Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall's Finest For Now

Much of the country continues to experience quite and tranquil weather.

Days are still warm but nights tend to get a chill, which lets us know it is only a matter of time until some colder weather comes down from Canada.

Some colder air has built over portions of Alaska. As I write this blog, Fairbanks is sitting just above 20 degrees with fog.

Their rivers and lakes are still open which may contribute to additional dense fog.

That pocket of colder air will move south over the next few days, but by the time it reaches the lower 48 it will have modified significantly.

Overnight sub-tropical storm Laura developed in the central Atlantic. It will move north and then east, potentially approaching Britian.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hurricane Watch Posted For Coastal Maine

Wow, something you don't see everyday.

Hurricane Kyle is steaming north across the western Atlantic and the latest forecast model projections have it possibly making landfall on the upper-east coast of Maine or slightly east of there in New Brunswick.

As a precaution, the National Hurricane Center has posted a watch for the eastern coast of Maine.

It will bare watching today and tomorrow to see exactly how this plays out.

We certainly would not be talking a major hurricane or even a strong hurricane like Ike, but nonetheless, some stormy times, with heavy rain and strong winds may lie ahead for this part of the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Watching The Tropics Once Again

The National Hurricane Center is busy watching two areas of disturbed weather today.

One has been absolutely soaking Puerto Rico and Hispanola over the past few days and will continue to do so for at least the next 18-36 hours.

Another is located much closer to home, off the coast of the Carolinas.

This isn't really a bad things as they still need plenty of moisture across the region.

Take a look at the latest drought monitor.

Elsewhere is it very quiet, but I bet it won't be too long before we see the first significant cold front of the season move south out of Canada.

It is that time of the year now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hail Cannons Create Stir in Vermont

There are several forms of weather modification, most notable probably being cloud seeding.

But another form of weather modification that some of you may have never heard of is the hail cannon.

We have several here in Colorado, esp. in the San Luis Valley growing region of south-central Colorado.

A hail cannon shoots off incredible sound into an approaching thunderstorm, and the shock wave is thought to disrupt the formation of hail, causing what would be hail to fall as slush or rain.

The device fires about every 4 seconds during the approach of a thunderstorm.

Hail cannons date back to the 18th century.

There is a lot of debate as to rather they really work or not, but farmers who have hail cannons swear by them.

I ran across the following article about hail cannons in Vermont, and how they have neighbors irritated.

Click here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Fall To You!

Well autumn is here, my favorite season of the year.

There is just something about the air each morning that I find so refreshing.

Fall arrived at 11:44 am eastern, 8:44 am Pacific.

I apologize for the quiet blog over the past few days. I've had a few projects going on that has kept me away from the computer.

I need to also cut today's short but hopefully I can get a full entry listed tomorrow.

Have a great one!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chill Of An Early Fall

I am not talking about that old George Strait song, but about the cold weather on the way to New England.

Frost and freeze, yes freeze! -- advisories are in place for much of New England. I think several locations may wake up in the upper 20s and lower 30s tomorrow.

I was driving in the foothills west of Denver the other day and noticed color already showing up on some aspens. Even some places around the city have color on certain species of trees.

It is still hot out west in some places with wildfires burning in California and Oregon.

And the tropics remain quiet, which is a good thing!

Look at yesterday's CoCoRaHS national precip map on the front page. Pretty quiet!

That is common for this time of the year. There are no real widespread major weather makers on the map really. Just some small scale features.

That will change in the days and weeks to come as the sun angle continues to lower and cold air builds up north.

It will eventually break off and move south in the form of cold fronts, and interact with the warm air still over the southern US.

The result will be severe weather for some (the second seasonal peak in the mid-south) and winter storms for others.

It is an exciting time of year! I really love the fall weather and crisp air.

Here is a cool link to images of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ike. I came across this on the homepage of the NWS this morning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tropics Are Tranquil

What a beautiful image! Hopefully the season will quiet-down and we can get our coastlines cleaned up.

My was Ike ever a monster. I am sure that name will be retired soon if not already.

Hurricane names are retired if they cause a large amount of death and destruction.

Sadly, Ike lived up to both of those criteria.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Heavy Rains, Hurricane

Wow what a busy past 30 hours in the weather world. I had visitors in town with work and have been so out of touch.

So although I was dog tired after driving 600 miles in 4 days and working 14 Macy's stores, I stayed up until 5am watching the hurricane make landfall on tv.

It amazes me how much those reporters put on the line to get the story. I won't lie, I'd give my left leg to be one of those weather channel reporters! (okay not really, but you know what I mean)

Let's start with the non-hurricane rain.

Wichita, Chicago-land

Both the Wichita, Kansas and Chicago, Illinois metropolitan areas saw 6-12 inches of rain over the past 2 days.

We have a great network of CoCoRaHS observers in both locatons so you can check out the maps and see the precipitation footprint left behind by the storm.

The Wichita airport set a record rainfall on 9-12.

I heard one report that over 100 basements were flooded in the Chicago area from all the heavy rain.

Hurricane Ike

What do I say, it was amazing to watch and it is all over the news so I am sure you don't need me to write about it here in the blog.

My family is surrounded by tornado warnings even as I write this blog Saturday afternoon. They live in central Arkansas.

The storm made a direct hit on Galveston/Houston and hammered the entire coastline -- all the way into Louisiana.

I was just reading the local storm reports from Houston and the Tomball CoCoRaHS observer was called out with a foot of rain. (12.10" to be exact)

I talked with my 4 co-workers in the greater Houston area via text message and they all made it through, but all have damage to trees, roofs and/or fences.

Someone left me a message on Friday asking if I thought the hurricane had shifted slightly to the right.

I apologize for not getting that until today and for not being able to answer you.

As hurricanes near land, regardless of what forecast models show and try to predict, they wobble and can move erraticaly left to right.

Which is really tough because a small shift means someone gets in the eye and someone gets the brunt of the surge.

Did anyone watch Foxnews and Geraldo as he reported from the eye? Wow -- really something.

Forecasting is a difficult science, let alone forecasting a storm over water where there are no surface weather observations...but I have to say models and forecasters really had a handle on this storm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike Eyes Houston, Galveston Vicinity

The Texas coastline is set to take a lashing from hurricane Ike. But the storm will be felt by thousands of people all across the region in just a few days.

If you haven't seen a recent map, the storm is huge! It's cloud shield covers much of the Gulf of Mexico.

Today's blog is short as I have an early meeting at work, but either tomorrow or over the weekend I will attempt to answer a few great questions I recently received.

Have a great day and if you are in the path of this hurricane along the Texas coastline, don't wait too long to make your storm action plans.

The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center has the storm coming on shore just a tad bit south of Galveston. That would put Houston, Galveston and the area bays in the right front quadrant -- where the highest and most dangerous storm surge will be.

This isn't good news -- especially since there is such a large population along the hurricane's path.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog Questions

An observer left the following questions yesterday so I will try to answer them as best I can.

Q. How many Traces of rain = an inch of rain?

A. Subjective so no answer. What I call a trace of rain may differ from what you call. Neither are actually measured in the gauge. Meaning the first line on the gauge is 0.01 inches. There isn't a "trace" line.

If I am out doing yardwork and a shower or strom approaches but barely misses me, and I feel about a dozen drops of rain and actually see the drop mark left on the sidewalk -- I would definitely call it a trace.

You might want to see the entire sidewalk and other surfaces completely wet before calling it a trace. Or since it "traced" so much, but still didn't quite measure in the gauge, you might go ahead and call that big trace a 1 hundredth of rain.

Does that make any sense?

So since a trace is not really measured, but interpreted, who knows how many equal an inch.

Personally, if that question were on an exam I would answer zero, then give a verbal explanation like I did above.

Q. Concerning hurricane Ike, are hurricane hunter planes allowed by Cuba, to over fly their country?

I found online that NOAA is the only federal agency with hurricane tracking capabilities that is authorized by Cuba to fly in its airspace.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ike's Cuban Wrath

Hurricane Ike has given Cuba about the worst blow a storm could give, literally hammering the entire island nation coast to coast with high winds and surf and very heavy rain.

The good news for the US and the main population centers of the Gulf Coast is that it seems like with every model run the westerly storm track gets pushed further and further south.

Current thinking is the storm will impact extreme south Texas, somewhere from Brownsville to Corpus Christi, which is not such good news for these folks.

It's just something we'll have to watch.

In response to my blog question Monday, here is one reply from Missouri.

"Here in Mid-Missouri, there are big, thick, black wooly worms. Lots of folks think that means a hard winter ahead. We had almost 30" at this station last year, so it would be something to beat that! "

Could the black, wooly worms be a tell-tale sign from nature of the potential winter months ahead?

Any more things you all are seeing out there?

Sorry for the short blogs this week. My boss is in town and we are doing a lot of traveling.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Are Your Cold Season Predictions?

Good morning from a chilly Denver -- it is hovering just about 40 degrees.

There was even a few reports of snowflakes in the southern burbs this morning.

So what are your predictions for the upcoming fall and winter season? I saw one report not too long ago that the Farmers Almanac, which claims an 80-85% forecasting success rate, saying that all but the extreme west and southeast coasts are in for a cold season.

The almanac predicts above-normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially during January and February, and above-normal precipitation for the Southwest in December and for the Southeast in January and February.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions should be unusually wet or snowy in February according to the almanac.

The Climate Prediction Center is showing warmer than normal temperatures as we head into the fall season.

So what are your thoughts? Are you seeing any natural signs of a hard winter where you live?

(i.e. the animals are storing up earlier than normal)

I know as a kid in Arkansas, I was always told that thick foliage in the warm season was a sign that a long, cold winter lie ahead.

I don't know that there is any truth to that but that is what some believe.

I heard a reference the other day comparing this year's hurricane season to that of 1995.

So I looked up the winter of 1995-1996 and found this article.

If indeed there is a comparison between the two hurricane seasons, will there be one between the winters too?

According to this one example, then maybe the Farmers Almanac will be right?!?

Of course the bottom line is all we can do is wait and see -- but I do think it is fun to not only look at climatology (past weather) but also any signs our environment might be showing us, if any at all.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanna Bringing Beneficial Rainfall

Hanna has moved on shore in the Carolinas, and the CoCoRaHS maps should be quite colorful today from this region.

It will be neat to follow the progress of the rain shield up the coast this weekend as Hanna moves northeast.

Now our eyes will turn to Ike -- a dangerous hurricane. South Florida is really gonna have a close call with this one, and even potentially a direct hit.

If it doesn't hit the mainland of Florida, it may move over the Keys and then get into the Gulf of Mexico - and could potentially threaten Louisiana and Mississippi yet again.

I was checking out websites and found a great video on WRAL in Raleigh, NC that shows storm surge from a landfalling tropical system.

Click here to watch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gustav Soaks Chicago-land

Look at the maps for Thursday -- esp. Illinois and Michigan.

Heavy rain soaked much of this region as the remains of Gustav passed through. It dropped a widespread 3 to 5 inches and in some cases more.

Now eyes turn to our east coast CoCoRaHS states as Hanna moves by this weekend.

Then there is Ike -- a major hurricane that is closing in on giving south Florida either a close call or a direct hit.

If you live in this area, have family and friends there, or are planning travel early next week, keep on top of the latest this weekend.

Right now, if the projected path comes true, it will pass just off the tip of south Florida, impacting the Keys, Miami-Dade County, and surrounding areas.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tropical Trio Threatens Coast

Wow, Hanna is still with us after spinning over a week between the Bahamas and Hispanola.

Now she is on the move and will impact the weather along the coast of the Carolinas this weekend.

Although a threat, I think the real danger is coming on her heels with Ike. Currently a category 4 storm, Ike will be near the Bahamas in a few days.

