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November 15, 2007

Sidr Lands in Bangladesh

Tropical Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh today with 140-155 mph winds. If Sidr had hit the U.S., it would have been rated in the upper limits of a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. According to the Weather Channel blog, the North Indian Ocean is the only place to have two cyclone seasons, April-May and October-November. Bangladesh suffered the most deadly cyclone in November 1970, killing at least 300,000 in the Ganges Delta. Another cyclone in 1991 killed 139,000. (There is a list of notable hurricanes, typhoons, blizzards, and other storms on page 303 of the 2008 World Almanac.)

Tropical cyclones are the same as hurricanes and typhoons; they are all cyclonic storms. The name varies by location. This map from the World Meteorological Organization shows the different regions for monitoring cyclonic storms as well as what they're called.
0711cyclones.jpg

Reliefweb, a great source for emergency relief response to any disaster worldwide, said that the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has set up 1,580 shelters and mobilized 34,000 volunteers to help with the preparation and recovery.

Bangladesh: Tropical Cyclone - Nov 2007 (ReliefWeb)
On-going Updates of Sidr (Weather Channel blog)
All sorts of cyclone satellite photos (Naval Research Academy at Monterey, Tropical Cyclone Page)

January 26, 2007

Weather Wonk

snowsuit.jpgI grew up in Minnesota, where folks would say that as a Minnesotan, you have both the right and the responsiblity to complain about the weather all year long—it was always too cold, too humid, too icy, too dry, etc.

Now that wintery weather has finally come to my new neck of the woods, I'm reminded of the National Weather Service's comprehensive graphical maps weather tool. The map is interactive: just click on your region and move your mouse over the map for illustrations of temperature, apparent temperature, wind speed, precipitation probability, and a dozen other more technical weather markers, at four set times daily. Or jump forward or back 12 hours at a time—a helpful tool when you live in a city where, even if it snows, there may not be visible evidence an hour later.

Interactive Weather Maps

Flickr photo from Exployment Now (cc)

December 18, 2006

Climate Anomalies of 2006

significant-extremes2006.jpgWhen it comes to weather extremes, it's hard to put them into context. Sure, we'll see images on TV of blizzards, forest fires, and other climatic events, but it isn't easy to put events together into one big world picture, especially when a lot of the events happen so far from our homes. To help us get a better feel for the global situation, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released a world map showing major climate anomalies from 2006. The map also shows whether the climate activity in certain areas was normal or not. It's a well-done and concise presentation of data in an easy-to-understand format.

For a more historical view of extreme weather, you can also take a look at the new list of "Notorious U.S. Storms" on p. 302 of the 2007 edition of The World Almanac--a great way to see how recent storms like Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Floyd (1999) compare with storms as far back as the 19th century.

December 11, 2006

Seattle Rain Record Retracted

After surviving a November of heavy rain and even snow, Seattle residents thought they had something special to celebrate: a new local record set for precipitation in a month. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reading of 15.63 inches total for the month did outdo the November 1933 reading for downtown Seattle of 15.33 inches. This new record was publicized by the National Weather Service and news outlets as august as the L.A. Times. However, University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass set the record straight in The Seattle Times last week. City gauges in downtown Seattle had only reached 14.8 inches in total for November 2006.

And really, Seattle doesn't have much to complain about. Check out page 295 in The World Almanac 2007 to see who has it worse in terms of average annual precipitation. Even I was surprised to see that New York's Central Park weather station records more precipitation annually (an average of 49.69 inches) than Seattle's measly 37.07 annual inches.

-Zoë Kashner (Seattle native, New York resident)

December 8, 2006

New Orleans Recovery

superdome.jpgThe New Orleans Saints played their 2006 season opener at the Superdome, and for many the game represented a city on the road to recovery from Hurricane Katrina. However, the city’s recovery has been slower than an outsider might think. Public policy think tank The Brookings Institution has been researching Katrina recovery since the day the storm landed, and publishes a monthly index of progress on its website, in addition to suggestions for ways to improve the recovery effort. One year after the storm, in August 2006, about 35% of the city’s pre-Katrina population lived in New Orleans and only about 66% of New Orleans Metropolitan area public schools reopened.

The full August 2006 Katrina Index can be found here and the Brookings Institution’s Katrina research home page, with indexes updated to November, can be found here.

December 7, 2006

Meteorology: Menaces and Marvels

cloud-mike138.jpgWe had a lot of fun (OK, maybe that's not exactly the right word, but it was a fascinating process) creating a new page on "Notorious U.S. Storms" for the 2007 Almanac; our tables of notable floods, earthquakes, and other disasters throughout history are perennial favorites among Almanac devotees, and we thought that this year we should delve a little deeper into the major meteorological events in U.S. history--from the Blizzard of 1988, to the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974, to (of course) the devastation of Katrina in 2005.

After reading about all those disasters, however, I recommend a palate-cleansing visit to the Cloud Appreciation Society for a look at some happier, but still dramatic, meteorological events. (Also see another great gallery of clouds here, courtesy of the Athanasius Kircher Society.)

Cloud Appreciation Society

Creative Commons-licensed image by mike138

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