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2015 May

The Rains of May and the Science of Recurrence Intervals

As this memorable month sloshes toward its final weekend, rainfall records have continued to accumulate across the Southern Plains. May is already the wettest month on record in the statewide averages for both Oklahoma and Texas. When an event like this happens, it’s human nature to wonder just how unusual it is. Climate change has added urgency to such questions, but even in a constant (“stationary”) climate, precise answers on the rarity of heavy rain at a given location can be hard to come by.

Bob Henson • 3:54 PM GMT on May 30, 2015

Earth's 5th Deadliest Heat Wave in Recorded History Kills 1,826 in India

The death toll from India's horrid May heat wave has risen to 1,826, making this year's heat wave the second deadliest in India's recorded history--and the fifth deadliest in world history. According to statistics from EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, India's only deadlier heat wave was in 1998, when 2,541 died.

Jeff Masters • 12:34 PM GMT on May 29, 2015

Tropical Storm Andres Forms in the Northeast Pacific; Not a Threat to Mexico

The Northeast Pacific's first named storm of 2015 is here. Tropical Storm Andres formed at 11 am EDT on Thursday, in the waters about 690 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. The first named storm of the Northeast Pacific hurricane season usually forms by June 10, so we are nearly two weeks ahead of climatology.

Jeff Masters • 2:43 PM GMT on May 28, 2015

Active Atlantic Hurricane Period That Began in 1995 May be Over: NOAA

It should be another quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 2015, and the active hurricane pattern that began in 1995 may now be over, said NOAA in their May 27 seasonal hurricane forecast. They give a 70% chance of a below-normal season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season.

Jeff Masters • 5:14 PM GMT on May 27, 2015

Epic Rains, Disastrous Floods Plague Texas, Oklahoma

Water cascaded through the streets, creeks, and bayous of downtown Austin and Houston on Monday as an upper-level storm inched its way across the southern Great Plains. It was the latest salvo in a remarkable three-day stretch of torrential rain and destructive flooding across much of Oklahoma and Texas and parts of neighboring states. As of Tuesday morning, the floods had taken at least 8 lives, with at least 12 people missing, and damaged or destroyed many hundreds of buildings.

Bob Henson • 2:24 PM GMT on May 26, 2015

Summer Weather Watch: Keep an Eye on These Five Possibilities

t’s Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the U.S. summer season, and millions are wondering what kind of weather the next three months will bring. Signals point toward a cooler- and wetter-than-average summer across much of the U.S. this year, with unusual heat mostly limited to the far West and Alaska.

Bob Henson • 4:57 PM GMT on May 22, 2015

What Can Lightning Tell Us about Storm Severity


Bob Henson • 5:42 PM GMT on May 21, 2015

Earth has its 4th Warmest April and Warmest January - April Period on Record

April 2015 was Earth's fourth warmest April since global record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA, and the 3rd warmest according to NASA. April 2015's warmth makes the year-to-date period (January - April) the warmest such period on record, and the past twelve months the warmest 12-month period in recorded history. Nine of the ten warmest 12-month periods have occurred within the past two years.

Jeff Masters • 3:35 PM GMT on May 19, 2015

Drenchings Trump Twisters in Tornado Alley

Despite a few high-profile tornadoes on Saturday, damage and injuries were minimal, and millions of people across the nation’s heartland experienced a more garden-variety weekend of spring showers and thunderstorms, some bearing extremely heavy rain. The unusually wet pattern will continue over the Plains this week, with severe weather mostly restricted to Texas until at least Friday.

Bob Henson • 8:42 PM GMT on May 18, 2015

Super Typhoon Dolphin Becomes Earth's 5th Category 5 Storm of 2015

Super Typhoon Dolphin intensified into a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds and a central pressure of 925 mb at 2 pm EDT Saturday May 16, becoming Earth's fifth Category 5 storm of the year.

Jeff Masters • 11:58 AM GMT on May 17, 2015

Severe Weather Returns to the Plains This Weekend

Supercells may again roam the southern and central Great Plains on Friday and Saturday, as they did last weekend. The trigger comes from a strong, cold upper-level low that’s delivering an unseasonably late dose of rain to parts of drought-plagued southern California.

Bob Henson • 5:45 PM GMT on May 15, 2015

Category 2 Typhoon Dolphin Hits Guam

Typhoon Dolphin blasted the islands of Guam and Rota in the U.S. Mariana Islands today as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 110 mph. The eye of Dolphin passed through the channel between the islands of Guam and Rota near 5 am EDT Friday, with Guam experiencing the weaker southern eyewall, and Rota seeing the stronger northern eyewall. Andersen Air Force Base on Guam experienced sustained winds as high as 84 mph.

Jeff Masters • 11:54 AM GMT on May 15, 2015

A Rare Mid-Year El Niño Event Is Strengthening

The robust El Niño event anticipated for more than a year is finally coming to fruition, according to the latest observations and forecasts. NOAA's latest monthly analysis, issued on Thursday morning, continues the El Niño Advisory already in effect and calls for a 90% chance of El Niño conditions persisting through the summer, with a greater-than-80% chance they will continue through the end of 2015. These are the highest probabilities yet for the current event, and a sign of increased forecaster confidence--despite the fact that we're in northern spring, the very time when El Niño outlooks are most uncertain.

Bob Henson • 6:12 PM GMT on May 14, 2015

Typhoon Warnings on Guam for Category 2 Typhoon Dolphin

Typhoon warnings are flying for the U.S. Mariana Islands, including Guam and Rota, as Typhoon Dolphin races west-northwest towards the islands at 18 mph. Guam radar shows the outer bands of Dolphin are already affecting the islands, and Guam is under a Flash Flood Watch for rainfall amounts of 8 - 12".

JeffMasters, • 3:23 PM GMT on May 14, 2015

All-Time May Heat Record for Europe Falls For the 2nd Time This Month

An extreme May heat wave unprecedented in European recorded history has invaded Spain and Portugal, bringing the hottest May temperatures ever recorded on the continent. At 1:50pm local time on Thursday, the mercury had already soared to 42.6°C (108.7°F) C at Algemet (Valencian Community) in Spain, smashing the previous European May heat record set just eight days ago.

Jeff Masters • 1:01 PM GMT on May 14, 2015

Typhoon Dolphin Intensifying as it Heads Towards Guam

Typhoon Dolphin is gathering strength in the waters to the east of the U.S. Mariana Islands, and is a serious threat to strike Guam and the nearby islands as a major typhoon on Friday morning (U.S. EDT.) The 8 am EDT Wednesday advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) put Dolphin's winds at 105 mph, and the Japan Meteorological Agency estimated a central pressure of 965 mb.

Jeff Masters • 3:37 PM GMT on May 13, 2015

Florida Has its Warmest April on Record

Florida residents, if you thought April 2015 seemed ridiculously hot, you were right--April 2015 was Florida's hottest April on record, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on Tuesday. The contiguous U.S. experienced its 17th warmest April since 1895, with the most notable heat in the Southeast U.S. instead of California, for a change.

Jeff Masters • 11:23 PM GMT on May 12, 2015

Intensifying Tropical Storm Dolphin a Threat to Guam

In the Northwest Pacific, Tropical Storm Dolphin is gathering strength in the waters to the east of the U.S. Mariana Islands, and is a threat to bring typhoon conditions to those islands--including Guam--on Thursday. Dolphin's winds were at 60 mph Tuesday morning, and Dolphin should reach Category 1 typhoon strength by Wednesday morning (EDT.)

Jeff Masters • 2:12 PM GMT on May 12, 2015

A Quiet Tornado Season Revs Up; Tropics Calm Down

The strongest tropical storm ever recorded to hit the U.S. so early in the year, Tropical Storm Ana, dissipated on Sunday evening over North Carolina after bringing 50 - 60 mph wind gusts but no significant flooding or damage. Meanwhile, more than 60 tornadoes were reported on Saturday and Sunday across the nation's midsection.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 4:29 PM GMT on May 11, 2015

Tropical Storms, Tornadoes, a Cat 5 Typhoon, and a Blizzard, Oh My!

Meteorological Mother's Day Madness is at hand. The strongest tropical storm ever to make landfall in the U.S. so early in the year hit South Carolina this morning, at the same time as a Category 5 super typhoon hit the Philippines, a raging blizzard pounded South Dakota, and the U.S. Plains cleaned up from an onslaught of 45 tornadoes the previous day.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 3:59 PM GMT on May 10, 2015

Ana a Tropical Storm; Complicated Severe Threat for U.S. Plains

Tropical storm conditions are expected beginning Saturday evening along much of the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts as slow-moving Tropical Storm Ana plods to the northwest at 3 mph. Ana gained enough heavy thunderstorms near its center on Saturday morning to be classified as a tropical storm.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:22 PM GMT on May 09, 2015

Subtropical Storm Ana More Organized; Philippines' Cat 3 Noul Intensifying

Tropical storm warnings are flying along much of the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts as a nearly stationary Subtropical Storm Ana spins away about 180 miles south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Ana's formation date of May 7 is the earliest appearance of a named storm in the Atlantic since a previous incarnation of Subtropical Storm Ana was recognized on April 20, 2003.

