Severe weather, including a massive series of tornadoes, roared across the American Midwest on Sunday. These powerful storms caused widespread damage and knocked out power to tens of thousands of people. Numerous injuries and at least eight fatalities have been reported so far.
NWS survey teams are currently on the ground evaluating the damage, but early reports estimate that several dozen twisters touched down across seven states. The two strongest have been preliminarily rated EF-4, the second highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. With winds raging between 166 and 200 mph, they devastated the towns of Washington and New Minden, both in Illinois. Officials say these were the strongest and deadliest November tornadoes on record in the state.
This historic outbreak was the result of an explosive mix of atmospheric conditions, including instability generated by the collision of a cold front with warm, moist air moving up from the south. In addition, the combination of a powerful jet stream aloft and a strong area of low pressure near the ground – with winds blowing in the opposite direction – helped generate spin in the atmosphere.
While autumn, the so-called second season for tornadoes, has been known to produce severe storms, they usually occur in the warmer climates of the Southeast and Gulf Coast. Twisters further north, especially powerful ones, are very rare for this time of year.
Damage from tornadoes near Washington, IL Image Credit: A. Koury
Image Credit: NOAA
Super Typhoon Haiyan hammered the central Philippines late last week. Locally known as Yolanda, it was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Haiyan came ashore with sustained winds of 195-mph, the equivalent of a category-5 hurricane in the U.S. Destructive on their own, these powerful winds also helped produce a devastating 20-foot storm surge that washed out numerous coastal towns and villages. Local officials say the storm impacted approximately ten million people across forty-one provinces, with Tacloban City being the hardest hit area. While the full extent of this natural disaster is still unknown, the Philippine Military reports that 942 people are confirmed dead – primarily from drowning and collapsed buildings. Sadly, government officials expect this number to increase as more areas become accessible and communications are restored. Some fear the death toll could climb as high as 10,000.
The Philippines, a nation of nearly seven thousand islands, is no stranger to serious storms. Situated in the warm waters of the tropical western Pacific, they are often hit by typhoons, including four this year alone. None, however, have been as powerful as this recent event. If the government’s staggering death toll projections are realized, Haiyan will become the Philippines’ deadliest storm on record.
Super Typhoon Haiyan approaches the Philippines.
Image Credit: NOAA
October was warm and dry in New York City this year. With all but ten days posting above average readings, the city’s overall monthly temperature was 60.2°F. That is 3.2°F above normal.
In terms of precipitation, NYC was unusually dry. We only received a meager 0.36 inches of rain, which is 4.04 inches below normal. This makes October 2013 the city’s third driest October on record. It was also our fourth consecutive month with below average rainfall. As a result, the city is currently listed in the “moderate drought” category on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut
October is not a month known for snow in New York City. That said, it is not unheard of.
On this date back in 1979, snowflakes filled the air in the Big Apple. Nothing accumulated, but it marked the earliest trace of snow on record for NYC. According to the NWS, measurable snow, defined as 0.1 inches or more, has been recorded four times during the month of October. The earliest occurred on October 15, 1876 when 0.5 inches was noted in Central Park. The record for accumulation is 2.9 inches, which came down during the snowstorm of October 29, 2011.
While there is no snow currently in the forecast, the first nor’easter of the season is working its way up the coast. It is expected to bring the city rain, wind, and overall grey conditions during the next few days.
The first hurricane of the 2013 Atlantic Season has officially arrived. Humberto strengthened from a tropical storm into a category-1 hurricane early this morning off the coast of Africa.
According to the NWS, this year’s first hurricane is unusually late. The Atlantic usually sees a hurricane develop before August 10th. More than a month behind schedule, Humberto just missed tying the record for the latest first hurricane by only three hours. That record remains with Hurricane Gustav, which formed a little after 8 A.M. on this date back in 2002.
Forecasters do not expect Humberto to impact the U.S. However, it is important to remember that the Atlantic Hurricane Season runs through November 30th and the latter part of the season is usually its most active.
Hurricane Humberto forms off the coast of Africa.
Image Credit: Meteosat/EUMETSAT
July is usually the hottest month on the calendar for New York City, and this year temperatures soared. We had two separate heat waves and a total of ten days reaching 90°F or higher. The second heat wave of the month was a lengthy event. Lasting seven days, it was the city’s longest heat wave in eleven years. This extreme heat brought the city’s average monthly temperature up to 79.8°F. That is 3.8°F above normal.
While searing temperatures dominated the month, the city also experienced a few cooler than average days this July. In fact, July 25th set a new daily record for the coldest high temperature in Central Park with a peak reading of only 68°F.
In terms of precipitation, NYC was mostly dry. We received 2.84 inches of rain, which is 1.76 inches below normal. This was a significant departure from last month’s near record rainfall.
Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut
Climate scientists have noted it for years, but now it is official. The first decade of the 21st century was this planet’s hottest on record.
According to a report recently released by the World Meteorological Organization, Earth’s combined average temperature – over both land and sea surfaces – for the decade of 2001-2010 was 58.05°F. That is 0.85°F above the long-term norm. As hot as this period was, this new record does not come as much of a surprise. Every year in the decade except 2008 was among the top ten warmest on record.
Analyzing data from 139 countries, the report showed that the decade was also marked by extreme weather around the globe. Floods were the most frequent type of event, but droughts impacted the largest number of people worldwide. Massive hurricanes and scorching heat waves also caused serious problems. While improved early warning systems for storms and floods helped save countless lives, heat related deaths increased dramatically from the previous decade. In total, extreme weather events during this ten-year period claimed the lives of more than 370,000 people.
One hundred years ago today, the temperature at California’s Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park soared to 134°F. To this day, that is the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth.
Situated in the Mojave Desert and 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley is the lowest and driest place in the United States. Its unique geography traps hot desert air and helps to heat it even further. While the area does have seasons, summer is extremely hot. From June through August, daytime highs in the triple digits and over-night lows in the 90s are not uncommon.
The heat wave that gripped the southwestern U.S. last month had some people thinking the Death Valley record might be broken, especially when the temperature reached 129°F on June 30th. While this set a new monthly record for June, the century old world record still stands.
Death Valley, CA
Image Credit: NPS
One word can sum up the weather in New York City this June, wet. Receiving 10.10 inches of rain in Central Park, which is 5.69 inches above average, this was the second wettest June ever recorded in the Big Apple. Nearly half of this impressive total came down in one day when the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea passed through the area, breaking a daily rainfall record. Given this abundant precipitation, it is interesting to note that NYC’s top three wettest Junes have all occurred in the past eleven years.
In terms of temperature, the city finished the month with an average reading of 72.7°F. That is 1.7°F above normal. While New York did not technically have a heat wave this June, the last week of the month was extremely hot and humid. In fact, heat index values were high enough for the NWS to issue a heat advisory for the city.
Table: The Weather Gamut
Extreme heat is baking Alaska. In fact, some parts of this subarctic state were as warm or warmer than Miami, FL this week.
According the National Weather Service, the temperature in Talkeetna, AK reached a sweltering 96°F on Monday, smashing the previous record of 91°F set in 1969. Cordova and Valdez, each reported readings of 90°F. In Anchorage, the mercury only made it to 81°F on Tuesday, but it was still enough to break a daily record that was in place since 1926. The average high for this time of year in south-central Alaska is in the mid-60s.
This unusual heat was the result of a strong ridge of high-pressure locked in place over the region for the past few days. These soaring temperatures, however, are not likely to last much longer. Forecasters expect conditions to cool down by the end of the week.