NOAA: El Niño to Help Steer U.S. Winter Weather

Well, so far so good… Click through to the NOAA article for a bigger version of the map.

winteroutlook_precip_300.jpgNOAA: El Niño to Help Steer U.S. Winter Weather

El Niño in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean is expected to be a dominant climate factor that will influence the December through February winter weather in the United States, according to the 2009 Winter Outlook released today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Such seasonal outlooks are part of NOAA’s suite of climate services.

“We expect El Niño to strengthen and persist through the winter months, providing clues as to what the weather will be like during the period,” says Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. “Warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn change the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.”

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

Jeff Masters.

Wunder Blog

CB5BE336-7B14-4B39-B44E-FDBF0300FF6C.jpgAccording to a 2007 Newsweek poll, 42% of Americans believe that “there is a lot of disagreement among climate scientists about whether human activities are a major cause” of global warming”. I posed the same question to members of the wunderground community on Monday, and even higher 56% of them thought so. However, the results of a poll that appears in this week’s edition of the journal EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, reveals that the public is misinformed on this issue. Fully 97% of the climate scientists who regularly publish on climate change agreed with the statement, “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures”. …

A nugget: Only 47% of petroleum geologists (vs 97% of climate scientists) believe that “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures”.

Why did Ike get so large?

Jeff Masters at Weather Underground:

Why did Ike get so large?

Hurricane Ike grew unusually large, eventually filling up the entire Gulf of Mexico and becoming larger than Katrina. How did it get so big? Well, one theory is that the storm’s passage over Cuba helped it to grow in size. During the day and half the eye of Ike traversed Cuba, the thunderstorm activity near the center was suppressed by land. However, a large portion of the storm was over the exceptionally warm waters of the Loop Current on either side of Cuba. Since the storm couldn’t put any energy into intensifying and maintaining its core, the energy pulled out of the Loop Current went into expanding and intensifying the outer portions of the storm that were over water. When Ike finally emerged into the Gulf of Mexico, its scale had been reset to this new larger size, and the storm was able to maintain the new scale. A similar transition to a new larger scale also occurred to Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew after they passed over South Florida.

(Via )

Hurricane spotting

It’s that time of year, of course, and the place to go for all your hurricane info needs is Jeff Masters’ blog at Weather Underground, now featuring Hanna, Ike and Josephine(!). Bookmark it, or better yet, use RSS to see the updates.

The National Hurricane Center is another good source.

Use my own interface to NWS Area Forecast Discussions to see forecast discussions from the point of view of the affected areas. At the moment, Hanna figures in the Wilmington NC forecast.

Synopsis. A hurricane watch is in effect for Georgetown… Horry… Brunswick… New Hanover and Pender Counties and for adjacent coastal waters from South Santee River to Surf City. Weak high pressure will persist across the Carolinas through today. Tropical cyclone Hanna will approach from the south and affect the area Friday into Saturday morning. Hanna will quickly depart late Saturday… with a trough of low pressure persisting across the Carolinas Sunday through Tuesday. The next cold front to affect the area will be the middle of next week.

Lobitos Weather Project

For those of us with slightly more than a casual interest in weather forecasts, the National Weather Service’s Area Forecast Discussions are a most valuable resource.

Unfortunately, the NWS AFDs have their drawbacks. They’re nearly unreadable, if you’re not a total weather geek, and there’s no RSS.

Well, all that’s changed now. Visit the Lobitos Weather Project home page and let it serve up your (US only) weather forecasts and forecast discussions.

SF weather link

There’s a new link over there on the left to a nice (if I say so myself) SF Bay Area weather page.

The National Weather Service has a lot of useful information, but my favorite, the Area Forecast Discussion, can be pretty hard to read until you get accustomed to its all-caps (and sometimes rather abbreviated) format. I’ve combined the AFD with the SF Zone Forecast, and reformatted them into a single more readable page (especially on a small screen). At the bottom of the page you’ll find links to some other relevant NWS pages.

You’ll see some words and phrases in blue; mouse over them, and you’ll see a brief gloss.

Feedback is welcome, especially if you see formatting and capitalization errors. Paste the error into your email, since the page may have changed by the time I see it.

If you’re not in the SF Bay Area, well, sorry. Unfortunately, much of the formatting is highly localized, especially place names.

And if you don’t like the weather, go out and make some of your own.

Update: I’ve generalized the software to provide weather pages for the entire US. Just enter a zip code. See the announcement post or visit the Lobitos Weather Project.