WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
27 February-3 March 2017
Reports from the Field:
James Blink, a DataStreme LIT Leader from
Brentwood, CA, reported that he received more than three inches of rain at his house in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday of last week. In addition he had only four rain-less days in February. With recent heavy rain and a huge snowpack that has developed in the Sierra, many area dams are having to use spillways that have been dry for decades. Jim wonders -- "Drought or Flood, isn't there anything in between?" -- as he notes that "after several years of terrible drought, water rationing, rate increase, and fines set at levels far below historical water usage, the Northern California drought appears broken this year." Jim also mentions that a series of Pineapple Express storms coming in from the southwest direction, compared to the drought years that were dominated by a persistent giant high pressure center that lurked off the West Coast.
[Editor's note: the change from drought to soggy conditions across central California can be seen by comparing the color-enhanced images obtained from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument onboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite (NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory). EJH]
Dr. Steve LaDochy, a DataStreme LIT Leader and meteorology professor from Cal State University, Los Angeles, reports that the Los Angeles area is close to doubling its normal accumulated rainfall for this time of year with 18 inches; the annual average precipitation in Los Angeles is 15 inches. He received approximately three inches of rain at his house in a recent storm that was accompanied by downed trees, flooding and power outages. The rain filled all his rain barrels that catch runoff from the roof of his house. He noted that the lemon and orange blossoms are out, and so are the bees.
Steve also sent updated information from the local water and power utility in which the snow surveys near Mammoth Pass and Cottonwood in the Owens Valley last week were higher than the early March 1969 snow survey, which remains "the gold standard for wet years" over the record of their snow surveys dating back to the 1930s.
Items of Interest:
- A change in meteorological seasons -- Tuesday,
28 February 2017, marks the end of meteorological winter in the
Northern Hemisphere, which by convention, is the three-month interval
of December, January and February. The following day (1 March 2017)
represents the beginning of boreal meteorological spring, the three
month interval of March, April and May. At the same time, summer in the
Southern Hemisphere ends and autumn begins.
- Mardi Gras climatology --
Since Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season observed by Christians, will begin on Wednesday (1 March), the day before (Tuesday, 28 February) is a day of celebration in many locations that is variously called Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) or Shrove Tuesday. One of the more famous Mardi Gras celebrations occurs each year in New Orleans, LA. The National Weather Service Forecast Office at New Orleans/Baton Rouge has a 2017 Mardi Gras Climatology that provides the normal temperatures and precipitation along with extremes for New Orleans during the Mardi Gras week prior to Ash Wednesday. Some additional statistics are provided.
- High-quality maps of March temperature and precipitation normals across US available -- The PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University's website has prepared high-resolution maps depicting the normal maximum, minimum and precipitation totals for March and other months across the 48 coterminous United States for the current 1981-2010 climate normals interval. These maps, with a 800-meter resolution, were produced using the PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model) climate mapping system.
- March weather calendar for a city near you -- The Midwestern Regional Climate Center maintains an interactive website that permits the public to produce a ready to print weather calendar for any given month of the year, such as March, at any of approximately 270 weather stations around the nation. (These stations are NOAA's ThreadEx stations.) The entries for each day of the month includes: Normal maximum temperature, normal minimum temperature, normal daily heating and cooling degree days, normal daily precipitation, record maximum temperature, record minimum temperature, and record daily precipitation; the current normals for 1981-2010.
- Becoming AWARE -- During this coming
week (26 February - 4 March 2017), Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee have scheduled their Severe Weather Awareness Week. (Note: Kentucky will conduct a statewide Tornado Drill on Tuesday morning followed by its Severe Weather Awareness Week, 1-7 March). If you live in
these states, you should take time to become familiar with the various
public affairs announcements issued by your local National Weather
Service Office. Other states farther to the north will be observing
their Severe Weather Awareness weeks in the next ten weeks.
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- During the last week three organized tropical cyclones (low
pressure systems such as tropical storms and hurricanes that form over
tropical oceans) developed in the activity remained western South Pacific basins. The first named tropical cyclone of the season for the basin, identified as Tropical Storm Alfred, formed from a tropical low pressure system last Monday over the coastal waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is situated between Australia's Queensland and its Northern Territory. With travel toward the southeast, Albert became a remnant low pressure system as it made landfall between Borroloola and the Northern Territory/Queensland border and eventually dissipated little more than a day after formation . The NASA Hurricane Page has a satellite image and additional information on Tropical Storm Alfred.
The second named tropical cyclone that formed in the basin last week was
Tropical Storm Bart (also known as Tropical Cyclone 7P). Bart formed on Tuesday (local time) approximately 900 miles to the west-southwest of Papeete, Tahiti. Over the next day Bart traveled toward the southeast before losing its tropical characteristics and becoming an extratropical cyclone (midlatitude low pressure system). Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Bart.
The third tropical cyclone to develop in the South Pacific last week was
Tropical Cyclone 8P, This tropical storm formed nearly 770 miles to the south-southeast of Pago Pago, American Samoa last Wednesdays. Like its two predecessors, Tropical Cyclone 8P was relatively short-lived, dissipating within two days due to strong wind shear (rapid changes in wind speed/direction over a short distance). Additional information and several satellite images are available NASA Hurricane Page for Tropical Cyclone 8P.
- Strong wind gusts reported in the high Sierra -- Earlier this past week, Jeff Masters of Weather Underground posted a blog reporting that two weather stations located at elevations of approximately 8700 feet in California's Squaw Valley resort reported wind gusts last Monday night that wind gusts exceeding 190 mph. The Siberia (Sierra Crest)-Squaw station (8700 feet elevation) near the top of Squaw Peak recorded a peak wind gust of 193 mph, with sustained winds reported at 123 mph, while two miles away, the Summit (Ward Mt)-Alpine station (8643 feet elevation) reported a gust to 199 mph, with sustained winds of 148 mph. These strong winds were the result of a jet stream associated with an "atmospheric river" along with a low-level jet reaching the Sierra crest.
[Weather Underground Blog]
- Lack of snow changes next weekend's Alaska's "Last Great Race" start -- The 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will begin on the morning (Alaska time) of Saturday, 4 March 2017, with a ceremonial start from downtown Anchorage. A restart will be on Monday morning when the 73 dog teams head out along the trail from Fairbanks, approximately 300 miles to the north. Typically, the restart of the race is at Willow, a community approximately 75 miles north of Anchorage, but the decision was made earlier this month to move the second start to Fairbanks because of little snow making for poor conditions in critical trail areas in the Alaska Range. This year will mark the third time in the race's 45-year history that the official race has started from Fairbanks, with 2003 and 2015 being the other years. The final destination is at Nome, approximately 1000 miles distant. A website is maintained for teachers and students interested in following the progress of the Iditarod and a 4th- grade teacher from Chicago, IL, who is the "2017 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™." The race should be completed in 10 to 17 days.
Current weather conditions and weather forecasts for this year's checkpoint stations are available.
- Last flight of the season departs from South Pole Station -- In mid February scientists and staff from the National Science Foundation's Amundsen Scott Station at the South Pole departed on the last scheduled flight of the summer season, leaving a skeleton crew to "winter over" for the next nine months. Flights to the South Pole are suspended during the long Antarctic winter because the cold weather freezes equipment on the aircraft, making air travel hazardous. [NOAA Stories]
- Arctic sea ice extent could be a record smallest winter maximum -- NOAA scientists recently reported that that this winter season's expansion of Arctic sea ice may be one of the smallest in history. They provide an animation of weekly Arctic sea ice concentration running from the second week of September 2016 through the second week of February 2017 obtained from satellite data. Typically, the maximum winter ice extent occurs in late February or early March. After commencing with the second smallest end-of-summer extent last September, a few periods of thaw in the Arctic occurred during this winter, which helped slow ice formation. [NOAA News]
Scientists who study the Arctic are concerned with how the unprecedented weather conditions and the lowest maximum extent of Arctic sea ice on record this winter will affect other features in the Arctic ecosystem. [NOAA News]
- Ice cover on Great Lakes down from recent winters --According to information furnished by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, only 5.4 percent of the Great Lakes were covered with ice as of this past weekend, which compares with the 11.8 percent at the same time one year ago and the over 80 percent coverage during the recent two relatively cold winter seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15). Lake water temperature maps for each of the five lakes are also furnished for the last three seasons. [NOAA GLERL]
- Residents of Wisconsin's Apostle Islands concerned about a lack of lake ice -- The western Great Lakes have not had much lake ice this season because of the relatively warm winter across the Upper Midwest. Residents of Wisconsin's Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands in western Lake Superior have been inconvenienced by the lack of sufficiently thick ice that would normally support a midwinter "ice road" between Madeline Island and the community of Bayfield on the mainland. The ferry will run throughout this winter, as it has for the third time in the last six years. A decade ago, a Bayfield High School student collected 150 years of Lake Superior ice data from the records of ferry operation and a local newspaper to investigate evidence of climate change. He found that over the 150-year span the Lake Superior ice had decreased dramatically and since 1975 the ice season begun an average of 11.7 days later and ended three days earlier in every decade. A greater rise in lake temperature as compared with air temperature appears to be a contributing factor. [Minnesota Public Radio News]
- Review of global weather
and climate for January 2017 -- Using preliminary data
collected from the global network of
surface weather stations, scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information have determined that the combined global land and ocean surface
temperature for January 2017 was 1.58 Fahrenheit degrees (or 0.88 Celsius degrees) above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average, which makes last month the third highest global temperature for any
January since global climate records began in 1880. This reading trailed the record January 2016 temperature (1.87 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average for the month) and the January 2007 temperature (1.55 Fahrenheit degrees above the long-term average). When considering land and ocean separately, the January 2017 ocean surface temperature was the second highest in the 138-year record, while the global land surface temperature for January 2017 was
third highest. [NOAA/NCEI State of the
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the
extent of Arctic sea ice was the smallest monthly extent for any January since satellite surveillance began in 1979. Antarctic sea ice extent in January also was the smallest on record in the Southern Hemisphere.
The extent of the Northern Hemisphere snow cover during January 2017
the sixth largest for the period of record that
started in 1967. [NOAA/NCEI Global Snow & Ice]
NCEI also provides a map showing the Global Significant Weather and Climate Events map for January 2017.
- Recent record heat wave Down Under is detected by orbiting satellite -- A map of the peak land surface temperature across Australia was generated from data collected by the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's Terra satellite for the 7-14 February 2017 interval during the recent intense heat wave. This map shows land surface temperatures running between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius (122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), which exceed the routine air temperatures reported at shelter height of approximately 1.5 meters. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Field campaign targets snow science in support of nation's water supply -- The first aircraft flights have been completed in western Colorado as part of the NASA-led SnowEx research campaign that is designed to improve remote-sensing measurements of the amount of snow that is on the ground at any given time and how much liquid water equivalent contained in that snow. The amount of water in snow plays a huge role in water availability for drinking water, agriculture, and hydropower. Nearly 100 scientists from universities and governmental agencies in the US, Canada and Europe will be participating in SnowEx, a multi-year project. The researchers will use five aircraft with a total of 10 different sensors in addition to ground-based equipment as part of the SnowEx campaign. Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO and will be available to anyone at no cost. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- Mild weather losses caused by climate change will not be shared equally -- A contractor with the NOAA Climate Program Office wrote a feature for the NOAA ClimateWatch Magazine discussing recent research that found the number of "mild days" (with temperatures ranging between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, less than one half inch of rain and low atmospheric humidity) per year were expected to drop approximately 14 percent by 2100. She provided a global map with a plot of the anticipated change in the number of mild days per annum, identifying some of the areas around the world that would experience an increase in mild days. Furthermore, she notes a seasonality could occur with the projected change, with many areas expected to lose mild days in summer and gain mild days in winter. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Severe weather patterns in China have changed drastically since 1960 -- An international team of researchers recently reported on their analysis of severe weather patterns across China, finding that the frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms and high wind events has decreased by almost 50 percent on average since 1960. They based their analysis on observed weather data collected by a network of over 983 weather stations throughout China archived at the Chinese National Meteorology Information Center since 1951. Apparently, the strength of the East Asian Summer Monsoon appears to have decreased at a rate strongly correlated to that of severe weather throughout the same time period. Climate change may be one of the reasons that the Asian Summer Monsoon has weakened due to change in the temperature contrast between land and ocean. [Penn State University News]
- "Spring predictability barrier" in ENSO forecasts described -- A research associate at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory wrote a guest post for the ENSO blog in which he discusses what has been termed the "spring predictability barrier", where attempts to correctly predict future El Niño, La Niña or ENSO-neutral conditions in spring are difficult. He claims that forecasting a La Niña event from the sea surface temperature patterns in the eastern equatorial Pacific may be easier than forecasting a future El Niño event. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Importance of riverine nutrients reaching the ocean is studied -- A team of researchers from academic research institutions in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada recently reported their findings on the amounts of nutrients in the form of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus reaching the global oceans from the world's rivers using a new method for estimating the proportion of nutrients that reach the open ocean following biogeochemical processing along the continental shelf. They found that 75 percent of nitrogen and 80 percent of phosphorus from rivers cross the continental shelves into the open ocean. They claim that their estimates are crucial to understanding how anthropogenic activity and global climate change may affect global biogeochemical cycles. [EOS Earth & Space Science News]
- 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.