Tag: climate

NASA looks at ‘snow-killing’ atmospheric river storms

Study findings aid forecasters, water managers

atmospheric rivers
Animation of an atmospheric river storm that occurred on Jan. 28 through 30, bringing half an inch to an inch of rain to many locations in central and southern California. Credits: University of Wisconsin/CIMSS.

Staff Report

The famed Pineapple Express touted by skiers in the Western U.S. may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Instead of bringing fresh powder, the the atmospheric river storms, as they’re technically known, more often bring snow-destroying rain to many areas.

A new study by NASA and several other research institutions took a close look at data from satellites and ground observations from 1998 through 2014 to show the connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events. According to the study, the atmospheric rivers are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, which increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer. Continue reading “NASA looks at ‘snow-killing’ atmospheric river storms”

April storms boost Colorado snowpack

Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat

Colorado snowpack May 1 2016
April storms boosted Colorado’s snowpack, with near average runoff and river flows expected during the spring and summer in most parts of the state.
Colorado snowpack map
Southern parts of Colorado have not had above average snowpack readings for several years in a row, which could be part of the “new normal” in the global warming era

Staff Report

April storms helped boost Colorado’s statewide snowpack to above average, but two river basins in the southern part of the state continue to report below normal readings.

The state’s mountain areas benefited the most from a series of wet, El Niño-fueled storms, bringing precipitation for the water year to average, according to Brian Domonkos, the Colorado snow survey supervisor for the USDA Natural Resources conservation service.

“At this time last year the water supply outlook was grim at best,” Domonkos said. “Colorado’s current snowpack and precipitation levels are right where we want to be this time of year. Elsewhere in the Western United States seasonal snowpack during 2016 succumbed to early spring warming and did not recover as Colorado did from recent storms,” he added. Continue reading “April storms boost Colorado snowpack”

Climate: No let up in global warming heat wave across U.S.

Temperature records shattered in Alaska for April and year-to-date

2016 year to date temps US
For January to April 2016, temperatures across most of the U.S. have been far above average.

Staff Report

After a few blistering months, the average temperature across the U.S. cooled down slightly in April in many parts of the country, with the month ending up as the 18th-warmest April on record. But the slight downward tick wasn’t enough to make a big dent in the long-term trend — for the year to date (January-April), it’s the second-warmest such period on record, according to the monthly state of the climate report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Continue reading “Climate: No let up in global warming heat wave across U.S.”

Climate: All U.S. states saw above average temps in March

Alaska is record-warm for year-to-date

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All states in the contiguous U.S. reported above average temperatures for March 2016, according to NOAA’s monthly State of the Climate update.

Staff Report

The average March temperatures across the lower 48 states was 6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century norm — which is a huge anomaly — but in the modern global warming era, only enough to make it the fourth-warmest March on record. According to NOAA’s monthly climate update, compiled by the National Centers for Environmental Information, every state reported above average temperatures for the month, but none was record-warm. See the NOAA monthly climate report here. Continue reading “Climate: All U.S. states saw above average temps in March”

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”