NOAA report unable to pinpoint causes of the historic 2012 U.S. drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:27 PM GMT on April 12, 2013

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The extreme 2012 drought in the Central Great Plains of the U.S. was more intense than any drought since record keeping began in 1895, says a new NOAA assessment of the historic drought, released Thursday. However, the study was unable to pinpoint the cause of the drought. Other major global droughts in recent years have been linked to global warming and/or natural variation in patterns of sea surface temperatures, but these factors were seemingly not important in causing the drought of 2012, said the team of 19 atmospheric scientists, led by Martin Hoerling of the NOAA Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections Program (MAPP). Their study attributed the drought to a random natural variation in the jet stream, which caused it to become "stuck" far to the north in Canada. Since rain-bearing low pressure systems travel along the jet stream, the northwards displacement of the jet stream resulted in abnormally dry conditions over the Central U.S. "This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years," said Hoerling.



Key findings of the report
The researchers focused on a six-state region--Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa, and found that the amount of precipitation in 2012 was only 53% of the long-term average. This was the driest year since record keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous record driest years of 1934 and 1936, during the great Dust Bowl drought.

The researchers called the 2012 drought a "flash drought"--it developed suddenly in May, and was unrelated to the 2011 drought over Texas and surrounding states. The 2011 drought had a separate and well-understood trigger (a change in the jet stream and storm tracks, due to a La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific.)

The 2012 drought was not predicted by long-range weather forecast models. The new report concluded that our ability to predict drought is limited, but some new experimental techniques could improve future drought forecasts. For example, NOAA's long-range GFDL forecast model and the European EUROSIP model correctly anticipated the summer 2012 heat and dryness over the Central U.S. in projections made as early as January 2012.


Figure 1. Drought-damaged corn in a field near Nickerson, Nebraska, Aug. 16, 2012. The great U.S. drought of 2012 was the most extensive U.S. drought since the 1930s Dust Bowl. Over a six-state region--Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa--precipitation during 2012 was only 53% of the long-term average., making it the driest year since record keeping began in 1895. Damage from the 2012 drought is at least $35 billion, and probably much higher. The associated heat wave killed 123 people, and brought the U.S. its second hottest summer on record. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Criticism of the report
Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research was critical of the report's conclusions. In comments posted in Joe Romm's blog at climateprogress.org, Dr. Trenberth said that the study failed to "say anything about the observed soil moisture conditions, snow cover, and snow pack during the winter prior to the event in spite of the fact that snow pack was at record low levels in the winter and spring" and "no attempt was made to include soil moisture, snow cover anomalies, or vegetation health" in the climate model runs performed.

I would have liked to have seen the paper mention the growing body of research that has linked unusually early May snow melt in the Northern Hemisphere and Arctic sea ice loss in recent years to unusual summertime jet stream patterns, like the jet stream pattern observed during 2012. A March 2013 paper by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany found that under special conditions, the atmosphere can start to resonate like a bell. This causes the jet stream pattern to freeze in place and amplify, leading to months-long periods of weather extremes. They showed that warming of the Arctic due to human-caused climate change might be responsible for this resonance phenomenon, which became twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of the more extreme examples of this resonance occurred during the summer of 2012, and could have been the cause of the 2012 drought.

Other blogs on the report
Yes, Climate Change Is Worsening U.S. Drought — NOAA Report Needlessly Confuses The Issue by Joe Romm at climateprogress.org

Global Warming Not Significant in 2012 Drought: Report by Andrew Freedman of climatecentral.org

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters

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Bismarck, ND... back to the snow dump
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.
I am really sorry for your loss TA my condolences to you and your family.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Oh I meant to post the pics in the same post but I messed that up. Then I messed up the edit so I just put them in another post. I'm out of practice. :)


oww..gotcha..

the coding sometimes messes me up too and the pic does not appear.
and start over...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


what was the problem with it?


