DISCUSSION: There are numerous temperature records archived around the globe which have consistently shown that the Earth's average temperature is continuing to warm more and more with time. In fact, many global temperature records have shown that the rate of temperature increase at many locations around the world have actually gradually increased with time. There are some many consequential concerns for other atmospheric phenomena as a result of this gradually increasing rate of temperature increase from a global perspective. First and foremost, a higher average global temperature corresponds to there being a higher average capacity for a given parcel of air to hold more water.
Therefore, there is an inherently larger amount of water suspended within the lower to middle parts of the atmosphere within a planet which has a higher average temperature. As a consequence, there is a greater threat for heavier rainfall events as well as increasingly more potent tropical cyclones from a global perspective due to a higher atmospheric water content. Though, there is not a direct mathematical correlation between higher water content and more intense tropical cyclones, the fact is that tropical cyclones thrive within atmospheric environments which have a greater amount of atmospheric water content. Thus, with an atmosphere with greater water content, there typically is a greater propensity for greater tropical cyclone activity (and more intense activity often times as well).
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Left: Snow beginning to fall on I-80 west of Laramie on Sunday, September 24th at 4:16 pm local time; Right: Partly cloudy skies looking south from Juneau Harbor toward the Gastineau Channel on Sunday, September 24 at 4:16 AKDT
There are some illusions surrounding Alaska’s temperature and climate, specifically cooler temperatures in the summer and early fall months. But, what makes a location’s climate unique? Weather is comprised of individual events and climate is the average of these conditions. Proximity to a body of water, topography, and elevation all can play a factor in shaping the climate.
For the purposes of comparison, Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the highest elevation cities at an average elevation of 5300 feet and a latitude of 35°N. This city lies at the northern edges of the Chihuahuan Desert, and thus, experiences large ranges in diurnal temperatures due to the specific heat of dry air being less than that of water (humid air takes longer to heat and cool than dry air does). Laramie, WY (located in southeast Wyoming along the Colorado Front Range) is located at 41°N and 7220 feet above sea level. Similar to Albuquerque, Laramie is also a semi-arid climate, but the high plains location is susceptible to long, cold winters.
Juneau, Alaska (fondly referred to as Capital City by locals) is nestled between the Gastineau Channel to the west and several large mountainous peaks to the east, separating it from Canada. It is located at 58°N, with the Article Circle beginning at a latitude 65°N. Juneau is considered a maritime climate due to the stabilizing presence of the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures are relatively mild here and small variations may exist between high and low temperatures, contrary to what its latitude may suggest.
During the last week of September, several differences were noticed for these locations. A slow-moving Pacific storm system hit Laramie, WY with its first “measurable” snow (greater than or equal to 0.01”) on Sunday, September 24th . With about a month and half away from its first predicted snowfall, Juneau experienced a heavy rain event beginning Monday evening the 25th through the 28th with up to 2.5” of precipitation in some areas, as a front pushed through the southeast Alaska panhandle. A separate backdoor cold front backed into eastern New Mexico and moved through the central portion of the state by Wednesday, September 27th. Meanwhile, Juneau International Airport experienced a maximum temperature of 59°F, almost 6 degrees above normal. The overnight low of 55°F in Juneau was almost 10 degrees warmer than portions of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming (49°F in Albuquerque and a mere 36 degrees in Laramie, WY).
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©2017 Meteorologist Sharon Sullivan
1941: The Wettest September on Record in New Mexico_Part 1 (Photo Credit: West Kentucky Genealogical Society)
The year 1941 stands out as being the highest annual precipitation value for the state of New Mexico. The value for 1941 looks out of place compared to the average statewide precipitation of 14 inches that New Mexico receives each year, but it is no mistake in the data. The record for 1941 is 26.25 inches. The graph shows almost 6 inches of precipitation for September 1941 alone and a second large peak in the month of May. The month of September seems to experience the largest range in precipitation values for New Mexico. The September events for 1941 were thought to have been associated with a strong monsoon moisture plume and/or tropical system(s) and consisted of two major storm periods.
September is the most likely month for New Mexico to be affected by tropical storm remnants, having flash flooding and large amounts of precipitation about every three out of 5 years. Tropical storm records for the eastern Pacific are not available for 1941, but historic records indicate that three tropical storms tracked along the west coast of Mexico in September of 1941. On September 20, 1941, a tropical disturbance advisory was issued for New Orleans and Jacksonville and strong high pressure over the Atlantic States. Warm, moist air from the Gulf is bringing great moisture to the Plains and Middle Rockies. Similarly, an influx of moisture from TS 4 on September 28th combined with a strong cold frontal passage produced heavy rain over the central and eastern portions of the state.
Between July and September, there is normally an increase in precipitation in New Mexico due to a surge of monsoon moisture. The 1941 monsoon season had the 20th highest total rainfall for June-September precipitation. Most months throughout the 1941 calendar year were not outrageously wet, but precipitation continued at anomalous rates for 9 out of 12 months that year.
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© 2017 Meteorologist Sharon Sullivan