WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
17-21 July 2017
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign is underway -- The seventh in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will continue through Monday, 24 July. 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 (Hercules in the Northern Hemisphere and Scorpius in the Southern Hemisphere) 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 14-23 August 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- Hurricane awareness week in New England -- During week of 17-21 July 2017, several coastal New England states will observe New England Hurricane Awareness Week. On Wednesday (19 July), Vermont will conduct its Hurricane; Inland Flood Dangers Awareness Day.
- Zenithal Sun -- Residents of Honolulu will experience a noontime sun that would be directly overhead during this past weekend and at the start of this week (15-17 July). This occurrence of a zenithal sun is one of the two times during the year when the noontime sun is directly overhead to residents of Honolulu and the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The other time when Oahu experienced a zenithal sun was in late May. [US Naval Observatory, Data Services]
- Commemorating the world's highest recorded temperature -- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental (NCEI) recently posted a feature in commemoration of the 104th anniversary of the measurement of the world-record high temperature at Greenland Ranch in California's Death Valley. The cooperative observer's thermometer on the afternoon of 10 July 1913 registered 134 degrees F, which has now been deemed the world's record high temperature according to the World Meteorological Organization. A copy of the July 1913 Cooperative Observer Form that shows the 134- degree entry for the data is provided. The reasons why Death Valley experiences exceptionally high temperatures are addressed. [NOAA NCEI News]
- Remembering the deadly 1995 Midwestern heat wave -- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) posted a feature that describes the intense heat wave that spread across a large section of the Midwest, which resulted in the deaths of 583 people in the Chicago (IL) metropolitan area because of the extended heat. This heat wave began on 12 July 1995 and continued for four days, with daytime temperatures across the region reaching 104 degrees and nighttime temperatures falling only to the upper 70s and low 80s because of high levels of atmospheric humidity. The combination of triple digit air temperatures and dewpoints in the upper 70s and low 80s resulted in heat indices reaching 125 degrees. [NOAA NCEI News]
Weather and Climate News items:
- Eye on the tropics --- Several named tropical cyclones developed over the North Pacific Ocean during the last week:
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, Hurricane Eugene was traveling to the northwest across the waters off the western coast of Mexico at the beginning of last week. As it traveled, Eugene was weakening from a major category 3 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) to a category 1 hurricane by early Monday morning, when it was located approximately 900 miles to the west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. By Monday evening, Hurricane Eugene had weakened to a tropical storm and by Wednesday morning to a tropical depression. On Wednesday afternoon Tropical Depression Eugene had become a remnant low pressure center that eventually dissipated approximately 525 miles to the west-southwest of Punta Eugenia, Mexico.
High surf generated by the strong winds surrounding Eugene was reaching the coasts of Baja California and southern California.
Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for satellite images and more information on Hurricane Eugene.
A second named tropical cyclone
during this past week formed in the eastern Pacific. A tropical depression became Tropical Storm Fernanda last Wednesday morning approximately 760 miles to the south of Baja California. Traveling toward the west away from the western coast of Mexico, Fernanda intensified rapidly to become the third hurricane of the season in the eastern Pacific on Thursday afternoon and then to a major category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale by Friday afternoon as maximum sustained surface winds reached 145 mph. Although the winds surrounding this hurricane had weakened slightly, Fernanda remained a category 4 into Sunday morning as it continued traveling toward the west-northwest. By Sunday afternoon, Fernanda had become a category 3 hurricane as it was approximately 1400 miles to the west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas. Current forecasts suggest that Fernanda would begin a gradual weakening beginning Monday as it would continue its track toward the west-northwest, well to the east-southeast of the Hawaiian Islands. Satellite images and additional information on Hurricane Fernanda can be found on the NASA Hurricane Page.
- In the western North Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Talas formed over this past weekend from a tropical depression that was moving to the northwest across the South China Sea approximately 200 miles off the coast of central Vietnam. Over the weekend, Talas began to curve toward the west-northwest. By early Sunday, Tropical Storm Talas traveled across the southern sections of China's Hainan Island, accompanied by strong winds and torrential rains. As of late Sunday night, Talas was moving into the Gulf of Tonkin, positioned approximately 190 miles to the north-northwest of Da Nang, Vietnam. Current forecasts indicate that Tropical Storm Talas should make landfall along the coast of Vietnam's central and northern provinces on Monday, bringing locally heavy rain to as far north as the capital city of Hanoi. Weakening quickly as this tropical storm moves into the mountainous area of Vietnam, a remnant low that had been Talas could reach Laos before dissipating.
- Eye on the Tropics -- Tropical cyclone activity was limited to the eastern and western sides of the North Pacific Ocean basin during the last week:
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Blas strengthened to become the first eastern Pacific hurricane of 2016 as it continued its travels toward the west-northwest away from the coast of Mexico. By late Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Blas had become a major category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as it was approximately 970 miles to the southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. During the remainder of the week, Blas slowly weakened as it traveled generally to the west-northwest.
As of Sunday morning Blas became a remnant low approximately 1200 miles to the east of Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island.
See additional information and satellite images on Hurricane Blas on the NASA Hurricane Page.
The third named tropical cyclone of 2016 in the eastern Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Celia, developed from a tropical depression last Friday morning approximately 730 miles to the southwest of the tip of Baja California. Over this past weekend, Celia intensified as it traveled generally toward the west and west-northwest. As of Sunday afternoon, Celia became the second eastern Pacific hurricane of 2016. Hurricane Celia was forecast to strengthen by the start of this week before weakening. See the NASA Hurricane Page for satellite imagery and additional information on Hurricane Celia.
- In the western North Pacific Ocean basin, Tropical Storm Nepartak became the first typhoon of the 2016 North Pacific typhoon season during the early part of last week as it took aim on Taiwan. By the second half of the week, Nepartak became a super typhoon that would be classified as a category 5 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as maximum sustained surface winds reached at least 170 mph. Typhoon Nepartak made landfall along the southeastern coast of Taiwan on Thursday and then traveled across this island nation, producing heavy rain and high winds, which resulted in at least two fatalities and 72 injuries.
On Saturday (local time) Typhoon Nepartak came on shore along mainland China's Fujian province
as a tropical storm. Rapid decay occurred on Sunday as the system moved inland. [Voice of America] For additional information on Super Typhoon Nepartak along with satellite imagery, consult the NASA Hurricane Page.
- Global atmospheric methane levels reaching new highs -- A graph of monthly atmospheric methane concentrations running from 1983 through this year has been created based upon the global measurements of this greenhouse gas collected by the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). This graph shows that after reaching a plateau where methane gas concentrations remained relatively constant between 1999 and 2006, the methane levels have continued to increase to record highs of nearly 1848 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) as of April 2017. Several reasons for the recent increase in atmospheric methane have been proposed. Radiocarbon testing of air samples by ESRL scientists indicate that agricultural and wetland emissions from the tropics may be a culprit, replacing the thought that methane emitted from fossil fuels, including "fugitive" methane gas escaping during oil and natural gas drilling was responsible. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- National weather and climate reviewed for June 2017 -- Scientists at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)
recently reported on their analysis of preliminary weather data collected during the month of June 2017. They found:
NCEI State of the Climate] NOTE: A description is provided of the climatological rankings employed by NCDC for their monthly and seasonal maps. [NOAA/NCDC]
- The monthly temperature averaged across the coterminous United States for that month was 70.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.9 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century (1901-2000) June average. Consequently, this past June was the 20th warmest June (tied with June 1977) since 1895 when comprehensive climate records became available nationwide.
With the exception of 21 states across the Southeast and the Midwest, the majority of contiguous states reported above- to much above-average monthly temperatures for June 2017. Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah in the West and Delaware in the Middle Atlantic region of the East had June statewide average temperatures that ranked within the top 10 of their respective 123 years of record, with Arizona reporting a statewide June temperature that was second highest on record. On the other hand, statewide average temperatures for states along the Gulf Coast and the lower Mississippi and Ohio Valleys had below-average temperatures, with temperatures ranking in the 40th lowest.
The maximum (or daytime) temperature for June the 48 contiguous United States was 2.0 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average, which was the 20th highest in 123 years. The minimum (nighttime) temperature for the "Lower 48" was 1.7 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average, which was the 14th highest minimum June temperature on record.
The June 2017 statewide temperature average for Alaska was the twelfth highest in the state's period of record that extends back to 1925.
- The nationwide average precipitation for June 2017 was 3.01 inches, which was 0.08 inches above the 20th-century average, making that month the 55th wettest (or 68th driest) June in 123 years.
Ten states across the central and western half of the nation had below to much below average June statewide precipitation totals. Nebraska reported its second driest June since 1895, while Colorado had its twelfth driest June. In addition, several Middle Atlantic States had a dry June, with Maryland experiencing its seventh driest and Delaware its 19th driest June on record. Conversely, a dozen states across the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast/Gulf Coast had above average precipitation totals. Florida experienced its second wettest June in 123 years, Alabama its fourth wettest June, while Louisiana and Mississippi had their fifth largest June precipitation totals.
- Updated El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion is released -- 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 late last week. They reported an ENSO-neutral situation continued through June 2017, with above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) found across the east-central equatorial Pacific Ocean, while slightly below- or near-average SSTs were reported in the eastern Pacific. In addition, the atmospheric system remained close to average, suggestive of the continuation of an ENSO-neutral situation with neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions prevailing. While some of the prediction models used by the forecasters indicate an onset of an El Niño during Northern Hemisphere summer (June, July and August), other models appear to favor continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions into boreal autumn (September through November). Therefore, forecasters give ENSO-neutral conditions a 50 to 55 percent chance of continuing into the Northern Hemisphere's 2017-2018 winter season., while a 35 to 45 percent chance is given for development of El Niño conditions. Therefore, the CPC's ENSO Alert System Status remained non activate. [NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
Note: The criteria used for CPC's ENSO Alert System is available.
An ENSO blog was written by a researcher with NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory that explains why CPC and IRI forecasters are claiming that ENSO-neutral conditions are continuing despite above-average temperatures in a region of the central equatorial Pacific (called Niño3.4) used as a standard to determine the occurrence of an El Niño or La Niña. Discussion is alsos made of how the various prediction models used by CPC and IRI indicate a weak El Niño developing before returning to ENSO-neutral conditions. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- An El Niño forecast from Down Under -- Forecasters with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently issued an updated ENSO forecast, in which they reported continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions. Since they foresee a continuation of these neutral conditions through the remainder of the calendar year of 2017, the Bureau's ENSO Outlook status remains "Inactive." [Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology]
- Monitoring Europe's early summer heat wave -- A meteorologist for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center wrote an article for ClimateWatch Magazine describing the heat wave that Europeans experienced this past June. With June 2017 average temperatures across Europe ranging from three to seven Fahrenheit degrees above the 1981-2010 normals, this June may likely be second warmest on record for France and Switzerland, while the warmest June on record for the Netherlands. An anomalously large high pressure system that remained centered over Europe is blamed for the relatively high temperatures. Mention was made of efforts made by the international group called World Weather Attribution to find a climate change connection with this recent heat wave. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Sailing drones deployed this summer to explore the oceans -- Beginning this month and running for the next four months, NOAA scientists will be launching and operating unmanned ocean surface vehicles, called Saildrones, across the waters surrounding Alaska southward to the tropical Pacific Ocean. Resembling a sailboat, these Saildrones are wind and solar-powered research vehicles that are designed to measure air/sea interactions including surface energy fluxes and carbon fluxes. Onboard instruments make measurements of temperature, humidity, pressure, sunlight and wind speed/direction in the atmosphere; wave height and period, skin temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide gas at the ocean surface; and ocean currents, water temperatures, salinity and dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide in the ocean sub-surface layer. [NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research News]
- Rate of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana slows -- Scientists with the US Geological Survey (USGS) have analyzed the reports of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana between 1932 and 2016, finding the long-term rate of coastal wetland loss has continued to slow since peaking in the 1970s. Historical surveys, aerial imagery and satellite data were used to track these changes in the coastal landscape over time. These researchers conclude that the lack of major hurricanes reaching the coast since 2008 may be a likely main reason for this slowing of the rate of land loss. [USGS Newsroom]
- Warm winter events in Arctic are becoming more frequent and last longer -- An international team of researchers have found that Arctic winter warming events, identified as the winter days with maximum temperatures of at least 10 degrees below zero Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) have become more frequent and are lasting longer than they did in the 1980s. This discovery was made based upon data collected from field campaigns, drifting weather stations and buoys across the Arctic Ocean from 1893 to 2017, along with a global atmospheric reanalysis provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, from 1979 to 2016. The more frequent and longer lasting warm winter events would appear to affect Arctic sea ice growth and thickness. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- 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]
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.