WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
16-20 May 2016
Items of Interest:
- Zenithal Sun -- This week marks one of the two times during the year when the noontime sun is directly overhead to residents on the Big Island on 19 May at Hilo; those on Oahu (Honolulu metropolitan area) will experience the noon sun at the zenith in approximately one more week (25-27 May). The sun will again be over the Big Island during the last week of July. [US Naval Observatory, Data Services]
- North American Safe Boating Week -- On this upcoming Saturday (21 May), the 2016 National Safe Boating Week will start and run through Friday, 27 May. This week helps launch the 2016 North American Safe Boating Campaign. Check the Safe Boating Week site maintained by the Safe Boating Council. In addition, Friday 20 May is "Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day."
Puerto Rico and South Carolina will observe their Safe Boating Awareness Weeks during this week (16-20 May).
- Hurricane season starts in the eastern North
Pacific -- The 2016 hurricane season in the eastern North
Pacific Ocean basin began this Sunday, 15 May 2016. The hurricane
season in the North Atlantic basin, including the Caribbean Sea and the
Gulf of Mexico will begin in two weeks on 1 June. The official
hurricane seasons in both basins end on 30 November 2016.
- Hurricane preparedness activities planned for this week --
declared this week of 15-21 May 2016 to be Hurricane Awareness
Week across the nation. Seven states will also be observing their Hurricane Awareness Weeks during this week, including Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Several states will observe the following week (New York and Virginia), while five New England States (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) will wait until late July.
- A free 45-minute National Hurricane Center webinar on hurricanes for students in grades 4 through 6 will be held on Tuesday 17 May at 11 AM EDT in conjunction with the Galveston, TX stop on the 2016 Hurricane Awareness Tour.
The webinar will be presented by the Hurricanes: Science and Society team at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography in partnership with the NOAA National Hurricane Center and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center. Registration is required.
- NOAA hurricane experts will embark on a five-day, five-city tour along the Gulf Coast of the United States in an US Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft to raise public hurricane awareness. The schedule, which runs from Monday 16 May through Friday 20 May, includes stops in San Antonio and Galveston in Texas, New Orleans in Louisiana, Mobile in Alabama and Naples in Florida. [NOAA Weather-Ready Nation]
The 2016 Pacific Hurricane Awareness Tour will also commence this week in Hawaii, with stops in Oahu County (19 May) and Kauai County (26 May).
- For those unable to attend the awareness tour, go to the #HurricaneStrong! link
- A "Weather-Ready Nation' safety app is launched -- NOAA and Raytheon, one of NOAA's first Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassadors™, recently unveiled a safety application or app that has been designed to teach school age children (10 to 12 years old and 13 years and up) and adults how to prepare for, survive and recover from extreme weather and water emergencies. This app contains eight 10-minute safety modules. The individual modules were developed by Raytheon along with adjustments provided by the Georgia Science Teachers Association, FEMA and the National Weather Service. [NOAA Weather-Ready Nation News]
Weather and Climate News items:
- Eye on the tropics --- No tropical cyclones developed in any of the global ocean basins during the last week.
- National weather and climate reviewed for April 2016 -- Scientists at the NOAA National
Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported that their analysis of preliminary April 2016 data indicates the monthly average temperature for the 48 coterminous states was 2.2 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average, which made this past month the 18th warmest April since 1895 when comprehensive climate records became available nationwide. In addition, the nationwide maximum or daytime temperature was 2.1 Fahrenheit degrees above the long-term average (or 24th highest on record), while the nationwide minimum or nighttime temperature was 2.2 Fahrenheit degrees above average (or 11th highest since 1895). More than half of the 48 contiguous states (25) reported above to much above average April statewide average temperatures, with states along the West Coast and interior Northwest experiencing much above average temperatures. Idaho, Oregon and Washington experienced their second highest statewide average temperatures in the 122-year period of record. On the other hand, New York State and Vermont had below average statewide April temperatures.
Alaska experienced its warmest April since sufficiently dense weather records began in 1925.
Monthly precipitation across the lower 48 states for April 2016 was approximately 0.43 inches above the 20th-century monthly average, which made this month the 21st wettest April on record. States across the Plains States, the Rockies and the Great Basin reported above to much above average statewide precipitation for the month. Kansas had its second wettest April in 122 years, while Nebraska had its third wettest April. Other states that had April 2016 averages in the top 10 were the Dakotas, Texas and Oklahoma. Washington and Oregon in the Northwest and the states along the Atlantic Seaboard running from the Carolinas northward to Maine reported below average statewide precipitation totals.
According to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the snow cover extent across the contiguous US for the month of April 2016 was the nineteenth smallest April snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record. Below-average snowfall was reported across sections of the Pacific Northwest, the northern Rockies and adjacent northern Plains along with the Northeast. However, above-average April snow cover was reported across sections of the Great Lakes, the central Plains and central Rockies.
