The reports here summarise weather events and climate news, including a round-up of their media coverage. They are archived in the relevant day's Daily Weather Summary to help make it a complete record of the day's events. Reports are often written some time after the event to allow reliable and detailed information to become available - good sources of real time news are here.
With major events occurring, I will be adding notes here live as I can. The timeliness of these is entirely at the mercy of my available time so, for the most up-to-date information, make good use of my media links here, as well as any I give in the text below. Latest items are always on top.
|Saturday 15 September 2018
1845AEST Mangkhut crosses Luzon and heads for China. Category 5 Super Typhoon Mangkhut crossed the far NE coast of Luzon in Cagayan province at 0400 AEST, 0200 Philippines time, this morning with winds at landfall averaging 260km/h with gusts to 320km/h according to JTWC estimates. The typhoon crossed the island remaining inland and parallel to the north coast before entering the South China Sea about 8 hours later. This satellite animation from Andrew Miskelly shows Mangkhut from 2100AEST Wednesday 12th, maintaining a near-perfectly circular eye right up to landfall after which the eye rapidly filled and the deep convection surrounding it began to seriously degrade as the typhoon crossed the island.
Initial press reports (Reuters, AFP) gave some information, though focussed on backgrounders due to a lack of hard detail because of communications loss with areas closest to the typhoon. A government official in Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan, told Reuters "Almost all of the buildings here have been damaged, the roofs were blown away. There has been no electricity supply ... communications [are] also down. We’ve received reports that many trees were uprooted and electric posts toppled and are blocking the roads. This makes the clearing operations really difficult." It will be some time before a detailed picture of damage emerges.
| The darkness of approaching night is advancing from the right in this visible image of Category 5 Super Typhoon Mangkhut at 1720AEST Friday 14th. The northern Philippines island of Luzon, on which Manila is located bottom left, will see the arrival of Mangkhut around sunrise on Saturday, when it crosses the NE coast before moving west and parallel to the north coast through the day. JMA Himawari 8 processed by Weatherzone.
2350AEST Super Typhoon Mangkhut close to landfall. While US media presence has seen Florence grabbing most of the headlines, Typhoon Mangkhut is by far the more powerful and dangerous cyclone, and will be landing on the eastern shores of Luzon, the main northern island of the Philippines, early Saturday 15th morning AEST. The image at left shows the sun setting on Friday on the huge eye of the cyclone, which I estimate as 65km in diameter, as it churns relentlessly towards the northern tip of Luzon. The Philippine capital, Manila, is in the bottom left of the image.
This morning, NASA posted this visible light image of Mangkhut at sunrise, while this infrared image of the typhoon, showing its progress in the 8 hours up to sunrise, clearly shows its dramatic and perfectly-formed eye.
Major press today have covered preparations in the Philippines and the arrival of cyclonic weather. Among the stories are these from AFP, Reuters and Al Jazeera. Apart from winds gusting to 250km/h and torrential rain, a storm surge "that could reach four storeys high" is expected in places, a spokesman for local civil defence authorities, Michael Conag, told AFP. He added this combination "could destroy houses, especially the makeshift houses. Those are the ones most common in coastal areas."
Press estimates of the number of people at risk vary wildly, from 4 million in Fairfax Media to 10 million, sourced to "authorities", in Al Jazeera. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) puts the exposed population* at a much higher 58.6 million, but that includes all countries touched by the typhoon.
| Hurricane Florence at 2302AEST Friday 14th , about two hours after it made landfall just east of Wilmington, North Carolina. It is tracking WSW, parallel to the coast before turning to the W. Movement is expected to continue very slowly, before it turns N. NWS
2330AEST Florence makes landfall. Hurricane Florence made landfall at 2115AEST Friday (0715 Friday local time) at Wrightsville Beach, a suburb of Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington's population is 120,000. The barometer fell to 958hPa at Wrightsville Beach as the Category 1 hurricane passed. Reuters noted this in this 2300AEST article, saying that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated sustained winds near the centre were 150km/h. 440,000 properties were without power.
