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2013 March

Nature's thermometers say spring is springing earlier by 3 days per decade

Washington DC's famous cherry trees are beginning to burst into bloom, with the peak bloom predicted to come around April 5. February and March temperatures in Washington D.C. have warmed by nearly 3°F over the past century, causing the city's famous cherry trees to bloom, on average, five days earlier than they did in 1921. The earlier blooming times of D.C.'s cherry trees are part of a Northern Hemisphere trend towards earlier spring blooms of about 2.8 days per decade since the 1950s, averaged over all species.

JeffMasters, • 7:31 PM GMT on March 29, 2013

Global warming continues with no slow down

The reason one often hears the year 1998 used as a base year to measure global temperature trends is that this is a cherry-picked year. An extraordinarily powerful El Niño event that was the strongest on record brought about a temporary increase in surface ocean temperatures over a vast area of the tropical Pacific that year, helping boost global surface temperatures to the highest levels on record.

JeffMasters, • 4:23 PM GMT on March 27, 2013

Katrina-level storm surges have more than doubled due to global warming

Since 1923, there has been a ‘Katrina’ magnitude storm surge every 20 years. Because of global warming, Katrina-magnitude storm surge events have now more than doubled in frequency since the late 1800s, says research published in March 2013 in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Their statistical model found that an increase of 0.4°C in global temperatures was sufficient to double the odds of Katrina-magnitude storm surges.

JeffMasters, • 2:08 PM GMT on March 25, 2013

Modest Midwest drought improvements, limited major flooding expected this spring

Springtime is the rainy season in the Midwest U.S., and spring rains this year are expected to put a modest dent in the most intense areas of drought in America's heartland over the next three months. It's a good bet that drought will cause over $10 billion in U.S. agricultural losses for the third consecutive year this year, though. Major spring flooding expected to be confined to North Dakota and Minnesota in 2013.

JeffMasters, • 2:55 PM GMT on March 22, 2013

An unusually quiet March for tornadoes--only 6 so far

After an unusually active January for tornadoes, with approximately double the activity of a typical January, tornado activity dropped to near-normal levels in February, and virtually flat-lined during March. The five confirmed tornadoes in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama on Monday, March 18 brought the March 2013 tornado tally to just six. Monday's severe weather outbreak in the south brought hail up to the size of softballs to Jackson, MS, and damage from the hailstorm is estimated in the tens of millions.

JeffMasters, • 11:37 AM GMT on March 21, 2013

Where's spring? 2nd most extreme March jet stream pattern on record extends winter

Punxatawney Phil got it way wrong. Pennsylvania's famous prognosticating rodent predicted just three more weeks of winter back on February 2. It's the first day of spring, but winter remains firmly entrenched over the eastern half of the U.S., where temperatures of 5 - 25°F below average have been the rule all week. The culprit is the jet stream, which has taken on an unusually contorted shape that is allowing cold air to spill down over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe.

JeffMasters, • 3:15 PM GMT on March 20, 2013

A dramatic greening of the Arctic over the past 30 years

A remarkable transformation in the vegetation of the Arctic has occurred over the past 30 years. Arctic vegetation growth and temperatures in 2011 resembled what occurred 250 - 430 miles father to the south in 1982. That's the approximate distance in latitude between San Francisco and San Diego, or Washington D.C. and Atlanta. More greening occurred in Eurasia than North America, and the Arctic's new greenness is visible on the ground as an increasing abundance of tall shrubs and trees.

JeffMasters, • 3:30 PM GMT on March 18, 2013

February 2013 the globe's 9th warmest February on record

February 2013 was the globe's 9th warmest February since records began in 1880. The most expensive weather disaster of February 2013 was the on-going drought in Central and Eastern China, which has cost $541 million since the beginning of 2013. The deadliest weather disaster in February was Tropical Cyclone Haruna, which hit Madagascar as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, killing 26.

JeffMasters, • 2:31 PM GMT on March 15, 2013

U.S. has its 20th warmest winter, and an unusually quiet start to the year

It was another warm winter for the U.S. during December 2012 - February 2013, ranking as the 20th warmest winter since records began in 1895. For comparison, the previous "non-winter of 2011 - 2012" was the 4th warmest. And after an unusually intense period of extreme weather during 2011 and 2012, the U.S. had its quietest two-month period for extreme weather in nearly three years during January and February 2013.

JeffMasters, • 2:51 PM GMT on March 13, 2013

Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?

A new Potsdam Institute paper gives us a mathematical description of exactly how global warming may be triggering observed fundamental changes in large-scale atmospheric flow patterns, resulting in the observed increase in unusually intense and long-lasting periods of extreme weather over the past eleven years.

JeffMasters, • 2:45 PM GMT on March 11, 2013

Greedy Lying Bastards: a movie review

Greedy Lying Bastards is a documentary film on the politics of global warming, playing in theaters this weekend. As it's rather provocative title suggests, this movie is all about exposing the bad guys--the fossil fuel industry, the private climate change denial "think tank" groups that they fund, and the politicians and media outlets sympathetic to the fossil fuel industry.

JeffMasters, • 5:14 PM GMT on March 09, 2013

Sprawling Nor'easter still bringing heavy snow, damaging coastal floods

It's not often that a Nor'easter centered more than 600 miles out to sea brings heavy snow and and major coastal flooding to New England, but Winter Storm Saturn is a one-of-a-kind. The massive storm, which was centered about 600 miles east-southeast of New York City at 7 am EST, sprawls out over a huge area of ocean more than 1000 miles across. While the central pressure of 988 mb is not exceptionally low for a Nor'easter, the sheer size of the storm is allowing Saturn to pile up a formidable storm surge.

JeffMasters, • 4:15 PM GMT on March 08, 2013

Winter storm dumps over 20 inches of snow on Virginia

The heaviest snows are now over for the very wet Winter Storm Saturn, which dumped 6+" of snow on fourteen states this week, from North Dakota to Virginia. The deepest snows fell in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia and eastern West Virginia, where a number of locations received over twenty inches. The top snow-getter was Franklin, West Virginia, with 24". At least three more states will join the 6+" snow club on Thursday.

JeffMasters, • 4:02 PM GMT on March 07, 2013

Heavy snows fall from Chicago to Virginia

An intensifying winter storm has moved off the coast of Virginia this morning, and will bring heavy rain and snow, strong winds, and coastal flooding to most of the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast over the next two days. Rain is mixing with snow in Washington D.C. area, where 4 - 8" of snow is expected today, down from earlier forecasts of 8 - 12". Snowfall amounts of up to 15" have already fallen in western Virginia near Shenandoah National Park, as of 10 am EST Wednesday.

JeffMasters, • 3:32 PM GMT on March 06, 2013

Chicago snowstorm headed toward the Mid-Atlantic

The snow has begun in Chicago, as what promises to be their biggest snowstorm of the season moves through. The fast-moving "Alberta Clipper" has already brought up to 10" of snow to Minnesota and North Dakota. The storm is expected to bring a swath of 4 - 8" of snow into the Mid-Atlantic through Wednesday, with the heaviest snows in excess of a foot falling in Western Virginia and eastern West Virginia.

JeffMasters, • 4:03 PM GMT on March 05, 2013

Winter storm to spread heavy snow from North Dakota to Virginia

The flakes are flying in Minnesota and North Dakota, where up to 10" of snow has fallen from an "Alberta Clipper" that is barreling southeastwards across the U.S. The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Saturn by The Weather Channel and "Snowquester" by The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, is expected to bring a swath of 6 - 10" of snow from Minnesota to Virginia Monday through Wednesday, with Chicago expected to get 6 - 9", their biggest snow of the season

JeffMasters, • 3:44 PM GMT on March 04, 2013

Australia has its warmest summer on record

The historic summer of 2012 - 2013 is now in the books in Australia as the hottest summer on record, beating the previous mark set in 1997 - 1998 by more than 0.1°C. Australia also roasted through its hottest month on record this summer, with January 2013 topping out as Australia's warmest month since record keeping began in 1910.

JeffMasters, • 3:34 PM GMT on March 01, 2013