2013 Through September: 7th warmest year, worldwide, on record, as of late September. Source: World Meteorological Organization. Details below.
A D.C. Detour
“Man plans. God laughs.” Yep. Life rarely goes where you think it will go.
On Tuesday I met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, discussing stewardship and creation care issues; climate change as a spiritual as well as moral and scientific challenge. At the White House I talked about communicating the science, and our efforts to launch companies focused on adapting to a more volatile world of weather extremes.
NOAA does a great job helping consumers deal with acts of God. But acts of man, including carbon pollution? Coming soon: a new national database showing impacts down to your zip code; how changes in weather patterns are already affecting your hometown – and what the LONG range forecast may bring. Because climate change doesn’t hit home until it (literally) hits home.
Want To Know The Winter Snowfall Totals? Keep An Eye On Siberian Snowcover. Recent research seems to suggest that snowfall anomalies early in the winter season over Siberia correlate with snowfall amounts over the USA, especially eastern half of the USA. The system isn’t perfect, but years with excessive autumn snows in Siberia are often a tip-off of snowy U.S. winters to come. That’s the focus of today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas shows the conditions that created snow for parts of the Mid-Atlantic states. How confident is he in 45 day wish casts? Not very. And what can we expect for our winter if Siberia is seeing heavier than average snow?”
If New York Freezes In January Blame Siberian Snow Now. Here are more details on the possible link between Siberian snowfall anomalies and a negative phase of the AO, the Arctic Oscillation, a blocking pattern that often favors colder winter weather east of the Rockies. There’s linkage, but the system isn’t foolproof. Bloomberg has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…The more ground covered by snow across northern Europe and Asia at the end of October, the greater the chances of triggering a phenomenon known as the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. That would flood North America, Europe and East Asia with polar air and possibly erect a blocking effect in the North Atlantic that would bottle up the cold in the U.S. In September, 2.36 million square kilometers (911,000 square miles) of northern Europe and Asia were covered by snow, according to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. That compared with the 1981-2010 mean of 1.5 million…”
7-Day Weather Map. The loop above shows GFS wind and surface pressure data into Thursday of next week; a major storm pushing rain into the Midwest and Great Lakes by Saturday, ending as snow late Sunday and Sunday night. The green-shaded areas show sustained 10-meter winds over 25-30 mph. Animation: Ham Weather.
8 Day Snowfall Accumulations. Here is NOAA’s GFS solution (Kuchera method) showing expected snowfall amounts looking out into Thursday of next week; heavy snow from Colorado into the Pacific Northwest (highest elevations) – mostly lake effect snows downwind of the Great Lakes, with a narrow band of a couple inches from northern Iowa into southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin from Sunday night’s changeover from rain to snow. Map: Ham Weather and Alerts Broadcaster.
84 Hour Global Snowfall Product. If you’re interested in a larger perspective, here is GFS accumulated snowfall going out 84 hours, showing heavy snows from Alaska into western Canada, portions of the Alps and much of Russia. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather/Alerts Broadcaster.
Mild Bias Into Fourth Week Of November? That’s what NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting for much of the Upper Mississippi River Balley and the western USA, a cold bias for the southeast. We’ll see, but right now I don’t see any (extended) arctic outbreaks into Thanksgiving. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.
November 21 To 27 Temperature Anomalies. NOAA’s NAEFS extended model shows a mild bias from eastern Minnesota into much of northern and eastern Canada, temperatures across most of America close to average for mid/late November.
North Atlantic Oscillation Trends. A strongly negative phase of the NAO usually correlates with colder than average temperatures east of the Rockies. The ensemble shows a fairly large spread in solutions, reducing confidence, but no overwhelmingly negative signal that bitter days are brewing looking out 1-2 weeks. Graphic: NOAA CPC.
Why Was Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda So Powerful, And Is This A Trend? Climate scientist Greg Laden takes a look at scienceblogs.com; here’s an excerpt: “…But here I want to look at one single factor that almost certainly contributed to the growth of Haiyan/Yolanda into a very powerful storm, a factor that probably doesn’t usually play into a storm’s strength. I refer to an anomaly in sea surface temperatures that was almost certainly caused by global warming, as part of a general warming of the ocean. But first a bit of background on the link between sea surface temperature and hurricanes. This is one of several factors that may be involved in climate change related effects on tropical storm intensity, a situation with which we should be concerned. Tropical cyclones run on heat, and much of that heat comes from the sea surface…”
Graphic above: Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground. Graphic credit: “Departure of temperature from average at a depth of 100 meters in the West Pacific Ocean during October 2013, compared to a 1986 – 2008 average. The track and intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan are overlaid. Haiyan passed directly over large areas of sub-surface water that were 4 – 5°C above average in temperature, which likely contributed to the storm’s explosive deepening.” Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.
Typhoon Haiyan: How You Can Donate. Here’s an excerpt from an extensive list of approved charities from Christian Science Monitor:
1. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross are accepting donations and coordinating disaster relief on location. Follow the Philippine Red Cross on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
2. World Food Program, which delivers emergency food aid, is accepting donations online and through PayPal.
3. UNICEF Philippines is accepting donations online to provide children affected by the typhoon with drinkable water, hygiene supplies, food and shelter.
Side By Side Comparison. No, there is no Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. CIMSS at the University of Wisconsin-Madison did a comparison, showing much colder temperatures with Haiyan before landfall. Most of this can be attributed to a higher (colder) tropopause over the tropics vs. the Gulf of Mexico, but the differences are still pretty striking.
Chaser Team Documents Abrupt, Violent Onset Of Destructive Typhoon In Tacloban. Here are more eye-opening details about a team on the ground close to where Super Typhoon Haiyan came ashore in the Philippines, courtesy of meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Capital Weather Gang: “The iCyclone chase team, which earned fame by sharing with the world harrowing first-hand accounts of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, has published the data it recorded during the storm. It reveals a storm that struck with sudden and excessive force and that, despite its short duration, overwhelmed and ultimately destroyed much of the Philippine city. Haiyan’s storm surge “rose very suddenly and rapidly” and was estimated by the team – consisting of Josh Morgerman, James Reynolds, and Mark Thomas – to be between 20 and 30 feet high.
Image credit above: “Radar showing northern eyewall of Super Typhoon Haiyan passing through Tacloban at 7 a.m. local time on November 8.” (iCyclone).
When Haiyan Struck. Here’s an excerpt of another harrowing tale, this time from The New Yorker: “On November 8th, after Typhoon Haiyan hit, Helen Merino, a forty-four-year-old housemaid in Manila, tried to reach her parents in rural Barangay Tolingon, part of Isabel municipality in Leyte province. All power and communication lines were down, but somehow Facebook was accessible—not for nothing is the Philippines known as the world’s social-media capital. That evening, a cousin messaged Helen’s son on Facebook and posted a picture of a tree that had crushed her parents’ house. But they were alive—they had taken refuge in a school that had been turned into an evacuation center. The school’s roof had been blown off…”
Should The Saffir-Simpson Scale Go Beyond 5? This question is getting a lot of play among meteorologists and climate scientists right now, in light of “Haiyan”. Here’s an excerpt of a post at scienceblogs.com: “This is just a quick post to suggest an answer to the question posed by Greg Laden here: should we have a category 6 and above for hurricanes. My answer is no. I say this in agreement with many of the points expressed in Greg’s post, mainly that category 5 basically means total destruction and for all practical purposes what is the difference between flattened like a dirt road or flattened like a paved one? But in acknowledgment of the other arguments and points of view, I would suggest further categories into the higher wind speeds in the form of Category 5A, 5B, 5C etc. It seems to me this would satisfy all concerns on both sides with regard to distinguishing between increasing extremes of measured wind speeds and not diluting the “run for your life” message category 5 is supposed to deliver…”
NASA Study May Help Predict Major West Coast Snow Falls. Climatescience.com has an interesting story – here’s the intro: “Atmospheric rivers - short-lived wind tunnels that carry water vapor from tropical oceans to mid-latitude land areas - are prolific producers of rain and snow on California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The finding, published in the journal Water Resources Research, has major implications for water management in the West, where Sierra runoff is used for drinking water, agriculture and hydropower. The research team studied how two of the most common atmospheric circulation patterns in the Northern Hemisphere interact with atmospheric rivers. They found when those patterns line up in a certain way, they create a virtual freeway that leads the moisture-laden winds straight to the Sierras…”
Image credit above: “Launched into Earth-orbit on May 4, 2002, on board the Aqua satellite (pictured), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, moves climate research and weather prediction into the 21st century. AIRS is one of six instruments on board the Aqua satellite, part of the NASA Earth Observing System. AIRS along with its partner microwave instrument, Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU-A), represents the most advanced atmospheric sounding system ever deployed in space. Together these instruments observe the global water and energy cycles, climate variation and trends, and the response of the climate system to increased greenhouse gases.”
