Weather History: Hurricane Gloria

On this date back in 1985, Hurricane Gloria made its second landfall on the western end of Long Island, NY.  The storm’s strong winds and heavy rain pounded the area, including New York City.

Peaking as a category-4 hurricane in the tropical Atlantic, Gloria weakened to a category-1 storm as it moved northward.  Despite its downgraded status, this storm packed a serious punch.  Battering the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to the Canadian Maritimes, Gloria claimed the lives of eight people and caused $1.94 billion (2012 USD) worth of damage.

Recognizing this storm’s widespread and destructive impact, the WMO retired the name Gloria from the Atlantic Basin’s list of tropical storm names in 1986.

Image Credit: NOAA

Celebrating First Blog Anniversary

One year ago today, I launched The Weather Gamut. Producing it has been an interesting journey that has taught me a great deal about both the science of weather and the art of writing.

To date, I have researched and written 119 posts about different weather events and climate issues. As my depth of knowledge in this area increases, the more I learn, the more I want to know.  So, I am looking forward to continuing this blog into its second year.

Thank you for reading!

Autumnal Equinox

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially arrives at 14:49 UTC (10:49 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time).

Seasons are the result of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, a 23.5° angle. Today, as autumn begins, the planet’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun. As a result, we receive approximately equal hours of day and night. In fact, the word “equinox” is Latin for “equal night”.

As a transitional season, autumn is a time when the heat of summer fades away and winter’s chill gradually returns. The largest drop in average temperature, however, usually lags the equinox by a few weeks.

Autumnal Equinox

Image Credit: Przemyslaw “Blueshade” Idzkiewicz

NYC Tornado Watch

tornado watch is in effect for New York City today until 9 P.M. This means that isolated tornadoes could possibly develop as severe thunderstorms move through the area.

Tornadoes, historically, have been rare events in NYC.  In recent years, however, they have been happening more frequently.  Of the eleven twisters that have touched down in the city since 1950, seven have occurred in the past nine years.  In fact, two roared through the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens earlier this month. Many experts consider this increase in severe weather to be an indication of a changing climate.

Note: Tornado ratings moved from the Fujita Scale (F) to the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF) in 2007.  Chart Data: NWS

Third Hottest Summer for U.S.

Summer is a season known for high temperatures.  This year, however, they were more extreme than usual across much of the United States.

According to the National Climatic Data Center report released this week, Summer 2012 was the third warmest summer ever recorded in the lower forty-eight states. As a whole, the nation averaged a temperature of 74.4°F, which is 2.3°F above the long-term norm. Only the summers of 1936 (74.6°F) and 2011 (74.5°F) were hotter.

This summer’s exceptional heat follows both a record warm spring and winter.  In fact, 2012 – to date – has been this country’s warmest year on record.

Two Tornadoes Touchdown in NYC

Severe weather battered much of the northeastern United States this weekend.  Here in New York City, strong thunderstorms spawned two confirmed tornadoes.

The first twister touched down in Breezy Point, Queens.  With wind speeds of 70 mph, it was rated an EF-0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.  Minutes later, a more powerful EF-1 storm tore through the neighborhood of Canarsie, Brooklyn.  Winds blowing at 110 mph ripped branches from trees and damaged numerous homes.  Luckily, no fatalities have been reported.

Tornadoes are rare in New York City, but they can form anywhere given the proper conditions.  This weekend, an intense cold front overtook the city’s existing warm, humid air mass, which created an atmosphere unstable enough to power these violent storms.

Isaac’s Impact on U.S. Drought

The worst drought in fifty years has been plaguing America’s agricultural heartland all summer. Earlier this week, however, the soggy remnants of Hurricane Isaac brought some much needed relief to the situation, if only in a small area.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, between two and six inches of rain fell across the Mid-West. As a result, the region’s severe drought status improved from 50% to 45%. While this precipitation was beneficial to area’s soybean crop, which is still maturing, it arrived too late to save the region’s fields of desiccated corn.

To quench this drought completely, experts say another five to fifteen inches of rain is still needed.

Image Credit: US Drought Monitor

NYC Monthly Summary: August 2012

August was another warm month for New York City. We had three days when the mercury reached 90°F or above. This helped drive the city’s average monthly temperature up to 76.7°F, which is 1.69°F above normal.

On the precipitation front, a number of thunderstorms rolled through NYC this August. Although they brought periods of heavy rain, the city finished the month on the dry side.  We collected a meager 2.91 inches of rain in Central Park, which is 1.53 inches below normal.  This is a huge departure from the record rainfall – 18.95 inches – which we received in August last year.

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut