The site also contains references and displays from states ranked within the 10 warmest November-Janu- a number of climate articles that have appeared in peer- ary periods of the century. The United States, as a reviewed journals. It also includes links to a wealth of whole, experienced the third warmest November- data on natural climate change over the past 120 mil- January of the past 104 years. As a result, the United lion years. States, as a whole, saw a 10% energy savings, more than a 20% savings over the southern-tier states and a "We wanted to give the interested general public nearly 50% savings in Florida, according to the and journalists a comprehensive understanding of glo- weather service. bal warming and put today's temperatures into the context of those from earth history," said Jonathan The La Nina contributed to the series of huge storms Overpeck, head of NOAA's Paleoclimatology Pro- that hit the Pacific Northwest and blasted Washing- gram at the National Geophysical Data Center in Boul- ton, Oregon, and northern California with hurricane- der, Colorado. "We plan to update the site regularly, force winds, heavy rains, and mountain snows. As a as new information becomes available." result, many sections of the northern-tier states in the west have experienced precipitation totals that are in Stron g La Nina Influences Global Weather the top 10 of this century. Sections of the southwest Extremes suffered from lack of precipitation. A strengthening La Nina influenced weather pat- The global La Nina impacts include heavy rains, terns that sent Alaskan temperatures dipping to -74° F severe storms, and flooding in southern Africa, and wind chills to -90° F in late January and early Feb- drought in Kenya and Tanzania, flooding in the Phil- ruary and brought flooding and heavy snow to the ippines and Indonesia, and abnormal wetness in north- west, warmth to the east, and extreme weather from ern South America. The same regions suffered the South America to Asia, according to NOAA scientists. opposite impacts during the 1997/98 El Nino. In May 1998, a rapid cooling of the near equatorial As for the cold wave in Alaska, it lasted from 26 waters in the central Pacific signaled the end of the January to 13 February, during which time Fairbanks 1997/98 El Nino and the beginnings of a La Nina. La recorded a record 19 consecutive days with a low tem- Nina features colder-than-normal sea surface tempera- perature less than -35°F. In contrast, temperatures tures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Many forecast the following week were actually well above normal models indicated this transition and that the La Nina across the state. • would continue to develop. In November, scientists at the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, a NOAA facility in Camp Springs, Maryland, said that the event has grown into one of the strongest La Nina episodes of the past 50 years. "This La Nina provides the physical link between many of the unusual weather patterns seen recently in far-flung parts of the globe," said John Janowiak, a NOAA scientist. "While parts of Alaska have expe- rienced severe cold, most of the lower 48 states, espe- cially those in the southern tier, have enjoyed record breaking warm temperatures." The Alaskan cold snap can be blamed on persistent winds bringing bitterly cold air from north of the arc- Oxfor d Universit y Pres s tic circle southward to Alaska. According to National 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 Weather Service scientists, this circulation pattern is frequently associated with La Nina, which usually re- Telephone: 212-726-6000 sults in colder than normal winter weather over Alaska. Springer-Verla g Forecasters predicted the below-normal winter tem- 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010 peratures for Alaska as early as September. Except for California, the rest of the lower 48 states Telephone: 212-460-1500 experienced a much warmer-than-normal November 1998 through January 1999. Temperatures in many Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 7 711
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Apr 1, 1999
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