WEEKLY CLIMATE NEWS
19-23 February 2018
- Olympic athletes and fans get a cold greeting in Pyeongchang -- Below-average temperatures across the Korean Peninsula during the first week of February greeted athletes and fans attending the 2018 Winter Olympics that are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. A land surface temperature anomaly map was produced from data collected by the MODIS sensor on NASA's Terra satellite showing the cold conditions as a broad area of negative departures in the temperature of the surface during that opening week from the long-term average temperatures. A natural-color image obtained last week from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite shows clouds streaming across the Korean Peninsula and surrounding waters on cold winds from Siberia, which is located to the northwest. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Nation's geosynchronous satellites are part of an international partnership -- NOAA's GOES-East and GOES-West satellites that are positioned in geosynchronous orbit around Earth to view environmental conditions over North and South America along with the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins are part of an international partnership to monitor atmospheric conditions from around the world. Two additional geosynchronous satellites are part of this partnership: Japan's Himawari-8 satellite monitors the western Pacific, Australia and eastern Asia, and Europe's Meteosat-10 satellite takes observations over Europe, Africa and the Indian Ocean. In addition, other geosynchronous satellites operated by Europe, China, India and Korea also image the Earth and supply essential weather information. [NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service News]
- Spring is on the horizon -- Although meteorological spring (March through May) will not start for another week, spring has to be near, especially for baseball fans across northern sections of the nation, as pitchers and catchers for all Major League Baseball clubs have reported to camps in Arizona and Florida.
- Recalling the "Great Arctic Outbreak" of February 1899 -- An arctic air mass spread across the nation during the first two weeks of February 1899 brought unprecedented low temperatures to many Southern and Eastern States. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reviews the "Great Arctic Outbreak" of February 1899 when temperatures fell to 61 degrees below zero at Fort Logan, MT and to 2 degrees below zero in Tallahassee, FL, which remains the all-time record low for the Sunshine State. Ice formed on the Mississippi River near its mouth. Over 100 people lost their lives during this "Great Arctic Outbreak." [NOAA NCEI News]
- Monitoring the seasonal motions of the sun -- If you would like more background information concerning how the sun appears to across your local sky, along with how you can access the times of local sunrise and local sunset, for your hometown on any day throughout year, please read this week's Supplemental Information...In Greater Depth.
- Review of national weather and climate for January 2018 -- Using preliminary data collected from the national network of surface weather stations, scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have determined that the nationwide average temperature for the contiguous United States for the month of January 2018 was 2.1 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century (1901-2000) average. This temperature makes the recently completed month the 35th warmest January since comprehensive national climate records began in 1895. The average maximum or daytime temperature across the "lower 48" states was 2.7 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average, or 35th highest in the 124-year records, while the average minimum or nighttime temperature was 1.5 Fahrenheit degrees above this long-term average, ranking the month's nighttime temperatures as the 49th highest since 1895. With the exception of Montana and New Mexico, all nine states from the Rockies westward to the Pacific Coast experienced much above average January monthly temperatures. In fact, these nine Western States had January monthly average statewide temperatures ranking within the top ten highest for their respective states, with Arizona reporting its second warmest January on record. Above average temperatures were also found from Montana eastward to Minnesota and in New Mexico. Conversely, sixteen states across the southeastern quadrant of the "Lower 48" had below average January statewide temperatures, while states across the central high Plains, the Midwest and the Northeast had average monthly temperatures.
The scientists also found that last month was drier than average, as the nationwide averaged January 2017 precipitation was 0.50 inches below the 20th century average, tying January 2018 for the 21st driest January in 124 years. Sixteen states across the nation's midsection and in the Middle Atlantic region reported below average to much below average monthly precipitation totals. Alabama had its ninth driest January on record, while New Mexico had its tenth driest. Washington in the Northwest, Nebraska in the central Plains and six states in the Northeast (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) experienced above average statewide precipitation. The remaining contiguous states had near average precipitation for January.
The January snow cover across the coterminous United States was the 23rd smallest in the 52-year period of satellite surveillance record according to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab. [NCEI State
of the Climate]
NOTE: A description is provided of the climatological rankings employed by NCEI for their monthly and seasonal maps. [NOAA/NCEI]
- January national drought report -- NCEI has posted its January 2018 drought report online. Using the Palmer Drought Severity Index as an indicator, approximately ten percent of the contiguous United States experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the end of January, while three percent of the area had severely to extremely wet conditions.
