July 2012: Earth's 4th warmest; update on 94L--a threat to the Antilles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:19 PM GMT on August 18, 2012

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July 2012 was the globe's 4th warmest July on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 12th warmest. July 2012 global land temperatures were the 3rd warmest on record, breaking a streak of three months (April, May, and June) when global land temperatures were the warmest on record. July 2012 global ocean temperatures were the 7th warmest on record, and it was the 329th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. The last time global temperatures were below average was February 1985. Global satellite-measured temperatures in July for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 7th or 5th warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of July in his July 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary.



Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for July 2012. Most areas of the world experienced much higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including most of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, Australia, northern and western Europe, eastern Russia, Alaska, and southern South America were notably cooler than average. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

El Niño watch continues
Sea surface temperatures increased to 0.8°C above average as of August 13 in the equatorial Pacific off the coast of South America. Ocean temperatures have been near or above the 0.5°C above average threshold needed for a weak El Niño event since the beginning of July. However, winds, pressures, and cloud cover over the region have not responded in the fashion typically associated with an El Niño, and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said that "The lack of a clear atmospheric response to the positive oceanic anomalies indicates ongoing ENSO-neutral conditions," in their August 9 El Niño discussion. They have issued an El Niño watch, and give a 71% chance that an El Niño event will be in place by September. El Niño conditions tend to decrease Atlantic hurricane activity, by increasing wind shear over the tropical Atlantic. Wind shear has been close to average over the tropical Atlantic since the beginning of hurricane season in June, though.


Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 (black line) compared to the previous record low year of 2007 (blue line) shows that 2012 is fast approaching all-time record territory. A big Arctic storm with a central pressure of 963 mb affected the ice during the first two weeks of August, causing a temporary downward spike in sea ice extent. Image credit: Danish Meteorological Institute.


Figure 3. View of the North Pole on August 17, 2012 from the North Pole Environmental Observatory shows plenty of melt water pools from the warm summer the North Pole has had.

Arctic sea ice falls to 2nd lowest extent in July, nears all-time record low during August
July 2012 Arctic sea ice extent reached its 2nd lowest July extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). During the first half of August, sea ice has undergone a spectacular decline, and we are on pace to break the all-time lowest sea ice extent record set in September 2007. As of August 17, the University of Bremen was showing that sea ice extent has already broken the all-time record; the Danish Meteorological Institute put the ice loss in 2nd place behind September 2007; and the National Snow and Ice Data Center put Arctic ice loss in 3rd place behind September of 2007 and 2011.

Update on 94L
A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This storm is a threat to develop into a tropical storm that will affect the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Wednesday. The storm is under moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots, and is over waters of 28°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis. Satellite loops show that 94L has increased in organization this afternoon, with a growing amount of heavy thunderstorm activity and spin at middle levels of the atmosphere.


Figure 4. Afternoon satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 2 pm EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, and ocean temperatures will fluctuate around 28°C over the next five days, as 94L tracks westwards towards the Lesser Antilles. As is typical with storms making the crossing from Africa to the Antilles, dry air to the north will likely interfere with development, and the SHIPS model predicts increased dry air as 94L approaches the Lesser Antilles. However, with shear expected to be low, dry air may be less of an issue for 94L than it was for Ernesto or TD 7. The storm should maintain a nearly due west track through Monday night, to a point near 50°W, about 700 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. At that point, a trough of low pressure passing to the north of 94L may be able to pull the storm to the northwest well to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, as suggested by the latest 12Z (8 am EDT) run of the NOGAPS model. The 12Z UKMET model shows a more west-northwesterly motion resulting in a near miss of the Lesser Antilles on Thursday. Our two best performing models--the GFS and ECMWF--have both been taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles with every run for the past 24 hours, though. The latest 12Z run of both models now agree on the timing, with 94L arriving Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The BAMM model, which performed as well as the ECMWF and GFS at 5-day forecasts in 2011, is also showing a track through the Lesser Antilles. Given this agreement among our top three models for long-range forecasts, I give a 60% chance that 94L will pass through the Lesser Antilles. In their 2 pm EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 50% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday afternoon.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting tennisgirl08:
I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and make some people mad....haha.

I think future Isaac will be a fish storm, may hit Bermuda....and low chance the northern leewards.
Cape Verde storms are fun to track and look beautiful out in the Atlantic...but I just don't think they will hit the East coast this year.

I think the only chance for a CONUS strike this year will be from homegrown mischief....mostly in the GOMEX.

You can quote me on that....I'm a big believer in climatology and precedent. The analog years must be taken into consideration.



And I hope you are 100% right... Except that I don't want any homegrown mischief either.
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Quoting evilpenguinshan:
try again - borrowing more money is cheap - Check out T-Bill yields (the measure of how much it costs the government to borrow) - after you adjust for inflation, it's practically a negative interest rate. despite what the corporate media tells you, the sky isn't falling, and our government is having no trouble borrowing. FEMA will be just fine (funding wise, I make no promises in the way of efficacy) if we get a major landfall.



Not to mention, if Debts were a big issue to certain people, there's one thing i see that would make the debt situation better.

But this is a Weather Blog, not a Politics Blog.

When do the T-Numbers come out exactly?
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While conditions seem to favor intensification, it is unwise to ignore the fact that the major models are trending considerably weaker with this storm, to the point of not developing it at all by the Euro... They may see something we don't.

Personally I still see strengthening though.
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What I find more worrisome is the strength of the Bermuda high, and the trend to ridge further west.
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I don't see any reason to believe this won't be a hurricane before reaching the islands, and eventually a major hurricane.

Wind shear is low, SSTs are warm, and OHC is increasing. The environment is a bit dry, but it shouldn't struggle much with dry air with low wind shear.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Still see no reason as to why 94L shouldn't become a potent system.


There does not appear to be any significant impediments to doubt that........It will be the first major of the season IMO.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Still see no reason as to why 94L shouldn't become a potent system.



same here



we sould all so watch the wave be hid 94L
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Trending towards the ECMWF.

The faster this goes, the more it will struggle.


I haven't heard your thoughts, do you think the ECMWF is right and this won't even develop or are you against that scenario?
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Quoting Clearwater1:
Yep, if it goes north. Remember Dean?


Ouch
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yeah..that wave has pretty much been absorbed.

Actually, if you really look at the loop for a while it looks like they're still in the process. You can see it on 850 vort too. Anyway, pleasant evening everyone.
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Still see no reason as to why 94L shouldn't become a potent system.
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78 hours. Still not sold on such a weak storm:

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Looking at the big picture loop (below) it is pretty clear that Mother Nature has thrown the August "switch" in the MDR in a matter of a few days. Lots of moisture starting to fill in the map with the exception of the mid-Atlantic and Central Caribbean. Real interesting to see that Gordon and 94L are going to pass each other, around 33W later today with Gordon heading East at 33N and 94L moving West at around 14N.....Both systems circling around the A-B high at two different ends.

Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Looks like the 18z GFS is going to be unreasonably weak.


Trending towards the ECMWF.

The faster this goes, the more it will struggle.
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Quoting Snowlover123:
I see Dr. Jeff Masters forgot to mention that other datasets like RSS and GISS were not the 4th warmest, but were the 7th and 13th warmest respectively.

Interesting.

HadCruT has not come out yet with the monthly reading for July 2012, but I think that will determine which dataset (NCDC or GISS) is closer to reality.

Oh, I doubt he "forget to mention" anything. The fact is, Dr. Masters writes a blog entry nearly every month when the NOAA's State of the Climate report is released, and he seems to do that whether or not it's in higher or lower than the other temperature datasets.

