Happy new year! We all know keeping New Year’s resolutions is often a fruitless endeavor, but here’s hoping that Mother Nature will make—and keep—a resolution for a less bonkers climate year in 2021. To kick start 2021 in the United States, the January outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center favors wetter- and warmer-than-average conditions for much of the country, which is particularly good news across drought- and wildfire-stricken parts of northern California.
Just how warm Earth stays this December will determine if 2020 goes down as the hottest year on record. And it’s looking a lot like it will.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculated Monday that last month globally was the second hottest November on record, behind only 2015. Yet NASA and a European climate monitoring group said it was the hottest November on record. NASA has coverage over the poles that NOAA does not — and both the Arctic and Antarctic were very warm in November, NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo said to explain the difference.
Throughout the year, a weather system known as an “atmospheric river” can impact the West Coast of the U.S., causing flooding, heavy snow and possible mudslides.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines an atmospheric river as a huge plume of subtropical moisture that moves with the weather, carrying water roughly equivalent to the average flow at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
“Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics,” the NOAA states.
Southern California will get a chance to dry out this week after a string of storms dumped rain and snow across the region over the last few weeks.
“Basically, we’ve got an area of high pressure moving in from the West, and it’s deflecting the storms to the north,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
The weather is expected to stay dry through at least Sunday, forecasts show. Temperatures are also expected to warm up later in the week, with highs in the mid-60s to lower-70s on Friday and Saturday, according to the weather service.
The U.S. government’s oceans and waterways agency will provide $30 million to improve coastal resilience, officials said, aiming to reduce the impacts of worsening storms, flooding and rising seas in nearly half of U.S. states.
Grants through the program are designed to restore or expand coastal wetlands, dunes, reefs, mangroves and barrier islands that are key to coastal protection, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an announcement.
Coastlines worldwide are being damaged or threatened by more extreme and destructive weather, higher temperatures and rising seas that scientists attribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Much of the planet sweltered in unprecedented heat in July, as temperatures soared to new heights in the hottest month ever recorded. The record warmth also shrank Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to historic lows.
The average global temperature in July was 1.71 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees, making it the hottest July in the 140-year record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The previous hottest month on record was July 2016.