Dr. Daniel Swain Profile picture
Climate scientist-communicator focused on extreme events like floods, droughts, & wildfires on a warming planet.
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Apr 7 23 tweets 4 min read
For folks in Colorado wondering what the heck is going on with #Xcel's large-scale pre-emptive power line de-energization to avoid wildfire ignitions during high wind events, I wanted to share a some thoughts as a scientist who studies climate/weather/wildfire. #COwx [1/n] The first utility-scale "Public Safety Power Shut-offs" (#PSPS) in response to fire risk of which I'm aware began in 2010s in California in response to catastrophic wildfire events in urban interface sparked by power infrastructure during extreme fire weather/wind events. [2/n]
Feb 5 10 tweets 4 min read
I wanted to reiterate some recent findings from our own research specifically addressing extreme #AtmosphericRiver storms in a warming climate.

1) CA will more extreme ARs in a warming climate, mainly (~80%) due water vapor increases. #CAwx #CAwater science.org/doi/10.1126/sc…
Image 2) Extreme CA ARs in a warming climate will not only be more intense, but they may also have preferentially more southerly (deep subtropical) origins (like present one!). #CAwx #CAwater science.org/doi/10.1126/sc…
Dec 5, 2023 13 tweets 3 min read
Scientific institutions must create--and sustain--new kinds of roles so that researchers can provide the deep public engagement necessary to respond effectively to the escalating impacts of #climate change. The status quo isn't working. [Thread: 1/n] nature.com/articles/d4158… My own role as a climate scientist-communicator is highly unusual in the academic world: I'm a practicing scientist who spends a large fraction (now over half) of my time engaging the public, and the rest of my time actually conducting research and writing papers. [2]
Nov 7, 2023 7 tweets 2 min read
If you've been wondering why I've been somewhat less visible here, that's partly because of the "shifting winds" of social media. But also, I've been spending much effort scrambling to find some way to support my climate scientist-communicator role moving forward. Thus far, I have not yet been successful in these efforts--& if nothing changes, the time left in my current role may unfortunately be limited. A great number of individuals & organizations have voiced support--and I'm hugely grateful for that!--but ultimately a large gap looms.
Sep 20, 2023 13 tweets 4 min read
Some additional thoughts regarding the still strengthening #ElNiño and its implications for western U.S. hydroclimate during winter 2023-24. (Brief thread!) #CAwx #ORwx #WAwx #HIwx #CAwater #CAfire Global map of sea surface temperature anomalies. Multiple areas with +3-5C anomalies are present in addition to the warm anomalies associated with El Nino in the eastern tropical Pacific. International dynamical models ensemble is now unanimous in predicting strong to very strong #ElNiño event that will peak sometime this winter. This is a remarkably strong signal, so I'm reasonably confident that the oceanic signature of a strong EN will actually occur. Time series chart showing Nino3.4 region SST anomalies over the next several months from various coupled ocean-atmosphere models. All depicted models show a strong or very strong EN event, denoted by N3.4 values of +1.5 or +2 C, respectively.
Aug 10, 2023 15 tweets 3 min read
Confirmed human toll from wildland-urban interface #MauiFires is terrible (already second deadliest wildfire in modern American history), but grim reports from residents on the ground suggest actual toll is even greater & that there is still minimal outside assistance. #MauiFire As previously discussed: #Lahaina was town that was unfortunately quite vulnerable to a wind-driven fire from precisely the direction in which this one originated (due to surrounding extensive grasslands and brush, prevalence of wood structures, & relatively isolated location).
Mar 21, 2023 5 tweets 1 min read
One thing I keep reflecting on, especially in context of recent events (CA's winter storm onslaught & dramatic increasingly dramatic hydroclimate whiplash), is how high societal need is for scientist-communicators & others who offer critical context as events unfold in real-time. There is much public demand for such roles, but there continues to be a (frankly) bewildering refusal by institutions (academic, public, private, and otherwise) support these kinds of roles in any broad sense.
Mar 16, 2023 4 tweets 3 min read
Brief thoughts on likely return to active weather pattern in CA after a much-needed several day break right now. There is *high* confidence that wet and cool conditions will return next week, but right now there is *low* confidence in strength of storms. #CAwx #CAwater (1/4) Time series plot from ECMWF... Ensembles suggest that there is very high likelihood that unsettled and occasionally stormy conditions return to most of CA by early next wk. But vast majority of ensemble members suggest this will involve series of weak to moderate systems vs. major storms. #CAwx #CAwater (2/4)
Mar 12, 2023 8 tweets 5 min read
Brief thread about...snow. As of this weekend, the Southern Sierra now appears to have largest snowpack in recorded history (as measured by snow water equivalent, or SWE). Not just for the calendar date, but for *any* date! #CAwx #CAwater [1/n] SWE time series trace from DWR for the major California Sier As I earlier noted was plausible, the "warm" atmospheric river storm on Fri actually *increased* net watershed SWE substantially--partly because it still snowed at high elevations, but also because lower elevation snowpack absorbed a lot of rainwater! #CAwx #CAwater [2/n]
Mar 9, 2023 5 tweets 3 min read
A few storm updates following my session Wed PM:
Event still largely on track, but two modest shifts that could affect impacts:
1) Storm may not be quite as warm across central & northern Sierra; could see some very heavy snowfalls above 6,500 ft once again.
#CAwx #CAwater [1/5] 2) Rainfall may be a bit heavier and more concentrated across the northern portion of central CA (but slightly less to north). This means flood risk in Monterey County (including Big Sur Coast), as well as southern Sierra & foothills, has increased somewhat. #CAwx [2/5]
Feb 16, 2023 7 tweets 3 min read
Lot of hype right now regarding supposed potential for widespread "sea level snowfall" later next week NorCal.

That almost certainly isn't going to happen (for variety of reasons). But some unusually low elevation snowfall (to 1000-1,500 feet or so) is certainly possible. #CAwx Yes, I know that the coarse-resolution ensemble models are showing accumulating sea level snowfall for SF/Sacramento. They are very likely wrong--and the same models' *own thermal profiles* are not supportive of snow in these areas with this pattern! #CAwx
Jan 11, 2023 4 tweets 3 min read
Additional widespread precipitation is likely over the next 8-9 days over the northern 2/3 of CA, and it will be heavy at times (especially northern third of CA). Strongest storm, with some more heavy rain, wind, and thunderstorms, is due in on Sat. #CAwx #CAwater [1/4] Projected precipitation map from ECMWF ensemble depicting wi However, these are primarily areas that have not been nearly as wet as central CA recently. Also, these will generally be colder storm systems, bringing a greater balance of snow (vs rain) in mountains & somewhat limiting higher elevation runoff. #CAwx #CAwater [2/4]
Jan 2, 2023 17 tweets 10 min read
Okay, folks. Starting to look like it's going to be a rough 10+ days from a flood risk perspective in Northern California, with a series of very wet & high-impact storms. Brief thread now; blog post late this PM; YouTube live Q&A Tue. [1/n] #CAwx #CAwater The next inbound storm looks like it will be quite strong. A rapidly deepening surface low (i.e., meteorological "bomb cyclone") will remain well offshore, but the associated warm and cold fronts will bring widespread heavy rain and strong winds to NorCal later Wed. #CAwx [2/n] Map showing ECMWF model representation of "bomb cyclone
Dec 29, 2022 8 tweets 6 min read
Some thoughts on impacts from ongoing and likely prolonged very wet spell in NorCal. (Short thread). TL;DR: widespread heavy precipitation is likely, with mostly minor flood issues becoming more widespread this weekend & *possibly* more significant next week. [1/n] #CAwx #CAwater Lighter precipitation continues today, but the next significant storm will be this weekend. This will come in the form of a moderately strong low pressure system coupled with a robust, warm, and relatively slow-moving atmospheric river. #CAwx #CAwater [2/n] Image
Dec 20, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Still not seeing many images of damage, but based on anecdotes from folks in quake zone it does sound like there was damage to some structures & especially to infrastructure. I suspect that ongoing widespread regional power outages are reason we haven't heard more yet.#earthquake This points to an emerging paradox in media reporting on disasters that's become really apparent in recent years: the more severe the damage, the less news initially makes it out (because power is out and telecoms are down) and the less coverage they receive.
