Jacksonville — The expected turn to a wet weather pattern came to fruition the week of April 13th. As of this writing, rainfall coverage has been 100% with amounts ranging from a half inch to 2″ & more on the way - good news! The active & - at times - wet weather pattern looks like it will continue for at least 10 days or so. The map below is First Alert Doppler HD estimated rainfall for Mon., April 13th:
We were drying out especially fast thanks to an unseasonably warm March & early April. Jacksonville has had 6 90-degree days.... the avg. by mid April is 0. The avg. for an entire year is 82 days. We had 101 90-degree days last year (2019).
Spring means it’s “snake time”. Snakes typically reproduce this time of year & are more active with cool nights & warm days. Check the harmless corn (rat) snake which is a prolific climber:
NOAA has released maps of the global temps. for the first few months of 2020. March was the 2nd warmest March on record & 423rd month in a row that was above avg. The months Jan./Feb./March were also the 2nd warmest - to only 2016 - on record. Click * here * to see more info. + the maps below. For Jacksonville specifically, March was the 2nd warmest on record at 71.4 degrees - more than 9 degrees above avg. Combining the first 3 months of the year, Jacksonville avg. temp. was 6.3 degrees above avg. with only 2 nights reaching freezing (& barely! - 32 degrees on Jan. 21-22).
Interesting maps from NASA showing less air pollution (nitrogen dioxide) across the Northeast U.S. since many “stay at home” orders were put in place to stem the spreading of COVID-19.
Nitrogen dioxide, primarily emitted from burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation, can be used as an indicator of changes in human activity. The images below show average concentrations of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide as measured by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite, as processed by a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. The left image in the slider shows the average concentration in March of 2015-19, while the right image in the slider shows the average concentration measured in March of this year.
Though variations in weather from year to year cause variations in the monthly means for individual years, March 2020 shows the lowest monthly atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels of any March during the OMI data record, which spans 2005 to the present. In fact, the data indicate that the nitrogen dioxide levels in March 2020 are about 30% lower on average across the region of the I-95 corridor from Washington, DC to Boston than when compared to the March mean of 2015-19. Further analysis will be required to rigorously quantify the amount of the change in nitrogen dioxide levels associated with changes in emissions versus natural variations in weather.
If processed and interpreted carefully, nitrogen dioxide levels observed from space serve as an effective proxy for nitrogen dioxide levels at Earth’s surface, though there will likely be differences in the measurements from space and those made at ground level. It is also important to note that satellites that measure nitrogen dioxide cannot see through clouds, so all data shown is for days with low cloudiness. Such nuances in the data make long-term records vital in understanding changes like those shown in this image.
Speaking of the pandemic.... science/weather activities & lessons for kids & teachers at the following links:
Night skies into May from Sky & Telescope:
April 15 (dawn): The Moon is 3° below Saturn, with Mars (left) and Jupiter (right) flanking that pairing.
April 16 (dawn): The thinning Moon is 3° to 4° to the lower left of Mars.
April 21–22 (night): The Lyrid [LIE-rid] meteor shower peaks in first hours of April 22nd. No interference from the Moon. This shower is variable, yielding up to one meteor every 5 minutes from locations with dark skies. Fireballs are possible. These meteors are particles of dust shed by Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which orbits the Sun every 415 years.
April 25 (dusk): Venus attains its greatest possible brightness, magnitude –4.73, making it look 20 times brighter than Sirius, the brightest nighttime star (far to its left in the south).
May 5 (morning): The Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks. This shower is predicted to be stronger than usual this year, with up to 30 “shooting stars” observable per hour from dark locations despite a bright Moon. Best observing is 3:30 to 5:00 a.m. local time.
May 12 (dawn): The waning gibbous Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn for a compact triangle in the pre-dawn sky.
Last Quarter - April 14, 6:56 p.m. EDT
New Moon - April 22, 10:26 p.m. EDT
First Quarter - April 30, 4:38 p.m. EST