Spring 2012: most extreme season in U.S. history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:08 PM GMT on June 08, 2012

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Spring 2012 in the contiguous U.S. demolished the old records for hottest spring and most extreme season of any kind, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Thursday. With the warmest March, third warmest April, and second warmest May, the March - April - May spring season was 5.2°F above average--the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States. What's truly remarkable is the margin the old record was broken by--spring 2012 temperatures were a full 1°F above the previous most extreme season, the winter of 1999 - 2000. All-time seasonal temperature records are very difficult to break, and are usually broken by only a tenth of a degree. To see the old record crushed by a full degree is a stunning and unparalleled event in U.S. meteorological history.


Figure 1. Temperature rankings for spring 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Thirty-one states were record warm for the 3-month period, and an additional eleven states had top-ten warmth. Spring 2012 beat the previous record for hottest spring on record, set in 1910, by an remarkable 2°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

U.S. heat over the past 12 months: a one in half-a-million event
The U.S. record for hottest 12-month period fell for the second straight month in May. The June 2011 - May 2012 temperatures smashed the previous record by a startling 0.4°F, which is a huge margin to break a record by for a 1-year period. The past twelve months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer, 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring on record. Thirty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional ten states were top ten warm. Each of the 12 months from June 2011 through May 2012 ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. According to NCDC, the odds of this occurring randomly during any particular month are 1 in 531,441. Thus, we should only see one more 12-month period so warm between now and 46,298 AD--assuming the climate is staying the same as during the past 118 years. The unusual warmth was due, in part, to a La Niña event in the Pacific that altered jet stream patterns, keeping the polar jet stream much farther to the north than usual. However, it is highly unlikely that the extremity of the heat during the past 12 months could have occurred without a warming climate. Some critics have claimed that recent record warm temperatures measured in the U.S. are due to poor siting of a number of measurement stations. Even if true (and the best science we have says that these stations were actually reporting temperatures that were too cool), there is no way that measurement errors can account for the huge margin by which U.S. temperature records have been crushed during the past 12-month, 5-month, and 3-month periods.




Figure 2. Three of the top ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.




Figure 3. The average temperature during January - May 2012 was the warmest on record: 5°F above the 20th century average for the period, and 1.3°F above the previous record set in 2000. January - May temperatures have been rising at about 1.8°F per century since 1895. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Second warmest May, warmest year-to-date period on record
May 2012 was the second warmest May in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. Twenty-six states had a top-ten warmest May, and no states had a top-ten coolest May. The January - May 2012 period was the warmest January - May period since record keeping began in 1895, with temperatures 5°F above the 20th century average for the period. This broke the previous record set in 2000 by an unusually large margin--1.3°F.



Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for spring (March - April - May) shows that 2012 had the most extreme spring on record, with 44% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Most extreme spring and January - May period on record
NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought, was 44% during the spring March - April - May period. This is more than twice the average value, and spring 2012 was the most extreme season of any kind in U.S. history. A list of the top five most extreme seasons since 1910, as computed using the CEI, show that two of the three most extreme seasons in U.S. history occurred in the past 12 months:

Spring 2012: 44%
Winter 1979: 42%
Summer 2011: 39%
Fall 1985: 39%
Spring 1934: 38%

Remarkably, 81% of the contiguous U.S. had maximum temperatures that were in the warmest 10% historically during spring 2012, and 71% of the U.S. of the U.S. had warm minimum temperatures in the top 10%. The percentage area of the U.S. experiencing top-10% drought conditions during spring was 18%, which was the 19th greatest since 1910. Extremes in 1-day spring heavy precipitation events were the 8th largest on record. The year-to-date January - May period was also the most extreme such period in U.S. history, with a CEI of 43%. Climate change theory predicts that, in general, the climate should warm, wet areas should get wetter, and dry areas should get drier. The spring 2012 Climate Extremes Index reflects this pattern.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post. None of the computer models is predicting tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic through June 15.

Jeff Masters

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1035. LargoFl
10 day forecast for Chicago Ill..........Link
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39223
1034. LargoFl
EA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
1015 AM EDT SAT JUN 9 2012

.DISCUSSION...

...SULTRY TODAY WITH SLOW MOVING AFTERNOON STORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN...

