Twin storms boost Colorado’s January snowpack

Entire state blanketed with snow in early Feburary

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Mid-winter, and nearly all of Colorado has snow on the ground.

Staff Report

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Snowpack is at or above average in all of Colorado’s river basins.

A pair of storms that bookended January helped raise the statewide snowpack level to 111 percent of average as of Feb. 1, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Survey.

Satellite images and other remote sensors operation by NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center storms left nearly the entire state blanketed in snow. Without those two storms, January snowfall would only have been about 70 percent of average for the month, said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey supervisor with the NRCS.

Snowfall continued through February 3, which increased snowpack totals to as high as 117 percent of normal as of Feb 4. The mountains of Southern Colorado saw the greatest increase in snow-water equivalent. From January 28 to February 3. total snowpack depth increased as much as 30 inches at the Cumbres Trestle SNOTEL in the San Juan Mountain range.

As of February 1, the snowpack was below average in only a handful of minor watersheds. All other drainages were above to well above normal. While the late January storms benefitted the entire state, January precipitation as a whole was particularly slim in the Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins and storms only amounted to about 75 percent of normal monthly snowpack accumulation.

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Climate: Warm oceans gone haywire?

Powerful storms in Atlantic and Pacific

MODIS visible satellite image of Hurricane Pali taken at 5:30 pm EST January 11, 2016. At the time, Pali was intensifying into a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

MODIS visible satellite image of Hurricane Pali taken at 5:30 pm EST January 11, 2016. At the time, Pali was intensifying into a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Staff Report

With large parts of the the world’s oceans consistently warming to record-warm levels the past few months, it’s probably not a surprise that there are some big storms spinning out at sea. Basic physics tells us that warmth is energy, and that’s now translating into some unusual developments, including what may be the earliest-ever hurricane in the central Pacific, according to this Twitter post from National Hurricane meteorologist Eric Blake.

Currently, yet another strong storm is developing in the Pacific. The National Weather Service says the system will also generate hurricane-force winds and waves up to 50 feet.

The Atlantic Ocean has also been hyperactive in recent weeks. A storm centered near Iceland developed hurricane-strength winds during the last days of 2015 and sent a surge of air so moist and so warm northward that temps briefly climbed above freezing at the North Pole during the heart of the coldest time of the year.

Another system in the central Atlantic has a 40 percent chance of subtropical or tropical formation in the next 48 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

 

 

Colorado starts 2016 with healthy snowpack

Will the storm door stay open?

snowpack mapStaff Report

El Niño has been generous to Colorado this winter, favoring all of the state with near- to above-normal precipitation since the beginning of winter. As of Jan.1, nearly all the state’s river basins were above average, with only the North Platte and the Yampa drainages lagging slightly below normal.

Some past El Nino events have been known to leave the northern half of the state high and dry.

“Statewide snowpack is 118 percent of normal, considerably better than last year’s start” said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading

December 2015 was warmest, wettest on record for U.S.

Climate experts say to expect more of the same in years ahead

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29 states across the eastern half of the U.S. all reported record warm temperatures in December 2015.

By Bob Berwyn

2015 has ended up as the second-warmest year on record across the contiguous United States, with all 48 states recording above average temperatures for the year. Alaska also reported its second-warmest year on record, just behind 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A record-warm December across the eastern half of the country helped drive the average U.S. temperature for the year to the top of the charts, with 29 states east of the Mississippi reporting record warmth for the month, according to the latest monthly climate update from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

December 2015 was also the wettest December on record — the first time in 121 years that December was both warmest and wettest, according to NOAA’s Jake Crouch. Continue reading

Climate: Howling Antarctic winds found to ‘eat’ snow

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New data is changing the understanding of the water cycle in Antarctica. @bberwyn photo.

Climate models may need revamping after scientists measure snow loss

Staff Report

Winds howling across the vast, frozen Antarctic plateaus are scouring the region of moisture by vaporizing most of the airborne snow, scientists said in a new study that could shift estimates of how much the ice-covered continent is contributing to sea level rise. Continue reading

2015 will be second-hottest year on record in Europe

Summer heat waves fueled drought, forest insect outbreaks

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2015 temperatures across most of Europe were well above the 1981-2010 average. Map courtesy European Regional Climate Centre.

Staff Report

With little snow in the Alps for the start of the winter season, Europeans won’t be surprised to hear that 2015 will enter the climate annals as the second-warmest year on record, just slightly cooler than last year.

Much of eastern Europe was exceptionally warm in 2015, and central Europe baked under a summer heatwave that brought drought conditions to many breadbasket regions, stressing forests and affecting crop yields. In southern Austria, a small forest fire burned in early December. Continue reading

NASA tracking this year’s global El Niño impacts

Wildfire risk growing in tropics

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A strong El Niño is peaking across the Pacific Ocean this winter.

Staff Report

Along with being one of the strongest El Niños on record, this year’s edition of the cyclical weather event in the Pacific will be one of the most studied.

NASA, for example, has been tracking the effects of El Niño via satellite data, which shows global impacts, from increasing fire danger in some tropical regions to a reduction of certain types of pollution in other areas.

Some of the findings were presented this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, where researchers said that atmospheric rivers, significant sources of rainfall, tend to intensify during El Niño events, and that California may see some relief from an extreme multiyear drought. Continue reading

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