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4th-10th…Wet weather continued to fall across the West on Monday as a strong cold front trekked through the western third of the nation. Moisture from the Pacific and energy associated with this front continued to spark rain showers, periodic heavy rainfall, snow, and a few rumbles of thunder from the Pacific Northwest through southern California. Rain showers changed into snow as the front lifted across the colder terrain of the inland mountains of California and the Northern Intermountain West. Additional precipitation spread across the Great Basin and was accompanied by gusty winds. This wintry weather combo created hazardous travel conditions with slick roads and lowered visibilities. Winter Storm Warnings and Advisories remained in effect for most of the Intermountain West, while the Central Great Basin and the Southwest remained under Wind Advisories and High Wind Watches. To the east, another patch of active weather developed across the nation's mid-section as a warm front stretched across the Central Plains into the Mid-Mississippi Valley. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico spread northward and interacted with this front to produce scattered rain showers and thunderstorms across areas of the Midwest. The strongest concentration of stormy weather occurred from northeastern Kansas to southern Iowa and across the central region of western Illinois. Areas of northeastern Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, northwestern Missouri, and southern Iowa experienced severe thunderstorm activity through the afternoon with damaging winds and quarter to golf ball sized hail (1.00 to 1.75 inches).
11th-17th…The West Coast saw wet weather on Monday, as another Pacific storm pushed ample moisture onshore. A strong low pressure system created a cold front which kicked up periods of heavy rain over northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile in the Plains, the system in the West created a warm front that stretched over the Dakotas and into the Upper Midwest. This triggered scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which turned severe. Quarter size hail was reported in Frederick, South Dakota, but hail in Artas, South Dakota started as pea size and increased t golf ball size. Strong winds were also associated with this system.
Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico interacted with energy along this front to produce areas of scattered rain showers just east of the boundary, primarily across Minnesota on Wednesday. The most unsettling weather activity developed across western Texas with scattered rainfall and isolated thunderstorms. Persistent rainfall and periods of heavy rainfall across southwestern Texas created increased risks of local flooding.
The main weather producer in the country on Friday was a long cold front that initially stretched from the Central Plains through the Upper Midwest before gradually moving east and southeastward. The tail end of the front provided heavy rain to northern Texas and Oklahoma. The precipitation along the northern edge of the front was more scattered in nature as deep moisture produced thunderstorms in the Ohio Valley and into New England. Some of these thunderstorms were possibly severe in nature as there were some reports of wind damage in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
18th-23rd…The quiet severe weather season was abruptly interrupted on Friday as a strong storm moved out of the Rockies and brought the threat of severe weather to parts of the country. The same cold front that provided severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, to the western plains on Thursday raced through the Plains toward the Mississippi Valley on Friday. It pulled a tremendous amount of moisture into the Lower Mississippi Valley and instigated heavy rain and thunderstorms in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the afternoon. These thunderstorms were capable of becoming severe, thus Tornado Watches were posted for this area. Farther to the north, the warm front associated with the storm produced widespread rain in the Upper Mississippi Valley and into the Northern Plains, while a mixture of rain and snow continued to fall in the Central Rockies. Thunderstorms in Nebraska also instigated Tornado Watches. The threat for tornadoes will persist into the evening, with the biggest threat in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Residents should monitor local weather conditions and be prepared for severe weather.
Tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on Saturday, killing two people in Mississippi and injuring more than a dozen others. Gov. Haley Barbour told The Associated Press there was "utter obliteration" in parts of Yazoo County, an area where he is from. About 15 other counties were also damaged, he said. The swath of debris forced rescuers to pick up some of the injured on all-terrain vehicles after a 3/4-mile wide tornado touched down in at least three counties in the west-central part of the state. Yazoo City Mayor McArthur Straughter said the county coroner confirmed the two deaths. Tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, and the severe weather continued to track eastward.
