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Study: 1934 Dust Bowl still the Godzilla of North American droughts

A dust storm engulfs Stratford, Texas in April of 1935. The drought of 1934 was likely made worse by dust storms triggered by the poor agricultural practices of the time. Credit: NOAA/George E. Marsh Album.

A dust storm engulfs Stratford, Texas in April of 1935. The drought of 1934 was likely made worse by dust storms triggered by the poor agricultural practices of the time.
Credit: NOAA/George E. Marsh Album.

Severe dust storms spawned even more widespread drought, research shows

Staff Report

FRISCO — With all the recent talk of looming megadroughts, the 1934 peak of the Dust Bowl era still remains the most severe and widespread drought in North America during the past 1,000 years, climate scientists say.

Based on tree-ring studies and other physical records, the only other comparable event was way back in the 1500s.

The extent of the 1934 drought was approximately seven times larger than droughts of comparable intensity that struck North America between 1000 A.D. and 2005, and was caused in part by an atmospheric phenomenon that may have also led to the current drought in California, according to a new study. Continue reading

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Climate: U.S. sees precipitation extremes in September

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A couple of cool spots, and big hot pocket out West in Sept. 2014.

NCDC says it was the 26th-warmest September on record

Staff Report

FRISCO — While 2014 is likely to end up as one of the warmest years on record for the planet, the U.S. hasn’t been quite so warm. A tongue of cool weather has persisted down the center of the country for months, while the farther west you go, the hotter it gets, culminating with the record heat in California.

September fit that trend, with the average temperature well above, but not near record levels in the Lower 48 states. According to the National Climatic Data Center’s latest monthly update, the average temperature  was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, ranking it as the 26th warmest September. Precipitation for the month across the country was 0.09 inch above average, ranking near the middle. Continue reading

Will Hurricane Norbert soak Colorado?

Big surge of subtropical moisture possible early next week

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Moisture will be plentiful across Colorado and much of the U.S. the next 5 days.

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Hurricane Norbert, now spinning off the coast of Baja, California, could deliver copious amounts of moisture to Colorado early next, according to the National Weather Service, which is already talking about the potential for regional flash flooding.

The Category 3 storm is expected to weaken gradually during the next few days as it moves northwest over cooler water, but the projected path turns the remnant low pressure system eastward, coming ashore over northern Mexico or southern California late in the weekend.

The exact path will determine how much rain falls in Colorado, but National Weather Service forecast maps are showing widespread rain across Colorado, with a bullseye over the north-central mountains.

Grand Junction-based National Weather Service forecasters say subtropical moisture will increase across the Great Basin and western Colorado Monday as a low pressure area off the SoCal coast directs Nortbert’s remnants and more monsoon moisture northeastward.

Storms will be widespread by Monday afternoon with the potential for heavy rain and small hail, as well as a chance for flash floods and debris flows.

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Dry air (brown) prevailed over Colorado Saturday morning, but Hurricane Norbert may help boost another surge of late-season monsoon moisture poised to the south.



		

	

Morning Photo: Sky shots!

Got clouds?

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Layers of clouds and color over Dillon Reservoir.

FRISCO — We’re getting near the time of year that dishes up the most intense sky colors, as the first autumnal weather systems mix together with the remnants of monsoonal moisture. That means layers of clouds at different elevations, like in the top shot in this set — look closely and you’ll see soft, gray cumulus hugging the distant peaks, while a mid-elevation cloud deck helps reflect light and color back toward the ground. And in just a few weeks, as the upper air wind patterns shift for real, we’ll start seeing some of those great wave clouds building over the Rockies, a sure sign of the changing season! Continue reading

Climate: Wet West in July

Energetic monsoon brings moisture surplus to many areas

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The big wet?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — An energetic and widespread monsoon weather pattern brought above normal precipitation to much of the West in August, with a bullseye of moisture in southern Idaho, extending across western Wyoming, Montana, northeastern Utah and into northwestern Colorado. Some locations in the region saw up to 800 percent of average precipitation. Continue reading

Climate: What’s up, El Niño?

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A NOAA map shows warmer than average ocean temperatures in red developing off the coast of South American during the past few months, but sea surface temps are also remaining warmer than average across the western Pacific, hampering development of a full-fledged El Niño.

Widespread ocean warmth may hamper development

Staff Report

FRISCO — This year’s brewing El Niño may be dampened by widespread warm sea surface temperatures across the Pacific Ocean, according to weather experts. Specifically, ocean temperatures across the far western Pacific have remained so warm that one of the key ingredients for a full-strength El Niño is missing — a significant difference in temperatures between the western and Eastern Pacific.

But so far this summer, warmer than average temperatures are spread across the Pacific from east to west. Just last week, the National Climatic Data Center announced that the average global temperature for June was the warmest on record, driving in large part by warm oceans. Continue reading

Environment: Emerging El Niño triggers call for fishing restrictions to protect endangered sea turtles

Loggerhead sea turtle. Photo courtesy NOAA/Marco Giuliano.

A loggerhead sea turtle swimming over a coral reef. Photo courtesy NOAA/Marco Giuliano.

Ocean advocates say warming ocean drives sea turtles into floating gillnets

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with the potential for affecting weather over North America, the emerging El Niño conditions on the Pacific Ocean could pose a  threat to endangered loggerhead sea turtles, conservation advocates say, calling on federal fisheries managers to implement legally required restrictions on gillnet fishing to protect the turtles.

When ocean waters in the eastern Pacific get warmer, the loggerheads tend to move into commercial fishing grounds, where they often die after getting tangled up in nets. When El Niño is occurring or forecasted, the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area (California ocean waters east of 120 degrees latitude) is, by law, closed to drift gillnet fishing during June, July and August. Continue reading

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