CURRENT...DIFFUSE SURFACE FRONTAL BOUNDARY LIES ACROSS THE NORTHERN
PENINSULA THIS MORNING. REMNANT DEBRIS CLOUDS/SPRINKLES LEFTOVER
FROM EARLY MORNING PRECIP ARE BEATING A HASTY RETREAT TO THE N/NE.
WINDS IN THR PROCESS OF VEERING TO LIGHT SE-SSE AS TEMPS QUICKLY
RISE UP THROUGH THE 70S AND L80S. MORNING RAOBS SHOW VERY HEALTHY
MOISTURE PROFILE AS PWATS REMAIN A TENTH EITHER SIDE OF 2.0"...
WITH A NEAR-MOIST ADIABATIC LAPSE RATE UP THROUGH MID LEVEL (H50)
TEMPS OF -8C.

TODAY-TONIGHT...EXPECT THAT WIDESPREAD EARLY-MID MORNING SUNSHINE
WILL GIVE WAY TO DIURNAL CU/CB BY LATE MORNING AND CONVECTION FROM
AROUND NOON ONWARD AS A MORE WELL-DEFINED ECSB DEVELOPS AND STARTS
PUSHING INLAND FAIRLY EARLY COMPARED TO THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS OF
WIDESPREAD CLOUDS AND RAIN/CONVECTION. SYNOPTICALLY FORCED ASCENT
WILL AGAIN BE LIMITED COMPARED TO EARLIER THIS WEEK...SO EXPECT
PRECIP TO END A FEW HRS AFTER SUNSET.

CURRENT FORECAST POPS AND TEMPS/WINDS LOOK TO BE ON THE MARK.

&&

.AVIATION...BEST CHANCE FOR DIURNAL SHRA/TS AT THE COASTAL AIRPORTS
17Z-21Z AND INLAND 20Z-24Z OR SO. MVFR CIGS AND MVFR-IFR VSBYS IN
+TSRA WITH VERY LOCALIZED WET MICROBURST TO 30-40KT.

&&

.MARINE...SE WINDS GENERALLY BELOW 15KT WITH SEAS AOB 3FT.

&&

.MLB WATCHES/WARNINGS/ADVISORIES...
FL...NONE.
AM...NONE.
&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39223
On another note I'll be leaving to a trip to Chicago next sunday! Wonder what the weather will be when we drive all the way! Would be something if I ran into some nasty storms but I don't know the forecast this far out. :P
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Quoting hurricane23:


Could end up just being another rain-maker for florida as suggested by todays 12z GFS. Always interesting to look at 200+hr model progs BUT not very useful if you ask me.


No. It won't just be a rainmaker.
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1031. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39223
And I firmly believe Chris will develop. The atmosphere will be prime for it at around 10 days or so. Something about major rain events right before tropical development. Last 2 summers have been VERY dry, unusually dry. Not so this summer. Also, seasonally, our weather is 1 month ahead of schedule. July wet weather. That is what it feels like in the gulf right now. Sometimes you have to throw models, forecasting, etc. out the window and pay attention to history and precedent. It's common sense! The last time I remember it raining this much in the gulf states was 04-05. Combine that with season ahead of schedule (before el niño has chance to develop) and westward Bermuda high....Boom tropical development and landfalls.
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Quoting TXCWC:
12Z GFS DOES show the beginning of development at around 216hr but then appears to run the circulation directly into the Yucatan thus basically killing off Chris before he can really get going.The remaining energy appears to go through S. Florida and off the East Coast as well. That is what I am seeing anyway. I am a bit skeptical of this particular run but we shall see what the Euro says in an hour or two.

216hr


228hr


That's a mother of a ridge on the East Coast and a huge trough on the plains!
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Quoting WDEmobmet:


Dawes Rd. Area here, Gunn road just south of the airport is completely flooded. Water rescues underway


I saw that. Some of my family members used to live on Gunn Road. Hopefully these rescues go without incident.
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Very serious flash flooding in the Panhandle (Florida) area. I'm not there right now but I read the text WDE posted and this is looking very nasty up there. Anyone think South Florida will get hit by something similar this summer?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
What strikes me as unusual and suspect is how the GFS suddenly decides to split this system in two, that seems unrealistic to me.



Because it's 200 hours, there's a reason why meteorologists don't pay much attention to model forecasts 200+ hours out...
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14-15 inches in Mobile today. Real fun! Slight rain right now. Seems to be more tropical mischief on the way for the gulf coast states?
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Quoting TXCWC:
12Z GFS DOES show the beginning of development at around 216hr but then appears to run the circulation directly into the Yucatan thus basically killing off Chris before he can really get going.The remaining energy appears to go through S. Florida and off the East Coast as well. That is what I am seeing anyway. I am a bit skeptical of this particular run but we shall see what the Euro says in an hour or two.

216hr


228hr


Could end up just being another rain-maker for florida as suggested by todays 12z GFS. Always interesting to look at 200+hr model progs BUT not very useful if you ask me.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Your facebook post would need to be public for that to work.


yea if I knew how to embed I would do that, a little help someone
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Quoting WDEmobmet:
Link


Your facebook post would need to be public for that to work.
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889. PlazaRed

check your WU mail
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broken link...
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What strikes me as unusual and suspect is how the GFS suddenly decides to split this system in two, that seems unrealistic to me.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24179
Also pay attention to the CMC as well.
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1017. TXCWC
12Z GFS DOES show the beginning of development at around 216hr but then appears to run the circulation directly into the Yucatan thus basically killing off Chris before he can really get going.The remaining energy appears to go through S. Florida and off the East Coast as well. That is what I am seeing anyway. I am a bit skeptical of this particular run but we shall see what the Euro says in an hour or two.

216hr


228hr
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I have a video of the flooding if someone wants to tell me how to embed a video
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Although the 12z GFS is a good run it can have hiccups with it.Let's see if the 12Z CMC/ECMWF show the same and also the 12z GFS esmemble members.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
My grandparents just called my house from Pensacola, FL... They said their yard looks like a swimming pool... Very dangerous situation down there.

I'm in Warrington right at Bayou Grande... My street is flooded as well as all of the yards around me.
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12z fails to develop a system. That doesn't surprise me as the GFS almost regularly drops systems as we get closer to the timeline and it's over 240 hours out. Pay attention to if the ECMWF keeps it or not.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24179
My grandparents just called my house from Pensacola, FL... They said their yard looks like a swimming pool... Very dangerous situation down there.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7837
Say what you wanna say about JB but he did say a week ago that the next place to watch for developement would be the GOM between the 15th and 20th based on pattern recognition.
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Quoting AllyBama:


I am not far from you..I live in the Skyline area...


Dawes Rd. Area here, Gunn road just south of the airport is completely flooded. Water rescues underway
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Quoting odinslightning:


hey your in west mobile...lol tillmans corner here....it's been raining straight through since early last night....rain is so heavy that the directv keeps going out because of signal interference.


I am not far from you..I live in the Skyline area...
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Wow, nothing on the 12z GFS... You can't throw that solution out either, the 12z run is generally the best or second best of the four... It's far from set in stone that we'll get anything out of this potenial storm.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7837
Quoting odinslightning:


low lying areas are getting flooded but remember we are the bayou....our land can deal with big water amounts unlike texas and out west where y'all have granite and hard soils....we have alot of loose soil, peat moss, so much plant material thick layers of mulch and alot of sand so although low lying areas are being flooded for a lot of us we need this.....

But your getting way too much of a good thing already and worsening!!! Its expected to continue for the rest of the weekend!
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FLASH FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOBILE AL
1033 AM CDT SAT JUN 9 2012

ALC097-091930-
/O.CON.KMOB.FF.W.0014.000000T0000Z-120609T1930Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
MOBILE AL-
1033 AM CDT SAT JUN 9 2012

...A FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 230 PM CDT FOR
SOUTHERN MOBILE COUNTY...

...A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE SOUTHERN
ONE-THIRD OF MOBILE COUNTY BETWEEN COUNTY ROAD 59 AND THE
MISSISSIPPI/ALABAMA STATE LINE...

AT 1032 AM CDT...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS REPORTED WIDESPREAD
FLASH FLOODING OVER THE WARNED AREA AND RADAR ESTIMATES CONTINUE TO
SHOW RAINFALL RATES OF 2 TO 3 INCHES PER HOUR. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
FLASH FLOODING IS OCCURRING IN THE WARNED AREA.

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FIRST RESPONDERS ARE CONDUCTING WATER
RESCUES IN THE GUNN ROAD...MERWOOD COURT AND WAKEFIELD ROAD
AREAS. THIS IS AN EXTREME EVENT...NOT A TYPICAL FLASH FLOOD.


LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
MIDTOWN MOBILE... WEST MOBILE... CODEN...
TILLMANS CORNER... THEODORE... TANNER WILLIAMS...
I10 AND I65... GRAND BAY... FOREST HILL...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS AND LIFE THREATENING FLOODING SITUATION. YOU
SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL. STAY HOME UNLESS YOU ARE FORCED TO
EVACUATE TO HIGHER GROUND.

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING MEANS FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. SEEK
HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT DRIVE OR WALK INTO AREAS WHERE
WATER CROSSES A ROAD. TURN AROUND - DON`T DROWN!

NEVER TRY TO CROSS OR PLAY IN AN URBAN SPILLWAY OR FLOWING CREEK...
EVEN A SMALL ONE. URBAN FLASH FLOODING IS A MAJOR KILLER.

TO REPORT FLOODING...CALL (800) 284-9059.
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on average Mobile County gets more rainfall per year than Seattle, WA.....
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Quoting odinslightning:


yep im basically at the tillmans corner/mobile city line off of 90 and it has rained and rained and rained....rain was so hard last night the directv wouldn't work all night.....

Directv wouldn't work in conditions like that!Take care of yourself and family in this life threatening flooding event!
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Quoting STXHurricanes2012:
Why would you be happy for almost 15 inches of rain? Seriously that is bad for a lot of residents already and its getting worse!!! I'll be happy with aleast 2 inches but near 15 inches I would take it more seriously as you can lose a home,car,family members,etc! If I was me I would take care of everything I can NOW!!!


low lying areas are getting flooded but remember we are the bayou....our land can deal with big water amounts unlike texas and out west where y'all have granite and hard soils....we have alot of loose soil, peat moss, so much plant material thick layers of mulch and alot of sand so although low lying areas are being flooded for a lot of us we need this.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1002. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting mrsalagranny:
Good morning everyone.Its raining cats and dogs here in Gulf Shores Ala.On vacation and nothing but rain.
and it will continue all the way into monday

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
12Z GFS doesn't show anything interesting. In fact, I'm not sure if it even shows a tropical storm out of this.

Intensity doesn't really matter right now though.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Why would you be happy for almost 15 inches of rain? Seriously that is bad for a lot of residents already and its getting worse!!! I'll be happy with aleast 2 inches but near 15 inches I would take it more seriously as you can lose a home,car,family members,etc! If I was me I would take care of everything I can NOW!!!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I'd expect a Flash Flood Emergency soon for the Mobile, AL area.


Has been out for 30min or so by now. Pensacola area was just upgraded as well.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That's a lot of rain you guys are getting..


yep im basically at the tillmans corner/mobile city line off of 90 and it has rained and rained and rained....rain was so hard last night the directv wouldn't work all night.....
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Quoting Jebekarue:
I dont know how to post pics on here but we are at 10.61 inches at the WEAR TV weatherbug station about a mile from my house in Pensacola and of course the Pensacola paper says nothing about it, tv stations are not talking about it my neighborhood does not flood thankfully, but i have a pond in my front yard and my above ground pool has overflowed.


During the last FF emergency that I worked in the NWS LMRFC area, the flooding in the Lafayette/Carencro, LA area was so severe such that over 50% of the homes that flooded were in areas that did not require flood insurance. That means that generally-speaking, those areas were believe to have a <1% chance of flooding in a given year.

Just have to be careful with the "my area does not flood" saying. It is by far overused.
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Quoting odinslightning:


it has been going on for hours now :) it keeps beeping on the weather channel

That's a lot of rain you guys are getting..
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I'd expect a Flash Flood Emergency soon for the Mobile, AL area.


it has been going on for hours now :) it keeps beeping on the weather channel
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although it's a ton of rain here in mobile its still a good thing....we were in a severe drought + it has been hot as hell for weeks...really early this year like high 90's + humidity in may....so this is a nice break w/ the cool temps :)
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I'd expect a Flash Flood Emergency soon for the Mobile, AL area.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275
956 WxGeekVA: I think Joe B has finally gone crazy...

...combined with his bodybuilding and GlobalWarming, reminded me of Bradbury's original short story, "The Illustrated Man"
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anyone else having problems in here? or even getting in here?..many times i tried and said the blog was down?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39223
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54372
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
So far the 12Z GFS shows an area of low pressure sitting in the Bay of Honduras while slowly organizing.
Can you post it?.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17084
Looking at the top MJO amplitudes in phase 1 during June (organized by year), one can pick out Barry in 2007 and Alberto in 2006 as developments that occurred during bursts comparable to the one forecasted by the models in 8-15 days. 2003 could be picked out too as Bill formed a week after the peak of the burst.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26654
I dont know how to post pics on here but we are at 10.61 inches at the WEAR TV weatherbug station about a mile from my house in Pensacola and of course the Pensacola paper says nothing about it, tv stations are not talking about it my neighborhood does not flood thankfully, but i have a pond in my front yard and my above ground pool has overflowed.
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So far the 12Z GFS shows an area of low pressure sitting in the Bay of Honduras while slowly organizing.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32275



Personally, I enjoy this over a sunny weather :)
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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.

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