Moving to Patreon!

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 🙂 ).

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Typhoon Maria passing north of Taiwan; bearing down on mainland China.

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.

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Radar animation (Images by Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan) showing west-northwest progression of Typhoon Maria between 1 pm-1:40 am local time (UTC+8) Tuesday/Wednesday. Animation generated by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science/U. of Miami.

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).

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Maria track forecast by the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center and “cone of uncertainty” detailing potential deviations from the track.

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.

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Current sea surface temperatures under the path of Maria.

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.

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Forecast 24 hr rainfall ending at 12 UTC Wednesday by the Global Forecast System model. The mountainous terrain of northern Taiwan will be the hardest hit by torrential rainfall, but very heavy 24 hr totals are also likely along the mainland coast of China.
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GFS model forecast wind peak 1-3 hr wind gusts valid at 21 UTC Tuesday. Multiple models indicate open ocean coast will likely see gusts exceeding 110 mph/~175 kph as the center of the system bears down on the coast between after 00 UTC Wednesday.
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GFS forecast significant wave heights at 00 UTC Wednesday. The ~205 mile/330 km radius tropical storm-force wind field north of the center of Maria (winds at least 39 mph/~65 kph) will promote significant wave heights in excess of 33 ft (10 m), causing life-threatening wave action on top of the storm 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

North Atlantic Tropics Wake Up with Beryl; Typhoon Maria Roars to Cat 5-Equivalent Status West of Guam

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.

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Small Beryl (circled) heading east. Mid-level water vapor image around 12:30 am CDT Friday.

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.

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US National Hurricane Center forecast track and uncertainty cone for Beryl showing the system peaking in strength Fri-Sat then weakening as it approaches the Lesser Antilles late-Sunday.

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.

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One of model depiction of rainfall path associated with Beryl through Monday afternoon. Light to moderate rainfall amounts likely over parts of the Lesser Antilles.

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.

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Powerful Category 5-equivalent Super Typhoon Maria over the Philippine Sea with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. Visible image valid at 05:30 UTC Friday (12:30 am in the US/3:30 pm Friday in Guam).
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Wider view.

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.

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US Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast track for Maria.
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Current sea surface temperatures east of the Philippines over 32 C.
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Sea surface temperature anomalies showing SSTs more than 1 C above normal (1961-1990 climatology) along the path of Maria as it continues moving northwest from Guam.

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.

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One model depiction showing the path of heavy rainfall associated with Maria from southeast to northwest (bottom right to middle of image) through 18:00 UTC (2 am Guam time).

–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

Extreme Heat Event in Northern Siberia and the coastal Arctic Ocean This Week (Updated 7/9/2018 to discuss Canada/Scandinavia)

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.

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Global Forecast System computer model forecast 7-day mean temperature anomalies for the Arctic. Very anomalous warmth expected over the Canadian Arctic (Nunavut) and Scandinavia and northwestern Siberia during the next week. Also note anomalous heat over much of the Greenland and Barents Seas to the edge of the sea ice extent (waters east of Greenland and to north-northeast of Scandinavian countries).
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).

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GFS Model high temperature forecast for Canada Tuesday afternoon. Temperatures into the 80s F and approaching 90 degrees F (27-32 C) well into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

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High temperatures Thursday.
At the same time, Scandinavia and northwest Russia will also see significantly above normal temperatures of similar magnitude.

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GFS Forecast high temperatures Tuesday over Scandinavia. Temperatures above 81 F (27 C) extending north of the Arctic Circle. The pattern remains persistent through the weekend and possibly longer.

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GFS Model forecast high temperatures for Saturday afternoon. Note temperatures near 90 F (32 C) in far northwest Russia.
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.

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Visible image of Arctic cyclone over the Beaufort Sea (“C” shaped cloud structure on the left near Alaska). Note the ice cover over the Arctic Ocean and ongoing areas of break up along offshore Eurasia (on the right side of the image). Image from July 7th, Terra satellite.

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Satellite data showing sea ice concentration in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent areas for July 8th.
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).

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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.

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Wednesday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along the Laptev Sea in Northern Siberia. Widespread 80s to mid-90s, over 40 degrees above normal as forecast by the Global Forecast System Model.

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Thursday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along Eastern Laptev Sea and far western portion of the Eastern Siberian sea in Northern Siberia. Similar temperatures and departures to Wednesday.

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Friday Afternoon (local time) high temperatures along the far western portion of the Eastern Siberian Sea in Northern Siberia. Widespread 80s to mid-90s, over 40 degrees above normal.
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.

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Mean temperature anomalies the past 30 days. Normal relative to 1981-2010 baseline.
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).

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Warming in of +6 C (11 F) above normal sea surface temperatures in the ice free area of the Laptev Sea on the left. Also circled is the ice free +6 C area in the Chukchi Sea on the left between Siberia and Alaska, which also had record low sea ice extent this past winter and spring.
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.

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Thursday Morning (local time) temperatures along the Laptev Sea. Upper-60s to mid-70s.
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

Update on the Eastern Pacific Tropics

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.

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Developing tropical cyclone over the Eastern Pacific late-Saturday afternoon. Much cooler waters exist to the north, which can be noted by the thick layer of low clouds (known as “stratocumulus”) to the north of the red circle. These signify a “stable” atmosphere near the surface, not conducive for deep thunderstorm activity which tropical cyclones need to survive.
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Saturday afternoon graphic by the National Hurricane Center showing the likely development region for the future tropical system during the next two days.

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.

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Water temperatures up to 28-30 degrees C (82-86 F) over the main development region for the Eastern Pacific Basin.
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Water temperatures are running roughly up 1-1.5 C (2-3 F) above normal across the main development region of the Eastern Pacific. This is relative to the 1961-1990 baseline which I reference as global warming has warmed the oceans significantly since the mid to late-1970s.

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

Heavy rain and areas of flash flooding continue in Southeast Texas

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.

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Flash flood warnings along US-281 west of Corpus Christi this evening.
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Training rainfall over Galveston Island and inland east of Houston this evening. Some flooding possible from the rainfall if this persists.
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Graphic by the National Weather Service – Weather Prediction Center indicating likelihood for training rain bands and elevated flash flooding potential this evening.
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Thermal infrared image showing coldest (and therefore tallest) cloud tops over South Texas and the southeast Texas coast, where the strongest thunderstorms and heaviest rainfall is currently located (as of 7:30 pm CDT).

 

–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

Flooding Rains Impacting Coastal Texas

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.

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Lower atmospheric water vapor image showing deep tropical moisture streaming into Southeast Texas and northeast Mexico around a broad mid-level circulation (located over South Texas) Tuesday night. White to green is higher moisture content.
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Flash flood warnings in and north of Corpus Christi, TX Tuesday night as rainfall “trains” over the same areas for hours.
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Storm total rainfall (likely in the past 36 hrs) over the same region. Some areas have received up to an estimated 4-8 inches of rainfall.
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Storm Total Rainfall over the Houston Metro and surrounding areas. A core of heavy rainfall occurred today over far southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. The Lake Charles radar (not shown) which is closer to this core and provides are more accurate estimate shows isolated 5-6 inches of rainfall in 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.

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One model forecast for precipitable water over much of Southeast Texas and western Louisiana during the day Wednesday. This is total of amount of liquid in the water column if all the water was precipitated out of the atmosphere. High values with available lift in the atmosphere to form precipitation indicates a high heavy rainfall potential.
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One model forecast showing total rainfall through midnight CDT Thursday. It indicates areas of heavy rainfall along the south-central Texas Coast. Where the heaviest bands of rain set up ultimately is unknown because of very fine scale variability, although areas near Corpus Christi appear to be the most favored, risking further flash flooding. Some areas could receive an additional 3-5+ inches of rain Tues night-Thursday.

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