Are We Entering a New Period of Rapid Global Warming?

By: Bob Henson , 5:04 PM GMT on February 24, 2015

Residents of New England may understandably look back at 2015 as the year of their never-ending winter. For the planet as a whole, though, this year could stand out most for putting to rest the “hiatus”— the 15-year slowdown in atmospheric warming that gained intense scrutiny by pundits, scientists, and the public. While interesting in its own right, the hiatus garnered far more attention than it deserved as a purported sign that future global warming would be much less than expected. The slowdown was preceded by almost 20 years of dramatic global temperature rise, and with 2014 having set a new global record high, there are signs that another decade-plus period of intensified atmospheric warming may be at our doorstep.

The most compelling argument for a renewed surge in global air temperature is rooted in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). This index tracks the fingerprint of sea surface temperature (SST) across the Pacific north of 20°N. A closely related index, the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), covers a larger swath of the entire Pacific. Both the PDO and IPO capture back-and-forth swings in the geography of Pacific SSTs that affect the exchange of heat between ocean and atmosphere (see Figure 1). We’ll use PDO as shorthand for both indexes in the following discussion.

The PDO typically leans toward a positive or negative state for more than a decade at a time. The positive phase, which features warmer-than-average SSTs along the U.S. West Coast, was dominant from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s. The PDO then flipped to a negative phase between about 1999 and 2013, with cooler-than-average SSTs along the West Coast. Figure 2 shows that even when a particular mode is favored, the PDO can still flip back to its opposite mode for periods of a few months or so.


Figure 1. Departures from average sea-surface temperature (degrees C) and wind (arrows) that typically prevail when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in its positive mode (left) and negative mode (right). Image credit: University of Washington.


It’s not clear exactly what drives the PDO, but in some ways it can be viewed as a geographically expanded version of the SST patterns created by El Niño and La Niña, averaged over a longer time period. (See Figure 2.) It’s well-established that El Niño can raise global temperature for a few months by several tenths of a degree Celsius, as warm water spreads over the eastern tropical Pacific and mixes with the overlying atmosphere. Likewise, La Niña can act to pull down global average temperature, as cooler-than-average water extends further west than usual across the tropical Pacific. The PDO mirrors these trends, but over longer periods. When the PDO is positive, there are more El Niño and fewer La Niña events, and heat stored in the ocean tends to be spread across a larger surface area, allowing it to enter the atmosphere more easily. When the PDO is negative, SSTs are below average across a larger area, and global air temperatures tend to be lower.


Figure 2. Typical warm and cool anomalies in sea-surface temperature during positive PDO years (left) and El Niño years (right). The patterns are similar, though with differences in intensity over some regions. The anomalies are reversed for negative PDO and La Niña years. Image credit: University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.


Figure 3 shows a striking connection between favored PDO modes (top) and global air temperature anomalies (bottom). The vast majority of atmospheric warming over the last century occurred during positive PDO phases, with negative PDOs tending to result in flat temperature trends. It’s easy to see how an atmospheric warming “hiatus” could occur during a negative PDO phase.


Figure 3. PDO values (top) and global air temperature anomalies (bottom). Gray shading indicates positive PDO periods, when atmospheric warming was most evident. The NOAA PDO values shown here vary slightly from those discussed in the article, which are calculated by the University of Washington. Image credit: Jerimiah Brown, Weather Underground. Data sources:NOAA (top) and NOAA/NCDC (bottom).


From the AMS meeting
The hiatus was discussed at length in a series of talks during the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society last month in Phoenix. Jerry Meehl, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (my former employer), gave a whirlwind 15-minute overview of hiatus-oriented research conducted over the last six years. Meehl’s talk can be viewed online. More than 20 papers have studied the hiatus and its links to the PDO/IPO, according to Matthew England (University of New South Wales). Most of the flattening of global temperature during the hiatus can be traced to cooler-than-average conditions over the eastern tropical Pacific, which pulled down global averages. An emerging theme is that natural, or internal, variability in the tropical Pacific can explain at least half of the hiatus. NCAR’s Clara Deser presented new modeling evidence along these lines (see video online). Other factors may be involved as well, including a series of weak volcanic eruptions that could explain a small part of the hiatus, according to a recent analysis by Ben Santer (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).

