Localizing temperature trends in the changing climate

January 20th, 2015 at 8:23 pm by under Weather

warming new


Everyone has seen “climate change” in the headlines as of late–but what does the changing climate mean for your local temperatures?

A tool from NewScientist allows you to answer that question.

By clicking around on the interactive map found here, you can see your local temperature trends over the past 100+ years. Play around and have some fun!

Study: Jump in lightning may be precursor to severe weather

January 19th, 2015 at 8:31 pm by under Weather

Sudden jump in a storm's lightning might warn a supercell is forming

A jump in lightning strikes inside a thunderstorm might be a severe weather early warning, says research by Sarah Stough, a UAH graduate student in atmospheric science. Credit: UAH

A sudden jump in the number of lightning strikes inside a garden-variety thunderstorm might soon give forecasters a new tool for predicting severe weather and issuing timely warnings, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The sudden increase in lightning is one sign a normal storm is rapidly evolving into a supercell, with a large rotating updraft – or mesocyclone – at its heart.

“Supercells are more prone to produce  events, including damaging straight line winds and large hail,” said Sarah Stough, a UAH graduate student in atmospheric science. “Supercells also produce the strongest and most deadly tornadoes.”

Early results from Stough’s research were scheduled to be presented Wednesday, Jan.7, in Phoenix at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting.


NASA launches soil-sensing satellite

January 18th, 2015 at 8:08 pm by under Weather

(  A new NASA satellite that will peer into the topmost layer of Earth’s soils to measure the hidden waters that influence our weather and climate is in final preparations for a Jan. 29 dawn launch from California.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will take the pulse of a key measure of our water planet: how freshwater cycles over Earth’s land surfaces in the form of soil moisture. The mission will produce the most accurate, highest-resolution global maps ever obtained from space of the moisture present in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of Earth’s soils. It also will detect and map whether the ground is frozen or thawed. This data will be used to enhance scientists’ understanding of the processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.


Costliest Weather Events Of 2014

January 17th, 2015 at 7:04 pm by under Weather

In 2014, there were 8 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included a drought event, a flooding event, 5 severe storm events, and a winter storm event. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 53 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted. Further cost data and figures on individual events in 2014 will be announced in mid-2015.


1.  The Western Drought (1/1/14 – 12/31/14)  -  Historic drought conditions affected the majority of California for all of 2014 making it the worst drought on record for the state. Surrounding states and parts of Texas and Oklahoma also experienced continued severe drought conditions. This is a continuation of drought conditions that have persisted for several years.

2.  Rockies/Plains Severe Weather (9/29/14 – 10/2/14)  -  Severe storms across the Rockies and Plains states (CO, TX, KS). Large hail and high winds created significant damage across eastern Colorado and Texas, particularly in the Dallas metro area.

3.  Michigan/Northeast Flooding (8/11/14 – 8/13/14)  -  Heavy rainfall in excess of 5 inches caused significant flooding in cities across Michigan damaging thousands of cars, business, homes and other infrastructure. Flooding also occurred across Maryland and New York’s Long Island, as the slow-moving storm system delivered 24-hour rainfall exceeding 6 and 12 inches, respectively, creating more flood damage. Islip, NY received 13.57 inches of rain over a 24-hour period on Aug 12-13 setting a new 24-hour precipitation record for New York.

4.  Rockies/Central Plains Severe Weather (6/3/14 -6/5/14)  -  Severe storms across the Rockies and Central Plains states (NE, KS, WY, IA, AR). Wind gusts exceeding 90 mph and baseball to softball sized hail caused severe damage to structures and vehicles in central and eastern Nebraska.

5.  Rockies/Midwest/Eastern Severe Weather (5/18/14 – 5/23/14)  -  Severe storms across the Rockies, Midwest and Eastern states (CO, MT, IA, IL, IN, OH, SC, VA, PA, DE, NY) with the most costly damage in Colorado, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

6.  Midwest/Southeast/Northeast Tornadoes and Flooding (4/27/14 – 5/1/14)  -  Tornado outbreak across the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast states (AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, KS, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA) with 83 confirmed tornadoes. Mississippi had its 3rd greatest number of tornadoes reported for any day since 1950. Torrential rainfall in the Florida panhandle also caused major flooding, as Pensacola set new 1-day and 2-day precipitation records of 15.55 and 20.47 inches, respectively. Flooding rains were also reported in coastal Alabama, as Mobile received 11.24 inches of rain, the third greatest calendar day rainfall total for the city.

7.  Plains Severe Weather (4/2/14 – 4/3/14)  -  Severe storms across the Plains states (IL, KS, MO, TX) causing considerable hail and wind damage in Texas.

8.  Midwest/Southeast/Northeast Winter Storm (1/5/14 -1/8/14)  -  Winter storm caused widespread damage across numerous Midwest, Southeast and Northeastern states (AL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA).

2014: Earth’s hottest year on record

January 16th, 2015 at 11:04 am by under Weather

This animation shows Earth’s surface temperature in 2014 compared to the 1981-2010 average, followed by monthly maps of difference from average temperatures for each month January through December 2014. Maps are based on data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

In 2014, the combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20thcentury average, making the year the warmest since records began in 1880. The ocean alone was record warm, while the land alone was fourth warmest.  Five months set new records for warmth: May, June, August, September, and December.  October tied for record warmest.

The 20 warmest years in the historical record have all occurred in the past 20 years. Except for 1998, the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2002.


Annual temperatures since 1880 compared to the twentieth-century average.  The ten warmest years on record (darkest red) have occurred in the most recent decades. Graph by NOAA, based on data from the National Climatic Data Center.


January bird forecast

January 15th, 2015 at 11:28 pm by under Weather

What to watch for in January: Hungry feathered friends

Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at

A little help for our friends

Now is a great time to feed the birds. A little extra fat and protein from seeds and suet will help your common winter birds get through the cold nights.

Suet is available in blocks at big hardware stores and bird-friendly businesses, such as Wild Birds Unlimited. If you have a problem with squirrels, look for red pepper suet, which they avoid. Suet will attract woodpeckers, wrens, blue jays and titmice, but other cool birds like wintering warblers have been known to take a bite.

Want to make your own suet? Check out this site for recipes and instructions: Find a PDF guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology about feeding birds in winter at

Find more advice about nonseed snacks you can put out for your birds at

Don’t forget the water, with a bird bath or even just a shallow dish or planter saucer on the ground.

Small but charming visitors

Carolina Chickadee photo by Dan Pancamo via Creative Commons

Carolina Chickadee photo by Dan Pancamo via Creative Commons

Black-crested Titmouse photo by Dan Pancamo via Creative Commons

Black-crested Titmouse photo by Dan Pancamo via Creative Commons

Who might visit your feeders this time of year? Some of our cutest birds: the Carolina Chickadee and the Black-crested Titmouse.

The chickadee is a small bird with a black-and-white head, gray body, and tiny beak. They have relatively large heads and short necks, which makes them appear rather spherical, even when they are not puffed up in cold weather. They love seeds and are quite acrobatic, grabbing seeds and zipping off to a nearby branch to eat.

They are often seen with another small but charming bird, the titmouse. These birds are somewhat larger but are equally energetic and acrobatic. They are mostly gray with a black crest and big black eyes and a dark beak.

Field Trips — Beginners welcome. Check the Travis Audubon website for details.
Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, January 17, 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Commons Ford Sparrow Chase with Ed Fair
Saturday, January 17, 7:30 a.m.

Two-hour Tuesday at Barkley Meadows led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, January 20, 8 to 10 a.m.

Birding the Balcones Canyonlands/Water Quality Preserves-Part 5
Friday, January 23, 8 to 11 a.m.

Balcones Canyonlands NWR
Saturday, January 24, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Super Tuesday Winter Birding at Mother Neff State Park led by Craig Rasmussen, Deb Wallace, and Lee Wallace
Tuesday, January 27, 6 a.m. to noon

Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez

NOAA/NASA expected to announce 2014 as hottest year on record

January 14th, 2015 at 7:52 pm by under Weather

A major announcement is expected this Friday from NOAA and NASA, potentially declaring 2014 as the hottest year on record around the globe.

  • This means that 13 of the hottest years on record globally (since 1880) have all happened in the past 15 years
  • The odds of that happening by chance are less than 1-in-27 million


2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record
NOAA and NASA Joint Announcement on Friday

This Friday, NOAA and NASA will officially declare 2014 as the hottest year in 134 years of record keeping, with an expected annual global temperature 0.68°C above the 20th century average according to NOAA’s dataset.

In 2014, seven out of 12 months tied or topped previous monthly global temperature records. Oceans in particular experienced record warmth, with seven consecutive months—May through November—setting new records for surface ocean heat.  Most importantly, 2014 sets the new global temperature record in the absence of an El Niño, a phenomenon which raises global temperature. Many of the previous hottest years on record have occurred during El Niño years, including 2010 and 2005, which now share the record for second hottest year.


2014 brings second-lowest inflows on record to Highland Lakes

January 13th, 2015 at 7:24 pm by under Weather


LCRA — Inflows into the Highland Lakes from streams and tributaries in 2014 were the second lowest for any year since 1942, when Mansfield Dam was completed.

In December, the amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes totaled just more than 10,500 acre-feet – about 16 percent of the historical average for inflows for the month of December. (An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.)

Unlike the Austin area, which had above-average rainfall last year, the Highland Lakes watershed in the Texas Hill Country had below-normal rainfall in 2014 and remains in a serious drought. The intermittent timing of storms in the Hill Country allowed the soil to dry out between rain events, which resulted in little runoff into the lakes. For water to flow into the lakes, the rain must fall on saturated ground, or the rain must be hard enough to generate substantial runoff. Very little of either occurred in 2014.


2014: Slightly cooler/wetter than normal in Austin

January 12th, 2015 at 7:30 pm by under Weather


The National Weather Service recently released their climate summary for the year 2014 in Central Texas.

Read the full statement below, or check out these quick highlights:


  • 1.21″ WETTER than average
  • 0.3ºF COOLER than average
  • Wettest day:  September 18 (3.66″)
  • Hottest day:  August 16 (104ºF)
  • Coldest day:  January 6/7 (22ºF)



648 PM CST SAT JAN 3 2015



AUSTIN BERGSTROM      29.47 INCHES      35.11*      -5.64
AUSTIN MABRY          35.53 INCHES      34.32       +1.21
DEL RIO               16.15 INCHES      19.52       -3.37
SAN ANTONIO           28.20 INCHES      32.27       -4.07

24-hour rainfall reports

January 11th, 2015 at 5:45 pm by under Weather


The upper-level low pressure system that brought several days of cold, gray weather to Central Texas is finally exiting to the east this evening. Last night into early this morning, the storm system brought widespread light to moderate rain with embedded thunderstorms–and some beneficial rain.

See how your community fared with our 24-hour rainfall reports below. Scroll down until you find your county, then rain reports in that area are listed from greatest to least.

From our local National Weather Service office Sunday afternoon:

1219 PM CST SUN JAN 11 2015


LOCATION                     AMOUNT    TIME/DATE       LAT/LON

SMITHVILLE 7.2 SW            2.59 IN   0943 AM 01/11   29.95N/97.26W
SMITHVILLE                   2.30 IN   0808 AM 01/11   30.02N/97.15W
SMITHVILLE                   2.18 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.01N/97.16W
PAIGE 4.6 SW                 2.00 IN   0803 AM 01/11   30.16N/97.16W
CIRCLE D-KC ESTATES 3.5 ESE  1.85 IN   1027 AM 01/11   30.15N/97.17W
RED ROCK 5.0 ESE             1.82 IN   0812 AM 01/11   29.94N/97.37W
BASTROP 5.2 SE               1.79 IN   1007 AM 01/11   30.05N/97.25W
1 WSW ROSANKY                1.77 IN   1140 AM 01/11   29.93N/97.31W
CEDAR CREEK BELOW BASTROP    1.50 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.04N/97.31W
CIRCLE D-KC ESTATES 0.9 SE   1.49 IN   0847 AM 01/11   30.15N/97.22W
3 WSW CIRCLE D-KC ESTATE     1.48 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.14N/97.27W
WYLDWOOD 8.3 SSW             1.39 IN   0822 AM 01/11   30.03N/97.55W
MCDADE 4.6 SSW               1.39 IN   0837 AM 01/11   30.22N/97.26W
BASTROP 1.2 N                1.38 IN   0833 AM 01/11   30.13N/97.30W
CEDAR CREEK 6.1 S            1.36 IN   0808 AM 01/11   30.00N/97.50W
BASTROP 5.7 NE               1.35 IN   0847 AM 01/11   30.17N/97.24W
BASTROP 1.0 WNW              1.34 IN   0744 AM 01/11   30.12N/97.32W
RED ROCK 1.2 N               1.34 IN   0802 AM 01/11   29.98N/97.45W
BASTROP 5.0 NE               1.33 IN   0759 AM 01/11   30.17N/97.26W
CEDAR CREEK NEAR BASTROP     1.24 IN   1100 AM 01/11   30.08N/97.39W
CEDAR CREEK 1.0 ENE          1.23 IN   0804 AM 01/11   30.09N/97.49W
BASTROP 8.0 NNE              1.23 IN   0723 AM 01/11   30.23N/97.28W
BASTROP 7.6 N                1.21 IN   0807 AM 01/11   30.22N/97.32W
1 NW CAMP SWIFT              1.16 IN   1208 PM 01/11   30.20N/97.30W
1 WSW BASTROP                1.16 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.10N/97.32W
2 ESE WYLDWOOD               1.15 IN   1208 PM 01/11   30.11N/97.43W
MCDADE 1.4 NNE               1.14 IN   0808 AM 01/11   30.30N/97.23W
8 W ROSANKY                  1.12 IN   1207 PM 01/11   29.95N/97.44W
ELGIN 4.4 SSE                1.10 IN   0948 AM 01/11   30.29N/97.34W
DALE 7.6 N                   1.08 IN   0704 AM 01/11   30.04N/97.57W
6 NNW CAMP SWIFT             1.07 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.27N/97.33W
3 W CEDAR CREEK              1.02 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.08N/97.55W
CEDAR CREEK 5.9 N            0.98 IN   0730 AM 01/11   30.17N/97.49W
2 SSE BASTROP                0.96 IN   1211 PM 01/11   30.08N/97.29W
ELGIN 3.8 ENE                0.94 IN   0828 AM 01/11   30.38N/97.32W
7 NNE WYLDWOOD               0.85 IN   1140 AM 01/11   30.23N/97.43W
3 NE ELGIN                   0.74 IN   1206 PM 01/11   30.38N/97.35W
TOM MILLER DAM               0.42 IN   1100 AM 01/11   30.17N/97.47W
BLANCO 8.8 ENE               0.45 IN   0725 AM 01/11   30.15N/98.29W
FREDERICKSBURG 12.4 NE       0.43 IN   0739 AM 01/11   30.24N/98.44W
BLANCO 5.5 E                 0.41 IN   0752 AM 01/11   30.09N/98.33W
BLANCO 7.2 SE                0.32 IN   1127 AM 01/11   30.03N/98.34W