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2017 March

Severe Weather to Ramp Down This Weekend, Temporarily

A brief break in our multi-day spate of U.S. severe weather appears to be forthcoming, but not until one more day of widespread severe storms. Pockets of severe weather may continue through the weekend, but the fast pace of upper-level lows and troughs will make it difficult for adequate instability to get into the right place for a major outbreak.

Bob Henson • 5:29 PM GMT on March 30, 2017

Trump’s Executive Order Threatens to Wreck Earth as a Livable Planet for Humans

Decades of progress on cleaning up our dirty air took a significant hit on Tuesday, along with hopes for a livable future climate, when President Trump issued his Energy Independence Executive Order. Most seriously, the order attacks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan, which requires a 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 2030.

Jeff Masters • 1:13 PM GMT on March 29, 2017

Debbie’s Silver Lining: Cooler Waters and Less Coral Reef Damage

Tropical Cyclone Debbie roared into northern Queensland, Australia, early Tuesday local time, hurling giant waves, fierce winds, and a major storm surge into the sparsely populated coast. The human toll appears to be minimal, though, and the cooler waters churned up by Debbie will help inhibit damage to coral reefs.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 4:46 PM GMT on March 28, 2017

March Going Out with a Weeklong Roar of Severe Weather

Severe weather watches may be a daily occurrence into at least the first weekend of April, as upper-level energy continues to stream across the U.S. atop an increasingly rich supply of low-level moisture.

Bob Henson • 7:00 PM GMT on March 27, 2017

Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Debbie Pounding Queensland, Australia

Tropical Cyclone Debbie is battering Northeast Australia’s Queensland coast with torrential rains and high winds as the storm heads west-southwest at about 5 mph towards an expected landfall near 3 pm EDT (19 UTC) Monday. Winds at Hamilton Island in the south eyewall of Debbie were 82 mph (10-minute average), gusting to 107 mph at 2:00 am local time Tuesday.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 4:23 PM GMT on March 27, 2017

Australia Braces for Debbie; Localized Tornado Outbreak Possible Sunday in TX/OK

Northeast Australia’s Queensland coast is bracing for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Debby, which may strike Tuesday morning local time as a Category 3 storm. Meanwhile, a localized outbreak of severe weather--possibly including tornadoes, very large hail, and very high winds--is expected in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas late Sunday.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson • 5:17 PM GMT on March 26, 2017

Weird Coastal El Nino Clobbers Peru: 80 Killed, $1.4 Billion in Damage

The world’s costliest flood disaster of 2017 is still unfolding across parts of coastal Peru, where extreme rainfall atop normally dry terrain has led to episodes of major flooding over the last few weeks. More than 110,000 people have been displaced by flooding since December, and more than 80 deaths have been reported. Peru normally gets its heaviest rains during El Niño events, but unusually warm waters in this case have been limited to the easternmost tropical Pacific.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 6:00 PM GMT on March 24, 2017

A Prolonged Series of Severe Threats—But How Severe?

As storm systems sweep across the country over the next week in classic late-March fashion, we can expect near-daily doses of severe weather over parts of the south-central and southeast United States. Most of the severe weather will plow through the regions most favored for stormy conditions in early spring, from Texas and Oklahoma across the Mississippi Valley into the Southeast states.

Bob Henson • 4:36 PM GMT on March 23, 2017

It’s Time to Give Air Quality the Attention It Deserves

More than 10,000 lives are lost worldwide every 24 hours as a direct or indirect consequence of poor air quality. WU intends to do its part in raising air quality awareness by expanding our international network of personal weather stations into the realm of air quality.

Bob Henson • 3:20 PM GMT on March 22, 2017

The Extreme Temperature Index: Identifying Which Records are Most Significant

Guest author Guy Walton explains how a specially designed index can tell us the significance of a local record high or low in the broader climate context.

Guy Walton • 4:16 PM GMT on March 21, 2017

Tornado Risk Amping Up This Week and Beyond

A multi-day stretch of severe weather should kick off across the south-central U.S. by late Thursday or Friday. There are hints that the U.S. pattern will remain stormy off and on through next week. Wildfire risk will also be increasing across the Southwest U.S. late this week.

Bob Henson • 4:31 PM GMT on March 20, 2017

February 2017: Earth's 2nd Warmest February and 4th Warmest Month in Recorded History

February 2017 was the planet's second warmest February since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA and NASA this week; the only warmer February was in 2016. Remarkably, February 2017 ranked as the fourth warmest month (expressed as the departure of temperature from average) of any month in the global historical record, despite coming just one month after the end of a 5-month long La Niña event, which acted to cool the globe slightly.

Jeff Masters • 4:07 PM GMT on March 17, 2017

March Madness: Trump Proposes 31% Cut to EPA and Big Cuts to Climate Change Programs

President Trump’s first proposed budget was released on Thursday, and recommends maddening cuts to programs and agencies responsible for ensuring the health of Americans and for understanding and combatting climate change. Among larger U.S. agencies, the biggest cuts come to the EPA, which would see its $8.1 billion budget slashed by over 31%.

Jeff Masters • 4:01 PM GMT on March 16, 2017

Inland Northeast Gets Record-Burying Snow

If the millions of people living along the I-95 corridor were situated just 100 miles northwest, they’d be digging out on Wednesday from one of their biggest March storms in decades. Instead, the big coastal cities came out of Tuesday’s storm with relatively little impact, while many points inland are still buried.

