Photo from Mashable.com
I’m not one to reminisce or contemplate about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a former year, but as 2015 quickly concludes it’s becoming clear the weather has turned really strange and extreme.
It isn’t just that NYC experienced a 71-degree day on Christmas Eve, or there are record breaking flood waters along the Mississippi River in December and January, or a life-threatening outbreak of tornados in the middle of America in December. It isn’t just the US or Europe or Africa, or Asia, or Australia that’s getting walloped with bizarre weather.
The worst is that high temperatures in the Arctic yesterday were enough to melt ice, around 34 degrees F. Take a moment to think about this. The North Pole was registering temperatures you’d expect to feel in New York around New Years, or temperatures you expect to feel in the Arctic in June. That’s right! As crazy as this might sound, in the middle of what’s supposed to be winter, it was fifty degrees higher than normal for December at the North Pole. We are entering a brave new world, one that none of us has experienced before.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the El Niño of 2015-2016 is shaping up to be one of the strongest in this past century. I have no idea how this extreme weather will play out for the reminder of our winter around New York Harbor in January, February, and March. Everything is connected in the world and universe, so we are certainly not an island. The next few months could be a very wild ride.
Freak storm pushes North Pole 50 degrees above normal to melting point
By Angela Fritz December 30 at 7:12 PM
The Washington Post
A powerful winter cyclone — the same storm that led to two tornado outbreaks in the United States and disastrous river flooding — has driven the North Pole to the freezing point this week, 50 degrees above average for this time of year.
From Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning, a mind-boggling pressure drop was recorded in Iceland: 54 millibars in just 18 hours. This triples the criteria for “bomb” cyclogenesis, which meteorologists use to describe a rapidly intensifying mid-latitude storm. A “bomb” cyclone is defined as dropping one millibar per hour for 24 hours.
NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center said the storm’s minimum pressure dropped to 928 millibars around 1 a.m. Eastern time, which likely places it in the top five strongest storms on record in this region.
“According to the center’s records, the all-time strongest storm in this area occurred on Dec. 15, 1986, and that had a minimum central pressure of 900 millibars,” Mashable’s Andrew Freedman reported on Tuesday. “The second-strongest storm occurred in January 1993, with a pressure of 916 millibars.”
As this storm churns north, it’s forcing warm air into the Arctic Circle. Over the North Sea, sustained winds from the south are blasting at 70 mph, and gusting to well above 100 mph, drawing heat from south to north.
Although there are no permanent weather stations at the North Pole (or really anywhere in the Arctic Ocean), we can use weather forecast models, which ingest data from satellites and surrounding surface observations, to estimate conditions at Earth’s most northern location.
On Wednesday morning, temperatures over a vast area around North Pole were somewhere between 30 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and for at least a brief moment, surpassed the 32-degree threshold at exactly 90 degrees North, according to data from the GFS forecast model.
Data from the International Arctic Buoy Programme confirms that temperatures very close to the North Pole surpassed the melting point on Wednesday. A buoy (WMO ID Buoy 6400476) at a latitude of 87.45 degrees North hit a high temperature of 0.7 degrees Celsius — or 33 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Consider the average winter temperature there is around 20 degrees below zero,” wrote the Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow on Monday. A temperature around the freezing mark signifies a departure from normal of over 50 degrees, and close to typical mid-summer temperatures in this region.
In other words, the area around the North Pole was about as warm as Chicago on Wednesday, and quite a few degrees warmer than much of the Midwest.
Meanwhile in habitable areas around the North Atlantic, winds are howling and waves are rocking the coastline. In Britain, a week of excessive rainfall has pushed rivers and streams well beyond their banks, stranding vehicles and buckling bridges.
In a blog post on Monday, the U.K. Met office said that December has been a record-breaking month for rainfall in parts of the United Kingdom. A Christmas weekend storm brought up to 8 inches of addition rainfall on saturated soil. The Met Office listed just a small portion of the December records that were set this weekend, in some cases blowing away the previous December records by 10 inches.