Like aurorae, sprites happen when charged particles interact with gases in the atmosphere, likely nitrogen. As ice particles high within thunderclouds bash against one another, an electrical charge builds. An opposite charge builds up on the ground, and eventually both charges connect, creating a spark of light—lightning. When the lightning strike has a positive charge, it can spark a sprite—a kind of electric field that shoots out from the top of the lightning strike—that flashes above the cloud.
They’re also not easily spotted by the human eye. As Matt Heavner of the University of Alaska explains, bright lights make it nearly impossible for the eye’s retina to spot the flashes, and the bright clouds that can surround them also distract would-be sprite spotters. It’s even more difficult to catch these flashes in action because when you’re beneath the sprite-sprouting cloud, you can’t see the flash at all. You either need to be flying above the clouds or far away to get the perfect shot.
When a tornado destroyed this Starbucks in Kokomo, Indiana on Wednesday, there were reportedly more than a dozen people inside. After store manager Kim McCartney called employee Angel Ramos to tell him about a texted tornado warning she'd received, he rushed everyone into the bathrooms. A few minutes later, a tornado destroyed the building leaving only the bathrooms intact. Amazingly, nobody was injured.
“I could see the sky from holes in the bathroom ceiling, so I figured there was some chunk of the store that would be missing,” Ramos said in a report posted on Starbucks.com. “I didn’t know it would be the whole thing.”
One million miles from Earth, hanging in space between Earth's gravitational pull and the sun's, is the DSCOVR satellite and NASA's incredible EPIC camera. Every two hours, EPIC takes a photo of Earth "to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth." The above video combines one year of those images.
From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:
The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.
The massive wildfire that continues to burn in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, Canada has been captured from space by NASA imaging satellites.
Igor Chubin's wttr.in shows the weather in non-proportional ASCII-art form. It's beautiful, clean and completely legible, unlike almost every modern weather service on the web. On my terminal (Windows, Chrome) the rendering of Lucida Sans Typewriter seems not quite perfect: a pixel too wide here and there. I think it's because of the unicode directional arrows for the wind, perhaps in combination with me browsing on Windows. Read the rest
NASA, the Japan Meteorological Agency and other climate research groups report that February was the planet's warmest seasonally adjusted month on record. Last month was also the world's most unusually warm month since 1880, when instrument records began.
Gavin Schmidt at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who isn't one for getting too excited over things, had only one word for this significant and concerning data milestone: "Wow."
Mashable's listicle is right. The numbers are shocking. The February 2016 climate records are notable for the unusual heat more than any other recorded month in our history.
Here's a good related piece about the challenge of connecting the climate change dots to specific extreme weather events, like a major hurricane or drought.
Read the rest
Normally I don't comment on individual months (too much weather, not enough climate), but last month was special.https://t.co/nALWMlNDcP— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) March 12, 2016
Washington, D.C., and New York City are under blizzard watches, and states of emergency have been declared in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina ahead of a blustery winter storm now slamming the U.S. East Coast with snow.
The storm threatens to dump nearly 3 feet of snow on the Middle Atlantic region, and slammed into Washington, D.C. this afternoon, threatening our nation's capital with record accumulations. The storm is now moving up the East Coast and causing all sorts of problems in New York, and throughout the region.