A record-breaking storm? A comparison to the Nov. 10th 1998 storm

October 26, 2010 1 Comment

I’m more and more amazed looking over information and forecasts with this upcoming storm. The central pressure is forecasted – by several models – to rival that of a Category 3 hurricane!!!

This will be a doozy of an event for us, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Winds like this can do incredible damage – gusts rivaling winds in a weak tornado or severe thunderstorm – but will last a lot longer. Read more below on what kind of damage winds this strong can do.

And we have seen winds this strong before. This storm system continues to draw more and more comparisons to the November 10th, 1998 storm.

The 1998 monster has been dubbed the most significant wind storm to impact our area in a quarter century. It brought snow, winds gusts close to 90mph, and claimed the lives/injured some  Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa residents. It closed parts of I-90, 94, 35 for a period; closed schools; stranded people; knocked over power lines and poles; caused incredible damage to structures; cancelled flights (read more from the NCDC here). Ironically, this record storm fell on the anniversary of the storm that caused the Edmund Fitzgerald to sink in Lake Superior. Some of the new record low barometric pressures from the 1998 storm were:

28.55 inHg (Twin Cities, Nov. 10th 1998) (source: UMN climate/NOAA)
28.47 inHg (Rochester) (source:  NOAA)
28.48 in Hg (Duluth) (source: NWS DLH)
28.43 inHg (Austin, Albert Lea)** (source:  NOAA)
And even in Iowa! 28.54 inHg in Estherville (the all-time low pressure record for Iowa) (source: NCDC)

**Austin and Albert Lea’s 28.43 inHg is the Minnesota record for lowest barometric pressure recorded.

So, how does this 2010 one stack up to the 1998 storm?

GFS SLP forecast for 00z Wednesday, October 27th

Nov. 10th, 1998 storm, surface map

— The lowest pressure recorded during that storm was 28.43 inches, or 962.6 mb. Model forecasts are pointing at the 2010 storm possibly being lower (see image to the upper left. Note the central pressure of the low by Tuesday evening at 959 mb. The picture on the right is of the Nov. 10th storm at its peak in 1998).





GFS 500 mb forecast for 12z Tuesday, Oct. 26th

Analyzed 500 mb map for 12z Nov. 10th, 1998

— Going a little bit higher up…here’s what the storms look like at 500mb. Upper level patterns are near identical. Take a look at the 500 mb patterns both from 1998 and the forecast for 2010. Thanks to the NWS Duluth for this.

— One difference? Not as much cold air with this system. The 1998 storm had colder of air to work with, which left much of the northwestern 2/3 of Minnesota with several inches, close to a foot of snow. This won’t be the case this time around…the snow will be confined to far northwestern Minnesota/the Dakotas.

Bottom line: By far, a record-setting day at least appears possible Tuesday and/or Wednesday with barometric pressure.  It will be interesting, nonetheless, to see if forecasts hold true…


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  1. Steve says:

    So, do people in the Arrowhead need to use high altitude cooking rules?

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