Global ocean temperatures at record highs for 3rd consecutive month

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:04 PM GMT on September 17, 2009

For the third consecutive month, global Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were the warmest on record, according to statistics released yesterday by the National Climatic Data Center. August SSTs were 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average, breaking the previous August record set in 1998. The record August SSTs were due in part to the continuation of El Niño conditions in the Eastern Pacific, which have substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño conditions are expected to amplify during the coming months, and record or near-record global ocean temperatures will probably continue.

August global surface temperatures 2nd to 6th warmest on record
The globe recorded its second warmest August since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. NOAA rated the period June - August (summer in the Northern Hemisphere, winter in the Southern Hemisphere) as the third warmest on record, and the year-to-date period, January - August 2009, as the fifth warmest such period on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated August 2009 as the 6th warmest August on record, and the period June-July-August as the 2nd warmest on record. The August satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest five miles of the atmosphere were between 7th and 9th warmest on record, according to the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems.

Warmest August on record in Australia and New Zealand
Australia had its warmest August on record in 2009, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures averaged a remarkable 3.2°C (5.8°F) above average, making August 2009 the most anomalous month ever recorded in Australia. The previous record was set in April 2005, which was 3.1°C (5.6°C) above average. The month's highest temperature, 39.7°C (103°F) at Wyndham Airport on the 31st, fell only 0.3°C short of the Australian record for August. The Australian winter (June-July-August) was the 2nd warmest on record, next to the winter of 1996. New Zealand also experienced its warmest August on record (records go back 155 years).

A cool August and cool summer for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., the average August temperature was 0.6°F below average, making it the 30th coolest August in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The U.S. as a whole was below normal for the summer period (June - August). A recurring upper level trough held the June - August temperatures down in the central states, where Michigan experienced its fifth coolest summer, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota their seventh coolest each, Nebraska its eighth, and Iowa its ninth. In contrast, the temperatures in Florida averaged out to be fourth warmest, while Washington and Texas experienced their eighth and ninth warmest summers, respectively.

U.S. precipitation in August was below average, as the month ranked 28th driest in the 115-year record. Arizona had its fourth driest August, New Mexico its fifth, and it was the eighth driest August for Colorado, Utah and Texas. Arizona observed its third driest summer, while both South Carolina and Georgia had their sixth driest. It was the 8th wettest summer on record in the Northeast.

At the end of August, 13% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. These extreme drought regions were exclusively in South to Central Texas. However, significant drought relief occurred in this region the second week of September, when a large area of tropical moisture settled in over the region, bringing heavy rains. About 19 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories in August.

Weak El Niño conditions continue
El Niño conditions continue over the tropical Eastern Pacific. Ocean temperatures in the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region", were 0.4°C above the threshold for a weak El Niño, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is maintaining an El Niño Advisory. Current conditions and model forecasts favor the continued development of a weak-to-moderate strength El Niño into the Northern Hemisphere Fall 2009, with the likelihood of at least a moderate strength El Niño (3-month Niño-3.4 SST index of +1.0°C or greater) during the Northern Hemisphere Winter 2009-10.

Sea ice extent in the Arctic 3rd lowest on record
August 2009 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the 3rd lowest since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, behind 2006 and 2007. Sea ice extent has increased slightly over the past week, and we have probably reached the minimum for the year. If so, this year's minimum ranks as the 3rd lowest, behind 2007 and 2008. The fabled Northwest Passage appeared to melt free for brief period in August, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This marks the third consecutive year--and third time in recorded history--the Northwest Passage has opened. The Northeast Passage along the north coast of Russia also opened up this year. This is the fourth time in the past five years the Northeast Passage has opened, and the fourth time in recorded history.

Quiet in the Atlantic
The remains of Hurricane Fred are generating a very small amount of heavy thunderstorm activity near 23N, 61W. These thunderstorms were generating winds up to 35 mph, according to this morning's QuikSCAT pass. However, QuikSCAT also showed that the remains do not have a surface circulation, and the organization of ex-Fred has degraded to point where NHC is no longer mentioning the system on their Tropical Weather Outlook. Water vapor satellite loops show that ex-Fred continues to suffer from dry air thanks to an upper-level low pressure system, and it is unlikely that Fred will ever regenerate. None of the computer models call for any tropical cyclones to develop anywhere in the Atlantic over the next seven days.


