Archive for February, 2015

Rare Pacific Typhoon Forms in mid-February

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Pacific Typhoon Higos has formed in the tropical West Pacific. What makes this storm unusual is that it has formed at the least likely time of year, climatologically speaking.

Rare Typhoon Higos viewed by the NASA MODIS imager on Feb. 10, 2015.

Rare Typhoon Higos viewed by the NASA MODIS imager on Feb. 10, 2015.

North Pacific typhoons have formed in all calendar months, but a Japanese analysis of the dates they form suggests that Feb. 11 is the least likely date. This date can be considered the beginning (or end) of the typhoon season.

So, Typhoon Higos might be considered the latest north Pacific typhoon on record. Or maybe it’s the earliest (there was a Feb. 15, 1965 typhoon that had been considered the earliest). It all depends upon when you decide the start/end date of typhoon season is.

One thing for sure is that a typhoon in mid-February is rare, indeed. According to this historical list going back 65 years, no typhoons have ever formed during the week of 8-14 February.

Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon: One Cold Weekend Ahead for the East

Monday, February 9th, 2015

If you are in Saskatchewan and thinking of going to Disney World to warm up this weekend, you might want to be Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon, because by Sunday morning it might well be colder in Orlando than it will be in Saskatoon.

A series of Arctic cold fronts plunging down out of Canada will cause record-breaking cold across the eastern U.S. over the weekend. As the following map shows, most of New York state might not even get above 0 deg. F on Sunday (all graphics courtesy of, click for full-size):

GFS model temperature forecast for midday Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.

GFS model temperature forecast for midday Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.

If we zoom out, we see that much of the East won’t even get above freezing on Sunday:

What will make matters even worse is that winds will be gusting over 30 mph in New England, producing wind chills of 30 below zero during the day on Sunday.

Funky Clouds off California Coast Yesterday

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Almost every day I check out NASA’s Worldview website to look at global color satellite imagery from the MODIS instruments. I’m usually watching weather systems. If nothing else, the imagery is beautiful.

Yesterday, there were some particularly funky looking marine stratus clouds off the coast of California, generally west and southwest of Los Angeles. There are a couple of ship tracks evident, but I think most of the fractal-esque structure is natural (click image for full-size):


Marine stratus clouds form under a strong temperature inversion at the base of deep sinking air layers associated with high pressure zones, and they take on a wide variety of fascinating forms.

Here’s another example from well off the California coast on Dec. 23, 2014:


And yet another from Dec. 21, 2014:


UAH Global Temperature Update for Jan. 2015: +0.35 deg. C

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The Version 5.6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for January, 2015 is +0.35 deg. C, little changed from the December 2014 value of +0.32 deg. C (click for full size version):

The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 13 months are:

2014 01 +0.291 +0.387 +0.194 -0.029
2014 02 +0.170 +0.320 +0.020 -0.103
2014 03 +0.170 +0.338 +0.002 -0.001
2014 04 +0.190 +0.358 +0.022 +0.092
2014 05 +0.326 +0.325 +0.328 +0.175
2014 06 +0.305 +0.315 +0.295 +0.510
2014 07 +0.304 +0.289 +0.319 +0.451
2014 08 +0.199 +0.244 +0.153 +0.061
2014 09 +0.294 +0.187 +0.401 +0.181
2014 10 +0.365 +0.333 +0.396 +0.189
2014 11 +0.329 +0.354 +0.303 +0.247
2014 12 +0.322 +0.465 +0.178 +0.296
2015 01 +0.351 +0.551 +0.152 +0.126

The global image for January, 2015 should be available in the next day or so here.

Popular monthly data files (these might take a few days to update):

uahncdc_lt_5.6.txt (Lower Troposphere)
uahncdc_mt_5.6.txt (Mid-Troposphere)
uahncdc_ls_5.6.txt (Lower Stratosphere)

Pinapple Express to Bring 2 ft. Rain, 10 ft. Snow to N. Cal.

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

In the next week a series of vigorous Pacific storms fueled partly by the current weak El Nino conditions will bring phenomenal amounts of rain and snow to Northern California: over 2 feet of rain and up to 10 feet of snow in the higher elevations.

After a record dry month in San Francisco, the precipitation is much needed in order to recharge the state’s reservoirs, most of which are still well below their seasonal normal levels.

Here’s the Hawaii-to-California “atmospheric river” that is forecast to set up in the next week, typical of El Nino conditions (forecast graphics courtesy of, click to enlarge):


As can be seen, even the Bay area can expect 5+ inches of rain. The snowfall portion of the precipitation will be in the Sierra Nevada, with up to 10 feet of new snow forecast:


Most of the heavy precipitation, except for extreme N. California, won’t begin until Thursday of this week.

The “Historic” Blizzard of 2015 Ranked #41

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

The numbers are in at the National Climate Data Center, and out of the top 55 snowstorms impacting the major population centers of the Northeast U.S., the January 2015 blizzard that blasted Boston ranked #41, or a weak “Category 2”.

Here’s the storm total snowfall map:


By comparison, here’s the snowfall total map for the #1 storm, which occurred in mid-March 1993, a Cat 5 storm….note the map is zoomed out to encompass the amazingly large geographic extent of the heavy snowfall in that storm:


The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.

So, the NESIS scale for Northeast snowstorms isn’t well suited for talking about climate change. It’s not clear that more snowstorms in recent decades aren’t just from a slight shift in the storm track bringing Northwest Atlantic winter storms (of which there are many…Greenland routinely gets clobbered) closer to New England.