Archive for the ‘noaa monthly’ Category

A La Niña winter is on the way for the US

October 16th, 2020
The global average temperature for September was a new record.

Enlarge / The global average temperature for September was a new record. (credit: NOAA)

September apparently wasn’t feeling like doing anything unusual, so it ended up being the warmest September on record for the globe. That’s been something of a trend this year, with each month landing in its respective top three. It has become increasingly clear that 2020 will likely be the second warmest year on record, if it isn’t the first.

Unlike in August, the contiguous US didn’t set a record in September, though it was still above the 20th century average. A high-pressure ridge dominated over the West Coast again, leading to even more warm and dry weather for much of the Western US. But a trough set up over the Central US in mid-September, bringing cooler air southward.

Two more hurricanes—Sally and Beta—led to above-average rainfall in the Southeast. Total precipitation for the contiguous US was a touch above average as a result, but the average as usual masks local differences. Drought conditions have expanded and worsened over much of the West, and there has been little relief for wildfire conditions.

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After billion-dollar disasters, here’s what the US’ fall weather has in store

September 18th, 2020
Hey, another warm month...

Enlarge / Hey, another warm month... (credit: NOAA)

We’re reaching the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the weather in the US has been about as eventful as one expects for the year 2020. A highly active Atlantic hurricane season has lived up to expectations so far, while record-setting wildfires have blanketed the drought-beset West Coast, creating smoke that has drifted clear across the country.

NOAA’s latest monthly summary shows how all this developed in August and what we have to look forward to in the next three months. Critically, La Niña conditions in the Pacific seem to have settled in, which has implications for winter patterns across North America and beyond.

Looking back

Globally, this was the second warmest August on record (going back to 1880) and the third warmest June-August stretch. Looking at the entire year through August, 2020 is the second warmest on record just behind 2016. With so little of the year left, it’s very unlikely to drop in the rankings, and it still has a chance at the top spot. NOAA currently puts the odds of a new record at about 40 percent, while other estimates continue to be a bit higher. La Niña conditions will hold down the global average, so topping 2016 and its warm El Niño would be remarkable.

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July was a hot one, but here’s what NOAA sees ahead for the US

August 21st, 2020
July was a hot one, but here’s what NOAA sees ahead for the US

Enlarge (credit: NOAA)

Many of our American readers don’t need a news article to know it has been hot. California is going through a horrific stretch of heat, wildfires, and rolling blackouts. Hopefully, none of you were in Death Valley to see an unspeakable record 130°F mark set last Sunday, so your eyebrows are merely raised and not singed. Beyond the West, portions of the Northeast just experienced weeks of unrelenting hot weather.  Nevertheless, NOAA’s monthly summary and outlook could give you a bigger picture of what the weather's like outside your neck of the woods.

Globally, July tied 2016 for the second warmest July on record (2019 being first). It was also the second warmest for North America, though it clocks in slightly lower at 11th warmest for the Contiguous US. Temperatures were near average in the Pacific Northwest and some Central Plains states but quite warm in the Southwest and extremely warm in the Northeast.

Of 35 weather station sites with the longest records in the Northeast, July was the hottest month period at 11 of them. At seven sites, including Baltimore, DC, and Philadelphia, July also set a record for the most number of days hitting 90°F—that happened 28 times in DC, for example.

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Here’s NOAA’s outlook for US summer weather—and hurricane season

May 25th, 2020
Let's start with something nice... check the orange popping out of this April 14 satellite image of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

Enlarge / Let's start with something nice... check the orange popping out of this April 14 satellite image of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. (credit: NASA EO)

On Friday, NOAA released its latest seasonal weather outlook for the US, which followed an updated hurricane season outlook. As always, the seasonal outlook starts with a look back at the previous month.

April 2020 was the 2nd warmest April on record globally, but a southward meander of the jet stream over Canada and the eastern US made this region of North America the exception. For the contiguous US, April was slightly below the average going back to 1895. Precipitation was similarly just below average, but a few states including Colorado and Nebraska had an extremely dry April, while the Virginias and Georgia were extremely wet.

If you live around the Midwest or Plains states, you won’t be surprised to hear that recent weeks have not been particularly warm. That’s because mid-April saw a hard freeze come through, with another freeze in the second week of May. While the April freeze wasn’t really late compared to the long-term averages, it followed a warm spring that caused vegetation to pop up early in many places—only to be bitten by a frost.

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US weather outlook highlights spring flooding risk

March 22nd, 2020
Below-average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada on March 3.

Enlarge / Below-average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada on March 3. (credit: NASA EO)

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out its latest monthly update Thursday, this time focused primarily on the flooding risk around the US as spring arrives. The unusually warm winter has put the country in a bit of a split personality: some parts of the US are at risk for flooding, while others can expect worsening drought, instead.

With the notable exception of cooler weather in Alaska, the continental US ended up at the sixth warmest winter (December, January, February) on record. Although warmer temperatures meant below-average snowfall for a good portion of the country, the eastern half saw above-average precipitation overall—more of it simply fell as rain.

The western US, meanwhile, saw low precipitation in many areas, contributing to drought conditions. That includes California, where the snowpack is currently well below average despite a round of good snowfall this week.

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January was warmest on record for the globe

February 22nd, 2020
January was warmest on record for the globe

Enlarge (credit: NOAA)

We’re off to a hot start in 2020, with January setting a new mark as the warmest instance of that month on record for the globe. And as NOAA pointed out in its monthly summary released Thursday, that occurred without the warming influence of an El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, where conditions remain neutral.

Few places around the world had a cool month, with much of India and Alaska/Western Canada providing exceptions. Europe through to northern Asia was particularly warm, and January ranked fifth warmest over the contiguous US. This was largely due to remarkably tight circulation of the “polar vortex,” which helped keep Arctic air bottled up north of the mid-latitudes.

For the US, the weather pattern was dominated by an area of low pressure around Alaska and high pressure off the coast of California. Alaska and western Canada stayed colder in this pattern, which also funneled moisture over the Pacific Northwest while keeping the US Southwest dry. In the middle of the month, the low pressure shifted east for a bit, bringing just enough cool air over the central US to produce a fair bit of precipitation.

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