- State of Australia's weather and climate in 2017 from a "Down Under" perspective -- The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia released its "Annual climate statement 2017" report describing Australia's climate during 2017. This past year was the third warmest year on record, which began in 1910. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which are the main natural climate drivers for Australia, were in a neutral phase for most of the year. The upward trend in temperature during the last decade, appears to be linked to anthropogenic climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas emissions. While the national average precipitation was slightly above the long-term average, below average precipitation was experienced in eastern Australia and along Western Australia's western coast. [Australian Bureau of Meteorology]
- Snow is in short supply across the West this winter -- An "Event Tracker" blog in NOAA's ClimateWatch Magazine was written by a meteorologist at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center that describes the lack of significant snowfall so far this winter snow season across many of the mountain ranges across the West, such as the Rockies and the Sierras. In addition to economic hardship being suffered by Western ski resorts, the lack of significant snowfall is causing concern by water managers across the West, as the snow water content of the snowpack is some of the smallest in nearly 30 years. Atmospheric flow patterns this winter have favored a ridge of high pressure over the West Coast, leading to warm weather across the region and a deflection of weather systems that could bring snow farther to the north. Such a situation is consistent with a wintertime La Nina event. Finally, changing climate conditions over the last 50 years have resulted in rain falling rather than snow as air temperatures rise. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Satellite-borne ozone pollution sensor decommissioned after 14-year career -- At the end of last month, NASA terminated the collection of data by its Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) that has flown on NASA's Aura spacecraft since 2004. TES, which was originally planned for a five-year mission, made high resolution measurements of ozone concentrations in the lower atmosphere that are deemed pollutants. High-spectral-resolution observations of thermal infrared radiation were being made. During the past year, TES was having instrument issues that necessitated its decommissioning. Two other instruments onboard the Aura satellite remain in operation. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory News]
- Satellite data reveal sea level rise is accelerating -- Using 25 years of data collected by NASA and European satellites, a team of researchers found that the rate of global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily. This acceleration, which appears to be driven mainly by increased melting of the icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to cause the total sea level rise to be 26 inches by 2100, or double the amount projected assuming a constant rate of sea level rise. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory News]
- A reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals is seen through various measurements -- Scientists from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center using data collected from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) on NASA's Aura satellite have found a reduction in the concentrations of hydrogen chlorine (HCl) in the lower stratosphere over Antarctica during the last few decades. This region has been dubbed the "Antarctic ozone hole" because of the reduced ozone amounts caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that decompose into HCl. The reduction in HCl is considered definitive evidence that the Montreal Protocol that has limited the global production of CFCs. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Volatile chemicals in scented products can cause air pollution -- A recent study led by NOAA scientists in the Los Angeles (CA) metropolitan area has found that the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted into the atmosphere from scented products and paints is roughly the same as that emitted by petroleum used as fuel in transportation. These chemical vapors react with sunlight to form near-surface ozone and other atmospheric chemicals to form fine airborne particulate matter. Scented products and other ingredients in industrial products are intended to evaporate, while efforts have been undertaken over the last four decades at limiting the evaporation of chemical vapors from fuel intended for transportation.
- Extreme weather risks could increase if Paris Agreement goals are not met -- Researchers from Stanford University, Columbia University and Dartmouth College recently reported that even a one-Celsius degree increase in global temperature from pre-industrial levels could increase the likelihood of extreme weather across the globe. This one-Celsius degree increase is less than the goal of a two-degree Celsius degree temperature increase that the United Nations Paris Agreement has sought. The current study represents an expansion on previous analyses of historical climate data, focusing upon the probability of extreme weather events in the future under two scenarios of the Paris Agreement. Individual severe weather events were studied that included the 2012-2017 California drought and the catastrophic flooding in northern India in June 2013. [Stanford University News Service]
- Predicting climate change could involve finding what could be blowing in the wind -- An international team of scientists from Clemson University, China's Lanzhou University and the University of Rochester claim that the Earth's climate cooled approximately 2.7 million years ago near the end of the Pliocene Epoch because of dust from eastern Asia that was blown into the Pacific Ocean. They theorize monsoon precipitation intensified at this time, causing erosion along the Tibetan Plateau and lower elevation areas nearby in present-day China. Winds carrying the relatively loose sediment from eastern Asia into the North Pacific Ocean, where it likely helped spur photosynthesis by tiny marine organisms through fertilization of the ocean water, resulting in a drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The researchers suggest that the mechanisms that brought global cooling near the end of the Pliocene could also occur in the future. [Clemson University Newsstand]
- Seasonal weather outlook released
Late last week, forecasters at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their new national Seasonal Outlook for the next three months that consists of meteorological spring 2018 in the Northern Hemisphere (March-May). Specific details of their outlooks include:
- Temperature and precipitation outlooks -- According to their temperature outlook, more than one-half of the 48 contiguous states should experience a high chance of above average temperatures for Spring 2018. The greatest probability of unseasonably warm weather should be found across the Southwest, centered upon Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The remainder of the southern tier of states, along with the Atlantic Seaboard should also experience a better than average chance of a warmer than average spring. On the other hand, the northwestern sections of the nation along the U.S.-Canadian border running from the coast of Washington eastward to the western Dakotas were expected to have a high chance of having a cooler than average spring. The outlook indicates that the remainder of the nation, especially across the Midwest and the east central Plains, would have nearly equal chances of warmer or cooler than normal conditions.
