WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
19-23 November 2018
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Week from the AMS Weather Studies Central Staff and Ed Hopkins!
Items of Interest:
- First images of Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific made by GOES-17 -- NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-17 satellite reached its intended operational position in a geosynchronous orbit of Earth above the Equator at 137.2 degrees west longitude last week. At that time, the GOES-17 Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) sent its first images from this location that will be the satellite's new vantage point as GOES-West beginning on 10 December 2018. In addition to a spectacular full disk image of the Pacific basin in natural color, some of these first images included close-ups of the Hawaiian Islands, a storm over the Gulf of Alaska and the smoke plume from the Woolsey Fire in southern California. [NOAA NESDIS News]
- High tides expected along the West Coast this weekend -- The "High Tide Bulletin for the Fall of 2018" from NOAA's National Ocean Service has an outlook for higher than normal ocean tides between 23 and 25 November along the US Pacific Coast extending from California northward to Washington State and along the coasts of Alaska. These higher than normal tides are due to a combination of factors. A high astronomical tide called a perigean spring tide will occur at because of a full moon late Thursday night (22 November) followed three days later by lunar perigee next Monday morning (26 November), when the moon is close to Earth in its elliptical orbit. In addition, the anticipated development and strengthening of El Niño conditions tends to elevate sea levels in the Eastern Pacific. Higher than normal tides are not anticipated along the nation's Atlantic and Gulf Coasts or around the Pacific Islands at this time. [NOAA National Ocean Service News]
- A summary of nation's "spooktacular" October climate -- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information has updated its summary of typical October weather across the nation in its feature entitled "America's Spooktacular October Climate." Narratives and analyzed maps of monthly temperature and precipitation for October are provided. Extreme monthly temperatures and precipitation totals are noted. A tabulation was made of the daily normal (1981-2010) maximum, minimum and average temperatures for Halloween (31 October) using 10 locations with Halloween-themed names. A discussion of the occurrence of October hurricanes and tornadoes is also provided. [NOAA NCEI News]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- Several tropical cyclones were reported over the tropical waters of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres during the last week:
- In the North Indian Ocean basin:
Tropical Cyclone Gaja was heading to the west-southwest across the waters of the Bay of Bengal toward the southeastern coast of India at the start of last week. Gaja made landfall early Friday morning as a high-end tropical storm near Vedaranyam, a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As many as 45 people were killed by the strong winds, torrential rains and landslides that accompanied Gaja. This cyclone crossed southern India and then exited the Indian state of Kerala, moving out over the waters of the Arabian Sea on Saturday. As of Monday morning (local time), Gaja was a tropical depression that was heading toward the west-northwest approximately 910 miles to the southeast of Masirah Island, Oman. Current forecasts indicate that Gaja could continue heading generally toward the west on Monday as it weakens and then dissipates. Satellite imagery and additional information on Cyclone Gaja can be found on the NASA Hurricane Blog.
- In the South Indian Ocean basin:
- Tropical Cyclone Alcide, which had been a high-end category 2 tropical cyclone (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) was becoming a post-tropical cyclone at the start of last week as it headed northward. By early Monday, Alcide had dissipated approximately 530 miles to the north-northwest of St. Denis on La Réunion Island. Consult the NASA Hurricane Blog for additional information and satellite images associated with Cyclone Alcide.
- Tropical Storm Bouchra was drifting toward the east-southeast at the start of last week approximately 1150 miles to the east of Diego Garcia. Over the next several days, Bouchra slowly made a loop across open South Indian Ocean, well away from any populated land mass. By late Wednesday, Bouchra weakening to a post-tropical cyclone that was located about 570 miles to the northwest of Cocos Island, Australia.
The NASA Hurricane Blog has satellite images and additional information on Tropical Cyclone Bouchra.
- In the western North Pacific basin:
A tropical depression that was locally named Toraji formed over the waters of the South China Sea late Saturday (local time). At that time, Toraji was traveling toward the west-northwest as it was approximately 300 miles to the east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Toraji strengthened to a tropical storm, which was relatively short-lived as it made landfall along the central coast of Vietnam near Phan Rang City. After landfall, Toraji weakened. Remnants of Toraji were forecast to travel to the west-southwest across interior sections of southern Vietnam during the first several days of this week.
- Another tropical depression, identified as Tropical Depression 33W (TD-33W) formed late Sunday (local time) over the waters of the Philippine Sea approximately 600 miles to the east of Davao City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. By early Monday, TD-33W was 900 miles to the east-southeast of Manila, Philippines. Traveling toward the west-northwest, TD-33W was expected to strengthen to become a tropical storm as it heads toward the southern Philippine Islands.
- Review of October 2018 weather and climate across the US -- Using preliminary weather data gathered during the month of October 2018 from across the nation, scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recently reported that the average temperature averaged across the 48 contiguous United States for this past month was approximately 0.3 Fahrenheit degrees below the 20th century (1901-2000) long-term average. The nationwide average October 2018 temperature was the 44th lowest October temperature since a comprehensive national climate network began in 1895. The nationwide average maximum (or daytime) temperature this past month was the 21st lowest on record, while the average minimum (or nighttime) temperature was the 22nd highest in 124 years. Fifteen states across the nation's midsection running from Montana and the Dakotas south to Texas, as well as from Utah to the western Great Lakes had statewide temperatures that were below to much below average. The October 2018 statewide average for North Dakota was the twelfth lowest on record. On the other hand, the Middle Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. had above- to much above-average temperatures, with Florida having its fourth highest October average temperature since 1895. Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia had statewide average temperatures that ranked in the top eleven highest on record in their respective states. California also had an above average temperature for October.
Alaska experienced its warmest October since a statewide record began 1925 with a statewide average temperature that was 9.0 Fahrenheit degrees above the long-term average, breaking the previous record statewide October temperature set in 2013 by 0.5 Fahrenheit degrees.
Preliminary precipitation records for October 2018 indicate that the nationwide average precipitation total for the month was 1.21 inches above the 20th century average, placing the month as the sixth wettest of the 124-year record. A majority of the contiguous states (36) had above- to much-above precipitation totals. Texas had its wettest October, while eight states (Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin) had precipitation totals that ranked in the top ten of their respective state's listing. California and Florida had below-average October precipitation. [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]
- October drought report -- The National
Centers for Environmental Information has posted its October
2018 drought report online. Using the Palmer Drought Severity
Index, approximately nine percent of the coterminous United States
experienced severe to extreme drought conditions at the end of October,
while twenty-one percent of the area had severely to extremely wet
- California was primed for historic November wildfires by a hot, dry summer and slow start to wet season -- A meteorologist with NOAA recently posted an "Event Tracker" blog on the ClimateWatch Magazine that discuses the climate conditions that led up to the horrible autumn wildfire season in California. As of the midpoint of last week, the Camp Springs fire to the north of the capital city of Sacramento had become the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California's modern history. Summer 2018 was much warmer than average across the Golden State, with record warm nights in some places. In addition, precipitation in Northern California ranged from below average to record dry. This lack of precipitation continued across much of the state through September, with precipitation totals less than 5 percent of average. This lack of rain continued into October, which typically marks the beginning of the fall wet season. The extended heat and dryness meant dry ground to start November and the vegetation turned into excellent fire fuel. Strong winds, including the Santa Ana winds in southern California, developed to help spread the wildfires that explosively developed. According to the upcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment, the number of large western wildfires has increased from 1984-2011, with the increasing trends likely to be associated from a combination of factors, including fire suppression policies of previous decades and a changing climate. These trends are expected to continue. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Satellites and ground sensors monitor smoke from California wildfires -- Several sensors on board NASA and NOAA satellites along with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sensors on the ground have been monitoring the large aerosol loading of the atmosphere by the massive wildfires that have been raging across northern and southern California over the last several weeks. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor on the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite have observed expansive smoke and aerosol plumes. The Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) on Suomi NPP observed unusually high aerosol levels and the Measurement of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) on Terra has detected strong carbon monoxide signals from the fire. The ground-based sensors that measure the mass concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air found levels that were 40 times higher than the level considered safe to breathe.
[NASA Earth Observatory]
- More about NOAA's ENSO Outlook and the El Niño Watch --
An ENSO blog written by a contractor at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for the ClimateWatch Magazine provides a non-technical description of why the CPC forecasters maintain that El Niño conditions have not arrived as of the end of the first week of November. Although the four areas of the equatorial Pacific used as ENSO monitoring regions had above average sea surfaces temperatures that would warrant a possible El Niño, several other atmospheric features have not changed as of early November to an El Niño. These atmospheric conditions not showing the official onset of El Niño conditions include the "Southern Oscillation Index" that is based upon the difference in sea level air pressure between Darwin, Australia and Tahiti, along with the "Equatorial Southern Oscillation Index" that measures the pressure differences between the western and eastern equatorial Pacific. Additionally, cloud observations based upon satellite measurements of the Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) do not show that El Niño were present in early November. However, she feels that the atmospheric indicators will show a change soon, reflecting the guidance provided by most of the numerical climate outlook models used by CPC forecasters to issue their El Niño Watch over a week ago. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Updated winter weather outlook released -- Late last week, forecasters at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their updated Three-Month Seasonal Outlook for meteorological winter (the three months of December 2018 through February 2019) across the nation. Specific details of their outlooks include:
- Temperature and precipitation outlooks -- According to their temperature outlook, nearly three-quarters of the land area of the 48 contiguous U.S. should experience a high chance of above average temperatures for these three upcoming months. The greatest probability of such an occurrence would be found in the Pacific Northwest, primarily in northwestern sections of Oregon and Washington. The outlook indicates one quarter of the nation, running from Texas eastward to Florida and northward along the Atlantic coast to Maine would have nearly equal chances of warmer or cooler than normal conditions. The entire state of Alaska was expected to experience a warmer than average winter.
Their precipitation outlook calls for the southern third of the nation, extending from California eastward to the Florida Peninsula and northward along the Atlantic Seaboard through the Middle Atlantic coast should have a better than even chance of above average precipitation for meteorological winter 2018-19. The greatest probability for wetter winter conditions would be centered on northern Florida and nearby sections of Georgia. On the other hand, a large section of the Midwest, centered upon the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan would have better than even chances of below average precipitation totals for these upcoming three months. Elsewhere, sections of the coterminous states running from the Pacific Coast eastward to the lower Missouri Valley and then eastward across the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys to the Appalachians and northeastward across the Middle Atlantic and New England should have essentially equal chances of below and above average precipitation for this upcoming winter. The southern half of Alaska has a good chance of above average winter precipitation, while the northern half of the 49th State would have equal chances, as no clear-cut signal was apparent.
A summary of the prognostic discussion of the 3-month outlook for non-technical users is available from CPC. These forecasts were based upon the anticipation that the current ENSO conditions should become an El Niña during this upcoming winter. A description is also provided as how to read these 3-class, 3-month Outlook maps.
NOTE: These outlooks can be compared with the public winter outlooks that CPC released in mid-October 2018.
- Seasonal Drought Outlook -- The
forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center also released their US
Seasonal Drought Outlook last week that would run from late-November 2018 through February 2019.
Their outlook indicates that many areas across the nation that are currently experiencing drought conditions would continue to experience drought through this upcoming winter. These regions are primarily found across the central Rockies (Colorado and southern Wyoming), the Great Basin (Utah and Nevada), the interior Northwest (Oregon to the east of the Cascades) and the Dakotas. On the other hand, large sections of the Southwest surrounding the Four Corners (Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico), together with the areas along the California and Oregon coasts could see some improvement of their drought conditions, with some areas possibly experiencing a removal from drought status. Note: a Seasonal Drought Outlook Discussion is included describing the forecasters' confidence.
- Special Observing Period in the Antarctic is launched -- During this past week, a three-month Special Observing Period in the Antarctic was launched as a contribution to the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) to boost weather, ice and atmospheric observations in a remote area on Earth. YOPP involves the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and 20 other nations. It is taking place from mid-2017 to mid-2019 in order to cover an entire year in both the Arctic and Antarctic a wide array of partners around the globe. The current Special Observing Period has started near the beginning of meteorological summer in the Southern Hemisphere and involves atmospheric and sea-ice observations from different Antarctic land stations during terrestrial field expeditions and aboard research vessels in the Southern Ocean. More than 2000 extra radiosondes will be released from numerous meteorological stations to sample atmospheric conditions with altitude. [WMO News]
- U.S. crime rates linked to warmer winters -- Researchers at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences have found a strong link between U.S. crime rates and climate that has a seasonal pattern. They found that warmer winters in some sections of the nation may result in higher rates of violent crimes, such as robbery and assaults. They suggest that with higher temperatures, more people would be outdoors, leading to an increased opportunity for interpersonal crime. Powerful climate analysis techniques were used to investigate the relationship between year-to-year fluctuations in climate and violent crime rates in U.S. cities since 1979. [Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences - University of Colorado 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.