Global ocean temperatures at record highs for 3rd consecutive month

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:04 PM GMT on September 17, 2009

Share this Blog
6
+

For the third consecutive month, global Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were the warmest on record, according to statistics released yesterday by the National Climatic Data Center. August SSTs were 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average, breaking the previous August record set in 1998. The record August SSTs were due in part to the continuation of El Niño conditions in the Eastern Pacific, which have substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño conditions are expected to amplify during the coming months, and record or near-record global ocean temperatures will probably continue.

August global surface temperatures 2nd to 6th warmest on record
The globe recorded its second warmest August since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. NOAA rated the period June - August (summer in the Northern Hemisphere, winter in the Southern Hemisphere) as the third warmest on record, and the year-to-date period, January - August 2009, as the fifth warmest such period on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated August 2009 as the 6th warmest August on record, and the period June-July-August as the 2nd warmest on record. The August satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest five miles of the atmosphere were between 7th and 9th warmest on record, according to the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems.

Warmest August on record in Australia and New Zealand
Australia had its warmest August on record in 2009, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures averaged a remarkable 3.2°C (5.8°F) above average, making August 2009 the most anomalous month ever recorded in Australia. The previous record was set in April 2005, which was 3.1°C (5.6°C) above average. The month's highest temperature, 39.7°C (103°F) at Wyndham Airport on the 31st, fell only 0.3°C short of the Australian record for August. The Australian winter (June-July-August) was the 2nd warmest on record, next to the winter of 1996. New Zealand also experienced its warmest August on record (records go back 155 years).

A cool August and cool summer for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., the average August temperature was 0.6°F below average, making it the 30th coolest August in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The U.S. as a whole was below normal for the summer period (June - August). A recurring upper level trough held the June - August temperatures down in the central states, where Michigan experienced its fifth coolest summer, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota their seventh coolest each, Nebraska its eighth, and Iowa its ninth. In contrast, the temperatures in Florida averaged out to be fourth warmest, while Washington and Texas experienced their eighth and ninth warmest summers, respectively.

U.S. precipitation in August was below average, as the month ranked 28th driest in the 115-year record. Arizona had its fourth driest August, New Mexico its fifth, and it was the eighth driest August for Colorado, Utah and Texas. Arizona observed its third driest summer, while both South Carolina and Georgia had their sixth driest. It was the 8th wettest summer on record in the Northeast.

At the end of August, 13% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. These extreme drought regions were exclusively in South to Central Texas. However, significant drought relief occurred in this region the second week of September, when a large area of tropical moisture settled in over the region, bringing heavy rains. About 19 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories in August.

Weak El Niño conditions continue
El Niño conditions continue over the tropical Eastern Pacific. Ocean temperatures in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", were 0.4°C above the threshold for a weak El Niño, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is maintaining an El Niño Advisory. Current conditions and model forecasts favor the continued development of a weak-to-moderate strength El Niño into the Northern Hemisphere Fall 2009, with the likelihood of at least a moderate strength El Niño (3-month Niño-3.4 SST index of +1.0°C or greater) during the Northern Hemisphere Winter 2009-10.

Sea ice extent in the Arctic 3rd lowest on record
August 2009 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the 3rd lowest since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, behind 2006 and 2007. Sea ice extent has increased slightly over the past week, and we have probably reached the minimum for the year. If so, this year's minimum ranks as the 3rd lowest, behind 2007 and 2008. The fabled Northwest Passage appeared to melt free for brief period in August, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This marks the third consecutive year--and third time in recorded history--the Northwest Passage has opened. The Northeast Passage along the north coast of Russia also opened up this year. This is the fourth time in the past five years the Northeast Passage has opened, and the fourth time in recorded history.

Quiet in the Atlantic
The remains of Hurricane Fred are generating a very small amount of heavy thunderstorm activity near 23N, 61W. These thunderstorms were generating winds up to 35 mph, according to this morning's QuikSCAT pass. However, QuikSCAT also showed that the remains do not have a surface circulation, and the organization of ex-Fred has degraded to point where NHC is no longer mentioning the system on their Tropical Weather Outlook. Water vapor satellite loops show that ex-Fred continues to suffer from dry air thanks to an upper-level low pressure system, and it is unlikely that Fred will ever regenerate. None of the computer models call for any tropical cyclones to develop anywhere in the Atlantic over the next seven days.


Figure 1. Two views of the eye of Super Typhoon Choi-wan. Left: the eye at 01:25 UTC 9/16/09, when Choi-wan was a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Right: the eye at 03:40 UTC 9/17/09, when Choi-was was a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Image credit: MODIS Rapid Response System.

Typhoon Choi-Wan no longer a Category 5 storm
This year's first Category 5 tropical cycloneTyphoon Choi-Wan, has fallen to Category 4 strength after spending 42 hours as a 160 mph Category 5 storm. Choi-Wan--in Cantonese, a type of cloud--is over the open ocean south of Japan, and is not expected to impact any land areas. Choi-wan passed over tiny Alamagan Island, population 15, yesterday. All residents on the island were reported safe.

On this day twenty years ago
At 1 am AST on September 17, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made a direct hit Guadeloupe, pounding the island with Category 4 sustained winds of 140 mph. A storm surge of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) topped by high battering waves smashed ashore. Hugo wreaked massive devastation on Guadeloupe, destroying 10,000 homes, leaving 35,000 of the island's 340,000 people homeless. Four people died and 107 were injured. An additional seven people were killed three days after the storm when a medical helicopter crashed while evacuating victims. Hugo's winds knocked the airport control tower out of commission, and almost completely destroyed the town of St. Francious, on the island's eastern end. Debris blocked at least 30% of the island's roads. Agriculture suffered massive losses that took years to recover from, as Hugo flattened 100% of the banana crop, 60% of the sugar cane crop, and ruined nearly all of the island's coconut palms. Most of the island's fishing fleet was wiped out, and total damage to the island from Hugo amounted to $880 million. Hugo was the strongest hurricane to hit the island since the legendary 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane--the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane of all time--which brought 150 mph winds to Guadeloupe.


Figure 2. AVHRR visible satellite image of Hurricane Hugo taken on September 17, 1989. Image credit: Google Earth rendition of the NOAA HURSAT data base.

Hugo continued northwest and pulverized its next target, the island of Montserrat, several hours later. Though the eye missed Monserrat, the severe right front quadrant of Hugo's eyewall, still packing sustained winds of 140 mph, pounded the island. Nearly every home on Monserrat was destroyed or heavily damaged, leaving 11,000 of the island's 12,000 people homeless. Numerous schools, hospitals, and churches were destroyed, along with the police department, the government headquarters, and the main power station. Twenty foot waves in the harbor of the main town, Plymouth, destroyed the 180-foot stone jetty, and heavy rains of up to seven inches created mudslides that at the foot of Chances Peak that destroyed 21 homes. Ten people were killed on Montserrat, 89 injured, and damage topped $260 million, making it the most expensive hurricane in the island's history. Elecrtic, water, and telephone service were disrupted for weeks, necessitating a massive U.S. and British relief effort.


Figure 3. Hugo's storm surge inundates the coast of Montserrat Island. Image credit: NOAA photo library.

The nearby islands of St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Martin, Anguilla, and Dominica did not receive a blow from Hugo's eyewall, but damage was heavy nonetheless. One person was killed on Antigua, and 30% of the homes damaged. Dominica suffered the loss of 80% of its banana crop, and landslides cut off many towns for days. Shoreline erosion damage and crop losses totaled $43 million on St. Kitts, where one person was killed.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1274 - 1224

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33Blog Index

Quoting iceman55:


wowwwwww look at high

OK!! That HIGH is on freaking STEROIDS!!

Question, to the weather professionals out there! Is it normal to have such a strong Bermuda H at the beginning of Fall??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting btwntx08:
gorthar it needs to have a number not just invest and also the navy doesn't show it either so the navy are the first ones to get the invest on there


Actually it is an invest just not a navy invest. It's an ssd invest. They'll "invest" things they find interesting sometimes even if the navy doesn't. No number since it's not a navy one yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
post # 1239...Can I have some of whatever you're smokin'?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jdjnola:


I am most concerned about that TC formation probability off the coast of TX/LA. The low pressure system in the region has been awfully... moist. No one is talking about it, yet all of the models show it getting closer to the GoM before anything...


huh? Am I missing something.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting iluvjess:
"Hey gator23. A lot of people on this blog are not American and are not interested in football. Thats all im saying when you are saying its ok to spend time talking about a silly sport that means nothing to the vast majority of people on this planet.Keep your talk on weather please. The country I live in is inconsequential."

Well listen up pal, this blog is on an American website, hosted by an American company, authored by an American scientist, and read by a bunch of Americans. If you want a blog to discuss the weather and your weekly hoola hoop tournaments then feel free to start one but in here we will occasional talk about football, baseball, hotdogs, peanuts, and Budweiser. God Bless America!


I am Dominican and i feel proud of it, I have never traveled outside of here, I like the local baseball and MLB and I also like the NFL on Sunday and nothing better than to see New England win, but if a blog to talk about the weather, for Why talk about games here.

you go to CBS Sportsline and talks about sports.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1233. GeoffreyWPB 11:14 PM EDT on September 17, 2009
Getting slow...a repost from a few nights ago for Baha..


This was cruel and unusual punishment, I gotta tellya.... LOL My fave [#1] answer was "snow".... a real wx expert there....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1264. 789
Quoting StormW:
Good night all.

Tomorrow brings another forecast day.
gnite
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 262
1263. will40
Good Night StormW
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
Quoting iluvjess:



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1259. jdjnola
Quoting iceman55:




I am most concerned about that TC formation probability off the coast of TX/LA. The low pressure system in the region has been awfully... moist. No one is talking about it, yet all of the models show it getting closer to the GoM before anything...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1255. 789
Quoting StormW:


The current steering layers forecast maps say it comes west.
nice job on the bb good evening sir
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 262
Quoting btwntx08:

a probabilty of a tropical cyclones developing and the higher it goes the better the chance


ok,thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


What scares me is if this was the family that won to get to the bonus round, how dumb was the family the beat? LMAO


LOL...never looked at it from that angle. You are right!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
I'm BA-AAK....

Did FredEx turn into anything while I was gone?


Almost an Invest..again!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1249. will40
Ok got it now tyvm StormW
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
Quoting Tazmanian:
El Nino starting to affect the area


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - We are in a dry stretch of weather in the Valley which could be a precursor to the pattern for winter.

High pressure is keeping us dry in the Great Lakes region. The rotation of the system is giving us air flow from the northeast. This keeps rain-producing systems to our south.

Last time we had rain was on Labor Day weekend. This dry stretch is the longest since March this year. We are predicting relief with rain to return Sunday.

Earlier this summer we talked about El Niño returning for this winter. El Niño is when the Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature is warmer than normal. The ocean temperature rises one to three degrees. Right now, it is beginning to affect the North American weather pattern.

The current national regional satellite and radar map shows continuous rain in the southeastern United States and dry weather in the upper Midwest. This is a preview of what is to come in the near future.


IT is affecting the pattern, but this El Nino is nothing to write home about, pretty weak compared to others we have seen.
El Nino starting to affect the area


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - We are in a dry stretch of weather in the Valley which could be a precursor to the pattern for winter.

High pressure is keeping us dry in the Great Lakes region. The rotation of the system is giving us air flow from the northeast. This keeps rain-producing systems to our south.

Last time we had rain was on Labor Day weekend. This dry stretch is the longest since March this year. We are predicting relief with rain to return Sunday.

Earlier this summer we talked about El Niño returning for this winter. El Niño is when the Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature is warmer than normal. The ocean temperature rises one to three degrees. Right now, it is beginning to affect the North American weather pattern.

The current national regional satellite and radar map shows continuous rain in the southeastern United States and dry weather in the upper Midwest. This is a preview of what is to come in the near future.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Getting slow...a repost from a few nights ago for Baha..



What scares me is if this was the family that won to get to the bonus round, how dumb was the family the beat? LMAO
I'm BA-AAK....

Did FredEx turn into anything while I was gone?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My apologies Amd, you said up to 20 knots and not just 20 knots. in which is correct, read the post wrong. Conditions are marginal for development at best.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1240. Relix
Wait... invest? Open atlantic? Moving WNW? Wow.

http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~gadomski/COMPSTEERATL_12z/comploop.html

Steering layers... or well, expected. Could be an Antilles problem?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1238. will40
Quoting StormW:


We are talking of ex Fred, right?
Quoting StormW:


We are talking of ex Fred, right?


Yes my bad see #1235
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
Quoting iceman55:




hi iceman - what does the purples and blues mean on your map? Like that in the GUL and atlantic.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1235. will40
NM i was looking at the wrong system lol
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
Quoting amd:


yep, also northerly shear of up to 20 knots aren't really helping things either:

Link


Look more close, it's actually 10-15 and maybe 20 knots, not just 20 knots; it's under marginal conditions. dry air is the only reason why this thing isn't getting going. It's free from the ULL that was distorting it, now dry air is the only problem which looks to be diminishing in time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1231. will40
StormW i am confused. With that layer you posted wouldnt it go well south of Cuba?
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
1228. amd
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Not appearing to impressive right now...



yep, also northerly shear of up to 20 knots aren't really helping things either:

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1225. will40
Quoting StormW:


As a TD (WEAK TO MODERATE) mid layer steering at best. Right now, both shallow and mid layer are pretty identical.


dokey okey ty for reply
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 4110
Quoting Grothar:


It is an official invest. Just go to the NOAA site and is says Invest. Just posted at 10:30.


still not official, SSD site has done that before and nothing has come of it. So not its not official just yet.

Viewing: 1274 - 1224

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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