My WordPress subscription is coming to an end this week and so I started a Patreon account devoted to my writing on extreme weather events and abrupt climate change. I work and take care of family and so the research and analysis I do for my writings take a lot of my time. I feel the work is extremely important (and from the recent media attention, so do many others! See my recent interview with Mother Jones!) especially coming from the perspective of a meteorologist and wish to continue it. However, I need your support! My first post is public and discusses a potential extreme heat event on the Southern Plains and Midwest later in the week into the weekend. Please check it out and give your support! (any subscription is month to month 🙂 ).
Typhoon Maria, after blasting across the southern Japanese Ryukyu Islands, is now moving just north of Taiwan, delivering very heavy rain to much of the island, including Taipei City. It’s next and final destination is mainland China.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, maximum sustained winds at 1500 UTC Tuesday were estimated near 120 mph, with gusts to 150 mph (~195 kph/240 kph, respectively). The system is forecast to make landfall on the mainland Chinese coast by between 3-6 UTC Wednesday (10 pm-1 am CDT Tuesday/Wednesday in the US, 11 am-2 pm Wednesday Taipei, Taiwan time).
As sea surface temperatures lower gradually approaching the Chinese coast, Typhoon Maria will continue to weaken gradually. The sea surface temperatures in Maria’ s path are mostly running near normal. However, at 81 F/27 C, it is more than warm enough to support a tropical cyclone of moderate strength.
It is expected to make landfall as a Category 2-equivalent typhoon (forecast sustained winds 100 mph/~160 kph) . Because the system will remain relatively well organized, this will continue to be a “all-hazards” event; potentially torrential rainfall, damaging wind gusts in excess of 100 mph near the large eye, significant storm surge, particularly in bays and battering waves in excess of 33 ft/10 meters on top of the surge.
Potentially life-threatening risks from these hazards include injuries from falling or flying debris in the intense winds, very dangerous inland flooding from the heavy rains and storm surge flooding from the landfall of the typhoon, as well as the battering waves on top of the surge.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
The North Atlantic tropics finally woke up after a weeks long period of dormancy…with the birth of Tropical Storm Beryl Thursday. The system formed in the west-central Atlantic after days in a formative stage as a tropical wave with no defined surface low.
Beryl is a very small system with tropical storm force winds only extending out 35 miles from the center of circulation Thursday night. However, it has continued to strengthen through Thursday Night and is expected to become a minimal hurricane later Friday.
Although the system is depicted to move near the Lesser Antilles late-Sunday, vertical wind shear…increasing wind speed with height…is expected to increase dramatically over Beryl as it approaches Sunday, leading to a rapid weakening and possible dissipation. This is highly likely given the small size of the circulation. However, regardless of what the status of the system is when it moves over the islands, accompanying what remains will be gusty winds, showers and thunderstorms and local downpours.
Meanwhile, in the Western Pacific, Maria has become a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. The first Category 5-equivalent cyclone observed in either the North Pacific or North Atlantic in 2018. Maria moved over Guam and the southern Mariana Islands as a tropical storm, bringing strong winds and locally heavy rainfall. Damage was reported to Rota’s power system, but no damage to personal property or injuries were reported. The system then became a typhoon west of the island chain, before rapidly intensifying to a Category 3-equivalent typhoon around 1800 UTC (1 pm CDT Thursday in the US), then to its present intensity (as of this post) several hours later.
Maria is expected to move generally northwestward over open water during the next three days. It will remain a powerful typhoon thanks to absolutely steamy waters warmer than 90 F/32 C, 1 C or more above normal. Afterwards, it will move over slightly cooler waters, but may remain a powerful Category 3 or 4 hurricane (115 mph+ winds) as it approaches some of the southern most small Japanese islands on Tuesday.
