WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
19-23 September 2016
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2016 Campaign resumes -- The tenth in a series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2016 will commence on Thursday (22 September) and continue through Saturday, 1 October. 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 (Cygnus in the Northern Hemisphere and Grus 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 2016 campaign is scheduled for 21-31 October 2016. [GLOBE at Night]
- September is National Preparedness Month -- The month of September has been declared National Preparedness Month (NPM), which is aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters. NPM is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which has provided a toolkit of marketing materials to help promote the month, is the lead on this campaign that was originally launched in 2004. The theme for 2016 NPM is "Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today," with an emphasis on preparedness for youth, older adults, and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
During Week 4 (18-24 September), the weekly hazard-focused theme is "Individual Preparedness" [FEMA's Ready.gov]
NOAA's National Weather Service is working with FEMA to communicate the importance of emergency preparedness as a key component of its Weather-Ready Nation campaign. [NOAA Weather Ready Nation]
- The Autumnal Equinox --The Autumnal
Equinox will occur early this coming Thursday morning
(officially at 1421Z on
22 September 2016 or 10:21 AM EDT or 9:21 AM CDT, etc.). At that time the
noontime sun will appear directly above the equator, representing one
of the two times during the year for such an occurrence, with the other
being at the vernal equinox in March. The term "equinox" arises from
the fact that this time of year represents "equal night" and equal day
essentially everywhere. Within the subsequent several days, the length
of daylight will become noticeably shorter. This decrease in daylight
will continue for another three months to the winter solstice during
the morning of Wednesday, 21 December 2016.
Editor's note: John White, a meteorologist from
North Carolina involved with the AMS Education program, reported that
the geosynchronous (or geostationary) satellites make an "satellite
eclipse" of the sun near the spring and autumnal equinoxes because of
their equatorial orbit, such that these satellites pass through the
earth's shadow and the satellite is powered down when the solar array
does not receive sufficient sunlight. [For more information, consult NWS
Southern Region GOES Satellite FAQ] EJH.
If you checked the sunrise and sunset times in your local newspaper or from the climate page at your local National Weather Service Office, you would probably find that not until the midpoint of this coming week will the length of time when the Sun is above the local horizon would be precisely 12 hours at most locations. However; the length of night will exceed that of the length of daylight by the end of the week. The effects of atmospheric refraction (bending of light rays by the varying density of the atmosphere) along with a relatively large diameter of the sun contribute to several additional minutes that the Sun appears above the horizon at sunrise and sunset.
- Ask a hurricane scientist about the science of hurricane hunting -- On this upcoming Thursday afternoon (1:00-3:00 PM EDT) NOAA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on "The Science of Hurricane Hunting to Improve Forecasts." The director of the Hurricane Research Division at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and P-3 hurricane hunter pilot will answer the public's questions. [NOAA News]
- Free admission into the National Parks -- Next Saturday, 24 September 2016 has been designated by the National Park Service as fee-free day in honor of National Public Lands Day, which is celebrated annually at public lands across the nation on a Saturday in late September. 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]
The theme of the 23rd annual National Public Lands Day 2016 is
"Helping Hands for American Lands." [National Environmental Education Foundation]
- Undergraduate scholars present summer research experiences at NOAA -- During this past week, 163 scholars from more than 85 universities around the United States that had participated in this summer's Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate and Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions Undergraduate Scholars presented their research to scientists and peers at the annual Science & Education Symposium at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD. [NOAA News]
- Fall coloration -- By mid-September,
deciduous trees begin to turn color across the nation, starting first
across the higher elevations of New England and the Rocky Mountains,
followed quickly across sections of the upper Midwest. During autumn,
the peak in fall color progresses southward and toward lower
elevations. Some locales hold events in an effort to welcome tourists
who come as "leaf peepers." The Department of Agriculture's U.S.
Forest Service maintains a Fall Colors Web page containing fall foliage status
updates for National Forests across the continental United States.
Additional information is also available through the tourism bureaus of
the various states; links to some of these state sites are available
from this Forest Service web page.
[Editor's Note: An interesting explanation of fall
coloration can be found in The
Chemistry of Autumn Colors from "Science is Fun in
the Lab of Shakhashiri" from a popular chemistry educator at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. EJH]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the Tropics -- During the last week tropical cyclone activity continued in the Atlantic and Pacific basins of the Northern Hemisphere:
- In the North Atlantic basin, the ninth named tropical cyclone of 2016 formed approximately 1140 miles to the southeast of Bermuda on Monday morning. This system, identified as Tropical Storm Ian, traveled generally toward the north and then to the northeast over the course of the week, passing to the east of Bermuda. As of last Friday morning Ian lost its tropical characteristics and became an extratropical cyclone (midlatitude low pressure system) as it was racing toward the northeast approximately 800 miles to the east of Cape Race, Newfoundland or 1185 miles to the south-southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland. See the NASA Hurricane Page for additional information and satellite images on Tropical Storm Ian.
