GFS vs. ECMWF
Meteorologists are an odd bunch. When we're right (it has been known to happen) we puff out our chests, noting our experience and good sense. When we're wrong we blame the weather models. "It's not my fault, the computers made me do it!"
In 1976 there was 1 weather model (LFM). Now there are dozens. Lately the Europeans have been focusing all their time & money on 1 model, the ECWMF, which has done a better job on many (but not all) days. The "Euro" gave me an 8-day heads-up that Superstorm Sandy might hook into the northeast in 2012.
But don't bet against the USA. Dan Luna, at the local NOAA office, told me "our NOAA NCEP Computer, the one running the weather models, will have its computing power increased from 208 Teraflops to 1900 Teraflops...very soon the GFS will be upgraded to 13KM out to 10 days. That will be a game changer!"
The weather models we study continue to predict a glorious rerun of Pacific air; 3 days at or above 40F next week? In Minnesota we call this a warm front.
No major storms are brewing, but NOAA has issued an El Nino Watch for late 2014. The last major El Nino was 1998, which turned into the warmest year on record, worldwide. Details below.
* as of February 25, Cliff Mass reports that NOAA's new supercomputer hasn't even been ordered, while the European Center (ECMWF) has just secured a new (American) supercomputer to try and push the envelope even further. His must-read post is here.
- February precipitation totals were well above historical averages in eastern Minnesota counties, near to below-average in western Minnesota locales. Record February monthly snowfall totals of 24 to 36 inches were reported in many northeast Minnesota communities.
- Average monthly temperatures for February in Minnesota were well below historical averages, finishing 10 to 12 degrees below normal.
- The statewide average temperature for the meteorological winter (December through February) ranked fourth coldest of the 119-year modern climate record.
- Except for a few west central Minnesota counties, current snow depths are well above the historical median for the date at all locations.
- There is a near-normal risk for moderate or higher level spring flooding along the Red River, Minnesota River, and Upper Mississippi River. There is a somewhat elevated risk for moderate or higher level spring flooding in the St. Croix River basin.
USA Snowcover In Early March: Third Highest Level On Record. Only 1969 and 1978 saw more snow on the ground in early March, from coast to coast. Here's an excerpt from a story at USA Today: "As of Tuesday, North America is covered by the third-highest amount of snow this late in the season since records began in 1966, according to NOAA's U.S. National Ice Center. Only 1969 and 1978 had more snow cover at this point in the year, according to Sean Helfrich of NOAA's National Ice Center..."
Spring Forward. Yes, we lose an hour of sleep Saturday night, but here's another encouraging sign of lukewarm days to come. Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead 1 hour before you turn in Saturday night.
* Here are the latest Iditarod standings - at least report Monica was 48th.
Image credit above: "Sea surface height anomalies across the Pacific Ocean on December 1, 1997. The warm water associated with El Nino raises sea surface heights. Measurements taken by the U.S. and French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite." Image: NASA/JPL.
What Is An El Nino Watch? There's a growing body of scientific evidence that the most recent La Nina cooling phase in the Pacific may have masked some of the (atmospheric) warming in recent years. Certainly ENSO, swings in temperature, moisture and winds in the Pacific can have a domino effect downwind over North America. That's why oceanographers and meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on a possible El Nino event later in 2014. More on the El Nino Watch issued by NOAA in today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the El Nino forecast issued from NOAA. How does this set up compare to previous El Ninos? And what can we expect from the long range forecasts? Will this help or hurt the historic drought situation across the West?"
Photo credit above: "Nearly half of the buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean array have failed because of delayed maintenance." NOAA.
Photo credit above: "Children get splashed by a passing car while playing in a puddle in Long Beach, Calif., Sunday, March 2, 2014. The storm, the largest since 2010, kept emergency planners and rescue crews busy, but it did not produce enough rain to pull California out of a crippling drought that has grown to crisis proportions for the state's vast farming industry." (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Anibal Ortiz)
Colorado State Hurricane Outlooks To Continue, For Now. I'm always vaguely amused when these hurricane predictions come out around June 1, looking 2-6 months into the future. Last year was especially rough, but according to this story at USA Today, the hurricane hand-waving will continue in 2014: "They didn't want to end on such a sour note. Following the self-described "worst" seasonal hurricane forecast in 30 years in 2013, Colorado State University (CSU) meteorologists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray were at risk of losing funding for their well-known Tropical Meteorology Project. But there is hope for this season, at least for now: "While we are not fully funded, we have made some reasonable progress in obtaining funding over the past few weeks," Klotzbach writes in an e-mail..."
- Is the California drought caused by climate change?
- Is the California drought, no matter the cause, influenced or affected by climate changes already occurring?
- How will climate changes affect future drought risks in California?
Image credit above: Meriem Chabani, Etienne Chobaux, John Edom, Maeva Leneveu.