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Observations and thoughts on all things weather and climate

When to Expect the Final Freeze of the Season

Most people associate spring with flowers and mild weather. But as a transitional season, it can also produce a rollercoaster of temperatures, including serious cold spells. Wearing a short sleeved shirt one day and a parka the next, you may start to wonder when the cold will finally fade away.

The answer to that question largely depends on location. Below is a map from NOAA that shows the typical final freeze dates across the continental US. While actual weather conditions vary from year to year, the dates shown are based on climatology – a thirty-year average of temperature data.

Here in New York City, our last freeze of the season usually comes in mid-April.

Credit: NOAA

Weather Lingo: The Benchmark

Just like real estate, weather is all about location. In the northeastern US, a special set of coordinates known as “The Benchmark” (40°N 70°W) can help identify the type of impacts a winter storm will have on the region.

When a low-pressure system travels west of this position, coastal areas will see more rain than snow as the storm pulls relatively warm marine air onshore. Further inland, where the air is colder, snow is more likely.

If a storm tracks east of the benchmark, it is essentially moving away from land and less warm air is pulled onshore. Some light snow will fall along the coast, but usually not very much.

When a system moves directly through the crosshairs of the benchmark, coastal communities in the region can expect a major snow event. This is exactly what happened with the storm on Thursday that dumped heavy snow across the area.

The 40/70 Benchmark. Credit: Wx4cast

Why Today is National Weatherperson’s Day

Today is National Weatherperson’s Day in the United States. While not an official federal holiday, it is a day to recognize the work of all individuals involved in the field of meteorology – not just prognosticating groundhogs.

According to the NWS, today’s designation honors the birthday of Dr. John Jeffries who was one of America’s first weather observers. Born in 1744, this Boston-based physician had a deep interest in weather and kept detailed records of daily conditions from 1774 to 1816. He also took the first known upper air observations from a hot air balloon in 1784.

Since the 18th century, the weather industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Utilizing radar, satellites, and computer models, meteorologists today provide forecasts and warnings to the public in an effort to protect lives and property. But in the end, weatherpersons, like Dr. Jeffries, are fascinated by weather and are always seeking to improve their understanding of its complex processes.

Dr. John Jeffries taking weather measurements from a hot air balloon. Source: Wonderful Balloon Ascents.

NYC Election Day Weather

Weather does not subscribe to any political party, but it can play a major role on Election Day. Studies show that it strongly influences how many people head out to the polls, especially if poor conditions are forecast.

Here in New York City, the weather is picture perfect this year. With blue skies and temperatures in the 60s, voter turnout is expected to be high.

The exact date of Election Day varies every year, but it is always the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Below are some interesting local weather facts about the big day.

nyc_electionday

The exact date of Election Day varies every year, but it is always the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Credit: The Weather Gamut.

The Creative Climate Awards – An Art Exhibition on Climate Change

The Human Impacts Institute is bringing art and science together in an effort to expand public understanding of climate change. In a group exhibition called The Creative Climate Awards, artworks of various mediums explore the challenges of this pressing issue.

This annual event, according to organizers, “uses the arts and creativity to share knowledge, broaden the climate conversation, educate, and incite action.” The show features artists from around the world, including: Ellen Alt, Ed Ambrose, Carolina Arevalo, Vikram Arora, Julie Bahn, Danielle Baudrand, Anna Borie, Laura Brodie, Kenneth Burris, Yon Cho, Alejandra Corral de la Serna, Michael Fischerkeller, Melissa Fleming, Rachel Frank, Kathryn Frund, Shelley Haven, Martin Kalanda, Kaiser Kamal, Julian Lorber, Heather McMordie, Dominique Paul, Peim, Fariba Rahnavard, Clark Rendall, Alexandros Simopoulos, Britta Stephen, Shira Toren, Lars Vilhelmsen, Joyce Ellen Weinstein, and Ana Gabriela Ynestrillas.

The exhibit runs from September 27th to October 27th at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO), 1 East 42nd Street, NYC. The opening reception is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27th from 6PM to 8PM. This event is free and open to the public.

For a full list of events during the course of the exhibition, please click here.

"Energy: 300 Million Years" from the Under Glass series by Melissa Fleming. Credit: Melissa Fleming

“Energy: 300 Million Years” from the Under Glass series by Melissa Fleming. Credit: Melissa Fleming

Panel Discussion: “Climate Change: Art, Design, and Activism”

As part of Climate Week NYC, the Climate Reality Leaders of New York are hosting a panel discussion, “Climate Change: Art, Design, and Activism”, on September 22nd, at Civic Hall.