Bob Henson • 4:40 PM GMT on March 15, 2017

Big Cities Largely Spared by Northeast Storm; Huge Totals Piling Up Inland

Even though Tuesday’s much-anticipated storm (dubbed Stella by The Weather Channel) was producing more of an icy mess than a winter wonderland along the corridor from Washington, D.C., to New York, power outages were piling up quickly at midday Tuesday throughout the region as fierce winds battered the area, gusting well above 40 mph along the coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Inland from the I-95 corridor, huge snowfall totals were piling up, and more than two feet are possible in some areas.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 5:30 PM GMT on March 14, 2017

All Eyes on East Coast as Big Snowmaker Looms for Tuesday

A classic late-season nor’easter has all the ingredients to produce what could be record-heavy March snow and dangerously strong winds in coastal cities from Washington, D.C., to Boston. But if the devil were ever in the details, it’s right now. The dividing line between rain and snow in this storm, dubbed Stella by The Weather Channel, will be close enough to the Interstate 95 corridor to keep forecasters sweating.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 5:30 PM GMT on March 13, 2017

EPA Chief Denies Basic Climate Science

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said on Thursday that carbon dioxide was not a primary contributor to global warming. This view denies fundamental climate science as expressed on the EPA website and summarized by the 2013 report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that it is “extremely likely” that more than half the global warming that occurred from 1951 to 2010 was a consequence of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Jeff Masters • 9:27 PM GMT on March 10, 2017

Will the East Coast Be Snowed In or Washed Out Next Week?

A big nor’easter is heading for the Eastern Seaboard early next week, but it’s still too soon to tell whether the urban corridor from Washington to Boston will be doing more digging versus more wading. The timing and location of rain/snow transition is a perennial forecast challenge with Northeast snowstorms, especially in late-winter and early-spring storms like this one. Heavy snow is a distinct possibility, though.

Bob Henson • 5:45 PM GMT on March 10, 2017

Hellacious Great Lakes Windstorm Fells Trees, Knocks Out Power to More than 1 Million

Under brilliant blue skies, an onslaught of high wind swept across the Great Lakes region on Wednesday, causing damage and disruption on par with a major winter storm or a severe thunderstorm complex. About 1 million customers lost power, with hundreds of thousands still affected on Thursday morning. The winds were caused by the same huge storm system that triggered deadly fires over the Great Plains and dozens of tornadoes across the Midwest on Monday.

Bob Henson • 3:57 PM GMT on March 09, 2017

Second Warmest U.S. February on Record: Chalk It Up to Greenhouse Gases

As suggested by plants budding and blooming weeks ahead of schedule, last month placed second among all U.S. Februaries in records going back 123 years, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction. In its quarterly climate summary, NCEI announced that the 48 contiguous United States saw its second warmest February and sixth warmest winter (December - February) on record. Increased greenhouse gases are the main reason for long-term February warming in the United States, according to a new climate assessment study.

Bob Henson • 6:35 PM GMT on March 08, 2017

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Enawo Hits Madagascar

Extremely dangerous Tropical Cyclone Enawo hit northeastern Madagascar near 3 am EST Tuesday as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Enawo is the third strongest tropical cyclone on record to strike the island, and severe impacts are likely from the storm’s torrential rains, high winds, and large storm surge.

Jeff Masters • 2:44 PM GMT on March 07, 2017

Severe Weather Threat, Extreme Fire Danger over Southern Plains

A windy, fast-moving storm system will bring the risk of severe weather, including tornadoes, as it barrels across the Great Plains on Monday afternoon and evening. Supercell thunderstorms over far eastern Kansas and southwest Missouri ahead of the dry line have the potential to generate very large hail and significant tornadoes. Fire weather is also a threat: the NOAA Storm Prediction Center SPC has issued an “extremely critical” fire risk area, its most dire, along a band from east-central New Mexico to southwest Nebraska.

Bob Henson • 6:34 PM GMT on March 06, 2017

Madagascar Braces for Extreme Rains From Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Enawo

Dangerous Category 2 Tropical Cyclone Enawo was plowing westwards at 6 mph on Monday morning towards Madagascar, and is expected to make landfall on the island on Tuesday morning. The storm unusually wet, and has the potential to be a top-five most damaging storm in the island’s history.

Jeff Masters • 2:33 PM GMT on March 06, 2017

Sea Ice Extent in Antarctica Bottoming Out at Lowest on Record

As summer draws to a close across the Southern Hemisphere, the extent of sea ice ringing Antarctica has fallen to the lowest values ever observed in satellite records dating back to 1979. Meanwhile, an ever-lengthening crack may soon break off a huge iceberg from the Larsen C shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, and a new WMO report has confirmed the new all-time record high for the Antarctic Continent of 63.5*F, which was observed on the peninsula in March 2015.

Bob Henson • 5:50 PM GMT on March 03, 2017

Echoes of a 1920s Calamity in Deadly Midwest Tornado Outbreak

Several long-lived supercell thunderstorms cranked out destructive tornado families across the Midwest from late Tuesday into Wednesday morning. At least 3 deaths had been reported, and the wind-packing storms continued on Wednesday, threatening the mid-Atlantic states. One of Tuesday's major tornado-producing storms followed a path eerily reminiscent of the nation's deadliest tornado on record.

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters • 6:48 PM GMT on March 01, 2017