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Buresh Blog

Posted: 7:39 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017

Stormy Spring Possible... Above Avg. Temps... Jan. Global Temps.... La Nina Over... Great American Bird Count 

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By Mike Buresh

It has been a stormy winter with several tornado outbreaks (including another one near Houston Tue., 02/14) to begin the new year...... & with a dying La Nina... late winter & spring could be especially stormy.  History shows us that a La Nina spring or a spring following a La Nina (this episode was very weak) can have a higher number of tornadoes.  The 150+ reported tornadoes so far this year is way above the 3-year avg. of 26 & the 20 deaths is above the annual! avg.  The images below are courtesy the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).... (1) severe storm reports this year so far.... (2) # of tornado reports vs. avg.... (3) # of tornadoes vs. 12 year avg.

Also .... of note.... the unseasonably warm Gulf of Mexico water.  This could add "energy" -- or at least higher moisture content & instability -- in advance of any approaching storms or cold fronts.  It will also be interesting to see if the overall warmer than avg. Atlantic Basin remains so through the hurricane season.

We are now past our avg. last date for a freeze at JIA - Feb. 14th.  The statistic means 50% of the time our last freeze of the season occurs before Feb. 14th & 50% of the time our last freeze occurs after Feb. 14.  And oh was a mild winter it has been for NE Fl./SE Ga.  JIA officially has had but 5 freezes so far vs. an avg. of 18 freezes.  The beaches flirted with 32 degrees but once.  While enjoyable for those that are not fans of winter, there are some negative implications & most noteable might be the insect populations - especially mosquitos & the potential for an early rise of the Zika virus this year.  In fact, Jan. & Feb., 2016 were below avg. months but temps. have been above avg. every month since - at an avg. of + 2.28 degrees.

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade January temperatures (preliminary) Global composite temp.: +0.30 C (about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January. Northern Hemisphere: +0.27 C (about 0.49 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January. Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January. Tropics: +0.07 C (about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for January.

December temperatures (revised): Global Composite: +0.24 C above 30-year average Northern Hemisphere: +0.19 C above 30-year average Southern Hemisphere: +0.30 C above 30-year average Tropics: +0.21 C above 30-year average (All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Feb. 1, 2017: Temperatures in the tropical atmosphere continued to drop in January as temperatures there moved closer to their long-term averages, according to Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Composite temperatures over both hemispheres, however, bumped slightly warmer in January, especially in the higher latitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere, pockets of warmer than normal air were especially pronounced over the eastern U.S., Canada and the North Atlantic. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia and a large area of southern ocean between South America and New Zealand were warmer than normal. Compared to seasonal norms, the warmest average temperature anomaly on Earth in January was in the southern Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles north of the Getz ice shelf in Western Antarctica. January temperatures there averaged 4.98 C (about 8.96 degrees F) warmer than seasonal norms. Compared to seasonal norms, the coolest average temperature on Earth in January was off the east coast of Tunisia in the Gulf of Hammamet. January temperatures there averaged 2.91 C (about 5.24 degrees F) cooler than seasonal norms.

NOAA has declared the weak La Nina "over".  A bit of cool water remains over the Central (equatorial) Pacific but the ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation) criteria is essentially neutral.  Some forecast modeling -- 2nd image below -- shows a turn toward another possible El Nino this summer.  The good news locally -- potentially -- is that such a shift often results in timely start of the "wet season" (June) + a summer that's usually not "over the top" hot.


The 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20. Each year, volunteers tally the birds they see in backyards, parks, and natural areas. In 2016, bird watchers from more than 130 countries reported 5,689 species – more than half of the known bird species in the world! Which species might show up in this year’s count?

Even if you don’t spot any rare species, counting the “regulars” is just as important. Volunteers participating in GBBC help track changes in bird populations at a scale that scientists can’t achieve alone.

So, get counting! Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Get started with these simple instructions for counting and reporting birds. You can also find an online bird guide, tips for making tricky bird IDs, and birding apps).

No backyard? No problem. Head to a public land to count birds! Bureau of Land Management, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and US Forest Service lands are offering fee-free days over Presidents' Day Weekend.

GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with partner Bird Studies Canada.

Mike Buresh

About Mike Buresh

Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh anchors the 5,6, and 11 p.m. newscasts on WJAX-TV and the 10 p.m. newscast on WFOX-TV and can be heard daily on News 104.

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