Bonnie Makes Landfall as a Tropical Depression in South Carolina

Bonnie, the second named pre-season storm of 2016, made landfall on Sunday just east of Charleston, South Carolina on the Isle of Palms.

According to the NWS, Bonnie was categorized as a tropical storm on Saturday with winds as high as 45mph. But by the time it came ashore, its winds had fallen below 39mph – the threshold for a tropical storm – and was downgraded to a tropical depression. Despite this reduced status, the storm still brought heavy rain, flash flooding, and dangerous rip currents to the area.

Rainfall totals, according to the Charleston NWS office, reached as high as ten inches in some spots. Flash flooding in Jasper County even caused sections of Interstate 95 – one of America’s busiest highways – to close.

Remnants of Bonnie are expected to linger over the southeastern US for the next several days, bringing even more rain to the region.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season official begins on June 1st.

Bonnie makes landfall as a tropical depression near Charleston, SC. Credit: NASA

Bonnie makes landfall as a tropical depression near Charleston, SC. Credit: NASA


2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

The number of hurricanes that develop in any given year varies, and this year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near normal” season in the Atlantic.

Tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes in the United States, develop around the globe at different times of the year. In this country, we are most affected by the Atlantic hurricane season, which impacts the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. It runs from June 1 through November 30.

Overall, NOAA predicts a 70% likelihood of ten to sixteen named storms forming this season, of which four to eight could become hurricanes, including one to four major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is rated category 3 or higher.

The numbers for this season’s outlook include Hurricane Alex, the unusual storm that developed in the eastern Atlantic in mid-January.

One of the main drivers behind this season’s average to slightly above average forecast is the diminishing presence of El Niño and the likely development of La Niña in the autumn. El Niño conditions tend to suppress tropical activity in the Atlantic while La Niña conditions do the opposite.

After three consecutive below average hurricane seasons in the Atlantic, a normal season will likely feel very active. But regardless of the number of storms that actually form, it is important to remember that it only takes one landfalling system in your community to make it a memorable season.

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA

Suddenly Summer in NYC

After an extended stretch of cool and rather gloomy conditions, it is suddenly summer in New York City!

The temperature in Central Park soared to 88°F this afternoon, marking the warmest day the city has seen since last September. Our normal high for this time of year is 73°F.

These warm conditions are expected to stick around through the upcoming Memorial Day weekend – ideal conditions for the unofficial start of the summer season.

April 2016: Warmest April on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with April 2016 marking the warmest April ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 58.68°F. That is a staggering 1.98°F above the 20th century average and 0.5°F above the former record that was set in 2010. This temperature was also the fourth highest departure from average for any month on record, behind March 2016, February 2016, and December 2015. Moreover, April marked the 12th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books.

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm, including large parts of the Arctic and Southeast Asia. Here in the US, Alaska marked its warmest April ever recorded and Idaho, Oregon, and Washington each posted their second warmest on record.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of El Niño, which is now fading, and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Research by Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution Program shows that while El Niño gives global temperatures a boost, the majority of the temperature increase is due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It should also be noted that no other strong El Niño event has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

Year to date, the first four months of 2016 were the warmest such period on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

April 2016 was the 12th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record. Credit: NOAA

April 2016 was the 12th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record. Credit: NOAA

A March-like Chill in May for NYC

The calendar says mid-May, but it felt more like March in New York City this weekend.

After a warm spring day on Saturday with readings in the 70s, a cold front swept through the region ushering in significantly cooler conditions. The high on Sunday only reached 57°F, which is 13°F below average. This dramatic cool down was also accompanied by strong winds with gusts in excess of 40-mph.

Moving from Sunday into Monday, the over-night low in Central Park fell to a chilly 43°F. That is the coolest May temperature the city has seen in three years. It was also just one degree shy of tying the record low of 42°F set in 1878. Our normal low temperature for this time of year is 54°F.

With Memorial Day – the un-official start of summer – just two weeks away, many New Yorkers will be happy to hear that temperatures are expected to rebound to more seasonable levels later this week.

