WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
16-20 January 2017
DataStreme Atmosphere will return for Spring 2017 with new Investigations files starting during Preview Week, Monday, 23 January 2017. All the current online website products, including
updated issues of Weekly Weather and Climate News, will
continue to be available throughout the winter break period.
Items of Interest:
- Approaching coldest time of the year -- This
week is the third week of January, which for many
locations across the nation typically marks the coldest week of the
year, as indicated by the daily normal high and low temperatures.
Usually, those stations located away from the moderating influences of
the oceans reach their lowest temperatures during the third week of
January, or a roughly one month after the winter solstice, when the
Northern Hemisphere receives the fewest hours of daylight and the
smallest amounts of solar radiation. During that month, temperatures
continue to fall to their lowest typical values as cooling continues.
However, the increased length of daylight and increased sunshine during
this month begins to warm the ground and overlying atmosphere as normal
daily temperatures begin to rise toward their highest levels in mid to
- Free admission into the National Parks and Forests--
This Monday, 16 January 2017, has been designated by the National Park Service as a fee-free day in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. This fee waiver will cover entrance and commercial tour fees in many of the national parks and monuments administered by the Park Service. [National Park Service Fee Free Days]
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign commences -- The first in a series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will commence on Thursday (19 January) and continue through Saturday, 28 January. GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program designed to encourage citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of their night sky by matching the appearance of a constellation (Orion in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres) with the seven magnitude/star charts of progressively fainter stars.
Activity guides are also available. The GLOBE at night program is intended to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution.
The next series in the 2017 campaign is scheduled for 18-27 February 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- A climatology for Presidential inaugurations -- The official 58th Presidential Inauguration Day falls this Friday (20 January 2017), marked by the outdoor inauguration for President Donald Trump that will be held at the US Capitol, followed by the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The quadrennial Inauguration of the President and Vice President of the United States has been influenced at times by inclement Washington, DC weather, producing an interesting history. Because of the 20th Amendment, the Inauguration date was moved in the 1930s from the 4th of March to the 20th of January, a date selected after consultation with Washington, DC climate records. Meteorologists at the Baltimore/Washington National Weather Service Office (in Sterling, VA) have produced a detailed report of the "normal weather" that can be expected, along with weather extremes for past inaugurations. [Baltimore/Washington National Weather Service Office]
- End of a long polar night -- After being below the horizon for approximately 65 days, the Sun should rise at Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska, for the first time this new year on this coming Sunday, 22 January 2017, at 1:17 PM Alaska Standard Time (AKST). However, the Sun will only remain above the horizon for only 45 minutes, as it will set again at 2:02 PM. Although the Sun set for the final time last year at 1:31 PM AKST on 18 November 2016, residents of Barrow had roughly three hours of some diffuse sunlight each day that is equivalent to civil twilight, provided the cloud cover was not too thick. To check the sunrise and sunset times of Barrow or any location in the United States go to the US Naval Observatory's on-line, interactive service for the entire year.
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- The weather across the tropical and subtropical ocean basins in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere remained relatively quiet during the last week. However, the only activity was found in the western North Pacific basin
where the the first tropical depression of 2017 identified as Tropical Depression 1W (or TD 1W) weakened as it moved out over the South China Sea at the start of last week after traveling across the central Philippines over the previous weekend. However, remnants of TD 1W continued to travel west across the South China Sea toward the coast of Vietnam.
Over this past weekend, the remnants of TD 1W strengthened and became a tropical depression as it came close to the coast. As of late Sunday night (local time) the center of TD 1W was located approximately 160 miles to the east-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Current forecasts have TD 1W making landfall along the Mekong Delta and crossing southern Vietnam by late Monday before exiting out over the Gulf of Thailand on Tuesday. A slow weakening of this tropical depression was anticipated.
Additional information and satellite imagery for TD 1W is available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
- Atmospheric river called the "Pineapple Express" continues to soak parched California -- An animated sequence of images generated from data collected by NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite over a four-day span last week (7-10 January) shows a large area of precipitation moving to the northeast across the eastern North Pacific and spreading across a large area of California, with some of the heaviest precipitation falling across the central areas of the Golden State along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. [NASA Earth Observatory] This welcome precipitation fell in areas that had been experiencing five years of drought and was part of an atmospheric river or plume of humid air originating over the tropical and subtropical North Pacific near the Hawaiian Islands. Hence, this atmospheric river is often dubbed the "Pineapple Express." A wider view of the areas experiencing above average precipitation from this system has been produced by data collected by the GPM satellite. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center]
Inspection of the status of the drought across California from the recently released US Drought Monitor (data through Tuesday, 10 January 2017) shows the areal extent in California experiencing any drought conditions (D0 through D4) has dropped from 100 percent in early October 2016 to approximately 65 percent as of the recent summary. Similarly, the area of exceptional drought (D4) has dropped from 21 percent three months ago to only 2 percent early last week.
- Review of national weather and climate for December 2016 and for the 2016 calendar year -- Scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have released reports based upon their preliminary analysis of temperature and precipitation data collected through the end of December 2016 from across the nation. Based upon the data processed through late last week, they report:
- December 2016 had near average temperatures and above average precipitation -- The nationwide average December temperature across the contiguous United States was 32.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which was only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average. States across the Northwest and the northern and central Plains reported below to much below average temperatures, with Oregon having a statewide average temperature that was the eleventh lowest December reading since a sufficiently dense national climate observing network was established in 1895. Conversely, the southern tier of states running from Arizona eastward to Florida, as well as northward along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to New Hampshire. The December 2016 statewide average temperature for Florida was the fourth highest in 122 years. States across the Midwest and across the West had average temperatures that were close to long-term average.
The nationwide precipitation total for December 2016 across the "Lower 48 states" was 2.69 inches or 0.34 inches above the 20th century average. As many as 21 states scattered across the Rocky Mountains, the Intermountain West, the northern Plains, the Upper Midwest, the Southeast and New England reported above to much above average precipitation totals. Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nevada had statewide December precipitation totals that ranked in the top 10 for that month. Four states in the center of the nation and in the Pacific Northwest had December precipitation that were below average.
[NOAA/NCEI State of the Climate]
- Calendar year of 2016 was second warmest across nation -- The preliminary average temperature for the coterminous United
States during the recently concluded 2016 was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit,
which was 2.9 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century average. As a result, 2016 was the nation's second warmest year since 1895, following behind the warmest year of 2012, which had a national average annual temperature of 55.3 degrees.
All states reported annual statewide temperatures that were within the top six on record for each state. Georgia reported its warmest year in 122 years. While the average maximum (afternoon) temperature across the nation was the third highest on record, the average minimum (or predawn) national temperature was the highest on record.
The nationwide average precipitation across the 48 contiguous states for 2016 was 31.70 inches, or 1.76 inches above the 20th century average. Therefore, the year the 24th wettest year on record since 1895. Eleven states across the Northeast and the Southeast reported below to much below average annual precipitation totals. Connecticut and Massachusetts in the Northeast along with Alabama and Georgia in the Southeast had annual precipitation totals that ranked within the lowest 11 years on record. . On the other hand, 20 states that were primarily across the central and western sections of the nation had above to much above average annual precipitation. Minnesota and Wisconsin experienced their second wettest years in the last 122 years, while North Dakota, Michigan and Louisiana had annual totals that ranked in the top 12. [NOAA/NCEI State of the Climate]
NOTE: A description is provided of the climatological rankings employed by NCDC for their monthly, seasonal and annual maps. [NOAA/NCEI]
A feature was posted that described the record or near-record warmth during the calendar year 2016 in Alaska.
[NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Annual national drought report for 2016 -- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information has posted its 2016 annual drought report online. This report describes how the areas experiencing
drought and wet conditions changed throughout the last calendar year. Using
the Palmer Drought Severity Index (a commonly used indicator of drought
conditions), approximately 3 percent of the area of the contiguous
United States experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the
start of January 2016. Although the areal extent of the drought expanded during the spring and summer, reaching to nearly 22 percent of the nation in late August, widespread precipitation in December caused drought conditions to shrink during December to 13.2 percent of the "Lower 48 states" at the end of the year.
- Extreme weather/climate events in US during 2016 -- Last week NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported that according to preliminary data, 15 weather and climate disaster events occurred during 2016 across the nation that each produced at least $1 billion in losses. These events included a drought event, four flooding events, eight severe convective (thunderstorm) events, a tropical cyclone event and a wildfire event. Furthermore, these 15 events appear to have caused 138 deaths across the nation. Note that the 15 "billion-dollar" events in 2016 were more than than the 10 weather and climate extreme events that occurred during 2015 claiming 155 lives, but less than the record number of 16 events in one year (since 1980) that was set in 2011 when 764 people were killed by these events. Further updates to this tentative list for 2016 will be made in the next several months. [NOAA NCEI News]
- Updated El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion & El Niño advisory outlook released -- Late last week forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) released their monthly El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion in which they still maintained their La Niña advisory, although they were expecting a transition to an ENSO-neutral situation with neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions beginning in February and continuing through the remainder of the first half of 2017. Below-average sea surface temperatures (SST) had been found across the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean in December 2016, a sign of the continuation of a weak La Niña. Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies values across these sections of the equatorial Pacific were on the order of 0.5 Celsius degrees below normal. In addition to the pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies, the atmosphere patterns were also consistent with the weak La Niña in terms of the location of atmospheric convection and the low-level winds. [NOAA Climate Prediction Center] A blog written by a contractor scientist from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center describing the development of La Niña conditions early in Northern Hemisphere autumn and peaking in late November. Attention was also paid to the global precipitation and temperature patterns for last fall (October through December 2016) and how they compared with other La Niña events.
[NOAA Climate.gov News]
- New state climate summaries provide local information on assessing climate change -- An assessment team from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the North Carolina State University's Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina has recently released two to four-page NOAA State Summaries for each of the 50 states that are meant to provide the public with assessments of climate change on the state level. This downloadable set of climate summaries were produced in response to demand for state-level information pertaining to the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3) and consist of observed and projected climate change information based upon a synthesis of historical and plausible future climate conditions focusing upon the characteristics of the individual state's physical climate and coastal issues. [NOAA NCEI News]
- New climate data record bundle focuses on water from around the globe -- Scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have assembled a new bundle of data records that focuses on water and the climatic changes in hydrology. This "hydrobundle" Climate Data Record (CDR) contains a long-term record of such hydrological date such as precipitable water, rainfall, snow, and sea ice, along with surface temperature. The data were obtained over a span starting in 2000 using sensors onboard polar orbiting NOAA and EUMETSAT series (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). [NOAA NCEI News]
- Connection found between wildfires and drought -- Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center claim that they have found a connection between wildfires and drought in northern sub-Saharan Africa through the use of satellite data from NASA's MODIS sensors and the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) collected between 2001 and 2014 that provided information on soil moisture, precipitation, evapotranspiration and vegetation greenness. They also examined interactions between clouds and smoke along with the effects of fires on surface brightness. The pattern found was that fire appeared to have a tendency to suppress precipitation in northern sub-Saharan Africa. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- Temperatures across Northeast US appear to be rising faster than global average -- Researchers at the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that temperatures across the Northeastern States will increase more rapidly than the global average, which means that the 2-Celsius degree target adopted by the Paris Agreement on climate change would be reached in this region 20 years earlier than for the rest of the world. Their analysis was based on climate model simulations that contributed to the recent fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). [University of Massachusetts Amherst News]
- Stronger ocean wave activity on Antarctic Peninsula anticipated due to changing atmospheric conditions -- Scientists from Colorado State University and the US Geological Survey recently described how a shift in the large-scale pattern of atmospheric variability identified as the "Southern Annular Mode" may affect storm activity in the Southern Ocean and the extent of sea ice surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula. Sea ice may protect ice shelves from the impacts of ocean storms by weakening wave intensity before it reaches the coastline. Like its counterpart the Northern Annual Mode in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Annular Mode describes the north-south movement of the belt of westerly winds in midlatitudes and has been used to explain short-term variations or anomalous atmospheric flow outside the tropics (extratropical) on week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year time scales. [Colorado State University Source]
- Moon is older than previous estimates -- A research team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and other research institutions recently reported that their analysis of zircons or minerals from the lunar surface that were brought back by the NASA astronauts on the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971 indicate that the moon is 4.51 billion years old, which is between 40 and 140 million years older than previously estimated. These findings suggest that the moon formed approximately 60 million years after the birth of the solar system as the result of a violent collision between early Earth and a "planetary embryo" called Theia. [University of California, Los Angeles Newsroom]
- An All-Hazards Monitor -- This Web portal provides the user information from NOAA's National Weather Service, FAA and FEMA on
current environmental events that may pose as hazards such as tropical
weather, fire weather, marine weather, severe weather, drought and
floods. [NOAA/NWS Daily Briefing]
- Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com]
Return to RealTime Weather Portal
Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.