Offering observations and opinions from their own unique perspectives, the panelists will discuss how art and design can inspire activism, awareness, and solutions to the realities of climate change. Tara DePorte, Founder and Executive Director of the Human Impacts Institute, will moderate the panel.

Panelists include:

This event, co-produced by Simone Rothman and Harriet Shugarman (Founder and Executive Director of Climate Mama)  is free and open to the public. Please note that seats are limited and registration is required. Doors open at 5PM. Program begins at 5:45PM.

Civic Hall
156 Fifth Ave, 2nd Floor
(Between 20th and 21st Streets)
New York, NY 10010

Climatic Visions: An Art Exhibition on Climate Change

Art and science have joined forces at the New York Hall of Science in an effort to expand public understanding of climate change. In a group exhibition called Climatic Visions II, photographs and collages explore some of the challenges of this pressing issue.

On display in the Le Croy Gallery, the exhibit features artwork by Cristina Biaggi, Melissa Fleming, Isabella Jacob, and Doris Shepherd Wiese. Co-curated by Audrey Leeds and Marcia Rudy, the exhibit runs from July 30 to October 30, 2016 and is free with general museum admission

The New York Hall of Science is located at 47-01 111th Street, Queens, NY 11368.

"Exit Glacier, Alaska" from the series "American Glaciers" by Melissa Fleming. Image credit: Melissa Fleming.

“Exit Glacier, Alaska” from the series “American Glaciers” by Melissa Fleming. Image credit: Melissa Fleming.

Earth’s Aphelion 2016

The Earth will reach its farthest point from the Sun today – an event known as the aphelion.  It will officially take place at 16:24 UTC, which is 12:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

This annual event is a result of the elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit and the off-centered position of the Sun inside that path. The exact date of the Aphelion differs from year to year, but it’s usually in early July – summer in the northern hemisphere.

While the planet’s distance from the Sun is not responsible for the seasons, it does influence their length. As a function of gravity, the closer the planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves. Today, Earth is about 152 million kilometers (94 million miles) away from the Sun. That is approximately 5 million kilometers (3 million miles) further than during the perihelion in early January. That means the planet will move more slowly along its orbital path than at any other time of the year. As a result, summer is elongated by a few days in the northern hemisphere.

The word, aphelion, is Greek for “away from sun”.

Image Credit: mydarksky.org

Earth is farthest from the Sun during summer in the northern hemisphere. Image Credit: mydarksky.org

Vernal Equinox 2016

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially began at 4:30 UTC, which is 12:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

Our astronomical seasons are a product of the tilt of the Earth’s axis – a 23.5° angle – and the movement of the planet around the sun. Today, as spring begins, the Earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun. This position distributes the sun’s energy equally between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Since the winter solstice in December, the arc of the sun’s apparent daily passage across the sky has been moving northward and daylight hours have been increasing. Today, the sun appears directly overhead at the equator and we have approximately equal hours of day and night. The word “equinox” is derived from Latin and means “equal night”.

As a transitional season, spring is a time when the chill of winter fades away and the warmth of summer gradually returns.  The most noticeable increases in average daily temperature, however, usually lag the equinox by a few weeks.

Earth’s solstices and equinoxes. Image Credit: NASA

Earth’s solstices and equinoxes. Image Credit: NASA

Art Exhibition: Visualizing Climate Change

The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design is bringing art and science together this month in an effort to expand public understanding of climate change. In a group exhibition called Visualizing Climate Change, artworks of various mediums explore the challenges of this pressing issue.

“Each exhibited work,” according to the curators, “seeks to conflate the bounds of science, art, architecture and engineering in order to provide fresh insight, expression and understanding around specific issues of climate change.”  The show is the culmination of a year long student fellowship program in which each participant pursued both scientific and visual research on particular aspects of our changing climate.

Displaying the work of the student fellows as well as contributing artist Melissa Fleming, the exhibit runs from November 16 to 23. The opening reception is scheduled for Monday, November 16th from 7 to 8:30 PM in the 7th floor lobby of the Cooper Union Foundation Building at 7 East 7th Street, NYC. This event is free and open to the public.

Credit: CUISD

Credit: CUISD