Tag: climate

Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?

South Texas, Florida seen as vulnerable

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Climate and demographic factors could make parts of the southern U.S. vulnerable to the spread of the Zika virus.

Staff Report

Combing climate data with travel patterns, researchers with the Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Atmospheric Research say Zika virus outbreaks could occur as soon as this summer in parts of south Texas and Florida.

The study shows that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, probably will become more abundant across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms.

Summer weather conditions are favorable for the disease-carrying mosquito as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles, the models show. Continue reading “Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?”

Climate: Warmest winter on record for U.S.

February snow cover below average across North America

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Nearly all of the lower 48 states reported above average temperatures in February 2016.
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Temperatures across most of the western U.S. were between 5 and 15 degrees above average during February and early March 2016.

Staff Report

Federal climate trackers say the past meteorological winter (Dec.-Feb) was the warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, with Alaska recording its second-warmest winter, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

For the season, the average temperature across the lower 48 states was 36.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 4.6 degrees above the 20th century average and breaking the record (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) set in the winter of 1999-2000. Read the full NOAA report here. Continue reading “Climate: Warmest winter on record for U.S.”

Climate: U.S. West very dry in February

Very dry across the West in February 2016.
Very dry across the West in February 2016.

Where’s El Niño?

Staff Report

El Niño didn’t exactly go gangbusters in southwest Colorado last month, where the key river basins received only about 35 percent of average February precipitation. Statewide mountain precipitation was only slightly better, at 56 percent of normal.

“February in the mountains of Colorado is typically a slightly drier month than compared to say, April. But a dry February like this could have big ramifications should April and May not pan out” said Brian Domonkos, Snow Survey Supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading “Climate: U.S. West very dry in February”

Climate: Arctic sea ice sets another record low in February

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Arctic sea ice has been near record-low levels all winter long. Graph courtesy NSIDC.

Winter brings extraordinary ‘heatwave’ to the far north

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice was at a record low extent for the second month in a row in February, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Ice researchers said sea ice grew hardly at all during the first three weeks of the month during a time of year when the sea is extent is usually nearing its peak.

According to the NSIDC’s latest monthly update, the ice did expand a bit toward the end of the month, but above-normal temperatures in the Arctic have persisted all winter long. Arctic sea ice usually reaches its maximum extent in mid to late March, but last year, it peaked early, on Feb. 25, and at a record low extent. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice sets another record low in February”

Climate: El Niño not a drought-buster for California yet

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Exceptional drought is still widespread across California with a few more months of the rainy season ahead.

Will spring deliver big rains?

Staff Report

Although there are still a few months left in the rainy season, this year’s El Niño hasn’t exactly been the drought buster California was hoping for. Thus far, plentiful precipitation in the northern part of state will go a long way toward replenishing reservoirs, but central and southern California have remained relatively dry.

The “exceptional drought” footprint is now spread across about 38 percent of the state, as compared to 45 percent three months ago, and precipitation in the key snowpack areas of the Sierra Nevada has been about average. Farther south, especially in the L.A. Basin, precipitation is still well below average for the rainy season to date.

That may be due to the fact that the distribution of warm water across the Pacific Ocean is quite different than during past El Niños that brought more widespread heavy precipitation to California. Continue reading “Climate: El Niño not a drought-buster for California yet”

Climate: This year’s El Niño has passed its peak, scientists say

Impacts expected for months to come

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This year’s El Niño will go down as one of the strongest on record

Staff Report

Meteorologists say the 2015-2016 El Niño has peaked, but it remains strong and will continue to influence global weather in the months ahead. With eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures more than 2 degrees Celsius above average in late 2015, this El Niño will go down as one of the strongest on record, although it’s not clear if it was the strongest ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

For now, the outlook is that El Niño will fade during the next half year. As typically happens,  El Niño reached its peak ocean surface temperature during November and December, but those temperatures have since declined by about half a degree.

“We have just witnessed one of the most powerful ever El Niño events which caused extreme weather in countries on all continents and helped fuel record global heat in 2015,” said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas. “In meteorological terms, this El Niño is now in decline. But we cannot lower our guard as it is still quite strong and in humanitarian and economic terms, its impacts will continue for many months to come,” Taalas said. Continue reading “Climate: This year’s El Niño has passed its peak, scientists say”

Climate: Earth is on a hot streak — but not the good kind

Record warmth nine months in a row

amapsStaff Report

Planet Earth is on a hot streak — but not the kind you brag about around the water cooler. January marks the ninth month in a row the planet’s average temperature set a new heat record, breaking the 2007 mark by 0.29 degrees Celsius.

For January, the average temperature was 1.04 degrees Celsius above average. Land-surface temps were the second highest on record, while sea surface temperatures were all-time record warm, according to the new monthly State of the Climate report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Continue reading “Climate: Earth is on a hot streak — but not the good kind”