One crucial point is that global warming didn’t “stop” during the hiatus: the world’s oceans actually gained heat at an accelerated pace. Trade winds blew more strongly from east to west across the Pacific, consistent with the tendency toward La Niña conditions, as described in this open-access article by NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo. Over parts of the central tropical Pacific, trade winds averaged about 3 mph stronger during 1999-2012 compared to 1976-1988. These speeds are higher than for any previous hiatus on record, bolstering the idea that other factors may have joined this negative PDO/IPO phase. The faster trade winds encouraged upwelling of cooler water to the east and helped deepen and strengthen the warm pool to the west—enough, in fact, to raise sea level around the Philippines by as much as 8 inches. Other parts of the deep ocean warmed as well. A new study led by Dean Roemmich (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) maps the areas of greatest ocean heating from 2006 to 2013 and finds that significant warming extended to depths of greater than 6600 feet.

What next for the PDO?
The PDO index, as calculated at the University of Washington, scored positive values during every month in 2014, the first such streak since 2003. By December it reached +2.51, the largest positive value for any December in records that go back to 1900. The January value from UW was 2.45, again a monthly record. (NOAA calculates its own PDO values through a closely related methodology.)

Because the PDO can flip modes for a year or more within its longer-term cycle, we don’t yet know whether a significant shift to a positive PDO phase has begun. If trade winds weaken throughout this year, and positive PDO values persist, that’ll be strong evidence that a new cycle is indeed under way. The last time we saw a two-year streak of positive values was in 1992-93. If this occurs, and assuming no spikes in major volcanic activity, we could expect greater rises in global temperature over the next 10 to 15 years than we’ve seen during the hiatus. In addition, we should watch for El Niño to make its presence known more often.

“I am inclined to think the hiatus is over, mainly based on the PDO index change,” NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth told me. While Matthew England isn’t ready to offer such a prediction, he emphasized that any post-hiatus global temperature rise is likely to be fairly rapid. Trenberth also commented on an interesting NOAA analysis (see Figure 4): “If one takes the global mean temperature from 1970 on, everything fits a linear trend quite well except 1998.”


Figure 4. When looking at global temperature over a full PDO cycle (1970s to 2010s), the overall rise becomes evident, despite the flattening observed in the last 15 years. Image credit: NOAA.


A record-strong El Niño occurred in 1998, providing an unusually powerful boost to global temperature and fueling years of subsequent declarations that “global warming stopped in 1998.” The record warmth of 2014 made it clear that global warming has no intention of stopping, and the next few years are likely to reinforce that point. Nevertheless, snowbound New Englanders, and millions of other easterners now dealing with record cold for so late in the year, may be wondering why eastern North America has seen so much cold and snow in the past few winters--especially this one--and how long that climatic quirk might continue. Stay tuned for a separate post on that topic.

Bob Henson


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Quoting 31. wxgeek723:

Not something you see every day:



Ha, been following that today. My inlaws have a couple inches of snow I believe back in Pamlico county. We had some very bizarre snows in the eastern NC region...gradiants that were lake effect like.
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"Residents of New England may understandably look back at 2015 as the year of their never-ending winter."

It hasn't even been that long. A small glacier currently encircles my property, true, and this morning it was -11 when I woke up, yes, but exactly two months ago the lawn was brown and my kids were out frolicking in 50 degree sun waiting for Santa. And with any luck a month from now it will be getting close to that again.

Part of our collective problem is that many of us have short attention spans and a limited knowledge base. Every event is the biggest of its kind ever and everytime something happens it must be the start of some new trend. So when it gets really cold and wintery for a couple days or weeks people think they're living through unprecedented times. They think they're experiencing something special that's particularly about them. They have no idea others had it much worse.
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Excellent Post Bob...
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Sunspots have nothing to due with CO2 concentrations on Earth and the resulting Global Warming that occurs. I have no idea where people get this stuff from. At least if you are going make up stuff come up with something new.
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Quoting 36. tampabaymatt:



The storms appear to be training a little bit south of the nature coast into northern Orlando. I have not received any rain yet at my location but if the line sags south I will get some.


.20" here so far not heavy but steady rains streaming in across a narrow corridor on the northside of Orlando infact just 10 miles south of here across Downtown Orlando its dry.
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38. jpsb
Like Oh No Dude! Climate change may flatten Santa Cruz's famed surfing waves. Yeah dude like it's really that bad.
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Another issue with the surface temperature record and the "slowing" is that the areas warming the fastest, have the least station coverage.

Using the Cowtan & Way method for filling in coverage gaps shows little change to the trend:



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Quoting 34. StormTrackerScott:



Same here in Melbourne NWS had 20% rain chances even had some thunder an hour ago from storm to my west in Sumter County.


