After three relatively quiet seasons, the hurricane-generating waters of the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean returned in 2016 to the busy production schedule they’ve maintained in most years since the mid-1990s. Assisted by the switch from a record-strong El Niño to a borderline La Niña, which reduced vertical wind shear, the 2016 season ended up above the long-term average for all of the most commonly tracked indices, with the largest number of hurricanes observed since 2012, the most major hurricanes since 2011, and the Atlantic’s first Category 5 hurricane since 2007.
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 8:11 PM GMT on November 30, 2016
Jeff Masters • 10:33 PM GMT on November 29, 2016
What appears to be the most damaging wildland fire to strike a Southeast U.S. community in many decades tore into the tourist mecca of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Monday night. The Chimney Top Fire has burned hundreds of structures in and near this much-loved city and has injured at least four people. At least 14,000 people were evacuated from the area, and an estimated 1000-plus people were in shelters on Tuesday morning.
Bob Henson • 4:28 PM GMT on November 29, 2016
A new era in satellite monitoring of the Western Hemisphere began on November 19 with the successful launch of the GOES-R satellite. The new satellite, and three more that will follow in the GOES-R series, will provide a huge leap forward in temporal and spatial resolution, with more frequent and precise images than ever before gathered by a U.S. geostationary satellite. Several features will be especially helpful for monitoring tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic and East Pacific.
Bob Henson • 4:56 PM GMT on November 28, 2016
Tropical Storm Otto is now in the Eastern Pacific, headed westwards away from Central America, after making landfall on Thursday as a top-end Category 2 storm with 110-mph winds over southern Nicaragua. Otto’s heavy rains are being blamed for four deaths on November 22 in Panama, and at least five others are missing there. Otto is the first tropical storm or hurricane whose center moved over any part of Costa Rica, as well as the Atlantic’s latest hurricane landfall in any year, and the latest Atlantic hurricane to reach Category 2 strength in any year.
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 6:14 PM GMT on November 25, 2016
Small but potent Hurricane Otto plowed into the Caribbean coast around 1 PM EST Thursday less than 20 miles north of the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, making history in the process. Otto is the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall this late in the year, and the southermost hurricane known to strike Central America. By Friday, Otto will be in the Eastern Pacific, perhaps as the first storm to carry the same name from Atlantic to Pacific.
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 6:12 PM GMT on November 24, 2016
The latest hurricane ever recorded to form in the Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Otto, has thankfully weakened to a tropical storm, but is still poised to make a most unwelcome visit to Central America on Thursday, when it will move ashore over southern Nicaragua. Otto will become the first Atlantic tropical cyclone on record to make landfall on (U.S.) Thanksgiving Day.
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:07 PM GMT on November 23, 2016
One of the strongest tropical cyclones on record so far south in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Otto was on the verge of becoming a hurricane Tuesday morning. Located just 100 miles north of Panama, Otto will soon begin moving west toward the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where it could make landfall as a Category 1 or stronger hurricane on Thursday. Costa Rica has never recorded a hurricane landfall, and torrential rains could cause major problems for Nicaragua and several neighboring nations.
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 5:14 PM GMT on November 22, 2016
A gradually organizing disturbance about 300 miles east of Nicaragua was designated Tropical Depression 16 early Monday morning. TD 16 is expected to become Tropical Storm Otto within the next day or so, and the National Hurricane Center projects it to make landfall in southern Nicaragua around Thursday, potentially as a hurricane.
Bob Henson • 5:07 PM GMT on November 21, 2016
On Sunday, the tropical disturbance dubbed Invest 90L in the southwest Caribbean Sea continued its leisurely evolution toward possible development into a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next few days. The slow-moving system will be capable of bringing days of heavy rain to Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Torrential rains could spread into parts of Honduras, Belize, and Guatemala by late in the week assuming 90L moves west and strengthens as expected. A separate area of showers and thunderstorms along a remnant front several hundred miles northeast of 90L has led to days of heavy rain across the Dominican Republic, with a national emergency declared. At least five people have been killed, with more than 20,000 people displaced and more than 4000 homes damaged.
Bob Henson • 7:17 PM GMT on November 20, 2016
An area of disturbed weather in the extreme southern Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua (Invest 90L) became much more organized on Saturday morning and afternoon, and is likely to develop into a tropical depression by Tuesday.
Jeff Masters • 8:30 PM GMT on November 19, 2016
Sea ice extent and area have both plummeted to record lows for this time of year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Such dramatic losses rarely occur at the same time, which means that the global total of sea ice coverage is phenomenally low for this time of year. The weirdness extends to midlatitudes: North America as well as the Arctic have been bathed in unusual mildness over the last several weeks, while Eurasia deals with a vast zone of above-average snowfall and below-average temperatures.
Bob Henson • 6:07 PM GMT on November 18, 2016
An area of disturbed weather in the extreme southern Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua (Invest 90L) is struggling to develop, but is still expected to become a tropical depression by early next week as it meanders erratically.
Jeff Masters • 2:05 PM GMT on November 18, 2016
Last month was among the three warmest Octobers on record since recordkeeping began in the late 1800s, according to both NOAA and NASA. The cool waters present in the tropical Pacific as part of the emerging weak La Niña event have helped cool the planet slightly below the record warm levels observed during the strong El Niño event of 2015 - 2016.
Jeff Masters • 6:24 PM GMT on November 17, 2016
An area of disturbed weather in the extreme southern Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua (Invest 90L) has changed little since Wednesday, but is still expected to develop into a tropical depression by early next week as it meanders erratically.
Jeff Masters • 2:28 PM GMT on November 17, 2016
An area of disturbed weather in the extreme southern Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua is likely to develop into a tropical depression by this weekend as it moves little. Meanwhile, record-setting warmth will continue across much of the United States this week, ahead of more seasonable chill spreading eastward. Blizzard conditions are possible over parts of the Northern Plains from Thursday into Friday.
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:49 PM GMT on November 16, 2016
The greatest environmental challenge of our lifetimes will play out in a strikingly new and uncertain context with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president.
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:18 PM GMT on November 15, 2016
More than a quarter of the contiguous U.S. is now experiencing at least moderate drought, and parts of the Southeast are on track for their driest autumn on record. In the West, very mild temperatures have kept snowpack scarce and made skiers impatient. Tropical Storm Tina popped up west of Mexico's Pacific coast on Sunday night but has already weakened back to a depression, while a slow-developing system east of Nicaragua has some potential to become a tropical cyclone later this week or beyond.
Bob Henson • 4:22 PM GMT on November 14, 2016
After a few months of on-again, off-again prospects for La Niña in 2016-17, NOAA pulled the trigger on Thursday with a La Niña Advisory. Forecasters expect a fairly weak La Niña event that will likely dissipate in the first half of 2017. Although La Niña tends to bring cool winter conditions to the northern U.S. and Canada, these areas remain in the midst of a remarkable autumn "warm wave."
Bob Henson • 5:06 PM GMT on November 11, 2016
Unusual autumn warmth was spread generously across the United States--but rainfall was hogged by the periphery of the nation--during October 2016, according to the monthly U.S. summary released by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Tuesday.
Bob Henson • 6:13 PM GMT on November 08, 2016
The weather will be doing its part to keep the mood positive when Americans go to the polls on U.S. Election Day, Tuesday, November 8. Temperatures should be near or above normal over nearly all of the contiguous 48 U.S. states, and the only precipitation of note will be some mostly light rains ahead of a fairly weak upper-level trough extending from Michigan to the Gulf Coast. Conditions aren't so tranquil across southern Europe, where a tornado just northwest of Rome killed two people and injured dozens on Sunday evening. More severe weather is possible over southeast Europe on Monday.
Bob Henson • 5:22 PM GMT on November 07, 2016
The Paris Agreement--the first truly global agreement to reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emissions--went to effect on Friday. However, the national pledges submitted thus far don't go quite far enough to meet the ambitious goals of the global agreement. Meanwhile, there are two noteworthy climate-related ballot items in Washington and Florida in next week's U.S. general election.
Bob Henson • 5:29 PM GMT on November 04, 2016
High winds, heavy rain, and big surf rocked parts of the eastern Mediterranean Sea over the last several days. The weather emerged from an unusual type of storm, often called a "medicane" because it forms in the Mediterranean Sea but has some tropical characteristics.
Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 7:27 PM GMT on November 02, 2016
The tenacious pattern that’s delayed the first frosts and freezes this autumn as far north as the Upper Midwest remains in place for much of the U.S. as we kick off November. Monday was the warmest Halloween on record for a wide swath of U.S. cities, and a number of locations across the South and Midwest could set all-time heat records for November on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. October also brought record-wet conditions to parts of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, while record-dry conditions prevailed over parts of Alabama and Georgia, intensifying a regional drought there.
Bob Henson • 4:52 PM GMT on November 01, 2016