PM Update: Rainstorm — with wintry mix well north and west — quickly exits this evening
Breezy and fairly cloudy tomorrow with only a stray shower chance.
* Winter weather advisories for western Fauquier and western Loudoun counties | Winter storm warning for far western Virginia and areas of Maryland north and west of Montgomery County for a few inches of snow and mixed precipitation *
We are approaching our mildest temperatures of the day, mid-30s to around 40 degrees. As the heaviest rain — with wintry mix in the highest northern and western suburbs — pulls away early this evening, we may see a few patches of brief flooding. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown — never cross a flooded path forward. Tomorrow is fairly cloudy, breezy, with only a stray shower chance.
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Through tonight: Skies are mostly cloudy after evening rains end, but a lingering shower or two is possible, even after midnight. Patchy fog may develop by mid-to-late evening. Low temperatures bottom out in the low-to-mid 30s, but icy spots should be limited because of wind gusts from the west and northwest possibly near 20 mph.
Winds generally decrease before dawn, but they should help dry us out. Still, use a little caution and a bit of extra time if out late.
View the current weather at The Washington Post.
Tomorrow (Sunday): Skies may oscillate between partly to mostly cloudy, with most hours having filtered, milky sunshine at best. A stray shower is possible most anytime, especially in the early morning hours. Breezes from the west and northwest may gust between 25 to 35 mph by midafternoon. High temperatures manage to top out in the mid-to-upper 40s.
Overnight, clouds decrease to the point that we may see starry, clear skies after midnight. Breezes from the northwest may still gust near 20 mph a few times, creating wind chills solidly in the 20s most of the night. Low temperatures on the thermometer may stay closer between upper 20s to mid-30s.
See Ian Livingston’s and Jason Samenow's updated forecast from today through Tuesday . Make sure to follow us on YouTube , Facebook , Instagram , and X .
Quickly exiting storm
The National Weather Service continues to cut back and pare down the watches and warnings in the Mid-Atlantic with snow and wintry mix reports only coming in from the highest elevation areas north and west of the Beltway.
Watch how quickly this short-term model exits the storm tonight. This animation goes from 3 p.m. to midnight — most of us turning dry after 7 p.m.!
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Weekend snow forecast calls for about a foot of snow in some areas: Winter weather updates
The storm could bring 6 to 12 inches of snow to a swath of the northeast on saturday and sunday. california can expect heavy mountain snow..
A wide swath of the East Coast stretching from North Carolina to New England could see a mix of ice and snow over the weekend as a winter storm threatens to cause power outages and snarl travel.
The storm could bring 6 to 12 inches of snow to parts of the Northeast on Saturday and Sunday, possibly marking the first significant snowfall in about two years for some major eastern cities. As much as 15 inches of snow could fall in higher elevations, the National Weather Service said Saturday.
Snow was falling in Princeton, New Jersey, Saturday afternoon and there were flurries an hour north in New York City. Snow totals in the New Jersey and New York City region could reach 7 inches by the end of the weekend. In Boston, a winter storm warning was in place, alerting residents to potential snow late Saturday night.
The central and eastern Gulf Coast can expect 1 to 2 inches of rain in most spots but localized totals over 3 to 4 inches through Saturday night, the weather service reported. The storm could also bring 0.10 to 0.25 inches of ice and potentially cause travel complications, power outages and tree damage.
"Snowfall accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are expected mainly north and west of I-95 from Philadelphia to Providence but locally higher accumulations will be possible for portions of the Catskills into the Berkshires and portions of south-central New England including the northern/western Boston suburbs," the weather service reported.
Parts of Massachusetts could get up to 18 inches of snow through early Monday morning, the weather service said in a Saturday morning advisory .
Northeastern parts of New Jersey and the southwestern part of Connecticut will likely see 5 to 9 inches of snowfall or at most 10 to 12 inches, the service forecasted.
Here is the weather forecast for Saturday, January 6, 2024.
Safety tips: Winter storm could have you driving in the snow again. These tips can help keep you safe.
New York weather map
Mountain snow, strong winds and coastal rain headed to west.
The Pacific Northwest will likely see heavy rain caused by a powerful storm early Saturday, the weather service said. The system will bring heavy snow into the Cascades.
California will see areas of coastal rain and heavy mountain snow by Saturday, as well as winds around 50 to 60 mph in the mountains. The system will eventually head farther inland this weekend, bringing heavy snow to the higher terrains of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
"This storm system is expected to emerge over the central U.S. early next week as a powerful storm with significant impacts possible, stretching eventually to the East Coast by mid-week," the weather service forecasted.
California weather map
Us weather watches and warnings, national weather radar.
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Northeast U.S. preparing for weekend storm threatening to dump snow, rain and ice
Updated on: January 5, 2024 / 9:07 PM EST / AP
Millions of people across the eastern U.S. are preparing for a wintry mix of precipitation as a potent storm system looks to bring snow, freezing rain and ice to the region.
The system is expected to reach North Carolina by Saturday morning and then track along the northeastern coastline throughout the weekend. It could bring to Philadelphia and other major cities amounts of snow not seen in several years.
The heaviest snowfall is expected in regions including the Poconos in Pennsylvania, parts of the Hudson Valley and portions of New England . However, winter storm warnings and watches were in effect throughout much of the Northeast.
Chris Stachelski of the National Weather Service said localized accumulations of snowfall could exceed one foot in areas of higher elevation.
Elsewhere, the concern is ice — with up to a quarter of an inch forecast for parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city was preparing for the snowstorm but wasn't expecting it to be a major event, and the timing of the snow means it would likely have less of an impact on city life. Storm surges, often a problem with winter storms, were also not expected.
"We are thankfully hoping that the projections stay where they have been trending, which is that the weather really will begin tomorrow evening into Sunday and hopefully let up in time for it to be taken care of before Monday commutes and Monday starts to school," Wu said.
A snowfall drought has been setting records across the eastern U.S. — and this storm may end it in some cities. For the number of consecutive days with less than an inch of snow, Philadelphia reached 705 days through Friday — beating the prior record of 661 days that ended on Dec. 15, 1973.
New York City went 691 days through Friday, outstripping the prior record of 383 days that ended on March 21, 1998. Baltimore reached 707 days through Friday, a record, with a prior record of 672 days that ended on Dec. 25, 2012.
Temperatures have been warmer than normal, making it hard for precipitation to fall as snow. Some storms that recently tracked through the Northeast were carrying warm air from the South and moisture that fell as rain, Stachelski said.
El Nino effects also played a role, he said, by preventing cold air from getting into the East long enough to interact with moisture that storms are bringing, which is key for precipitation to fall as snow.
Pedro DiNezio, associate professor of oceanic and atmospheric science at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the pattern of rain - rather than snow - in the fall and winter has been predicted by climate models.
"It will snow less frequently and more of the storms will dump rain as opposed to snow in the U.S. Northeast," he said.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says it's been about two years since a major storm has hit the state.
"I think this storm's been a long time coming," Lamont said. "It's been over two years since we've had a storm of this magnitude, 6 to 12 inches. We've got a lot of salt piled up here; it's been piling up for a while (and) some shiny new snow plows."
State Transportation Commission Garrett Eucalitto said his department will have about 900 drivers on duty, including 630 snow plows. There will also be about 200 contractors working on the state highways. But he said that is fewer than in the past.
"We have about 115 vacancies right now in our driver pool," he said. "So our employees will come in tomorrow evening and they are not going to go home until the storm is concluded."
He said the state is also short about a quarter of the contractors it normally uses, because of difficulties they have had filling jobs.
Parts of central Maine were hit hard by a December storm that brought flooding and cut power to more than 400,000 customers in a state of less than 1.4 million people. Only a few hundred customers were without power on Friday, but authorities in the state cautioned residents to prepare for the weekend storm.
Authorities in Maine cautioned that another storm could closely follow the weekend snow. That storm is expected to arrive Tuesday into Wednesday and could bring snow, rain and bad road conditions, officials said.
"We urge Maine people to continue to follow forecasts and to prepare themselves in advance," said Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Pete Rogers.
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US braces for snow and heavy rain as major storm predicted for weekend
New England could see snow while heavy rainfall along the Gulf coast and snowfall and rain in the Rockies are predicted
Forecasters warn that a storm system could prompt intense rainfall and possible tornadoes next week in the southern US, as cities across the country are bracing for intense weather leading into the weekend.
The powerful storm system is expected to bring heavy rainfall and high winds to the Gulf coast and south-eastern regions as early as Monday and continue into Tuesday, the Weather Channel reported .
Parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are also at risk of flooding from severe thunderstorms, with up to 5in of rain expected in some areas.
The latest extreme weather comes as a major storm is predicted to bring heavy snow to northern states and intense rainfall along the Gulf coast.
Forecasters have warned that the storm could deliver heavy snowfall to north-eastern and New England states, where some cities have not had substantial snow in recent times.
Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut could see 6-12in of snow, the National Weather Service Boston reported .
A winter storm watch was also in effect in parts of New Hampshire, where the incoming storm could bring 6in of snow, the Boston Globe reported , and more than 25 million Americans are under storm watches from the Carolinas up the east coast to Maine.
