WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
15-19 August 2016
Items of Interest:
- A view of 2016 Summer Olympic Games site from space -- An image of the region around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was obtained from the the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument onboard NASA's Terra satellite within three days of the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in downtown Rio de Janeiro, a large metropolitan area that has been experiencing elevated levels of airborne particulate matter for the last several months. A corresponding image reveals the aerosol optical depth, a measure of the attenuation of incoming solar radiation by the aerosols. [NASA Feature]
- A story revealed as to how space weather forecasters helped avoid nuclear conflict in 1967 -- A senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) High Altitude Observatory recently published a paper describing the actions of several US Air Force officers who as space weather forecasters altered the high ranking military officials of the potential that a solar storm on 23 May 1967 could disrupt surveillance radar and radio communications especially in polar regions. This disruption by the impending geomagnetic storm could have been interpreted as possible jamming by the Soviet Union. Because of this warning, US military aircraft were not deployed, which avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the former USSR. [NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the Tropics -- During the last week tropical cyclone activity was limited to the North Pacific Ocean:
- In the eastern North Pacific basin,
Tropical Storm Ivette weakened as it crossed the 140 degree west longitude meridian, the boundary between the eastern and central North Pacific Ocean basins, on Sunday night to become a tropical depression. By late Monday morning Tropical Depression Ivette weakened to a remnant low approximately 1440 miles to the east of Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for more information and satellite imagery on Hurricane Ivette.
Tropical Storm Javier, the tenth named eastern Pacific tropical cyclone of 2016, formed over the previous weekend approximately 60 miles to the south of Manzanillo, Mexico. During the next two days, Tropical Storm Javier, traveled to the northwest, approaching Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula during the predawn hours of Tuesday morning. Brushing close to the southern coast of Baja California, Javier weakened to a tropical depression by sunrise. Eventually, Javier became a remnant low during Tuesday afternoon along the coast of Baja California. The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Javier.
- In the western North Pacific basin,
Tropical Storm Omais continued traveling toward the north over the waters to the east of the main Japanese islands at the start of last week. By late Tuesday Omais was losing its tropical characteristics as it was located approximately 300 miles to the east-northeast of Yokosuka, Japan. See the
NASA Hurricane Page for images and additional information on Tropical Storm Omais.
Early last week Tropical Storm Conson
formed from a tropical depression several hundred miles to the west of Wake Island. During the week Conson moved westward, then northwestward and finally northward, passing near the Marshall Islands and several atolls in the western North Pacific. Although Conson strengthened, it remained a tropical storm through the rest of the week and weekend. By early Monday, Tropical Storm Conson was located approximately 350 miles to the east of Misawa, Japan and was expected to merge with a midlatitude weather system. Additional information and satellite images for Tropical Storm Conson are available from the NASA Hurricane Page.
Tropical Storm Chanthu developed over this past weekend from a tropical depression
over the waters of the western North Pacific to the west of Saipan. This tropical storm was traveling generally to the north-northwest on Sunday and into Monday. As of Monday (local time), Tropical Storm Chanthu was located approximately 200 miles to the southeast of Chichi Jima, the largest island in the Ogasawara archipelago.
- Torrential rains along Louisiana Gulf Coast monitored by new satellite -- A slow moving low pressure system over the northern Gulf of Mexico brought rainfall totals of more than 10 inches to coastal sections of Louisiana with a two-day span at the end of last week. Images showing the three-dimensional aspect of this heavy rainfall were made from data collected by the Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments onboard NASA's new Global Precipitation Measurement mission, or GPM, core satellite. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center]
- July 2016 weather and climate for the nation reviewed -- Scientists at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recently reported on their analysis of preliminary weather data collected during the month of July 2016:
- National weather and climate -- The average temperature for the contiguous US during July was 75.3 degrees F, or 1.6 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century (1901-2000) average. Therefore, July 2016 was the fourteenth warmest July since comprehensive nationwide temperature records began in 1895. Above to much above average July temperatures were reported across the southern tier of states running from California eastward to Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia northward to Maine. New Mexico and Florida reported their highest statewide July temperatures in 122 years of record, while fourteen other states across the South and East had statewide temperatures for the month that were within the top ten on record. On the other hand, a dozen states running from the Pacific Northwest eastward across the northern Plains to the Midwest had near average July temperatures.
