March 2012: warmest in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on April 10, 2012

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Not only was March 2012 the warmest March in the U.S. since record keeping began in 1895, it was also the second most extreme month for warmth in U.S. history, said NOAA yesterday, in their monthly "State of the Climate" report. The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March, and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. weather records began in 1895, only one month--January 2006--had a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. A remarkable 25 states east of the Rockies had their warmest March on record, and an additional 15 states had a top-ten warmest March. Only four states were cooler than average, with Alaska being the coldest (tenth coldest March on record.)


Figure 1. Temperature rankings for March 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Twenty five states set records for warmest March in the 118-year records (red colors.) Image credit: NOAA.

March 2012: most daily records broken of any month since July 1936
A wunderground analysis of weather records from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center temperature record database reveals that more daily high temperature records were broken in March in 2012 than for any month except July 1936, going back at least 100 years. Fully 11.3% of all daily high temperature records for the month of March in the U.S. are now held by the year 2012, for the 550 stations in NOAA's National Climatic Data Center database that have weather records extending back at least 100 years. The only month in U.S. history holding a higher percentage of daily temperatures records is July 1936. That month holds 14.4% of all the U.S. high temperature records for the month of July. That month occurred in the great Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the hottest summer in U.S. history.



Summer in March 2012: records not merely smashed, but obliterated
Among the 15,000 daily records for warmth set in March 2012 were 21 truly astonishing ones: cases where the low temperature for the day beat the previous high temperature for the day. It is quite rare for a weather station with a 50+ year period of record to break a daily temperature record by more than 10°F. During "Summer in March, 2012", beating daily records by 10° - 20°F was commonplace, and NOAA lists 44 cases where a daily record was broken by more than 22°F. Extraordinarily, four stations broke a record for the date by 30°F or more. Canada holds the most surreal record of this nature during the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave: Western Head, Nova Scotia hit 29.2°C (85°F) on March 22, breaking their previous record for the date (10.6°C in 1969) by 18.6°C (33.5°F.) Canada also had several stations break their all-time warmest April temperature records in March.



Last 3 months and 12 months were the warmest on record
The previous 12-month period (April 2011 -March 2012), which includes the second hottest summer (June-August) and fourth warmest winter (December-February), was the warmest such period for the contiguous United States. The year-to-date period (January - March) was also the warmest on record. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index, an index that tracks the highest 10 percent and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 39 percent, nearly twice the long-term average and the highest value on record for the January - March period. The predominant factor was the large area experiencing extremes in warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures.

Analyzing the "Summer in March, 2012" heat wave
Dr. Martin Hoerling of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder has posted a thorough analysis of the heat wave, which he calls, "Meteorological March Madness 2012". He explains that the event was probably a natural phenomenon, one that was predicted more than a month in advance by NOAA's long-range CFS model. A similar, though not as intense heat wave occurred in March 1910. However, he notes that the approximate 0.5 - 1°C warming in the Ohio Valley/Midwest U.S. in recent decades--due to human-caused emission of heat trapping gases like carbon dioxide--has significantly increased the odds of major heat waves occurring. He speculates that the odds of a 1-in-40 year heat wave in the Midwest may have increased by about 50% due to human-caused global warming, but that we really don't know how much global warming may have increased the odds of the March 2012 heat wave, saying "This issue of estimating reliable statistics of extreme, rare events continues to be a matter of active research." He estimates that human-caused global warming likely increased the intensity of the March 12 - 23, 2012 heat wave by about 5 - 10%, and concludes by saying, "The probability of heatwaves is growing as [human-caused] warming continues to progress. But there is always the randomness."

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Core hasn't got here just yet.

It got up to 75 reflectivity and radar estimated 1.7 to 1.9 inch per hour rainfall rates.

But I doubt anyone gets more than about 0.25 to 0.5 inch totals just because it's going to die or move on before then.

The core is very small and still a few miles north of me.

I only got a few drops so far.

Keep you posted.

Edit: heavy rain just started as I posted this.

1:56P.M.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


first?
because we had 2 1/2 weeks of them in mid March.

Yes
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
711. MTWX
I normaly don't do this, but since it is semi-relevant to Dr. Masters post about temperature extremes, check out my newest blog if you have a minute on extreme weather in my home state of Montana over the last century... Some really interesting tidbits (some I didn't even know about)!!!

Top Ten Montana Weather Events of the 20th Century
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
Quoting weatherh98:


I went out side to get the mail, massive cumulonimbus are heading my way.


current max tops = 40k feet
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
Quoting weatherh98:


First pop up of the year!!!


first?
because we had 2 1/2 weeks of them in mid March.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
Quoting jeffs713:
You can even see the seabreeze front coming off the Lake when you zoom in on the New Orleans radar.


I went out side to get the mail, massive cumulonimbus are heading my way.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
You can even see the seabreeze front coming off the Lake when you zoom in on the New Orleans radar.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
Not bad.

72 reflectivity, and VIL might be in the upper 40's to low 50's in isolated pixels, hard to say.

Says 90% chance of hail with max size 0.75 inch.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting RTSplayer:
Ok, the PWS just went down to 83.8f, but my thermometer is still over 90f.

The official thermometer is saying 81f.

However, on radar, it's now obvious to me that the official weather site was heavily shaded by the pop-up thunderstorm to our north this entire time.

Perhaps the PWS is between them and me.

I can hear the thunderstorm coming, but it's not yet raining here.


Maybe it really was that much hotter here...


First pop up of the year!!!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting RTSplayer:
Ok, the PWS just went down to 83.8f, but my thermometer is still over 90f.

The official thermometer is saying 81f.

However, on radar, it's now obvious to me that the official weather site was heavily shaded by the pop-up thunderstorm to our north this entire time.

Perhaps the PWS is between them and me.

I can hear the thunderstorm coming, but it's not yet raining here.


Maybe it really was that much hotter here...


Like wise here, it's getting darker
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting StormTracker2K:
Much of the country is feeling the chill now really the only warmth left is from TX to FL. Most places have highs in the 40's & 50's.



This widespread cool weather is welcome, I guess?

Warmth has certainly been king in my area in Montreal, Quebec for the past couple of months.

Records go back to 1942

Our last seasonable month was October 2011 but since then,
November 2011 was the 1st warmest on record.
December 2011 was the 7th warmest on record.
January 2012 was tied 11th warmest on record.
February 2012 was the 6th warmest on record.
March 2012 was the 2nd warmest on record.
April 2012 is seasonable so far...

Actually our last below average month was back in May 2011. Since then, June through September 2011 were above normal with July 2011 standing out at 2nd warmest on record.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ok, the PWS just went down to 83.8f, but my thermometer is still over 90f.

The official thermometer is saying 81f.

However, on radar, it's now obvious to me that the official weather site was heavily shaded by the pop-up thunderstorm to our north this entire time.

Perhaps the PWS is between them and me.

I can hear the thunderstorm coming, but it's not yet raining here.


Maybe it really was that much hotter here...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting VAstorms:


Always is. From where does this prediction come?

From the fact that California sits on one of the most seismically active regions in the world which has produced significant earthquakes in the past but has not produced one in decades meaning we are well overdue
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 7946
Quoting StormTracker2K:
So much for the no snow no cold theory as this Cold Canadian air is rushing south today. I wish it would come to FL though as it's 86 right now but with low humidity.



Nobody ever said "no snow, no cold". What was said is that without snow on the ground in the midwest, a deep freeze in the SE is unlikely. Lo and behold - no snow is on the ground in the midwest, and the SE isn't getting a deep freeze. (I'm defining "deep freeze" as the same as a "hard freeze"... 6-8 continuous hours of temps under 28F.)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
Quoting StormTracker2K:


The whole Pacific Rim. California really needs to be on alert over the next few years as the "Big One" is coming.


Always is. From where does this prediction come?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I think he made the right call... He may end up needing to go higher than that as tomorrow has the potential to be a pretty decent event


yeah, thats what I'm thinking too.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
So much for the no snow no cold theory as this Cold Canadian air is rushing south today. I wish it would come to FL though as it's 86 right now but with low humidity.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting ncstorm:
Dr. Forbes went up to a 6 for tomorrow..

