Mapping Drought Conditions

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Weather

USA Today reports that the country hasn’t been this “dry” in five years: 

Still reeling from devastating drought that led to at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the South in 2011, the nation is enduring more unusually parched weather.

The map uses the same data we at NPR used recently to map conditions in Texas, which endured the worst drought in its history last year. The map shows the full country, for context, and allows users to see an animated view week-by-week from summer 2010 to last month. Check it out

A Warmer Winter For Some

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Weather

These maps capture the warm winter we’re experiencing in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. The top map shows the average temperature so far this December. The bottom map shows how that figure differs from the norm over the last three decades: 

Source: National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center

DC vs. Austin Weather: Part 2

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Back in May I compared the weather in my former town, Austin, Texas, to my current home, Washington, DC. Now that I’ve lived through a summer here, I’ve revisited the topic with two simple line charts.

This first chart shows monthly averages. As you can see, Austin experienced 100-degree average high temperatures in July and August (with little rain), setting the stage for the destructive wild fires spreading around the city

View larger, interactive version

Here’s a day-by-day comparison: 

View larger, interactive version

Data source: Weather Underground | Download: Days | Months

Goodbye Irene

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Hurricane Irene is now gone, though the storm damage is still being felt across the East Coast. In D.C., at least for me, that meant a short disruption in power and a few snapped tree limbs. That’s largely because we didn’t get the high winds: 

Here’s wider view: 

Source: NOAA | Made with ArcGIS | Download GIS data

NOAA’s Climate Change Library

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

The city of Chicago is planning ahead for climate change, choosing different paving materials and plants in anticipation of warmer temperatures, according to this story in The New York Times.

“Cities adapt or they go away,” said Aaron N. Durnbaugh, deputy commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment. “Climate change is happening in both real and dramatic ways, but also in slow, pervasive ways. We can handle it, but we do need to acknowledge it. We are on a 50-year cycle, but we need to get going.”

Across America and in Congress, the very existence of climate change continues to be challenged — especially by conservatives. The skeptics are supported by constituents wary of science and concerned about the economic impacts of stronger regulation. Yet even as the debate rages on, city and state planners are beginning to prepare.

The story prompted me to seek climate data, and I stumbled up this cool interactive library maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You can use their graphics to see trends in temperature anomalies, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, sea levels, etc.: