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2016 March

March Rainfall Records Doused; Damaging Freeze Possible in Northeast

More severe weather is in store for Thursday and Friday after tornadoes hopskotched near and east of Tulsa on Thursday and flooding rains inundated other areas. With a few hours left to go in the month, Little Rock and Memphis have already seen their wettest March in more than 140 years of recordkeeping. Further east, several rounds of cold weather next week could damage fruit trees that have blossomed in the wake of a very mild winter.

Bob Henson • 6:03 PM GMT on March 31, 2016

A 50-Day Heat Wave Forecast, and the Future of Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction

A paper published on Monday shows how heat waves across the midwestern and eastern U.S. may be predictable with some skill as far as 50 days out. On its heels is the Tuesday release of a report from the U.S. National Academies, arguing that there is great potential to improve the quality and value of forecasts in the two-week to 12-month range if the necessary resources can be marshaled--and if researchers can develop and tailor products designed to fit the needs of users.

Bob Henson • 6:50 PM GMT on March 29, 2016

Longest Coral Bleaching Event on Record Continues to Hammer Reefs

Even as the El Niño of 2015-16 winds down, coral reefs remain threatened by the longest episode of global-scale bleaching on record. More than 40% of all U.S. reef areas have experienced thermal stress associated with widespread bleaching and morality since 2014. Severe bleaching is now under way across the northern Great Barrier Reef, where up to 50% of the affected coral may die.

Bob HEnson • 3:30 PM GMT on March 28, 2016

Here Comes La Niña--Or Does It? What History, Models, and Experts Tell Us

After a superheated few months, the tropical Pacific is starting to cool down, one of several signs that the memorable El Niño event of 2015-16 is nearing its end. The looming question is whether this blockbuster will be followed by a sequel--which, like most sequels, could pale in comparison--or whether La Niña is waiting in the wings, ready to take the stage for what could be an extended run.

Bob Henson • 4:28 PM GMT on March 25, 2016

Fire and Ice on the Plains: Intense Snow, Raging Blazes

A tightly wrapped storm system produced a wild array of weather-related impacts over the Great Plains and Midwest on Wednesday, including paralyzing snowfall, severe thunderstorms, and a massive prairie fire. The most widespread problems occurred with late-season snowfall that stretched along a frontal zone from the Colorado Rockies northeast more than 1,000 miles to Michigan. To the south, a gargantuan grass fire fed by warm, dry air and strong southwest winds has spread across an estimated 400,000 acres in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Hundreds of firefighters are working along a 30- to 40-mile-long fire line.

Bob Henson • 3:09 PM GMT on March 24, 2016

World Meteorological Day: A Hotter, Drier, Wetter World of Weather

Today is World Meteorological Day, held each year on the date (March 23, 1950) when the treaty creating the World Meteorological Organization went into force. The theme of this year’s World Meteorological Day is a timely one: “Hotter, Drier, Wetter—Face the Future.” Dozens of billion-dollar weather disasters plagued our planet in 2015—many of them involving droughts and floods—and inflicted a total $123 billion in damage.

Bob Henson • 10:37 PM GMT on March 23, 2016

Avoiding a Soylent Green Future by 2040; First Severe Outbreak of Spring Coming

If you want a sobering look a potential global apocalyptic food shortage scenario, you don’t need to rent a copy of the 1973 sci-fi classic, “Soylent Green”. A non-sci-fi computer model being developed by the Global Sustainability Institute at the UK's Anglia Ruskin University predicts that catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability might lead to a virtual collapse industrial civilization by 2040.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 12:51 PM GMT on March 23, 2016

Ten Civilizations or Nations That Collapsed From Drought

Drought is the great enemy of human civilization. Presented here is a "top ten" list of droughts that helped topple some of the mightiest civilizations in world history--from Egypt's pyramid-building Old Kingdom to modern-day Syria.

Jeff Masters • 3:15 PM GMT on March 21, 2016

Spring Outlook for U.S. Drought and Flood: Dry to the Southwest, Wet to the Southeast

An unexpectedly dry Southwest has put a twist on this spring’s prospects for drought evolution and flood risk, according to dual outlooks issued by NOAA on Thursday. Mild weather has limited the winter snowpack over the Midwest, but saturated soils and near- to above-average streamflows will heighten the risk of moderate flooding this spring over the middle and lower Mississippi Valley, as well as the far Southeast and recently hard-hit east Texas and north Louisiana (Figure 1). Meanwhile, drought conditions are projected to improve near the intersection of California, Oregon, and Nevada, while holding steady over southern California and southwest Nevada and intensifying over most of Arizona and southwest New Mexico, despite the persistence of strong El Niño conditions.

Bob Henson • 4:48 PM GMT on March 18, 2016

NOAA Agrees: February 2016 Was Earth's Warmest Month in Recorded History

February 2016 was by far the planet's warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, and was also the warmest month of any month in the historical record, said NOAA and NASA this week. The five warmest months since 1880 (as measured by departure from average in both the NOAA and NASA databases) were the past five months.