Wednesday April 11
CO central - 2 to 3
CO southeast - 3
NM east - 2
OK panhandle - 3
TX north panhandle - 3
TX rest of west - 2 to 3
Other areas - 1 or less


Thursday April 12
KS west - 6
NE southwest - 5
NE northwest - 3 to 4
OK west - 6
TX east panhandle - 5
TX west (Wichita Falls - Ft. Stockton) - 3
Other areas - less than 2


Friday April 13
KS south-central - 4
OK west, central - 4
TX northwest - 3 to 4
IA southwest - 3
KS east - 3
MO west - 3
NE southeast - 3
Other areas - less than 2

I think he made the right call... He may end up needing to go higher than that as tomorrow has the potential to be a pretty decent event
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 7946
Here's the link to satellite video loop since before sunrise.

Before sunrise, you can see a black blotch on unenhanced infrared.

when it overlays visible, it over-powers the blotch, and you can see visible smoke.

RGB unenhanced, zoom in on Florida


The smoke hardly shows up on infrared at all, because it's warmer than the graphical products normally are configured to display.

On color enhanced infrared, the smoke shows up as a faint grey-white blotch because it is off the color scale to the left, which indicates it is much warmer than normal atmosphere...


color enhanced, zoom in on Florida
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting RTSplayer:
92.3F in Hammond, LA right now on PWS.

My own heavily shaded digital thermometer agrees closely, at 92.8f. Was 93.1f a few seconds ago.

This appears to be 5 degrees above the previous official record for the date.

The official temperature is nowhere near that high though.

I wonder what gives?

My thermometer had been agreeing rather closely with official temperatures in the past 3 or 4 months.

Could it be 10f hotter in this field than at the official station?


I have 83 in mandeville? I know Hammond is usually 3 or 4 degrees hotter but not that much
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Much of the country is feeling the chill now really the only warmth left is from TX to FL. Most places have highs in the 40's & 50's.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
tomorrow:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
Quoting ncstorm:
Dr. Forbes went up to a 6 for tomorrow..

Wednesday April 11
CO central - 2 to 3
CO southeast - 3
NM east - 2
OK panhandle - 3
TX north panhandle - 3
TX rest of west - 2 to 3
Other areas - 1 or less


Thursday April 12
KS west - 6
NE southwest - 5
NE northwest - 3 to 4
OK west - 6
TX east panhandle - 5
TX west (Wichita Falls - Ft. Stockton) - 3
Other areas - less than 2


Friday April 13
KS south-central - 4
OK west, central - 4
TX northwest - 3 to 4
IA southwest - 3
KS east - 3
MO west - 3
NE southeast - 3
Other areas - less than 2


From SPC:

...CENTRAL/SRN PLAINS...
POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR WIDELY SCATTERED TO SCATTERED TSTMS TO DEVELOP
DURING AFTERNOON ALONG/AHEAD OF DRYLINE...IN WIND PROFILES SUITABLE
FOR SUPERCELLS. MOIST-SECTOR MIXING AND LCL HEIGHTS SHOULD BE
GREATER OVER TX PORTION OF OUTLOOK THAN FARTHER N...RENDERING
GREATER TORNADO PROBABILITIES OVER KS/OK SEGMENT OF OUTLOOK AREA.
LARGE/DAMAGING HAIL IS LIKELY FROM ANY SUSTAINED SUPERCELLS.

MOIST-SECTOR DEW POINTS..AIDED BY UPSTREAM
EVAPOTRANSPIRATION...SHOULD REACH UPPER 50S OVER PORTIONS
W-CENTRAL/NWRN KS...AND LOW 60S OVER WRN OK INTO SWRN KS...BENEATH
STEEP MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES. ONE COMPLICATING FACTOR FOR MOISTURE
AVAILABILITY MAY BE PRESENCE OF SEVERAL DAYS OF ANTECEDENT
MIXING/DRYING ACROSS CENTRAL/W-CENTRAL TX...ALTHOUGH UPSTREAM
LOW-LEVEL BOUNDARY LAYER ACROSS LOWER TX COAST APPEARS DEEPER AND
MORE MOIST THAN PREVIOUS DAYS. MORNING CONVECTION ACROSS PORTIONS
KS/OK ALSO WILL AFFECT ERN EXTENT OF FAVORABLE BOUNDARY-LAYER
THETAE. NET RESULT SHOULD BE NARROW...BUT STILL
SUPPORTIVE...CORRIDOR OF AFTERNOON DESTABILIZATION AHEAD OF DRYLINE
FROM W-CENTRAL/NWRN KS SWD ACROSS WRN OK...WITH VERY NARROW SLIVER
OF WARM SECTOR POSSIBLE NWWD ACROSS PORTIONS SWRN NEB/EXTREME NERN
CO. DURATION/STRENGTH OF DIURNAL HEATING IS UNCERTAIN...GIVEN THE
ABOVE FACTORS AND POTENTIAL FOR PLUME OF HIGH CLOUDS OVER AREA...BUT
RIBBON OF 1000-2000 J/KG LATE-AFTERNOON MLCAPE MAY DEVELOP FROM
W-CENTRAL/SWRN KS SWD.