Dec 20, 2022 4 tweets 3 min read
To @JFrancisClimate's point, there has been some interesting recent work suggesting that amplified Arctic warming may be causing the *stratospheric* polar vortex to become disrupted more often in winter. But this is still the topic of very active research. science.org/doi/10.1126/sc… And there's further evidence that Arctic warming may be associated w/jet stream patterns favorable for warm season weather extremes. So my view is that there is something going on! It just doesn't appear to be manifesting as colder winter extremes. science.org/doi/10.1126/sc…
Dec 19, 2022 6 tweets 4 min read
The upcoming Arctic outbreak across Central U.S. is going to be the "real deal". Temperatures will likely rival anything seen in 30 years (or even longer!) across portions of the Central Plains. In a warming climate, that's saying quite a lot. #COwx #NEwx #WYwx #KSwx (1/6) Map depicting predicted tem... Temperatures will fall, in incredibly dramatic fashion ( of the course of just a few hours) by 40 or more degrees in some areas as a powerful Arctic front pushes through. Temperatures will plummet well below zero (-20 to -30F) across a broad region, w/even lower windchills. (2/6) Map depicting predicted dep...
Oct 7, 2022 6 tweets 3 min read
Latest seasonal predictions from NMME/IMME ensembles out today. Overall North Pacific pattern still looks very #LaNina-like: unusually wet PacNW and BC; unusually dry in SoCal & Lower Colorado Basin due to persistent NE Pacific ridging. HOWEVER... #WAwx #CAwx #AZwx (1/4) Maps of seasonal prediction...Image ...However, exact position of N. Pac. ridge is key. Too far east, & CA stays dry, but far enough west & Sierra benefits from cold storms diving south. High confidence in winter ridge, but CA will be on razor's edge--exact position will dictate dry vs wet overall. (2/4)#CAwx
Sep 4, 2022 18 tweets 8 min read
The coming week is shaping up to be a pretty crazy weather week in California, TBH--even more so than previously thought. Ongoing heatwave expected to be longer & peak even higher, & now we have potential influence of a soon-to develop hurricane to consider. (1/n) #CAwx #CAfire Map of predicted 500mb geopotential heights over the Western First, exceptional daytime & nighttime heat (plus high humidity) continues across SoCal today. Some places may see all-time record warmest overnight temps today. In northern California, much drier heat is building,& temperatures will continue to rise further for days. (2/n) #CAwx
Aug 12, 2022 21 tweets 14 min read
New work co-led by @xingyhuang and me on the rising risk of a California #megaflood due to #ClimateChange is out today in @ScienceAdvances! This paper also describes the new #ARkStorm2 scenarios in detail, & will be the basis for ongoing work. (Thread:1/n) science.org/doi/10.1126/sc… For context: the work and findings presented here represent the first phase of the broader #ARkStorm2 project, a multi-year, cross-institutional effort involving multiple @UofCalifornia campuses, @DRIScience, @USGS, @CA_DWR, & @NCAR_Science. (2/n) science.org/doi/10.1126/sc…
Aug 8, 2022 8 tweets 7 min read
New research on dry lightning events in California, led by @wx_statman, and including co-authors @climate_guy, @NickyNaus, @Weather_West, @danielletouma, & @ClimateChirper, is out today in @IOPenvironment (open access!). #CAwx #CAfire (1/n) iopscience.iop.org/article/10.108… We assess regional-scale atmospheric conditions favorable for dry lightning in central & northern California (N&C CA), as well as seasonality. We find that nearly half of all lightning strikes in N&C CA are "dry" (accompanied by <0.10 in. of rain). (2/n) iopscience.iop.org/article/10.108… Image