NWS cautions that, despite its low category rating, Florence's sheer size and slow movement will produce "feet of rain with inland flooding and up to 13 feet of storm surge". As of now, National Weather Service (NWS) radar estimates that 100 to 300mm of rain had fallen so far in coastal areas from the South Carolina border north to Cape Hatteras. Bands of heavy rain are pushing inland and have now reached about 200km towards the Appalachian Mountains in the west of the state.
1600AEST Hurricane Florence close to landfall. A weakened yet still dangerous Hurricane Florence is edging very close to landfall on the southern North Carolina coast just north of Wilmington, as shown by the Newport/Moorehead radar. On the same radar, if you choose Storm Total, under Rainfall, you will see that radar-derived rainfall totals have already hit 4 to 6 inches (100 to 150mm) along the coast NE from Wilmington to Cape Hatteras, with over 10 inches (250mm) in places. The rain is pushing steadily inland toward the Appalachian Mountains to the NW. For a broader view, use the loop under Long Range Images.
|Thursday 13 September 2018
2000AEST Super Typhoon Mangkhut remains Category 5 as it approaches the Philippines. Mangkhut appears to have peaked around 0700AEST this morning 13th with sustained winds (one-minute average) estimated at 290km/h and gusts to 350km/h. It was over open water at that time, and is expected to reduce intensity to Category 4 when it hits the northern end of Luzon, Philippines, during Saturday morning AEST. Sustained wind shortly before landfall is forecast to be 250km/h with gusts to 300km/h. Interaction with Luzon will reduce wind speeds to 205 with gusts to 250 by late morning as the typhoon is passing over the island, dropping it to Category 3.
The UK Met Office posted this animation of Mangkhut, known in the Philippines as Ompong, about 3 hours ago and this image showing where it is headed just now. Again, the size of the typhoon will cause widespread harm as it is 700 to 900km across. The Red Cross (IFRC) posted this Information Bulletin on the situation and the preparations it is making yesterday. There are good summaries of the situation on ABC News and in The Guardian.
1900AEST Dramatic imagery from NOAA of Florence. NOAA's latest Loop of The Day features this dramatic animation of Hurricane Florence's advance on the US east coast yesterday morning 12th local time. The scale of the hurricane compared to the Carolinas it is approaching is awe-inspiring in this imagery from the USA's GOES-16 satellite.
1505AEST Hurricane Florence update. The latest NHC Forecast Discussion issued 1300 Australian EST indicates storm surge and flood rainfall forecasts remain the same, but significant changes in the structure and environment of Florence have weakened it to a borderline Category 2/3 system. The good news is that landfall is likely to be delayed until late Friday morning and winds will be relatively lighter at that time (sustained speeds of 150km/h, or strong Category 1), though cover a larger area. The changed track of the Hurricane makes landfall more likely in southern North Carolina.
Edited details are:
...the convection on the southern side of the storm has been disrupted, and reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate the eyewall now wraps less than 50 percent of the way around the center...The convection seems to have been affected by 20-25 kt of southerly vertical wind shear, most of which appears to be due to strong winds between 200-250 mb...The central pressure has risen to 957 mb, and the maximum 700-mb flight-level winds reported so far are 103 kt. Based on the latter data, the initial intensity reduced to a probably generous 95 kt [which is on the boundary between Category 2 and Category 3 (Major)].
...During the next 12-36 hours, the hurricane is expected to turn toward the west-northwest and west with a decrease in forward speed as it moves into an area of weakening steering currents near and over the southeastern United States. The new forecast track now brings the center onshore in southern North Carolina near the 36 h point [0100 Saturday AEST, 1100 Friday US EDT]. After landfall, the cyclone should move slowly [W to WSW for 1½ days then turn NW to N] through the Appalachian Mountains...
...sea surface temperatures near 29C [and a return to reduced upper wind shear] would allow a last chance for strengthening before landfall, but because of the storm structure and its size, it] would likely be slow to respond to the more favorable environment. The pre-landfall part of the intensity forecast thus calls for little change in strength, but given the uncertainties the confidence in this is low. After landfall, Florence should gradually weaken during the 36-48 h period while the center is near the coast, then weaken more quickly when the center moves farther inland.
While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size. This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid. The threat of rainfall has also not diminished, and these impacts will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center of Florence moves.
1230AEST Seasonal Outlook Update out. The BoM's mid-month update and video for the Seasonal Outlook is now available, and unfortunately promises more of the same:
- Below-average rainfall likely for large parts of the country
- Day and night-time temperatures likely to be warmer than average
- While the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are currently neutral, observations and model outlooks indicate El Niño and a positive IOD could develop in spring
If you're reading this after September,
the archive summary version is here. The BoM's Climate Outlooks are now produced using the much higher-definition ACCESS-S model, developed by the Bureau in collaboration with the UK Met Office. Here's an interesting blog on the improvements you'll see.
1100AEST Hurricane Florence. The good news in the NHC Forecast Discussion issued 0700 Australian EST is that Florence has somewhat weakened rather than strengthened, but the bad news is that at the same time it has become larger. Here's the main part of their notes. The latest Forecast Discussion for Florence is here. EDT in the USA is 14 hours behind Australian EST.
If you're not up to speed on developments, see the analysis I posted yesterday.
Data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft along with satellite imagery and various intensity estimates indicate that Florence has weakened instead of strengthening. However, while the hurricane hasn't strengthened in terms of peak winds, the inner-core and outer wind fields have continued to expand, resulting in an increase the cyclone's total energy, which will create a significant storm surge event. The upper-level outflow remains impressive and is still expanding except toward the south.
Florence is moving toward the northwest or 315/14 kt. The new 12Z global and regional model runs have come into much better agreement on Florence moving steadily northwestward around a strong ridge located between Bermuda and the U.S. mid-Atlantic region for the next 48 hours or so. By late on day 2, Florence is forecast to approach the southern portion of the North Carolina coast, then slow down considerably and turn westward within collapsing steering flow, with a very slow westward motion near the coasts of North and South Carolina continuing into Friday and Saturday. Corrected-consensus models HCCA and FSSE remain very close to each other and are quite similar to the simple consensus model TVCA. Therefore, only a slight eastward shift was needed to the previous forecast track through 36 hours or so, mainly due to the more eastward initial position based on the reconnaissance fixes. At 48 hours and beyond, no significant changes were required to the previous advisory track, which still shows Florence moving slowly westward across South Carolina and western North Carolina on day 4, followed by a slow northward motion up the Appalachian mountain chain on day 5.
A narrow window of opportunity remains during the next 24 hours or so for Florence to strengthen a little when the hurricane passes over the warmer SSTs and deeper warm water/higher upper-ocean heat content associated with the Gulf Stream, and low vertical shear conditions of 5-10 kt will aid in any strengthening process. However, significant strengthening is not anticipated due to Florence's large and expanding inner-core wind field. By 36 h and beyond, decreasing ocean heat content along with the slowing forward speed of Florence will likely produce cold upwelling beneath the hurricane, inducing a gradual weakening trend. When Florence moves over the shallow coastal shelf waters in 48-72 h, land interaction and more significant upwelling are anticipated, which should further enhance the weakening process. The NHC intensity forecast remains near the higher statistical guidance through 48 hours, then follows the trend of the decay SHIPS model after that time.
Although the maximum winds are expected to weaken a little more, Florence is still expected to remain a dangerous major hurricane as it approaches the coast. The threat to life from storm surge and rainfall will not diminish, and these impacts will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center of Florence moves.
|Wednesday 12 September 2018
Near record number of tropical storms cause alarm in Asia and USA
Wed 12 Sep 2018
A near record number of simultaneous typhoons, hurricanes and tropical storms currently nearly circle the globe from the Sea of China, across the Pacific and Atlantic to close to the African mainland. Two of these are in the highest categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale and are expected to strengthen.
The UK Met Office Twittered a good animation on 10 September showing where they were then. Their strengths have varied since, but all the storms are still active. Typhoons, hurricanes and Cyclones are all the same beasts, while Tropical Storms are below cyclone strength but can still produce damaging winds, and Tropical Depressions are another step down again and both can deliver flooding rain.
From the west, Tropical Storm Barijat is moving westwards to the south of Hong Kong, then will skirt the south China coast during Thursday and Friday before moving into northern Vietnam. It will be China's 23rd typhoon or storm this year. Rain will be the main problem, though wind will gust 80-90km/h for the next few days. It hasn’t reached Category 1 and isn’t expected to.
| Low-angled light of approaching sunset sharpens both the dramatic and the delicate cloud features of Super Typhoon Mangkhut at 1710 AEST on 11 September. Guam is shown on the far right. JMA Himawari 8
Typhoon Mangkhut, at category 5, is classified as a super typhoon and threatens the northern Philippines, Hong Kong and mainland China. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) at 1900 AEST today 12th described it as moving west at 19km/h and being "a symmetric and highly consolidated system with deep feeder bands spiraling tightly into a sharply-outlined 30NM [55km diameter] eye". Sustained winds are currently estimated to be 275km/h with gusts to 335km/h, and the size of the typhoon, measured across its area of gale-force and higher winds, is just over 800km although the total system width is much larger. Its latest estimated central pressure is 905hPa.
JTWC expect Mangkhut to clip the northern tip of Luzon, north of Manila and south of Taiwan, late Saturday morning AEST with winds gusting to 270km/h. It then weakens due to interaction with land and reducing upper outflow, passing close to Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon AEST with gusts to 200km/h, and crossing the coast of China about 12 hours later. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) estimates 42.6 million people will be exposed to risk from the typhoon.
Moving farther east in the Pacific, Olivia, a Category 4 hurricane on 7 September, has fortuitously weakened to Tropical Storm status as it grazes the south of Hawaii today, but heavy rain is still expected. Farther east again, Paul, a Tropical Storm well west of Mexico, has weakened to a Tropical Depression as it moves slowly west.
Category 4 Hurricane Florence in the western North Atlantic is looking to be the most dangerous hurricane to hit the US east coast in living memory. The sea surface temperatures that it passes over right up to landfall are 1 to 3° above normal, giving it abundant energy and huge amounts of moisture. The upper winds above the hurricane are also favourable for it to maintain its power, and likely strengthen during Thursday 13th, but will cause it to slow considerably late Thursday 13th local time as it approaches the North and South Carolina coasts. It seems likely to make landfall overnight Thursday/Friday. Like Mangkhut, it is an enormous cyclone (compare its size with Florida, at left). GDACS estimates 1.3 million people will be exposed to risk.
Hurricane force winds are expected as Florence arrives on shore, but the gravest dangers come from the storm surge and rainfall. Storm surges of 1 to 3m are forecast on the southern side of Florence, locally higher and driven well inland by hurricane-driven waves. The surges come on top of a general 30cm rise in water level in the past 30 years due global warming, and will be worsened if time of arrival coincides with high tides. Mandatory evacuations of over a million people have been ordered in the last few days, mainly in coastal parts of South and North Carolina and Virginia, and a massive, co-ordinated effort is under way to get people out of the area.
The unusual circumstances that slow the hurricane in its approach may cause it to stall inland after it arrives, prolonging torrential rain. At present, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is forecasting 500 to 750mm with isolated totals of 1000mm along coastal North Carolina, with 125 to 250, isolated 500mm, in South Carolina and W and N North Carolina. The NHC says "This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding." Should Florence stall inland, amounts could be much greater. In similar circumstances after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston in August last year, falls of 1100 to over 1500mm were recorded during the week after landfall, with the highest coming in at 1538.8mm. This and another very close reading were the highest single-storm readings ever recorded across the 50 United States, and helped Houston on its way to a one-in-a-thousand year flood.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) issued this news bulletin late today 12th, giving additional information on Florence and Mangkhut. The SMH [partial paywall] also covered the two in this story.
Moving east again, Isaac, also fortunately, has weakened from Category 1 on 10 September to a Tropical Storm, but will still bring rain and sustained winds of 80-100km/h to the Leeward Islands on Thursday 13th with heavy rain threatening up to 840,000 people according to GDACS. These were the islands that bore the brunt of multiple major hurricanes last year.
Finally Helene is currently Category 2 as it curves from NW to NE through the eastern Atlantic, but is likely to be comfortably within Tropical Storm or Depression status by the time it moves west of the Azores in about 5 days.
|Wednesday 5 September 2018
Drought intensifies in large part of continent
Wed 5 Sep 2018
The monthly Drought Statement issued by the BoM today shows that rainfall deficiencies have increased in the worst affected areas. Large parts of NSW and southern QLD as well as smaller areas in VIC, SA and WA now rate in the bottom 5% of all 17-month totals since 1900, placing them in the severe deficiency category. Some areas of central and NE NSW and central southern QLD have recorded their lowest 17-month totals on record.
Serious or severe rainfall deficiencies in the past 5 months cover a much broader area reflecting five consecutive months of below average rainfall across much of Australia. They include a large area along and inland of Western Australia's southern coast extending into the southern Goldfields, Central Australia, a much larger part of Queensland and most of New South Wales.
The Drought Statement, including maps, commentary, a rainfall tracker and much related information is here.
Typhoon Jebi hits central Japan, worst cyclone in 25 years
Wed 5 Sep 2018
Poor Japan. Yet another typhoon, this time recently Super Cat 5 Typhoon Jebi, crossed the coast of Honshu near Kobe, just west of Osaka, Japan's second-largest city, about 1600 AEST yesterday 4th. Japan has suffered grievously over the past two months: over 200 people died and two million were evacuated in western Japan in early July in the worst flooding in over 30 years, a lengthy summer heatwave killed over 300 people, while so far in August the country has endured two other typhoons and a tropical storm. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) estimated nearly 30 million people were exposed to risk by Jebi.
Jebi is the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 1993. Hurricane force winds gusted to 208km/h on Shikoku, the large island offshore from Osaka, while a storm surge piled the waters of Osaka Bay onto the city's Kansai International Airport, built on an artificial island in the bay, closing it possibly for a week. An oil tanker blown into the only bridge connecting the airport and mainland badly damaged the bridge, isolating 3,000 intending passengers in the airport until they could be rescued this morning.
Eleven people lost their lives, according to press assessments, while up to 200 were injured. Damage was widespread in the Osaka area, and included high-sided vehicles being blown over as well as buildings unroofed and blown apart. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency issued evacuation advisories for over million people at one point, with orders to evacuate issued to about 49,000. About 2.2 million homes were without power at the height of the storm according to a central government tally. Many major factories, including Panasonic, Toyota and Daihatsu, closed today. While official meteorological data is still sketchy, Canada's CBC reported that around 100mm of rain fell in Kyoto, the major city inland from Osaka, in one hour with up to 500mm forecast to fall in Honshu's mountainous hinterland by noon today. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said that many locations registered their highest wind gusts on record.
After rapidly crossing Honshu, Jebi reached the Sea of Japan before moving away from land, weakening and dissipating. Heavy rain is expected to affect central and northern Honshu Island and later the east coast of Russia in coming days.
The typhoon was well covered by the New York Times (partial paywall), AP via CBC, Reuters, AFP, NHK Japan, ABC News, extended video from ABC News, Sri Lanka Mirror (good pictures), ITV (good pictures and video) and a spectacular photo and article from Al Jazeera.
Wed 5 Sep 2018 International Wrap-Up
North Korea (DPRK): Severe floods. Severe floods since 30 August in North and South Hwanghae provinces in SW North Korea are reported to have caused 200 deaths and over 9 000 displaced people as well as destruction of houses, infrastructure and crops. Kangwon province in the SE is badly affected according to limited information, although the Red Cross Society indicated 10,000 houses were damaged and 35 000 people displaced.
USA: Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall west of Alabama-Mississippi border. Gordon made landfall early today AEST with sustained winds of 110km/h. The storm, which was earlier feared could develop to hurricane strength before landfall, is weakening as it moves inland dragging heavy rain.
New Zealand: Heavy rain in the north, snow in the south. NZud doesn't want to let go of winter as a polar blast hit the country in the past few days. Gales, and snow as low as 400m, hit the South Island while in the North Island snow closed the Desert Road in the Central Plateau, stopped inter-island ferries and closed major roads due to landslips.
Exceptionally warm night in eastern SA
Thu 30 Aug 2018
| Minimum temperatures 10 to 15° above average were widespread from SW NT to the Adelaide area this morning 30 August. Northwesterly winds ahead of a strong cold front making its way across SA gave those in the capital a night that would be warm in mid-summer. BoM
Just one night after widespread record-setting low minimum temperatures in southeastern Australia, the raft of record high August minima in eastern SA on Thursday 30 August came as a shock. They were astonishing because of the amount by which old records were broken, even at some very long-established stations.
- Adelaide's newly re-established West Terrace station, with 93 years of observations, broke its old record by 2.1° with a minimum of 19.0 breaking a record set in 1935
- Whyalla AP recorded the state's highest minimum at 20.6°. This was 4.7° higher than its previous record in 31 years of observations and 14.7° above average.
- Yongala (61-year history), Parafield Airport (62) and Adelaide Airport (64) all added between 1 and 2° to theirs. Yongala's ground minimum temperature was 4.2° above its previous 1979 record.
- Full details of records are here.
Exceptionally hot day-time temperatures began building over southern WA the previous weekend and moved very slowly into SA last Monday 27th. The static high over TAS and the southeastern states continued to draw warm dry northerlies into SA through Tuesday, and on Wednesday warm nights began in the state's west, setting August records at Tarcoola and Minnipa. By Thursday morning 30th, a strong cold front was moving through the state ducting hot northwesterlies ahead of it from Central Australia to southeastern SA, with minimum temperature anomalies widely between 10 and 15° above average.
The cold front hit Adelaide around midday giving Adelaide Airport a gust of 93km/h, bringing down trees, branches and powerlines, and unroofing some buildings across the city. ABC News reported over 25,000 premises lost power. Strong winds raised dust across the state with gusts reaching 111km/h at Cape Willoughby on Kangaroo Island, 102km/h at Lameroo and 93km/h at Tarcoola and Kuitpo.
The strength of the frontal winds was due to the strong temperature difference across it. BoM SA posted Doppler radar imagery on Twitter showing widespread winds over 90km/h in the lower atmosphere at the time the front was crossing the metro area.
Thu 30 Aug 2018 Cold nights linger in the SE. Meanwhile, cold minima lingered at a few widely-spaced locations in southeastern states.
- Mangrove Mountain, 20km NW of Gosford, set an all-month record low of -0.8 in 24 years of operation
- Cootamundra Airport (23) broke the August record it set the previous morning with -7.0
- Friendly Beaches (21) on Tassie's East Coast set a new August record of -0.3. Friendly Beaches AWS sits atop the sand dunes direcly behind the beach.
- Warra, in the mountains west of Geeveston TAS also set an August record of -3.9° in its 14-year history. It is not certain from the record whether this occurred this morning or on the 29th, which is why it is not in the records listing, but a look at the 10-minute temperature record suggests it was this morning.
| Rainfall deciles for the 18 months to August 2018 show large parts of the Murray-Darling Basin are in the lowest 10% of all 18-month periods since 1900. BoM.
Outlook is for warm, dry weather to continue
Sat 1 Sep 2018
The BoM's Spring Outlook paints a dismal story for those hoping for an end to the drought. It indicates warmer and drier than average conditions are expected across many parts of Australia in the coming three months. The greatest likelihoods of a drier-than-average season are more than 80% in southern NSW, VIC and SW WA, while the greatest chances of warmer-than-average days are in the north and west of the country.
BoM manager of long range forecasting, Dr Andrew Watkins, rather stated the obvious in releasing the outlook when he said "These regions need a lot of rain to break the current drought." The map above shows that much of one of the worst affected areas, the Murray Darling basin, has had so little rain in the past 18 months that it lies in the bottom 10% of all 18-month totals in the past 119 years. The map for all Australia is here.
The chances of an El Niño developing, which traditionally produce warmer and drier conditions, are given as double the normal. However, Dr Watkins urges caution saying "it is important to remember that the strength of an El Niño event doesn't always translate into the conditions we see. For example, in the past we've had strong El Niño events accompanied by mild conditions and weaker El Niño events accompanied by severe conditions." However, "A number of international models are also predicting [that] a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event could potentially develop during spring which would further exacerbate the drying trend."
The 2018 Spring Outlook is the first end-of-month seasonal outlook produced using the Bureau's upgraded climate outlook model. It provides more accurate and localised outlooks than was previously possible and is certainly evident when you see the new-look charts. The full current Outlook is here* and a briefer archived version is here. The full suite of BoM climate forecast reports is here, including tropical outlooks and monitoring, when the northern wet season is likely to begin, a summary of model outlooks from around the world, and El Niño-Southern Oscillation monitoring and forecasts from BoM, WMO and NOAA.
Sat 1 Sep 2018 Super Typhoon Jebi heads for Japan and Russia. Claimed to be the most powerful so far in 2018, Category 5 Super Typhoon Jebi was located on the afternoon of Friday 31st AEST about 1,500km SE of Japan, and performing an arc that would see it crossing the largest island of Japan, Honshu, just west of Tokyo. This ERCC map, based on forecast information from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, shows the forecast track at that time which has not changed much in more recent updates.
While Jebi is forecast to weaken as it approaches Japan on Tuesday, it is still expected to cross the coast carrying 160km/h sustained winds before skirting the coastal Primorsky district of Russia, north of Vladivostok. In both countries, heavy rain with the cyclone will be the greatest danger. Over 150 people died and two million were evacuated in Japan in early July in the worst flooding in over 30 years, while so far in August the country has endured two typhoons and a tropical storm [Newshub, USA Today]. Primorsky has not been so badly hit, but recent heavy rain and flooding† has left the ground sodden and ill-prepared for the forecast 250 to 500mm of rain.
Sun 2 Sep 2018 Summing the damage in North America's wildfires. Australian media has given wide coverage to the major fires burning, for a second season in a row, in western USA; less so to those devastating British Columbia, Canada.
An article on Inquirer.net gave some sobering statistics on the US wildfires so far: currently about 19,000 firefighters are fighting nearly 40 large wildfires. So far, about 9,000 square kilometres has been burnt and 3,000 homes destroyed. Fourteen firefighters have died. The article describes a study looking at the mental and physical fatigue of firefighters and its effect on their fitness and alertness and, ultimately, their ability to avoid death and injury.
Like California, British Columbia has suffered two years of devastating wildfires, but this year has surpassed all others. As of the end of August, 12,985 sq km of the province had burned with 534 fires alight at last Wednesday 29th. At that date, 3,200 people had been evacuated and another 21,800 were on alert to do so, while areas under a state of emergency were expanding. With the area of fires still increasing, 2018 has already surpassed the record year of 2017 when 12,161 sq km were burnt by wildfires, and is far ahead of the third-placed year of 1958 when 8,560 sq km was charred.