STRENGTHENING EVENING LLJ WILL BOOST HODOGRAPH SIZE...AND PERHAPS
TORNADO POTENTIAL...FOR ANY SUSTAINED/SFC-BASED SUPERCELLS LASTING
THROUGH EARLY EVENING. ASIDE FROM THAT...COVERAGE OF SVR TSTMS
GENERALLY SHOULD DIMINISH AFTER DARK AS MLCINH STEADILY INCREASES.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
689. MTWX
Quoting redux:




pardon me for asking a newbie question, but i thought the temperature of the clouds indicated the intensity of the storm...with colder being stronger.

wouldn't a cloud with smoke be hotter than the atmosphere?


No it wouldn't, the pyrocumulus thermodynamics work the same way as any other thunderstorm. Warm moist air rises into the cooler air and condenses forming the clouds. Generally the colder the cloud tops, the higher into the atmosphere the clouds have risen (also how they determine cloud height). Hope this helps...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jax82:
Todays MODIS. This fire is going to give us more smoke than last years Okefenokee fire. Smoke plume is affecting a large portion of FL today, with no rain in the foreseeable future this will be an ongoing event.



Very smokey here in Orlando.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
687. Jax82
Todays MODIS. This fire is going to give us more smoke than last years Okefenokee fire. Smoke plume is affecting a large portion of FL today, with no rain in the foreseeable future this will be an ongoing event.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting redux:




pardon me for asking a newbie question, but i thought the temperature of the clouds indicated the intensity of the storm...with colder being stronger.

wouldn't a cloud with smoke be hotter than the atmosphere?
Not really. A cloud with smoke still cools as it rises. Also, I think that was a visible satellite.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
Quoting redux:




pardon me for asking a newbie question, but i thought the temperature of the clouds indicated the intensity of the storm...with colder being stronger.

wouldn't a cloud with smoke be hotter than the atmosphere?


Yes, which is why the fire shows up as a black blotch on infrared.


Meteorological infrared products color code temperature the reverse of ordinary thermal imaging cameras.

If you want to see the unenhanced infrared it will show up well on the RGB produced due to the order of the overlays, and you will see a black blotch from the heat of the fires.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Hurricanes4life:
anything on the two 8 plus quakes in the Indian ocean off java island?


The ocean floor has opened up and the worlds entire ocean system is draining into it.....
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
Baltimore, MD.

Geesh! Talk about a high fire risk with sleet falling.

... Enhanced threat for the spread of wildfires this afternoon and
early this evening...

Fuel moisture remains very low across much of Maryland... northern
and central Virginia... and the eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
Northwest winds will average between 15 and 20 mph with gusts 25
to 30 mph through early this evening. The minimum relative
humidity will range from 35 to 45 percent across much of the area.

The combination of gusty winds... very low fuel moisture and low
relative humidity will cause an enhanced threat for the spread of
wildfires through early this evening.

Open burning of any type is considered very hazardous this time of
year. Accidental escaped debris Burns are the number one cause of
wildfires.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
anything on the two 8 plus quakes in the Indian ocean off java island?
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681. MTWX
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


you know what this tells me
it tells me that most of the Caribbean is warmer than last year except for the Haiti,Jamaica and Bahamas area which was warmer last year and the GOM is also warmer than last year



anyway on other notes



I think part of that is also because most of the tropical systems last year took that path, with not much activity in the gulf and southern Caribbean to churn up the cooler waters...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
680. redux
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
FIRE!!!!!


Tomorrow:




pardon me for asking a newbie question, but i thought the temperature of the clouds indicated the intensity of the storm...with colder being stronger.

wouldn't a cloud with smoke be hotter than the atmosphere?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
92.3F in Hammond, LA right now on PWS.

My own heavily shaded digital thermometer agrees closely, at 92.8f. Was 93.1f a few seconds ago.

This appears to be 5 degrees above the previous official record for the date.

The official temperature is nowhere near that high though.

I wonder what gives?

My thermometer had been agreeing rather closely with official temperatures in the past 3 or 4 months.

Could it be 10f hotter in this field than at the official station?
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Nashville!

... Freeze warning in effect from 3 am to 8 am CDT Thursday...

The National Weather Service in Nashville has issued a freeze
warning... which is in effect from 3 am to 8 am CDT Thursday.
The
earlier freeze watch is no longer in effect.

* Temperature... low temperatures are expected to fall into the
lower 30s across low lying locations west of the Cumberland
Plateau late tonight.

* Impacts... record setting warmth in March has produced an early
growing season. Any frost that forms could damage or kill
sensitive outdoor plants.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or
highly likely. These conditions will kill crops and other
sensitive vegetation.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting jadnash:
OT - Wind map

Found a neat live wind map of the US...
This would be really cool if they expanded this format to
include the Caribbean..?

http://hint.fm/wind/index.html

-Jad
There's a link on the page for input. Let them know of any data sources that they could use.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dr. Forbes went up to a 6 for tomorrow..

Wednesday April 11
CO central - 2 to 3
CO southeast - 3
NM east - 2
OK panhandle - 3
TX north panhandle - 3
TX rest of west - 2 to 3
Other areas - 1 or less


Thursday April 12
KS west - 6
NE southwest - 5
NE northwest - 3 to 4
OK west - 6
TX east panhandle - 5
TX west (Wichita Falls - Ft. Stockton) - 3
Other areas - less than 2


Friday April 13
KS south-central - 4
OK west, central - 4
TX northwest - 3 to 4
IA southwest - 3
KS east - 3
MO west - 3
NE southeast - 3
Other areas - less than 2
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Freeze all the way to Wilmington,NC tonight. A freeze all the to the SE Coast in mid April is amazing!

Freeze warning remains in effect from 3 am to 8 am EDT
Thursday...

* location... southeast North Carolina and northeast South
Carolina including the immediate coast
.

* Temperatures... in the lower 30s.

* Timing... freezing temperatures and possibly frost will develop
between 3 am to 8 am Thursday.

* Impacts... outside vegetation... plants and crops sensitive to
freezing temperatures... could potentially become severely
damaged or killed. The only bright spot if there is any... will
be the surface winds possibly staying active enough to prevent
a widespread and long lasting freeze
.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or
highly likely. These conditions can kill sensitive vegetation
unless protective actions are taken

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
Quoting FatPenguin:


Is it just me, or does it look like the ocean heat content has done a lot of catching up with 2011 in the last few weeks?

You are right, we had a decent amount of warming over the past two weeks or so
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Quoting Guysgal:
If you doubt what Mr. Kingsnorth is saying in this Link, then read Will Catron's Overshoot!


Thank you for the link. Good read.
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1535
JadNash is right , this wind map is great. You can zoom, it will give lat. and long. Even help determine wind chill and chances for damaging frost and freeze.......http://hint.fm/wind/index.html
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
With the next severe weather event, the GFS is significantly more westerly with the threat than is the ECMWF.
With the GFS the greatest threat appears to be Western to Central OK,KS, and NE.
With the ECMWF, the storm gets cranked up over C OK, and the threat extends east of there.
I hope the ECMWF wins.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
If you doubt what Mr. Kingsnorth is saying in this Link, then read Will Catron's Overshoot!
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Quoting Skyepony:
Models haven't done so good anticipating those two.. The one with more convection closer to the NE GFS gets pretty warm core with it off Greenland..


I have seen the Euro showing a low pressure in the Central Atlantic,like this run on Monday the 9th at 12 UTC.

.
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FIRE!!!!!


Tomorrow:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
666. Skyepony (Mod)
Models haven't done so good anticipating those two.. The one with more convection closer to the NE GFS gets pretty warm core with it off Greenland..
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665. Skyepony (Mod)
Interesting off the east coast.. Sheared want to be blob off SE Bahamas & naked extratropical ~35N 50W. Click pic for loop.

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Quoting nigel20:
April 10, 2011

April 10, 2012


Is it just me, or does it look like the ocean heat content has done a lot of catching up with 2011 in the last few weeks?
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.