Oh I meant to post the pics in the same post but I messed that up. Then I messed up the edit so I just put them in another post. I'm out of practice. :)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.

Sorry for your loss TA. My thoughts are with you and your family.

I got between two and three inches of rain last week. This week coming up looks to have more rain, oh boy. Thursday looks to be my first legitimate chance at seeing severe thunderstorms.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Lol. Lemme try that again. :)





what was the problem with it?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Today's weather history for Nashville, TN. Thought I would post it since TA has talked about some possible cold coming up.


On April 13, 1950...
A cold outbreak produces the lowest high, low, and mean temperatures ever observed on this date at Nashville. The high is 42, with a low of 27, producing a mean temperature of 35 degrees.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.


I am very sorry for your loss...my grandma died of cancer in '11. Wish you and your family the best luck in emotionally recovering.
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440. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.


Sorry to hear of you and your family's loss
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2001
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.


Sorry to hear that TA.
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Lol. Lemme try that again. :)



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Been thinking about the shift of tracks to the east coast. Such as the 1950's. There seems to be something to that in relation to Texas landfalls anyway. In the 1950's we had 6 total landfalls. The same with the 60's and 70's.
Compared to the 30's and 40's when we had 11 and 13 landfalls. The 80's we had 9. The 90's we had 5. The 2000's we had 12. The 2010's we had Don. If I must count him. Lol. These major landfalls by decade caught my eye. Ouch east coast and south Florida in the 40's!

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.


Sorry for your loss, TA13. My condolences to you and your family.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
434. Skyepony (Mod)
Lower than average temps in mid-April tend to feel warmer than the same anomaly a month earlier when the average temps are lower too.

{TropicalAnalystwx13}~ sorry about your great-grandma.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39400
On another note, if I've seemed a little rude on here lately, guys, it's because the past few days haven't been the greatest for me. My great-grandma died Thursday morning, and even though she's not immediate family, I was really, really close to her and haven't slept much since.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
Quoting redwagon:


So did the deep chill forecasted get cancelled?


If by "deep chill" you mean below-average temperatures for the USA, then no, it hasn't been cancelled. Temperatures have already been below-average across much of the central USA, and these cooler anomalies are expected to overtake the eastern United States over the next week.



Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
Quoting Civicane49:


No tsunami threat is expected for Hawaii.


yep I know
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Experimenting here...think it's a good idea?



So did the deep chill forecasted get cancelled?

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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Speaking of auroras, my mother has captured them in her camera, oh, 10-30 second exposures during moderate flares down here in Tennessee.

This CME/flare is the largest one yet this year pointed at us.

The US is lucky that the storm blew away all the clouds, people should get out late tonight perhaps get up at some point and let the cameras stare up at the sky, sometimes a little surprising what the camera will see versus your eyes.
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Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Experimenting here...think it's a good idea?



Cool idea, tips:

1. Spacing.
2. Colors for the letters, no bright colors that are a pain to see on a white background.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


they have been expanding the severe weather alerts


they also have the tsunami statement on their site


No tsunami threat is expected for Hawaii.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Experimenting here...think it's a good idea?


I like it and I think it looks cool.
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Quoting Civicane49:


they have been expanding the severe weather alerts


they also have the tsunami statement on their site
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Hoping it doesn't rain tomorrow.

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Certainly a higher than usual amount of earthquake activity on the earth today.
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Experimenting here...think it's a good idea?

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Cold front bringing inclement weather in Hawaii today.

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
417. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #33
FORTE TEMPETE TROPICALE IMELDA (10-20122013)
4:00 AM RET April 14 2013
======================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Imelda (983 hPa) located at 17.2S 59.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 55 knots with gusts of 75 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving south southeast at 6 knots.

Storm Force Winds
=================
45 NM radius from the center, extending up to 50 NM in the eastern semi-circle

Gale Force Winds
===================
60 NM radius from the center, extending up to 70 NM in the northwestern quadrant, up to 80 NM in the southeastern quadrant, and up to 90 NM in the northeastern quadrant

Near Gale Force Winds
====================
90 NM radius from the center, extending up to 95 NM in the northwestern quadrant, up to 140 NM in the southeastern quadrant, and up to 145 NM in the northeastern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0/4.0/D0.5/6 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 18.2S 60.1E - 65 knots (CYCLONE Tropical)
24 HRS: 19.3S 61.2E - 60 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
48 HRS: 21.2S 62.6E - 45 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée
72 HRS: 22.7S 62.3E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)

Additional Information
=========================
Re-assessment of the latest ASCAT pass with ambiguity data allowed a re-localization of the 1800 UTC fix near 16.7S and 59.1E. According to available fix earlier tonight, Imelda seems have made a loop near 59.0E. Latest microwave fix suggest that the system has resumed a south southeastwards motion.

Winds are gradually shifting to the northwest at Saint Brandon and remain strong. Wins peaked at 43 knots at 1900 UTC and gusts since 1800 UTC are in the 70-75 knots range. Imelda continue to show some signs of intensification on both classical and microwave imagery. N19 pass of 2135 UTC depicts a building curved band pattern of more than 1.0ao associated with very cold cloud tops (-90C clouds top on infrared.)

All available Dvorak estimates (manual and ADT) support an intensity in the 50-55 knots range.

The system lies under an upper tropospheric ridge with weak vertical wind shear and good upper level divergence mainly polewards (cf. water vapor imagery).

For the next 48 hours system is expected to track globally southeastwards under the steering influence of the mid-level ridge located to its northeast. On this track, upper levels conditions should remain favorable today before an increase of the vertical wind shear later tonight. However as the shear is on the same direction of the expected track, the negative effect could be somewhat limited initially. Consequently an intensification up to the tropical cyclone status is likely.

On and after Monday, the vertical wind shear is forecast to increase sharply ahead an upper levels trough and system should weaken.

On and after Tuesday, the filling up system is expected to track globally westwards steered by the trade-winds flow.

Given the current trend in intensity, all interests in the Mascaregnes islands should monitor the progress of this system ...particularly interests in Rodrigues island ... which is currently affected by the first outer active bands located in the southeastern sector of the system.
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East and central pacific wide view
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4.4 magnitude quake off the northeast coast of the Big Island earlier today.

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

That's a pretty good sized one...

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 001
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 0138Z 14 APR 2013

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC
OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS...EXCEPT ALASKA...BRITISH COLUMBIA...
WASHINGTON...OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

... TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ...

THIS BULLETIN IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY.

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY
NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND
ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0132Z 14 APR 2013
COORDINATES - 6.4 SOUTH 154.6 EAST
DEPTH - 75 KM
LOCATION - SOLOMON ISLANDS
MAGNITUDE - 6.7

EVALUATION

A DESTRUCTIVE TSUNAMI WAS NOT GENERATED BASED ON EARTHQUAKE AND
HISTORICAL TSUNAMI DATA.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE JAPAN METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY MAY ALSO ISSUE TSUNAMI MESSAGES
FOR THIS EVENT TO COUNTRIES IN THE NORTHWEST PACIFIC AND SOUTH
CHINA SEA REGION. IN CASE OF CONFLICTING INFORMATION... THE
MORE CONSERVATIVE INFORMATION SHOULD BE USED FOR SAFETY.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE PRODUCTS
FOR ALASKA...BRITISH COLUMBIA...WASHINGTON...OREGON...CALIFORNIA.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8040
whoah!
that's quite a big one there Keeper

Magnitude: 6.6

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
COASTAL WATERS FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
256 PM HST SAT APR 13 2013

HAWAIIAN COASTAL WATERS WITHIN 40 NAUTICAL MILES INCLUDING THE
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS HUMPBACK WHALE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY.

PHZ114-141330-
OAHU WINDWARD WATERS-
256 PM HST SAT APR 13 2013

...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 2 IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM HST THIS
EVENING...

