TIME climate

June Was Hottest on Record, NOAA Says

Temperatures Soar To Highest Of The Year
A giant plastic ice cream cone glints in the sun on the South Beach Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

May was the hottest on record, too

Not only did 2014 boast the hottest May on record, but new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that the global population experienced its hottest June ever, too.

Well, at least this summer is keeping things consistent.

According to the NOAA, the combined average temperatures of land and ocean surfaces was 1.30°F above the 20th century average of 59.9°F. If only looking at land surface temperature, though, it was only the seventh highest June on record.

Anomalies are now becoming less of an anomaly as nine of the ten warmest Junes recorded occurred in the 21st century, including every June in the last five years.

TIME Washington

Better Weather Aiding Washington Wildfire Fight

Western Wildfires
A plane drops water from Fishtrap Lake on a stubborn fire burning near the lake in Lincoln County, Wash., on July 20, 2014 Jesse Tinsley—AP

But the fire was just 2% contained on Monday.

(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Calmer winds and cooler temperatures helped firefighters go on the offensive Monday against a destructive wildfire that has charred hundreds of square miles in Washington state and is the largest in state history.

The Carlton Complex of fires in north-central Washington had burned about 379 square miles, fire spokesman Andrew Sanbri said Monday. That would make it the largest wildfire in the state since record-keeping started.

“There is optimism in the air, but we don’t want to give the impression that all is good,” Sanbri said. “Things are improving.”

The fire was just 2 percent contained Monday.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers was also encouraged.

“Right now there’s honestly no wind,” Rogers said Monday night, noting that rising evening winds complicated earlier firefighting efforts. “I’m hoping this is helping.”

Fire crews quickly attacked a new fire east of Tonasket on Monday, Rogers said. A half-dozen homes were briefly evacuated, but the fire burned past them with no destruction.

Residents of a couple of dozen additional rural homes were told to leave Monday, but Rogers said that was just a precaution.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity continue to be in the forecast, but the area is also on “lightning watch” Tuesday through Thursday. “We don’t need any more lightning,” Rogers said.

At 243,000 acres, the Carlton Complex was larger than the Yacolt Burn, which consumed 238,920 acres in southwestern Washington in 1902 and was the largest recorded forest fire in state history, according to HistoryLink.org, an online resource of Washington state history. The Yacolt Burn killed 38 people.

Rogers has estimated that 150 homes have been destroyed already, but he suspected that number could rise. The fire is being blamed for one death.

Firefighters on Monday had planned to burn fuel on the north side of the fire to help build a fire line, but that operation was canceled, fire spokesman Don Carpenter said.

Firefighters were hampered by the loss of electricity in the area due to downed power lines and poles, which hurt communications. There was no estimate on when utilities would be restored.

The forecast for Monday and Tuesday called for lighter winds and lower temperatures, said Spokane-based National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Koch.

Then on Wednesday a vigorous front is expected to cover Washington, bringing rain to much of the state. But it will also bring lightning, Koch added.

“We may get some rain where we need it, but we may also experience some lightning that could cause some new ignitions,” he said.

The fire has created smoky conditions and reduced air quality in much of eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

One man died of an apparent heart attack while fighting the fire near his home, Rogers said.

Rob Koczewski, 67, was stricken on Saturday while he and his wife were hauling water and digging fire lines near their home. Koczewski was a retired Washington State Patrol trooper and U.S. Marine, Rogers said.

There are more than 1,600 firefighters battling the flames, assisted by more than 100 fire engines, helicopters dropping buckets of water and planes spreading flame retardant, Sanbri said.

Many towns in the scenic Methow Valley remain without power and have limited landline and cellphone service. Fully restoring power to the area could take weeks, Okanogan County Public Utility District officials told KREM.

More than 100 Washington National Guard soldiers are supporting state Department of Natural Resources firefighters, state spokesman Mark Clemens said Monday. National Guard helicopters have dropped more than 500,000 gallons of water on the fires.

TIME Asia

Typhoon Kills 38 in the Philippines, Spares Manila

Philippines Asia Storm
Residents of the slum community of Baseco evacuate to safer grounds as Typhoon Rammasun battered Manila on July 16, 2014 Bullit Marquez—AP

With last year's massive devastation and deaths from Typhoon Haiyan still in many people's minds, officials said over half a million people were evacuated after being told of danger

(MANILA, Philippines) — A typhoon that barreled through the northern Philippines left at least 38 people dead and knocked out power in entire provinces and forced more than half a million people to flee its lethal wind and rains, officials said Thursday.

Most businesses, malls and banks in the Philippine capital reopened a day after Typhoon Rammasun left the country but schools remained closed Thursday as workers cleaned up storm debris, which littered roads around Manila, slowing traffic.