7th Warmest Year On Record, To Date. This is for the period January through September, 2013; details from the WMO, The World Meteorological Organization: “The year 2013 is currently on course to be among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The first nine months, January to September, tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48 C (0.86 F) above the 1961-1990 average…”
* The Guardian has more details here.
The Decade’s Deadliest Natural Disasters. Salon has a slide show highlighting the biggest disasters, worldwide. Here’s the credit for the image above: AP/Kyodo News. “March 11, 2011: A magnitude-9.0 earthquake off northeastern Japan causes a tsunami that sweeps onto the coast. About 19,000 people are killed and three nuclear reactors melt at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.”
Xcel, Advocates At Odds Over Minnesota Solar Garden Rules. Midwest Energy News has the story – here’s the intro: “As customers begin putting money down to join one of Minnesota’s first community solar gardens, new comments to state regulators reveal significant disagreements about how the program should work. A new state law requires Xcel Energy to develop a program that will allow customers to buy shares of power produced at nearby solar installations, known as community solar gardens. The idea is to make solar power accessible to the majority of Minnesotans who either don’t own their home or have a rooftop that isn’t sunny enough, strong enough, or angled correctly for installing solar panels…”
Photo credit above: Mike Baker via Creative Commons.
Free Life Advice: Marry A “Modern Family” Fan. Yes, advertisers and programmers can estimate household income based on the shows you watch on a routine basis. Good grief. Glad I watch so much PBS. Sesame Street, mostly. Here’s an excerpt from The Wrap: “The Dunphys of “Modern Family” might not eat at “Bob’s Burgers” — and fans of the shows might not eat at the same restaurants, either. The two comedies are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their average viewers’ median incomes. The median “Modern Family” viewer in the 18-49 demographic rakes in $81,100 annually, according to Nielsen data. “Bob’s Burgers” watchers in the demo, on the other hand, earn around $48,000 per year...”
* photo above: Steve Burns.
Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated By Half. About that alleged “pause” in warming. Real Climate has today’s top climate news headline – here’s an excerpt of their story: “A new study by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared. Obtaining the globally averaged temperature from weather station data has a well-known problem: there are some gaps in the data, especially in the polar regions and in parts of Africa. As long as the regions not covered warm up like the rest of the world, that does not change the global temperature curve…”
The Disappearing Hiatus. Michael Tobis has more on this thread at Planet 3.0; here’s an excerpt: “…Indeed, the conclusions allude to this:
While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.
There’s another aspect to this, though, and it may be a bigger deal than might at first be apparent. It adds up to a pretty scary situation. That’s because the “slowdown” or “hiatus” has also had a number of alternative explanations. Decreased solar activity. Increased volcanic activity. A prevalence of cool-phase El Nino oscillations. Increase in aerosol loading from rapid and dirty Chinese industrial expansion. Heat export to deeper ocean layers…”
Typhoon Haiyan Influenced By Climate Change, Scientists Say. A warmer Pacific Ocean didn’t spark the storm, but a deep layer of unusually warm water may have made the storm worse, as detailed in this story at The Sydney Morning Herald; here’s an excerpt: “…Professor Will Steffen, a researcher at the ANU and member of the Climate Council, said scientists understand how a hotter, moister climate is already affecting storms such as Haiyan. “Once [cyclones] do form, they get most of their energy from the surface waters of the ocean,” Professor Steffen said. “We know sea-surface temperatures are warming pretty much around the planet, so that’s a pretty direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm.” Data compiled from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows sea temperatures were about 0.5 to 1 degree above normal in the waters to the east of the Philippines as Haiyan began forming. The waters cooled in the storm’s wake, an indication of how the storm sucked up energy…”
Photo credit above: “A survivor sits among debris in the typhoon ravaged city of Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into several central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead.” (AP Photo/Vincent Yu).
Update: Super Typhoons And Global Warming. Here’s a clip from a story at Slate that caught my eye: “…After I posted my article, climatologist Michael Mann pointed out a paper written in 2008 that does in fact show that top wind speeds in the strongest cyclones have increased in recent times. The paper is titled, “The increasing intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones”, and the very first line is this:
“Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.”
That seems pretty clear*. They found that in the strongest cyclones, the maximum wind speeds have risen by about 29 kilometers per hour (18 mph) over the period of 1981 – 2006, a substantial amount…”
Photo credit above: “Typhoon Haiyan” survivors walk through the ruins of their neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country’s eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.” (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder).
Climate Change: When Ignorance Is A Recipe For Disaster. Even if warmer oceans aren’t triggering more numerous or more intense typhoons and hurricanes, rising sea levels are increasing the potential for coastal damage, argues this article at Australia’s The Age. Here’s an excerpt: “…But that’s not the end of the story. Climate change might not have made cyclones more frequent or more intense. But it is having other effects that threaten to be force multipliers for cyclones. The IPCC report again: ”It is very likely that mean sea-level rise will contribute to upward trends in extreme coastal high water levels in the future … There is high confidence that locations currently experiencing adverse impacts such as coastal erosion and inundation will continue to do so in the future due to increasing sea levels, all other contributing factors being equal. ”The very likely contribution of mean sea-level rise to increased extreme coastal high water levels, coupled with the likely increase in tropical cyclone maximum wind speed, is a specific issue for tropical small island states…”
Illustration above: John Shakespeare.
How Climate Change Will Affect The Southeast USA. Here’s an excerpt from USA Today: “Rising sea levels, warming temperatures, heat waves, worsening air quality and stresses on the water supply are issues the Southeast will face over the next 20 years because of man-made climate change, according to a report released Tuesday. “The Southeast is a key part of the problem,” said Keith Ingram, director of the Southeast Climate Consortium and a professor at the University of Florida. “With 26% of the total population of the U.S. living there, the region emits 25% of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions…”
Image credit: NASA.
Vast Antarctic Ice Berg “Could Threaten Shipping”. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The BBC: “UK researchers have been awarded an emergency grant to track a vast iceberg in Antarctica that could enter shipping lanes. Latest images show several kilometres of water between the iceberg, estimated to be about 700 sq km (270 sq miles), and the glacier that spawned the block. The £50,000 award will fund a six-month project that will also predict its movement through the Southern Ocean. The icy giant broke away from the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) in July…”
Image credit above: “UK researchers will closely monitor the movement of the iceberg as it travels through the Southern Ocean.”
The Inequality Of Climate Change. Here’s a clip from a story at the Economix Blog at The New York Times: “…That is the firmly established view of numerous national governments, development and aid groups and the United Nations as well. “It is the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit,” said Rajenda Pachauri of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking to reporters in Brussels back in 2007. The reason is twofold. First is the geography of climate change itself. The higher the latitude, the bigger the temperature increase. And generally, the farther from the equator, the wealthier the country — meaning rich countries like Norway and Canada might see a disproportionate impact from global warming…”
Image credit above: “
Climate Change Opens Door To Forest Pests New To Great Lakes. A few degrees warmer sounds pretty good, until you realize that (new) pests like the warmth too. The Great Lakes Echo has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…It’s a phenomenon not confined to webworms and honeylocust trees as the Earth’s temperature rises and the variability of climate increases. Climate change will increase the frequency of droughts, increase the severity of snow/rain storms and make frosts occur later, said Sophan Chhin, assistant professor in the department of forestry at Michigan State University. As climate changes and growing seasons are interrupted by drought and frost, trees are preoccupied with regaining their strength and become more vulnerable to insects and disease…”
Photo credit above: “The changing climate upsets can leave trees vulnerable to harmful insects like the pine beetle.” Photo: USDA Forest Service.
A Fortune Made Of Sand: How Climate Change Is Destroying Cancun. GlobalPost has the story; here’s a clip: “…Cancun’s perfect tropical beach is its principal selling point. Made from the remains of long-dead corals, it famously stays cool even on the most scorching days. Yet the only reason the resort still has a beach is thanks to a $70 million project in 2010 to replenish it by dredging up more than 1 billion gallons of sand from the seabed. That was a response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which overnight swept away eight miles of Cancun’s prime beach. Although scientists are wary of attributing specific weather events to climate change, most agree that warming seas in the Caribbean have already made devastating hurricanes like Wilma — not to mention Katrina and Sandy which respectively ravaged New Orleans and New York — increasingly frequent…”
Peru Uses Climate Twist To Lure Tourists To Shrinking Glacier. Here’s an excerpt of a story from Reuters: “In its heyday, the Pastoruri glacier in central Peru, drew daily throngs of tourists packed into dozens of double-decker buses 16,000-feet (5,0000-meters) high into the Andes to ski, build snowmen and scale its dizzying peaks. It was so bright with ice and snow that sunglasses were mandatory. But in less than 20 years, including at least 10 of the hottest on record, Pastoruri has shrunk in half, and now spans just a third of a square mile (0.9 square km)...”
Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.