Severe Weather Outbreak in Midwest brings Oklahoma an EF-4 Tornado

Over the past few days, severe weather – including a series of tornadoes – has been roaring across the Midwest. These powerful storms have caused widespread damage and claimed the lives of at least two people.

According to the NWS, thirty-eight tornadoes have been confirmed so far across ten states. The strongest was rated EF-4, the second highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.  With winds raging between 166 and 200 mph, it devastated the area around Katie, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon. This was the first EF-4 twister of 2016.

On Wednesday, another round of severe storms brought accumulating hail to Omaha, Nebraska. More than twelve inches piled up on the ground, requiring snowplows to clear the streets.

Year to date, this tornado season has been fairly quiet. But, as this latest outbreak shows, it only takes one storm to devastate a community. May is typically the most active month of the year for severe weather in the US.

Tornado touches down near Katie, Oklahoma. Credit: KJRH

An EF-4 tornado touches down near Katie, Oklahoma. Credit: KJRH

Massive Wildfire Burns in Western Canada

A massive wildfire is raging in Alberta, Canada. Situated in the heart of that country’s oil-sands region, it is known as the Fort McMurray Fire.

Charring 772 square miles of parched land since it started on May 1st, it is now one of the worst wildfires the area has ever seen. As of Sunday, according to local officials, more than 1,600 structures have been destroyed and more than 88,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Only a few days after it began, the fire became so large and intense that it started producing its own weather, including pyrocumulus clouds and lightning.

While the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, unusually warm temperatures, low humidity, and high winds have been helping to fuel the blaze. But, like many other weather-related events this year, El Niño also played a role. It brought the region a dry autumn and winter followed by a warm spring, which created tinderbox conditions that just needed a spark.

This wildfire, according to the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, is still burning and is expected to take months to fully contain.

The Fort McMurray Wildfire rages in Alberta, Canada. Credit: The Star and CP

The Fort McMurray Wildfire rages in Alberta, Canada.  Credit: The Star/ CP

Weather Gamut Writer Appears on WUTV for National Weather Observer’s Day

I was thrilled to be asked back to The Weather Channel’s WUTV show tonight to talk about National Weather Observer’s Day. As a personal weather station owner, we also discussed the extended period of unseasonably cool conditions in NYC recently.

The show, which dives into the science behind different weather events, airs weeknights from 6 to 8 PM EST on The Weather Channel.

Melissa Fleming appears on WUTV for National Weather Observer's Day. May 4, 2016.

Weather Gamut writer, Melissa Fleming, talks with Mike Bettes on WUTV for National Weather Observer’s Day. May 4, 2016.

National Weather Observer’s Day

Today is National Weather Observer’s Day in the US. While not an official federal holiday, it is a day to celebrate people who love to observe the weather.

Without a doubt, weather is a serious business. Professional meteorologists work around the clock to monitor conditions and create forecasts aimed at protecting life and property. But, there are also non-professionals who are awe-inspired by the show Mother Nature puts on everyday. These enthusiasts love to observe and talk about the weather. Some even volunteer as “spotters” for the NWS to provide ground truth observations that supplement radar data. Simply put, these are people who are interested in weather beyond the emoji on their smart phone app.

It is also important to remember that the science of meteorology began with the work of dedicated amateur observers like John Jeffries, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Luke Howard.  They were fascinated by weather and simply wanted to understand it better. As Henri Poincaré – the famous physicist and mathematician said,  “The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.”

NYC Monthly Summary: April 2016

April 2016 was a weather rollercoaster in New York City. We had highs that ranged from a balmy 82°F to a chilly 43°F.  But, in the end, the cold and warmth averaged each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 53.3°F, which is only 0.3°F above normal.

In terms of precipitation, April’s famous showers were few and far between this year. The city received a mere 1.60 inches of rain in Central Park. On average, NYC typically gets 4.5 inches of rain for the month. With these parched condtions coming on the heels of scant rainfall in March, the city was listed as “abnormally dry” on the latest report (4/28) from the US Drought Monitor.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Credit: The Weather Gamut