Atlantic Hurricane season starts on Wednesday, first of June, what’s in store?

The Atlantic Hurricane seasons starts this week on Wednesday the first of June.

Tropical storm naming is well under way already.  ‘Bonnie’ (featured image) has just been downgraded from ‘Tropical Storm’ to ‘Tropical Depression’ and is the first system to make landfall on the USA this year.

D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH

The question arises as to the expected intensity of the 2016 season.  Theories link the El Nino (ENSO) to the intensity of the hurricane season.  It is thought that higher than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic follow an El Nino and sea surface temperatures feed energy into tropical storm systems.  This has been an El Nino year.  Other observations report unusually cold regions of the Atlantic Ocean further north which may mitigate any warming later in the season.

Reports are a little mixed:

Reuters reports that US meteorologists at NOAA predict greater than average numbers this year.  NOAA’s website itself is sticking to a ‘near normal’ pattern of tropical storms.  Other reports abound.

Always thought that weather forecasting was a tricky business; it makes weather watching interesting though….



East Africa rains takes lives and destroy infrastructure – El Nino?

News reports communicate that heavy rain, flooding and landslides have taken lives and destroyed infrastructure in East Africa over the last month or so.  Some point the finger at El Nino as being the culprit.

The Africa Rainfall Climatology (NOAA NCEP), which estimates rainfall based on satellite derived cloud top temperature fused with station observations and other measurements, shows considerable areas of above average rainfall (see featured image).

Enhanced tropical rainfall in this region is associated with El Nino with its greater than average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  A chart of current sea surface temperature anomalies follows.

SST Anomaly Apr-May 2016

Latest guidance from NOAA NCEP is that El Nino is present and is weakening.

Carbon Monoxide Plume from Alberta Fires

MODIS imagery from NASA Worldview gave us a clear view of the Fort McMurray forest fires on 6 May 16 with and extensive smoke plume extending towards the south east of the area.

Surface winds appear to be light-ish.  The smoke plume is streaming down the flow in the middle atmospheric layers at 5000 ft.


The Worldview system also allows us to analyse the concentration of the combustion product, CO.  The following split image, covering exactly the same area, shows the more intense area of carbon monoxide in the white and red arc.


Analysis of Fires from Space in Northern India and Nepal

India has been suffering from a heat wave lately: see Heat Wave in India 22 Apr 16, on this blog.

There are now (2 May 16) news reports of many forest fires in Northern India and Nepal.  These must have arisen, in part, as a consequence of the prevailing hot and dry conditions of the heat wave.

Evidence of these fires is available from space.

The featured image shows a MODIS analysis of the location of surface fires, these are marked with red dots.  The milky white region in the lower right hand quadrant of the picture is, I think, the resulting smoke plume which now covers the region to the south of the Himalaya.

The 5000 ft (850mb) streamlines, taken from the Earth website, back this analysis up by indicating an eastwards movement of air in the middle to lower layers of the atmosphere in this region.

Earth, 850 mb wind 2 May 16

Further analysis of combustion products is also available on MODIS.  The white pixels below, coincident with the original white plume, represent relatively high levels of carbon monoxide in the air column.

EOSDIS, carbon monoxide from space, 2 May 16

March 2016 – a little cold on the North Kent Coast

UKMO monthly climate summaries report that March 2016 was a little cold in the UK based past history.

The temperature extremes in Scotland make good reading: maximum overall UK temperature of 18.7 ^{o}C in Braemar and minimum of -8.7 ^{o}C not far away at Altnaharra.

The climate comparisons are different according to which region and data you look at.  Residents of Kent will note that the North coast was colder than average by -1 ^{o}C whereas the South coast was average when compared to data from 1981-2010 .  The same comparison run on 1961-1990 data reveals a normal month for the North Coast and warmer than average conditions by 1^{o}C for the South.

Whistable and Herne Bay residents will recognise this picture but will also look forward to the high temperatures we expect in the Thames Estuary during the summer, when the region wins the sunshine race hands down.


Unseasonably Cold April Weather in UK

UKMO climate information for April give average temperatures for Kent at 12-13 ^{o} C for coasts and more inland.

Current, April 2016, temperatures are several degrees lower.

We should be used to variability in this part of the world and unseasonable weather is the norm in the UK.  What would we talk about otherwise?

The physical processes of the atmosphere mix cold air at the pole with hot air at the equator with the overall aim of evening out the temperature everywhere.  Atmospheric thickness between standard pressure levels is the way the average heat content of the atmosphere is represented by meteorologists.  Current situation is indicated in the featured image above.

Blue is thin, dense and cold.  Orange is thick, rarefied and warm.  One rule of thumb says that anywhere on the blue side of the white 528 line is subject to greater than 50% probability of snow/sleet in any precipitation.

Current UK weather is currently subjected to a cut off area of cold air being mixed down from the pole: meteorologists call this a cold pool.

Weather is a zero sum game: if there are losers then there are also winners.  Note that Russia has relatively warm air being mixed north.  Anyone to the north of Norway (North Cape to Murmansk) is enjoying unseasonably warm weather.

Heat Wave in India

Current news reports present fears of deaths in the heat wave that currently bakes the sub continent.  Dark pink/maroon on above image (Earth website) indicates maximal temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

India’s hottest months are usually May and June.  Weather reports indicate that some areas have the highest April temperature since 2006.

India experiences a wide range of weather and climate across her vast and varied landscape but is mainly subjected to a tropical regime.  The seasons follow the pattern of winter in January and February, summer in March to May, monsoon rains in June to September and a post monsoon period from October to December.

China wants ships to use Arctic routes

This Reuters release caught my eye.  One economic benefit of climate change is the possibility of cheaper shipping routes between China and the Atlantic.  It is, perhaps, a small positive in an impending global disaster.

“China wants ships to use faster Arctic route opened by global warming.”

There are some problems though.  The Canadian section is claimed as ‘Internal Waters’ and the map shows why.

North West Passage

Sea ice still extends over these waters in winter but the National Snow and Ice Data Centre reports on 28 Mar 16, that ‘The Arctic sets yet another record low maximum extent” … of sea ice.  So this story will be a theme in Geopolitics in the future.

EOSDIS sourced imagery for 20 Apr 16 shows the area north of Alaska to be fast with sea ice at the moment, so no shipping possibilities on this route at the moment.  (Polar view, so north is towards the top right hand corner.)

Polar Sea Ice – MODIS via EOSDIS, 20 Apr 16



The same area, without sea ice overlay gives an impressive view of the ice flows even if the perspective of the polar regions makes a good featured image to this blog.