Friday, February 27, 2009

Temperature Contrasts Spell Severe Weather

A large cold front is sweeping across the eastern part of the country, kicking off some severe weather in the mid-south.

Severe thunderstorm watch #37 is current in effect for southern Arkansas, and portions of Mississippi and Alabama. I think a sliver of Louisiana is in there too.

Yesterday there were 90 degree temps across central Texas. Meanwhile it is near 0 degrees near the US/Canada line.

On the backside of the cold front, after some strong to severe thunderstorms, a little wet snow may mix into the picture across the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, and maybe even middle Tennessee and northern Mississippi and Alabama by tomorrow.

I don't think anyone is expecting much at this time but you never know this time of the year....the weather can be pretty dynamic!

Areas in and around Marquette, MI are snowed in this morning after heavy snow and winds up to 45 mph hammered the region all night.

According to my uncle Leonard, who is in his mid-80s, this has been one of the roughest winters in his fading memory, which speaks a lot!

Here is verification of this article about the ice coverage on Lake Superior.

The smaller lakes, like Erie and Ontario, typically freeze over, and sometimes entirely. But it's quite rare to see this much ice on massive Lake Superior.

Today is my 31st birthday and I am off to work then go out with friends. And tomorrow we are all going to snowshoe up at Copper Mountain! So have a great weekend, I will be back with you on Monday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feels Like A Broken Record

I don't know about you -- but this winter feels like a broken record in terms of the weather.

I looked at the weather maps today and same ole same ole -- wintry weather once again skirting the northern tier and Great Lakes, windy in the plains, high fire danger along the Front Range of the Rockies, high mountain snow showers, a new storm moving into the west, etc.

In Denver, we have only had 0.17 inches of precipitation since January 1. It all came in the form of very light, fluffy snow.

We've had enough wind to power a city skyline -- but that is actually pretty common this time of the year.

Over the next couple of days, we will see a chance for severe weather pop up once again in the lower Mississippi and Tennessee River Valleys.

Over the Great Lakes, New England and vicinity -- colder than normal temperatures are anticipated this weekend.

I read a neat article earlier this month about NOAA fire weather experts helping with the Australia fires. Click here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Few Snowy Stats & Some Tornado Turmoil

It should be a quiet week for severe weather across the lower 48 states this week, according to the latest from the Storms Prediction Center.

Last week was fairly quiet with the exception of a severe weather outbreak in the southeast.

We saw the second killer tornado of the season, this time in Georgia. The first was in Oklahoma earlier in the month.

Here is a link with more about last week's severe weather. Here is another link.

It has been a snowy season so far for many locations in the northern tier of the US, in particular, around the Great Lakes.

Marquette, Michigan hit 200 inches of snow so far this season on Sunday.

The snow season runs from July 1 until June 30 of the following year. So far, Marquette has recorded 203.7 inches of snow since July 1, 2008.

Of that, 157.9 inches has been recorded since December 1.

They currently have a snow pack of about 32 inches.

For the season, they are 72.1 inches above normal on snowfall.

Another snowy location this year has been Syracuse, New York. Since July 1, they have recorded 141.0 inches of snow, with 124.3 of those inches since December 1.

They are 55.9 inches ahead of normal for the season and have a snow pack of 9 inches.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FROPA, New Poll, & Geocaching

Well I am home, safe and sound.

My pilot last night nearly gave me a heart attack. He came on and said we were 42 minutes until touchdown.

And that Denver was experiencing extreme winds and severe turbulence. He made the flight attendants sit down at 30,000 feet!

Thank the LORD above the winds died back while we were landing, but the runway wasn't visible until 500 feet above it due to the snow.

I love flying United -- you can listen to the cockpit on Channel 9 and hear all the scoop between air traffic control and the flights. You know about turns and changes in air speed before the pilot executes them.

Which is helpful if you are a fearful flyer -- such as myself!

So FROPA --- a meteorological acronym meaning "frontal passage".

It happened here in Denver yesterday.

Here is a timeline of the weather...

  • Noon -- 55°, Winds West 22 Gusting 31, Partly Cloudy
  • 4 PM -- 51°, Winds Northwest 26 Gusting 39, Mostly Cloudy
  • 5 PM -- 42°, Winds Northeast 36 Gusting 45, Blowing Dust
  • 6 PM -- 26°, Winds Northeast 29 Gusting 38, Fog & Mist
  • 8 PM -- 21°, Winds North 5, Snow & Fog & Mist

    We picked up 1-3 inches of snow in the squall that lasted from 8pm until 10pm.

    The winds stayed north into the evening and overnight then switched out of the south,

  • 4 AM (Sat.) -- 2°, Winds South 9, Partly Cloudy
  • 11 AM (sat.) -- 37°, Winds Southeast 7, Few Clouds

    Often fronts will come in waves. The initial front, which was evident by the wind shift and temperature drop in Denver on Friday between 4 and 5 pm. Then the real surge of cold air comes in just a little behind the initial front.

    And just as soon as those winds switch to the south, the warm air returns.

    The above seem very dramatic, and it is --- but for Denver, very typical. We get rapidly changing, extreme weather in very short periods of time.

    Which is one reason why I love living here!!

    Here are the results from the last poll.

    "Would you rather be stuck at home with..."

  • A Blizard -- 42%
  • Clear Skies but Frigid Temps -- 8%
  • An All Day Rain -- 48%
  • An Ice Storm -- 0%

    There were 98 votes.

    So nobody wants an ice storm. I can't blame you. And it was basically split down the middle between a blizzard and rain.

    I had two people make comments wondering where the people lived and how it correlated to the poll above.

    So that is the topic for the new poll. Let's see if cold climates voted for snow or rain, and vice versa.

    And finally Geocaching....Click here to learn more.
  • Thursday, February 19, 2009

    HUGE Storms in the Southeast

    Very little time this morning, but I had to mention the huge hail storms in the southeast.

    In particular, across portions of Alabama and Georgia.

    I heard of some reports the size of softballs, which is 4.25" in diameter, and up to a foot deep!

    If you go to the Storms Prediction Center web site ( you can look at all the official storm reports from yesterday.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Unsettled East, Dry West

    Well it is snowing here in Columbia, Maryland -- the hotel I am at is right on a lake with tons of trees -- it is a very pretty sight.

    The Mississippi River is a good dividing line today with dry conditions west (except some snow showers in the Rockies) and wet, stormy weather east.

    There is a moderate risk for severe weather in the southeast states today, in particular across southern Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and north Florida.

    It will be snowy from Chicago to New York and snow will change to rain here in the nation's capital region.

    I saw a few interesting facts on the weather channel this morning while getting ready for my meetings.

    60 to 80 inches of snow fell in the mountains of California (near and south of Tahoe) during the recent storm.

    And although some much needed moisture fell nearly statewide, the city of Los Angeles may be facing water rationing for the first time since the early 90s due to the drought.

    Here in the east, many locations continue to run above normal on snowfall, including Boston and Syracuse.

    In fact, Syracuse, NY has seen 125" of snow this season, which is nearly 50 inches above normal!

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Stormy In The West

    Well it was a great flight across the country today, clear and smooth -- with the exception of a bumpy descent into Baltimore.

    I have only seen bits and pieces of the weather headlines from southern California today, but the rain and snow have been amazing in some areas.

    Before meeting my co-workers for dinner, I saw headlines on The Weather Channel that included several roads closed and a lot of downed trees and power lines.

    There have been several 1-3 inch rainfall reports and in the hills outside Los Angeles there have been reports of 18-30 inches of snow.

    The Monday CoCoRaHS maps for the nation showed fairly quiet weather with the exception of California.

    There were some huge amounts of rain in the San Francisco Bay area and points south.

    That same storm system dropped into southern California and will sweep across the southern part of the nation this week, bringing some rain and snow here in Baltimore by Wednesday.

    Here is a little fun fact about me. Everytime I travel somewhere, no matter where, the first thing I do when I enter my hotel room is turn the air condition on high and find The Weather Channel.

    I am such a weather geek! I love to see the local forecast for the city I am in.

    Well it is nearly midnight so I will close. Sorry this isn't my typical blog but I will try and find some time to research something fun for you to read.

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Fairly Quiet Weather Week Ahead

    Well the poll ended last week with the following results.

    "Do you think it will be an early spring?"

  • Yes, there are already signs -- 21%
  • Yes, with 1 or 2 more winter storms -- 22%
  • No, winter will drag on this year -- 13%
  • No, but a few bouts with warm weather are possible -- 42%

    I have a new question posted for you this week.

    I haven't shared this news yet but I left my marketing job for a new one -- totally different industry and sector of retail. That is why I was in New York recently.

    This week I will be in Baltimore for meetings and may not have as much access to the internet as I would like.

    But still check the blog when you get a chance and I will try my very best to post at least a small entry each day.

    If for some reason I don't have access, my next posting won't be until Friday night when I return to Denver.

    Have a great week ahead!! It looks fairly quiet compared to the severe weather and wind we saw last week.
  • Thursday, February 12, 2009

    More On Severe Weather

    There were nearly 400 reports of severe weather yesterday in the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys as a squall line of severe thunderstorms passed through.

    There were dozens of reports of tree and roof damage reported throughout the region.

    CoCoRaHS observer Michael from Westmoreland, Tennessee lost a pear tree to the storm. Here is a link to his blog with a picture.

    The CoCoRaHS observer near Scottsville, Kentucky lost part of their greenhouse roof!

    Many of the comments mention winds in excess of tropical storm, and in some cases, hurricane strength.

    Many also mention the rain measurements may not be accurate due to the winds blowing the rain horizontally at times.

    So let's quickly talk about severe weather and what criteria must be met to classify a storm as "severe".

    The National Weather Service has three criteria for a storm to be severe, and a warning will be issued when one or more have been met.

  • Hail 3/4" in diameter or greater (dime size approx.)
  • Winds greater than or equal to 58 MPH
  • Producing a tornado

    It looks like the weather will be a little more on the quiet side (in terms of widespread organized severe weather) for the next few days.

    In addition to the line of severe thunderstorms yesterday, it was just down-right windy across a large section of the eastern US.

    Look at the surface observations from mid-afternoon. Windy!!

    By the way, if you are not familiar with how to read a wind barb, here is a great link. Click here.
  • Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Weather Making Headlines, Both Local & Abroad

    Wow Tuesday turned out to be a deadly day in the Sooner state.

    Sadly, a large tornado claimed several lives in Lone Grove, which is just west of Ardmore. (between Oklahoma City and Dallas on I-35)

    Here is a link to a local television station in Oklahoma City with more inforamtion, pictures, and video.

    Click here.

    On the above web site you will also see an amazing video of a tornado forming live on camera. You can look for it or simply Click here.

    Around the globe, high winds have been battering France and England. Both major airports in Paris had to be closed for the first time in 34 years due to the dangerous flying conditions.

    Click here to read more.

    And to our north in western Canada, unusually warm weather created the right conditions for a major ice storm that halted travel and caused widespread damage to trees and power lines.

    Click here to read more.

    More severe weather is expected today -- with a large area of the eastern USA potentially under the gun -- outlined in green on the above map.

    As of this blog posting, tornado watches have already been issued for much of the central Ohio and Tennessee River valleys.

    Let's keep our fingers crossed that there are no more deadly storms.

    Regardless of storms, much of this area will see extremely high winds today. Almost all of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and surrounding locations are under a high wind warning.

    And how is this for advanced notice -- the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is already alerting the residents of the Red River Valley, which sits between North Dakota and Minnesota, of potential flooding this spring.

    It has been a few years since they saw a major flood.

    Several conditions are making for the potential flood setup, and you can read more about them in the article linked here.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    More Severe Weather, A Chilly History Lesson

    Wow it just seems too early to already be seeing maps like the one below, with a moderate risk for a severe weather outbreak.

    I will have to call my family and tell them to keep an eye on the sky.

    You expect to see maps like the one above in late March and especially April and May, but not before mid-February.

    It makes me think about a tornado outbreak on March 1, 1997 -- when I was still living in Little Rock.

    I went to work at JCPenney that morning and it was so muggy and warm I had the air conditioner on in the car.

    That afternoon, the "loaded gun" sounded and storms fired. There were over a dozen tornadoes, with 2 very long track twisters. One was on the ground 67 miles and the other 75 miles. Several people lost their lives that day in Arkansas.

    My aunt's town (Arkadelphia) was leveled by a twister that touched down and moved all the way into the southwest side of Little Rock.

    She now has a safe room in her house, which is the master closet. It is built out of concrete blocks and has a steel door.

    I was working the switchboard at JCPenney that day and when I took a phone call from the store manager's husband saying plywood and other debris was falling out of the sky in Cabot, which was 30 miles northeast of us -- and about 50 miles northeast of the tornado's position -- I got really scared.

    We sought shelter in the mall because the storm was heading straight for us. We locked all the doors and customers had to choose to either stay and ride it out or leave.

    Thankfully, the twister lifted for a brief period as it passed over the mall. But we didn't miss out on the wind and rain.

    After the storm passed, all the cars in the parking lot were covered with tree leaves and small branches.

    It was crazy!

    Click here and you can see a complete recap of that day in Arkansas. The tornado that took out my aunt's town and nearly hit the mall I worked at was Track #1 on the map with storm tracks.

    On a colder note, on this date back in 1899 the lower 48 states were in the DEEP FREEZE! Much of the center of the nation fell to 30 below or lower. Single digit temps, ice and snow made it all the way to the Gulf Coast.

    Between the 11-13th, nearly every location in Arkansas was below zero to show you how cold it was that month.

    Ice flows on the Mississippi River reach New Orleans on Feb. 17, unheard of in that part of the world.

    The ice flowed into the Gulf of Mexico on the 19th.

    Snow fell in Jacksonville, Florida and sub-freezing temps moved all the way south into Miami.

    To this date, many locations, especially in the south, still have February 1899 record lows that stand and have yet to be broken.

    Here is a great article written about the cold wave, complete with some hand drawn maps of just how much territory the frigid temps covered. Click here.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    First Thunderstorms of 2009

    The southern plains saw their first outbreak of severe thunderstorms on Sunday. My good friend and storm chaser, Tony Laubach, logged over 1,200 miles and 16 hours in the car chasing with some of his partners.

    Click here to visit his web site and see more about the chase.

    Here is the set up that spawned the storm event. Now granted this wasn't huge, mostly rain, a lot of wind and a dozen or so reports of large hail.

    But still, in particular for the storm chasers, it let's you know that severe weather season is knocking on the door!

    As a strong area of low pressure pulled east from the Pacific, it produced very strong winds out ahead of it from the south.

    This helped pull up low-level moisture for the storms to feed upon.

    You can see just how strong the winds were out of the southeast, feeding into that approaching area of low pressure in the picture below. On this map, wind speed is represented by the barbs on the flag. The more there are, the stronger the winds, such as shown over west Texas.

    Now here is an interesting picture for you. It shows isobars, or lines of constant pressure across Texas.

    When you have this much of a pressure change over a short distance, you can definitely expect wind.

    This is nature's way of balancing out the atmosphere -- by moving air around until the pressure difference subsides.

    The Lubbock office of the National Weather Service did a nice write up on Sunday's thunderstorms.

    Click here to read it.

    Here is a map of the storm reports from eastern New Mexico and west Texas on Sunday.

    This morning, as that area of low pressure pushes northeast, there has been a small pocket of severe weather across northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.

    Most of the maps above are from the Storm Prediction Center's web site if you are interested in exploring weather events on your own.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    New Poll, Possible Severe Weather This Weekend

    The old poll has closed and the winner for our favorite cold weather fix was hot chocolate.

    We had 73 voters, and the results were as follows...

  • Hot Chocolate -- 38%
  • Soup/Stew -- 23%
  • Chili -- 21%
  • Coffee -- 16%

    I posted a new poll today.

    No surprise that coffee was in last place. I think that is just a fix for many people any day of the week, regardless of the temperature. I know I enjoy a cup in the mornings, esp. the smell as it brews.

    Well there is something showing up in the forecasts that we haven't seen in a while, potential severe weather outbreaks.

    Can you believe it is already that time of the year?

    The battle of air masses will soon start taking place as warm air from the south meets colder air from the north.

    Computer models are showing there could be strong to severe storms over the southern plains (Oklahoma and Arkansas in particular) during the first half of the upcoming week.

    A new storm system is moving into the western part of the country today. This time the bulk of the energy is hitting California, and that is good --- much of the state is in a drought.

    Along with the rain comes cooler temperatures. Las Vegas, for instance, is expecting highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s for the next several days.
  • Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Winter East, Spring West --- But For How Long?

    Good morning from Poughkeepsie! Upstate New York is nothing but trees (and right now, snow)! It is absolutely beautiful.

    It is particularly pretty here along the banks of the ice filled Hudson River.

    So in my 2 minutes of looking at the weather, it looks like winter is still gripping the east, all the way to south Florida.

    There are numerous freeze warnings in place.

    I know the west continues to be warm from talking with friends back in Denver.

    However, the long term 6-14 day forecast from the climate prediction center is still, and has been for over a week now, calling for a cool down to below normal temperatures in the west with a warmup to above average in the east.

    A complete flip flop from how things are today.

    I think that will be good -- balance things out a little.

    I need to run -- heading into New York City today and flying home to Denver tonight.

    I'll make time to get a normal, more detailed blog posted before the week is over.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Coastal Storm A Dud?

    Good morning from Albany, NY where it is currently snowing ever so lightly.

    My co-worker and I fell on the ice yesterday in a parking lot of one of our accounts. She fell, I tried to break it and next thing I knew we were both laid out on our backs laughing so hard we couldn't stop.

    Luckily no damage to either of us!

    There is a coastal storm brewing off the northeast US and it will give a glancing blow to areas from New York to Boston and Cape Cod.

    We are on the extreme fringe here in Albany with flurries.

    The big picture right now is cold and at times damp in the eastern half of the nation. It's even chilly in Florida!

    The west is high and dry.

    Sorry for no big weather details or blogs....have to keep a tight schedule on the road.

    Have a great day!

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Groundhog's Day

    Good morning from Syracuse, New York!

    There is A LOT of snow on the ground here and they are expecting more this week.

    I just saw on the news that Phil the groundhog is predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

    The newscaster said it has been 10 years since Phil has actually predicted an early spring.

    That is all for now, I will try and blog a little more tomorrow from Albany.