Major east coast cities will probably face more rain than flurries. New York City is expected to receive less than an inch of snow, after a snowless winter last year.
It had been 690 days since the Big Apple picked up an inch or more of snow, local Fox 5 reported – a record stretch. The climate crisis is bringing milder , wetter winters to many parts amid global heating.
New York state’s Hudson valley area could get 2-4in of snow this weekend, CNN reported .
Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia could see a dusting, while most substantial snowfall will be inland up the eastern seaboard.
Georgia, Mississippi and other states along the Gulf coast were expected to receive heavy rainfall and thunderstorms starting on Friday and into the weekend, AccuWeather reported .
Intense weather conditions triggered a tornado warning for parts of south-eastern Texas on Friday morning, but ended at 6.15am central time, the National Weather Service reported .
The cross-country storm had already affected swaths of the country, including New Mexico and parts of Texas, ABC News reported .
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On Thursday, the mountain area of close to Santa Fe, New Mexico , received 10in of snow as the storm continued traveling northward.
Residents of Amarillo, Texas , the largest city in Texas’s panhandle region, received 1-3in. Northern parts of the Texas panhandle faced upwards of 5in of snow.
Meanwhile, communities on the US west coast are bracing for another round of surging surf this weekend, with large waves up to 26ft high expected to slam into northern California and southern Oregon, with waves of up to 10ft in areas farther south, including San Francisco and San Diego.
Huge waves have besieged beaches along the coast through the start of the year, delighting surfers while also creating hazardous conditions that washed away cars, prompted water rescues and poured over jetties and rocks. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned that the next set of big waves could cause beach erosion and infrastructure damage along with injuries.
In northern California, a cold surge pulled from the Gulf of Alaska will bring widespread rain to the valleys and snow in the mountains, the NWS said in a forecast on Thursday. Peaks along the Cascades and in portions of the northern Rockies are expected to be doused in snow before the storm moves southward along the west coast and over the Sierra Nevada. The mountain range, which has seen severely low levels of snow so far this season, could get up to 2ft of accumulation at elevations above 5,000ft.
The incoming storm could dump up to 20in of snow in the Lake Tahoe area at elevations above 7,000ft, while howling winds higher in the mountains could reach up to 100mph. Strong gusts of up to 50mph are still likely at lower elevations and waves in Lake Tahoe are expected to surge up to 4ft high. Officials warned that travel through the area could be “difficult to impossible due to whiteout conditions”, and the violent winds could pull down trees and power lines. Power outages are also possible in the region.
Despite its potential for damage, the storm is a welcome sight for water managers in California , where snow is essential to the water supply. The state has seen a warmer winter so far than last year, when a series of severe storms covered mountain towns in snow and left California reservoirs brimming.
In sharp contrast, the state is bracing for the potential of a “snow drought” this year, and weather watchers are hopeful that more cold snowstorms blow through before the spring. The statewide snowpack totals stood at just 25% of average , measured during the January survey published on Tuesday before this set of storms.
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Nor'easter prompts winter storm alerts for millions from North Carolina to Maine
Snowfall amounts have trended down in the past 24 hours in the mid-atlantic and northeast, but parts of the interstate 95 corridor could still pick up at least an inch of snow..
Interior Northeast, New England brace for heavy snow
FOX Weather winter storm specialist Tom Niziol said while some major cities will miss out on the snowfall others are set to see quite the storm.
Editor's note: This story is no longer being updated. Click here to view our new story that has continuing coverage of the nor'easter.
NEW YORK – A developing storm that is expected to become the inaugural nor'easter of 2024 could bring the first significant snow in two years for several cities along the East Coast and flooding rain for the South, all translating to messy weekend travel across the eastern U.S.
The storm is organizing Friday along the Gulf Coast. While computer forecast models still vary widely on snow and rain amounts, the entire Eastern Seaboard will experience gusty winds and precipitation.
Millions of residents from the Carolinas to Maine are under a winter weather alerts ahead of the arrival of the worst weather. New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. sit just outside warned areas but could see an occasional mix of precipitation as temperatures flirt with the freezing mark.
WEEKEND NOR'EASTER LIVE TRACKER: LATEST FORECAST, LIVE RADAR, SNOWFALL TOTALS AND MORE
Winter storm timeline
On Saturday, the low-pressure system is forecast to plow east and northeastward as it organizes and strengthens along the Eastern Seaboard.
On its northern end, snow will quickly break out across the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians. Several inches of snow appear likely at this time. Warm air moving over cold air trapped near the surface may allow for freezing rain to fall across the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.
