Currents Archive

Downtown Houston skyline at night May 14, 2012 • The atmosphere has dealt Houston more than a few wild cards over the last few years. The twin strikes of Tropical Storm Allison (2001) and Hurricane Ike (2008) caused billions in damage and took dozens of lives in the greater Houston area. Now in her second term as mayor of the nation’s fourth largest city, Annise Parker guided Houston through the severe drought of 2011, which killed many trees both locally and across Texas.
Tallgrass struggles against drought in this file photo from eastern Colorado. Bob Henson | April 3, 2012  •  If snow is the lifeblood of Colorado’s economy and ecology, then my home state is ready for a transfusion. March is normally the snowiest month of the year for much of the state, but March 2012 will go down as an epic snow fail.
UCAR Magazine Bob Henson | March 23, 2012  •  The last 10 days have brought what may be the gentlest round of extreme weather ever to grace the United States. It’s hard to think of March temperatures in the 70s and 80s as anything other than delightful. Yet beneath that pleasant veneer lies one of the most bizarre weather episodes in recent U.S. history.
Motel damage in Salyersville, KY Bob Henson | March 20, 2012 • The roles played by La Niña and the Arctic Oscillation in the temperature dramas of the last two U.S. winters were the topic of my last post. Now let's talk tornadoes. It was unusually cold in 2010–11, but the spring of 2011 brought multiple rounds of fierce tornadoes, inflicting the most death and damage seen in many decades.
Winter scene from Sawhill Ponds, Boulder County, Colorado Bob Henson | March 14, 2012 • This final week of winter will be exceptionally warm across most of the lower 48 states. That makes an interesting coda to a winter strangely devoid of snow and bitter cold. The usual scapegoats for weird U.S. winters are El Niño and La Niña. But there’s much more behind seasonal climate, as the last two winters demonstrate.
Sawhill Pond in winter. Margaret LeMone | February 16, 2012  • As I write this, the Boulder winds sound indistinguishable from a car driving by our house. But it is another sound—the sound of ice—that is the inspiration for this post. The ice on ponds and lakes.
UCAR Magazine
Group photo of PACUR members at Florida State University, 2011 Greg Hakim and Jack Fellows | February 7, 2012  •  The President’s Advisory Committee on University Relations (PACUR, formerly known as the University Relations Committee) was created in 1974 to help the UCAR president ensure effective communication and strengthen relations between UCAR and its member institutions. The focus of this article is to summarize PACUR’s activities and to solicit comments from members on what PACUR might do in the future on behalf of the members.
UCAR Magazine February 8, 2012  •  Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing fairly steadily for decades, but methane has accumulated at a more erratic pace. The increase virtually stalled for much of the last decade before resuming after 2007.
Stack of 100 dollar bills February 6, 2012 • The year 2011 was painful for the reinsurance industry—the companies that insure other insurance companies against especially big losses—thanks to the tsunami in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand, floods in Australia and the U.S. Midwest, and tornadoes, drought, and wildfires in the United States. Insured losses for the first half of 2011 were already five times higher than average since 2001, with economic losses totaling $265 billion, according to reinsurance giant Munich Re.