Jeff Masters • 6:44 PM GMT on May 08, 2015

Volatile Setup for Severe Weather in Southern Plains on Friday, Saturday

The ingredients are in place for a major multi-day outbreak of severe weather from Friday into the weekend, including the possibility of strong, long-track tornadoes. Early on Friday, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center placed part of southwest Oklahoma under a moderate risk of severe weather for Friday, with a moderate-risk area covering a broader swath from western KS to southwest OK on Saturday.

Bob Henson • 1:49 PM GMT on May 08, 2015

Subtropical Storm Ana Forms Near South Carolina

The area of disturbed weather (90L) off the Southeast U.S. coast finally gained a well-defined circulation center and enough heavy thunderstorms near its core to be designated Subtropical Storm Ana at 11 pm EDT Thursday. Ana's formation date of May 7 is the earliest appearance of a named storm in the Atlantic since a previous incarnation of Subtropical Storm Ana was recognized on April 20, 2003.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 3:03 AM GMT on May 08, 2015

Hurricane Hunters Find 50 mph Winds in 90L; Cat 3 Noul Aims at Philippines

An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft measured winds in excess of tropical storm force on Thursday morning inside Invest 90L, the area of disturbed weather off the Southeast U.S. coast. However, the aircraft found no well-defined center, and 90L lacked enough heavy thunderstorm activity for NHC to name the system Subtropical Storm Ana as of 11 am EDT Thursday. The aircraft found a large area of 40 - 50 mph surface winds about 100 - 200 miles off the central and northeast coast of South Carolina.

JeffMasters, • 4:31 PM GMT on May 07, 2015

Flooding, Tornado Threats Continue after Torrential Rains in Central Oklahoma

The Plains erupted on Wednesday with a batch of slow-moving tornadic supercells that morphed into prodigious rainmakers. More than four dozen tornado reports had been received by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center by early Thursday. Pockets of wind/tornado damage were reported near Bridge Creek, OK, and across parts of the south metro area of Oklahoma City/Norman.

Bob Henson • 12:38 PM GMT on May 07, 2015

Atlantic's First Invest of the 2015, 90L, Organizing Over the Bahamas

The first Atlantic Ocean "Invest" of 2015 has arrived, as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) designated the area of disturbed weather over the Northwest Bahamas as Invest 90L on Wednesday morning.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 3:50 PM GMT on May 06, 2015

A New Tool for Gauging the Odds that a Storm Will Turn Severe

As part of an experiment this spring at NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT), forecasters are testing a variety of tools to anticipate how likely it is that a particular thunderstorm will produce severe weather over the next hour or two.

Bob Henson • 10:30 PM GMT on May 05, 2015

Low Pressure Between Southeast Florida and Bahamas has Potential to Develop

Heavy thunderstorms and strong winds are increasing over the waters between Southeast Florida and the Bahama Islands, where a non-tropical region of surface low pressure is developing. This area of low pressure could become Subtropical Depression One late this week, according to two of our top computer models for forecasting genesis of tropical cyclones, the GFS and European.

Jeff Masters • 3:57 PM GMT on May 05, 2015

Subtropical Storm May Still Develop Off Southeast Coast This Week

Models are still suggesting that a moisture-laden disturbance off the southeast U.S. coast could develop into a subtropical cyclone later this week, although there is large uncertainty about how strong it might be and where it might go

Bob Henson • 3:23 PM GMT on May 04, 2015

What Do Skyscrapers, Thundersnow, and Jim Cantore Have in Common?

Thundersnow is a rare enough event to get even veteran meteorologists like The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore excited. New research shows that many cloud-to-ground lightning strikes observed in thundersnow are actually “ground-to-cloud” strikes, initiated by skyscrapers, wind turbines, and other tall objects.

Bob Henson • 6:40 PM GMT on May 01, 2015

An Atlantic Named Storm Coming for the First Week of May?

The first week of May is usually too early for the Atlantic to see its first named storm, but that is a possibility this year, according to the Friday morning runs of the GFS and European models. These models predict that an extratropical storm will form along an old cold frontal boundary over the Bahama Islands just east of the coast of Florida on Tuesday, then drift slowly northwards towards North Carolina during the week.

Jeff Masters • 2:07 PM GMT on May 01, 2015