Hwy 550 corridor/RMP ~ SWE ~ 2/15/19 @ 17:30

potent storm, high PI.  Most of this fell Thursday night.  Had a big natural cycle in highway paths.  All of the usual suspects crossed the road sometime Thursday night or Friday morning.   Red  reopen at 9:15  last night.


Monument: 13″/1.25″

RMP 18″/1.85″

Molas 20″/2.25″

Coal Bank 25″/2.7″


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A long-awaited and much-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived

Finally! I was wondering if the weak ENSO signal (bordering on ENSO neutral conditions) helped explain the more varying storm track that has produced a good snow year from the PAC NW down into the CO northern mtns.

This has been an unusual year (like all years). Typically El Nino brings a dry heart of winter. Glad that didn’t happen. El Nino typically produces a wet spring. Let’s hope!
Joe Ramey, Mountain Weather Masters and former NWS meteorologist.

Sea surface temperature anomalies show plenty of warm water in the equatorial Pacific. It’s been enough to get an El Niño going. (earth.nullschool.net)

February 14 at 2:35 PM

We’ve waited all winter for it to be announced, and it seemed it might not happen, but El Niño has officially developed.

This ocean-atmosphere cycle is known for altering weather patterns around the world, and forecasters had predicted it could arrive as soon as last fall. So Thursday’s declaration from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seemed like a long time coming,

This El Niño, unlike 2016′s powerhouse version dubbed “Godzilla,” is predicted to be relatively feeble. But NOAA says it is still likely to have some meaningful impact on the weather in the Lower 48.

“While the El Niño is expected to be weak, it may bring wetter conditions across the southern half of the U.S. during the coming months,” NOAA wrote in its news announcement.

On a much larger scale, this event may help push the planet toward one of its warmest years on record in 2019.

El Niño — meaning “little boy” for its typical development around Christmas — is the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). It is characterized by warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. A natural occurrence, it tends to bring increased precipitation to the West Coast and southern United States among other global impacts.

The ENSO phases compared. (NOAA)

El Niños are rated on a scale from weak to very strong, and this event falls on the low end of the spectrum. Before this winter’s event, the most recent El Niño was of the very strong or super variety, in the winter of 2015-16. That event followed a rather weak El Niño the winter before.

El Niño’s opposite phase is known as La Niña. This occurs when cooler-than-normal water gathers near the equatorial Pacific. Its influences typically lead to drier-than-usual conditions in the southern United States, with the focus of the moisture more often hitting the Pacific Northwest and the northern tier of the country.

This El Niño may distinguish itself by persisting into the summer and even extending into next winter. This would be rare, if it happens.

“La Niña events can often carry over through the summer, but El Niño events are much less inclined to do the same,” said Barb Mayes Boustead, an atmospheric scientist. “[Persistence] of a full El Niño through the warm season is rare.”

Aside from the back-to-back events spanning 2014 to 2016, the only other recent case of El Niño surviving for two full years occurred from 1986 to 1988, Mayes Boustead said. And that earlier event was rather weak.

Even though El Niño wasn’t officially declared over the past several weeks, precipitation patterns have often mimicked those of an El Niño across the United States. The tweet below from the Weather Channel’s Jessica Arnoldy, before the official El Niño announcement, shows the telltale enhanced precipitation across the southern United States.

Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at the Weather Company, concurred that several characteristics of the weather this winter have been consistent with El Niño and listed them in a tweet.

In the coming weeks, the predicted above-normal precipitation across the South corresponds well with patterns seen in El Niño winters. That hasn’t necessarily been the case all winter, which may be partly attributed to the rather weak nature of this event. For instance, extensive precipitation and snow in the Pacific Northwest of late is perhaps more typical of La Niña.

Weather patterns can be affected by other atmosphere and ocean factors, aside from El Niño, especially when it’s weak. “[Some] of the above-normal precipitation this winter in parts of the West is related to subseasonal variability attributed to another climate phenomena, the Madden Julian Oscillation, rather than El Niño influences,” scientists at NOAA wrote.

But the extra heat in the tropical Pacific Ocean resulting from El Niño is likely to help boost global temperatures in 2019.

Even before Thursday’s announcement, the United Kingdom’s Met Office was predicting 2019 to end up the second warmest year on record, projecting an average temperature of 1.1 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 normal.

The major El Niño of 2015-16 ended up boosting 2016′s global temperature to 1.11 degrees C above that same normal, which made it the warmest year in recorded history.

The Machine Stops

My favorite aunt, Auntie Len, when she was in her eighties, told me that she had not had too much difficulty adjusting to all the things that were new in her lifetime—jet planes, space travel, plastics, and so on—but that she could not accustom herself to the disappearance of the old. “Where have all the horses gone?” she would sometimes say. Born in 1892, she had grown up in a London full of carriages and horses.

I have similar feelings myself. A few years ago, I was walking with my niece Liz down Mill Lane, a road near the house in London where I grew up. I stopped at a railway bridge where I had loved leaning over the railings as a child. I watched various electric and diesel trains go by, and after a few minutes Liz, growing impatient, asked, “What are you waiting for?” I said that I was waiting for a steam train. Liz looked at me as if I were crazy.

“Uncle Oliver,” she said. “There haven’t been steam trains for more than forty years.”

