January 2013 Earth's 9th warmest on record; Category 2 Haruna hits Madagascar

By Dr. Jeff Masters
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Published: 5:33 PM GMT on February 22, 2013

January 2013 was the globe's 9th warmest January since records began in 1880, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. January 2013 global land temperatures were the 13th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 8th warmest on record. January 2013 was the 335th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average and the 37th straight warmer-than-average January. The last time Earth had a below-average January global temperature was in 1976, and the last below-average month of any kind was February 1985, so no one under the age of 28 has ever seen a month with below-average global temperatures. Global satellite-measured temperatures in January 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 4th or 2nd warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during January 2013 was the sixth largest on record for the month, and marked the sixth consecutive January with above-average snow cover for the hemisphere. Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of January 2013 in his January 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary. The most extreme weather on the planet in January occurred in Australia, where the nationally-averaged monthly maximum temperature was the highest ever recorded. Australia also suffered record rains and flooding along the east coast due to the remains of Tropical Cyclone Oswald. Damage from the flooding totaled $2.5 billion, according to AON Benfield. One other billion-dollar weather disaster occurred in January--flooding in Indonesia that cost $3.3 billion and took 41 lives. As much as 300 millimeters (12 inches) of precipitation fell over a two-week period.


Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for January 2013, the 9th warmest January for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Colder than average conditions occurred in the Western U.S., northern Canada, and northern Russia. The Southern Hemisphere was record warm over land for the second month in a row, with record high monthly temperatures observed over northeastern Brazil, much of southern Africa, and northern and central Australia. No land areas in the Southern Hemisphere were cooler than average. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .


Figure 2. Central Jakarta, Indonesia flooded following a heavy rain on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Damage to Jakarta and surrounding areas was estimated at $3.3 billion. Image credit: AP.


Figure 3. In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the Pacific
For the 10th month in row, neutral El Niño conditions existed in the equatorial Pacific during January 2013. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects neutral El Niño conditions to last through spring. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C below average or cooler for three consecutive for a La Niña episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were 0.3°C below average as of February 18, and have ranged from 0.3 - 0.6°C below average during 2013.

Arctic sea ice falls to 6th lowest January extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during January reached its sixth lowest extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the 19th consecutive January and 140th consecutive month with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest January extents in the satellite record.



Figure 4. Ice fractures in the Arctic sea ice off the coast of Alaska, as seen by the AVHRR instrument on NOAA's F-16 polar orbiting satellite on February 21, 2013. As discussed at the Arctic Sea Ice Blog, these sort of fractures are due to the thin first-year ice not being able to withstand the stresses put on the ice pack by strong winds. In previous winters when thick, multi-year ice abounded, these sort of fractures were much less common. Image credit: Environment Canada.

Category 2 Haruna hits Madagascar
Tropical Cyclone Haruna hit southwest Madagascar at 00 UTC Friday, February 22, as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds. Haruna was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall so far in 2013, globally. Haruna is being blamed for one death so far, and will bring torrential rains and dangerous flooding to southern Madagascar over the weekend.


Figure 5. Tropical Cyclone Haruna over Madagascar at 11:05 UTC February 22, 2013. At the time, Haruna was a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Japan sets snow depth record
Incredible snows fell in Japan this week, bringing the amount of snow on the ground to an astonishing 5.15 meters (16.9') at Sukayu Onsen, Aomori on Honshu Island. Wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt details the record in his post, Record Snow Depth (for an official site) Measured in Japan.

Wunderground's climate change blogger, Dr. Ricky Rood, has a post well-worth reading, Should We Just Adapt to Climate Change?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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About The Author
Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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January 2013 Earth's 9th warmest on record; Category 2 Haruna hits Madagascar

January 2013 was the globe's 9th warmest January since records began in 1880, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. January 2013 global land temperatures were the 13th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 8th warmest on record. January 2013 was the 335th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average and the 37th straight warmer-than-average Janua...

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