A Look Back at Hurricane Michael

Three hundred and sixty-five days have passed since Hurricane Michael crashed into the Florida Panhandle, causing utter devastation. Michael made history as the first Category 5 hurricane (the highest category of the Saffir-Simpson scale with winds over 157 miles per hour) to make landfall in the Unites States since Andrew in 1992. It was also the first Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Michael beginning to make landall on October 10, 2018. Courtesy NASA
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Turn Around, Don’t Drown

This is it. We are in the peak of hurricane season. So far, we have had 12 named storms. We all know to prepare for and be wary of strong hurricanes, but even “weak” tropical systems can wreak just as much havoc. It’s important to remember that a tropical system’s strength is categorized solely by wind speed, but that flooding associated with a system (regardless of winds) can cause catastrophic impacts as well.

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Bring NOAA into Your Classroom This Year!

Across the country, students, teachers, and parents alike have been getting back into the groove of a new school year. I don’t know about y’all, but I always LOVED the start of a new school year (and to be honest, I still love this time of year!) Settling into a comfortable new routine, setting new goals…..it’s almost like a second New Year. There is one group of people that we all would be lost without, and those are our hard-working teachers! Teachers have a huge influence on a student’s ability to learn and get excited about a subject. I am still forever grateful to each of my teachers, from my kindergarten teacher to my high school math and science teachers to my meteorology professors in college. They each instilled in me a desire to continually learn more, and I believe that is likely the goal of every teacher. This post is dedicated to the hard-working teachers across the world, and we want to share with you all some great ways to bring NOAA science and data into your classroom.

Fourth grade educator and NOAA Teacher At Sea alumna, Barney Peterson, makes an impact in her classroom. Photo courtesy NOAA Teacher At Sea Program.
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Highlights from the State of The Climate 2018

Just three days ago, on August 12, 2019, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) released the newest State of the Climate providing a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected. The State of the Climate in 2018 is the 29th issuance of this international, peer-reviewed publication that is released each summer. The report is based on contributions from scientists around the world and is compiled by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Although we can’t possibly cover all the topics in one blog post, we wanted to share some highlights with you, and we invite you to take a look at the report as well! It is full of valuable information, and we believe that an informed community is a resilient community.

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Collaborative Citizen Science

Did you know that there are millions of everyday citizens across the world that are helping advance science in a wide variety of disciplines? These citizen scientists (a term that refers to everyday citizens who are intrigued by and passionate about science, but don’t necessarily have a formal scientific background) collaborate with scientists to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to advance research in nearly every field! Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, notes that “By encouraging everyday Americans to engage in scientific research, our citizen science authorities benefit communities and the country as a whole, as well as advance our science and technology enterprise.” Whether you are interested in public health, astronomy, biology, ornithology (the study of birds!), meteorology, or pretty much anything you can think of…there is likely a project for you!

Three citizen scientists strolling along a sidewalk in Boulder, Colorado to gather data on Earth’s magnetic field using the CrowdMag cellphone app. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Taylor, CIRES
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Scorching Heat Stretching from the Plains to the East Coast

A strengthening upper level ridge across the Central and Eastern United States is resulting in sweltering heat and dangerous conditions across the eastern two thirds of the country. Widespread excessive heat warnings, watches, and heat advisories are in effect, with daytime highs in the 90s to above 100 are expected. These high temperatures, combined with dewpoints soaring into the mid to upper 70s will result in over 70 million people experiencing heat indices over 100 degrees! The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored into the actual air temperature.

Warmest heat indices expected through Monday, July 22.
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Surveying the Storm

Imagine that it’s late in the evening, the sun has set, and you’re a meteorologist or the National Weather Service (NWS) exhausted from working a 13–hour day providing forecasts and warnings for a significant severe weather event that moved through your forecast area. Although the powerful storm system has exited the region, the event is not completely over. As severe weather reports filter into the office, it becomes evident that the storms caused significant damage and you’ll be heading out to conduct a damage survey first thing in the morning. Get some rest…another long day lies ahead.

Damage survey team members (Jim Belles and Benton County officials) inspect homes destroyed in the December 23, 2015 tornadoes in northern Mississippi. Credit NOAA WRN
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This Week’s Roundup of Interesting Weather Stories

A massive plume of dust from the Sahara Desert has made its way all the way across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean and the southeast United States! Known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), this very dry mass of dusty air normally forms over the Sahara Desert between late spring through early fall and moves out over the North Atlantic Ocean every 3-5 days. The SAL can cover an area as large as the size of the continental United States (!), and extends between ~5,000-20,000 feet in the atmosphere.

This geocolor enhanced imagery was created by NOAA’s partners at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.  Its multi-band imaging capabilities provide high-resolution visible and infrared imaging of atmospheric aerosols, such as dust and sand. Photo courtesy NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.
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NOAA: Building A Better Future

Did you know that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does more than forecast the weather? NOAA is a scientific agency that observes and predicts conditions in our ocean and atmosphere. From daily weather forecasts to long-term climate monitoring and from fisheries management to marine commerce, NOAA provides communities, decision-makers, and people across the country with the information they need when they need it. NOAA also understands that the agency must do more than study the ocean and atmosphere; they need to take what they learn and educate individuals, so that citizens are empowered to support their own economies by building resilient communities and healthy ecosystems. An informed society has access to, interest in, and understanding of NOAA-related sciences and their implications for current and future events.

NOAA Marine Debris Program Outreach and Communications Specialist, Asma Mahdi, shows curious zoo-visitor microplastics and explains how animals can easily mistake it for food at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s World Ocean Day event. (NOAA)
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A Brief Recap of the May 2019 Severe Outbreak

Just two short weeks ago we posted a blog that looked into the severe weather that occurred on May 20, 2019. Little did we know that this was just the beginning! Over a 12-day period that stretched from May 17 through May 30, more than 285 tornadoes touched down across 22 states. The May storms also included hailstorms (including grapefruit-sized hail in Wellington, Texas!) and frequent heavy rainfall, sometimes at record levels, over areas that were already saturated. This led to extensive flooding and flash flooding, which frequently interfered with emergency efforts related to tornado damage.

Map of tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service between May 17 and May 29, 2019 over the eastern United States and tornadoes confirmed and surveyed by the National Weather Service. Map produced in QGIS with border outlines from the United States Census Bureau. National Weather Service warning outlines available from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet and tornado data available from the National Weather Service. Credit: TheAustinMan
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