.TONIGHT...SOUTH WINDS 15 KT. WIND WAVES 4 FT. WEST SWELL 5 FT.
HAZE. HEAVY SHOWERS LIKELY AND SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS. SOME
THUNDERSTORMS MAY BE SEVERE IN THE EVENING.
.SUNDAY...SOUTH WINDS 10 KT. WIND WAVES 4 FT. WEST SWELL 4 FT.
HAZE THROUGH THE DAY. OCCASIONAL HEAVY SHOWERS IN THE MORNING.
HEAVY SHOWERS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.
.SUNDAY NIGHT...SOUTH WINDS 10 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. WEST
SWELL 3 FT. HAZE. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.MONDAY...SOUTHEAST WINDS 10 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS.
NORTHWEST SWELL 3 FT. HAZE. ISOLATED SHOWERS.
.MONDAY NIGHT...SOUTHEAST WINDS 10 KT. WIND WAVES 3 FT. HAZE.
ISOLATED SHOWERS.
.TUESDAY...EAST WINDS 15 KT. WIND WAVES 4 FT. HAZE. ISOLATED
SHOWERS.
.TUESDAY NIGHT...EAST WINDS 15 KT. WIND WAVES 5 FT. SCATTERED
SHOWERS.
.WEDNESDAY...EAST WINDS 15 KT. WIND WAVES 5 FT. NORTHWEST SWELL
3 FT. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.THURSDAY...EAST WINDS 15 KT. WIND WAVES 5 TO 6 FT. NORTHWEST
SWELL 5 FT. SCATTERED SHOWERS.

$$

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
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Quoting Grothar:


When I lived in Norway, you could see them almost every night. They were mostly green colors, but sometimes they were spetacular, with many different colors.

Here are a few images from the net.



If you were real lucky, you would see something like this.




Love the second picture...but that's too much for me to ask...
I just want a quick pass, I'll be satisfied
Hopefully recorded too.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Yeah, I don't think anything is going to show up here but Im watching the sky as I speak. Camera ready...

Here is the Europe forecast


When I lived in Norway, you could see them almost every night. They were mostly green colors, but sometimes they were spectacular, with many different colors.

Here are a few images from the net.



If you were real lucky, you would see something like this.


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Friend of mine at Miami NWS sent this to me - Lebron James sending in a storm report !!

Link
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These are two of my analogue years that I am not sure were mentioned.


This year, 1950, I believe had 8 majors.



1995


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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Yeah, I don't think anything is going to show up here but Im watching the sky as I speak. Camera ready...

Here is the Europe forecast

If auroras do show up, it likely won't be until late tonight. The CME from the solar flare that is expected to produce the auroras arrived only a couple hours ago, and there has yet to be any significant geomagnetic activity. I honestly have no idea what Accuweather was doing putting out an aurora forecast at 6AM this morning, many hours before the CME arrived. I doubt it gets as low as they forecast.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8040
Sorry to be off-topic, but PSY's GOING VIRAL(again)!

Link
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Quoting Grothar:


That is really low for an aurora. That must have been a big flare.


Yeah, I don't think anything is going to show up here but Im watching the sky as I speak. Camera ready...

Here is the Europe forecast
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting Seattleite:
We just had our first real thunderstorm of the year for Seattle! There was a solid 15 minutes of pea sized hail. The ground is white with around an inch of hail covering the ground. Seems like spring in the PNW, now if the temperature would climb above 50F I'd be a little more convinced...



I still remember the first time you came on and someone told you that you spelled satellite incorrectly. I still get a laugh every time I see your handle.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
we are in a good spot to see any aurora


That is really low for an aurora. That must have been a big flare.
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400. Skyepony (Mod)
952mb (at the moment)..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39400
Quoting MrsPerfect:
Yo, Grothar!

:)


Yo, A.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Monster Low in the NW Atlantic..



yep..it's a big 952 MB


Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873

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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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