Dr. Masters on August 2013 Extremes

August 2013 was the globe’s 4th warmest August since records began in 1880, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated it the 5th warmest August on record. The year-to-date period of January – August has been the 6th warmest such period on record. August 2013 global land temperatures were the 11th warmest on record, and global ocean temperatures were the 5th warmest on record. August 2013 was the 342nd consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. Global satellite-measured temperatures in August 2013 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were 14th or 11th warmest in the 35-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), respectively. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a comprehensive post on the notable weather events of August 2013 in his August 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary. The big stories that he highlights are the intense heat waves that hit Central Europe and East Asia, which brought all-time national heat records to Austria, Slovenia, and Japan. Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, passed its all-time heat record a remarkable five times during the month.

Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for August 2013, the 4th warmest August for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Most of the world’s land areas experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including Australia, northern South America, western North America, Europe, and much of eastern Asia. Far eastern China, part of eastern Russia north of Japan, and part of northeastern South America were record warm for the month. The southeastern United States, Far East Russia, part of South Africa, Paraguay, and Bolivia were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) .

The six billion-dollar weather disasters of August 2013

Disaster 1. The most damaging billion-dollar weather disaster of August was in Northeast China, where the Nei River overflowed, killing 54 and leaving 97 missing in Fushuan. The flooding killed 118 people and cost $5 billion. In this photo, workers use an excavator to clean up mud after heavy rain hit on August 19, 2013 in Fushuan, in the Liaoning Province of China. Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images.

Disaster 2. Super Typhoon Utor killed 70 people in China and did $2.6 billion in damage. Utor also did $33 million in damage in the Philippines. This video taken by storm chaser James Reynolds shows debris flying as Typhoon Utor hits Zhapo, China on 14th August 2013.

Disaster 3. Torrential rains, due, in part, to moisture from Typhoon Trami, fell in the Philippines August 18 – 21, causing massive flooding on Luzon Island that cost $2.2 billion. Twenty-seven people were killed, and 60% of metro Manila was under water at the peak of the flood. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this was the most expensive natural disaster in Philippine history. In this photo, pedicabs and makeshift rafts ferry office workers and pedestrians through flood waters that submerged parts of the financial district of Makati on August 20, 2013 in Makati City south of Manila, Philippines. Image credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

Disaster 4. In Pakistan, torrential monsoon rains caused significant flooding that affected 5,739 villages. At least 208 people were killed, 63,180 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 1.4 million acres (567,000 hectares) of crops were submerged. The government estimated economic agricultural losses alone at $1.9 billion. Pakistan’s four most expensive weather-related disasters in its history have been floods that occurred in the past four consecutive years. In this photo, Pakistani residents hold onto a rope as they evacuate a flooded area in Karachi on August 4, 2013. Image credit: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

Figure 5. Russia experienced its costliest flood disaster in history beginning on August 4, when the Amur and Zeya rivers in the far east of the country along the Chinese border overflowed, flooding 1.7 million acres, damaging or destroying over 11,500 buildings. It was the 4th most expensive natural disaster of any kind in Russian history. These false-color infrared satellite images of Russia’s Amur River taken a little over a year apart show the extent of the extreme flooding that affected the Komsomolsk-on-Amur area (population 500,000) in August 2013. Image credit: NASA.

Disaster 6. A severe weather outbreak in the U.S. Plains and Midwest August 5 – 7 brought baseball sized hail and thunderstorm wind gusts over 80 mph to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Two people were killed, and damage was estimated at $1 billion. In this photo, a severe thunderstorm closes in on Edgemont, South Dakota, on August 7, 2013. Image credit: wunderphotographer ninjalynn.

The world-wide tally of billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2013 is 25, and the U.S. total is six, according to the August 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. This excludes the September Colorado flood, whose damages are preliminarily estimated at $2 billion. Ranked in term of cost, here are the 25 disasters:

1) Flooding, Central Europe, 5/30 – 6/6, $22 billion
2) Drought, Brazil, 1/1 – 5/31, $8.3 billion
3) Drought, Central and Eastern China, 1/1 – 7/31, $6.0 billion
4) Flooding, Calgary, Alberta Canada, 6/19 – 6/24, $5.3 billion
5) Flooding, China, 8/9 – 9/5, $5.0 billion
6) Tornado, Moore, OK, and associated U.S. severe weather, 5/18 – 5/22, $4.5 billion
6) Flooding, China, 7/7 – 7/17, $4.5 billion
8) Flooding, Indonesia, 1/20 – 1/27, $3.31 billion
9) Super Typhoon Utor, China and Philippines, 8/12 – 8/15, $2.6 billion
10) Flooding, Australia, 1/21 – 1/30, $2.5 billion
11) Flooding, Philippines, 8/18 – 8/21, $2.2 billion
12 Tornadoes and severe weather, U.S., 5/26 – 6/2, $2 billion
12) Severe weather, Midwest U.S., 3/18 – 3/20, $2 billion
14) Flooding, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 8/3 – 8/31, $1.9 billion
15) Winter weather, Europe, 3/12 – 3/31, $1.8 billion
16) Drought, New Zealand, 1/1 – 5/10, $1.6 billion
16) Severe weather, U.S., 4/7 – 4/11, $1.6 billion
18) Flooding, Toronto, Canada, 7/8, $1.45 billion
19) Flooding, China, 6/29 – 7/3, $1.4 billion
19) Flooding, China, 7/21 – 7/25, $1.4 billion
21) Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 – 4/4, $1.3 billion
22) Flooding, India and Nepal, 6/14 – 6/18, $1.1 billion
23) Winter weather, U.S. Plains, Midwest, Northeast, 2/24 – 2/27, $1.0 billion
23) Severe weather, U.S. Plains and Midwest, 8/5 – 8/7, $1.0 billion
23) Flooding, Russia, 8/4 – 8/31, $1.0 billion

Neutral El Niño conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific
For the 17th month in row, neutral El Niño conditions existed in the equatorial Pacific during August 2013. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects neutral El Niño conditions to last though the winter of 2013 – 2014, and the large majority of the El Niño models also predict that neutral conditions will last through the winter. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C below average or cooler for three consecutive months for a La Niña episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were 0.0°C from average as of September 16, and have been +0.1 to -0.4°C from average since April 1, 2013.

Arctic sea ice falls to 6th lowest August extent on record
Arctic sea ice extent during August was 6th lowest in the 35-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This was the largest August extent since 2009, and a nice change of pace from last year’s all-time record retreat. The Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for the year on September 13, and has now begun re-freezing. I’ll have a dedicated post on this, probably on Tuesday.

Quiet in the Atlantic
In the Gulf of Mexico, the tail end of a cold front off the coast of Texas has developed a few disorganized heavy thunderstorms. This disturbance has some modest spin to it, thanks to absorbing Invest 95L on Saturday. However, wind shear is high, 20 – 30 knots, and I don’t expect this disturbance will develop. The disturbance is expected to bring 1 – 3″ of rain to Florida later this week, and on Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers has re-opened the flood gates on Lake Okeechobee to dump water out of the lake in anticipation of the heavy rains. None the reliable models for tropical cyclone formation is predicting development during the coming five days.

In the Western Pacific, Typhoon Usagi has dissipated after hitting China about 100 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong. The storm is being blamed for at least 25 deaths in China and 2 in the Philippines. Preliminary damage estimates are over $500 million.

Jeff Masters

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