Small plates of various weather news

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 23, 2019

By Skip Rigney

We have been blessed with beautiful spring weather this past week, and forecasters expect more of the same for much of the upcoming week, except for a chance of showers and thunderstorms on Monday as a weak cool front rolls through the region.

So, instead of diving into the details of the high pressure systems that will give us mostly tranquil weather this week, this column will be more like going to one of those tapas restaurants that have popped up in some American cities over the past couple of decades.

If you’re not familiar with tapas, they are small plates of food. Bars and restaurants serving tapas originated in Spain. Think of it as eating a number of different appetizers.

So, here are some “small plates” of news from around the world of weather.

A person standing anywhere on the earth’s equator on Wednesday at noon local time could have looked up and seen that the sun was directly overhead. The day that occurs is called an equinox and it happens twice each year. It will happen again on September 23. Meanwhile, from now until the summer solstice on June 21, the sun will climb a little higher in the sky each day, and the duration of daylight will get a little longer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

The average of temperatures in February from across the globe, including land and ocean, was the fifth warmest going back to the beginning of reliable global temperature statistics in 1880. That’s according to a report released this week by NOAA’s National Climate and Environmental Information Center.

Two of the most important weather events of the year have happened in the last two weeks. Both involve horrific disasters caused by low pressure systems, sometimes referred to by meteorologists as cyclones. 

A historically intense low pressure system swept across the Great Plains on March 13 dumping heavy rain and melting much of a thick snowpack.

The resulting floods impacted nearly 60,000 square miles in Nebraska, over 75 percent of the state, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Iowa and South Dakota were also hard hit.

Expect to hear more in the coming weeks about additional flood waters moving slowly down the Mississippi River toward the Mississippi Delta along the western border of our state where river flooding is already occurring.  The water from the Great Plains floods are moving down the Missouri River and entering the Mississippi River near St. Louis. That will also add to high waters moving down the Mississippi due to a wet winter above St. Louis and in the Ohio Valley.

On March 14, a different disaster began to unfold when an Indian Ocean tropical cyclone, we would call it a hurricane, with winds of over 100 miles per hour and a massive storm surge hit Mozambique on the southeast coast of Africa. Hundreds of people were killed, and hundreds of thousands more are in need of food, water, and shelter in the countries of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

If you are interested in supporting charities that are aiding in the relief efforts, one starting place is the list compiled by the Public Broadcasting System online at to.pbs.org/2FfAEJ6.