Alaska had its smallest April snow cover on record. [NOAA/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]
- April national drought report -- The National
Centers for Environmental Information has posted its April
2016 drought report online. Using the Palmer Drought Severity
Index, approximately three percent of the contiguous United States
experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the end of
April, while twelve percent of the area had severely to extremely wet
- Entrainment of Alberta wildfire smoke plume into weather system seen from space -- A true color image obtained at the start of last week from data collected by the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite shows a brown plume spiraling in a counterclockwise direction into a comma-shaped cloud mass. The brown plume on the otherwise white cloud shield was the smoke plume from Alberta's massive Fort McMurray wildfire and other fires in Saskatchewan and Manitoba being entrained into a low pressure system located in Canada's Northwest Territory. Researchers from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are investigating the role of airborne smoke plumes and other aerosols have upon the absorption of solar radiation and their role in affecting climate. [NASA Earth Observatory]
A true color image made by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor onboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite within hours of the MODIS image shows a similar view of the smoke encircling the low-pressure feature in the Northwest Territories. [NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]
- El Niño Advisory and La Niña Watch are continued -- Forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) recently announced that they are continuing their El Niño Advisory for the current El Niño event due to positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies across most of the equatorial Pacific during April 2016, signifying warmer than average ocean waters. However, these SST anomalies have been decreasing in magnitude, although cool water with negative SST anomalies were being detected across sections of the eastern equatorial Pacific. The weakening of the El Niño event with the decline in SST anomalies have led forecasters to issue a La Niña watch as they envision a La Niña event developing during the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2016, with a a 75 percent chance of La Niña during fall and the 2016-17 winter. [NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
An ENSO blog was written by a CPC researcher describing the weakening of the El Niño event during the last several months after peaking last November. A cross-section of the equatorial Pacific is shown that shows a large layer of colder than average water extending from beneath the surface in the eastern sections of the Pacific to depths ranging between 100 to 200 meters below the surface. This large pool of cool water stretching across most of the equatorial Pacific suggests the possibility of a transition into a La Niña event in the next several months. Comparisons are made between El Niño and La Niña events are made. The worldwide climate impacts of a possible La Niña are also shown. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Massive El Niño event of 2015 fueled by leftover warm water in Pacific Ocean -- Researchers from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory recently reported that easterly winds across the tropical Pacific Ocean helped stall a potent El Niño event in 2014, but left a pool of warm water in the central Pacific, which then helped create one of the strongest El Niño event on record in 2015 when a series of strong westerly wind bursts started in the Northern Hemisphere spring and continued through summer of 2015. [NOAA News]
- Vortices in layer clouds over Indian Ocean seen from space -- An image made from data collected by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite earlier this month shows numerous vortices in the layer of marine stratocumulus clouds over the southwestern Indian Ocean. These eddy-like features in the cloud shield called von Kármán for the Hungarian-American physicist who initially described the physical processes associated with their formation were induced by swirling wind flow around the 9000-foot Mawson Peak on Heard Island in the South Indian Ocean. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Field study monitors annual methane emissions leaking from North Dakota's Bakken oil and gas field -- Scientists from NOAA and four research universities recently estimated 275,000 tons of methane leak from the Bakken oil and gas field in North Dakota and Montana each year from oil production activity. This estimate was less than what some satellites report and less than the latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inventory made for petroleum systems. The research team based its estimates of the release of this potent greenhouse gas from airborne measurements made by an instrumented NOAA Twin Otter aircraft. [NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research News]
- Volcanic eruption on remote South Atlantic Ocean detected by satellite -- False color satellite images made from data collected by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite in late April and early May show the eruption of Mount Sourabaya, a stratovolcano on the uninhabited Bristol Island that is located in the far South Atlantic Ocean between South America and Antarctica. The multiple wavelength bands permit viewing the hot lava in the volcano's caldera and the white plumes containing condensate and volcanic aerosols being carried away from the eruption. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- NOAA's foremost forecast model upgraded with 4-D capability -- Earlier this month NOAA upgraded its primer GFS (Global Forecast System) weather prediction model with a shift to four-dimensional (4-D) ensemble hybrid data assimilation that considers how weather systems evolve on a three-dimensional (3-D) spatial grid over time, the fourth dimension. The model resolution has been increased from 27 km to 13 km, which would result in higher resolution model output and more precise weather forecasting, with the new GFS model providing hourly forecast guidance out to five days. [NOAA News]
- Higher water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron affects boaters and beachgoers -- According to reports made by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the water levels of Lakes Michigan and Huron are approximately one foot above the 90-year average at the beginning of the month, which is in stark contrast to the relatively low levels that were two feet below average in 2013. The current near record high levels are permitting more cargo to be carried by lake freighters and easier access to boats moored at permanent docks, but narrower beaches for beachgoers and lake-front property owners. The nearly four-foot increase in lake levels are due to several factors including changes in precipitation over the lake basins, the inflow of water from Lake Superior, evaporation and lake ice extent. [The Detroit News]
- "Meteotsunamis" can cause havoc on Lake Michigan in spring -- After reviewing several historical disasters on Lake Michigan that had been previously attributed to seiches, researchers with the Wisconsin Sea Grant have found that some of these events were due to a phenomenon called a "meteorological tsunami" or "meteotsunami." These meteotsunamis represent single waves that are similar to tsunamis but generated by strong storm systems moving across the lake waters, producing heights reaching nine to 18 feet when the wave front reaches shallow water and the shore. The researchers found that on average, 80 meteotsunamis larger than one foot occur annually on all the Great Lakes, with these events occurring most frequently in spring, especially on Lake Michigan. [University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering 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 DataStreme Atmosphere RealTime Weather Portal
Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email email@example.com
© Copyright, 2016, The American Meteorological Society.