Jeff Masters • 3:53 PM GMT on March 17, 2016

Did X Cause Y? A New Look at Attributing Weather Extremes to Climate Change

A growing branch of atmospheric research is working to quantify the influence of human-induced climate change on various types of extreme weather, and there is real progress being made. An important report released by the National Academies on Friday serves as a very useful guide to how this work is carried out, what it can and can’t do, and where the science is heading. The idea behind attribution research is to provide reasonably satisfying answers to the query so often raised by policy makers and the public: did climate change have anything to do with this event?

Bob Henson • 4:01 PM GMT on March 15, 2016

February Smashes Earth's All-Time Global Heat Record by a Jaw-Dropping Margin

On Saturday, NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. The previous record was set just last month. Perhaps even more remarkable is that February 2015 crushed the previous February record--set in 1998 during the peak atmospheric influence of the 1997-98 “super” El Niño that’s comparable in strength to the current one--by a massive 0.47°C (0.85°F). Although the science of attributing extreme weather events to a warming climate is still evolving, February 2016 gave us a number of extreme weather events that were made more probable by a warmer climate.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 7:46 PM GMT on March 13, 2016

Floods From up to 20 Inches of Rain Create State of Emergency in Louisiana

A state of emergency has been declared for the entire state of Louisiana after a four-day deluge of rain dumped up to 20" of rain over northern portions of the state. The resulting record flooding has forced a call-up of the National Guard to help evacuate thousands of people from their homes. Five storm-related deaths have been reported since Monday--three in Louisiana and one each in Oklahoma and Texas.

Jeff Masters • 4:22 PM GMT on March 11, 2016

Record-Strength Upper Low Brings Extreme Rains to South U.S., Thundersnow to Mexico

A remarkably rare atmospheric event is unfolding over Mexico and the Southern U.S., where an upper-level low pressure system of unprecedented strength in the historical record for that location has stalled out, bringing multiple days of torrential rain to the Southern U.S. and snow to the mountains of Mexico. Rainfall amounts one would expect to occur only once every 200 years has occurred over portions of northern Louisiana.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 4:51 PM GMT on March 10, 2016

Flash Flood Emergency in Northern Lousiana: Over a Foot of Rain in 24 Hours

A Flash Flood Emergency has been declared in Northwest Louisiana, including the city of Shreveport, where over a foot of rain fell in just 24 hours, from Tuesday morning through Wednesday morning. At Shreveports's Barksdale Air Force Base, 13.16" had fallen as of 10 am EST Wednesday, and over 14 inches of rain fell just to the southeast of Shreveport near Bossier City. The heavy rains have led to numerous high water rescues and flooded homes and streets.

Jeff Masters • 4:26 PM GMT on March 09, 2016

U.S. Has its Warmest Winter on Record; Major Deluge Coming to TX, AR, LA

The contiguous U.S. just experienced its warmest winter on record, with the three-month meteorological winter period of December 2015 through February 2016 coming in tops for the 121-year period of record that began in 1895. Every state had above-average temperatures, and 36 states had a top-ten warmest winter on record. The most notable warmth was in the Northeast, where all of New England had their warmest winter on record.

Jeff Masters • 5:31 PM GMT on March 08, 2016

Moisture at Last for California; Severe Storms, Heavy Rain for TX/LA/AR/MS

Rain lovers across central and northern California--and snow lovers across the Sierra Nevada--were equally pleased at the storminess that enveloped the region over the last several days. Multiday rainfall totals of 1” to 4” were widespread across the Bay Area, with larger amounts toward the north and at higher elevations. The precipitation wasn’t as abundant toward Southern California, but even this drought-scarred area got an encouraging dose of precipitation during the weekend and into Monday morning. As the California storm digs into the south-central US, the potential for extreme rainfall will spread from Texas and Arkansas into Louisiana and Mississippi as the week unfolds. Some severe weather is also possible.

Bob Henson • 6:57 PM GMT on March 07, 2016

El Niño-Related Rains Take Aim on California--and Arkansas

The Pacific wave train bringing a much-anticipated storm to the West Coast this weekend looks like it has a second destination in mind. Parts of the south-central U.S., especially Arkansas, are in line for what could be some of their heaviest March rains on record next week, once the Pacific storm cuts off and settles in for a spell.

JeffMasters, • 2:19 PM GMT on March 04, 2016

El NIño’s Long-Awaited Grand Performance Is On Its Way to California

After a crushingly dry February, it looks as if early to mid-March is likely to bring California some of the serious moisture it needs from the 2015-16 El Niño event--and perhaps some unwanted flooding and mudslides. Long-range models are increasingly confident that the low-latitude jet stream that’s been dodging the California coast for weeks will finally plow into the state over the next 10 to 15 days, hauling copious amounts of Pacific moisture inland with it. The first significant storm should plow into northern and central California this coming weekend, followed by a stronger series of storms affecting most of the state during the following week.

Bob Henson • 6:07 PM GMT on March 02, 2016