The nationally-averaged July precipitation total across the contiguous United States was 2.87 inches (or 0.09 inches above the 20th century average), which made July 2016 the 52nd wettest (or 71st driest) July in the 122-year record. Nearly half of the states (23) across the Ohio Valley, the Great Plains and the much of the West had July 2015 statewide precipitation totals that above or much above the 20th century average. States across the nation's midsection (the Midwest and northern Plains) as well as the Northwest had above to much above average rainfall. Kentucky and Illinois experienced statewide July precipitation totals that ranked third in 122 years, while Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota had July totals that were in the top ten on record. Drier than average conditions were found across the Southwest and Rocky Mountain States, the Southeast, the eastern Great Lakes and sections of New England. Georgia had a statewide precipitation total for July 2016 that was the second smallest on record, Florida had the third smallest reading, while Wyoming was the ninth driest July and New Mexico the ten driest July 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]
- July national drought report -- The National Climate Data Center has posted its July 2016 drought report online. Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about seven percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of July 2016, which represents an increase in areal extent from the previous month. About 11 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories at the end of July.
- Lunar transit affects operation of the Solar Dynamics Observatory mission -- On the morning of Tuesday, 2 August 2016, the Moon passed between NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft and the Sun in what astronomers call a "lunar transit." The SDO spacecraft is in a geosynchronous orbit of Earth and is designed to monitor the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time in order to understand the Sun's influence on Earth and Near-Earth space. This lunar transit caused the three SDO instruments to initially go into an inactive mode, but by last Wednesday they were all back in operation, sending back information on the Sun to Earth. [NOAA News]
- Satellites record extreme heat during summer of 2016 across Eurasia and North America -- Three maps were recently generated of land surface temperatures across sections of Russia, the Middle East, and North America obtained from data collected during the 20-27 July 2016 interval by the MODIS sensor onboard on NASA's Terra satellite. These information on these maps this page was displayed as land surface temperature anomalies or differences between the observed temperatures and 10-year average temperatures obtained from the same sensor for the same dates from 2001 to 2010. Some places across Siberia, Afghanistan and the southern United States experienced land surface temperatures during late July 2016 that were as much as 12 Celsius degrees (22 Fahrenheit degrees) above the 10-year average. Although the satellite-derived land surface temperatures are not the same as the official air temperatures taken in instrument shelters at nearly two-meter height above the surface, the widespread extent of the abnormal summer heat is telling. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- The extended impacts associated with the California drought -- A climate scientist at the Utah State University posted a guest blog that describes how the continued lack of precipitation across a large section of California during this past winter has continued the region's drought as well as causing a reduction in groundwater levels in southern and central California. The relationship between California precipitation and ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) status was also considered. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Drought is not limited to California as it expands elsewhere across the nation -- A feature article was produced for the NOAA ClimateWatch magazine that provides an animated loop of images taken from the weekly US Drought Monitor between 1 March and 2 August showing how drought conditions have expanded across several large sections of the nation to the east of the Rockies including the northern Plains, the Southeast and the Northeast. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Polar orbiting satellite sees nearly ice-free Northwest Passage -- Early last week a true-color image was made of the Canadian Arctic by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite that showed nearly ice-free water in the famous Northwest Passage. This Northwest Passage has long been considered to be a potential sea route along the northern coast of North America connecting the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Ocean. However, until recent years sufficient amounts of summer sea ice prevented this realization. [NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]
- A land-falling super typhoon analyzed in detail from satellites -- Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center have been analyzing the structure of Super Typhoon Nepartak that made landfall on Taiwan in the western North Pacific during the first week of July using data collected from three different instruments onboard a variety of orbiting satellite platforms. 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. A collage of cloud height, natural color and wind speed images were made from the MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite at approximately the same time, showing the detailed structure of Super Typhoon Nepartak as it approached Taiwan. A thermal image made from the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the cloud-top temperatures around the periphery of Nepartak. Near-surface wind speed and wind direction data obtained by the RapidScat instrument on the International Space Station shows the widespread counterclockwise (or cyclonic) circulation of air in the lower atmosphere around this super typhoon. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Cool water strip detected in equatorial Pacific during July -- A recently constructed map of the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies across the Pacific Ocean Basin during July 2016, which represent the arithmetic difference between observed and the 1981-2010 average temperatures, showed cooler-than-average waters across the central equatorial Pacific. This cool water strip is seen by climate scientists to be an indication of the end of last year's El Niño event. A description is made of how the high-resolution sea surface temperature data are obtained across the Pacific. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion & La Niña watch -- NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) recently released their El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion that showed sea surface temperatures (SST) across eastern sections of the equatorial Pacific were slightly below-average levels. Hence, ENSO-neutral conditions were being observed, mean that neither El Niño or La Niña conditions were found. However, most of the predictive models used by the CPC and IRI indicate development of
La Niña during the next three months. Consequently, the forecasters at CPC have continued a their La Niña watch that a 55 to 60 percent chance exists of the development of a La Niña during the upcoming fall and winter 2016-17 seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. A detailed El Niño/Southern Oscillation Diagnostic Discussion with supporting maps and charts is available from CPC.
