Assessing the U.S. #Climate in September 2020 — @NOAA

Belverde Castle, Central Park, New York, NY. Photo credit: Shutterstock via NOAA

From NOAA:

For September, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 66.0°F, 1.1°F above the 20th-century average, ranking in the warmest one-third of the 126-year period of record. For the year-to-date, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 57.3°F, 2.3°F above the 20th-century average, ranking sixth warmest in the January-September record.

The September precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.38 inches, 0.11 inch below average, ranking in the middle one-third of the 126-year period of record. For the year-to-date, the national precipitation total was 24.08 inches, 0.88 inch above average, also ranking in the middle one-third of the January-September record.

NCEI updated the 2020 billion-dollar weather and climate disaster list to include six additional events — Western Wildfires, Western/Central Drought and Heatwave, Hurricane Sally, Hurricane Laura, Central Severe Weather Derecho and Hurricane Isaias. This brings the year-to-date total to 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the U.S. and ties with 2011 and 2017 for the largest number of disasters in a calendar year. This is also the sixth consecutive year (2015-2020) in which 10 or more billion-dollar disasters have impacted the U.S. — the only such occurrence on record.

This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making.

September Temperature

  • The cooler temperatures observed across the Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley mid-month were associated with a strong trough of low pressure.
  • Above- to much-above-average September temperatures were observed across much of the West, parts of the Northeast and Gulf Coast. California and Oregon ranked warmest on record for the month with Nevada and Arizona ranking second warmest.
    • Phoenix, Arizona, broke the record for the number of days with temperatures at or above 110°F in a calendar year during August and added three more days to the record in September. The 2020 record of 53 days shatters the previous record of 33, set in 2011.
  • Below-average temperatures were present across portions of the Plains and Deep South and in pockets scattered across the Great Lakes, Southeast and mid-Atlantic.
  • Alaska had a statewide average temperature of 42.0°F, 1.4°F above the long-term average and ranking in the warmest one-third of the 96-year record. Above-average temperatures were observed across the eastern half of Alaska including most of the Northeast and Southeast Interior regions, Cook Inlet, Northeast Gulf and the Panhandle regions.

September Precipitation

  • The West remained hot and dry under a relatively persistent ridge of high pressure throughout much of September, exacerbating wildfire conditions. The above-average rainfall observed across the South and Southeast were in large part due to Tropical Storm Beta and Hurricane Sally.
  • Above-average precipitation was observed from parts of the Deep South to the mid-Atlantic and in portions of the Northwest and Midwest. Georgia had its ninth-wettest September on record.
  • Below-average precipitation was observed from the West Coast to the northern Great Lakes and across the Northeast, and in portions of the central Gulf Coast as well as parts of the western Ohio Valley. Maine had its record-driest September, while Arizona ranked fifth driest and California sixth driest on record. In total, seven states in the Northeast, Southwest and northern Plains had their tenth driest, or drier, September.
  • Alaska’s average of 3.93 inches of precipitation in September was 0.64 inch below average and ranked in the driest one-third of the 96-year record. The Northeast Interior, the eastern half of the North Slope as well as much of the Central Interior received above-average precipitation during September, while below-average precipitation was present across the western North Slope, Bristol Bay, the Northeast Gulf and the Panhandle regions.
    • No snow was reported at Fairbanks during September. This is the third consecutive year with no September snowfall — a first in the Weather Bureau/NWS era (since 1930).
  • According to the September 29 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 42.6 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 3 percentage points from the beginning of September. This is the largest drought footprint across the CONUS since September 2013. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across much of the Northeast and the western half of the contiguous U.S. Drought coverage lessened or was eliminated across parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley and Deep South. Drought was eliminated across Kodiak Island in Alaska, contracted across Hawaii’s Big Island and intensified on the other Hawaiian islands.


  • The western U.S. is in the midst of its most active fire year on record in 2020.
    • By the end of September, more than five million acres were consumed across California, Oregon and Washington State. This is more than three times the annual 10-year (2010-2019) average of nearly 1.6 million acres.
    • California has already had the highest number of acres burned in a single year across the state with many active fires still ablaze.
    • Five of the six largest fires in California history occurred during 2020 — August Complex, SCU Lightning Complex, LNU Lightning Complex, North Complex and the Creek Fire.
    • As of October 1, the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado is the third-largest fire in the state’s history. Three of the four largest fires in Colorado history occurred during 2020.
    • Thick smoke and ash from the wildfires reduced air quality in the West and southwest Canada to dangerous levels, forcing people to stay indoors during much of September.

Tropical Cyclones and Hurricanes

  • The Atlantic Basin hurricane season continues at a record pace for named-storm formation during 2020. In September alone, 10 named storms formed — Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred, Alpha and Beta.
    • On September 15, Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm. Impacts included storm surge flooding, widespread wind damage and up to 30 inches of rainfall.
      Tropical Storm Beta made landfall on the Matagorda Peninsula in Texas on September 22 and brought extensive flooding to the Houston area.
    • For the first time since 1971, five named storms churned in the Atlantic Basin at one time. Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy and Vicky were each visible in the Atlantic Ocean on September 14.
    • Through October 1, nine named storms made landfall along the CONUS coastline, tying a record (1916) for most landfalls in a season.

Year-to-date (January-September) Temperature

  • Above- to much-above-average year-to-date temperatures were observed across most of the contiguous U.S. Florida had its warmest January-September on record while Arizona, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts ranked third warmest. Near-average temperatures were observed across portions of the central U.S.
    • Denver, Colorado, reported 75 days with high temperatures at or above 90°F in 2020. This eclipses the previous record of 73 days set in 2012.
    • Despite the overall warmth across the contiguous U.S. in 2020, the northern Plains experienced an early freeze September 8-9, which caused an abrupt end to the growing season, leading to agricultural losses across the region.
  • Year-to-date temperatures averaged across Alaska were near average with above-average temperatures observed along portions of the West Coast and the Aleutians. Below-average temperatures for this year-to-date period were observed across parts of the eastern interior regions.

Year-to-date (January-September) Precipitation

  • Above- to much-above-average January-September precipitation stretched from parts of the southern Plains to Gulf Coast and Great Lakes to the mid-Atlantic Coast as well as across portions of the Northwest. Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia ranked third-wettest year-to-date on record. Below-average precipitation fell from the West Coast to the northern Plains and across the Northeast. Utah had its driest year-to-date on record, while Colorado was second driest.
  • For Alaska, January-September precipitation was near average. Below-average precipitation was observed across portions of the northwest coast, the Aleutians and the central Gulf Coast. Above-average precipitation was observed across much of the eastern Interior regions and the Panhandle regions.

Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters

  • Through the end of September, 16 weather and climate disaster events have been identified with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the U.S. during 2020. Eleven of the events were due to severe storms which occurred across more than 30 states from the Great Lakes to the Gulf and East coasts. The remaining events were identified as one wildfire, one drought and three tropical cyclone events.
  • This is a record sixth consecutive year with at least 10 separate billion-dollar disasters and is tied with 2011 and 2017 for the annual record number of events.
  • Since records began in 1980, the U.S. has sustained 279 separate weather and climate disasters where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (based on the CPI adjustment to 2020) per event. The total cost of these 279 events exceeds $1.825 trillion.
  • Disaster costs over the last five years (2016-2020) exceed a record $550 billion. These costs do not yet include the 2020 Western Wildfires, Drought/Heatwave or Hurricane Sally.
  • The U.S. has been impacted by slow moving tropical cyclones that produced extreme rainfall and damaging floods for four consecutive years (2017-2020). These storms include: Harvey, Florence, Imelda and Sally.

Grants to aid in keeping restored riversides restored — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

RiversEdge West, a nonprofit based in Grand Junction, has been awarded $164,566 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency, to support the creation of what the group is calling a Western Colorado Sustainable Stewardship model to protect and sustain restoration work. A $40,000 grant from the Bacon Family Foundation also will help with that initiative and let RiversEdge West continue to provide leadership and support for the Desert Rivers Collaborative in Mesa and Delta counties. This includes planning and mapping work, and technical, coordination and fundraising assistance.

RiversEdge West formed the Desert Rivers Collaborative in 2012. The collaborative has completed more than 1,565 acres of riparian restoration on the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. Among the partners are private landowners, other nonprofits, state and federal agencies including Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management, volunteers, Mesa County, and municipalities including Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita.

In addition, RiversEdge West co-leads, along with the Southwest Conservation Corps, the Dolores River Restoration Partnership. That collaborative effort has treated nearly 6,000 acres along 200 miles of the Dolores River in six counties and two states.

The partnerships have focused particularly on two invasive species — tamarisk and Russian olive. Shannon Wadas, associate director of RiversEdge West, said those species outcompete native plants, are less conducive to providing wildlife habitat, pose a higher wildfire risk, affect instream habitat relied upon by native fish, and can interfere with river and bank access for recreation…

That’s where the sustainability component of restoration work comes in. RiversEdge West is working to incorporate long-term monitoring of restored areas and training of partners in that monitoring. Wadas said monitoring protocols are in place already on the Dolores River and RiversEdge West plans to implement those on the Colorado/Gunnison restored areas as well.

It also plans to create, and provide partners with, a framework and guide to help with decisions regarding when and where restoration work should be completed. The CWCB money also will fund two-person “strike teams” with the Southwest Conservation Corps and Western Colorado Conservation Corps to do ongoing maintenance work such as treating tamarisk and Russian olive resprouts and secondary weeds, and doing revegetation.

Wadas said the sustainability efforts are intended to protect the investments already made in riverside restoration, and the hope is that the new sustainability model will be used not just by watershed groups across western Colorado.

U.S. Environmental Community and #Hydropower Industry Issue Joint Statement of Collaboration — Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

The penstocks and main building at the Shoshone hydropower plant, which uses water diverted from the Colorado River to produce electricity. The Shoshone Outage Protocol keeps water flowing down the Colorado River when the hydro plant is inoperable. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the joint statement from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment:

Executive Summary
U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge

Stanford University Uncommon Dialogue
October 13, 2020

The “Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge” (Joint Statement), represents an important step to help address climate change by both advancing the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower and the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.

The Joint Statement is the result of a two-and-a-half-year dialogue, co-convened by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, through its Uncommon Dialogue process, Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and the Energy Futures Initiative, to bring together the U.S. hydropower industry and the environmental and river conservation communities. The parties, listed on page three of this executive summary, are motivated by two urgent challenges. To rapidly and substantially decarbonize the nation’s electricity system, the parties recognize the role that U.S. hydropower plays as an important renewable energy resource and for integrating variable solar and wind power into the U.S. electric grid. At the same time, our nation’s waterways, and the biodiversity and ecosystem services they sustain, are vulnerable to the compounding factors of a changing climate, habitat loss, and alteration of river processes. Our shared task is to chart hydropower’s role in a clean energy future in a way that also supports healthy rivers.

There are more than 90,000 existing dams throughout the country, of which about 2,500 have hydropower facilities for electricity generation. In the next decade, close to 30 percent of U.S. hydropower projects will come up for relicensing. As such, the parties focused on three potential opportunities:

  • Rehabilitating both powered and non-powered dams to improve safety, increase climate resilience, and mitigate environmental impacts;
  • Retrofitting powered dams and adding generation at non-powered dams to increase renewable generation; developing pumped storage capacity at existing dams; and enhancing dam and reservoir operations for water supply, fish passage, flood mitigation, and grid integration of solar and wind; and
  • Removing dams that no longer provide benefits to society, have safety issues that cannot be cost-effectively mitigated, or have adverse environmental impacts that cannot be effectively addressed.

The potential development of new “closed loop” pumped storage to increase capacity to store renewable energy, including variable solar and wind, was also a focus of the dialogue. Closed loop pumped storage systems do not involve construction of a new dam on a river, but they may have other impacts that need to be avoided, minimized or mitigated, including to surface and ground water.

The parties found inspiration in the precedent-setting 2004 agreement involving Maine’s Penobscot River where the Penobscot Nation, the hydropower industry, environmentalists, and state and federal agencies agreed on a “basin-scale” project to remove multiple dams, while retrofitting and rehabilitating other dams to increase their hydropower capacity, improve fish passage and advance dam safety. After project completion in 2016, total hydropower generation increased, more than 2,000 miles of river habitat had improved access for the endangered Atlantic salmon and other species of sea-run fish, and the Penobscot River again helps support the realization of treaty rights and other aspects of tribal culture for the Penobscot Nation.

Driven by the urgent need to address the twin challenges of climate change and river conservation, the parties have identified seven areas for joint collaboration, detailed in the Joint Statement:

1. Accelerate Development of Hydropower Technologies and Practices to Improve Generation Efficiency, Environmental Performance, and Solar and Wind Integration
2. Advocate for Improved U.S. Dam Safety
3. Increase Basin-Scale Decision-Making and Access to River-Related Data
4. Improve the Measurement, Valuation of and Compensation for Hydropower Flexibility and Reliability Services and Support for Enhanced Environmental Performance
5. Advance Effective River Restoration through Improved Off-Site Mitigation Strategies
6. Improve Federal Hydropower Licensing, Relicensing, and License Surrender Processes
7. Advocate for Increased Funding for U.S. Dam Rehabilitation, Retrofits and Removals

Over the next 60 days, the parties have agreed to invite other key stakeholders, including tribal governments and state officials, to join the collaboration, and to address implementation priorities, decision-making, timetables, and resources.

In sum, the parties agree that maximizing hydropower’s climate and other benefits, while also mitigating the environmental impact of dams and supporting environmental restoration, will be advanced through a collaborative effort focused on the specific actions developed in this dialogue. The parties commit themselves to seizing these critical and timely opportunities.

