weather

The U.S. government is juicing up its weather forecasting power.

This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it has upgraded its main weather forecasting model, called the Global Forecast System.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In a cow pasture near Shawnee, Kirk Wilson parks his work truck, grabs a harness and prepares for a 30-foot climb.

“We’re changing the sensor at the top of the tower that measures the wind direction,” said Wilson, a burly meteorological electronics technician with a big beard and a booming laugh.

On the ground, another tech uses a GPS receiver to make sure the sensitive instrument is properly aligned before it’s tightened in place.

Blizzards are affecting much of the Great Lakes region this weekend, and the National Weather Service says it's "shaping up to be a historic storm." The snow is just one part of a massive storm system affecting areas from the Gulf Coast to northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

Before it got cold this winter, it was warm. Very warm. In fact, new data out Monday shows 2017 was the third warmest year recorded in the lower 48 states.

And it was also a smackdown year for weather disasters: 16 weather events each broke the billion-dollar barrier.

First, the heat. Last year was 2.6 degrees F warmer than the average year during the 20th century.

While above-average temperatures might sound good to much of the U.S. right now, it's too warm in rural Alaska. High temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above average are upsetting everything from recreation to hunting for food.

Last Saturday, Maurice Andrews won the Kuskokwim River's first sled dog race of the season.

"It felt awesome, man," Andrews said, "Finally! Finally good to be out."

If you live anywhere along the U.S. East Coast, brace yourself for what is about to come: a nor'easter that forecasters are calling a "bomb cyclone."

How much the storm affects the coast is contingent on a number of factors, most notably how far out to sea it tracks.

2018 is off to a frigid start for vast swaths of the U.S.

From Texas to Ohio, temperatures are 15 to 25 degrees lower than average, the National Weather Service says. Brutally cold temperatures continue in the Northeast. There's a hard freeze warning across the Deep South — and a chance of snow in New Orleans.

It's 17 degrees in Atlanta. There's a low of 14 degrees in Tupelo, Miss. In Dallas, temperatures will stay below freezing all day.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new report from hundreds of experts and more than a dozen federal agencies is stark: Humans are likely responsible for the warmest period in modern civilization.

The consequences of this warming vary regionally, but scientists and researchers forecast significant effects in Oklahoma and other southern plains states.

This winter is going to be a warm one for the majority of the United States, according to forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

They say that the La Niña weather pattern is likely to develop. That means "greater-than-average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies, with less-than-average snowfall throughout the Mid-Atlantic region," Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center said in a forecast Thursday.

okstate.edu

A new way to collect weather data is being tested this week.

Dozens of researchers from four universities—Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Nebraska—are piloting unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a four-year, $6 million project with the National Science Foundation.

But Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University says they’ve been interested in this idea for some time.

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