The eye of the typhoon made a late shift away from Manila on Wednesday, but its peak winds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour and gusts up to 185 kph (115 mph) toppled trees and electric posts and ripped off roofs across the capital.

Although Rammasun packed far less power than Typhoon Haiyan, haunting memories of last year’s horrific storm devastation prompted many villagers to rapidly move.

More than 500,000 of over 1 million people affected by the typhoon fled to emergency shelters in about a dozen provinces and the Philippine capital, said Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Pama said at least 38 people died in the wake of the typhoon and 10 were reported missing.

Authorities said most of casualties were hit by falling trees or concrete walls or by flying debris. One volunteer firefighter who was hauling down a Philippine flag in suburban Pasig city was killed by a concrete block, said Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Electricity has been restored to most of the capital’s 12 million people, but large swaths of provinces southeast of Manila which bore the brunt of the typhoon still had no power, Pama said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said his city staged anti-disaster drills two weeks ago to prepare and was relieved that only a few residents were injured. There was relatively little flooding in the Philippine capital.

At Manila’s international airport, the left wing of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 was damaged after powerful gusts pushed it against a bridge passageway, manager Angel Honrado said. No one was injured.

Pama said the typhoon destroyed more than 7,000 houses and damaged more than 19,000. About $1 million in infrastructure was destroyed and at least $14 million in crops and livestock were lost, he said.

Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal of Polangui town in Albay, one of the hardest hit provinces southeast of Manila, said 10,000 of her 80,000 constituents, abandoned their homes before the typhoon, many worried after witnessing Haiyan’s deadly aftermath in the central Philippines last November.

At least 6,300 people died and more than 1,000 were left missing from Haiyan, one of the most ferocious typhoons to hit land.

Although Rammasun slightly weakened as it scythed across the country’s main northern Luzon Island, it may strengthen over the South China Sea before reaching either Vietnam or southern China, according to government forecasters.

Rammasun, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago on the western edge of the Pacific each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

___

Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.

TIME Philippines

Typhoon Spares Manila, Leaves 7 Dead Elsewhere

Fishing boats are pictured amid heavy winds and rain brought by Typhoon Rammasun as it hit the town of Imus
Fishing boats are pictured amid heavy winds and rain brought by Typhoon Rammasun (locally named Glenda) as it hit the town of Imus, Cavite southwest of Manila, July 16, 2014. Erik de Castro—Reuters

With last year's massive devastation and deaths from Typhoon Haiyan still in many people's mind, officials said 373,000 people readily evacuated after being told of the danger

(MANILA, Philippines) — Typhoon Rammasun left at least seven people dead and knocked out power in many areas but it spared the Philippine capital, Manila, and densely populated northern provinces from being directly battered Wednesday when its fierce wind shifted slightly away, officials said.

Still, the typhoon’s 150-kilometer (93-mile) wind and blinding 185-kph (115-mph) gusts, brought down trees, electric posts and ripped off roofs across the capital of 12 million people where government offices and schools were closed. More than 370,000 people moved from high-risk villages to emergency shelters in six provinces.

In a shantytown at the edge of Manila Bay, hundreds fled when strong wind tore tin roofs off their shanties. Most were drenched by the rain before they reached an evacuation center with the help of firemen and rescue personnel.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he was relieved there were no reported deaths after the typhoon sideswiped his city although its wind still downed trees and damaged seaside shanties, prompting more than 1,000 residents to evacuate.

“It was like a drill,” he said. “We hauled people away from dangerous seaside areas, whether they liked it or not.”

Elsewhere, a woman died after being hit by a fallen electric post in Northern Samar province and two men, including one traveling on a motorcycle, were separately pinned to death by falling trees in two other provinces. Three members of a family were killed when a wall collapsed on them in Lucena city, southeast of Manila and an 11-month-old boy died after being hit by a wall in a house in Cavite province near the capital, officials said.

Three fishermen have been reported missing in Catanduanes, near Albay province, where Rammasun made landfall late Tuesday.

There were no immediate estimates of the damage in communities that lost power and telephone connections while being pummeled by the wind and rain.

With last year’s massive devastation and deaths from Typhoon Haiyan still in many people’s mind, officials said 373,000 people readily evacuated after being told of the danger.

Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal said 10,000 of the 80,000 residents in her town in Albay, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, were evacuated before the typhoon struck Tuesday. Sampal said she saw the wind topple electric posts and lift roofs off houses.

Sampal said residents were worried after witnessing Haiyan’s horrific aftermath in the central Philippines last November.

“We’re used to and prepared for calamities,” Sampal told The Associated Press by cellphone. “But when people heard that the eye of the typhoon will hit the province, they feared we may end up like the victims of Yolanda,” she said, referring to the local name of Haiyan.