An easy-to-read ENSO blog written by a CPC contractor discusses the current ENSO-neutral conditions and the possible onset of La Niña conditions in the next several months.
[NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Updated 2016 NOAA Atlantic hurricane outlook is released -- Forecasters at
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center(CPC) issued their updated Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook for 2016, which increased the number of predicted named tropical cyclones for the North Atlantic Basin (including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) from their initial seasonal outlook that they made in May. Specifically, they are now predicting a 70-percent chance of 12–17 named tropical cyclones (hurricanes and tropical storms with sustained surface winds of at least 39 mph), as compared with their earlier outlook of 10 to 16 named systems. They also currently envision between five and eight hurricanes (with maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or higher) along with two to four major hurricanes (Category 3 hurricanes or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Intensity Scale with winds of at least 111 mph), which represent slight increases in their earlier forecasts of four to eight hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes. These new projections indicate their expectation of a high probability of a near-average to an above-average hurricane season, as long-term statistics show that an average Atlantic season consists of 12 named tropical cyclones and the six hurricanes that normally form during each year. Three of these hurricanes typically become major hurricanes. At the same time, the CPC forecasters lowered the chances of a below-average season to 15 percent.
The CPC forecasters claim that the increased likelihood of average to above average tropical cyclone activity across the Atlantic basin is due to several factors that include the end of last winter's enhanced El Niño event, weaker trade winds and vertical wind shear across the central tropical Atlantic Ocean and a stronger west African monsoon. As of the early August,
the Atlantic basin has had three tropical storms (Bonnie, Colin and Danielle) and two hurricanes (Alex and Earl) during 2016. in the North Atlantic basin (that includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) [NOAA News]
An updated Atlantic hurricane forecast was issued by Dr. Philip Klotzbach and associates at Colorado State University one week ago in which they predicted a total of 15 named tropical cyclones for the entire 2016 season, including eight hurricanes. The forecasters also anticipated two major hurricanes and a near-average probability of major hurricane landfalls along the coasts of the continental United States and the islands in the Caribbean. [The Tropical Meteorology Project]
- Lasers on satellites to study winds on Earth -- The European Space Agency recently announced that after several years of development, the Atmospheric LAser Doppler INstrument (ALADIN) instrument is nearly ready to be carried on the agency's Atmospheric Dynamics Mission Aeolus satellite when launched in 2017. This Aladin instrument is a Doppler wind lidar designed to measure winds, aerosols and clouds in the Earth's atmosphere. The laser generates ultraviolet light that is beamed toward Earth, where it is scattered by molecules of air, aerosols and cloud droplets. The fraction of light scattered back toward the satellite is collected by Aladin's telescope and measured. [PC News]
- Investigation made of Denver's ozone problem -- Researchers at NOAA's the Cooperative Institute for Research In Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder have recently conducted a study that has found that oil and gas emissions from the energy industry along Colorado's northern Front Range is an important contributor to the region's ozone problem, especially in the Denver metropolitan area. This metro area has exceeded the EPA's ozone standard for nearly a decade due to Denver's location in a basin with a topography that accumulated high background ozone levels, high nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels from metropolitan traffic, and daily infusions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including from oil and gas activities, which react with NOx to form ozone during hot summer days. [NOAA Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2016, The American Meteorological Society.