Late last Tuesday evening Tropical Storm Julia formed along the coastal sections of northeastern Florida approximately 5 miles to the west of Jacksonville, FL. This event was one of the rare times that a tropical storm has formed over land. During the first day, Julia traveled toward the northeast along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts as a minimal tropical storm before turning out to sea and weakening to a tropical depression. Locally heavy rain fell along these coasts. However, near the end of the week Tropical Depression Julia intensified to become a tropical storm again as it drifted on an erratic path toward the southeast, south and then to the southwest. By this past weekend Tropical Storm turned toward the northwest and weakened once again to a tropical depression. As of late Sunday afternoon Tropical Depression Julia was moving to the northwest approximately 110 miles to the south-southeast of Myrtle Beach, SC. The forecast was for Julia to intensify slightly as it would turn toward the north and approach the coast of the Carolinas on Monday afternoon or evening. Additional information and satellite images on Tropical Depression Julia are available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
A tropical depression (TD12) formed over the western Cabo Verde Islands late Wednesday afternoon (local time). Moving to the west, this tropical depression intensified to become Tropical Storm Karl, the eleventh named Atlantic tropical cyclone of 2016, early Friday approximately 575 miles to the west of the Cabo Verde Islands. Over the weekend, Karl continued its travels toward the west. As of Sunday evening, Tropical Storm Karl was located approximately 1110 miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. Forecasts indicate that Karl could strengthen on Monday as it would turn toward the west-northwest. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for satellite imagery and information on Tropical Storm Karl.
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Orlene intensified to become a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale early last Monday morning as it was located approximately 700 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. Orlene was the eighth hurricane to form in the eastern Pacific basin in 2016. The initial motion of Orlene was to the northwest and then to the north before turning toward the west. By the end of the week, Tropical Storm Orlene became a remnant low last Friday evening approximately 1160 miles to the west of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Orlene can be found on the NASA Hurricane Page.
A tropical depression formed on Saturday evening approximately 380 miles to the south of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico.
By early Saturday morning, this system had intensified to become Tropical Storm Paine, the 16th named tropical cyclone in two and a half months. Moving to the northwest, Paine was located approximately 360 miles to the south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas as of Sunday afternoon. Current forecasts indicate that Paine could become a hurricane on Monday as it would continue toward the northwest and then curve to the north-northwest and north.
- In the western North Pacific basin,
Typhoon Meranti intensified to become Super Typhoon Meranti early last week as maximum sustained surface winds reached exceeded 190 mph, equivalent to a category 5 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. During the week continued to the west-northwest, passing the southern tip of Taiwan an making landfall along the coast of southeastern mainland China. Super Typhoon Meranti caused widespread damage to Taiwan and brought heavy rains of up to 15 inches along portions of China. It was one of the largest and strongest typhoons ever measured with winds to 190 mph, wave heights close to 50 feet and a central minimum pressure dropping to 890 mb, or 26.28 inches of mercury.
The NASA Hurricane Page has additional information on Super Typhoon Meranti.
Tropical Depression 17W, which
formed near the end of previous weekend, was a tropical depression for less than 24 hours as it traveled toward the east-northeast, approximately 1000 miles to the north-northeast of Minami Tori Shima (Marcus Island), a Japanese coral atoll. The NASA Hurricane Page has a satellite image and a discussion on the short-lived TD17W.
Tropical Depression 18W formed near Guam on Monday (local time) and traveled toward the west-northwest.
This tropical depression intensified to become Typhoon Malakas, strengthening to a category 4 typhoon by late in the week as it curved toward the northwest and then north, passing to the east of Taiwan. As of Monday (local time), Typhoon Malakas was located approximately 370 miles to the southwest of Sasebo on the Japanese island of Kyūshū. Additional information and satellite images are available on the NASA Hurricane Page for Typhoon Malakas.
- Public comment invited on project aimed at simplifying National Weather Service hazards awareness system -- NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is seeking public feedback for its "Hazards Simplification ('Haz Simp') Project" through a recently launched web site. The 'Haz Simp' goal is to simplify and clarify the Watch, Warning, and Advisory (WWA) system of messages that NWS currently provides to the public when hazardous weather and water-related conditions occur or are considered to be possible. [NOAA National Weather Service News]
- US national weather and climate reviewed for
August and Summer 2016 -- Based upon preliminary data,
scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) report that August
2016 was the 17th warmest August across the coterminous United
States since sufficiently reliable climate records began in 1895, with a nationwide monthly average of 73.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
This temperature was 1.5 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average. Essentially all the states to the east of the Mississippi River and along the West Coast reported statewide August temperatures that were above to much above average. Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts experienced record high average August temperatures. Similarly, temperatures for five of the New England States ranked in the top 10. A dozen other states across the East also had August temperatures that were in the top 10 on record. California experienced its eighth warmest August in 122 years. On the other hand, near average August statewide temperatures were found across the Plains and the Rockies, with Colorado and New Mexico recording below average temperatures.
recently concluded meteorological summer of 2016 (June, July and
August) tied 2006 for the fifth warmest summer since 1895, with a three-month average temperature of 73.5 degrees, which was 2.1 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average. All of the 48 contiguous states experienced above to much above average summer temperatures. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island reported their warmest summer since 1895, while the statewide temperatures in North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio were the second highest on record. Sixteen other states across the East and the Southwest had summer temperatures that were within the top ten on record for their respective states. Alaska also reported its second warmest summer in its 92-year period of record with a statewide average summer temperature that was 3.0 Fahrenheit degrees above average. The average maximum (daytime) temperature across the "Lower 48 States" for summer 2016 was tenth highest on record, while the average minimum (nighttime) temperature was the highest on record. Ohio had a record high summer minimum temperature.
The nationwide August 2016 average precipitation was 3.47 inches, which made the month the second wettest August in 122 years. States across the nation's midsection had above to much above average statewide precipitation totals. August 2016 was the wettest August on record, while only August 1977 was wetter. Conversely, Idaho in the West and New Jersey in the East had monthly statewide precipitation totals that ranked eighth for their respective states.
The nationwide summer (JJA) precipitation
was 8.92 inches above the 1901-2000 average, which tied the summer of 1923 as the 24th wettest summer since 1895.
States across the nation's midsection reported above average precipitation, with eight states in the Mississippi Valley having statewide average precipitation totals that ranked in the top 10 on record. Conversely, states across the West and along the Atlantic Seaboard registered below to much below average summer precipitation. Wyoming and Idaho in the West, along with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Georgia in the East reported statewide summer precipitation totals that ranked in the eleven lowest on record. [NOAA/NCEI
State of the Climate]
- Focus on summer dewpoint temperatures --
The summer 2016 dewpoint temperatures that were observed at several hundred airport weather stations across the contiguous US were analyzed by NCEI. A map of the average summer dewpoint departures from the 1981-2010 averages was constructed that indicated more humid conditions across the nation's mid-section associated with above average precipitation, while below average dewpoint temperatures were found across the West as the air was relatively dry and precipitation low. Near average dewpoints were found across several scattered areas in the East, where below average precipitation was reported. [NOAA/NCEI
State of the Climate Supplemental]
- Summer 100-degree temperatures across the nation -- The National Centers for Environmental Information has produced a plotted map of the locations of stations where 100 degrees or higher temperatures have occurred across the contiguous United States for 2016 meteorological summer. These plots indicate that the summer of 2016 ranked fourth in the number of summer 100-degree days since 2011. During this summer, 1671 stations reported at least one 100-degree day, which is less than the 3892 stations with 100-degree days in the summer of 2012. Furthermore, approximately 58 million people across the nation experienced 10 or more 100-degree days in 2016, which lagged the 94 million who sweltered in 10 or more of these days in 2012. [NOAA/NCEI National Overview]
- August national drought report -- The National Centers for Environmental Information posted its August 2016 drought report online. Using the Palmer Drought Severity Index, approximately seven percent of the coterminous United States experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the end of August, while 18 percent of the area had severely to extremely wet conditions.
- Sea ice on Arctic Ocean reaches its smallest seasonal extent -- During the last week scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that the sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean appeared to have shrunk to its smallest annual extent on 10 September 2016. Based on preliminary analysis of data collected by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR-2) sensor on Japan's Global Change Observation Mission 1st–Water ("Shizuku") satellite, the sea ice coverage on that date was determined to be only 1.6 million square miles, which would represent an area that would tie 2007 as the second smallest seasonal extent since satellite-based observations began in 1978. The lowest measured Arctic sea ice extent remains on 17 September 2012, when 1.31 million square miles of ice covered the Arctic Ocean. [NASA Earth Observatory] or
[National Snow & Ice Data Center News]
- New Seasonal Climate Outlooks for the remainder of 2016 issued -- Near the end of last week, forecasters at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released their new national Three-Month (Seasonal) Climate Outlooks for October through December 2016, corresponding to the last two months of the meteorological autumn season (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the first month of meteorological winter. Specific details of their outlooks include:
- Temperature and precipitation outlooks -- According to their temperature outlook, most areas across the contiguous United States should experience a high chance of above average temperatures for the three upcoming months. The greatest probability of such an occurrence should be found across the Southwest, extending northward from the Mexican border to the 4 Corners area (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet). New England was also expected to have a good chance of above average temperatures. The outlook indicates that the Southeast would have nearly equal chances of warmer or cooler than normal conditions.
The CPC precipitation outlook calls for a better than even chance for below average precipitation during the next three months across the Gulf Coast States running from the upper Texas Gulf Coast to the Southeastern Atlantic Coast. On the other hand, the northern Rockies and adjacent high Plains in Montana would have the best chances of above average precipitation through the end of the year. The remainder of the contiguous states were given essentially equal chances of below and above average precipitation for October through December 2016.
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 that assuming that ENSO-neutral conditions would persist through the remainder of 2016, with neither an El Niño or La Niña event anticipated.
A description is also provided as how to read these 3-class, 3-month Outlook maps.
- Seasonal Drought Outlook released -- The
forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center also released their US
Seasonal Drought Outlook last week that would run from late-September through December 2016. Their outlook would call for persistence of extensive drought conditions across California, southern Arizona, western Nevada and interior sections of Oregon. A few scattered areas of the West, such as in Utah, Idaho and South Dakota could see continued drought. In the East, drought conditions were expected to continue across sections of New England, Upstate New York, New Jersey and central Pennsylvania. Drought was also expected to continue across sections of the Southeast, where expansion of the drought could affect areas from the lower Mississippi Valley eastward to the southern and central Appalachians. A few sections of the Plains and northern Rockies could see some improvement in drought conditions during the rest of the year, including some areas that could removed from drought listings. The remainder of the nation does not appear to be headed for drought conditions. Note: a Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion is included describing the forecasters' confidence.
- Twenty nations expected to join Paris Pact on climate this week -- United Nations (UN) officials recently reported that at least 20 countries additional have indicated they will join the Paris climate change agreement made last December at a United Nations event this coming Wednesday, 21 September 2016. These 20 countries would be in addition to the 27 nations that have already committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change, which would raise hopes that the deal will enter into force by the end of 2016, as ratification is needed by at least 55 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. [Climate Central News]
- Monitoring "trickle-down" effects of drought using satellite data -- A feature article produced by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) describes how data collected by the nation's fleet of satellites, including the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) constellation, are used by the US Department of Agriculture and NOAA in providing weather and climatic data and maps to the agricultural community depicting such conditions as vegetation health indices, drought severity, precipitation totals, soil moisture and snow depth. [NOAA NESDIS News Archive]
- Assessing drought conditions across New England using an evaporative stress index -- An image was recently produced that shows the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) across the northeastern quadrant of the nation over the three summer months (June-August) of 2016. The ESI dataset for this map was produced from data based on observations of land surface temperatures from NOAA's GOES satellites and on observations of the leaf area index, an indicator of the canopy of an ecosystem, from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. This map image of ESI shows that much of New England along with neighboring New York and New Jersey endured great evaporative stress over the past three months. According to a developer of the ESI from the University of Maryland, the ESI appears to provide an independent assessment of drought that is not based on precipitation. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Monitoring highest water levels along US coast during Hurricane Hermine -- NOAA's National Ocean Service recently posted an online graphic that shows the highest seawater levels reached at stations maintained by Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services that were impacted by Hurricane and later Tropical Storm Hermine from 29 August 29 through 5 September 2016. Water levels at Cedar Key, FL were measured at 6.1 feet during Hermine, the highest observed water levels during this storm, exceeded the historical maximum of 5.15 feet established in October 1996 during Tropical Storm Josephine. [NOAA National Ocean Service News]
- High resolution climate model focuses upon atmospheric rivers -- Two scientists at the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used the high-resolution version of the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model 4.0 (CCSM4) to accurately simulate the ribbons of humid air called "atmospheric rivers" that transport large quantities of water vapor over large distances from tropical latitudes to midlatitudes. Their work also allowed them to investigate how these atmospheric rivers, such as the "Pineapple Express" over the Pacific Ocean, could change as the global climate would warm. [NASA AtmosNews]
- Satellites detect flooding on India's Ganges River from summer monsoon rains -- A true color image obtained from the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's Terra satellite near the end of August shows widespread flooding on the Ganges River and its tributaries in East India. Another image generated from the MODIS sensors on both the Terra and Aqua satellites shows the extent of the flooding over a two-week span through the beginning of September along with that from previous floods. Torrential rains from the southwest monsoon were responsible for the flooding of the Ganges and the deaths of hundreds of people in East India, along with the evacuation of hundreds of thousands. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Some Martian lakes formed later than originally thought -- Using data primarily from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and NASA Ames Research Center claim that some lakes and snowmelt-fed streams containing liquid water formed on the surface of Mars nearly one billion years later than a well-documented, earlier era of wet conditions on the ancient Red Planet. The researchers conclude that the more recent fairly wet period on Mars likely occurred between two and three billion years ago, at a time when most of Mars' original atmosphere was thought to have been lost and most of the remaining water on the planet had frozen. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 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]
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2016, The American Meteorological Society.