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Weather in Focus

By Chris DeWeese
Senior Editorial Writer
Good Morning. According to an outlook released just this morning, record warm Atlantic Ocean water temperatures could cause the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season to be one of the most active for any El Niño season on record.

As senior digital meteorologist Jonathan Erdman says, “Seasonal forecasters are increasingly concerned that the widespread, record warm ocean water in the Atlantic Basin could lead to a hyperactive hurricane season, despite the usual suppressing nature of an at least moderate El Niño. In fact, we found it could be one of the most active El Niño hurricane seasons in modern times.”

Weather In Focus

THe Taj Mahal, next to floodwater.
(PAWAN SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)
Extreme monsoon rains have caused India’s Yamuna River to touch the outer walls of the iconic Taj Mahal for the first time in 45 years.

What We’re Tracking


Four years ago today, a temperature of 115 degrees was measured at John Martin Dam, setting what state’s all-time record?

  1. Colorado
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington
  4. Wyoming
See the answer at the end of this newsletter.

This Caught My Eye

Photograph of smiling meteorologist Chris Dolce wearing a flannel shirt. Chris Dolce
Senior Digital Meteorologist
A map showing the path of Don and where it is predicted to go.
Tropical storms and hurricanes don’t always move in a straight line, and Don, our named storm currently in the Atlantic, is about to be an example of the weird tracks we sometimes see.

Since last Friday, Don first tracked north, then east and finally south (yellow line above) to begin what will likely become a full loop. That’s because Don is forecast to move west and then turn north through the weekend, which means it will cross back over where it already tracked a few days ago.

The reason for this path that resembles a loop on a roller coaster is the steering influence of a large high-pressure system. Don has been riding around the periphery of that high’s clockwise steering flow like an arm spinning on a windmill.

Odd-looking paths like these happen on occasion, particularly when steering currents are erratic. One of the weirdest in recent memory was 2012’s Hurricane Nadine in the central Atlantic, which took all kinds of twists and turns during its just over three-week existence.


Weather Words

‘Rolling Thunder’
Lightning striking in the distance.
Morning Brief reader Hannah S. wrote in yesterday morning with a request. “We experienced a very intense thunderstorm last night here in Greer, South Carolina,” she said. “There was continuous lightning and what I’ve always heard is rolling thunder. Is rolling thunder an actual weather term, and if so, could you describe it more in detail?” This being right up our meteorologist Ari Sarsalari’s alley, I posed the question to him. Here’s his answer:

Hey Hannah! So there are a few different things that can cause continuous low, “rumbling” thunder. Sometimes when a slow-moving or stationary thunderstorm is relatively far away (10-15 miles) and it’s producing a lot of lightning, you’ll basically just hear that thunder from a distance … the farther away you are from thunder, you’ll generally hear lower frequencies (more bass-y) than if the lightning was happening very close to you (more of a crackly, powerful “bam” sound).

When you’re far away, the sound has more opportunity to bounce off of terrain, buildings, etc., and that can lengthen the sound of the thunder.

Another thing that can cause rolling thunder is if there is an “inversion” in the atmosphere. An inversion is a thin layer of the air above our heads where the temperature actually rises with height within that layer, rather than getting colder with height. This causes sound waves to bounce back and forth between the inversion layer and the ground and can really broaden and lengthen the sound of each instance of thunder.

Are you curious about any weather terms? Send them in, and we’ll see what we can do to explain them.


Toxic Algae Surges At French, Spainish Beaches

toxic algae in the water.
This file photo shows the toxic algae “Ostreopsis ovata” in Genoa, Italy. (LUISA MANGIALAYO/AFP via Getty Images)
An unwanted summer visitor is showing up more often at some beaches in France and Spain: toxic algae.

French health officials say the number of people sickened by the algae, called Ostreopsis, surged along parts of the country’s Atlantic coast starting in 2021. Nine hundred cases have been recorded in a region that straddles the border with Spain.

Touching the algae can produce symptoms including flu-like illness and skin irritation. The algae was first reported in the Mediterranean about 20 years ago. Now, scientists say climate change may be fueling its move north. Ostreopsis is most common in summer and in water temperatures above 68 degrees.


1969: One Small Step
The Conflagration of Rome, as depicted by Raphael.
On this date 54 years ago, an earthbound audience of 700 million television viewers watched live as Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the Sea of Tranquility at 10:56 p.m. ET, becoming the first person to walk on the moon. His crewmate Buzz Aldrin followed close behind.

Armstrong’s memorable words, uttered in the moment, were, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” They pair well with one of the many iconic photographs taken that day, a simple shot of Aldrin’s bootprint. It’s amazing to think that the bootprint is still there, undisturbed, roughly 238,855 miles above us.


A. Colorado

You can learn more about this record here.

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