The storms appear to be training a little bit south of the nature coast into northern Orlando. I have not received any rain yet at my location but if the line sags south I will get some.
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Quoting 29. GTstormChaserCaleb:

Simple question but may take a complex answer: Is this the end of the active era of the Atlantic Hurricane Season that began in 1995?


I have a love hate relationship with the MDO, as I saw the 70's and 80's Lull firsthand compared to the active 60's, esp in the GOM.

But with the Oceans becoming a warmer Heat sink, some of these long term oscillations should see a wavering of their norm as well.

Time will show us, but more than likely by then I'll be a nice quiet lil Mater Plant in a green urn.
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Quoting 9. tampabaymatt:



The NWS had a rain chance of 20% for Tampa today. Does the image I posted in #6 look like 20% coverage? Just stick to global warming arguments breaux.


Same here in Melbourne NWS had 20% rain chances even had some thunder an hour ago from storm to my west in Sumter County.
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Hard steady rain here on the northside of Orlando. Unexpected to see this amount of rain today.

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What next for the PDO?
The PDO index, as calculated at the University of Washington, scored positive values during every month in 2014, the first such streak since 2003. By December it reached +2.51, the largest positive value for any December in records that go back to 1900. The January value from UW was 2.45, again a monthly record. (NOAA calculates its own PDO values through a closely related methodology.)

Because the PDO can flip modes for a year or more within its longer-term cycle, we don’t yet know whether a significant shift to a positive PDO phase has begun. If trade winds weaken throughout this year, and positive PDO values persist, that’ll be strong evidence that a new cycle is indeed under way. The last time we saw a two-year streak of positive values was in 1992-93. If this occurs, and assuming no spikes in major volcanic activity, we could expect greater rises in global temperature over the next 10 to 15 years than we’ve seen during the hiatus. In addition, we should watch for El Niño to make its presence known more often.

I guess Goodbye active Atlantic Hurricane Seasons?

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Not something you see every day:
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Quoting 26. mtwhitney:

I believe that part of the reason for the apparent slowing of global warming is the effect of the extreme winters in the northern hemisphere, which is caused by the extreme troughs in the jet stream that has become much more prevelent since the extreme loss of arctic sea ice in 2007. The northern hem has a greater impact on global temps than the southern hem.

Global warming should cause greater warming during the winter than in summer, but it appears that since the big arctic melt in summer 2007, there are fewer record warm winter months than we had before summer 2007. Eventually, the overall warming will overcome the trend-negative effects of the alteration of the jet stream and weather patterns in winter, and we will have record warm january and february again.

Is there any information out there about this possibility?



All signs point to increased heat uptake by the oceans. The heat content of the oceans has seen a increased rate during the surface temperature slowing.

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Simple question but may take a complex answer: Is this the end of the active era of the Atlantic Hurricane Season that began in 1995?
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Joe B and the SERF model thinks D.C could see several inches Thursday.I don't really know if I can be confident in that.
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" millions of other easterners now dealing with record cold for so late in the year, may be wondering why eastern North America has seen so much cold and snow in the past few winters--especially this one--and how long that climatic quirk might continue. Stay tuned for a separate post on that topic."

cant wait for this post
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I believe that part of the reason for the apparent slowing of global warming is the effect of the extreme winters in the northern hemisphere, which is caused by the extreme troughs in the jet stream that has become much more prevelent since the extreme loss of arctic sea ice in 2007. The northern hem has a greater impact on global temps than the southern hem.

Global warming should cause greater warming during the winter than in summer, but it appears that since the big arctic melt in summer 2007, there are fewer record warm winter months than we had before summer 2007. Eventually, the overall warming will overcome the trend-negative effects of the alteration of the jet stream and weather patterns in winter, and we will have record warm januarys and februarys again.

Is there any information out there about this possibility?
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I thought we (NBC-2.com) had the best weather radar in the area.


NBC2 Power Doppler: The only live radar in Southwest Florida

Link

The NBC2 First Alert Storm Team maintains an interactive link to the National Weather Service offices in both Tmpa and Miami. They will, on occasion, ask us what we've seen on our local Doppler radar and with provide them with the information they cannot see.

Both Tampa and Miami's Doppler radars are so distant that their radar beams pass about 4,000 feet overhead, due to the earth's curvature. The NBC2 First Alert Doppler sees the lowest 4,000 feet that they cannot.

There have been many times the National Weather Service will issue or cancel watches, warning or advisories dependant on what one of the stations' meteorologists is seeing on our Southwest Florida radar.

If you rely on the National Weather Service radar, you have to wait for something called "volumetric scans." That means their radar beam is tilted higher and higher with each sweep until the total scan is done every six minutes - and that NWS radar data is only able to provide a useful low-level radar scan once every six minutes.

Because the NBC2 First Alert Doppler radar sweeps our skies once every minute on a sunny day and increases to six times a minute during storms, you receive what might be life-saving information faster.

When conditions change quickly, the NBC2 First Alert Doppler radar provides 36 snapshots of the Southwest Florida storm pattern in the time that others can only accumulate one view.
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Thank You.
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Quoting 18. tchall:

What effect will the current lack of sunspot activity have on the radiant energy reaching the earth?

Is that included in the present modeling of future climate?

Of course it is. Of course they factor in the sun and its known cycles of activity, as well as modeling for potential changes in output in either direction.
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21. jpsb
I was enjoying the Pangea discussion so my comtripution from the old blog

Quoting 267. LAbonbon:

billion?



From Wiki

Pangaea or Pangea (/pænˈdʒiːə/[1]) was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras.[2] It formed approximately 300 million years ago and then began to break apart after about 100 million years.[3] Unlike the present Earth, much of the land mass was in the southern hemisphere. Pangaea was the first reconstructed supercontinent and it was surrounded by a super ocean, known as Panthalassa.


Also it is thought that a super continent forms and then breaks up about every 600 million years or so. see wiki on Supercontinent cycle

Also from wiki

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_ humans
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Quoting 18. tchall:

What effect will the current lack of sunspot activity have on the radiant energy reaching the earth?

Is that included in the present modeling of future climate?


Er, there is no lack of Sunspots, thats a tactic often used by the watts bots and other denialist spoofs.

NOAA has a excellent space weather page you should check out.

The Sun is not the driver of the observed Warming.

The amount of solar energy received at the top of our atmosphere has followed its natural 11-year cycle of small ups and downs, but with no net increase. Over the same period, global temperature has risen markedly. This indicates that it is extremely unlikely that solar influence has been a significant driver of global temperature change over several decades.







I use solarham.net
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Pacific Science Center helps visualize climate change since 1880 – in seconds
BY FRANK CATALANO on February 24, 2015 at 6:39 am


Understanding how climate change is reflected in global temperatures can make one’s head spin. So the Pacific Science Center is helping spur that understanding by projecting climate change’s effects on something that normally does spin — a globe.

Using a newly updated data set from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that covers global temperatures from 1880 through 2014, the Seattle-based science center will display the data as animation on a huge globe in its Science on a Sphere exhibit. As each year flashes by, the sphere shows where Earth’s surface temperatures were warmer (red) or colder (blue) than the 20th century average, culminating in 2014, the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880.

The impressive visualization is part of Pacific Science Center’s tenth annual Polar Science Weekend. Starting Friday and running through Sunday, March 1, the activities and explanations also include scientists’ research from the University of Washington on Arctic ice melt, a model of a narwhal tusk, and an explanation of why penguins and polar bears never meet socially in their native habitats.

The global temperature data will be presented in the Polar Regions Demo show scheduled up to twice each day. Polar Science Weekend activities are included in regular Pacific Science Center admission.
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What effect will the current lack of sunspot activity have on the radiant energy reaching the earth?

Is that included in the present modeling of future climate?
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Quoting tampabaymatt:


The NWS had a rain chance of 20% for Tampa today. Does the image I posted in #6 look like 20% coverage? Just stick to global warming arguments breaux.
The 0418 AFD for Tampa says this:

EXTREMELY HIGH MOISTURE IN
LOW TO MID LEVELS MAY PRODUCE A FEW SHOWERS...LIGHT RAIN OR EVEN
DRIZZLE DUE TO MOISTURE CONVERGENCE IN ALREADY SATURATED AIRMASS
AS WELL AS SOME WEAK CAA OFF THE SFC INTO THE REGION. JET STREAK
JUST NORTH MAY ALSO HELP TRIGGER SOME ELEVATE PRECIP AS
WELL...MAINLY IN NRN AREAS. THAT SAID...HIGH GFS POPS IN TAMPA
AREA ARE AN OUTLIER AND PREFER MOST OTHER GUIDANCE WHICH KEEPS
ONLY MINIMAL POPS ACROSS CEN ZONES.

Not only wasn't the widespread rain and convection predicted but the one model that did predict it - the GFS - was dismissed as an outlier. It was a miss, no excuses.
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The Portlight Hampton Roads Getting It Right Workshop will continue at 1PM EDT

1:00pm 2:15pm Janet Schumacher, City of Charleston ADA Coordinator

LIVESTREAM

Janet is an expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Janet will identify issues people with disabilities face during times of disaster. Janet will give tools and to insure full ADA compliance which will decrease the risk of litigation.


