WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
15-19 January 2018
Items of Interest:
- Approaching coldest time of the year -- This
week is the third week of January, which for many
locations across the nation typically marks the coldest week of the
year, as indicated by the daily normal high and low temperatures.
Usually, those stations located away from the moderating influences of
the oceans reach their lowest temperatures during the third week of
January, or a roughly one month after the winter solstice, when the
Northern Hemisphere receives the fewest hours of daylight and the
smallest amounts of solar radiation. During that month, temperatures
continue to fall to their lowest typical values as cooling continues.
However, the increased length of daylight and increased sunshine during
this month begins to warm the ground and overlying atmosphere as normal
daily temperatures begin to rise toward their highest levels in mid to
- Free admission into the National Parks --
This Monday, 15 January 2018, has been designated by the National Park Service as a fee-free day in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. This fee waiver will cover entrance and commercial tour fees in many of the national parks and monuments administered by the Park Service. [National Park Service Fee Free Days]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- During the last week, three tropical cyclones
were traveled across the waters of the South Indian Ocean:
Cyclone Irving, which had become a category 2 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale over the previous weekend, continued to travel toward the southwest across the waters of the South Indian Ocean to the southeast of Diego Garcia at the start of last week. By midweek, Irving had turned to move toward the west-southwest and then south as it weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression. By this time, Tropical Depression Irving was located to the east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. Additional information and satellite imagery for Cyclone Irving can be found on the NASA Hurricane Page.
A tropical depression formed at midweek over the waters of the eastern South Indian Ocean offshore of Cape Leveque, Western Australia. Traveling toward the northwest and then west, this tropical depression intensified to become Tropical Cyclone Joyce. Turning toward the south and southwest, Joyce hugged the coast of Western Australia before making landfall near the end of the week on the Pilbara Coast of Western Australia. By then, Joyce had been downgraded to a remnant low as it moved on to land, reaching to a position nearly 50 miles east of Port Hedland, Western Australia.
The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite images and additional information on Tropical Cyclone Joyce.
Tropical Storm Berguitta formed over the waters of the South Indian Ocean to east-northeast of Port Louis, Mauritius at the beginning of this past weekend. Berguitta intensified as it traveled toward the west-southwest. By early Monday (local time), Berguitta was located approximately to the east -northeast of east-northeast of Port Louis. Current forecasts indicate that Berguitta should become a category 1 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as it was projected to pass close to Mauritius and then La Reunion by midweek.
- Seismic sensors can record hurricane intensity -- Researchers from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Princeton University and Italy's University of Bologna have discovered a nearly persistent signature of tropical cyclones in "ambient seismic noise" being recorded on seismic sensors. The team analyzed 13 years of tropical cyclones in the northwest Pacific Ocean, using data obtained from seven seismometers stationed in eastern Asia and on islands in the Pacific. The researchers found that these signatures in the ambient noise, which originate in the ocean waves generated by tropical cyclones, can be used to estimate the strength of hurricanes and typhoons. Ultimately, long-term seismic records could be used to estimate the strength of past hurricanes and to reveal possible long-term changes in the severity and frequency of these storms. [NOAA Climate Program Office News]
- Review of national weather and climate for December 2017 and for the 2017 calendar year -- Scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have released reports based upon their preliminary analysis of temperature and precipitation data collected through the end of December 2017 from across the nation. Based upon the data processed through late last week, they report:
- December 2017 had above average temperatures and below average precipitation -- The nationwide average December temperature across the contiguous United States was 34.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century (1901-2000) average. This average December 2017 for the nation was the 31st highest in 123 years of record, extending back to 1895 when a a sufficiently dense national climate observing network was established across the country. States across Southwest as well as the Rockies and central Plains reported above to much above average temperatures. Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico reported statewide average temperatures that were in the ten highest December readings since 1895 for their respective states. Above average statewide temperatures were also reported across the Southeast. Conversely, the five states in the Great Lakes region and northern New England, extending from Michigan to Maine, had below average December temperatures. southern tier of states running from Arizona eastward to Florida, as well as northward along the Atlantic Coast from Florida to New Hampshire. The remainder of the 48 states had statewide temperatures that were near average.
The nationwide precipitation total for December 2017 across the "Lower 48 states" was 1.55 inches or 0.80 inches below the 20th century average, making the month the ninth driest December since 1895. As many as 33 of these states had below to much-below average precipitation totals. In terms of order of dryness rank, California, Kansas, Virginia, Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Oregon, West Virginia and Nevada had statewide December precipitation totals that ranked in the lowest 10 for that month.
Only Arkansas and Montana had statewide precipitation totals that were above average. The remaining 13 states had near average December precipitation totals.
According to the Rutgers (University) Snow Lab, the snow cover across the 48 contiguous states in December was the 20th smallest in the 52-year satellite-based record.
[NOAA/NCEI State of the Climate]
- Calendar year of 2017 was third warmest across nation -- The preliminary average temperature for the coterminous United
States during the recently concluded 2017 was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit,
which was 2.6 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th-century average. As a result, 2017 was the nation's third warmest year since 1895, following behind the warmest year of 2012, which had a national average annual temperature of 55.3 degrees, and 2016 with a 54.9-degree reading.
With the exception of Washington state, all 48 states reported annual statewide temperatures that were within the top sixteen on record for each state; December 2017 ranked 41st warmest in Washington. Arizona and New Mexico in the Southwest reported their warmest year in 123 years, while the statewide temperatures in Georgia and the Carolinas also were the highest on record. While the average maximum (afternoon) temperature across the nation was the fifth highest on record, the average minimum (or predawn) national temperature was the fourth on record.
Alaska had its seventh warmest year on record.
The nationwide average precipitation across the 48 contiguous states for 2017 was 32.21 inches, or 2.27 inches above the 20th century average. Therefore, 2017 was the 20th wettest year on record since 1895. More than half of the states (25) reported above to much-above statewide annual precipitation totals. Michigan experienced its wettest year since 1895. On the other hand, four states had below to much below average annual precipitation. North Dakota experienced its eighth driest year in the last 123 years. [NOAA/NCEI State of the Climate]
NOTE: A description is provided of the climatological rankings employed by NCDC for their monthly, seasonal and annual maps. [NOAA/NCEI]
- Historic year of extreme weather/climate events in US during 2017 -- Last week NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported that according to preliminary data, 16 separate weather and climate disaster events occurred during 2017 across the nation that each produced at least $1 billion in losses. These events included three land-falling tropical cyclones, eight severe convective (thunderstorm) events, two inland flooding events, a crop freeze, a drought event and a wildfire event. These 16 events in 2017 tied 2011 for the record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year (since 1980). The events in 2017 have caused 362 deaths across the nation, less than the record number of 16 events in one year (since 1980) that was set in 2011 when 764 people were killed by these events. Furthermore, the estimated cumulative cost of these events in 2017 exceeds $300 billion, which represents a new national annual record, exceeding the previous annual record of $214.8 billion in 2005, due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Further updates to this tentative list for 2017 will be made in the next several months. [NOAA NCEI News] or [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Updated El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion & El Niño advisory outlook 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. As of early January, La Niña conditions had continued, with below-average sea surface temperatures (SST) found across the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean during the previous month. Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies values across these sections of the equatorial Pacific ranged between 0.5 and one Celsius degree below normal. In addition to the pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies, the atmosphere patterns were also consistent with a La Niña event in terms of the location of atmospheric convection and the low-level winds. Nearly all the prediction models used by IRI/CPC suggest La Niña conditions will persist for the next several months. Consequently, the forecasters maintained their La Niña advisory, since the current La Niña conditions had a high likelihood (approximately 85 to 95%) of continuing through Northern Hemisphere winter, with a possible transition to ENSO-neutral conditions in spring. (ENSO-neutral means that neither El Niño or La Niña conditions would be anticipated.)
[NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
A blog written by a contractor scientist from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center describing the La Niña conditions that have been found across the tropical Pacific over the last month. Attention was also paid to winter (December-February) temperature patterns across the nation for strong, moderate and weak La Niña events since 1950. The maps for the 21 selected winters were displayed as temperature anomalies (or differences between observed and 1981-2010 average temperatures).
[NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Dry Southwest awaits winter precipitation -- A blog written for the "Event Tracker" feature in the ClimateWatch Magazine by a meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center describes the lack of meaningful precipitation across the Four Corners area of the Southwest (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet). Moderate to severe drought conditions have expanded rapidly across this region as of the first week of January 2018. In addition to a general lack of fall rains, Flagstaff, AZ has not received measurable snow this winter season; by the end of the first week of January, Flagstaff typically has received at least 34 inches of snow. If no measurable snow falls as of Monday, 15 January, a new record for the latest occurrence of first measurable snowfall for a winter season will be established. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Cloud streets are seen across the Yellow Sea -- A natural-color image was made from data collected by the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's Terra satellite of cloud streets steaming across the Yellow Sea in mid-November. These cloud streets are long bands of cumulus clouds paralleling the northerly winds that are formed as cold air from Siberia was carried out over the warm waters of the Yellow Sea to the west of the Korean Peninsula. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Snow dusts the Atlas Mountain entrance to the Sahara Desert -- Natural-color satellite images were made of the several inches of snow that fell early last week over the higher terrain of the Atlas Mountains of northern Algeria near the entrance to the Sahara Desert. These satellite images were generated from data collected by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard NASA's Landsat 8 satellite. Snow in the Sahara is not unprecedented. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Satellite documents ice cover on Lake Erie -- Images were made of North America's Great Lakes from data collected by the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's Terra satellite in early January. One image was a natural-color image that shows clouds, snow-covered land and the open lake waters in the visible portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum. The other image was a false-color image made from a combination of infrared and visible light that permits better differentiation between snow and ice (blue) and clouds (white). These two images can be used to see how the extensive ice cover that had formed on Lake Erie has reduced the cloud streets that developed across the Great Lakes as cold air flows across the relatively warm lake surfaces. [NASA Earth Observatory] Note: A link is provided to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory for current ice cover conditions and historic ice cover graphics.
- Arctic air behind early January nor'easter creates icy waters along East Coast -- A series of images obtained at the start of last week from data collected by the MODIS sensor on NASA's Terra satellite shows the ice that formed on North Carolina's Albemarle Sound, Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay in the Middle Atlantic States and Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound in New England. Some of these rivers, bays, and estuaries along the coast rarely have ice. Arctic air circulating around the western side of the major nor'easter storm that crippled the East Coast on the first weekend of January brought air temperatures to near zero degrees Fahrenheit in many coastal locations, which resulted in the ice formation on the coastal waters. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Reconstruction of changes in North Atlantic jet stream over last 290 years made from tree-ring analysis -- Dendrochronologists from the University of Arizona's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in Birmensdor have analyzed tree ring data collected from trees in the British Isles and the northeastern Mediterranean to reconstruct historical changes in the North Atlantic jet stream to ascertain the regions' late-summer weather extending back 290 years to 1725. When the North Atlantic jet is displaced poleward, the British Isles and western Europe have a summer heat wave while southeastern Europe has heavy rains and flooding, but when the jet is located in a southern position, western Europe has heavy rains and flooding while southeastern Europe has extreme high temperatures, drought and wildfires. The researchers also found that increased fluctuations in the path of the North Atlantic jet stream since the 1960s coincide with more extreme weather events in Europe such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires and flooding, [University of Arizona 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, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.