The exclusive FOX Model Futuretrack of the approaching nor'easter this weekend.
The storm is predicted to move just off the East Coast near the Carolinas and continue to head northward, skirting the New England coast on Sunday.
Heavy snow and gusty winds will linger Sunday morning in parts of New York, Pennsylvania, New England, New Jersey and the higher elevations of the central Appalachians.
"As we get into Sunday morning and the system gets up through Cape Cod, a strong easterly flow of a lot of moisture coming off of the ocean is going to impact southern New England. That is going to be just cold enough to produce heavy, wet snowfall. And that, combined with strong winds, could lead to some power outages, especially across parts of Massachusetts and going into southern New Hampshire, southern Maine," said FOX Weather winter storm specialist Tom Niziol .
WHEN IS THE FIRST SNOW OF THE SEASON?
Where the snow and ice will be the heaviest
The FOX Forecast Center expects the snowfall to be heaviest in the higher elevations and communities west of Interstate 95 from the southern Appalachians through the U.S.-Canada border.
By the time the storm system moves away from the U.S. on Sunday, many locations will have received upwards of 4 inches of snow, with some locales picking up between 4 and 12 inches of new snow.
There are some communities outside of Boston that could see more than a foot of snow, but that could change as more computer data is received.
Due to the Atlantic Ocean's modification of the airmass, the heaviest snowfall totals are expected to fall well away from large cities such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.
"From New York down to Philly, you're not going to have any real big issues with snowfall. It's going to be warm enough for mainly a rain event," Niziol stated.
WHAT ARE THE WORST AIRPORTS TO FLY INTO DURING WINTER?
Still, forecast models show the New York tri-state area receiving upwards of 3" of snow through Sunday morning.
The FOX Forecast Center said there is also a growing threat of freezing rain in the central and southern Appalachians. Parts of southwestern Virginia , western North Carolina , upstate South Carolina and northeastern Georgia could see significant icing, putting a slippery glaze on pavement and weighing down tree limbs and power lines.
"The ice storm, though, a lot of confidence is growing on this part of the forecast," Merwin said. "We know we’re going to have a sneaky warm layer locked up in this storm and freezing temperatures on the ground. It’s raising red flags across the board."
HOW TO MEASURE ICE ACCRETION
Preparations should be made for those living in working in the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains in the mid-Atlantic as concerns for some minor ice accretions in those areas.
Most locations will pick up less than 0.10 inches of ice, but some areas could see more.
WHAT IS AN ICE STORM?
The highest risk of ice accretions of 0.10-0.25 inches exists in western North Carolina and Virginia. Communities such as Asheville , Greensboro and Mount Airy in North Carolina and Pulaski , Roanoke and Staunton in Virginia can expect to see more ice.
"A quarter of an inch of ice is nothing to scoff at or joke about," Merwin continued. "You want to make sure you’re prepared."
When was the last notable snowstorm for I-95 corridor?
Snow lovers should feel hopeful about the weekend, even several days out, because the current storm track is promising. We have to look back to late January 2022 to find the last notable snowstorm on the I-95 corridor. On Jan. 28-29, 2022, a nor'easter buried parts of the region under snow and even touched off blizzard conditions .
HOW ONE POINT ON A MAP CAN DETERMINE WHETHER I-95 CORRIDOR SEES SNOW OR RAIN FROM A NORTHEAST SNOWSTORM
The 2024 storm will develop off the Gulf Coast and track offshore around the Carolinas. The 2022 nor'easter developed in the Atlantic off the Carolinas and traveled northward several hundred miles off the East Coast.
Cold air in place in 2022 turned all precipitation into snow. Delaware and eastern New Jersey not only saw over a foot of snow, but winds gusting between 50 and 60 mph blew around the snow, turning the storm into a blizzard , according to the National Weather Service . Blizzard conditions pushed into New England on Jan. 29.
Boston measured 23.8 inches of snow. New York City saw 8.5 inches, while Baltimore got 1.5 inches.
BLIZZARD OF '22 PRODUCES HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS, DUMPS FEET OF SNOW IN NEW ENGLAND
Storm could end record snowless streaks for several cities along Eastern Seaboard
This nearly two-year streak without an inch of snow for Philadelphia smashed the previous record streak of 661 days without an inch of snow that ended in 1973. Long ago, New York City clobbered its old record of 383 days without an inch of snow that ended in 1998.
New York City only saw 2.3 inches of snow over the winter of 2022 through 2023. That is more than a 2-foot deficit compared to the average winter season snowfall and a record for the lowest annual snowfall total.