Haiyan’s strong winds and tsunami-like storm surges flattened towns, leaving at least 6,300 people dead and more than 1,000 missing.

Rammasun, the Thai term for god of thunder, is the seventh storm to batter the Philippines this year. About 20 typhoons and storm lash the archipelago on the western edge of the Pacific each year, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

__

Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano contributed.

TIME weather

Lightning Deaths at National Park Concern Visitors

Lightning Danger Rocky Mountain Park
A couple walks together past a snowfield just off Trail Ridge Road, above tree-line at Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Estes Park, Colo., on Monday, July 14, 2014. Lightning killed two people last weekend just miles apart in the popular park, where summer storms can close in quickly with deadly results. Breannan Linsley—AP

Lightning strikes that killed two people in two days at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has made visitors more cautious about hiking — the deaths were the first that the park has seen in 14 years

(ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo.) — Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park are hiking more cautiously after lightning strikes at the popular park killed two people in two days at the height of summer travel season.

Signs around the park warn its 3 million annual visitors that storms can close in quickly with deadly results. But the park hadn’t seen a lightning fatality in 14 years until Friday, when Rebecca Teilhet, 42, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, was killed and seven more hikers were injured on the Ute Crossing Trail at about 11,400 feet above sea level.

One day later and a few miles away, lightning killed Gregory Cardwell, 52, of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, at Rainbow Curve, a pullout on Trail Ridge Road with sweeping vistas from a vantage point about 10,800 feet above sea level. Three others were hurt by that strike.

The deaths were on the minds of visitors Monday.

“We were looking at the sky and (thinking) don’t be the tallest thing around,” Sarah Jones, of Greeley, said before setting out for a hike with her husband and three children.

Rebecca Tilhet’s husband, Justin Teilhet, was among those injured on Ute Crossing. He didn’t remember hearing a boom or feeling a sting, just waking up numb on the treeless tundra high in Rocky Mountain National Park and discovering his good friend was trying to revive his wife.

It was a lightning bolt, he learned later, and it killed his wife and left him with a burn on his shoulder and scrapes on his face when he was knocked unconscious.

“I had been laying in the ambulance for maybe 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and the two emergency responders who had worked on my wife came into the ambulance and held my hand and told me (she was dead),” Justin Teilhet said. “They were both next to tears.”

Colorado averages three deaths and 15 injuries a year from lightning and often ranks No. 2 in the nation in lightning casualties behind Florida, said Bob Glancy, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Boulder.

“Part of that is because Colorado is a great place to be outside,” he said. The terrain and weather also are factors. The mountain profile and summer weather patterns create frequent thunderstorms over the Front Range, which includes Rocky Mountain National Park.

Justin Teilhet, his wife and his friend Nick Tertel, of Fort Collins, Colorado, were in a line of hikers hustling back to the trailhead parking lot on Trail Ridge Road as the weather changed.

“A storm blew in, and it came very fast,” Teilhet said Monday from his home in Ohio. “It started raining a little bit. We were hearing claps of thunder everywhere, but there wasn’t any lightning.”

Teilhet and Cardwell were the first people killed by lightning in the park since a climber died on Longs Peak in 2000, officials said. A woman was injured by lightning last year.

Park officials don’t close Trail Ridge Road because of lightning, saying that would be impractical.

Teilhet said he saw one of the advisories about lightning at the trailhead.

“When you see a sign warning you about lightning, you just sort of file it away with the things you already know are dangerous,” he said.

Teilhet said he doesn’t think the National Park Service could or should have done anything more, and he praised the staff’s response.

“This a huge, beautiful, dangerous, amazing place, and they’ve done a lot to make it accessible to the public,” he said.

TIME weather

This Freak Hailstorm on a Russian Beach Is Terrifying to Watch

So much for sunbathing

+ READ ARTICLE

It’s all fun and games at the beach until large balls of ice fall from the sky.

That’s exactly what happens in this video, which shows cheerful, smiling Russians suddenly freak out and run for cover as debris starts flying and alarmingly forceful hail begins to pelt them (that shot of ice hitting the water looks down right apocalyptic).

The original uploader says the hail brought with it a sudden 35-degree temperature drop (Fahrenheit), which would probably have been greatly appreciated in the supposedly 100+ degree temperatures had it not been for, you know, painful meteorological phenomena.

TIME Sports

Local TV Station Outrages World Cup Fans by Interrupting the Final Game With a Weather Report

No one cares about thunderstorms right now, you dummies!

+ READ ARTICLE

With six minutes to go in the final game of the World Cup, viewers in southern New York and parts of northern Pennsylvania got really angry. No, not because their team of choice missed a great opportunity to score or because their favorite player got hurt, but because a local TV station interrupted the game to provide a weather report.

The weather coverage from ABC affiliated WENY lasted for the remaining minutes of the game, Deadspin reports.

Naturally, fans were, uh, less than pleased. Many took to Twitter to express their unhappiness and even sling threats at the station.

(h/t Deadspin)

TIME weather

Manhattanhenge Is Back, Here’s What You Need to Know

Manhattanhenge
Photographers gather on the Tudor City Place overpass to capture the Manhattenhenge looking across 42nd Street in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, USA. Zoran Milich—Getty Images

For two weekends every year, the island of Manhattan gets a little Stonehengy.

Druids of New York City, break out those robes — the Manhattanhenge Solstice hath returned.

What is Manhattanhenge, you ask? We’ll leave it to the experts—in this case Neil deGrasse Tyson writing for the American Museum of Natural History—to tell you.

Sometimes known as the Manhattan Solstice, Manhattanhenge comes twice a year “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with Manhattan’s street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the boroughs grid,” writes Tyson. “A rare and beautiful sight.”

For prime Manhattanhenge viewing, get as far east in Manhattan as possible with New Jersey still in sight and look west towards the horizon — 14th, 23rd, 34th and 42nd streets are all good bets for catching a glimpse of the phenomenon. On Friday, the full sun will hover over the horizon at 8:24 p.m. On Saturday, the phenomenon will repeat with a half sun on the horizon at 8:25 p.m.

Manhattanhenge gets its name from the way the sun plays on Stonehenge, the pre-historic ring of vertical stones in England’s Salisbury Plain that has mystified archaeologists for generations. Academics and poets alike have tried to deduce the meaning of the Stonehenge arrangement from the way the sun casts over the stones on the Summer Solstice, a guessing game Tyson plays on with a prediction about future archaeologists poking around the remains of our civilization that hits uncomfortably close to home.

“These two days [of Manhattanhenge] happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All-Star break,” Tyson writes. “Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.”

TIME weather

The Polar Vortex Is Making a Summer Comeback

Commuters make a sub-zero trek to offices in the Loop on Jan. 6, 2014 in Chicago, Ill.
Commuters make a sub-zero trek to offices in the Loop on Jan. 6, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Thanks to Typhoon Neoguri

Remember last winter’s cold spot, which turned “polar vortex” into a phrase that sent chills through the spines of Americans east of the Mississippi River? It’s baaaack … but this time it’s a cool wave sweeping away summer’s heat. Morning temperatures could dip into the 50s for many Midwesterners next week, potentially setting seasonal records, according to The Weather Channel.

The Washington Post’s Jason Samenow says the weather pattern bears a “haunting resemblance” to January’s big freeze. The jet stream is dipping down farther south than usual over the eastern United States, just as it did back then. The cause? It’s Typhoon Neoguri

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME weather

El Niño Likely To Hit This Summer

Cattle gather on a strip of dry land in low-lying areas of the Bolivian Amazon, after heavy rains from the El Nino weather phenomenon on Feb 22, 2007 in Beni, Bolivia. The rains affected 350,000 people, destroyed valuable agriculture and killed 23,000 cattle.
Cattle gather on a strip of dry land in low-lying areas of the Bolivian Amazon, after heavy rains from the El Nino weather phenomenon on Feb 22, 2007 in Beni, Bolivia. The rains affected 350,000 people, destroyed valuable agriculture and killed 23,000 cattle. Martin Alipaz—EPA/Corbis

That could mean fewer destructive hurricanes on the East Coast.

The El Niño weather system is likely to begin by August, the top U.S. weather agency affirmed on Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there’s a 70 percent chance of an El Niño onset in the Northern Hemisphere this summer, and an 80 percent chance that it will occur by winter. The agency says the weather system is expected to peak at weak to moderate levels around late fall.

The latest report affirms earlier predictions of El Niño occurring this year. The system could lead to overall warmer temperatures across the globe next year, while also causing droughts in Australia and an heavy rainfall in South America and parts of East Asia. El Niño has also been associated with an uptick in hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific.

But as TIME’s Bryan Walsh reported last month, El Niño could be good news for the hurricane-prone East Coast. Walsh explains:

El Niños occur when the waters of the equatorial Pacific undergo unusual warming, which in turn affects atmospheric circulation and weather around the world. That includes hurricanes in the Atlantic: El Niño increases the strength of westerly winds across the Atlantic, which creates a lot of wind shear. (Wind shear is the difference between speed and direction of wind over a short distance.) That high wind shear can disrupt tropical storm systems before they’re able to gather a lot of power, which makes it difficult for major hurricanes to form.

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