WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
5-9 September 2011
- Eye on the tropics --- The weather across the tropical ocean basins in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific remained active during the last week.
- In the North Atlantic basin, after making landfall in the New York City metropolitan area, Tropical Storm Irene and its remnants moved northward across sections of New England at the start of last week, producing excessive rain over the Connecticut River Valley that created major flooding in Vermont. US Geological Survey stream gauges indicated historic river levels in ten states and Puerto Rico. [USGS Newsroom] Many residents in the Middle Atlantic and New England states remained without power as of late last week due to the strong winds and heavy flooding rains that accompanied Irene. [USA Today] This tropical storm had previously been a major category 3 hurricane during the previous week as it passed across the northern Bahamas. Additional information concerning former Hurricane Irene, including satellite images and tabulation of observed rainfall totals are available on the NASA Hurricane Page. The European Space Agency (ESA) provided two interesting images from its Envisat satellite taken simultaneously of Hurricane Irene on Saturday, 27 August, soon after the hurricane had made its initial landfall along the North Carolina coast. One of the images was generated from the satellite's radar showing the rough ocean surface through the clouds, while the other image showed the typical spiral cloud pattern associated with a hurricane that was from the satellite's MERIS (MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) instrument. [ESA]
At the start of last week, Tropical Storm Jose, the eleventh named tropical cyclone of the 2011 hurricane season, formed over the waters of the western North Atlantic. This tropical storm moved northward, but weakened to a tropical depression slightly more than one day after forming. Satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Jose appear on the NASA Hurricane Page.
Early in the week, Tropical Storm Katia formed over the waters of the tropical Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands. Traveling to the west-northwest during the next few days, this tropical storm intensified into the second Atlantic hurricane of 2011. However, with maximum sustained wind speeds hovering between 70 and 75 mph, this minimal hurricane weakened slightly to become a tropical storm for less than a day before re-intensifying to become a hurricane late in the week. As of this past weekend, Katia continued to travel toward the west-northwest, passing to the north of the northern Leeward Islands. The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite imagery and additional information on Hurricane Katia. A photograph of Katia, which was a tropical storm at the time, was made by astronauts on the International Space Station last Wednesday. [NASA Multimedia]
Late last week, Tropical Depression 13 formed over the Gulf of Mexico and became Tropical Storm Lee. This system drifted slowly north toward the central Gulf coast last Friday and Saturday. Bands of heavy rain, along with onshore tropical storm strength winds pummeled sections of the coast throughout the weekend. Some locations had received nearly one foot of rain. By early Sunday morning, the center of Tropical Storm Lee had made landfall along the south central Louisiana coast near Lafayette, LA. [USA Today] Locally heavy rain should continue across sections of the Mid-South and Southeast through early this week as remnants of Lee follow along a projected path toward the northeast. Satellite images of Tropical Storm Lee are available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, Tropical Depression 8E formed over the coastal waters off southwestern Mexico at midweek. However, this depression was short-lived, when it made landfall along the coast and quickly dissipated. For more information on Tropical Depression 8E, please consult the NASA Hurricane Page.
- In the western North Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Talas continued to travel northward early in the week before curving toward the north-northwest. By late in the week, this tropical storm passed across the Japanese islands of Shikoku and Honshu on Saturday. As many as 20 people were killed as this system traveled across the island by Sunday. [USA Today] Talas was expected to lose its tropical characteristics and become an extratropical low pressure system as it travels north across the Sea of Japan on Monday (local time). The NASA Hurricane Page has additional information and satellite imagery on Tropical Storm Talas.
Over this past weekend, a new tropical depression that had formed northeast of the Northern Mariana Islands became Tropical Storm Noru. This system quickly traveled to the north-northeast and remained a tropical storm late Sunday (local time).
- Approaching the peak in the Atlantic hurricane season -- The historic or statistical annual peak in the Atlantic hurricane season will occur this coming weekend (10-12 September), as determined as the date during the entire season with most frequent number of named tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes), based upon over 100 years of record. This date corresponds closely with the time of peak sea-surface temperatures across those sections of the North Atlantic considered hurricane-breeding areas. [NWS National Hurricane Center] [Note: So far this Atlantic hurricane season, which commenced on 1 June 2011, twelve tropical cyclones have reached tropical storm or hurricane status. Of these twelve named tropical cyclones, only two (Irene and Katia) have become hurricanes. EJH]
- Satellite data documents unseasonably hot July across the Plains -- Scientists with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have assembled data collected from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on board NOAA's Aqua satellite to generate images that show the distribution of record-breaking high temperatures across North America's Great Plains in July 2011. The scientists also generated wind information from the Goddard Earth Observing System Model to show the impact on the heat wave exerted by the clockwise circulation of winds around high pressure over the North Atlantic. [NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center]
- New earth-observing research satellite is being readied for launch -- During the last week, the spacecraft that represents NASA's next earth-observing research satellite arrived at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base so that preparations can begin for a launch in October. Known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), this spacecraft represents the first of a new generation of polar-orbiting satellites that are designed to monitor changes in the atmosphere, oceans, vegetation, ice and solid Earth. [NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center]
- Meteorological link found between extreme Russian fires and Pakistan floods in 2010 -- Using satellite and wind observations, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have found that an abnormal atmospheric circulation pattern produced during the summer of 2010 that was responsible for two of that year's most destructive disasters. This circulation pattern was associated with an abnormal and persistent Rossby wave in the jet stream that created extreme heat and persistent wildfires in Russia as well as heavy rains and flooding in Pakistan. [NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center]
- Nitrogen from rocks may help forests buffer changing climate -- Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have discovered that forest trees have the ability to extract nitrogen found in rocks, boosting the trees’ growth and their ability to draw more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These scientists claim that research models should consider the importance of how rocks may affect climate change. [UC Davis News]
- Cutting soot emissions would serve as effective means to slow global warming -- A scientist from Stanford University recently reported that his calculations indicate a reduction in soot emissions, such as from diesel engines, would slow melting of Arctic sea ice and serve as a faster and more economical method for slowing the increase of global temperatures. [EurekAlert!]
- Dust in the Southern Hemisphere has major effect on climate during last million years -- Researchers from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who analyzed dust and iron fluxes deposited in the Antarctic Ocean during the past 4 million years have found a close relation between the maximum contributions of dust to this ocean and climate changes occurring in the most intense glaciation periods of the Pleistocene period approximately 1.25 million years ago. Their data confirms the role of iron in the increase in phytoplankton levels during glacial periods, intensifying the function of this ocean as a sink for carbon dioxide. [Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Latest News]
- An All-Hazards Monitor -- This Web portal provides the user information from NOAA on current environmental events that may pose as hazards such as tropical weather, fire weather, marine weather, severe weather, drought and floods. [NOAAWatch]
- Global and US Hazards/Climate Extremes -- A review and analysis of the global impacts of various weather-related events, to include drought, floods and storms during the current month. [NCDC]
- Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com] Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email email@example.com
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