Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Flooding Woes Continue

Snow continues to fall today along the swollen Red River.

Many questions about the future of the flood remain uncertain.

Snow is actually a good thing, as opposed to rain, since it is frozen. If they were getting rain right now, the river would be certain to rise.

However, since the moisture is locked into the snow -- the big question unknown at this time is when will it be warm enough to melt.

And will the river have enough time to fall so that when it does melt, it will not rise high enough to top the flood protection system.

One thing we do know, life in that part of our country will continue to be on edge over the next several days to potentially weeks as we see how the spring melt plays out.

Keeping our fingers crossed for the best scenario possible!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Busy Weather Week

Well I missed the biggest snow of the season in Denver last week. Last Thursday several inches of snow blanketed Denver.

I flew in last night and the only signs of the snowstorm were banks made by plows and some snow still existed in shaded areas along north facing buildings and fences.

The south saw a one-two punch last week with several reports of tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain.

There were damage reports from Texas to North Carolina.

In southern Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the panhandle of Florida -- very heavy rain fell over the past few days. A widespread 4-8 inches in fact.

Roads were washed out and some communities had to declare a local state of emergency.

One of the most popular videos I saw on television was of a road washed out in Mobile County, Alabama, where three cars didn't know the road was washed away drove right into the damage.

The National Weather Service has a national campaign called TADD -- Turn Around, Don't Drown.

I bet these drivers now wished they had followed this advice.

Water may only be a few inches deep, but you don't know if the water had caused road damage so it's just best to TADD.

After over 40 inches of snow last week, Spearfish, North Dakota is seeing more heavy snow today as blizzard conditions grip the region.

Along the flooded Red River, which had dropped 18 inches at Fargo since cresting on Saturday at a new all-time record of 40.82 feet, up to a foot of snow is expected today.

This is bad news, but not as bad in the short-term as it would be if the storm was bringing rainfall.

In the short-term, the biggest risk will be the wind, making waves on the river that would top the dikes.

As I type, moderate snow is falling once again here in Denver.

We went all winter with the three biggest snowfalls being 3" or less (2 in December and 1 in January) and now that it is spring we've had one big storm, one moderate one today, another minor storm Wednesday and possibly another big one this coming weekend.

But I won't complain, we need the moisture badly!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So Busy, So Much To Say

I have been in meeting all week in Baltimore and will be in this neck of the woods until Sunday.

Sorry I haven't been able to write.

The floods in the upper midwest, I am missing a HUGE March snowstorm in Denver....so sad! Except I won't have to shovel unless it is still there when I get home Sunday night.

Severe weather in the south.

I will see the first rain fall from the sky since last fall this weekend because the mid-Atlantic is expecting a long rain event.

Remember in Denver, any precip that falls between November and late March is typically snow. So it's been a while since I have seen a good, heavy or steady rain.

It is 2 am and I need to get in bed.

Will try and post more later. take care.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Severe Weather, Heavy Snow, High Winds...It's All On The Maps

Wow I was rocked out of bed around 4 pm this morning by some incredible gusts of wind, rain pelting the windows, and one gentle roll of thunder.

The Denver radar at 6 am is showing thunderstorms and snow all in the scope of the scan across the Front Range.

I am getting ready for a flight to Baltimore in a few hours and hope to goodness this calms down a bit.

The blog will be short today, All I gotta say is it will be quite the weather day in the center of the nation today with a large severe weather outbreak expected.

So if you live in the region, keep an eye to the sky.

Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 Spring Outlook Released; Happy Spring To You

Real quick...clarification about the new poll. By 24-hour precip, I mean your normal observation window for CoCoRaHS. (i.e. 7am-7am)

NOAA released their official spring outlook and it is calling for a potentially record setting flood on the Red River, between North Dakota and Minnesota.

In fact, they are saying this year could rank in the top 5 of all Red River flood events. Flooding is expected to start next week.

Drought conditions are expected to improve in many parts of the country, but may worsen across Florida.

The article says that Texas just had their driest winter on record, or since 1895.

Here is a link so you can read the complete outlook.

And today marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere! It officially began at 7:44 am eastern time.

I noticed yesterday while out watering the lawn that my trees are getting very small little buds, and there is a tinge of green in the grass.

In downtown Denver, where it is warmer due to the urban heat island effect, some trees have full buds and probably aren't too long from leafing out.

Very early for us -- this long stretch of weather in the 60s and 70s has the trees fooled I think.

We typically see this more in April, with some trees not fully leafing out until May some years along the Front Range of the Rockies.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Criteria For Severe Thunderstorms; It's Changing For Some

Right now, most of you probably know the three criteria for a thunderstorm to be classified as severe.

  • Hail 3/4" or greater in diameter
  • Winds to 58 mph or greater
  • Producing a tornado

    Well this year, the central region of the National Weather Service, which covers states from Missouri to Minnesota and Colorado to Illinois...will be changing the minimum hail criteria from 3/4" to 1" or greater in diameter.

    Each weather office in the central region will change this criteria at their own pace, sometime between April 1 and July 1.

    By July 1, the whole region will be on the same page.

    One main reasoning behind this is extensive study has shown that damage really doesn't begin until hail reaches 1" in diameter, and that the warning frequency will decrease by raising the minimum -- since the majority of warnings that get issued, especially in this part of the country, are due to hail.

    Here is a great link with a short video that talks more about this change and the history behind it.

    Speaking of warnings, the recent poll has ended...and the majority of our 75 voters get their information from either NOAA weather radio or the internet. Here are the results of the poll...

    Where do you get your weather warnings?

  • NOAA Weather Radio -- 37%
  • Text Message -- 2%
  • Email -- 2%
  • Internet -- 41%
  • Television -- 14%
  • Radio -- 1 %

    I've posted a new poll for you, asking about the greatest 24-hour precipitation you have recorded since joining CoCoRaHS.

    And looking ahead to next week, storm chasers all over are licking their chops...and making plans to come to the high plains.

    We could be looking at the first widespread severe weather outbreak of the season on Monday. Areas that may see active weather stretch from south-central South Dakota to north Texas.

    We'll have to wait and see how it all comes together.
  • Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    National Weather Service Spotter Trainings

    It's that time of year -- with spring knocking on our door.

    Most National Weather Service offices are conducting their spring training classes right now that will make you an official spotter for your region.

    If this is something you are interested in, either visit the home page of your local office or give them a call.

    Click here for the National Weather Service web site. Once there, click on your area of the map.

    After you get to your local office's home page, look at the top. Typically the announcement for spotter training is listed at the top or under the news headlines.

    Being a NWS spotter is different than CoCoRaHS -- you are assigned an ID much like you are with CoCoRaHS, and when severe weather strikes your area, you call or log on and report large hail, high winds or tornadoes.

    This is different than being a National Weather Service co-op weather observer.

    Co-op observers operate a home weathe station and take daily observations for the National Weather Service.

    The storm spotter is just helping "spot" and report severe weather as it strikes your area.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Lake Ice Dangerous To Homes?

    I still have my boss in town so this will be a short blog. But I did run across a few things I wanted to share with you.

    NOAA released an article stating that winter temperatures for the U.S. were near normal this year. They were above normal in February.

    Winter being the climatological winter (Dec-Feb) and not the calendar winter.

    Click here for the article.

    Also, a recent forecast by the Climate Prediction Center is calling for La Nina to weaken as we head into the spring.

    Click here for the latest.

    And here is something pretty interesting to see and read...lake ice is threatening some homes in Michigan.

    Click here for the story.

    I actually witnessed a lake "ice out" in Minnesota when I lived there. It was a huge lake north of the Twin Cities, called Lake Mille Lacs. Click here for more about the lake.

    It was in March or maybe even early April -- in fact, I think it was near the middle of April.

    Anyhow, I was out and about seeing the state and stopped into the local casino to try my luck and take a break from driving.

    A cold front was moving in and the winds picked up really strong from the south out ahead of it.

    You could hear this huge creaking sound, almost like a rocking chair, and it was the lake ice starting to break apart.

    Suddenly, somewhere out in the lake, the ice broke apart and it started pushing on shore.

    I grabbed my video camera and started taping.

    Within minutes, the ice was piling up -- it pushed on shore, the pile growing from below.

    It made a lot of clinking noises, and was in all shapes and sizes.

    Before too long, the ice was piled so high it looked like a small mountain, and it closed a 2-lane road that went around the shoreline.

    One of the most amazing things I think I have ever witnessed when it comes to Mother Nature.

    After about an hour or so, the winds died down, and the process stopped. The shoreline was lined with a HUGE line of jagged ice piles -- almost looked like a mountain chain.

    And where just a few hours before it was a huge mass of ice -- now it was a large area of open water.

    The entire lake didn't ice out, just this particular section -- but I tell you, it was something else.

    If I can ever find that tape I will call my techy friends and see if I can get it loaded onto my computer.

    The "mountain chain" of ice looked much like picture #1 in the slideshow linked above, talking about the ice in Michigan.

    If any of you have witnessed something like this, I'd love to hear about it and so would our fellow blog readers.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    New Poll, Old Poll Results

    Here are the results from the recent poll.

    What's your favorite television source for weather?

    There were 62 votes and interestingly enough, no one really watches the national outlets.

    And as I suspected, more than half of our polled group are web savvy and prefer to get their weather information online.

  • The Weather Channel -- 12%
  • National Outlets (i.e. FOX, CNN) -- 0%
  • Local Oulet (i.e. NBC, ABC, CBS) -- 29%
  • Don't Have One, Prefer Computer -- 58%

    Thanks to Joey, we have a great new poll asking about your favorite source for weather warnings.

    I am blogging late tonight because my boss is in town and I will have a full morning on Wednesday picking her up, going to our traditional stop at Starbucks, etc.

    Wow, the current radar shows a solid line of rain that basically stretches from Dallas to Detroit.

    I love overnight rainfall...such GREAT sleeping weather. You don't see much of that here in the dry western climate of Colorado.

    We do, however, get a lot of overnight snow. The problem is you can't really hear the snow fall like the rain.

    Tuesday was an active weather day, and it looks like it will linger into today.

    The CoCoRaHS maps should be really neat today, with flooding rains in portions of Illinois and heavy snow in the upper midwest.

    Have a great day and hopefully I will get time to blog a little more in depth Thursday.
  • Interesting Story Link, Poll Ideas

    I have a tight schedule this morning so not much time for blogging. BUT...I didn't want to leave you hanging so I have a link below to a pretty interesting article released yesterday by NOAA.

    It talks about why some people don't heed severe weather warnings.

    Click here.

    And the most recent poll ended today. Does anyone have ideas for future polls? I am all ears...

    Have a great day!

    P.S. Woke up to about an inch of snow today! We need so much more but I will take every flake I can get!

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    March Madness Continues, As Well As A Stagnant Weather Map

    It's now the second full week of March and the annual CoCoRaHS recruiting efforts are in full swing.

    I don't have any current stats, but hopefully we are seeing at least double digit numbers of new volunteers for every state.

    Make sure your local t.v. meteorologists know about CoCoRaHS. They are a very effective tool in helping spread the word. Maybe they will want to conduct an interview with you!

    And if they don't know about us -- they will LOVE knowing once you educate them because the data makes for a great resource when either recapping over covering unsettled weather in your region.

    And in today's title I referred to a stagnant weather map -- can you tell I am a little "sore" with Mother Nature right now? We just can't good a good storm along the Front Range if our lives depended on it.

    I shouldn't be so negative sounding.

    The weather pattern seems an aweful lot like 2002 when we had the Hayman Fire, Colorado's largest in history. It was so dry that year and all the weather went up and around us, much like this year.

    It's Spring, And That Means Contrast

    Check out the temperature map above for this morning. Nearly an 80 degree contrast from north to south across the United States.

    What that means is somewhere in the middle it will be quite windy due to the temperature and pressure gradient. And, given the right ingredients in place, active weather.

    Over the weekend there was a small outbreak of tornadoes from south-central Kansas, across Missouri, southern and central Illinois and Indiana, and even a few in northwest Ohio.

    I don't believe any of the twisters were long-track deadly events, but I did see some damage reports, one out of Indiana is coming to mind. And I believe there were a few non-fatal injuries. I wish all those impacted a speedy recovery.

    If you look through the CoCoRaHS comments today (under View Data), you will see some of our observers were pretty close to the storm action.

    Here is probably one of the best comments I read this morning...from one of our new observers in Ohio, station OH-PT-10, near the town of Kent.

    He/She described the rain Sunday night as a "real toad strangler!"

    Here are the maps of storm reports from over the weekend. You can see these and the actual text reports by visiting the Storms Prediction Center web site. Just click here.

    Your Comments

    Several of you made comments about the ice picture of Lake Superior that was in last week's blog.

    Bob, you are right. The lake has a huge maritime history with numerous ship wrecks. I actually took a glass bottom boat tour that showed a few sunken vessels. Click here.

    It was really cool.

    If you are ever back in that area, you might consider this as a little side tour.

    Week Ahead

    Active weather is in store this week for many of the same places that have already been in on the action.

    Winter holds tough along the northern tier. But notice how far north the rain is falling on the map below.

    It just shows you that the days are numbered for wintry precipitation, and some of you are probably cheering for that this year -- as it has been a LONG season for some areas.

    There is a slight chance for severe weather in the center of the nation.

    Rain gauges from Kansas to Ohio stand the chance of seeing some rain, and it may come down heavy at times, especially in the southern Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley.

    The ground is still frozen and in some cases covered with snow in these regions, so runoff and flooding is a threat, especially from Chicago to Detroit.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Active Days Ahead

    Some new data is out this morning and it does indeed look like the weather is about to turn busy, especially later in the coming weekend.

    First, there is a chance for severe weather across the southern plains and lower Mississippi River valley -- as early as Saturday night, but especially Sunday into Monday.

    OSNW3, travel safely to St. Louis. It looks like if there are storms you will be on the northern fringe.

    What will be fun about your trip is you will travel through a few seasons over a relatively short distance and time frame.

    When I used to live in Minneapolis and drive all day down to Little Rock, I could go from 60s and storms to teens and snow -- and much of the change happened in Missouri into Iowa.

    There could be a band of heavy snow roughly along I-80 through Nebraska, Wyoming, and adjacent areas -- possibly including Denver.

    Yes, I am DEFINITELY in the mood for a good ole Front Range blizzard. We've seen such little snow this year. I miss it in a way.

    High fire danger exists today from eastern Colorado, and western Nebraska southward across much of Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and west Texas.

    It will be windy and mild across this region. And it is already bone dry. I saw on the news this morning that as a precaution, they have flown some fire fighting planes into the regional airport on the northwest side of Denver in case they are needed.

    Let's hope not.

    Extreme northwest Minnesota, and extreme northwest North Dakota are under freezing rain advisories this morning. That is just a testimony to how things are warming up that far north.

    Lake Superior has reached maximum ice cover this year, assuming no more arctic outbreaks occur.

    Check out this picture -- simply amazing.

    Just shows you how long and brutal the winter has been for that region.

    Marquette, MI is sitting at 217.5 inches of snow for the season so far, which is over 70 inches above normal. They have about 29 inches on the ground.

    Now that most of the lake is frozen, the "snow machine" will be out of business for a little bit. Ok maybe not out of business, but the ample moisture source is limited with the lake being froze.

    It just all depends on the wind direction and if the wind travels over the little bit of open waters left, or over the ice.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Few quick answers to some questions left in the feedback on yesterday's blog.

    Betty Anne -- my pictures are from Copper Mountain, CO

    Jisles -- I was due on leap year, but came on the 27th

    It looks like March may start to roar like a lion as we head into the middle of the month. Below are the 6-10 day and the 8-14 day temperature outlooks for the nation.

    You can pretty much bet if this much cold air spills across the country, given as warm as it has been in portions of the plains and Texas, and with a projected warm up in the southeast, that there will be some very active weather to go along with this cool down.

