WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
20-24 March 2017
Items of Interest:
- AMS Education and the President's Budget Blueprint -- It is through NOAA funding that AMS Education is able to provide the DataStreme program and Project ATMOSPHERE. We are monitoring the process associated with the President's 2018 budget request to Congress NOAA News and the proposed budget cuts to NOAA, especially in the area of external grants and education. The exact wording related to NOAA, "Zeroes out over $250 million in targeted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research, and education including Sea Grant, which primarily benefit industry and State and local stakeholders. These programs are a lower priority than core functions maintained in the Budget such as surveys, charting, and fisheries management."
The document proposes similar funding cuts to NASA, and would impact science education activities for that agency, too. If you are inclined to do so, we certainly support you engaging with your local congressional representatives to share your thoughts on the matter.
- Notice the Equinox -- The vernal
equinox, which marks the commencement of astronomical spring,
occurred early Monday morning (officially at 1029Z on 20 March 2017, or
6:29 AM EDT or 5:29 AM CDT, etc.). If you have already checked the sunrise and sunset
times in your local newspaper or from the climate page at your local
National Weather Service Office, you would have found that by
late last week, the sun should have been above the horizon for at least 12
hours at most locations. 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.
Becoming AWARE --During this coming week (19-25 March), Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia will observe their Severe Weather Awareness Week. Virginia will conduct its Tornado Preparedness Day on Tuesday, 21 March. If you live in either of 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.
- Flood Safety Awareness -- Many locations around the nation annually experience spring
floods that cause large monetary losses and occasionally the loss of life. Check the website http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/ for information concerning flooding caused by excessive
rain events, rapid snowmelt, ice jams and debris flow, along with
useful flood safety and mitigation measures. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are also observing this week with special activities.
- Tsunami Awareness in the Caribbean -- Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will be observing Tsunami Preparedness Week this week (19-25 March) as part of the annual Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Tsunami Exercise called CARIBE WAVE 2017 on Tuesday (21 March) that will involve 48 Member States and Territories of the UNESCO IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS).
- Phenological events of note -- While astronomical spring
commenced with the occurrence of the vernal equinox early Monday morning (20 March 2017), several reoccurring phenological events
also are used to note the onset of spring. These include:
Buzzards return to Hinckley -- According to legend, buzzards return to Hinckley, OH on the 15th of March of every year for nearly 200 years. Apparently, some of the buzzards (turkey vultures) returned in February as northern Ohio experienced unseasonably mild weather. [Outdoor News] However, the traditional observance was on Sunday (19 March 2017) with the 60th Annual Buzzard Day in Hinckley, celebrated on the first Sunday after 15 March.[cleveland.com]
- Swallows return to Capistrano -- Legend
indicates that swallows return to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in
southern California every St. Joseph's Day (19 March). The return of
the swallows appears to be sporadic, with some reports of sightings
near the Mission. Increased urbanization around the Mission appears to keep the swallows away. However, the 59th annual Swallows Day
Parade will be held on Saturday 25 March 2017.
- Update on the Cherry Blossoms
in Washington, DC -- Cold weather along with snow spread across the Middle Atlantic States during the last week at a time when many of the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC were approaching peak bloom. Temperatures fell to the lower and mid 20s on two nights last week, which caused some of the blooms to turn brown. However, an official with the National Park Service late last week claimed that some of the trees that were in the near-peak stage appeared to have made it through the freezing conditions relatively unharmed. [Washington Post Capital Weather Gang]. The National Park Service's website maintains their peak bloom prediction remains as 19-22 March 2017. The 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival will run through Sunday, 16 April 2017. This website also has a listing of the phenological observations for past bloom dates over the past 24 years. A graph of the occurrence of the dates of peak cherry blossom occurrence in Washington, DC beginning in 1921 and running through last year is also available.
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign commences -- The third in a series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will commence this Monday (20 March) and continue through Wednesday, 29 March. 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 (Leo in the Northern Hemisphere and Canis Major 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 2017 campaign is scheduled for 18-27 April 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- International observances -- Several
days during this upcoming week have been designated as special days
that are intended to focus public attention on the environment and
- "World Water Day" -- Wednesday, 22
March 2017, has been designated by the United Nations (UN) as the
annual World Water Day in order to focus on taking action to tackle the water crisis around the world. The theme for this year's World Water Day 2017 is "Why waste water?" that is intended to improve water quality as well as to reduce, treat and reuse wastewater.
- "World Meteorology Day" -- A celebration will be held on Thursday,
23 March 2017, for World
Meteorology Day. This day is designated to celebrate the
anniversary of the establishment of the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO) on 23 March 1950. The WMO is an agency within the
This year's theme for World Meteorological Day
2017 is "Understanding Clouds,"which has been chosen "to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water."
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- No organized tropical cyclones were found across any of the globe's ocean basins last week.
- Review of national weather and climate for
February 2017 and the 2016-17 winter --
preliminary data, scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information
(NCEI) reported that the national average temperature for the contiguous United
States during February 2017 was 41.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or approximately
7.3 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average. This temperature makes February the second warmest February since a comprehensive national climate network began in 1895; only February 1954 had a higher nationwide monthly temperature with 41.4 degrees.
As many as 16 states across the nation, stretching from Texas northeastward across the Mississippi Valley and the Midwest to the Middle Atlantic States. Only Washington state had a statewide February temperature that was considered to be in the below average temperature category. Neighboring Oregon had a near average temperature.
In addition, the average maximum (or daytime) February 2017 temperature was second highest on record for the month, with 19 states registering record high maximum February temperatures. Furthermore, the average minimum (or nighttime) temperature for the month was also the highest in 123 years.
The average temperature across the contiguous United States for the meteorological
winter season (December 2016 through February 2017) was 35.9 degrees F, or 3.7 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average, making the recently-concluded winter the sixth warmest winter since 1895.
Except for those seven states across the Northwest and West that experienced below average winter temperatures, the other 41 states had statewide winter average temperatures that were above to much above average. Louisiana and Texas reported their highest statewide average temperatures in 122 winters. More than 30 of the states across the eastern half of the nation, as well as across the Southwest had 2016/2017 winter temperatures that ranked in the top ten on record.
Nationwide, February 2017 precipitation was 0.08 inches above
the long-term (1901-2000) average, making last month the 50th wettest (or 74th driest) February in 123 years. Below to much below average statewide average precipitation totals were reported across the southeastern quadrant of the nation, along with sections of the Mississippi Valley and the Plains States. Seven states along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Midwest (Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia) had statewide February precipitation totals that ranked within the ten lowest totals on record. Conversely, the five states across the Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming) reported statewide precipitation totals in February that ranked within the top ten in 123 years. Many of the states across the Southwest and around the Great Lakes had above average precipitation.
December through February precipitation across
the 48 coterminous states was 1.43 inches above the 20th-century average, making this past winter the eighth wettest winter on record. Nearly two dozen states registered above to much above average winter precipitation, especially from California eastward across the Rockies and northern Plains to the Great Lakes States. Nevada and Wyoming experienced their wettest winters on record, while California had its second wettest winter. On the other hand, states across the mid-Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic Seaboard had below to much below average winter precipitation. Missouri had its tenth driest winter in 122 winters.
Data analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab indicate the February snow cover extent across the contiguous US was the 12th smallest February snow cover extent in the 51-year period of record.
[State of the Climate NOAA/NCEI]
NOTE: A description is provided of the climatological rankings employed by NCEI for their monthly and seasonal maps. [NOAA/NCEI]
- February national drought report -- The National
Climate Data Center has posted its February
2017 drought report online. Using the Palmer Drought Severity
Index, approximately four percent of the contiguous United States
experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the end of
February, while 17 percent of the area had severely to extremely wet
- Flooding replaces drought in California -- A persistent atmospheric flow pattern that brought abundant subtropical water vapor and precipitation to California over this past winter has resulted in a large snowpack in the Sierras and in major flooding across the Central Valley and the western slopes of the Sierras. According to the US Drought Monitor, only nine percent of California was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions at the end of February 2017, as compared with more than 95 percent of the Golden State being under these drought conditions one year ago at the beginning of March 2017. [NOAA Weather-Ready Nation News]
- Warming weather across Alaska affects the Iditarod --A contractor for NOAA's Climate Program Office wrote a feature for the NOAA ClimateWatch Magazine in which she describes how winter temperatures across central interior Alaska have been increasing at a rate of 5.2 Fahrenheit degrees per century, double the rate of temperature increase across the "Lower 48" states. This region of Alaska along the northern slopes of the Alaska Range experienced less snow this winter, which forced the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to be shifted north to Fairbanks for only the third time in race's 45-year history. She also provides satellite images showing the snow cover across sections of interior Alaska along the route of the Iditarod. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
Last Tuesday Mitch Seavey of Seward, AK crossed the finish line in Nome, AK to win the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and setting a record time of 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds in completing the race from Fairbanks, nearly 1000 miles to the east. This race marked his third win. [Fairbanks Daily Newsminer]
- Annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide during 2016 continues at record pace -- According to the lead scientist at NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, the annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during 2016 as measured at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii jumped by three parts per million (ppm). This increase in carbon dioxide during 2016 follows a slightly greater increase (3.05 ppm) in the greenhouse gas in 2015. When considered together, the 6-ppm increase of carbon dioxide during 2015 and 2016 represents the largest increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the 59 years of that gas measurements have been made by the observatory at Mauna Loa. [NOAA News] (Editor's Note: The concentrations of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa and other global locations can be tracked on a nearly real-time basis online at the "Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" website maintained by NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. EJH)
- New Seasonal Climate Outlooks released for spring --
Late last week forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center
(CPC) released their Three-Month (Seasonal) Climate Outlooks for the
three-months running from April through June 2016, which contains the
last two months of meteorological spring and the first month of
meteorological summer. A two-minute video is available with an overview provided by a CPC forecaster. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
Specific details include:
- Temperature and precipitation outlooks -- According to their temperature outlook, most states along the West and East Coasts as well as those along the US-Canadian border should experience a high chance of above average spring and early summer temperatures. The greatest probabilities of such an occurrence extend across the Northwest (especially Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho) and across the Northeast (including the five New England States and Upstate New York). Conversely, a large area of Texas appears to have a good chance for below average temperatures. Sections of the southern and central Plains were considered to have near equal chances of warmer or cooler than normal conditions.
Their precipitation outlook calls for better than even chances of dry spring conditions for the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Midwest that includes the western Great Lakes. On the other hand, a large section of the 48 contiguous states extending from California eastward to the coast of the Carolinas should have above even chances for a wet spring and early summer. The regions with the highest chances for wet weather would include the southern high Plains along with the southern and central Rockies, as well as across the Southeast, which would include Florida, adjacent sections of Alabama and Georgia along with coastal sections of the Carolinas.
The rest of the coterminous states should have equal chances of below and above average spring precipitation. Outlooks for April are also available. A summary of the prognostic discussion of the outlook for non-technical users is available from CPC. These forecasts were based in part that the current strong El Niño conditions should continue through at least meteorological spring (March through May) in the Northern Hemisphere before making a transition to ENSO-neutral conditions.
- Seasonal Drought Outlook released -- The CPC's US
Seasonal Drought Outlook was released for late March
through June 2016 that indicates a persistence or expansion of drought conditions across the southwestern sections of the nation, running across southern and central California, southern and western Nevada and large areas of Arizona and adjacent New Mexico. Drought conditions could persist across northwestern Montana. The forecasters foresee an improvement in the conditions that could eliminate the drought across central and northern California, adjacent sections of Nevada and Oregon and scattered areas across the Great Basin and Rockies. Note: a Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion is included describing the forecasters' confidence.
- Spring flood outlook for nation -- Forecasters
with the National Weather Service's Hydrologic Information Center
issued their National Hydrologic Assessment for Spring 2016 that
includes minor to moderate flooding across a large portion of the nation's midsection along with a large area of the Southeast that includes the Atlantic Seaboard and the Southern Appalachians. The greatest threat of moderate flooding appears to be found along several of the major river sheds in these two regions. In the central sections of the nation, a moderate threat of flooding was expected along the middle and lower Mississippi River Valleys, the lower Missouri Valley and the Sabine River Valley in east Texas and Louisiana due to above average precipitation across these watersheds beginning in December 2015, as well as a mild winter across the Midwest, especially along the Upper Mississippi Valley and some of the river's tributaries. River basins of the Southeast extending from northern Florida to the Carolinas also experienced above average precipitation. [NOAA News] or [National
- Meteorologist uses supercomputer to re-create an EF-5 tornado -- A research meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues from several other institutions have used a high-performance supercomputer to run a simulation model to recreated the infamous EF-5 tornado (on the Enhanced Fujita Scale) that devastated El Reno, OK on 31 May 2013. This new tornado simulation, which took more than three days of run time, involved using large quantities of weather data and computer processing power. [University of Wisconsin-Madison News]
- Interagency efforts designed to improve Earth system prediction -- Officials from NOAA's Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, NOAA's National Weather Service, NASA, US Department of Energy, the US Navy, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Washington recently published a paper that describes the 60-year history of numerical weather prediction in the United States and details a five-agency strategy that is currently underway to coordinate and accelerate the nation's environmental prediction capability. The goal is improved short and long-term prediction of weather, climate, ocean and sea ice conditions.[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 RealTime Weather Portal
Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.