Why males may have a worse response to #COVID19 — The Conversation #coronavirus

Is COVID-19 hitting men harder than women?
UpperCut Images/Getty Images

Meghan E. Rebuli, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

If you ask most women about how their male relatives, partners and friends respond to being sick, they’ll often tell you with an accompanying eye roll, “He’s such a baby.” “He’s extra whiny.” Or “he exaggerates so much.” But there may be a biological explanation for this behavior.

Dubbed the “man flu,” this phenomenon has been validated in a review of previously published, large epidemiological studies, as well as in studies of influenza in animals. In these studies, males were sick longer, with more severe symptoms and had a weaker response to vaccination. Laboratory tests with animals infected with the influenza virus also underscore that there are sex-based differences in immune response that influence outcomes observed in humans. But are these more severe symptoms and outcomes unique to cold and flu?

As a respiratory toxicologist and researcher investigating sex differences in the respiratory system, I was intrigued to read a recent study on sex-specific responses to COVID-19 that suggest that men are, actually, more vulnerable and suffer more from this disease.

Sex differences in COVID-19

These findings may apply to other respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. For example, reports of SARS-CoV-2 infection rates are similar between males and females, but male sex is a significant risk factor for more serious COVID-19 disease and death. In fact, one study revealed that men are 2.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19. I find it interesting that higher death rates in men also occurred in other coronavirus diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome, caused by SARS-CoV, and Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Oct. 5, 2020, the risk of death from COVID-19 in men 30-49 years old was also found to be more than twice that of females.

In other age groups, the risk of COVID-19-related death in males was also higher than the same female age cohort. But it was not as high as in the 30- to 49-year-old age group.

This contrasts with almost equal rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in those same age groups, leading scientists to wonder why might males be more susceptible.

Study identifies why men may be more susceptible to COVID-19

The recent report published in Nature explores how males and females respond differently to COVID-19.

The risk of death from COVID-19 in men of some age groups may be twice that of their female peers.

This study examined samples including nasal swabs, saliva, and blood, which were either collected from healthy individuals or COVID-19 patients. These samples were used to better understand what the immune response to the infection looks like and how it differs in people with more severe disease.

Similar to CDC data on infection rates, no sex difference in the concentration of virus or the amount of virus present was observed in either the nasal swab or the saliva. There were also no differences in antibody levels – a signal the body had identified the virus – detected in infected men and women.

Males with SARS-CoV-2 show greater inflammation

However, the authors identified major sex differences during the early immune response that occurs soon after someone is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The blood samples were analyzed for a variety of cytokines – some of the first signaling molecules that help immune cells respond to pathogens. The levels of these signals rise and fall to provide an adequate response to fight an invading pathogen. But large quantities of these molecules can severely damage the body. This is the case in a cytokine storm.

The authors of the Nature report observed sex differences in the strength of the cytokine response. Men showed higher levels of cytokines that trigger inflammation, like IL-8 and IL-18, than women. Higher quantities of these cytokines are linked to more severe disease. In severe cases of COVID-19, fluid builds up in the lungs, reducing the oxygen available in the body for normal functions. This can lead to tissue damage, shock and potentially the failure of multiple organs.

Females with SARS-CoV-2 are better prepared to eliminate the virus

In addition to sex differences in cytokine levels, the authors also found sex differences in the function of immune cells.

Compared to men, women had a higher number of T cells – essential for eliminating the virus – that were activated, primed and ready to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Men with lower levels of these activated T-cells were more likely to have severe disease.

Thus, there are several aspects of the human immune response to SARS-CoV-2 that differ between men and women. Understanding these differences can inform how doctors treat patients and can help researchers develop sex-specific therapies.

Increased COVID-19 susceptibility in men is likely biological

These results contradict speculation that male susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection is due to more risky behaviors. Those include downplaying the seriousness of the virus, joining large gatherings and ignoring social distancing guidelines, as well as lower rates of hand-washing and wearing masks. Instead, rates of infection are actually similar between males and females, while males are more at risk of serious COVI9-19 disease, suggesting biological differences in response to infection.

This paper is one of the first of its kind to delve into mechanisms of susceptibility sex differences. With greater innate biological risk for severe disease and death in men, this suggests that males might need to be hypervigilant about social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.

Greater adherence to infection prevention protections, especially in men, would not only reduce their risk of infection, but also combat their increased risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19.

The take-home message of this new paper is that researchers need to consider strategies to ensure treatments and vaccines are equally effective for both women and men, especially when one is more susceptible than another.The Conversation

Meghan E. Rebuli, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.