I have not adjusted as well as my aunt did to some aspects of the new—perhaps because the rate of social change associated with technological advances has been so rapid and so profound. I cannot get used to seeing myriads of people in the street peering into little boxes or holding them in front of their faces, walking blithely in the path of moving traffic, totally out of touch with their surroundings. I am most alarmed by such distraction and inattention when I see young parents staring at their cell phones and ignoring their own babies as they walk or wheel them along. Such children, unable to attract their parents’ attention, must feel neglected, and they will surely show the effects of this in the years to come.

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The North Magnetic Pole’s Mysterious Journey Across the Arctic ~ NYT

  • Scientists accelerated the update of a model of Earth’s fluctuating magnetic field, which is needed to keep navigational systems functioning. Many wondered what’s happening inside the planet’s core.
Aurora borealis over Canada, as seen from the International Space Station in 2017. The spectacular display is caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field. Credit JSC/NASA

By Shannon Hall


The north magnetic pole is restless.

Distinct from the geographic North Pole, where all the lines of longitude meet at the top of the world, the magnetic pole is the point that a compass recognizes as north. At the moment, it’s located four degrees south of the geographic North Pole, which lies in the Arctic Ocean at 90 degrees north.

But that wasn’t always the case.

In the mid-19th century, the north magnetic pole floated much further south, roaming around Canada. For the past 150 years, however, the pole has been sprinting away from Canada and toward Siberia.

That change of address cannot be ignored, given that magnetic compasses still underpin modern navigation, from the systems used by civilian and military airplanes to those that orient your iPhone.

In 1965, scientists launched a data-based, mathematical representation of Earth’s magnetic field in order to better keep track of the pole’s ever-changing home. The World Magnetic Model is updated every five years — most recently in 2015 — because the magnetic field is constantly shifting.

In early 2018, it became clear that 2015’s edition was in trouble, because the pole’s Siberian stroll had picked up speed, rendering the model — and therefore a number of navigational systems — incorrect.

So for the first time, scientists have updated the model ahead of schedule, which they released Monday afternoon. Since this work was completed in the wake of the partial government shutdown (which delayed its full release), researchers still are trying to get a handle on the mysteries within Earth’s core that must be driving the magnetic pole’s surprising behavior.

Heading North

The north magnetic pole, the point on the Earth where a compass needle would point down, is sliding about 35 miles closer to Russia each year.

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The north magnetic pole’s dizzying dance was first discovered nearly 400 years ago, when Henry Gellibrand, an English mathematician, realized that it had jumped hundreds of miles closer to the geographic pole over the course of 50 years.

“That was a big, monumental recognition that the field was not static, but dynamic,” said Andrew Jackson, a geophysicist at ETH Zurich.

It didn’t take long, however, before magnetic north flipped direction and started to move away from the geographic pole — demonstrating that the field is not just dynamic, it’s unpredictable.

“The problem that we’re still facing today is that we don’t have a good scheme to predict how the field will change,” Dr. Jackson said.

So scientists began tracking the ever-changing magnetic field. The first magnetic maps, which were hand-drawn by exploring sailors, revealed that for the next two centuries, magnetic north twirled among the many islands and channels of the Arctic Archipelago.

Then around 1860, it took a sharp turn and bee-lined toward Siberia. Since then, the pole has traveled nearly 1,500 miles and was most recently found in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, still en route to Russia.

Scientists attribute this wanderlust to the liquid iron sloshing within our planet’s outer core. That iron is buoyant — it rises, cools and then sinks. And that motion below carries Earth’s magnetic field with it, producing changes above.

The north magnetic pole is distinct from the geographic north pole, which is where all the lines of longitude meet at the top of the world. The magnetic pole is the point that compasses recognize as northCredit Norman Kuring, NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP

To more accurately map those changes, scientists launched the precursor to the World Magnetic Model nearly 55 years ago, which began as a collaboration between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The map we know today has existed in its current form since 1990 and is created by an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British Geological Survey (BGS). It’s commissioned by American and British military agencies, and used by many other militaries across the world.

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It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth-Warmest Year on Record ~ NYT

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Source: NASA | By The New York Times


NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend.

“The five warmest years have, in fact, been the last five years,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the NASA group that conducted the analysis. “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It’s here. It’s now.”

Over all, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001.

The results of this warming, Dr. Schmidt said, can be seen from the heat waves in Australia and extended droughts to coastal flooding in the United States, in disappearing Arctic ice and shrinking glaciers. Scientists have linked climate change to more destructive hurricanes like Michael and Florence last year, and have found links to such phenomena as the polar vortex, which last week delivered bone-chilling blasts to the American Midwest and Northeast.

While this planet has seen hotter days, and colder ones, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of history is the relative suddenness of the rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity over the same period.

Total change in temperature, 1970-2018






Source: NASA | By The New York Times

The Earth’s temperature in 2018 was more than 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average temperature of the late 19th century, when humans started pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Scientists say that if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, global temperatures must not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

It appears highly likely, at least from today’s perspective, that that line will be crossed, despite the fact that 190 nations have signed the Paris climate agreement. (The United States is still technically a party to the accord, though President Trump has pledged to withdraw.)

Even an increase of 1.5 degrees will have dire consequences, according to the United Nations science panel on climate change.

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