Saturday, March 28, 2009

DC Drought Dented, February-March Precipitation Record Holds

PM Update (Sunday): An additional 0.08" of accumulation from showers overnight pushed the March total to 1.97", and the 2-month total to 2.32". If no more precipitation falls through Tuesday, the old February-March record will have held by a mere 0.03", and 2009 will be firmly in second place.

Original post:
With another half inch of rain recorded so far today, the Washington, DC total for the month of March to date is now 1.89". This puts the February-March total at 2.24", slightly below the record low amount of 2.29" in 1947. With more showers likely tonight and Sunday, the record will almost certainly remain intact.

Image: CapitalClimate chart from NWS data, background photo © Kevin Ambrose

California Drought + Credit Crunch =
Higher Food Prices

Jane Wells reports on CNBC that the continuing drought in California is combining with the credit crisis to lead to higher grocery costs:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Red River Rapidly Rising
Fargo Fights Flooding

11 pm Update: The latest observed value at 9:15 pm CDT is 40.79 ft.

Original post:
The latest observed stage of 40.69 ft. at 2:15 pm CDT on the Red River at Fargo, ND exceeds the record stage by over half a foot. Levels are forecast to crest at 42 to possibly 43 ft. and remain above the previous record through next week.

CapitalClimate comments at Climate Progress on the subject of Red River flooding.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Light Rain Falls in Face of Developing Mid-Atlantic Drought
Virginia, DC, Maryland Affected

As light rain showers continue in the area this afternoon, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly all of Virginia, DC, and Maryland in at least the Abnormally Dry category. Moderate drought (tan shading) covers 32% of Virginia and extends northward through 52% of Maryland. For the last 60 days, precipitation has been only 25-50% of average from northern Virginia across Maryland and Delaware, and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Through 5 pm today, 0.26" of rain has been measured at Washington National Airport, bringing the month's total over 1" for the first time. At 1.13" to date, this month has now dropped to the 7th driest March. Dulles has reported 0.30" for the day and 1.14" for the month; at BWI the daily and monthly amounts are 0.22" and 1.02".

The year-to-date deficits are currently:
National 4.74"
Dulles 4.69"
BWI 5.82"

Although today's rain is nearing an end this evening, there are a couple more chances of precipitation before the end of this month.

Images (click to enlarge): 90-day precipitation history for Washington DC from Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NOAA; 60-day percentage of average precipitation from Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, NWS; Maryland and Virginia drought conditions from U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA and NOAA

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meteorologists Cautious on Climate Engineering

The American Meteorological Society has recently released a draft statement on "Geoengineering the Climate System." The statement leads off with a recognition of the potential consequences of global warming:
Unchecked future greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly lead to additional climate impacts such as further global warming, continued sea level rise, greater rainfall intensity, more serious and pervasive droughts, enhanced heat stress episodes, ocean acidification, and the disruption of many biological systems. The resulting inundation of coastal areas, severe weather impacts, and loss of ecosystem services will likely cause major negative impacts for most nations.
It warns, however, that geoengineering should be considered a measure of last resort in coping with the problem:
Geoengineering could conceivably offer targeted and fast-acting options to reduce acute climate impacts and provide strategies of last resort if abrupt, catastrophic, or otherwise unacceptable climate change impacts become unavoidable by other means. However, geoengineering must be viewed with great caution because manipulating the Earth system is almost certain to trigger some adverse and unpredictable consequences. Furthermore, these impacts would almost certainly be distributed unevenly among nations and people, raising serious ethical issues. Research to date has not determined that there are large-scale geoengineering approaches for which the benefits would substantially outweigh the detriments.
The statement recommends:
  • Enhanced research on the scientific and technological potential for geoengineering the climate system, including research on the unintended as well as intended environmental responses.
  • Additional study of the historical, ethical, legal, political, and societal aspects of the geoengineering issues.
  • Development and analysis of policy options to promote transparency and international cooperation in exploring geoengineering options along with restrictions on reckless efforts to manipulate the climate system.
Members of the AMS may submit comments on the proposed statement until April 23.

Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.