14 January 2016
This hasn’t happened before. Alex is the earliest tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic. Pali, in the Central Pacific, became the earliest hurricane there this week, only weakening to a tropical storm tonight. What’s going on you ask? Answer: The atmosphere and the oceans are on steroids.
The world’s oceans are the warmest ever measured, and the strongest El Nino on record is underway in the Pacific. 2015 was the hottest year globally, by a huge margin, and when you heat the oceans up even more with a record-breaking El Nino, you get flooding rains and tropical cyclones in the middle of winter. The previous record El Nino in 1998 was weakening by January, but not this one. NASA JPL will release a new image (based on data from the Jason 2 satellite) tomorrow morning that shows the incredible spread of warm water across the Eastern Pacific.
I know about the new imagery of El Nino, because the scientist who made it (Dr. Josh Willis at JPL) was at my table tonight at the AMS Annual Meeting awards banquet. I’ll post the image (which Josh showed me on his iPhone tonight), when it’s released by JPL tomorrow. The last image is below.
Strange things happen when humans push the CO2 to the highest level in at least 800,000 years.
On a side note, my friend Bob Ryan (Legendary weathercaster in Washington, DC) was given the highest award the AMS can bestow, at the award banquet here in New Orleans tonight. The new President of the AMS is Dr. Fred Carr, who I called Professor Carr, way back in 1979 at Okla. University in the School of Meteorology. My wife made a short video of me being given the award for broadcast meteorology. Receiving that award in front of hundreds of the top atmospheric scientists was a deeply humbling experience.
Several people also came up to me to say how much they enjoy what I write here, and it made my week! At the table with me Wed. night was my good friend, and amazing science writer, Bob Henson (next to me on the left). If you have not read his book on understanding climate change, you really should. Read it and you will understand more about climate than 99% of the population. However, that does not include the folks in the room at the AMS Meeting tonight! 😉