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2016 January

How Much Will El Niño Help to Quench California’s Grinding Drought?

With hillsides greening up fast, and chunks of coastline falling into the sea, it’s obvious that generous rains (and mountain snows) have returned to large parts of California this winter. But it remains an open question exactly how much this winter will help the state recover from a brutal four years of drought. In Southern California, where precipitation has held near or below average for the winter thus far, a major storm will bring generous rains this weekend, and more storminess may arrive later in February.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 10:46 PM GMT on January 29, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas: Fourth Strongest Nor'easter since 1950

The massive blizzard that rocked the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. last weekend, killing at least 58 and leaving over $2 billion in damage, has been rated the 4th most severe snowstorm to hit the region in the past 66 years, said NOAA. The verdict was calculated by the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The storm also ranked highly among historic snowstorms for the Ohio Valley and Southeast regions.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 5:34 PM GMT on January 29, 2016

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Celebrates its Four-Year Anniversary

Multiple climate scientists are currently involved in litigation in state and federal courts across the United States. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) was created to help these climate scientists fight back. CSLDF works to help raise funds for scientists’ legal defenses, serves as a resource in finding pro bono legal representation, and provides support during difficult litigation proceedings as well as when legal action is threatened.

Jeff Masters • 8:03 PM GMT on January 28, 2016

Sixteen National/Territorial All-Time Extreme Heat Records Set in 2015

In addition to being the warmest year on record when averaged over the entire globe, 2015 was also notable for all-time extreme heat records. Sixteen nations or territories tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history in 2015; two (Israel and Cyprus) set all-time cold temperature records.

Jeff Masters • 4:23 PM GMT on January 27, 2016

Freakish Sleet, Snow, and Cold Sting Southeast Asia

At least 87 deaths have been reported from a cold wave over the last week that’s brought dangerously chilly temperatures and wintry precipitation to tropical and subtropical latitudes of Southeast Asia, as well as brutally frigid readings further north. The culprit is a southward extension of the upper-air circulation that rings the Arctic (a.k.a. the “polar vortex”), which allowed an unusually strong Siberian surface high to build southeastward. At least 24 locations in China set all-time lows, some below -50°F, and parts of the densely populated areas near Ghangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macao saw their first snowflakes and ice pellets in more than a century. More than 80 deaths were reported in Taiwan, where many homes are unheated and temperatures have stayed below 50°F for several days.

Bob Henson • 5:21 PM GMT on January 26, 2016

Colossal Nor’easter Dumps Record Snow from Maryland to New York

A ferocious, long-lasting winter storm took its parting swipes at the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday night, leaving in its wake a pile of snowbound cities and shattered records. Millions of people in the nation’s most densely populated urban corridor saw snowfall amounts that matched or exceeded the largest amounts observed in more than a hundred years of recordkeeping.

Bob Henson • 6:23 PM GMT on January 24, 2016

Historic Snowstorm Takes Aim on Mid-Atlantic

Blizzard warnings are in effect for the heavily populated urban corridor from Washington, D.C., to New York, as well as from Long Island to Block Island, RI, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA, as a powerful winter storm sweeps toward the East Coast. Snow amounts in the 24-30" range are expected in the Baltimore-Washington area, which would put this among the heaviest snows ever observed there. Uncertainty is still high in New York, which is expected to lie near the sharp northern edge of the heavy snow region.

Bob Henson • 10:40 PM GMT on January 22, 2016

All Systems Go for High-Impact Winter Storm across Eastern U.S.

Everything from tornadoes to paralyzing ice to blizzard conditions will be unfolding over the next several days as a massive storm system, dubbed Winter Storm Jonas by the Weather Channel, takes shape over the eastern half of the United States. Computer models have doggedly pointed to this scenario for the better part of a week, and the model consensus on the big picture continues to be unusually strong. The crosshairs for the heaviest urban snow appear to be on the Washington, D.C., area; more than two feet are possible there and nearby. Blizzard warnings were in effect Thursday afternoon in and near the Washington, D.C., area. The crystal ball is cloudier on where the storm’s north edge will end up--and that location is crucial, since it could be near New York City.

Bob Henson • 9:18 PM GMT on January 21, 2016

Yearly, Monthly Heat Records Dissolve In 2015's Global Onslaught

The year 2015 ended in spectacular fashion, winding up as the warmest year in more than a century of recordkeeping--and it’s wasn’t even close to a photo finish. NOAA calculated that the average global temperature across both land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th-century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This makes 2015 the warmest calendar year, as well as the warmest of any 12-month period, in global temperature data going back to 1880. In a fitting capstone to a sizzling year, December 2015 was the warmest calendar month on record.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 2:04 AM GMT on January 21, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Braces for Potentially Epic Blizzard

For an event still several days out, computer models were in remarkable agreement late Tuesday on what could be one of the greatest snowstorms in decades for the region around Washington, D.C. Snow totals on the order of two feet are quite possible across parts of the greater D.C./Baltimore area, with the potential for almost as much in Philadelphia and perhaps a foot toward New York City. Anything over 20” at Washington National Airport would be the greatest snowfall for D.C.’s official reporting station in almost a century.

Bob Henson • 7:53 AM GMT on January 20, 2016

Earth's 29 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2015: 4th Most on Record

Earth had a tough year for billion-dollar weather-related natural disasters in 2015, with 29--the fourth most since accurate accounting began in 1990, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on January 19, 2016

Wanted: Ace Pix for International Cloud Atlas

The World Meteorological Organization is looking for contributions from the public for a new online version of its international cloud atlas, used by weather observers worldwide for more than 70 years to ensure that clouds are described in a uniform fashion.

Bob Henson • 3:27 PM GMT on January 18, 2016

Astounding Alex Hits the Azores: January’s First Atlantic Landfall in 61 Years

The unseasonable wintertime hurricane that developed over the Northeast Atlantic on Thursday has been downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Alex, just hours after becoming the first Atlantic hurricane to strike land in January. No major damage was reported on the Azores island of Terceira. Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Victor is quickly strengthening in the Southwest Pacific.

Bob Henson • 9:29 PM GMT on January 15, 2016

Alex Becomes the Atlantic’s First January Hurricane Since 1955

History spun up over the Central Atlantic on Thursday as Tropical Storm Alex became a hurricane--the first one observed in January in the Atlantic since 1955. A hurricane warning is in effect for the central Azores, which Alex will be threatening tonight into Friday. Meanwhile, another historically unseasonable hurricane, Pali, has weakened into a tropical depression southwest of Hawaii very close to the equator.

Bob Henson • 5:19 PM GMT on January 14, 2016

Unprecedented: Simultaneous January Named Storms in the Atlantic and Central Pacific

Simultaneous January named storms are spinning in both the Atlantic and Central Pacific, something that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. The earliest named storm on record in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Pali, formed on January 7, and now the Atlantic has joined the early-season hurricane party, with Subtropical Storm Alex spinning up into history in the waters about 785 miles south-southwest of the Azores Islands on January 13.

Jeff Masters • 9:46 PM GMT on January 13, 2016

NOAA Gins Up Major El Niño Field Campaign: Hurricane Pali Spins Southwest of Hawaii

Scientists at NOAA will be putting the well-predicted “super” El Niño of 2015-16 under a mammoth microscope over the next three months. With just enough time to line up some big observing platforms--plus a lot of other things going right--NOAA/ESRL’s Physical Sciences Division (PSD) has managed to pull together a major field effort that will analyze the mechanics of this El Niño in truly unprecedented detail. In the El Niño region southwest of Hawaii, a cyclone named Pali has become the earliest hurricane on record between the International Date Line and the Americas.

Bob Henson • 2:24 PM GMT on January 12, 2016

Army Corps Opens Bonnet Carré Spillway; a January Subtropical Storm in the Atlantic?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the gates on the Bonnet Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana on January 10 to allow flood waters from the swollen Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain. This is the earliest that the Corps has been forced to open the spillway since the spillway was completed in 1931.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 11:54 PM GMT on January 10, 2016

Warm, Wet Year for U.S.; Record Heat in South Africa; Tropical Storm Pali Intensifies

It was the warmest and wettest December on record for the contiguous U.S. in more than a century of recordkeeping, according to data released by NOAA on Thursday. As a whole, 2015 came in as the second warmest and second wettest year on record. All-time record heat is plaguing parts of southern Africa this week, while Tropical Storm Pali--the earliest tropical storm on record for the Central/Northeast Pacific--has strengthened considerably over the last 24 hours.

Bob Henson • 5:56 PM GMT on January 08, 2016

Rare January Depression in Central Pacific; Atlantic Subtropical Storm Next Week?

After a record-smashing hurricane season in 2015, the Central Pacific is off to a record-early start with Tropical Depression One-C<, which formed on Thursday morning in the waters about 1,500 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. There is also a subtropical depression in the potential for a January cyclone to develop over the North Atlantic subtropics this weekend or early next week.

Bob Henson • 5:10 PM GMT on January 07, 2016

Earth's Top Ten Weather/Climate Events of 2015

Earth's top ten most significant weather and climate events of 2015 included:1) Earth's Warmest Year on Record2) Earth's Strongest El Niño Event on Record3) Earth's Strongest Western Hemisphere Hurricane Ever Measured: Hurricane Patricia4) Indonesia's $14 Billion Fires: The Most Expensive Disaster of 20155) Deadliest Disasters of 2015: Heat Waves in Indian, Pakistan, and Europe

Jeff Masters • 3:00 AM GMT on January 05, 2016

Historic Mississippi River Flood Brings Highest Crest on Record Below St. Louis

A historic and unseasonable flood has brought the highest flood levels ever recorded to the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, thanks to more than 10 inches of rain that fell over a three-day period that began Christmas Day. The Mississippi River crested at its third highest water level on record in St.Louis on January 1. On January 2, the southward-propagating crest brought the second highest flood on record to Chester and the highest flood on record to Cape Girardeau and Thebes.

Jeff Masters • 12:54 AM GMT on January 04, 2016

Earth's Nine Category Five Storms of 2015: 2nd Most on Record

Nine Category 5 storms whipped into life over the world's oceans in 2015: five in the Northwest Pacific, one in the Northeast Pacific, one in the Southeast Pacific, and two in the South Indian Ocean. Since accurate global satellite records began in 1990, only one year has seen more--1997.

Jeff Masters • 3:21 AM GMT on January 01, 2016