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 , 4:53 PM GMT on August 18, 2014
July 2014 was Earth's fourth warmest July since records began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) today. NASA rated July 2014 cooler: the 11th warmest July on record. The July ranking by NOAA broke a streak of two consecutive warmest months on record--May and June of 2014 (they originally ranked April 2014 as tied for warmest April on record, but have since revised it to the second warmest April on record.) Global ocean temperatures during July 2014 were tied with July 2009 for the warmest July on record, and global land temperatures in July 2014 were the 10th warmest on record. The year-to-date January - July period was the 3rd warmest on record for the globe. Global satellite-measured temperatures in July 2014 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 4th or 5th warmest in the 36-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for July 2014, the 4th warmest July for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record-warm conditions were experienced over portions of five continents, most notably Northern Europe and Northwest Africa. The Central U.S. and Central Russia had much cooler than average temperatures. Overall, 32 countries across every continent except Antarctica had at least one station reporting a record high temperature for July. The United States and the Russian Federation each had several stations that reported record warm temperatures as well as several stations with record cold temperatures for the month. No other countries had stations that reported a record cold July temperature. The period of record varies by station. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .
Three billion-dollar weather disasters in July 2014
Three billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth during July 2014, all in China, according to the July 2014 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. The total number of billion-dollar weather disasters for the seven months of 2014 is fourteen, which is well behind the record-setting pace of 2013, which had 22 such disasters by the end of July, and ended up with a record 41 by the end of the year.
Disaster 1. With a name meaning “thunder of God,” Super Typhoon Rammasun was the strongest typhoon on record to hit China, as measured by observed sea level pressure at landfall (899.2 mb measured at Qizhou Island, about 20 miles east of Hainan Island, according to the National Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration.) According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Rammasun peaked as a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds shortly before hitting China's Hainan Island. Rammasun killed 206 and did $6.5 billion in damage, making it the most expensive weather disaster so far in 2014. Approximately $249 million of the damage was done in the Philippines, making it that nation's 8th most expensive typhoon on record. The image above was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite at 1:35 p.m. local time (0535 UTC) on July 18, 2014. Image credit: NASA Natural Hazards.
Disaster 2. Drought conditions worsened across portions of northern and eastern China in July, with nine provinces enduring some of their lowest rain totals since 1961. Among the worst-hit areas were Shandong, Shaanxi, Henan, and Inner Mongolia, where the lack of rainfall has caused severe damage to crops and limited the availability of drinking water. In this photo, we see a farmer standing in dried and cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Zhifang Reservoir on July 29, 2014 in Dengfeng, China. Photo credit: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.
Disaster 3. Torrential monsoon rains over southern China July 13 - 18, 2014, killed 66 people and did $1.25 billion in damage. In this photo, a bridge in Fenghuang Ancient Town is submerged by flood waters on July 15, 2014 in Jishou, China. Image credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.
An El Niño Watch continues
July 2014 featured neutral El Niño conditions in the equatorial Eastern Pacific, and sea surface temperatures were near average in late July and the first half of August in the so-called Niño 3.4 region (5°S - 5°N, 120°W - 170°W), where SSTs must be at least 0.5°C above average for five consecutive months for an El Niño event to be declared. NOAA is continuing its El Niño Watch, but in early August dropped their odds of a fall El Niño from 80% to 65%.
Arctic sea ice falls to 4th lowest July extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during July was the 4th lowest in the 36-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The Northern Sea Route (also known as the Northeast Passage)--the shipping lane along the north coast of Russia in Arctic waters--was open by mid-August, according to ice edge analyses by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. The Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada was ice-choked, and will likely stay closed in 2014. Mariners have been attempting to sail these passages since 1497. The Northeast Passage opened to ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history in 2005, with the Northwest Passage following suit during the summer of 2007. Both passages have been open multiple summers since then, as long-term melting of the ice has continued. However, this summer's weather in the Arctic has featured winds favorable for not letting sea ice drift out through Fram Strait, and we have seen the total volume of sea sea as estimated by the University of Washington PIOMAS model pull back from the record low set in 2012. It appears that some of the 2nd-year ice that survived the summer of 2013 will also survive the summer of 2014, so the ice pack is armoring itself a bit going into 2015 with a modest amount of multi-year ice compared to what we went into 2012 with (2012 set the record for lowest Arctic sea ice extent.)
Quiet in the tropics
A tropical wave located in the Central Atlantic, midway between the Lesser Antilles Islands and the Lesser Antilles Islands, is headed westwards at about 10 mph. Satellite loops show the wave has a broad, elongated surface circulation that has become less defined since Sunday, and heavy thunderstorm activity is almost entirely lacking due to moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots and dry air. Water vapor satellite images and the Saharan Air Layer analysis show that the wave is surrounded by a very dry airmass. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are marginal for development, about 27°C. The Monday morning run of one of our three reliable models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis, the UKMET model, did show some weak development of the wave by late in the week, with the wave arriving in the Lesser Antilles on Friday. Given the presence of so much dry air near the disturbance, the risk of development is low. Development odds will rise a little as the wave nears the Lesser Antilles late in the week, when ocean temperatures will be warmer and the atmosphere a little moister. In their 2 pm EDT Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance 2-day and 5-day development odds of 0% and 10%, respectively.
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