Figure 1. Two views of the eye of Super Typhoon Choi-wan. Left: the eye at 01:25 UTC 9/16/09, when Choi-wan was a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Right: the eye at 03:40 UTC 9/17/09, when Choi-was was a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Image credit: MODIS Rapid Response System.

Typhoon Choi-Wan no longer a Category 5 storm
This year's first Category 5 tropical cycloneTyphoon Choi-Wan, has fallen to Category 4 strength after spending 42 hours as a 160 mph Category 5 storm. Choi-Wan--in Cantonese, a type of cloud--is over the open ocean south of Japan, and is not expected to impact any land areas. Choi-wan passed over tiny Alamagan Island, population 15, yesterday. All residents on the island were reported safe.

On this day twenty years ago
At 1 am AST on September 17, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made a direct hit Guadeloupe, pounding the island with Category 4 sustained winds of 140 mph. A storm surge of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) topped by high battering waves smashed ashore. Hugo wreaked massive devastation on Guadeloupe, destroying 10,000 homes, leaving 35,000 of the island's 340,000 people homeless. Four people died and 107 were injured. An additional seven people were killed three days after the storm when a medical helicopter crashed while evacuating victims. Hugo's winds knocked the airport control tower out of commission, and almost completely destroyed the town of St. Francious, on the island's eastern end. Debris blocked at least 30% of the island's roads. Agriculture suffered massive losses that took years to recover from, as Hugo flattened 100% of the banana crop, 60% of the sugar cane crop, and ruined nearly all of the island's coconut palms. Most of the island's fishing fleet was wiped out, and total damage to the island from Hugo amounted to $880 million. Hugo was the strongest hurricane to hit the island since the legendary 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane--the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane of all time--which brought 150 mph winds to Guadeloupe.


Figure 2. AVHRR visible satellite image of Hurricane Hugo taken on September 17, 1989. Image credit: Google Earth rendition of the NOAA HURSAT data base.

Hugo continued northwest and pulverized its next target, the island of Montserrat, several hours later. Though the eye missed Monserrat, the severe right front quadrant of Hugo's eyewall, still packing sustained winds of 140 mph, pounded the island. Nearly every home on Monserrat was destroyed or heavily damaged, leaving 11,000 of the island's 12,000 people homeless. Numerous schools, hospitals, and churches were destroyed, along with the police department, the government headquarters, and the main power station. Twenty foot waves in the harbor of the main town, Plymouth, destroyed the 180-foot stone jetty, and heavy rains of up to seven inches created mudslides that at the foot of Chances Peak that destroyed 21 homes. Ten people were killed on Montserrat, 89 injured, and damage topped $260 million, making it the most expensive hurricane in the island's history. Elecrtic, water, and telephone service were disrupted for weeks, necessitating a massive U.S. and British relief effort.


Figure 3. Hugo's storm surge inundates the coast of Montserrat Island. Image credit: NOAA photo library.

The nearby islands of St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Martin, Anguilla, and Dominica did not receive a blow from Hugo's eyewall, but damage was heavy nonetheless. One person was killed on Antigua, and 30% of the homes damaged. Dominica suffered the loss of 80% of its banana crop, and landslides cut off many towns for days. Shoreline erosion damage and crop losses totaled $43 million on St. Kitts, where one person was killed.

Jeff Masters

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824. futuremet
11:28 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting tornadofan:
I just took this picture of a t-storm over Lake O, from my hotel room in Miami.

I'd say it is 1/3rd of the size of ex-Fred. The Lake O storm will be a tropical storm by morning.



lol The sarcasm is gotta stop

funny though
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823. WxLogic
11:30 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Have they started doing model runs again or to soon?


Only once it's branded an INVEST.
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822. amd
11:28 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
looking at FredEx, it is finally detaching itself from the upper level low. However, there are some major inhibiting factors for development.

Upper level dry air: Link

And, high surface pressures: Here a link to a buoy north of FredEx: Link

Furthermore, looks like FredEx is completely within the dominant high pressure in the central atlantic instead of being on the periphery of the high:

Link

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820. BurnedAfterPosting
11:27 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting tornadofan:
I just took this picture of a t-storm over Lake O, from my hotel room in Miami.

I'd say it is 1/3rd of the size of ex-Fred. The Lake O storm will be a tropical storm by morning.



tell people who went through Cyclone Tracy in 1974 that joke and see what kind of reaction you get lol
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819. GeoffreyWPB
11:26 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Have they started doing model runs again or to soon?
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817. tornadofan
11:26 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
I just took this picture of a t-storm over Lake O, from my hotel room in Miami.

I'd say it is 1/3rd of the size of ex-Fred. The Lake O storm will be a tropical storm by morning.

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816. VAbeachhurricanes
11:26 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
uhoh

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813. reedzone
11:24 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
I kind of figured that conditions would eventually be good for development, which is why I didn't let go of "Double 07L". I have a slight feeling it will make a comeback tonight, but we really won't know until it actually happens.
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812. VAbeachhurricanes
11:24 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting iceman55:
The question is can he ramp up???????????


my internal intuition is telling me it will look alot better in the morning. The Setup is all there and I think it is far enough away from the ULL
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811. TampaSpin
11:23 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I see it...I just can't believe some are calling it a T.D. or a T.S.


I posted a QuickScat pic several post back and it only caught the EAST Side barely and there was some bars as high a i think 40-50kts. So i made the dumb mistake of saying that based on the EAst side it could be a TD or TS looking at the Pic....LOL
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810. GeoffreyWPB
11:23 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
StormW will be on the Barometer Bob show tonight. Interesting what his take now will be.
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809. futuremet
11:24 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Convection is trying to cover the center. Use RAMMB, it updates the satellite images the fastest.

Shortwave

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807. GeoffreyWPB
11:21 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Evening Baha...found another funny game show clip. Will post when you come back.
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806. JLPR
11:21 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I see it...I just can't believe some are calling it a T.D. or a T.S.


lol i agree with that xD

although if it manages to get some convection it could become one pretty quickly since it appears the LLC is now smaller and the small circulation with the right conditions can explode quickly
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805. BahaHurican
11:20 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
[grumbling]

I wish u guys would stop encouraging this thing....

I'm out for a while. I will check when I get back to see if Fred-I-hope-he-will-remain-EX has a yellow circle again.....
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804. superpete
11:20 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Quoting Weather456:
BahaHurricane, you remember that list last night here's some additional info:

Tropical cyclones to pass to bring TS conditions or more; or pass within striking distance to various islands

Nassau - Bahamas - 81
Saint Kitts - 65
The Caymans - 61
W456 / Baja: Just a quick look at close passes the last 5 years for Cayman
08 Gustav,Paloma (Paloma direct hit Cayman Brac at Cat 3/4)
07 Dean
06 No Majors
05 Dennis,Emily,Wilma
04 Ivan(Direct hit at Cat4 Sept 12), Charley
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802. reedzone
11:19 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
If "Double 07L" does regenerate, I think it could be the biggest comeback a storm ever made... Course there was Ivan in 2004.
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801. Floodman
11:19 PM GMT on September 17, 2009
Okay kids, I'm out...play nice, if you can

Me and my guitar. always in the same mood
I am mostly flesh and bones and he is mostly wood
Never does grow impatient for the changes I don't know, no
If he can't go to heaven, maybe, I don't want to go, Lord

Picture me in the key of E, call me Uncle John
Any fool can easily see that we go back a long time
Feel something like fine to me, there's no such thing as the wrong time
He hops up on my knee, singing, get down, Pops, it's song time
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I see it...I just can't believe some are calling it a T.D. or a T.S.
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that low spinning in NE TX brings back memories of Allison....local weatherman said it is slowly drifting back to the east, or Shreveport, and we should have dry air moving into much of TX. The rain helped, but we could use some more, at least in the Valley and upper coast.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
So Reed, you are for a yellow at 8?


I'd like to see a yellow, but probably not until 2 a.m. Unless this really explodes, it could go right into code orange by late tonight. We'll see what happens.. Unlike last time, this has a better chance.
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797. JLPR
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
So FredEx is to the west of the blob?


dont you see it at 25N 63-64W
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Good evening all, but remember
"Instant Karma's going to get you"
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794. JLPR
Quickscat only captured a tiny piece of the wave at 35W and it has some good winds

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So FredEx is to the west of the blob?
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
And God Bless Mary Travers.......


I guess a little bit of our past went "Blowin' in the Wind", eh!
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Gotta say this evening that remnant Fred may be proving me wrong and looks quite interesting tonight as it appears to have regained the surface circulation seemingly from nowhere and low-level convergence continues to increase. It seems like this thing doesn't want to die and it will be interesting to watch the next several days as it continues westward to see whether it could make the comeback before moving into Florida sometime late this weekend or early next week. We will just have to wait and see what will become from remnant Fred.
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Quoting Halyn:


If you have to ask .. you'll never understand the mindset .. :)
Hey, before my time..... barely.... lol

I actually heard a fair amount of this stuff when I was growing up; just didn't associate songs with names....
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
So Reed, you are for a yellow at 8?


Yes Yellow at 8 for me..
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788. IKE
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Ah Yes.It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught his band to play


Their starving back in China, so finish what you got...
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Quoting HIEXPRESS:

Way off tropic...
Sorry Flood - it didn't sound right so I double checked..
Jefferson Airplane's, "Volunteers"
Misheard Lyrics:
Counter revolution, counter revolution
Original Lyrics:
Got a revolution, got a revolution.

"Some will come and some will go,
We shall surely pass.
When the wind that left us here,
Returns for us at last.
We are but a moment's sunlight,
Fading on the grass."


You're exactly right...it was a thing in my High School
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And they put up a parking lot
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QuikSCAT missed it again..LOL..
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And I read Henry Gibson passed away...Was he the comedian on Laugh In?
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Ah Yes.It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught his band to play
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.
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781. JLPR
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Evening all...after reviewing tonight's posts, do some of you actually believe FredEx is at least a T.D right now? Or were you joking around? Do some of you think back to yellow at 8?


you should have posted a image where Fred was more visible, its right on the edge of the image there

but now that you posted that one, the TW close to 35W south of 15N is looking interesting again
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So Reed, you are for a yellow at 8?
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Quoting Weather456:
BahaHurricane, you remember that list last night here's some additional info:

Tropical cyclones to pass to bring TS conditions or more; or pass within striking distance to various islands

Nassau - Bahamas - 81
Saint Kitts - 65
The Caymans - 61
Yeah, this is from that StormCarib website, which I had to bookmark again last night because I couldn't find the original when I was looking for it before.... The thing that got me about that list was how many Bahamian locations were high up on the list. And unlike most of the other islands, we actually have a few storms on that list which didn't go on to hit anything else.... which I find amazing.... lol

Only thing I can say is thank goodness for Cuba, or a bunch of those TSs and H-1s would have been majors, like Michelle 2001....
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Quoting Floodman:


I had to do the Airplane stuff...I had a real thing for Grace Slick man...

Way off tropic...
Sorry Flood - it didn't sound right so I double checked..
Jefferson Airplane's, "Volunteers"
Misheard Lyrics:
Counter revolution, counter revolution
Original Lyrics:
Got a revolution, got to revolution

"Some will come and some will go,
We shall surely pass.
When the wind that left us here,
Returns for us at last.
We are but a moment's sunlight,
Fading on the grass."
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Floodman, Those were tough times, hateful times, bloody times.But they were an experience I wouldn't trade for anything


Yeah, but they were good times too...and again, an experience I wouldn't tradce for anything
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Evening all...after reviewing tonight's posts, do some of you actually believe FredEx is at least a T.D right now? Or were you joking around? Do some of you think back to yellow at 8?


Fred is not near TD strength.. There's been some miss communication there lol. However, it seems like Fred has entered favorable conditions and it is far enough away from the ULL to do something.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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