    The climate prediction center is predicting the potential for some moderate to heavy snow in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan late this weekend into early next week.

    It does look unsettled and wet for that region, but temperatures will be the key as to how much snow really falls.

    They could stay in the middle 30s and see a rain/snow mix.

    This is a tricky time of the year to forecast because the sun angle is rising, overall things are warming up, and storm systems tend to be a little more dramatic...meaning the distance between warm and severe storms versus cold and snow can be relatively small.

    Or sometimes an area in the middle, such as locations in Missouri, may see both from the same storm system.

    Here in the Front Range of the Rockies, we often see some of the heaviest snows of the season as these dramatic storms spin up over southern Colorado before heading east.

    It's a fun month -- but conditions and forecasts are likely to bounce all around -- sometimes flip-flopping from day to day.

    So definitely stay tuned and keep a close eye on the forecast, esp. if you have to travel anytime in March.

    We see the same type of weather as we head into April during a typical year, but the word winter storm will begin to wain during late April and May, and the focus of active weather will shift more toward thunderstorms and tornadoes.

    Winter storms are still possible into the month of May, but nothing like we have seen over past weeks and could see during the rest of March and early April.

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Adopt-A-CoCoRaHS Rain Gauge

    Good morning everyone!

    In Nolan's recent email, he mentioned there was a need for approximately 2,000 rain gauges in the CoCoRaHS network.

    I had a volunteer email me asking how many out there already would "sponsor" a gauge for someone in another state.

    Essentially you'd mail a check for the cost of a gauge here to Colorado and we'd divide out the fund raising equally to the states in need.

    So drop me a note with your ideas and interest level. My email is denvermetrococorahs@msn.com

    Just put something about rain gauges in the subject so I can find it if your email goes into spam.

    Here are the results from last week's blog poll.

    Which fits where you live & your favorite precip?

  • Cold Climate & I Love My Snow -- 35%
  • Cold Climate, But Prefer To Have Rain -- 16%
  • Warm Climate & I Love The Rain -- 34%
  • Warm Climate, But I'd Rather See Snow -- 13%

    There were 67 votes and it was essentially a tie. And one could conclude that most people prefer the precipitation most common for their area. (i.e. warm = rain, cold = snow)

    A new poll will be posted today!

    Last weekend some friends took me to Copper Mountain to snowshoe and tube for my birthday. It was a blast! I have attached a few pictures of all the deep snow up in the high country.

    You are essentially looking at the drinking water for all the residents of the Front Range and thank God because we just had the least snowiest February on record in Denver. And March is starting out in the 70s. We'd be in trouble this year if it weren't for the deep snow in the mountains.

  • Monday, March 2, 2009

    Rare Southern Snow, Classic Northeast Storm

    Wow what a weather weekend with plenty of unusual weather on the maps.

    It is very warm here in the Rockies and southern plains. Texas has been seeing 80s and lower 90s for highs and will continue to do so much of this week.

    We are going to see 70s across eastern Colorado, including here in the Denver area.

    In the east, it is cool.

    Snow fell this weekend from Arkansas to Georgia and the Carolinas. In some places, they went from severe thunderstorms to snow, such as across northern Alabama.

    Across northeast Arkansas and western Tennessee, the snow accumulated to a foot deep! Hard hit was the northern side of the Memphis, TN metro area -- such as in Tipton County.

    That snow storm is now moving up the coast, dropping a swath of heavy snow from Virginia to Maine.

    All the big cities from DC to Philly and NY to Boston are bracing for locally up to a foot of snow by tonight. Portions of Long Island were expecting up to 18 inches.

    In the west, rain was falling this past weekend in extremely dry northern California. In fact, it is supposed to be a wet week for that part of the country. I don't think residents will mind since they are seeing widespread drought conditions and coming up on a dry time of the year.

    And numbers for January 2009 are out as far as how temperatures ranked in the US. It was slightly above average on the whole, mostly due to the western states being so warm.

    The eastern states were cooler than normal.

    Click here for the full article.