Free-Range Weather

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Intensity of Hurricanes Should Increase with Global Warming

Screen Grab from NY Times Hurricane Video :: NY Times

Screen Grab from NY Times Hurricane Video :: NY Times

I just got around to watching this New York Times video on how climate change will effect the intensity of hurricanes. It was published shortly after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, killing thousands and laying waste to the city of Tacloban. While the graphics are pretty rudimentary, the reporting is outstanding, clearly telling the story about why hurricanes should become more intense the warmer the planet becomes.

The report says that while it’s impossible to say that climate change made Haiyan more intense than it “should” have been, the overheated climate will produce warmer water and higher sea levels, providing the ingredients to make future hurricanes more fierce (and destructive if they strike land). The video is well worth two minutes of your time.


Beware the Atmospheric River!

Atmospheric River Animation :: Courtesy ESRL

Mother Nature will unleash a torrent of water at the Pacific Northwest this weekend. Portland could get up to 4″ of rain by Monday morning, a huge amount for September, typically one of the city’s driest months of the year. In fact, dozens of September rainfall records could fall due to this unusually juicy storm.

As for the “atmospheric river” (literally a narrow band of fast moving, super soggy air; in the United States, ARs take aim at the West Coast) that will make for an über-drippy Northwest weekend, it’s not really that visible on today’s satellite images. Or at least it’s not as apparent as in the images from this excellent Weather Channel post from Dr. Greg Forbes, explaining an AR event from 2010.

NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory AR page is worth a visit.

The river of moisture in the air (if that doesn’t sound too weird) has moisture from Typhoon Pabuk (named after a Laotian fish) as well as the usual Pacific Ocean moisture. It’s going to get very windy, too.


Weather God Tells Dramatic Story

Gary England::Griffin Communications

Gary England has been the weatherman at KWTV in Oklahoma City for more than 40 years. He’s decided to quit the broadcast weather prediction game and retire. I read a story about him in the Times a few weeks ago and then heard his interview with NPR’s Scott Simon on Saturday. The experienced meteorologist with the delightful accent is going to be one tough act to follow.

Gary knows a lot about tornadoes and helped develop Doppler radar for use in weather prediction.

If you only have a couple of minutes, fast forward to the 2:10 mark of Simon’s interview where Gary tells the tale of a tornado outbreak in Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999. He’s a natural raconteur.

NPR’s Scott Simon Chats with Gary England



World’s Driest Place

Andean Flamingos in the Altacama Desert

Andean Flamingos in the Altacama Desert (courtesy Wikipedia)

The world’s driest place? Chile’s Atacama Desert takes the dubious prize. Despite being very close to the Pacific Ocean, the world’s driest desert averages only 0.004 inches per year, which means that it would take a thousand years for the Atacama to receive an inch of precipitation! The mighty Andes Mountains steal almost all of the moisture from the Pacific, leaving the Atacama literally high and dry.

It’s extreme aridity makes California’s Mojave Desert, with its 1.7 inches per year annual precipitation, seem positively tropical. The Weather Channel had an interesting post about extreme weather yesterday.