NEW YORK, PHILADELPHIA BREAKING RECORDS FOR LACK OF SNOW IN NORTHEAST
Philadelphia and Washington both saw less than a half-inch, leaving those cities with a 22.8-inch and 13.3-inch deficit, respectively. Even cities that saw snow got only a fraction of what they typically see. Boston saw 12.4 inches of snow over the 2022-23 winter, more than 3 feet less than average.
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The Daily Weather Update from FOX Weather: Nor’easter targets mid-Atlantic, Northeast this weekend
Welcome to the Daily Weather Update from FOX Weather. It’s Saturday, January 6, 2024. Start your day with everything you need to know about today's weather. You can also get a quick briefing of national, regional and local weather whenever you like with the FOX Weather Update podcast .
A weekend nor’easter is set to bring heavy rain, snow and ice to a large swath of the eastern U.S. The storm has already dumped snow and rain across the South . Now, it is targeting North Carolina and Virginia with icy weather before bringing heavy snow and rain from West Virginia to Maine .
The jet stream will keep sending storms one after another to the West Coast of the U.S. during the next several days. The result will be feet of snow in the mountains and several inches of rain along the coast from Washington state to northern California .
The FOX Forecast Center is already tracking another powerful storm that will bring impacts to the eastern half of the U.S. next week. Heavy snow is possible in the northern Plains and Midwest , while flooding is possible from the Southeast to the Northeast . Severe weather also appears likely from Texas to North Carolina and Florida .
FOX Weather Meteorologist Britta Merwin explains what a nor’easter is and what it can do.
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Need more weather? Check your local forecast plus 3D radar in the FOX Weather app . You can also watch FOX Weather wherever you go using the FOX Weather app, at foxweather.com/live or on your favorite streaming service .
It’s easy to share your weather photos and videos with us. Email them to [email protected] or add the hashtag #FOXWeather to your post on your favorite social media platform.
Original article source: The Daily Weather Update from FOX Weather: Nor’easter targets mid-Atlantic, Northeast this weekend
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3 things to know ahead of a potential East Coast winter storm this weekend
New year, new weather pattern.
After a record-warm month of December for much of the U.S., January will be a different story, with a colder and more active weather pattern set to hit a large swath of the country through the first two weeks of the year.
This includes Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and New York City, which could be looking at their first significant winter storm potential in two years.
A potential storm system would affect eastern areas including the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England from Saturday to Monday. With the potential weekend winter storm still several days away, here are three things to know ahead of it.
It's been a while since it snowed more than 1 inch in the big cities
As a whole, 2023 was a record-setting low snow year for nearly the entire I-95 corridor from Richmond, Virginia, to New York City.
New York picked up just 2.3 inches of snow all last season — a new record low. It also broke the record for latest first measurable snow, not seeing any snow until February. This was the first time Central Park failed to pick up any snow during December or January in a winter season.
New York is just one of a roster of cities in the midst of their longest streaks of not seeing 1 inch or more of snow in a 24-hour period.
New York City (687 days), Philadelphia (702 days) and Baltimore (703 days) are all having their longest streak of consecutive days without more than 1 inch of snow on record. Washington, D.C., (713 days) and Richmond (715 days) are sitting at their second-longest streaks.
A significant storm is likely, but it’s too early to predict exact snowfall totals
A significant storm is likely, but it's too early to predict exact snowfall totals. The track of the storm will determine where the rain and snow line sets up and what locations see all snow, all rain or a mix of both (including the potential for some ice).
With temperatures expected to be right around freezing, it is looking likely that what snow falls will be heavy and wet in nature as opposed to light and fluffy.
The best accumulating snow potential is north and west of the I-95 corridor
The I-95 corridor is likely to be near or located right on the rain and snow dividing line depending on the track of the storm.
This could mean that areas north and west of the urban corridor like Hagerstown, Maryland; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Poughkeepsie, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts, could see accumulating snow, while the I-95 cities like Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston could see lighter accumulations, a mix of rain and snow, or predominantly wet roadways.
As of Monday night's forecast models, I-95 cities like Washington, Philadelphia and New York had approximately a 60%-80% chance of seeing at least 1 inch of snow.
By contrast, more interior Northeast cities had a 70%-90% chance of seeing at least 1 inch of snow.
The odds for I-95 cities versus interior Northeast cities get even more spread out when looking at the potential for at least 6 inches of snow. The I-95 corridor cities had just a 10%-30% chance of seeing half a foot of snow, and the interior Northeast cities were closer to a 40%-60% chance.
It’s not just the East Coast looking at a stormy start to 2024.
Out west, 2024 is picking up right where 2023 left off, with a parade of Pacific storms bringing rain, mountain snow and more battering waves to that region.
On Tuesday, high surf advisories for coastal areas and winter alerts for the Sierra were in effect.
High surf advisories are in effect through Wednesday and into Thursday from the Bay Area stretching down to Southern California. Across these areas, large waves are forecast to batter parts of the West Coast and could lead to some coastal flooding for vulnerable areas.
Kathryn Prociv is a senior meteorologist and producer for NBC News.
Mapping North Carolina’s Ghost Forests From 430 Miles Up
Rising seas and inland-surging seawater are leaving behind the debris of dying forests. Now, 35 years of satellite images capture the changes from space.
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DURHAM, N.C. -- Emily Ury remembers the first time she saw them. She was heading east from Columbia, North Carolina, on the flat, low-lying stretch of U.S. Highway 64 toward the Outer Banks. Sticking out of the marsh on one side of the road were not one but hundreds dead trees and stumps, the relic of a once-healthy forest that had been overrun by the inland creep of seawater.
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ No leaves; no branches. The trees were literally just trunks. As far as the eye could see,” said Ury, who recently earned a biology Ph.D. at Duke University working with professors Emily Bernhardt and Justin Wright .
In bottomlands throughout the U.S. East Coast, trees are dying off as rising seas and higher storm surges push saltwater farther inland, poisoning soils far from shore.
While these “ghost forests” are becoming a more common sight in North Carolina’s coastal plain, scientists had only a rough idea of their extent. Now, satellite images are providing new answers.
In a study published April 4 in the journal Ecological Applications, a Duke-led team mined 35 years of satellite images of a 245,000-acre area in the state’s Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.
The images show that, between 1985 and 2019, 11% of the area’s tree cover was taken over by ghost forests. Instead of mirroring the gradual pace of sea level rise, most of this spread occurred abruptly in the wake of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts, which can concentrate salts or send them surging into the region’s interior.
Here, the Duke team is monitoring what Bernhardt and other researchers call “the leading edge of climate change.”
From 1900 to 2000, the sea rose about a foot in this part of coastal North Carolina, faster than the global average. By the end of this century, it could rise two to five feet more.
Shrinking shorelines dominate most discussions of sea-level rise, as oceans submerge coastlines and chew away at beachfront property. Yet less talked about is what’s happening farther inland.
Long before beaches shrink and disappear under the rising sea, seawater starts creeping into low-lying regions.
Most of the Alligator River National Wildlife refuge sits less than two feet above sea level, “which makes it all the more vulnerable to sea level rise,” Ury said.
Add to that the hundreds of miles of ditches and canals that crisscross the region. Built during the mid-1900s to drain water out, they now act as a conduit for seawater -- which is about 400 times saltier than freshwater -- to flow in.
With no barriers in the way, seawater gets pushed inland through these channels, leaving its salty fingerprints on the soils. As the salt moves in, it draws water out of plant cells and strips seeds of their moisture, making it harder for new tree seedlings to sprout. Salt-sensitive tree species first fail to reproduce and eventually die off, as freshwater forest turns to salt marsh.
Using pictures taken by 430-mile-high Landsat satellites, the team was able to map the spread of ghost forests in the refuge over time.
Each pixel in the satellite images represents the wavelengths of light bouncing off the Earth below, in an area on the ground roughly the size of a baseball diamond.
The team fed the satellite images to a computer algorithm, which in turn analyzed each pixel and determined whether it was dominated by pines, hardwoods, shrubs, grassy marsh, open water or dead trees. Any pixel with as many as 20 to 40 visibly dead trees present at once was labeled as ghost forest.
More than three-fourths of the study area was covered in trees in 1985. Since then, even without any logging or development, the refuge has lost more than 46,950 acres of forest, or a quarter of its 1985 tree cover.
More than half of these losses occurred in the interior of the refuge, more than a kilometer from any coast, the study revealed .
“It's not just the fringe that's getting wetter,” Ury said.
Of the more than 21,000 acres of ghost forest that formed between 1985 and 2019, the most noticeable die-off was in 2012. The area had just endured a five-year drought and then a potent strike by Hurricane Irene in 2011, when a 6-foot wall of seawater was pushed ashore. The storm surge swept across the refuge, cresting over Highway 264, more than 1.2 miles inland from the coast. Within months, entire stands of dying and downed trees were visible from space.
What is happening in eastern North Carolina is happening elsewhere, too, the researchers say. In coastal regions across the globe, saltwater is starting to reach areas that haven’t seen it before, even reducing crop yields and jeopardizing freshwater aquifers that people rely on for drinking water.
The Duke team is collaborating with other researchers to expand their study to other parts of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, from Cape Cod to Texas.
