Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:36 PM GMT on January 25, 2014
December 2013 was the globe's 3rd warmest December since records began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and 4th warmest, according to NASA. December 2013 was the eighth consecutive month (since May 2013) with a global monthly temperature ranking among the top 10 highest for its respective month, and the year 2013 was the 4th warmest year on record. December 2013 global land temperatures were the 5th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 7th warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in December 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 11th or 2nd warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of December 2013 in his December 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for December 2013, the 3rd warmest December for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record warmth was observed across parts of central and eastern Russia, where temperature anomalies exceeded 5°C (9°F) across a large swath of the country. Record warmth was also present in various areas of coastal and southern Africa, and sections of southern South America. It was much cooler than average across parts of central and eastern Canada, the west coast of the United States, southern Greenland, part of southeastern Asia, and most of the Middle East, with record cold temperatures (more than 5°C / 9°F below average) observed around eastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .
The two billion-dollar weather disasters of December 2013
Two billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth during December 2013: Winter Storm Xaver in Northern Europe, which killed 15 and did $1.5 billion in damage, and flooding in Southeast Brazil that killed 48 and did $1.4 billion in damage. These two disasters bring the world-wide tally of billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 to 41, according to the December 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. This is the highest yearly total of billion-dollar weather disasters for the globe since accurate disaster records began in 2000. The previous record highest number of billion-dollar weather disasters was 40, set in 2010. For comparison, during all of 2012, there were 27 billion-dollar weather disasters. The U.S. total in 2013 was nine, according to Aon Benfield (NOAA listed seven.)
Disaster 1. Winter Storm Xaver brought extreme winds and the second highest storm surge of the past 200 years to Northern Germany. The storm killed 15 and did $1.5 billion in damage. In this photo, we see a 14 meter (46') high, 1000 kilogram (2200 lb) Tyrannosaurus replica that was standing in front of the German climate museum Klimahaus in Bremehaven, which had the bolts which connected its base plate to the ground sheared off by the force of Xaver's winds. A peak wind gust of 78 mph (126 kph) was recorded in Bremerhaven during the storm. Image credit: Christine Sollmann and Michael Theusner of Klimahaus.
Disaster 2. Some of the worst flooding in 90 years affected parts of southeastern Brazil during the second half of December, killing at least 48 people and doing $1.4 billion in damage. Here, we see an aerial view of a flooded area in Vila Velha, Espirito Santo state, Brazil, on December 27, 2013. Image credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.
Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific
For the 21st month in row, December 2013 featured neutral El Niño conditions in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. The January 9 El Niño discussion from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center noted that "While current forecast probabilities are still greatest for ENSO-neutral by mid-summer, there is an increasing chance for the development of El Niño. None of the El Niño models predict La Niña conditions for peak hurricane season, August-September-October 2014, and 5 of 15 predict El Niño conditions. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C above average or warmer for three consecutive months for an El Niño episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were -0.2°C from average as of January 25, and have been +0.1 to -0.7°C from average since April 1, 2013.
Arctic sea ice falls to 4th lowest December extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during December was 4th lowest in the 36-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Northern Hemisphere snow cover was the 8th largest in the 48-year record.
I'll have a new post on Monday discussing the impressive cold blast setting up for the eastern half of the U.S.
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