WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
13-17 February 2017
Report from the Field:
- A very happy Dr. Steve LaDochy, a DataStreme LIT Leader and meteorology professor from Cal State University, Los Angeles, reported on the abundant rainfall across southern California that has alleviated the extreme to exceptional drought conditions that have plagued the region for the last five years. He gleefully reported that all his fruit trees are alive again in his backyard, although the lemons and oranges were still on the small, understandable as they have been starved of rain over this five-year span. Steve noted that Los Angeles has received its normal annual rainfall already, with almost 200% of normal rain for early February. Furthermore, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the source for most of Southern California's water supply, have the most snow ever! Previous highest recorded snows were in the El Niño year of 1982-83.
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign commences -- The second in a series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will commence this Saturday (18 February) and continue through Monday, 27 February. 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 20-29 March 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- Participate in Field Photo Weekends -- The public is invited to join thousands of other citizen scientists from across the nation in the Field Photo Weekend during the upcoming President's Day Weekend (18, 19, 20 February 2017) by taking six digital photographs at a place that you choose and submit these photos via a smartphone app or on-line with your computer. These photos, to be taken in the four cardinal directions (North, East, South and West), upward and downward, will be placed in the Geo-Referenced Field Photo Library, which is a community- and citizen- science data portal for people to share, visualize and archive geo-referenced photos from the fields in the world. By taking photos this weekend along with three other Field Photo Weekends later this year (Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day weekends), one can begin to visualize seasonal changes in the local landscape. View the short (4-minute) animation describing the weekend. [Earth Observation and Modeling Facility University of Oklahoma]
- Stewardship projects brought to classrooms by NOAA Climate Stewards-- The NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) was developed several years ago to build a climate-literate public actively engaged in climate stewardship by having formal and informal educators working with elementary through university age students with sustained professional development, collaborative tools and support. Over 1000 educators have participated in an online community that connects them through webinars with experts, regional workshops, and educational resources. [NOAA News]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics -- The only organized tropical cyclone (a low pressure system such as tropical
storm or hurricane that forms over tropical oceans) that was found during the last week across any of the ocean basins was Tropical Storm Carlos (or 4S) in the western sections of the South Indian Ocean. Carlos had formed over the previous weekend and traveled initially toward the southeast, then to the east-southeast before making an abrupt turn toward the southwest early in the week, passing to the north of Mauritius and La Reunion Island. During the second half of last week, Carlos curved toward the southeast and weakened as it traveled across the western South Indian Ocean. this coming week. As of Saturday afternoon, the last advisory for Carlos was issued as the system was located approximately 870 miles to the south-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. During its travels, Carlos remained a tropical storm, never reaching the threshold to become a category 1 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale (maximum sustained surface winds of at least 74 mph), which would correspond to a weak hurricane in the North Atlantic basin.
Additional information and satellite imagery pertaining to Carlos is available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
- Bright green fireball seen racing across the skies of the western Great Lakes -- Nearly 200 people living in those sections of Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan surrounding Lake Michigan were eyewitnesses to a bright green fireball that raced across the skies early last Monday morning. This nighttime phenomenon was documented several video cameras and also by National Weather Service radar. Astronomers claim that this fireball was a meteor that traveled through the Earth's upper atmosphere and may have dropped into Lake Michigan near Sheboygan, WI. The green color may have been due to a large amount of nickel in the meteor. [FOX6 News]
The American Meteor Society has four video loops, a map showing the eye witness locations around the Midwest and a radar reflectivity map from the WSR-88D (Doppler) radar unit from the Green Bay National Weather Service Office showing the debris from the meteor.
[American Meteor Society]
- Updated El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion & last La Niña advisory outlook are 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 posted their last La Niña advisory for the foreseeable future. They based their decision to issue a final La Niña advisory as La Niña conditions were no longer present at the start of February, resulting in the return of an ENSO-neutral situation with neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions. During the first week of February 2017, beginning in February and continuing through the remainder of the first half of 2017. Sea surface temperatures (SST) that were slightly (0.3 Celsius degrees) below average across the central equatorial Pacific Ocean, but above average (1.5 Celsius degrees) above average in the eastern equatorial Pacific. In addition to the pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies, the atmosphere patterns were also consistent with ENSO-neutral conditions in terms of the location of atmospheric convection and the low-level winds. The forecasters foresee a continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through at least the end of meteorological spring 2017 in the Northern Hemisphere (March through May). [NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
A blog was written by a scientist from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center describing the departure of La Niña conditions by early February. November. Attention was also paid to the water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific to some depth below the surface where the SST anomalies are typically obtained to ascertain the existence of El Niño, La Niña or ENSO-neutral conditions.
[NOAA Climate.gov News]
(Editor's note: Documentation is provided on the maps page of the Climate.gov website of how the SST anomalies are determined for the ENSO monitoring region across the equatorial Pacific Ocean basin and used to determine if El Niño or La Niña conditions are occurring. EJH)
- Western drought lingers despite recent heavy precipitation -- Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), has written a Beyond the Data blog cautioning about the recent demise of the "exceptional drought" classification from across the nation. Paraphrasing the late baseball sage Yogi Berra, Deke used the title "Western drought: It ain't over 'til...well, it ain't over" to focus on the complexity of the classification of drought and its implications to many segments of society, which makes the declaration of the end of the current drought especially across California seemingly unadvisable. He explains is reasoning in five "sidebars," along with several graphs and animated maps showing the progression of the recent drought conditions. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Preparing for "science in the shadow" during this summer's total solar eclipse -- NASA is funding eleven scientific studies that will collect data in the two to three minutes of shadow cast by the Moon during this upcoming total solar eclipse on 21 August 2017 as the path of the shadow's center travels from the Oregon coast across the northern Rockies and the central Plains to the Midwest and then to the Southeast before exiting off the South Carolina coast. The NASA-funded studies will involve several scientific disciplines and involve a variety of instrument platforms, such as satellites and ground-based observations, that will focus on certain aspects of the Sun and the Earth during the eclipse. This summer's total solar eclipse will be the first that will be witnessed by people in the 48 contiguous United States in nearly 40 years. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature] (Editor's note: NASA has posted a webpage that focuses on this total solar eclipse, with an assortment of suggested educational activities and an eclipse party suggestions. EJH)
- Winter field project in Idaho tests cloud seeding to enhance snowfall -- Scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are taking part in a 10-week field project called SNOWIE (Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds — the Idaho Experiment) in Idaho's Payette Basin region north of Boise in order to determine if cloud seeding successfully increases snowfall. The research team is using airborne and ground-based radars, high-resolution snow gauges, and computer modeling to determine what transpires after clouds are seeded with silver iodide. [NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews]
- Improvements in winter weather forecasting since the 1970s are reviewed -- A article was recently written that describes the various factors that have resulted in a "amazing" improvement in winter weather forecasts beginning in the 1970s. Improvements in the spatial (three space dimensions) and temporal (in time) resolution of numerical weather prediction models have been a major factor. In addition, the proliferation of personal computers and the internet have allowed greater access to the data obtained from surface observations, radar and satellites. [Capital Weather Gang -- Washington Post]
- Recent news on wind power:
- The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently announced in its blog that wind power generated by the United States wind conversion systems has reached an historic milestone as it has surged into first place as the nation's largest renewable resource, surpassing the power obtained from the nation's hydroelectric power plants. In addition, wind energy is now the nation's fourth-largest source of electric capacity. [Into the Wind – the AWEA Blog]
- Although wind power capacity increased in the United States, China widened its wind power lead over the US, as nearly three times more wind power was produced by the Chinese than by the Americans. [Bloomberg News]
- New alliance creates initiative to cut losses from extreme weather events -- A new public-private partnership is being created that intends on helping reduce societal harm from extreme environmental events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and droughts. The Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events recently announced its intention to serve as an organizing framework to bring together experts from different disciplines, including meteorologists and social and behavioral scientists, to better understand, predict, and respond to severe weather events. [EOS Earth & Space Science News]
- Explanations made as to why ocean has absorbed more carbon over past decade -- A geographer from the University of California Santa Barbara and colleagues report that the increase in the absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans during the past decade was due to a slowing of the ocean's overturning circulation. A weaker overturning would bring less carbon-rich deep waters to the surface, limiting the amount of carbon dioxide that escapes from the deep ocean. They based their findings upon analysis of oceanographic temperature, salinity, carbon-14 data collected from more than 30 years of observations. The researchers also noted that this recent increase followed a decrease in carbon dioxide uptake during the 1990, which they also attributed to changes in oceanic circulation. While the current increased uptake of carbon dioxide would reduce the amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which should slow the rate of global temperature increase, the increase in dissolved carbon dioxide should result in increased ocean acidification, which disintegrates the calcium carbonate shells of some marine organisms. [University of California Santa Barbara 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 email@example.com
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.