“Because of its geological location, North Carolina is just ahead of other coastal areas in terms of how far sea level rise has progressed,” Ury said. “Lessons learned here could help manage similar transitions in other places,” or pinpoint areas that are likely to be vulnerable in the future.
Funding for this research was provided by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (80NSSC17K0355), the North Carolina Sea Grant/Space Grant (R/MG -1806), the National Science Foundation Coastal SEES program (1426802), and by the Duke University Data+ Program through the Rhodes Information Initiative.
CITATION: "Rapid Deforestation of a Coastal Landscape Driven by Sea Level Rise and Extreme Events," Emily A. Ury, Xi Yang, Justin P. Wright, Emily S. Bernhardt. Ecological Applications, April 4, 2021. DOI: 10.1002/eap.2339
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North Ghost Campground Provincial Recreation Area A Ghost Area Provincial Campground
Seasonal Open Dates: April 29 through to end of season - October 10 (Campgrounds open weather dependent. Dates subject to change. Please call to confirm.)
Location: Forestry Trunk Road If coming South: 13 kms West of Cochrane on Hwy 1A; North 40 kms on Hwy 40 If coming from the North: From Sundre: From lights in Sundre - 9.8 kms West to Coal Camp Road. Turn left on Coal Camp Road. At 24.3 kms pavement runs out and you travel on gravel on Coal Camp Road. 46 kms to stop sign at Highway 734. Continue South on Highway 734 to reach Burnt Timber which is 13.6 kms from the Texas Gate at the Red Deer River Recreation Area. Continue South to reach North Ghost and out to Highway 1A and back to Cochrane.
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Towns Empty and Farms Languish as War Stalks Israeli-Lebanese Border
More than 150,000 people have been driven from their homes on both sides of the frontier as Israeli forces clash with Hezbollah militants.
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By Euan Ward , Roni Rabin , Hwaida Saad and Michael Levenson
The journalists reported from Beirut, Lebanon; Tel Aviv; and New York.
The border between Israel and Lebanon has become a landscape of abandoned towns and neglected farms as escalating tensions and tit-for-tat strikes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants have displaced more than 150,000 people in both countries.
Prospects for an end to the cross-border hostilities have grown only dimmer since the assassination on Tuesday of a senior Hamas leader in a suburb of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, fed growing fears of a wider war. The strike has been widely ascribed to Israel.
In northern Israel, near the border with Lebanon, military orders to evacuate have kept people from their homes for nearly three months amid daily missile and rocket attacks by Hezbollah and other armed factions in Lebanon. The prolonged dislocation and economic fallout have increased pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to the attacks.
Residents Near Israel-Lebanon Border Live With Uncertainty
As the conflict between israel and hezbollah escalates, some israeli residents are making trips back to their homes along the border with lebanon despite orders to stay away, while others wait with uncertainty..
“This will take a very long time. That’s what everybody keeps saying to us. That’s what the messages that we’re receiving is that this — this will take months.” “It’s scary. I must say. We need to be sure that we’re safe in order to come and live here again in our homes.” “We have to just wait and hope for us to be able to return home.”
“Every day people are being fired on,” said Moshe Davidovitz, who leads a regional council in the western Galilee region of northwestern Israel. “Every day they’re running into shelters. It’s intolerable, and it cannot continue. We can’t go on being ducks in a shooting range.”
Many residents near the border work in agriculture and have been all but cut off from the farms, hothouses and chicken coops that are their livelihood, Mr. Davidovitz said. Day trips to tend to their farms are fraught with risk: One farmer, a father of three, was killed in a strike launched from Lebanon last month as he drove to his apple orchards in Mattat, just south of the border.
In southern Lebanon, where many residents also work on farms, some voiced trepidation, defiance or resignation as they wrestled with whether to flee Israeli strikes on Hezbollah targets. Those who have left have received little help from Lebanon’s government, which has been hit by a financial meltdown precipitated by years of corruption and mismanagement. In Israel, the government pays for housing and meals for displaced residents.
Mohamad Srour, the mayor of Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese town of 12,000 less than a mile from the Israeli border, said that 10 people there had been killed in the fighting along the border.
“I didn’t want to leave the town,” Mr. Srour said. “I was going back and forth. But now I have left for good.”
Imad Zayton, 69, who lives with his wife and three children in the southern Lebanese town of Deir Kifa, about 10 miles from the Israeli border, has so far chosen to stay.
“Hezbollah are defending my country,” said Mr. Zayton, who runs a small printing shop. But he added that “if things get worse,” his family would have to leave the town, though he plans to remain.
“We will have no choice,” he said.
The death of the Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri , who was killed in an explosion, has only increased fears of a broader conflagration in the region.
At Mr. al-Arouri’s funeral on Thursday, many pledged to avenge his death as his coffin, draped in the flag of Hamas and topped with a rifle, was carried in a procession through the streets of Beirut. Mourners also carried coffins holding the bodies of two Hamas members — including a commander from its armed wing, the Qassam Brigades — who were also killed in the explosion.
“With our soul and our blood, we will redeem you!” the mourners chanted, as gunfire rang out and crowds of young men jostled one another to catch a glimpse of Mr. al-Arouri’s coffin.
When the procession arrived at a cemetery in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila, the voice of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top political leader, sounded over a speaker system, and the crowd fell silent.
“The enemy believed that assassinating the leaders would deter them,” said Mr. Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar. He added, “The enemy failed, and will never succeed.”
Other speakers echoed threats made by the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech a day earlier. “The enemy should know that the response is coming, and this incident will not go unpunished,” said one Hezbollah official, Hassan Hoballah.
On Thursday, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, met in Tel Aviv with Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to President Biden, to discuss the crisis on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Afterward, Mr. Gallant said in a statement that there was “a short window of time for diplomatic understandings.”
The defense minister reiterated recent calls by other Israeli officials for “a new reality in the northern arena, which will enable the secure return of our citizens,” without specifying how Israel might achieve that.
The Biden administration has been pushing for a deal to ease tensions and move Hezbollah forces away from the border, but with little apparent progress. On Thursday, the Israeli military said it had responded to a new round of strikes from Lebanon by launching airstrikes at a Hezbollah observation post and an anti-tank unit.
As the fighting along the border continued, Israel’s military pressed on with its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, where nearly two million residents have been forced from their homes and many are starving, according to the United Nations. A strike on Thursday on a home west of Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, killed at least 14 people and injured several others, including women and children, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. It said on Thursday that it had been striking Hamas infrastructure around Khan Younis and had dismantled a tunnel shaft in the area.
The displacement of Israelis is the largest in the country’s history.
Of the 200,000 Israelis who have relocated since the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, more than 80,000 live near the border with Lebanon. The decision to move them was precipitated not only by Hezbollah’s attacks, but also by worries that the group might try an incursion similar to the Hamas one, which killed an estimated 1,200 people.
In southern Lebanon, about 75,000 people have been displaced, according to the United Nations.
One resident who has stayed put, Najib al-Amil, is a 72-year-old priest in Rmeish, a Maronite Christian town near the Israeli border where the schools and shops are closed , the streets are empty and the only remaining medical facility is a makeshift field hospital. He is determined to tend to his flock of parishioners, however dwindling it may be.
Mr. al-Amil said he and others tried to avoid areas of intense conflict, and noted that unlike the Israeli government, Lebanon’s had made no provisions for bomb shelters.
“Whatever the big leaders’ plans are, nothing is in our hands and we can’t change anything,” he said. “We are dependent on God.”
Euan Ward and Hwaida Saad reported from Beirut, Lebanon, Roni Caryn Rabin from Tel Aviv and Michael Levenson from New York. Hiba Yazbek contributed reported from Jerusalem and Ameera Harouda from Doha, Qatar.
Euan Ward is a reporter contributing to The Times from Beirut. More about Euan Ward
Michael Levenson joined The Times in December 2019. He was previously a reporter at The Boston Globe, where he covered local, state and national politics and news. More about Michael Levenson
Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War
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As Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to the Middle East in an effort to ease escalating tensions, Israel’s defense minister floated a postwar plan for the Gaza Strip that exposed divisions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wartime government.
Under the cover of the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank have carried out a spree of unauthorized moves to expand their footprint in the territory, according to a report by an Israeli advocacy group that opposes settlements .
The families of Americans held hostage in Gaza since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel have released a TV ad to press for urgent action to rescue their loved ones.
Caught in the Middle: Soheib Abu Amar, a Palestinian man who lived in East Jerusalem, was captured by Hamas during its attack on Israel. His brothers spent weeks investigating what happened next .
Red Sea Attacks: Attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea by the Houthi rebels in Yemen since the start of the war have left oil tanker operators facing an unwelcome decision : accept the risks of steaming through the danger zone, or lose business.
Rules of Engagement: The news that three Israeli hostages were mistakenly shot and killed in December in Gaza by soldiers meant to save them outraged many Israelis , who have since demanded answers about how the army conducts itself on the battlefield.
Fleeing Home: The border between Israel and Lebanon has become a landscape of abandoned towns as escalating tensions between Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants have displaced more than 150,000 people.
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