Typhoon Hagupit, Climate Change Conference: Weather Around The World, 12/9

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Home / Typhoon Hagupit, Climate Change Conference: Weather Around The World, 12/9
The past and future track of Hagupit. Graphic courtesy of US Navy.

The past and future track of Hagupit. Graphic courtesy of US Navy.

A storm on one side of the world is winding down, while one on the opposite side is ramping up.

The Peru conference on climate change produces more conflict than concord.

And warm air is poised to overspread much of the United States. Let’s go Around the World.

Typhoon Hagupit Has Left The Philippines

Typhoon Hagupit, formerly a Super-Typhoon and now just a Tropical Storm, has ended its presence in the Philippines — unless you count the cleanup as part of the package. Less destructive in terms of human life than last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, Hagupit nevertheless inconvenienced more people — some of them seriously — by hanging around for a couple of days.

The storm lost a lot of its once-very-formidable power when it turned slightly south of the predicted track and spent more time over the land mass of the Philippines than forecasters had anticipated. But its slow movement caused a long duration of wind and rain, as Hagupit followed a path about 100 miles north of that of Haiyan.

Rainfall totals of over 20 inches were reported in parts of the central Philippines, and Manila, with its notoriously poor drainage, was afloat. The cleanup is expected to take weeks, possibly months, and losses will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Thankfully loss of life was in the tens, as opposed to the thousands in Haiyan.

Hagupit is now crossing the South China Sea, and will strike the coast of Vietnam on Thursday night as a minimal tropical storm; Hagupit will pass close to Ho Chi Minh City with heavy rain on Friday before dissipating.

Climate Change Conference In Peru Doesn’t Bode Well For An Agreement Next Year

The trend of atmospheric CO2 with time. Has anybody in Peru noticed? Graphic courtesy of NOAA.

The trend of atmospheric CO2 with time. Has anybody in Peru noticed? Graphic courtesy of NOAA.

Conferees in Lima, Peru, at the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are behaving as if they are in the sort of Marx Brothers movie the conference title brings to mind.

The parties of the first part and the parties of the second part cannot even agree to try to agree next year in Paris to significant greenhouse-gas-curbing guidelines. The primary burn (sic) of contention is whether efforts to limit the gases emitted from burning fossil fuels should be mandatory or voluntary.

The parties of the first part, mainly the United States, favor the latter, and the parties of the second part (almost everybody else), the former.

The conferees just don’t seem to get it.

Global warming is a critical matter, and should not be simply another excuse for political posturing. All the parties ought to look up the meaning of the word ‘irreversible’

 The Weather Channel (TWC) Names A winter Storm (Damon); Decoded Science Declines To Follow Suit

The Weather Channel has named another winter storm when there was no reason to do so. Yes, it will rain in the big cities, and there will be snow in the mountains and even some larger cities of upstate New York. There will even be some freezing rain where cold air is trapped in valleys. But the practice of naming every modest storm dilutes the attention that should be given to the really worthy ones.

Decoded Science has defended The Weather Channel’s naming of winter storms as a useful aid to communication. But now TWC is justifying the claims that naming winter storms is just a publicity stunt.

Why This Storm Is Noteworthy, Though Not Nameworthy

Wind may produce minor flooding along the coast, mainly because tides are higher than normal with the current full moon. Rain could cause some inland flooding. There will be some traffic delays due to slushy snow from Pennsylvania to Maine, and even some freezing rain where cold air is trapped in valleys. But this storm does not reach the threshold of nameworthiness. TWC originally trumpeted its naming process as being based on objective criteria, which somehow have been lost in the shuffle.

Decoded Science’s process for naming non-tropical weather events is completely objective — the storm must depart significantly from normal values of several parameters and/or materially and significantly  affect large numbers of people. This storm doesn’t qualify.

That said, the duration of this storm should be noted. Most meteorologists of 1960s vintage agree that qualitatively the weather has changed: Systems tend to move more slowly now and get bogged down. In support of this idea, many models that incorporate increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere show an increase in ‘blocking’ patterns — low and high pressure systems getting stuck in one place. Blocking highs produce droughts; cutoff lows cause excessive rain.

The Winter Weather Pattern In Flux

The jet stream has bent itself into pretzellian shapes lately, and the result is a hodgepodge of cutoff lows and omega blocks interspersed with zonal (west to east) flow at various latitudes. El Niño is trying to get started and sea surface temperature anomalies are pushing and pulling the atmosphere in various directions.

For the next couple of weeks, warm weather seems assured over the United States (A result of El Niño? Maybe). A strong jet stream over Europe wants to keep temperatures cold in the north and warm in the south. Whether these patterns will hold for the winter or revert to last year’s configuration of cold in the US and warm in Europe is a climatological conundrum. This winter’s weather is literally up in the air.

A Most Interesting Winter, Weather-Wise

The weather is always fascinating, but even moreso right now as the jet stream bends into unusual shapes. What changes in the weather do you see where you are?

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