The most significant threats from Maria will be increasing high surf and rip currents for areas ahead of Maria (Philippines, southern Japan, Taiwan) followed by heavy rainfall and damaging winds for the remote southern Japanese islands as it moves closer toward mainland China midweek.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
Updated 7 pm CDT 7/9/2018:
Because of the attention of this post, I’m updating it to discuss the ongoing intense warming of the parts of the Arctic this week into next week and the implications on the mid-latitudes further. The heatwave in northern Siberia is receding, but heat is building in Northern Canada and Scandinavia this week. All the result of very strong, persistent high pressure systems, leading to surface temperatures 15-30 degrees F (8-17 C) above normal.
These anomalies, much like what occurred to a spectacular level in north-central and northeast Siberia translate to very warm temperatures for so far north of 60 N.
Arctic and Sub-Arctic Canada appears to go through the most significant impacts Monday-Thursday with temperatures into the above 79 F (26 C) and even approaching 90 F (32 F).
At the same time, Scandinavia and northwest Russia will also see significantly above normal temperatures of similar magnitude.
All of this very abnormal heat over the high latitude landmasses, overspreading the peripheral seas of the Arctic Ocean continues to cause substantial and persistent decrease in daily sea ice volume in the Arctic and surrounding areas. Significant reductions are being caused by decreases in concentration of ice within the Arctic Ocean; ice which is also quite thin from months of abnormal warmth, including in the polar night. In addition, a major ocean cyclone struck the Beaufort Sea and part of the Central Arctic Basin over the weekend,bring in heat from the warm Pacific and eastern Siberia and churning up wave action under the influence of strong wind gusts over the open, ice-crusted sea.
Research by scientists such as Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University (recent recorded lecture discussing her research can be found here) have shown that decreasing sea ice can lead to a) progressively weaker jet stream with higher amplitude, slower-moving waves (atmospheric ridges and troughs) capable of producing more frequent extreme weather events (extreme heat, heavy rainfall patterns, etc) for weeks at a time. Also areas of very low extent and open compared to the past are hypothesized to enhance the very ridges of high pressure which produce extended hot, dry weather (research into this still ongoing). These ongoing effects are all a product of very abrupt changes in the Arctic climate over the past 20 yrs, which have to evolved to the point of effecting both Arctic and mid-latitude weather on meteorological timescales (several days or weeks).
These pronounced effects on the mid-latitudes leading to more extreme weather events would be expected to continue as the planet continues to warm, with the Arctic warming twice as fast as the planet north of 60 N (and up to 4 times faster north of 80 N) with such extremes having implications on crop yields, water resources and human health in the coming years.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
(Original post from 7/2/2018 below):
This isn’t typically what I would write about in this blog, as I typically cover threatening ocean storms. However, this has implications for the Arctic Ocean and possibly mid-latitude weather. An extreme heat event for this particular region…with high temperatures of greater than 40 degrees F (greater than 20 C) above recent normals…will impact the coast of the Arctic Ocean (specifically the Laptev Sea and Eastern Siberian Sea) Wednesday-Friday. This will generate maximum daily temperatures as high as 90-95 degrees (32-35 C) near the open ocean coast!
Yes, you read that correctly.
Needless to say, a true roasting for this area.
I’ve looked over the European model and there appears to be general agreement over the intensity and timing of this extreme event. It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north. Climate change has sent temps skyrocketing in the far north of the planet over just the past 20 years. While that’s been quite reflected in the rapid rise in wintertime temperatures, it’s increasingly being reflected in summertime temperatures as more and more sea ice disappears earlier in the season, leaving more dark blue ocean to absorb more daytime sunlight. This heating of the ocean surface by low albedo (very low reflectivity…little sunlight being reflected back off into space) causes some heat to be released back to heat the atmosphere above, speeding up warming of the Arctic region. This is known as Arctic Amplification. And one larger-scale hemispheric consequence being actively researched by Dr. Jennifer Francis (YouTube Video Presentation) and on others is that Arctic Amplification is causing an abrupt weakening of the polar jet stream (on timescales of just the past decade or two), the main feature which steers and intensifies weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. The weakening is causing the polar jet to become much wavier, with greater wave “breaks” and blocking patterns where waves sit in the same place for weeks promote extreme weather patterns (extreme cold relative to normal as well as extreme heat, very wet, and drought conditions).
