Extreme Events

Never in the historical record have such large areas of the country experienced such radically different temperature extremes as they have so far in 2014.

  • Never in the historical record have such large areas of the country experienced such radically different temperature extremes as they have so far in 2014.

  • Since we last covered the California drought, conditions in the state have stayed, well, dry—very dry. Statewide, total precipitation is about equal to or below the lowest three-year period since 1895.

  • As the assessment now known as the BAMS State of the Climate report pushes into its third decade, international participation is at an all-time high. From atmospheric chemists to tropical meteorologists, more than 420 authors from institutions in 57 countries contributed to this year’s report.

  • Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the east coast of Samar and Leyte Islands in the Phillippines with what may have been the highest recorded wind speed for a tropical cyclone at landfall. Haiyan, locally known as “Yolanda,” was the deadliest typhoon in the country’s modern record.

  • From the strongest typhoon ever observed to historically high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the State of the Climate in 2013 report provides a complete rundown on the state of Earth's climate and how it is changing.

  • In the midst of a drought in 2008, biologists discovered dead Coho and steelhead trout in a tributary of the Russian River. When the dust settled, the focus turned to how winegrowers and other water users could reduce their impact. The event provided the parties involved—winegrowers, conservationists, and the water agency—an opportunity to find common ground in the realm of science.

  • On August 25, 2011, Dr. Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University’s Extension Climatologist, tweeted to Iowa corn farmers: “Weather based statistics indicate a US corn yield of 149BPA, the prime factor this year is the Aridity Index.” Taylor uses NOAA climate information and seasonal outlooks to help thousands of the region’s farmers manage risk. Nearly 5,000 followers look to his Twitter feed for guidance.

  • In April 2011, Texas was in the midst of what may have been its worst fire season in history. As the season began, NOAA outlooks and observations helped fire managers think strategically about where their resources could be most effective.

  • The Arkansas Valley is enduring the driest continuous period in Colorado's history of recorded data, recalling conditions the state's southeastern plains experienced during the Dust Bowl.

  • A few storms found their way to the drought-stricken California coast late this winter, but they barely made a dent in the state's huge water deficits. As the North Pacific winter storm season recedes, there is little likelihood for substantial drought recovery.

  • Federal law may protect the river habitat in the name of endangered fish, but on land, grapevines are king. This article is the first in a two-part series about how scientists are helping find compromise amid local tensions over water supplies.

  • In October 2003, a little-known think tank in the Department of Defense quietly released a report warning that climate change could happen so suddenly it could pose a major threat to our country's national security. Why was the Pentagon worried about abrupt climate change? Because new evidence from Greenland showed it had happened before. 

  • Working with private companies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency uses precipitation data from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center as part of an insurance program for ranchers and those who grow hay or other livestock forage. This video describes how it works.

  • Persistent cold temperatures in the Midwest this winter almost completely frozen over many of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) reported that 88 percent of the Great Lakes were frozen as of mid-February.

  • The historic rainfall that flooded the Colorado Front Range in September 2013 did little to dampen drought in the state's southeastern plains.

  • Maps of precipitation deficits through January show California mountain areas generally have greater deficits than lower elevations, and Southern California with larger deficits than areas to the north. The drought outlook for February remained grim.

  • January 2014 was remarkably mild across nearly all of Alaska, resulting in this January ranking among the  “top ten” warmest on record for many Alaskan communities according to preliminary analyses.

  • The most populated state in the country is facing what may be its worst drought in a century of record-keeping. On January 20, the governor of California declared a state of emergency, urging everyone to begin conserving water.

  • The Arctic Oscillation describes simultaneous, geographically “choreographed” shifts in multiple features of the polar vortex: air pressure, temperature, and the location and strength of the jet stream. They all follow the hemisphere-wide oscillation of atmospheric mass back and forth between the Arctic and the middle latitudes, sort of like water sloshing in a bowl.

  • A few days of unusually cold weather in the U.S. and Canada aren't a sign that a century-or-more trend of rising global surface temperatures has reversed itself. In fact, the cold wasn't even all that widespread for the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Meteorologists have known for years that the pattern of the polar vortex determines how much cold air escapes from the Arctic and makes its way to the U.S. during the winter. Climate scientists are wondering if a warmer Arctic could explain its odd behavior in recent years.

  • Last month, three NOAA scientists and a colleague from the United Kingdom Met Office were surprised to learn they'd be rubbing shoulders with leading international thinkers on Foreign Policy magazine's annual list of "Top 100 Global Thinkers."

  • October in Alaska this year was more like September, with warmth and rain in place of autumn chill and snow. Wind anomalies related to unusual pressure patterns conspired to bring a steady stream of warm, wet air from southerly latitudes into Alaska.

  • Stunned by Sandy's devastation, the city of New York undertook an ambitious project: to update its long-term sustainability plan using the latest climate science. Their goal was to understand how much sea level could rise, how soon, and just how vulnerable the city would be if some of the more extreme climate change projections turn into reality.

  • For much of Alaska, lack of snow, soaking rains, and record-warmth have made October feel more like September.

  • Developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, the sea level rise viewer offers access to data and information about the risks of sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding along the coastal United States. The Web-based map has the potential to help people build (or rebuild) in a more resilient way.

  • Developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, the sea level rise viewer offers access to data and information about the risks of sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding along the coastal United States. The Web-based map has the potential to help business owners and community planners build (or rebuild) in a more resilient way.

  • (VIDEO) Within months of its opening, Ivar Johnson's restaurant on Panini Bay was devastated by Sandy. As he and his family rebuilt their dream, he talked with scientist Lisa Auermiller about how to face the future rise in sea level that would accompany global warming.

  • At various locations on New Jersey's Barnegat Bay Island, Norb Psuty talks with Climate.gov about how humans' desire for permanence on barrier islands is at odds with natural processes. But preserving or restoring key dune and beach features can help communities weather some storms.

  • (VIDEO) For many New Jersey residents and businesses, "resilience" means recovering from storms like last fall's Sandy. Lisa Auermiller with the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve talks about the factors that spur people to take a longer-term view.

  • Through the first week of September 2013, Colorado was exceptionally warm and dry. By September 12, everything had changed.

  • August 2013 came and went without a single Atlantic hurricane. That's unusual, but by no means unprecedented.

  • A heat wave struck the Midwest in late August and early September 2013. This map shows the hottest temperatures in the United States between August 1 and September 8, 2013, based on data from NOAA's Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis.

  • flooded houses on Breezy Point following Hurricane Sandy

    Understanding how extreme events in 2012 were influenced—or not—by human-caused climate change

  • On July 30, 2013, a weather station on the southwest coast of Greenland preliminarily set a new record high temperature for the country, but whether it will stand as an "official" record after scientists apply quality control procedures isn't yet known. What is known? Greenland's getting warmer.

  • In late July and early August, unusually high temperatures dominated Europe, from the Mediterranean Sea northward to Scandinavia and the British Isles.This map shows temperature between July 16 and August 11, 2013, compared to the 1981-2010 average for the same time of year.

  • From record-low Arctic sea ice to the highest global sea level of the modern record, the 2012 State of the Climate report provides a complete rundown on the state of Earth's climate and how it is changing.

  • During late winter, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas received sorely needed rain which helped reduce short-term impacts, like wildfire and dry topsoil. But as Deke Arndt explains, it has taken months to develop deep and severe drought in the region, and a few wet weeks won't erase that situation. It can take months of ideal conditions to bring soil, rivers, and vegetation back to health.

  • NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its Spring Outlook on March 21. The big story for the upcoming spring? Relief for many drought-stricken areas of the United States is not likely.

  • Winter storms in February improved drought in the Southeast and Midwest, but well below average precipitation in parts of the West in recent months has worsened drought in other places.

  • Deke Arndt talks about how we can learn to make better decisions, become more resilient, and be “climate smart” in the face of extreme events.

  • Transcript

    Deke Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch, National Climatic Data Center

  • NOAA released the 2012 installment of the annual Arctic Report Card on December 5, 2012, as part of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting. This image collection is a gallery of highlights based on the report's major themes. It was developed by the NOAA Climate.gov team in cooperation with Arctic Report Card authors and other Arctic experts.

  • Pecan and chili growers along the Lower Rio Grande can tap groundwater during droughts, but the aquifer water is salty and harmful to the soil over the long term.

  • We can’t immediately link Hurricane Sandy itself to climate change, says climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, but the flooding damage we can. Partly due to global warming, sea level has climbed about a foot in the NYC area over the past century, giving storm surges a “step up” along the coast.

  • In summer of 2012, warm and dry climate climate conditions combined with weather to spark one of the West's largest wildfire seasons yet.

  • On the Rio Grande—historically the wellspring for more than five million people in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico—coping with scarcity has become a reality, and water management and use in the region may be a leading example of how to adapt to drier times

  • India's monsoon rains finally arrived in August—two months late—and vegetation conditions showed some improvement.

  • A series of unusually strong, long-lasting high pressure systems has parked over Greenland this summer. As many a weather forecaster has explained, high pressure generally leads to calm winds and sunny skies, both of which boost temperatures during the all-day sunshine of mid-summer at high latitudes. The conditions contributed to widespread melting of the ice sheet.

  • The current drought in the Southwest is not drier or longer-lasting than historic episodes documented in tree rings, but the current dry conditions stand out from the historical record by being hotter, according to Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.

  • The rainy season in India arrived late and delivered far less precipitation than usual in summer 2012, leading to severe drought across large parts of the country.

  • Deke Arndt, Chief of the National Climatic Data Center’s Climate Monitoring Branch, uses a football field to explain how NOAA creates its Climate Extremes Index.

  • The lead character in the 2011 climate story was La Niña—the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation—which chilled the central and eastern tropical Pacific at both

  • Check the fine print on many cans of hairspray or shaving cream these days, and you’ll probably find a reassurance that the product you are holding contains “No CFCs or chemicals known

  • Temperature anomaly map

    Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March in the contiguous United States since records began in 1895. The average temperature was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March. In the past 117 years, only one month (January 2006) has ever been so much warmer than its average temperature.

  • Climate scientist Anthony Janetos makes it clear that climate change isn't some future abstraction: real and substantial impacts on people's lives, the economy, the environment, and our valuable natural resources are already happening here in the United States.

     

  • The ongoing drought of 2011-2012 has been front and center for people in the southern United States, including the southwestern United States. Dave Brown, Director of Climate Services for the Southern Region through NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, speaks about the causes, impacts, and outlook for this widepread climate event.

  • During spring 2011, the Northern Great Plains experienced record flooding. This video explains how a La Niña climate pattern helped set the stage for this extreme event.

  • Brazos River in drought stage

    An intense drought has gripped the southern tier of the United States for several months, accompanied by destructive wildfires, low water supplies, and failed crops.

  • From drought in the Amazon to Australia's record spring rains, this interactive map highlights significant regional climate events in 2010 that were influenced by El Niño and La Niña.

  • Above-average sea surface temperatures, a natural cycle of increased hurricane activity, and a fading La Nina have influenced the 2011 Atlantic hurricane outlook.

  • The tornado outbreak across the southern United States in late April 2011 was deadly, devastating, and record breaking. NOAA's "CSI" team is investigating the possible connections between global warming, natural climate patterns, and tornadoes.

  • As far back as August 2010, NOAA's seasonal climate models predicted that rainfall would be heavier than normal across Indonesia and Southeast Asia in early 2011. The cause? La Niña.

  • Drought conditions have become more widespread and severe in the Southwest in the first part of 2011.

  • Most of the southwestern United States is having a very dry winter. The northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico were clipped by a few drenching storms exiting California in December, but dry conditions are more the norm.

  • Deep snow that fell across the Great Plains and the Northeast in late January and early February is the latest installment in the second very wintry winter in a row for the eastern U.S.

  • More than half of the United States experienced heat, drought, or flooding during 2011, demonstrating the power and momentum of climate extremes.

  • Facing the possibility of a massive coral bleaching event in the Caribbean Sea in late summer and early fall 2010, a USGS biologist based at U.S. Virgin Islands National Park hopes that the season won't have the same devastating outcome as a similar event in 2005.

  • Christopher Landsea, of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, works with tropical storm data and other hurricane experts to figure out how our warming world will affect hurricanes. Find out what current research tells us about hurricanes in the future.

  • In 1938, an unexpected Category 3 hurricane plowed across Long Island and into Connecticut. Could history repeat itself?

  • Chris Landsea talks about how global warming may change hurricanes: on average, not more storms, but stronger ones.

  •  Researchers at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center collaborate with tropical cyclone centers and scientific agencies around the world to assemble and maintain the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS), an inventory of tropical cyclones.

  • NOAA's Climate Scene Investigators analyzed why the mid-Atlantic region had record-setting snowstorms this winter. The team looked for but found no human "fingerprints" on the severe weather. Instead, they fingered two naturally occurring climate patterns as co-conspirators in the case.

  • We can have record-setting blizzards and global warming at the same time. NOAA scientists explain climate variability, how it influenced our weather this winter, and how it differs from climate change.

  • Almost two months after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, nearly half a million people there are displaced from their homes, and a million more are living without proper shelter. What climate-related risks will they face in the coming months?