The remains of Gustav will drop moderate rains today from the Gulf Coast to Michigan. The CoCoRaHS maps remain busy tracking the footprint of this storm system.

Today's Lesson

So yesterday we teased today's topic -- convection!

This is the transfer of heat by the mass movement of a fluid (such as air and water). This type of heat transfer takes place within gases and liquids because they can move freely and currents can set up within them.

In the atmosphere, convection happens naturally.

Once the sun rises each day, the process begins as some areas of the earth's surface absorb more heat from the sun than others.

As a result, the surface is heating unevenly and you get currents or pockets of rising air. Some of the pockets or currents rise higher than others.

This is called differential surface heating and it is one reason why your airplane flight can be bumpy.

Ever flown into Vegas or Phoenix during the summer with clear skies but horrible turbulance? Differential surface heating and thermals in the desert are part of the reason for such a rough ride.

The heated air becomes less dense and expands, rising up. Heat is transferred up in this process.

This air expands and spreads out, eventually cooling and then it slowly begins to sink.

The now cooler, heavier air flows toward the surface to replace the rising air. Eventually the cooler air heats and the process starts all over.

This vertical or upward exchange of heat is called convection, and the rising bubbles of warm air are called thermals.

The cycle of rising air, being replaced by the cooled sinking air, only to heat up and rise again is called a thermal cell.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Taste of Fall

A pool of chilly air has been on the move in the west.

The Front Range awoke to morning temps between 40-45 degrees, with Denver at 46 degrees.

It was cooler north of town toward Ft. Collins and Cheyenne.

Some impressive rain totals keep streaming in from the remains of Gustav.

Some storm totals in Louisiana have reached the 10-15 inch range.

Notice the big hole on our map -- Arkansas. They have seen a widespread 3 to 7 inches and it continues to rain.

Hopefully they will be part of our network next year.

All eyes remain on the tropics. Hannah wants to get her act together and become a hurricane once again. Current models take it very near the northeast coast of Florida, turn slightly northeast and then make a landfall near Myrtle Beach, SC.

That is still days away so we will just have to watch it and see what happens.

Currently, the storm is moving north at 2 mph.

Today's Lesson

Conduction is the transfer of heat from molecule to molecule. An example of this would be to hold one end of a straight pin between your fingers and an open flame and you will soon feel the heat of that flame!

Heat flows from warmer to colder regions.

Some materials, such as the metal pin, are good conductors of heat.

Other materials, such as air, are bad conductors of heat.

Air is such a bad conductor of heat that on a clear, calm day -- heat stored in the ground only warms a shallow layer of air immediately above the ground.

Yet the air can carry energy rapidly from one region to another with no problem. So how if it isn't a good conductor?

The answer is convection.

Tune in to tomorrow's blog for more.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1-2-3-4 Punch?

Well, Gustav is now inland and still doing some damage from flooding rains and tornadoes.

I want to show you an example of how your CoCoRaHS data is being used. (this is just one of dozens of potential examples)

The Hydrometeorological Predction Center, which takes over forecasting tropical systems once they are inland and convert to a remnant low pressure, puts out public statements a few times each day. They always include rainfall totals.

Click here to see the most recent statement. Scroll down and look at the rainfall totals. Notice how many are from CoCoRaHS!

Are any of these totals your total? I'd be pretty excited if they were using my data.

Back to the 1-2-3 and maybe even 4-punch.

There are 3 systems potentially to go.

The most imminent is Hannah, formerly a tropical storm, then hurricane, now back to tropical storm.

It should reclaim hurricane status over the next day or so as it begins to move along the eastern coast of Florida.

Locations from Miami to Virginia Beach should keep an eye on this storm.

Behind Hannah comes Ike and Josephine -- both way out in the Atlantic, but both poised to move into the Caribbean and eventually may threaten the US.

If you like following the tropics and have never been to the National Hurricane Center's website, I encourage you to click here and visit now.

We'll get back into the daily weather lesson hopefully tomorrow. I am short on time today.