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September 2012: Earth's warmest September on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:01 PM GMT on October 15, 2012

September 2012 was tied with 2005 as the globe's warmest September on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Global temperature records begin in 1880. NASA rated September 2012 the 4th warmest September on record. September 2012 global land temperatures were the 3rd warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 2nd warmest on record. September 2012 was the 331st consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. The last time Earth had a below-average September global temperature was in 1976, and the last below-average month of any kind was February 1985. Global satellite-measured temperatures in September 2012 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 5th or 3rd warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). Wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of September 2012 in his September 2012 Global Weather Extremes Summary.


Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for September 2012, which tied 2005 as the warmest September on record. Parts of east central Russia observed record warmth, as did parts of Venezuela, French Guinea, and northern Brazil. Nearly all of South America was much warmer than average, as were western Australia and central to eastern Europe. Far eastern Russia, a few regions in southern Africa, and parts of China were cooler than average. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

El Niño watch continues
Neutral El Niño conditions exist in the equatorial Pacific, where sea surface temperatures were 0.1°C above average as of October 15. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has issued an El Niño watch, and gives a 55% chance that an El Niño event will be in place during the October - November - December period. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C above average or warmer to be considered an El Niño. El Niño conditions tend to bring cooler and wetter winter weather to the Southern U.S.


Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent in September 2012 was the lowest measured, since satellite records began in 1979. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Arctic sea ice falls to lowest extent on record in September
Arctic sea ice extent during September reached its lowest extent in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). As of October 14, Arctic sea extent had set a new record low for the date every day since July 27. I have much more to say about this year's extraordinary loss of Arctic sea ice in my September 20, 2012 post, Earth's attic is on fire: Arctic sea ice bottoms out at a new record low.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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330. Tropicsweatherpr
11:52 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
74 kt FL, 76 kt SFMR, pressure 969mb.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
329. Thing342
11:52 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
If I remember correctly all the season that have reach the R storm all the R storms have been hurricanes.
Roxanne (1995, C3), Rita (2005 C5), Richard (2010, C2), Rina (2011, C3), Rafael (2012, C1)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
328. allancalderini
11:48 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
If I remember correctly all the season that have reach the R storm all the R storms have been hurricanes.
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327. lostinohio
11:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Are there any inklings in the long range forecast for a freeze,or snow in the southern Appalachians?
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326. Thing342
11:44 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Hurricane watches or warnings should go up for Bermuda soon.
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325. lobdelse81
11:37 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Rafael looks like it's trying to develop an eye. This is like Ophelia Part 2.
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324. Thing342
11:34 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting stormchaser19:
Rafael becomes the ninth hurricane of the 2012 Season,whose numbers are 17-9-1, the forecast of CSU in june was 13-5-2, Which have been completely wrong, this is a proof that in june forecast is not accurate....
Preseason predictions are worthless, and this season is the reason why.

In other news, Rafael continues the line of R storms becoming hurricanes. All except Richard (2010) have become major hurricanes, and Richard was a 2.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
323. SLU
11:33 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
THE ORGANIZATION OF RAFAEL HAS CHANGED VERY LITTLE SINCE THIS
MORNING. MICROWAVE DATA SHOWS THAT THERE IS SIGNIFICANT SOUTHWEST
TO NORTHEAST TILT BETWEEN THE LOW- AND MID-LEVEL CENTERS DUE TO
MODERATE SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR. DVORAK SATELLITE ESTIMATES ONCE AGAIN
SUPPORT HURRICANE STRENGTH...BUT GIVEN THE LACK OF IMPROVED
SATELLITE PRESENTATION AND THE EARLIER AIRCRAFT SFMR SURFACE
WIND MEASUREMENTS...RAFAEL REMAINS A 60-KT TROPICAL STORM.

So if it is finally a hurricane now, but it "changed very little since this morning" that suggests that it's been a hurricane all day based on the evidence.
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322. BDAwx
11:32 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Rafael is such a blob.
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321. trHUrrIXC5MMX
11:29 PM GMT on October 15, 2012


Is that an eye trying to form??
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320. CaicosRetiredSailor
11:28 PM GMT on October 15, 2012


Levi Art...
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319. Tropicsweatherpr
11:27 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Will Dr Masters or Angela make a new blog tonight as Rafael is a Hurricane and Paul threats Baja California?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
318. stormchaser19
11:26 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Rafael becomes the ninth hurricane of the 2012 Season,whose numbers are 17-9-1, the forecast of CSU in june was 13-5-2, Which have been completely wrong, this is a proof that in june forecast is not accurate....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
317. Tropicsweatherpr
11:25 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
76 kt SFMR uncontaminated.
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316. CaicosRetiredSailor
11:19 PM GMT on October 15, 2012


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315. barbamz
11:18 PM GMT on October 15, 2012

Very cold cloud tops in the blob which is over Sicily right now ... Looks really dangerous.
So far, I unfortunately have to go (it's late in Germany). All the best to all!
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314. all4hurricanes
11:18 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Ophelia last year was under similar conditions right?
she was stronger when she entered them though but I could see Rafael just hitting Cat 3 status
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313. lobdelse81
11:15 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Dare I say rapid intensification possible with Rafael?
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312. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:14 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
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311. stormpetrol
11:12 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
I think Rafael will make a run at major status, probably peak at 120-125mph.
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310. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:09 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
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309. JLPR2
11:07 PM GMT on October 15, 2012


Neat!
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308. Tropicsweatherpr
11:07 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting allancalderini:
Ernesto was the first.


Yes,I forgot him.
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307. GeoffreyWPB
11:07 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
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306. wxchaser97
11:06 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting HuracanTaino:
He barely made it, but yes the only one below 25N....

Ernesto formed and was a hurricane below 25N, then the second one is Rafael.
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305. HuracanTaino
11:05 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Is the first hurricane that forms below 25N this season.

He barely made it, but yes the only one below 25N....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
304. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:05 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
with the latest gfs run i reckon
late monday sometime tuesday next week
start watching the sw carb


lots of time with this one
lots can still happen or not happen
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
303. wxchaser97
11:05 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting HuracanTaino:
And what is that north of Puerto Rico?

Nothing? I don't see a system or really anything worth watching north of PR.
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302. barbamz
11:04 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Congrats to hurricane Rafael, ;-) and more severe things coming up, uh?
Sideview to the Med with severe warning for Sicily right now

Forecast Update
Valid: Mon 15 Oct 2012 16:00 to Tue 16 Oct 2012 06:00 UTC
Issued: Mon 15 Oct 2012 16:03
Forecaster: TUSCHY
A level 3 was issued for Sicily, Malta and far S-Italy mainly for excessive rainfall amounts, very large hail, damaging wind gusts and tornadoes (a signifcant event is possible).

A level 2 was issued for NE Tunisia, the Tyrrhenian Sea, parts of S/C Italy, parts of the Ionian and Adriatic Sea mainly for excessive rainfall amounts, large hail, strong to severe wind gusts and tornadoes.

More

And here is a look at the severe blob on satellite

It will be interesting to watch the reports tomorrow. Hope no damage to people.

As always: Sometimes nothing happens at all (weatherwise) and sometimes all at once.

Greetings and a good night from Germany, Barb.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
301. allancalderini
11:03 PM GMT on October 15, 2012
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Is the first hurricane that forms below 25N this season.

Ernesto was the first.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Rafael is stronger than 75 mph I think.

He's on the brink of RI, I also think.

Once that eye pops out, it's game on for real.
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Quoting wxchaser97:
I think it is safe to say Rafael is a hurricane, recon shows plenty of evidence supporting a hurricane.

At 384hrs an intensifying hurricane is headed straight for south Florida. It first directly hits Cuba as cat2 hurricane.
And what is that north of Puerto Rico?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Level Wind Direction Wind Speed
980mb (Surface) 30° (from the NNE) 68 knots (78 mph)
977mb 30° (from the NNE) 68 knots (78 mph)
960mb 35° (from the NE) 86 knots (99 mph)
952mb 40° (from the NE) 86 knots (99 mph)
947mb 40° (from the NE) 95 knots (109 mph)
943mb 40° (from the NE) 99 knots (114 mph)
925mb 45° (from the NE) 96 knots (110 mph)
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Rafael barely becomes the second hurricane to form below 25N. Right now his appearance looks a little stronger than 75mph. I'm just glad Rafael is now a cane.
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Is the first hurricane that forms below 25N this season.

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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Recon found 110mph flight level winds per Dropsonde.
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
000
WTNT62 KNHC 152244
TCUAT2

HURRICANE RAFAEL TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL172012
645 PM AST MON OCT 15 2012

...RAFAEL BECOMES A HURRICANE...

REPORTS FROM AIR FORCE AND NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE
THAT RAFAEL HAS STRENGTHENED...AND ITS MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE
NOW NEAR 75 MPH...120 KM/H. THIS MAKES RAFAEL THE NINTH HURRICANE
OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC SEASON.

SUMMARY OF 645 PM AST...2245 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...24.3N 65.7W
ABOUT 560 MI...905 KM S OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 360 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...974 MB...28.76 INCHES
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HURRICANE RAFAEL TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL172012
645 PM AST MON OCT 15 2012

...RAFAEL BECOMES A HURRICANE...

REPORTS FROM AIR FORCE AND NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE
THAT RAFAEL HAS STRENGTHENED...AND ITS MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE
NOW NEAR 75 MPH...120 KM/H. THIS MAKES RAFAEL THE NINTH HURRICANE
OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC SEASON.

SUMMARY OF 645 PM AST...2245 UTC...INFORMATION
-----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...24.3N 65.7W
ABOUT 560 MI...905 KM S OF BERMUDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...75 MPH...120 KM/HR
PRESENT MOVEMENT...N OR 360 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/HR
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...974 MB...28.76 INCHES

$$
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Hurricane Rafael!

...RAFAEL BECOMES A HURRICANE...
6:45 PM AST Mon Oct 15
Location: 24.3N 65.7W
Moving: N at 10 mph
Min pressure: 974 mb
Max sustained: 75 mph

REPORTS FROM AIR FORCE AND NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE
THAT RAFAEL HAS STRENGTHENED...AND ITS MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE
NOW NEAR 75 MPH...120 KM/H. THIS MAKES RAFAEL THE NINTH HURRICANE
OF THE 2012 ATLANTIC SEASON.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Special Advisory

...RAFAEL BECOMES A HURRICANE...
6:45 PM AST Mon Oct 15
Location: 24.3N 65.7W
Moving: N at 10 mph
Min pressure: 974 mb
Max sustained: 75 mph
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NOAA plane is finding 77 knot surface winds

Safe to say that Rafael could peak at 85-90 knots.
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I think it is safe to say Rafael is a hurricane, recon shows plenty of evidence supporting a hurricane.

At 384hrs an intensifying hurricane is headed straight for south Florida. It first directly hits Cuba as cat2 hurricane.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Last frame. RIP Cuba if this happens.

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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Could we have a situation similar to Rina from last year with this?


Probably, same with Paula, Richard, Ida, Paloma, etc.
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Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Could we have a situation similar to Rina from last year with this?
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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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