2018 has unfortunately been a prime example of global warming’s effect on the jet stream. And northern Siberia has been getting blowtorched by heat that refuses to quit because of an ongoing blocked pattern favorable for intense heat.
This, in turn, has result in significant erosion of the sea ice in the Laptev Sea and warming of the waters into the mid-40s (5-6 C) in the sea (around 43 F/6 C).
I would expect sea ice concentration to decline further this week, perhaps significantly as these incredible temperatures strike the region. The numerical models not only indicate the intense daytime heat, but also nighttime lows in the 60s (15-20 C), with 70s (21-26 C) not far inland.
Incredible! Also, during the daytime hours there will be strong offshore wind blowing hot air offshore out to sea capable of heating waters and destroying more and more sea ice.
In addition to the immediate impact on sea ice, there is also the impact on permafrost. Or perhaps, what was “permafrost”. More of these kind of intense heat events now hitting the Arctic at the height of summer will result in more rapid destruction of land permafrost as well as heating of the shallow waters just offshore where sub-sea permafrost is located, allowed for increasingly more carbon dioxide and methane to be released into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming and resulting climate change, including effects on storm patterns in the mid-latitudes.
—Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
The North Pacific and North Atlantic appear to be fairly quiet as far as significant ocean storms. However, I wanted to make note of a likely developing tropical cyclone in the Eastern Pacific Basin (east of 140 W longitude). The US National Hurricane Center has pegged it with a 80% chance of development over the next 2 days before it moves northward toward much colder waters after Monday. It should be no threat to land at this time.
A couple of other tropical waves are ongoing east of the one mentioned above; one south of mainland Mexico, another offshore Central America. Numerical models indicate the two waves may merge and possibly form a tropical cyclone the second half of next week (after Tuesday). There’s also appears to be a favorable signal for elevated tropical cyclone development in the Eastern Pacific starting mid-week going into early the following week. Details become sketchy that far out of course, beyond the general pattern set up. The active pattern signals forecasters look for are 1) active monsoon trough…the convergence zone for abundant thunderstorm activity from Central America out over the very warm waters of the Eastern Pacific, 2) active Central American Gyre which provides thunderstorm complexes with mild spin as they move from land over open water, and 3) a low wind shear environment over the open ocean for systems to form without disruption. And with more cyclones means greater risk for landfall impacts as were seen with Bud and Carlotta. Waters over the basin continue to be abnormally warm (1-1.5 C/2-3 F above normal generally) relative to mid to late-20th century norms.
So something to watch later next week for more significant impacts to either Mexico or the Southwest US for remnant moisture yet again.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
Brief update. Parts of Southeast Texas continue to face locally heavy rain this evening. Things should begin to improve tomorrow, but more of the same through tonight unfortunately. Hidalgo County, TX along the border with Mexico (in the Rio Grande Valley) suffered significant flooding in multiple communities, including Weslaco and Mercedes. The Weather Channel showed live footage this afternoon of people wading in the water and cars driving through flooded roads (please do not ever do that!). See their news story on the events in Texas HERE. Rainfall is currently impacting portions of far south Texas and near Houston and Galveston which have yet to receive significant heavy rainfall.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey
Heavy rainfall and flash flooding continue to impact parts of Southeast Texas and the far northeast region of Mexico as tropical moisture sourced from the Caribbean shifts over the area.
Corpus Christi International Airport has seen over 4.5 inches of rain since Monday night. Endinburg, TX has also seen about 4.5 niches since Monday morning where the heavy rain began earlier. Victoria, TX has seen close to 2 inches since Monday morning. More locally heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding is possible through Wednesday as further tropical moisture spreads over the region.
Please avoid flooded roads as fast moving currents in unexpectedly deep water can sweep a vehicle away easily and roads may be washed out and unseen under the water. Keep track of the latest weather in your area prior to and while traveling as well.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey