. We'll see how that turns out. 
Matthew along the Florida coast Friday morning.

Meanwhile, news out of Haiti, the first country Matthew hit, is getting grimmer and grimmer. As of early this morning, the BBC and other news outlets reported more than 300 dead in Haiti, and the death toll is sure to rise as rescuers and aid workers reach hard hit areas.

Matthew lumbered through the Bahamas Thursday, causing extensive storm surge flooding, blowing roofs off homes and hotels, cutting power and prompting several rescues. So far, I haven't heard of any deaths in the Bahamas, which is a good thing.

NICOLE

Another stunning hurricane development that hasn't gotten much attention because of Matthew is Hurricane Nicole. It's south of Bermuda, and peaked last night with sustained winds of 105 mph.

This meant that two hurricanes in the Atlantic simultaneously had sustained winds of at least 100 mph. That's the first time such a thing has happened this late in the season

Luckily, Nicole is not expected to hit any land areas and will gradually weaken over the next few days.

Nicole wasn't supposed to amount to anything more than a piddling tropical storm, because outflow from Matthew would squelch it. But Nicole surprised everyone by becoming a substantial hurricane.

STUPIDITY OF DRUDGE

Now, I have to go off on a riff about stupid people, so here goes:

That Hurricane Matthew appears to be sparing Florida as bad a blow as some feared is obviously a very good thing. But some people are making political hay out of this, which could be deadly in future storms. People like Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh might have blood on their hands in the future.

Matt Drudge came up with this wackadoodle conspiracy theory yesterday that government officials, including the National Hurricane Center, are exaggerating the strength and risks from hurricanes like Matthew to scare people into fearing climate change.

Drudge tweeted: "The deplorables are starting to wonder if gov't has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate."

He also tweeted: "Hurricane Center has monopoly on data. NO way of verifying claims. Nassau ground observations DID NOT match claims. 165 mph gusts? Where?"

As Vox noted, Drudge's conspiracy dumbness is dangerous:

"The implication of Drudge's tweet is that resisting evacuation isn't a bad, self destructive move but a brave way for 'deplorables' to stand up to the government. That's not just stupid - it could very well be deadly," Libby Nelson wrote in Vox.

For the record, the National Hurricane Center is nonpartisan, and its data is public record. So anybody could look at their data and find out if there's any funny business.

The National Hurricane Center has also repeatedly cautioned that you can't blame climate change on a single storm, though scientists there have said that climate change might, MIGHT make stronger hurricanes more likely.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who has not embraced the science of climate change, strongly urged people to evacuate ahead of Matthew.  So Matt Drudge, what's Rick Scott's problem.

I agree with meteorologist Joe Bastardi, an outspoken climate change skeptic on his Tweet this morning: "Flat out ignorant to believe NHC exaggerating data for climate change. What, so they can look bad if it doesn't happen? 40 mile error explains."

The 40 mile error Bastardi referred to is the mere fact that Matthew is as much as 40 miles further east than many forecasters predicted. It's that simple.

Drudge is just dumb. By the way, Rush Limbaugh was making similar silly claims as Drudge yesterday, too.

I think the two of them should rent a nice beachfront cottage in a location about to hit by the next strong hurricane.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Matthew Battering Bahamas Big Time; Florida Braces

Stunned residents of Baracoa, Cuba
walk through their city, wrecked by Hurricane Matthew
NOON THURSDAY UPDATE:

Hurricane Matthew is an even greater threat to Florida than the grave news I had this morning.

As of 11 a.m., Matthew's top winds were up to 140 mph, and more strengthening is certainly possible.

This will cause several billion dollars in damage and is a very, very dangerous storm.

It's been more than a decade since a major hurricane has hit the United States, so we're not used to this.

The part of Florida that will either get hit or badly sideswiped by Matthew has not had a hurricane this strong in recorded history. (The worst of this will be from West Palm Beach north)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is completely right when  he says if you were told to evacuate and didn't, "This storm will kill you."

Here's what the National Weather Service office in Melbourne, Florida says people should expect in that region:

"Structural damage to sturdy buildings, some with complete roof and wall failures. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Damage may be accentuated by large airborne projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

There's also going to be terrible storm surge flooding and torrential rains that will flood neighborhoods and streets.

Matthew is very likely to be even worse than the series of hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004.

This hurricane will begin to tear apart eastern Florida later today and be at its worst tonight and Friday. Be very careful and safe if you're down in that area.

By the way, as you'll see in the previous discussion below, Matthew had killed at least 25 people. That death toll had risen to 140 by 1 p.m. EDT  today, says Reuters. Expect those numbers to go up, unfortunately.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:

Persistent and destruction Hurricane Matthew was pounding the Bahamas terribly early this morning as it slowly steamed toward a showdown with Florida.

It appears Category 3 Matthew is scoring a direct hit on the city of Nassau in the Bahamas today.

The resort city has a population of nearly 250,000 and I'm sure it's a terrifying day there.  Winds are forecast to gust as high as 130 mph in that city today.

Matthew seemed to be strengthening this morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its top sustained winds were 125 mph and could easily rise as it approaches Florida.

Forecasts for its track right along the Florida east coast have been consistent for a couple days now and are still holding firm.

The trick is, a tiny deviation in Matthew's path could make all the difference in Florida. If it moves a little more to the left, it will crash into Florida's coastline with destructive force, making it one of the worst hurricanes in the nation's history.

If Matthew moves a little more to the right, it'll be more offshore. That would give eastern Florida a stormy night and Friday, but it wouldn't really be the end of the world.

Then the question is how far toward Georgia and South Carolina will Matthew get? By then, Matthew will be starting to weaken because of strong upper level winds, but it will still be a formidable storm.

Matthew is still forecast to take a hard right turn out to sea, but the question is, how close to Georgia and South Carolina will it get before it moves on?

Also, there will be negligible effects, if any up in the Northeast. Which is actually kind of bad. Up here in New England, we were hoping Matthew would stay offshore but throw some heavy rains our way to ease a drought.

Now, only light showers, unrelated to Matthew, are forecast in New England this weekend.

So far, Matthew has killed at least 25 people across the Caribbean, but that toll will rise as reports come in from hard to reach places, especially in Haiti.

The Guardian reports that rescue workers can't get to remote parts of Haiti due to washed out roads and bridges, debris and mudslides. At least 10 people have died in Haiti and no fewer than 3,200 homes were destroyed, but I'm sure we'll get even worse news once rescuers do get to remote corners of the poverty-stricken nation.

Matthew trashed the Cuban coastal city of Baracoa with a terrifying storm surge and hurricane winds.  Large parts of that city are now just a jumble of debris.

In the United States, at least two million people have fled coastal locations. About 12 million Americans are under hurricane watches or warnings. Matthew is easily the most disruptive storm since at least Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Here's a video of the destruction in Baracoa, Cuba: