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US: Oklahoma City shatters previous cold record

© The Oklahoman
A second major winter storm in two weeks blew through the state Wednesday, producing more than 2 feet of snow in parts of northeast Oklahoma and wind chills lower than minus 20 in the Panhandle.

Just as Oklahomans were recovering from last week's blizzard, another blast of frostbite-inducing wind chills and heavy snowfall battered the state.

The second major winter storm in less than two weeks blew through much of the state Wednesday, producing more than 2 feet of snow in parts of northeast Oklahoma and wind chills lower than minus 20 in the Panhandle.

"It was a bit nippy," said Harold Tyson, who wore three layers of clothes as he cleared the parking lot in front of his Guymon office with a tractor that had no cab.

"We've had quite a bit of that lately," said Tyson, the Texas County emergency management director. "You just don't stay out too long."

The storm caused slick roads, drifting snow and school closures throughout Oklahoma as a state of emergency that Gov. Mary Fallin declared last week remained in effect.

Conditions were less severe in the Oklahoma City area than other places. Snow totaling about 6 inches was recorded at Will Rogers World Airport. Many schools throughout the metro area will be closed again today. Administrators said they are concerned about hazardous roads and subfreezing temperatures.


Cold snap set to wipe out 16 percent of Mexico's staple food

© Reuters
Maize tortillas are Mexico's traditional staple food
A spell of unusually cold weather in northern Mexico has severely damaged the maize crop in the state of Sinaloa.

Officials estimate the losses could amount to four million tonnes of corn - 16% of Mexico's annual harvest.

President Felipe Calderon said everything possible must be done to re-sow the fields over the next two weeks.

There are fears the losses could force up the price of the corn tortillas that most Mexicans eat with every meal.

Officials say up to 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) of maize have been lost to frost in Sinaloa, which is home to some of Mexico's richest farmland.


Mexico loses 80-100% of crops to freeze, US prices to skyrocket

The cold weather experienced across much of the US in early February made its way deep into Mexico and early reports estimate 80-100 percent crop losses which are having an immediate impact on prices at US grocery stores with more volatility to come.

Wholesale food suppliers have already sent notices to supermarket retailers describing the produce losses in Mexico and the impact shoppers can expect. Sysco sent out a release (pdf) this week stating the early February freeze reached as far south as Los Mochis and south of Culiacan, both located in the state of Sinaloa, along the Gulf of California. The freezing temperatures were the worst the region has seen since 1957.

According to Sysco's notice sent out this week:
"The early reports are still coming in but most are showing losses of crops in the range of 80 to 100%. Even shade house product was hit by the extremely cold temps. It will take 7-10 days to have a clearer picture from growers and field supervisors, but these growing regions haven't had cold like this in over half a century."

Cloud Lightning

Tropical Cyclone Threat to Madagascar

Madagascar Cyclone Bingiza
© Joint Typhoon Warning Center
Tropical Cyclone Bingiza east of northern Madagascar early on February 10, 2011
Tropical Cyclone Bingiza poses the threat of damaging wind and flooding rain to the southwestern Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

Early Thursday morning, EST, the center of the new tropical cyclone lay about 580 miles, or 930 km, northeast of Antananarivo. Highest sustained winds were estimated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to be 45 knots, or almost 85 km/h. T.C. Bingiza was nearly stationary.

Forecasters at AccuWeather.com believe that T.C. Bingiza will strengthen and drift mostly southwestward over open water through at least Saturday. Thereafter, a landfall on eastern Madagascar could take place. Faster movement than anticipated would make the landfall threat earlier than currently forecast.

If Bingiza were to veer southeastward, on the other hand, it could ultimately threaten the Mascarene Islands of La Reunion and Mauritius. However, this scenario would take several days to unfold.

Control Panel

Oklahoma sees record cold: -31

© Kevin Pieper/AP
Snow-covered cows stand in a field in Baxter County, Ark., on Wednesday.
An icy blast tugged temperatures well below zero in a large swath of the South on Thursday, setting records for cold by late morning.

Forecasters had predicted lows of minus 11 degrees in northwest Arkansas and minus 10 degrees in parts of Oklahoma. But temperatures instead dipped to minus 18 in Fayetteville and to minus 28 in Bartlesville, Okla.

Nowata, Okla., recorded 31 degrees below zero - setting a new record low for the state. The previous lowest temperature in Oklahoma history was 27 below in 1930 and 1905, said Gary McManus, associate state climatologist with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

"We just had a very cold arctic air mass and a heavy snow pack and that allowed the temperatures to plummet when the wind died down," said McManus. "We got much colder temperatures than anyone thought would occur."


Snow in Southern U.S.

Snow Covered Southern US
© Earth Observatory, NASA
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.
The icy fingers of winter 2010-11 reached down into the south central U.S. for the second time in a week, breaking many local records for snowfall in a month that is still only 10 days old.

Snowfall totals topped 20 inches (50 centimeters) in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, just one week after a Groundhog Day storm coated the region with several inches. Meanwhile, temperatures dropped into the single digits in the American Plains and in Colorado. The storms moved east to dump more snow, ice, and rain in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this clear view of the nation's mid-section at 1:25 Central Standard Time on February 10, 2011. Nearly all of the white in this image is snow and ice, except for a bit of clouds in the lower right (southeast) corner. In the larger image file, the outlines of the Ouachita and Ozark mountain ranges darken the snowy landscape, while river valleys such as the Mississippi appear brighter due to fewer trees. Gray-white areas are often developed, urban landscapes that have been coated by snow; some, however, are just rural areas that received less snow.

Cloud Lightning

US: Flood warning issued for Bay, Gulf and Calhoun counties, Florida

Heavy rains over the last week have made conditions conducive to flooding along the Apalachicola River and in Gulf and Calhoun counties and eastern Bay County, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

The warning, issued at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, states flood stage begins at 15 feet, height of the bank at the marina at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Wednesday evening water level reached 14.2 feet.


US: Winter storm warning in effect for North Carolina

A winter storm warning is in effect for much of Eastern North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters say that snow and heavy rains are possible Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

The precipitation is likely to start as rain or a mix of rain and snow then gradually transition to snow late Wednesday night, according to the warning. Coastal areas are not expected to see a transition to snow until daybreak Thursday.


US: Georgia eyes coldest winter ever

Cold temperatures and heavy snow crippled north Georgia in January. Despite heavier-than-normal snowfall, precipitation amounts were below normal, increasing drought conditions across the state.

Georgia's temperature was significantly below normal last month. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 40.2 degrees F (2.5 degrees below normal), in Athens 39.7 degrees (2.5 degrees below normal), Columbus 43.6 degrees (3.2 degrees below normal), Macon 42 degrees (3.5 degrees below normal), Savannah 45.1 degrees (4.1 degrees below normal), Brunswick 49.1 degrees (2.6 degrees below normal), Alma 44.9 degrees (6.8 degrees below normal), Valdosta 47.3 degrees (2.6 degrees below normal) and Augusta 41.7 degrees (3.1 degrees below normal).

If colder-than-normal temperatures continue into February, this winter could possibly set records for the coldest winter ever in some parts of Georgia. Record low temperatures were set at Macon, Savannah and Alma Jan. 14. Macon reported 16 degrees, breaking the old record of 19 degrees set that date in 1970. Savannah and Alma reported 18 degrees, surpassing the old records of 20 degrees set at both locations in 1964.

Arrow Down

US: Oklahoma Snow: Power Outages Reported After Storm

More than 9,500 power outages are being reported in Oklahoma by the state's two largest electric utilities.

More than 9,500 power outages are being reported in Oklahoma by the state's two largest electric utilities.

Oklahoma Gas and Electric reports 4,739 outages Thursday morning with more than 1,700 in Arcadia and more than 1,600 in Harrah. Public Service Company of Oklahoma reports 4,817 outages with more than 3,000 of those in Nowata County and about 1,200 in Lawton.

PSO spokesman Ed Bettinger said the cause was not known. An OG&E spokesman did not immediately return a phone call for comment.