Anyway, here's the GISS anomaly plot for July:

hot

Lots and lots of reds, oranges, and yellows, no? Bottom line: it's warm, and getting warmer.
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Quoting LargoFl:
whew watching it closely..say we got some great rain today huh
Yes, I woke up to some heavy thunderstorms. Most likey more for tomorrow.
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Quoting Stormchaser121:
Helene is gone, but models point to a new one, idk if its the remnants of Helene or not but another on in the gulf next week along the tail end of the front, hitting Galveston.


The HGX NWS is hinting at moisture return from the GOM towards the end of next week from something...i wouldn't be as precise as galveston though...too many other factors to consider for something that doesn't exactly exist right now. That would follow the cyclogenisis pattern though.
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
Regardless of whether something forms in the GOMEX or not, someone is going to get a TON OF RAIN!!
yep looks almost for sure, our local met said tomorrow we here around tampa will get a sunday full of storms and rain again
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My new blog:

Incredible Issue Isaac? Time will tell...
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


The recurve is between 50W AND 80W.

:)

The problem with the recurve is, if it's not strong enough it won't feel the trough. At least that's what the experts have been saying thus far. I think one of the models drops 94L. Others like GFS turn it into a monster in the Caribbean. Glad I get to go out to dinner so I don't have to watch this anymore! lol
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Regardless of whether something forms in the GOMEX or not, someone is going to get a TON OF RAIN!!
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Just noticed 94L has a floater up... It looks pretty good:




a little late LOL
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
I'm just gonna go out on a limb here and make some people mad....haha.

I think future Isaac will be a fish storm, may hit Bermuda....and low chance the northern leewards.
Cape Verde storms are fun to track and look beautiful out in the Atlantic...but I just don't think they will hit the East coast this year.

I think the only chance for a CONUS strike this year will be from homegrown mischief....mostly in the GOMEX.

You can quote me on that....I'm a big believer in climatology and precedent. The analog years must be taken into consideration.



Yea, but analog years have no bearing on what it happening synoptically. Timing is always the final factor on where a tropical system ultimately ends up. We won't have a good handle on 94 L for quite a while. The models will begin their "flip-flop" mode and the fish, no fish debate will heat up.
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Just noticed 94L has a floater up... It looks pretty good:

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Quoting aislinnpaps:
94L is heading west now. But then it goes north. So the question is how far west before it heads north, correct?
Yep, if it goes north. Remember Dean?
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The Latest
(click to enlarge)

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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


The recurve is between 50W AND 80W.

:)





there is not going too be a recurve with 94L
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Gordon is probably still strengthening. Rainbow shows cooling cloud tops and a shrinking eye.
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Looks like the 18z GFS is going to be unreasonably weak.
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Quoting Charmeck:

Not only that - both the DNC and RNC are in the southeast (Charlotte, NC and Tampa, FL) now Charlotte isn't on the coast but think about Hugo - it can get hit. Tampa of course is on the Gulf Coast. What are the chances that one of these upcoming storms could hit during one of these conventions?????????


Hope weather ruins it for both of them,maybe they will take it as a omen and get stuff done!
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Quoting LargoFl:
thanks, Im waiting til at least monday or tuesday and then see where it is and how strong etc, right now everyone is guessing
Largo.Good idea. I have also noticed many repeaters. If someone says it will hit Jamaica many follow the leader...That tells me many have no idea, but want to be part of the ballgame.
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94L is heading west now. But then it goes north. So the question is how far west before it heads north, correct?
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Helene is gone, but models point to a new one, idk if its the remnants of Helene or not but another on in the gulf next week along the tail end of the front, hitting Galveston.
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GFS trending weaker again, and west:

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Quoting Clearwater1:
If it makes it to Cuba, then your'e right. A bad scene. A recurve there could mean a Charlie type track. But it's not even a storm yet. However, the weaker it stays now, the better the odds are for the above.
whew watching it closely..say we got some great rain today huh
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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.