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Quoting 14. Patrap:

<Quoting 9. tampabaymatt:

LOL..right, and for those wondering, jus what is a Klystron?






Klystron? Dat's somethin to put tabasco on fo mardi gras, in case der is sneaux.
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<Quoting 9. tampabaymatt:

LOL..right, and for those wondering, jus what is a Klystron?



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a train derailed near LA...train hit a semi on the tracks...a number of injuries reported.
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Another negative temp start in S C IL this a.m., but the station to my SW was a degree warmer than Mon. at -1, while the one to my N was 3 degrees colder at -6, only 2 degrees difference between the two yesterday. However, we're warming up quickly as brisk SW winds bring in a warmer air mass, they're currently in teens w/ gust in low/mid 20s. Temps into low 20s heading into mid/upper 30s w/ dew pts now reaching double digits. Pressure has dropped slightly below 30".

It's a brief warmup, however. Tomorrow's high in upper 20's w/ a pretty good chance of snow Wed night into Thurs morning, then single digit lows returning Fri & Sat mornings. Have snow forecast for Sat night/Sun, but now don't say mixed, even though forecast high Sun is above freezing. Looks like a Lion start to March this year, at least at this time. OK w/ me as long as we go out like a lamb.
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Quoting 7. Patrap:

How is that true in any sense,

Tampa Wu page
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Tampa Bay Ruskin Florida
940 am EST Tuesday Feb 24 2015

For the morning update...
areas of dense fog persist across west central and southwest
Florida early this morning...however recent trends show visibility slowly
improving as the fog gradually lifts. Will allow the dense fog
advisory to expire at 10 am. A few pockets of dense fog may
persist until 11 am especially along the coast...but will not be
widespread enough to warrant extending the advisory.

A weak frontal boundary will gradually push south across the
northern and central forecast area today with a chance of
showers north of Tampa Bay. Boundary layer winds will shift to
the west and northwest behind the front late today and tonight.
This should push the area of sea fog over the coastal waters to
the south...with the sea fog possibly persisting off the southwest
Florida coast through tonight. The shift in winds to the west
could push the sea fog locally onshore across southwest Florida
tonight.

Will update zones later this morning to remove the dense fog
advisory.

&&






The NWS had a rain chance of 20% for Tampa today. Does the image I posted in #6 look like 20% coverage? Just stick to global warming arguments breaux.
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intense cold moderating



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How is that true in any sense,

Tampa Wu page
Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service Tampa Bay Ruskin Florida
940 am EST Tuesday Feb 24 2015

For the morning update...
areas of dense fog persist across west central and southwest
Florida early this morning...however recent trends show visibility slowly
improving as the fog gradually lifts. Will allow the dense fog
advisory to expire at 10 am. A few pockets of dense fog may
persist until 11 am especially along the coast...but will not be
widespread enough to warrant extending the advisory.

A weak frontal boundary will gradually push south across the
northern and central forecast area today with a chance of
showers north of Tampa Bay. Boundary layer winds will shift to
the west and northwest behind the front late today and tonight.
This should push the area of sea fog over the coastal waters to
the south...with the sea fog possibly persisting off the southwest
Florida coast through tonight. The shift in winds to the west
could push the sea fog locally onshore across southwest Florida
tonight.

Will update zones later this morning to remove the dense fog
advisory.

&&



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So far, the storms have passed by to the north of me. This amount of rain coming in off the Gulf was totally unpredicted by local mets or the NWS. I guess when there is so much moisture in place, you can never rule the rain out.
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thnks bob

faster faster we go

mom natures idea of planet earth as a music express ride

hold on we gonna take you up a little faster

spin u up
spin u out
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Very Nice work Mr. Henson and thanks for summarizing the current research related to the PDO. Lends a little support to my amateur observation that the Pacific Basin will probably be the one to keep the closest eye on in the coming decades in terms of ocean impacts related to GW (as compared to the Atlantic basin) given that it is the largest one in the world and the role that it plays in global weather issues. We might see a discernible impact in that basin in terms of tropical storms in the coming decades earlier than one on the Atlantic side as well but the research tends to cut both ways (stronger storms, weaker ones, more-frequent, less-frequent, more intense, etc)........We just have to wait to see how all this unfolds over the next few decades.
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apParenTly there is some rain in the forecast:

Link
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thanx once again bob....making a dummy like me understand the process.....
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A pileup on I-40 west of Amarillo involving at least 25 vehicles
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather