We’re Wrapping up Hurricane Season…With One More to Go?

 

0db2fe957d9495dff0e449edf4e22c45

Though North Carolina Preparedness Month was in September, it’s never too late (or too early) to think about safety in the face of a natural disaster. Despite our cooling temperatures, we still have over a month left of hurricane season which doesn’t end until November 30th. North Carolina does have a history of being impacted by hurricanes in October, so it’s best to keep disaster kits and emergency plans at the ready. Visit Ready Forsyth for more tips on disaster preparedness.

Regardless of the fact that the season is not yet over, we’ve seen an immensely active season so far this year. The frequency and intensity of storms has been propelled by warm ocean temperatures and a lack of wind shear that can be destructive to a developing hurricane. This September was also the 4th warmest September on record and ocean temperatures also placed 4th warmest on record, contributing to our unusual season. Hurricane Ophelia was a record-setting storm that pushed farther northeast (to Ireland and the UK) than any other hurricane. The pattern was so odd that the National Hurricane Center never thought an Atlantic hurricane would track so far.

Hurricane Irma ranks as the most deadly and destructive hurricane so far this season, with Harvey and Maria not far behind. For Winston-Salem, these storms did contribute to higher than average rainfall, but this was welcome after our drier than average July.  We’ve seen 15 named storms and 5 major hurricanes so far this season, pushing the upward range of predictions for this year as well as being higher than average for an active season. However, it is still predicted that we will see at least one more named, damaging storm.

In regards to temperatures, so far 2017 is stacking up to be the second warmest year on record, but check back to see if that becomes official!

Sources:

Caribbean360

Weather Underground – Ophelia

Weather Underground – 4th Warmest

USA Today

Miami Herald

See our Pinterest page for photo credit.

 

 

Advertisements

Ghost Forests – An Accelerating Phenomenon

down-east-2-720x389

Ghost forests is a general term used to describe stands of long-dead trees that have typically been submerged in ocean water. Sometimes these forests and generated by sudden catastrophic events such as earthquakes, but scientists are beginning to focus on the stands of trees slowly dying by encroaching salt water. As sea levels rise, saltwater is drifting into freshwater areas and creating marshland. There have also be incidences where storms bring in salt water, such as in the case of Hurricane Sandy, but it is not receding as quickly as the norm.

Scientists are now using these ghost forests as an indicator of climate change and  they are becoming very prevalent along the eastern shore board, all the way down to Texas. the main focus on the growth of these ghost forests is the rate at which they are accelerating, which is currently very debated. Studies are being conducted that show the forests are spreading at an accelerated rate, but the findings are still inconclusive. According to one study, 100,000 acres along the Chesapeake Bay have been lost in the past 100 years, but photos show the rate of losses is currently four times higher than it was in the 1930’s. The transition from forest to marshland does come with a variety of pros and cons, including less habitat for migratory birds, but more habitat for saltwater fish. Tree species that are being affected include Atlantic white cedar, cypress, loblolly pines, and Eastern red cedar.

Find the original article here.

Photo credit and information on how this phenomenon is affecting North Carolina’s coastline here.

May Brings More Records

96713be681eb09b8acf7a22b798b5389

We know it’s been hot! What we may not realize is just how hot it’s actually been this season. According to a post from weatherunderground.com, May brought sweeps of high temperatures to many parts of the Middle East in Europe, in some cases breaking heat records and even tying with the highest reliably recorded temperature on the planet. This May was the third warmest May on record, overall. It has also been reported that the first six months of this year are the second warmest first half of the year since record keeping began in 1880. These six months have been .16 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. 2016 still holds the record of having the hottest six months by less than a degree and this year is on track to be the second-warmest year on record, behind 2016.

As far as major weather events, 2017 is falling within range of what is normal for this point in the year. For the remainder of 2017, it is predicted that we will have a more active hurricane season than average, with 3 major storms predicted. June is living up to this prediction, with Arlene already making landfall and storms Bret and Cindy are expected to be named this week.

What about Winston-Salem? Fortunately, current storm activity is in the Gulf and the Caribbean,so we don’t have much to be concerned with going in to the weekend. However, higher risks during hurricane season means there’s always the possibility we’ll see some damage. So far, we are above average for rainfall in June and have already surpassed average rainfall for the entire month. Temperatures have been above average, but that will likely taper off in the next ten days. As for May, rainfall was nearly triple the average for the month. Temperatures were consistently above average, but not nearly as record-setting as what was seen in Europe and the Middle East. The remainder of the season is still up in the air (no pun intended), but we’ll keep an eye out for future climate milestones!

Sources:

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/historic-heat-wave-sweeps-asia-middle-east-and-europe

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/may-2017-top-three-warm-may-globally

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Sunflowers”

Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?

violets edit

We’ve all heard the expression “April showers bring May flowers,” but most probably aren’t familiar with the origin of the phrase and also question how valid the statement is. After all, we already have plenty of flowers in April between dogwoods, cherries, azaleas and the like.

It turns out that this popular idiom can be traced back to the 1300’s when a version of the phrase was published in Middle English. After that, various sources are found in England and Ireland where “April showers bring May showers” is pretty truthful. In these climates April does often bring periods of heavier rain and the phrase was probably used to give residents something to hope for during the cloudy, wet weather. However, this may not be the case in Winston-Salem where we have a higher amount of average rainfall in May. In April we typically receive 3.7″ and May we receive 3.86″ disproving the phrase we use so commonly. This month we have already received 2.09″ of rain.

It is also interesting to note that most flowering plants are more affected by warm temperatures when it comes to blooming time than rainfall. This spring is a prime example, as we saw plenty of trees flowering prematurely and daffodils sprang to the surface earlier than ever. Research shows that first flowering dates correlate with warm temperatures and the sooner temperatures rise, the earlier plants bloom. As was the case this year, having warm temperatures early can be detrimental to flowering plants, especially for crops such as apples, peaches, and cherries. If plants begin flowering prior to our last hard frost it will result in cold damage to foliage, flowers, and developing fruits. While it’s fairly reliable to say that if our average spring temperatures continue to warm we should see earlier and earlier flowering, it is unclear what the long-term results will be or if certain plants that require a chilling period will stop flowering altogether.

Sources:

http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/winston-salem/north-carolina/united-states/usnc1469

https://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/do-april-showers-bring-may-flowers/

http://feelingsandflowers.com/136/april-showers-bring-may-flowers-%E2%80%93-discussing-the-rhyme/

2016: Climate in Review

blog-sunflower

Since we have been posting updates about significant weather events and the climate throughout the year, we thought January would be the perfect time to recap and see how 2016 turned out, locally and globally. Though on a global scale this was a third straight year of record heat, for the U.S. 2016 was not a record topper. Still, 2016 was the second hottest year on record (which spans 122 years), was the 20th consecutive year of above average temperatures, and Alaska and nighttime temperatures were notably high. According to NOAA, last year’s average temperature was .07 degrees higher than last year, while according to NASA there was a .22 degree difference. Scientists are blaming 2016’s warming trend both on man-made global warming and on El Nino.

This year also brought the 4th consecutive wetter than normal year in the U.S., according to NOAA. This is coupled with widespread drought, meaning we are seeing more rain in shorter periods of time resulting in damaging flooding events. Last year brought forth many destructive weather events including flooding, wildfires, drought, tornadoes, hail storms, and Hurricane Matthew.

An intriguing study reports that with a projection of moderate climate change, Earth will see a loss in mild weather, on average 10 fewer days by the turn of the century. This varies by region, with some areas actually seeing an increase in mild weather. Overall, this could still result in less enjoyable weather and agricultural damage from an increase in disease and insect pests.

What’s in store for 2017? The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a warmer and wetter start to the year, followed by a cooler and drier spring. The almanac also predicts that the summer will begin cool and wet, but by September we should warm up with lower precipitation than average.

Sources:

http://www.journalnow.com/
http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/us/4

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Sunflowers”

October Heat Wave

Out Here

The past month has been one of very noticeable temperature extremes, with nighttime and day time temperatures being more extreme than average. Of course, the excess heat is what gets people talking, and justifiably so. This month we set more record high temperatures, both locally and around the globe. The past month ran about ten degrees above the average high for Winston-Salem, with the nighttime temperatures occasionally dipping under the average low of 53 degrees. October 20th was particularly significant, breaking the 1938 record of 86 with a scorching 88 degrees. While it might not feel right to be carving pumpkins or shopping for Halloween costumes in flip flops, us North Carolinians should consider ourselves lucky. Temperatures in Arizona have also been record setting, with a good portion of the month being at 90 degrees or higher.

While these temperatures are unusual and even a little unsettling, September broke the streak of monthly average record high temperatures. While it was still above the 20th century average, last September was slightly cooler than the year before. It will be interesting to see where October falls in this fluctuation of records set.

Though it is unclear how this will affect our weather long term or our chances of having a white Christmas, we will keep an eye on the trends and learn to adapt with hardier plant selections. Even varieties of Bermudagrass are being developed that require less water and are more winter hardy, making them a more sustainable selection for our area. TifTuf Bermudagrass is a new selection of sod that tolerates foot traffic and keeps color longer, making it suitable for athletic fields and residential applications. Though it may be departing from the more traditional fescue, it may be the case in the future that we have to opt out for more tolerant species and varieties. For more information, please see our references below:

References:

Be Prepared for Summer Storms

RainDespite the dreary rain and this week’s temperatures that are well below average, it has been reported by an article on wral.com that the planet as a whole has broken the monthly heat record for a 12th month in a row. The article attributes this in part to global warming and to El Nino, a oscillating weather pattern that can affect weather globally. The last month that did not have record setting warm temperatures was April 2015 and the last month that was not above the 20th century average was December, 1984. The last month to break a monthly cold record was December, 1916. This April broke the record set last April by two degrees. While it may not seem like much, this record warming is leading to consequences such as record low snow in the northern hemisphere.

How is this warming trend going to be affecting us this summer? Research conducted by North Carolina State University is predicting a very active hurricane season this year, with four to seven more named storms than normal and one to three more major hurricanes. This will be primarily driven by warmer than normal water temperatures near the coast (despite a cooling trend in the Atlantic) and lower wind shear. Of course, it doesn’t take a major hurricane to cause damage and flooding so it is best to prepare now before the hurricane season starts on June 1st. Check your emergency kit for a good supply of non-perishable food, water, blankets, clothing, batteries, and any pet supplies you may need.

To read more about the record setting temperatures, hurricane forecast, and how to prepare for potential summer storms follow the links below:

Stuck on Hot
Hurricane Season Prediction
Hurricane Preparedness Week

Photo credit: From our Pinterest board “Elements: Water – Pools, water features and more”