Their precipitation outlook calls for the southwestern quadrant of the nation, along with the Gulf Coast, to have a better than even chance of below average precipitation for Spring 2018. The region with the highest chances of a dry spring would be in west Texas and southern New Mexico. Conversely, northern and eastern sections of the "Lower 48 states" should have a better than even chance of above average spring precipitation. The Midwest, the Northeast and the northern Rockies in Montana would have the best chance for wet springtime conditions. Elsewhere, sections of the Southeast, the central Plains and the Pacific Northwest are considered to have essentially equal chances of below and above average precipitation for meteorological spring.
A summary of the prognostic discussion of the 3-month outlook for non-technical users is available from CPC. These forecasts were based in part on the chance that La Niña conditions in both the atmosphere and ocean across the equatorial Pacific Ocean basin were continuing through mid-February, but with an anticipated transition to ENSO-neutral conditions (ENSO = El Niño/Southern Oscillation) in Northern Hemisphere's meteorological spring (March-May) that would have neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions. The forecasters' confidence on their outlook discussion for individual regions of the nation is given. A description is also provided as how to read these 3-class, 3-month Outlook maps.
- Seasonal Drought Outlook -- The
forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center also released their US
Seasonal Drought Outlook last week that would run from mid-February through May 2018. Their outlook calls for the current drought conditions to either persist or expand through the forecast period across the southwestern quadrant of the nation, extending from the high Plains of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas westward across the southern and central Rockies, the Great Basin and the Sierras to California's Pacific Coast, as well as northward into interior Oregon. Drought was expected to continue across the Dakotas in the northern Plains, as well as across coastal sections of Georgia and northern Florida. Several areas that have been experiencing drought could have improvement in drought conditions, with a few areas possibly being removed from drought classification. These areas include sections of the southern Plains of Oklahoma and north Texas extending eastward into the Ozark Plateau and the mid-Mississippi Valley, as well as the Tennessee Valley in the Southeast. Drought conditions could also dissipate across the Plains of eastern Montana and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Note: a Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion is included describing the forecasters' confidence.
- Sub-seasonal prediction gap is slowly being closed -- A team of scientists at NOAA''s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and the Climate Prediction Center have been developing a tool that permits them to improve the accuracy of sub-seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks with a time scale of three to four weeks. These outlooks would lie between the one to two-week weather forecasts and the climate outlooks made on a one to three-month timeframe. The tool that is being used provides guidance for the week 3-4 temperature and precipitation maps using statistical models. Long-term climate trends and the initial state of two large-scale patterns in the tropics-the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)-were used to better predict week 3-4 temperature and precipitation. [NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research News]
- Extending sea-ice prediction from days to decades involves unique collaboration -- A scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory has created the Los Alamos sea ice model, CICE, a numerical model that is used to predict sea ice extent, thickness and movement in both the Arctic Ocean and the waters around Antarctica. This model was developed within the CICE Consortium that had representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S Department of Defense (Naval Research Laboratory Stennis Space Center and the Naval Postgraduate School), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (numerous groups including the National Weather Service, Earth System Research Laboratory and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory), the National Science Foundation (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the UK Met Office.
[NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research News]
Concept of the Week: Climate and
Humans have been constructing houses and other buildings for
thousands of years not only to protect themselves from the weather and
other environmental factors, but also to create a comfortable indoor
environment that would exhibit energy efficiency, especially in harsh
climates. For centuries, natural or primitive housing reflected an
adaptation to the climate of the locale and the availability of local
In order to maintain a tolerable level of comfort within a
building, attention must be paid to thermal effects, ventilation,
illumination and atmospheric humidity.
The indoor thermal state ultimately depends upon the
building's energy budget involving incoming and outgoing radiation,
latent and sensible heat loss and by interior heat sources or sinks.
The indoor thermal level is mainly associated with the external energy
load on the building. The external energy load on the building depends
upon the latitude of the building, season of the year and time of day.
In tropical latitudes and during midday hours in summer, the
sun's path across the local sky increases the solar radiation incident
upon the roof and walls of the building. In polar latitudes, or during
the winter or the amount of available sunlight is significantly lower,
with the loss of infrared radiation causing a net cooling from the
building. Changes in the color of the roof and the outer walls can
affect the amount of incoming sunlight absorbed. Building orientation
and the effective use of overhangs can also affect the amount of
sunlight absorbed. Furthermore, the amount of insulation, often related
to the thickness of the walls, reduces the conduction of heat into or
out of the building. Thick adobe walls have been used effectively in
the Southwest to moderate indoor temperature. These walls reduce the
heat flow into the building during the daytime and in summer and out
from the building at night or during winter.
The size and placement of windows also affects the energy
balance. Large windows on the side of the building facing the sun's
path tend to permit large amounts of sunlight to penetrate into the
building. However, large windows on the side facing away from the sun
can cause for heat loss due to conduction, as many types of windowpanes
are not energy efficient.
Effective landscaping can reduce energy demands upon a
dwelling: Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of the
home provide cooling shade during the summer, keeping sunlight from
entering the windows. These trees will lose their foliage in fall and
allow the sun to shine through in winter, and warm south facing rooms.
Evergreen trees or dense shrubbery on the north side can serve as a
windbreak, which reduce the cold northerly winds from striking the
house in winter.
Energy losses from buildings during the upcoming winter in
northern latitudes can be seen readily by how quickly snow melts from
roofs and by how big the icicles form. Heat losses from buildings occur
with larger negative energy budgets, which are reflected also in higher
heating bills during the winter season. However, the heating bills also
depend upon the severity of the winter season that can be ascertained
from the number of accumulated heating degree-day units. Check last week's Supplemental Information...In
Greater Depth for how you can monitor the number of heating
degree-day units to date in your state for this coming heating season.
- 19 February 1998...The temperature at Mardie, Western
Australia reached 122.9 degrees, the second highest temperature ever
recorded in Australia. (The Weather Doctor)
- 20 February 1974...The mean wind speed at Bonilla Island,
British Columbia was 89 mph, the highest sustained speed on record in
British Columbia. (The Weather Doctor)
- 20 February 1995...The temperature at the Civic Center in Los Angeles, California soared to 95 degrees. This is highest temperature ever recorded at the location during the month of February. (National Weather Service files)
- 20 February 1995...The temperature at the Civic Center in
Los Angeles, CA hit 95 degrees for the highest temperature ever
recorded at that location for the month of February. (Intellicast)
- 21 February 1918...A spectacular chinook wind at Granville,
ND caused the temperature to spurt from a morning low of 33 degrees
below zero to an afternoon high of 50 degrees above zero, representing
a rise of 83 Fahrenheit degrees. (David Ludlum)
- 21 February 1971...Elk City, OK was buried under 36 inches
of snow to establish a 24-hour snowfall record for the Sooner State.
- 21 February 1996...Very hot weather for the time of year
prevailed across South Texas. All-time February high temperatures were
set at Del Rio (103 degrees), San Antonio (100 degrees), Austin and
College Station (99 degrees), and Waco (96 degrees). (Intellicast)
- 22 February 1936...Although heat and dust prevailed in the
spring and summer, early 1936 brought record cold to parts of the U.S.
Sioux Center, IA reported 42 inches of snow on the ground, a state
record. (20th-22nd) (The
- 22 February 1996...Record heat continued over the
south-central states. All-time February high temperatures were set at
San Angelo, TX (97 degrees), Wichita Falls, TX (93 degrees), Oklahoma
City, OK (92 degrees), and Wichita, KS (87 degrees). (Intellicast)
- 23 February 1998...Otis, OR recorded its 79 straight day of
rain, the longest in the contiguous US. The streak began on 7 December
1997 (The Weather Doctor)
- 24 February 1905...The temperature at Valley Head, AL fell
to 18 degrees below zero, which was the lowest temperature ever
recorded in Alabama until January 1966. (Intellicast)
- 24-26 February 1910...Parts of Washington State were in the
midst of a storm that produced 129 inches of snow at Laconia between
the 24th and the 26th, a
single storm record for the state. A series of storms, which began on
the 23rd, led to a deadly avalanche on the first
of March. By late on the 28th, the snow had
changed to rain, setting the stage for disaster. (The Weather Channel)
- 24 February 1994...The Crystal Mountain ski resort in
Washington State recorded 65 inches of snow in a 24-hour period, the
state record for 24-hour snowfall. (Intellicast)
- 25 February 1914...South Carolina had its biggest snowstorm
in modern history, as 18 inches fell at Society Hill. (Intellicast)
- 25 February 1922...The temperature at Los Angeles, CA
soared to 92 degrees to establish a record for the month of February.
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.