WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
7-11 May 2018
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2018 Campaign for May is underway -- The fifth in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2018 will continue through Monday, 14 May. 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 with the seven magnitude/star charts of progressively fainter stars. These constellations are Bootes in the Northern Hemisphere and Crux for the Southern Hemisphere. Activity guides are also available. The GLOBE at night program is intended to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution. The sixth series in the 2018 campaign is scheduled for 4-13 June 2018. [GLOBE at Night]
- Hurricane preparedness activities planned for this week --
- Hurricane Awareness Week --
NOAA has declared this week of 6-12 May 2018 to be Hurricane Awareness Week 2018 across the nation. Five states will also be observing their Hurricane Awareness Weeks during this week, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia and the Tri-State area of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York served by the New York National Weather Service Office. Several states will observe the following week (North Carolina and Oklahoma), while five New England States (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) and the remainder of New York State will wait until late July.
- Gulf Coast Hurricane Awareness Trip -- NOAA hurricane experts will embark on a five-day, five-city tour along the Gulf Coast of the United States in an US Air Force Reserve WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft to raise public hurricane awareness. The schedule, which runs from Monday 7 May through Friday 11 May, includes stops in McAllen, TX; Beaumont, TX; Baton Rouge, LA; Montgomery, AL; and Lakeland, FL. [NOAA News]
For those unable to attend the awareness tour, go to the list of Daily Themes and Hurricane Awareness Tour Stops on the Hurricane Preparedness Week page or to the #HurricaneStrong! link
- Hurricane Webinar offered for Grades 4-6-- The Hurricanes: Science and Society (HSS) team at the University of Rhode Island in partnership with the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) is offering a free 45-minute Hurricane Webinar 2018 for 4th through 6th grade classes on Tuesday morning, 9 May 2018. This webinar will be broadcast live when the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour stops at Baton Rouge, LA. Registration for this webinar is required. Students will hear from NHC scientists as well as NOAA AOC personnel who fly into hurricanes. [Hurricanes: Science and Society]
- Becoming AWARE -- The month of May is Volcano Preparedness Month in Washington state.
- Land of the Midnight Sun -- Barring clouds, the sun should rise at Barrow, AK early next Thursday morning (2:59 AM AKDT on 10 May 2018) after spending 72 minutes below the horizon. The sun should then remain above the local horizon for the next 12 weeks, before going below the horizon for 64 minutes on 2 August 2018 (at 2:02 AM AKDT). [US Naval Observatory]
- Five weather factors can influence a baseball game -- A list is provided that describe five ways in which weather can affect the outcome of a baseball game. These weather factors are: i.) air temperature, which can change the trajectory of a baseball; ii.) air density can affect the distance that a ball travels; iii.) temperature can affect a pitcher’s grip; iv.) sky conditions can affect how outfielders see a batted ball; and v.) windy conditions can have an effect on the players.
Weather and Climate News items:
- Spring comes to interior Alaska -- The ice on the Tanana River at the community of Nenana, AK officially went out at 1:18 PM on Tuesday, 1 May 2018 (Alaska Standard Time).
A webcam provides a continuously updated view of the official tripod set up on the river ice to officially determine the winner of the famous Nenana Ice Classic. This year's ice out date represents the 33rd earliest breakup on record in the famous 102-year history of the event. The earliest breakup occurred on the afternoon of 20 April 1998, while the latest breakup on record was on the afternoon of 20 May 2013. The median date for ice-breakup is 4 May. [Nenana Ice Classic] The jackpot for this year's annual Nenana Ice Classic of $225,000 was to be shared by several winners who had not been identified as of this weekend.
[Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]
NOTES: Three years ago, a feature was posted on the Climate.gov ClimateWatch Magazine site that provided additional background information on the Ice Classic and showed an analysis of long-term trends on the ice out date. An updated graph of the date of ice-out for each year since the Classic was started in 1917 has been plotted by this editor. Interannual (year-to-year) variability in ice-out dates associated with changes in winter temperature and snowfall accumulation in interior Alaska are superimposed upon the nearly century long trend in earlier ice out-dates associated with long-term climate changes. EJH
- Eye on the tropics --- During the last week, tropical cyclone activity was found in the South Indian basin. Tropical Storm Flamboyan intensified to a category 1 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale at the start of last week as it traveled toward the southwest approximately 1000 miles to the southeast of Diego Garcia. However, Cyclone Flamboyan began weakening within 24 hours as it curved to take a track toward the south-southwest. By midweek, Flamboyan had become a subtropical cyclone and began dissipating due to strong vertical wind shear. At that time, this former tropical cyclone was located approximately 1130 miles to the southeast of Diego Garcia. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for additional information and satellite images on Cyclone Flamboyan.
- A new national 24-hour rainfall record may have been set on Hawaii's Kauai Island -- Rain gauges in Waipa, approximately one mile west of Hanalei on the northern (windward) side of Hawaii's Kauai Island, recorded 49.69 inches (126 cm) of rain during a 24-hour span on 14-15 April 2018. If certified, this rainfall would represent a new national 24-hour rainfall record, surpassing the previous record of 43 inches measured at Alvin, TX in July 1979. [KITV News]
This torrential rain event created a devastating flash flood that caused widespread damage on Kauai. A map shows satellite-estimated rainfall accumulation over Kauai and adjacent waters of the Pacific from 12 to 19 April. These remotely–sensed rainfall estimates are from the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), a product of NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Hawaiian Island hurricane risk changes with discovery of little known 1871 major hurricane -- Until recently, little was known of a major hurricane that struck the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaii (the "Big Island") and Maui in August 1871 because little reference was made in English language sources, despite its coverage in Hawaiian language newspapers. Based upon detailed descriptions of the destruction at the time, the researchers suspect that this hurricane was a major hurricane, with a category 3 or 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Since many current state residents had assumed that the Big Island and Maui were relatively immune to major hurricanes over the last century, government officials had considering removing a mandate for hurricane insurance until they came across this research. [Hawaii Public Radio]
- North Pacific tropical cyclones can be intensified by La Niña-like cooling patterns -- Atmospheric scientists from the University of Hawaii recently reported finding a strong connection between sea surface temperature patterns in the Pacific Ocean associated with the "Global Warming Hiatus" phenomenon and changes in cyclone activity over the northwest Pacific Ocean. These changes involved increasing intensities and frequencies of strong tropical cyclones, especially those of category 4 and 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The "Global Warming Hiatus," the period between 1998 and 2012 when the rate of global temperature increase apparently slowed, coincided with the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean experiencing a La Niña-like cooling. However, the Indian and tropical north Atlantic Oceans warmed during this time. During the hiatus, the dominant equatorial easterly winds caused a cyclonic (counter-clockwise) circulation in the northwestern region of the Pacific Ocean, favoring the formation and intensification of cyclones in that section of the basin, as well as pushing more tropical cyclones westward to make landfall in east Asia. [University of Hawaii News]
- Tornado Alley experienced a "tornado drought" to start 2018 -- A meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center wrote an “Event Tracker” feature for the ClimateWatch Magazine that provides an explanation for the lack of tornadoes in the section of the southern Plains identified as the traditional "Tornado Alley" during the first four months of 2018. No tornadoes were reported to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) from Oklahoma, Kansas or Nebraska in 2018 until Tuesday, 1 May 2018, when one tornado formed in Oklahoma, twelve in Kansas and five in Nebraska. Consequently, this year marks the latest start to the tornado season in Oklahoma since SPC records began in 1950 for severe storms and 2018 represents only the fourth time in recorded history that Kansas did not experience a tornado in the month of April. The lack of tornadoes in Tornado Alley during the typical start of the tornado season has been attributed to an atmospheric circulation regime during April that brought cold, dry stable air southward across the Plains from Canada, with a displacement in the upper tropospheric jet stream well to the south, which caused most of the tornado activity to shift to the lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeastern States. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Canadian national seasonal outlook issued -- Forecasters with Environment Canada issued their outlooks for temperature and precipitation across Canada for the three months of May, June and July 2018, which represents the last month of meteorological spring and the first two months of meteorological summer. The temperature outlook indicates that most of Canada located to the south of latitude 60 degrees North should experience above normal (1981-2010) spring and early summer temperatures. Below average temperatures are anticipated across sections of northeastern Canada and sections of the Canadian Archipelago, centered primarily upon Baffin Island. Otherwise, the remainder of Canada including the Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut Territories could have near normal temperatures for these next three months.
The Canadian precipitation outlook for May through July 2018 indicates that sections of southern British Columbia and the Prairie Provinces extending from Alberta eastward to southern Manitoba could experience below average precipitation. Other areas of northern Canada centered on Nunavut Territory should also be wetter than average. Only a few scattered areas Canada could have above average rainfall. Elsewhere, close to average precipitation should be anticipated through July.
[Note for comparisons and continuity with the three-month seasonal outlooks of temperature and precipitation generated for the continental United States and Alaska by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, one would need to use Environment Canada's probabilistic forecasts for temperature and precipitation.]
- Sea ice is at historic low coverage in the Bering Sea -- Scientists from NOAA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks are continuing to monitor the record low sea ice coverage over the Bering Sea that began in late February 2018 and has continued through at least the end of April. Written sea ice records for the Bering Sea extend back to 1850. A series of maps along with a graph document the general lack of ice cover this year in the Bering Sea. As of the end of April 2018, sea ice was only ten percent of the 1981-2010 average. A scientist from the University of Alaska attributes the record low ice extent to three factors acting in concert: "above-normal air temperatures during autumn and early winter, warm water in the Bering Sea, and one of the stormiest winters in the past 70 years (although not the stormiest)." [NASA Earth Observatory]
Farther to the northeast, the ice pack covering the Beaufort Sea located north of Canada's Mackenzie Bay was undergoing an earlier than normal breakup. Images generated from data collected in April by several sensors onboard NASA's Landsat 8, Aqua and Terra satellites show the breakup and movement of sea ice over the Beaufort Sea. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- New GRACE Follow-On satellite designed to study melting polar ice -- NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences are scheduled to launch their GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in June as a replacement for their original Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission that was terminated last October after 15 years of operation. Like its predecessor, the GRACE-FO mission-consists of a pair of satellites in low altitude orbit that measure monthly changes in gravitational pull due primarily to changes in water mass distribution on Earth. Scientists are wanting to see how melting polar ice affects regional sea levels. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory News]
- Drought and temperature report is released -- NOAA's Modelling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program Drought Task Force recently released an eight-page report entitled "Temperature and Drought: A science assessment by a subgroup of the Drought Task Force" that explores the relationship between temperature and drought, both as a driver of and responder to drought. Until recently, drought research has concentrated upon analysis of how precipitation deficits cause drought. [US Drought Portal News]
- Future river-observing satellites could improve flood forecasting -- Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Washington have recently reported on their study of the speed at which floods propagate down the river systems around the world. The researchers ran a simple numerical model of flow waves that used information such as the width, slope, depth and the amount of friction water experiences when traveling along a river. From their study of 11 million miles of rivers worldwide, they found flood waves traveling at their maximum speed take a median time of three days to reach the next downstream dam, four days to arrive at the next downstream city and six days to exit the river system entirely. Their model estimated faster wave speeds than the data showed from more than 20,000 U.S. Geological Survey gauge stations. The model could be used in conjunction with data collected from NASA's planned Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite to improve flood forecasting. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory News]
- Debunking a myth about hay fever -- The United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UK Met Office) recently featured an article about hay fever, debunking the myth that hay fever can spread from person to person, like the common cold. A few other myths concerning hay fever are also discredited. [UK Met Office 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 email@example.com
© Copyright, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.