Looking back at U.S. Climate in 2018

Although most people tend to look back and on the past year around the holidays and at the beginning of a New Year, I also like to reflect back once spring has truly sprung. The sun illuminates our days even longer, the world is full of beautiful new blooms, the birds are chirping, and it seems that everything is truly “new” again. So for this week’s blog, I thought that this would be a perfect time to look back at 2018 and really take in all that happened across the U.S. weather-wise.

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California Super Bloom: The Striking Spectacle Drawing in Droves of Tourists

A wetter than average fall and winter (thanks, in part, to heavy rains from an atmospheric river event that led to flooding along the Russian River) pulled California out of its drought last month for the first time since December 2011. Above-normal snowpacks were observed along the Sierra Nevada Range and throughout much of the West as well. In fact, on April 2, 2019, only 6% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought – one of the smallest drought footprints across the continental U.S. on record. These wet conditions from the past months, combined with cool daytime temperatures and cold nights allowed for a rare super bloom of wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert .

Credit: NASA/Jim Ross
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Arctic Blast and Snow Squalls: January 30, 2019

As I sit writing this post today, it is currently 52 degrees with bright, sunny skies at the Albany International Airport. Temperatures in central New York and Pennsylvania are in the low 60s, and the frigid arctic air that was making national headlines just a few days ago seem like a distant memory (at least until one remembers that it is early February and winter is far from over in the Northeast!). While the coldest of the cold air impacted the Midwest and northern Plains, those of us here in the northeast U.S. got a quick blast of the frigid air between January 30 and February 1. Continue reading “Arctic Blast and Snow Squalls: January 30, 2019”

Northeast Winter Storm January 19-20, 2019

At the time of this writing, the northeast United States is in the grip of a frigid air mass in the wake of a winter storm which brought widespread snowfall, along with a variety of mixed precipitation, to the Eastern Seaboard. While today’s winds and associated below-zero wind chill factors are a topic for a future blog post, today we focus on the physical mechanisms which are responsible for creating various types of frozen precipitation. Continue reading “Northeast Winter Storm January 19-20, 2019”