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Climate blog: May 2015 worldwide weather extremes 

In CRJ 10:4 Editorial Advisory Panel Member William Peterson reports on the continued drought in Calfornia, USA. Here, in his monthly blog, he looks back on a variety of record setting weather phenomena all across the globe.

In India, temperatures as high as 48°C have resulted in more than 2300 deaths, and residents long for the start of the rainy season, and hopefully lower temperatures. In the Western Pacific we saw two typhoons, Noul (Dodong) and Dolphin (Egay) both threatened the Islands of Guam and the Philippines. In Alaska, temperatures hit a record 33°C with summer more than a month away.


A young boy tries to keep cool in Calcutta during India’s extreme heatwave this May
(photo: Saikat Paul / Shutterstock)

In the USA, the California drought continues to move into its third consecutive year and, just 1,500 miles to the east, Oklahoma City experienced a rainfall of 500 per cent of its normal for the month, not to mention the accompanying severe storms and tornados that are the usual late spring 'normal' threat for the central US.

shutterstock 212241811

Low water levels at Lake Shasta in California, which is in the grip of a three-year drought
(photo: David Greitzer | Shutterstock)

In the last week of May, the attention turned to Central Texas where areas around Dallas, Austin, and Houston, saw as much as 50 per cent of their normal rainfall in a period of seven to ten days. In flooding levels never previously experienced, the Blanco River south of Austin rose as much as 40 feet through the small community of Wimberley, sweeping away homes, vehicles and everything along the banks of the river. The historically peaceful river, with a normal flow rate, of 100-300 cubic feet per second (CFS), on average, swelled to as much as 223,000 CFS, trapping holidaymakers and carrying them and everything else miles downriver. That flow rate, for comparison, is 2.5 times the flow rate of Niagara Falls!

The State of Texas had been experiencing a drought for the last three years. By the end of May, the drought had been eliminated, statewide, in less than three weeks.


Soldiers and local first responders rescue three people from a stalled vehicle stuck in water near Granbury, Texas, on May 27, 2015 (Texas National Guard photo by US Army 1st Lt. Max Perez)

As with any weather related disaster, there is widespread conjecture of the cause, or causes, yet no definitive source. Those causes mentioned included the growing El Niño in the Eastern Pacific, to a stationary jet stream over the globe, to normal variability, and the direct and indirect effects of global warming.

One thing is certain however, is that these typically 'no notice' weather events place a significant burden on our society from the perspective of civilians, as well as the emergency responders and emergency management officials who are called upon to both warn the public and deal with the aftermath.

As we move into June, and the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, prognostications are that 2015 be will be a milder than normal experience. But, only time will tell.

For those who are interested in using the resources of the Internet for weather tracking and forecasting, you might be interested in looking at two websites that I find very interesting and helpful. The first is here where you can get current information on global weather and weather systems all across the planet. It's worth exploring at your leisure.

The second recommended website is here, where you can get a current animated view of global wind, weather, and ocean storms. Just use your computer mouse to spin the globe and zoom in on any area of your interest, worldwide. 

William Peterson, 10/06/2015
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