October 2

Are Long Range Forecasts Getting Better? California Glass Fire Incinerating 1 Acre Every 5 Seconds

A Hopeful Forecast: More Accurate Long-Term Weather Predictions. Good news (for people living in the tropics) but pesky chaos theory quickly comes into play – don’t get your hopes too high too fast. The New York Times (paywall) reports; here’s an excerpt: “...In the ’90s, we had almost no satellite observations in the southern hemisphere,” she said. “Since then, the number and quality of satellite observations has increased substantially,” so our ability to make accurate forecasts in the southern hemisphere is almost as good as in the northern hemisphere. Additionally, the global weather models that are now in development can simulate showers and thunderstorms, Dr. Judt says, whereas existing models cannot. This, coupled with a series of weather satellites set to launch over the next few years, should translate to longer lead times for tropical forecasts. “We should see an improvement in tropical weather prediction in the next 10 years,” he said…”

AWIPS file image courtesy of NOAA.

Turning Colder Third Week of October? We are peering over the horizon, and the crystal ball is (always) murky beyond a week or two, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see unusual warmth in mid-October followed by another cool-down during the third week of the month.

Glass Fire Forces 70,000 To Flee, Incinerating 1 Acre Every 5 Seconds: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “More than 70,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been forced to evacuate their homes as the Glass fire continued to rip through Northern California. NOAA satellite images showed the fire growing overnight Sunday at a rate of about one acre every five seconds. At that rate, the fire would have consumed an area the size of the country’s largest Walmart Supercenter in about 30 seconds. Experts say climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels, is making wildfires worse and more frequent, in part because extreme heat dries out vegetation and makes it more flammable. “I keep joking I want to move to Florida because you still get coastal access to the beach and you have several days to plan for a hurricane,” Kristi Horn, who evacuated her home for the second time this year, told the New York Times. “For fires, you’re woken up in the middle of the night,” she added. The moderator of the first presidential debate, which takes place tonight, has said there will be no questions on climate change, despite polling that shows 74% of voters want to see debate moderators ask climate questions.” (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, CNN, Washington Post $, New York Times $, AP; Zogg Fire deaths: Sacramento Bee; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season)

Why the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Has Spun Out of Control. Jack Henson reports for Capital Weather Gang: “…One of the most obvious culprits is La Niña, whose arrival was confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sept. 10. La Niña, a semiregular cooling of the eastern tropical Pacific, tends to reduce the wind shear that can impede Atlantic hurricane formation. A La Niña is only present about every third hurricane season, though — so by itself, it doesn’t fully explain why 2020 is so extraordinarily active. Sizzling oceans, supercharged by climate change, may be an even bigger factor. Most of the tropical and subtropical Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico, has run warmer than average through the season, with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) at or near record values in some areas…”

Hurricane Laura file image: NOAA.

Homes Are Flooding Outside FEMA’s 100-Year Flood Zones, and Racial Inequality is Showing Through. Here’s a clip from a post at The Conversation: “…New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps indicate. Unfortunately, many of the people living in those properties have no idea that their homes are at risk until the floodwaters rise. I am a sociologist who works on disaster vulnerability. In a new study, I looked at the makeup of communities in Houston that aren’t in the 100-year flood zone, but that still flood. What I found tells a story of racial disparities in the city. Research in other cities has shown similar flooding problems in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods...”

Map credit: First Street Foundation.


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