In Yazoo City about 40 miles north of Jackson, stunned residents stood on a hill overlooking the destruction. A National Guard helicopter sat nearby, waiting to Barbour on an aerial tour. Three broken crosses stood near a flattened church, and religious materials were scattered among twisted steel, broken wood and furniture. Near the church, a funeral home was reduced to rubble. In a nearby patch of woods, pieces of tin were twisted high up in the broken trees. Straughter, the mayor, estimated about 15 to 20 buildings had been heavily damaged. Downed power lines and trees blocked roads, Straughter said as sirens whined in the background. At least four people had been brought by four-wheeler to a triage center at an old discount store parking lot. Three counties were conducting a massive response, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said. Jim Pollard, a spokesman for American Medical Response ambulance service, said two patients from Yazoo County were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. More than a dozen people were treated for cuts, bruises and broken bones in Yazoo City, said Laura Henderson, who works at the hospital there. The severe weather darkened skies and dumped rain on the region, much of which was under a tornado watch or warning at some point during the day. The weather hampered crews trying to clean up an oil spill after an offshore rig exploded earlier this week off the coast of Louisiana. Several sporting events and festivals also were rescheduled. In Mississippi, the tornado struck Valley Park, Yazoo City and Durant, said Mark McAllister, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jackson.
In northeast Louisiana, several people had minor injuries. The storms also damaged a tank at a chemical plant in Tallulah, causing a small nitrogen leak.
A rare late-season snowstorm dumped up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow on northern New York and northern New England on Wednesday, giving school children an unexpected day off and forcing others to seek refuge from homes darkened by downed power lines. The National Weather Service reported more than 20 inches of snow fell on the western slopes of Vermont's Green Mountains northeast of Burlington. In the mountain town of Jericho, some residents visited the local library to stay warm and browse the Internet. "It's been constant pretty much since we opened our doors. Parents are definitely looking for some place warm to bring to bring their kids," said Holly Hall, director of the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library. And it's not just parents. "Every available outlet we have is in use right now. There are more laptop users than usual."
Large storms so late in the season are rare. On April 23, 1993, 22 inches of snow was reported in Malone, N.Y., and on April 27, 1874, 24 inches of snow was reported in Bellows Falls, Vt., said Mark Breen, the senior meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury.
"You really do have to stretch to find events like this," Breen said.
At the peak of the storm Wednesday morning, about 30,000 customers were without power across Vermont, New Hampshire and northern New York. It could be Thursday before power is fully restored. "It definitely caught people off guard, considering we had 80 degrees back in March. It's a problem because some people swapped their (snow) tires out already," said Vermont highway dispatcher Greg Fox. By midday, the storm was drifting off the coast and the snow was turning to rain. Temperatures are expected to hit 50 on Thursday and reach the 70s by the weekend, heralding a quick return to spring weather. Many trees across the region have already started to bud, but temperatures didn't fall much below freezing.
"The green part isn't a problem. Snow is basically protecting leaves from temperatures getting colder," Breen said. Instead, the danger to the trees comes because the leaves gives the snow more surface area to cling to, making them more susceptible to breaking under the weight of the snow. Snowfall records were set Tuesday and Wednesday at the Burlington International Airport, the National Weather Service said. Tuesday's 2.8 inches at the airport eclipsed the record of 1.3 inches set on the date in 1946, and by 7 a.m. Wednesday 2.7 inches had fallen, beating the record of seven-tenths of an inch set on the date in 1966, said meteorologist Brooke Taber. In Maine, some areas in the western mountains received snow accumulation - Bethel received 5 inches - but rain later washed most of it away. "It's a momentary inconvenience and it's pretty much gone, so we can get back our thoughts of early spring," said Wendy Hanscom, high school secretary in Bethel. But others reveled in one more shot at winter fun. Dr. Richard Erenstone, an ophthalmologist in Lake Placid, N.Y., was thrilled to get another day - or two - on skis. He had just returned from a 40 minute loop with his dog on a golf course that got about 10 inches of fresh snow. "The toughest thing was finding the access road because it had not been plowed," he said. "This was a nice bonus day and gives me a total of 134 days on skis this season. With the temps dropping below freezing tonight, I'll be out there again first thing tomorrow before it begins to melt."
Another strong cold front moved through the Plains toward the Mississippi Valley Friday, renewing severe weather in the area. A tremendous amount of moisture streamed ahead of the front, producing widespread heavy rain and intense thunderstorms. Some of these thunderstorms had the possibility of becoming severe as large hail and damaging winds were produced from eastern Kansas through southern Minnesota. Tornado Watches were posted for a large swath of the country from northeast Texas through southern Wisconsin in anticipation of tornadic development. The front and associated thunderstorms also produced strong winds in the Middle Mississippi Valley, while the downpour of rains instigated flooding concerns in the same area. The threat of severe weather was expected to continue into the evening as the storm moves eastward.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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