Hazy Skies for Arizona

Posted by Raquel Nicora

Last Monday, another dust storm blew through the Phoenix area.  The winds of this dust storm, or haboob, reached up to 50 miles per hour and lifted dust up to 2000 feet into the air.  Although some power lines and trees were down, no injuries were reported.

Dust Storm over Phoenix - Courtesy of AmericaPictures

The Four Corner States experience haboobs during their monsoon season, which begins from mid-June through September 30th.  Haboobs are common in arid regions such as North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Gulf of Guinea.

Courtesy of KPHO



These dust storms are formed when air is pushed down and forward by a front of a thunderstorm.  The wind picks up the dust and sand and is capable of creating a wall of dust as high as 10,000 feet.  According to the National Climatic Data Center, 100 dust storms have been reported within the past decade in Arizona alone! These storms are usually 10 to 30 minutes long, yet can pose a serious threat.



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Tropical Outlook

Posted by Tyler Castillo

Pacific: Currently, in the eastern Pacific, there is a 60% chance for tropical cyclone development off the coast of Mexico as a result of a cluster of storms associated with an area of low pressure.


The system has become better organized as it tracks northwest at about 15 mph. The conditions are favorable for development, as long as it remains offshore. Once it becomes classified as a depression, it is likely to move into colder waters, which will gradually break it down. Locally heavy rainfall should be expected with this system.



Atlantic/Gulf: As for the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, parts of Mexico are currently experiencing what is left of Fernand as it is slowly tracking northwest across the country at 9 mph.

There is also a cluster of storms off the coast of Florida, although nothing major is expected to come of it.

Currently, an area of interest would be along the central Atlantic as there is a rather long line of showers and storms, although the large area of dry air to its north may halt development. There is still, however, a chance that these may develop into a tropical cyclone as conditions may become favorable.


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The Latest Wildfire Update: Rim Fire

Posted by Raquel Nicora

Over 1,800 firefighters are battling the flames of a raging wildfire, referred to as the Rim Fire, in Northern California this week. As one of many fires that have been plaguing the U.S. lately, the Rim Fire is currently located near the Stanislaus National Forest, and has burned through 105,620 acres of land.  According to officials, the Rim Fire nearly doubled in size from last night, and only 2% of the fire has been contained.

Courtesy of NPR - Firefighter battling flames in Groveland, CA on Thursday

California Governor Jerry Brown declared this an emergency situation on Thursday due to the $5.4 million the wildfire has caused in damages.  Nearby residents have been receiving phone calls from their local police department, urging them to evacuate their homes.  The wildfire is creeping its way westward towards Pine Mountain Lake, and eastward towards Yosemite National Forest.  Although Highway 120 has been closed this week, (the main road used to get in and out of Yosemite) the park remains open.  Park officials believe the fire will not threaten the Yosemite Valley Region.



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Risky Business: Sea Level Rise

Sea Level Rise - New York & New Jersey - Courtesy of NOAA

Posted by Raquel Nicora

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast, yet many parts are still recovering.  Buildings are being restored and new infrastructure is being constructed.  For many local officials, community planners, and construction managers, deciding where to rebuild and construct can be a challenging task.  FEMA has provided information about the Northeast’s flood risk, however, it does not cover the risk of flooding due to sea level rise.  This had inspired the U.S. Global Change Research Program to create a tool that accentuates this problem.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program is made up of 13 federal agencies (NASA, Department of State, Department of Commerce, etc.).  Under these agencies, NOAA, FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer.  The Impacts Viewer has the best impact scenarios from today through the year 2100.  It takes into account ocean warming, ice sheet melt, local conditions such as vertical land movement, and regional climate variations.


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“Seasonal” Blue Moon This Evening

by Chris Hubbard

Tonight, August 20th, at 9:45pm EST will debut what is called a Seasonal Blue Moon. A traditional blue moon is usually known to people as the second of two full moons in one month. This moon, however, will be the third of four full moon in a season. Although it’s not the rarest of occurrences, the last one hasn’t happened in over three years! Unfortunately the moon will not actually be blue for this time.

The last traditional blue moon, which occurred in August of last year

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