|Saturday 1 September 2018
| Minimum temperature anomalies on Wednesday 29 August show many areas in the SE Mainland 6 to 9° below the August average. The west and NW of TAS were not quite as cold relative to average, but records were still set at some coastal stations. BoM
Record cold in southeastern states
Wed 29 Aug 2018
The number of new record cold temperatures on the morning of Wednesday 29th was remarkable for so late in August. The area they covered was also exceptional, stretching from central NSW to western TAS. At the same time, record high minima were beginning to be recorded in SA, a trend that continued strongly into Thursday. Some of the highlights were:
- Grenfell and Tatura (just outside Shepparton) had their lowest August minima in over half a century
- In the VIC Alps, Falls Creek and Dinner Plain had their lowest minima for any month, with histories of 27 and 19 years
- It was especially cold in the Melbourne area, with Essendon AP to the NW setting a new August record of -2.4 and Scoresby in the SE suburbs equalling its previous -2.3 record. Both stations have been going for half a century. Viewbank in the NE knocked 1.1° off its previous August record in a 19 year history
- The airport on King Island at the western entrance to Bass Strait recorded its first sub-zero temperature in 23 years of observations with a minimum of -0.1. The post office in Currie, 6km SW of the airport, has been slightly colder twice at -0.5 in the 41 years before the airport took over the observations
August records were set at weather stations literally within a stone's throw of the sea in three states: 5.3 at Bellambi NSW (21-year history), -2.5 at Cerberus VIC (27) and in TAS Smithton Airport -3.1 (22) and Strahan Airport -2.5 (27).
|Surface chart for 0400 AEST 29 August 2018. BoM.
The surface chart gives clues as to why the night was so cold over such a wide area. The deep low in the central Tasman was very slow moving, and had time to draw over SE Australia a broad area of cold dry air on its western side from sub-polar regions well to the south.
As the low moved only slowly eastwards, high pressure formed over TAS, VIC and NSW bringing calm conditions and clear skies. These further boosted the drop in temperature provided by the cold, dry airmass.
Wed 15 Aug 2018 WA: Cold nights in the north. Cool, dry air moving north from southern WA has produced some exceptionally cold dry-season nights in the Kimberley. On Wed 15th, Kununurra reported a low of 6.1°, its lowest temperature in a 32-year history. New August records were set at Kalumburu (6.8) and Fitzroy Crossing (4.5), while Marble Bar equalled its August record for the second time this month with a reading of 5.9.
Thu 16 Aug 2018 2018 NSW, VIC: Bushfires an omen of worst fire season in a decade. Bushfires flared in coastal NSW and eastern VIC on Wed 15th in a foretaste of the menacing conditions in store for drought-stricken eastern Australia. In NSW, total fire bans were declared in Sydney, the Hunter and Illawarra as 830 firefighters fought over 70 grass and bushfires from Casino to the VIC border.
Properties were lost in the three largest and most serious ones which peaked during the afternoon. Near Bemboka in the Bega Valley, two houses and two outbuildings were destroyed while fires near Ulladulla and Nowra damaged one house and destroyed 12 outbuildings. The fires received global coverage through Reuters, which quoted NSW Rural Fire Service Inspector Ben Shepherd as saying the size and number of fires in Australia [at present] were typical of late summer. “We’re seeing fires on the far south coast (of New South Wales) that we wouldn't typically see until sometimes as late as January or February, so what we’re seeing is very unusual,” he said.
In VIC, about 140 firefighters battled a blaze at Cape Conran, SE of Orbost. Country Fire Authority chief officer Steve Warrington told ABC News that "For the first time ever we'll introduce restrictions in Gippsland as early as September." He warned that "Our primary concern is Gippsland, the north-eastern parts of Victoria as well, the Otways and certainly along the Murray" in a season that was shaping up to be the worst in a decade.
Thu 16 Aug 2018 BoM Seasonal Forecast is for worsening drought. The BoM's mid-month Climate Outlook update offers little cheer for an end to the drought affecting much of eastern Australia and parts of the west. It forecasts that SW WA, SE Australia, and parts of central QLD will have a drier than average spring when averaged over the whole season, while temperatures will be above normal. A brief video from the BoM is here, while the full Outlook is here* and an archive of it is here.
Thu 16 Aug 2018 2018 NSW: Emus come to town. Wildlife is doing it tough in the drought, too, and ABC News reports some mobs in western NSW have moved in to Broken Hill to take advantage of the cushy lifestyle of its 17,800 human inhabitants. They've been reported doing laps of the main street, enjoying (eating) the gardens and participating in football matches. One local told the reporter "I'd rather put up with kangaroos and emus than magpies, we're just lucky emus don't swoop!"
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