Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Air Quality Awareness Week

It is Air Quality Awareness Week all across the United States.

Here is a great link with the topic of the day and resources for you to learn more about air quality.

Click here.

Today's topic is keeping your heart and lungs safe.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Snow For Some, Tornadoes For Others

Good morning from snowy Denver, Colorado!

I have a fresh half-foot of heavy, wet snow on the ground.

Thank GOD the pavement is warm so I really don't have to do any serious shoveling.

East of here residents from northeast Iowa to central Texas dodged strong to severe thunderstorms all weekend.

Some even saw tornadoes with a lot of damage in and around locations like Kansas City, MO, Wichita, KS, and Enid, OK.

One man lost his life in Kansas after being hit by lightning while driving his motorcycle.

Along with the storms we have seen some extremely heavy rainfall. A few places have seen totals reach the 4-8 inch range.

More storms are possible today in the southern plains.

An active weather week lies ahead as more storm systems move across the country.

The April heat wave on the east coast delivered a hot but nice weekend to the big cities of the northeast with widespread 80s and 90s.

My trip to Glenwood Springs was amazing!

The picture below is the hot springs pool, fed by a natural hot spring. The temperature of the water is around 90 degrees, and in the therapy pool, it is 104 degrees!

On Saturday it was sunny and warm with a high in the 60s. But while we were night swimming, it was in the 30s with a rain/sleet/snow mix falling.

It was cool because the water is so warm, it was like swimming in a fog with all the steam rising off the water.

But when you got out of the pool to run to the locker room, WHEW!!!! Was it ever cold!!

We then took the tram up to Glenwood Caverns and spent 90 minutes exploring caves. At one point we were 150 feet below the ground when I took the picture below.

The cave was humid, cool and sometimes even gave you a kiss! (that is when a water drop hits your head -- it is supposed to mean good luck!)

I snapped this picture of Glenwood Springs from the entry to the caves. It is about 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

Well looking outside another snow band has moved in -- I better get going to work!

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Active In The Middle &What Exactly Is A "Chance"

It will be an active weather weekend for the center of the nation as a storm system with a lot of wind pull out of the west.

It will bring some showers, thunderstorms and even snow (above 8500 feet) to the inter-mountain west and severe thunderstorms from the pandhandles of Texas and Oklahoma all the way to the Great Lakes vicinity.

The hot spot right now looks to be southwest Kansas down into west Texas where very large hail and some tornadoes are anticipated to develop.

So you see all the time in the forecast that there is a "chance" for rain or some type of weather phenomena, right?

So what does that mean exactly?

Precipitation (or "pop", as forecasters routinely call it) is defined as the likelihood of occurrence of a measurable amount of liquid precipitation (or the water equivalent of frozen precipitation) falling during a specified period of time at any given point in the forecast area.

I found a great write-up of this on the weather page for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, Colorado. Click here to read.

I know we have some bloggers in the CoCoRaHS Community. If you are a blogger, will you send me a link to your blog or your weather homepage?

OSNW3 I have yours.

Dewdrop -- I know you host one but I don't have the link at hand.

Those are the first two that came to mind this early in the morning.

I am packing up for a quick little weekend roadtrip over to the western slope. That is what we call the locations west of the Continental Divide here in Colorado.

Some friends and I are having a relaxing weekend at Glenwood Springs. Home to one of the largest hot springs mineral pools in the world. We are also going to the vapor caves, which are caves that have 100°+ waters flowing though, apparently with a lot of steam.

And the "vapor" relaxes you and is good for the skin with all the natural minerals and such you will absorb.

Maybe I will get my next big brainstorm out there as I relax and chill out over the next 2 days from all the stresses for working 2 jobs and paying off a truckload of high debts. ;-)

As I am sure 99 out of 100 can relate to.

Have a great weekend and for all those in the areas for strong to severe thunderstorms this weeekend -- keep an eye to the sky, have your severe weather action plan in place, and be safe!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Roller Coaster Rides Now Available

Rather you want it or not, your ticket to ride the spring roller coast weather ride might be already in hand!

A cold front is slicing through the west and Upper Midwest this morning.

Here in Denver the temperatures are hovering around 60 degrees this morning, but just over an hour north in Cheyenne, Wyoming, it is a raw morning with temperatures in the 30s.

Many locations will go from the 70s and 80s this week, down into the 40s and 50s for the weekend, and then right back toward the 70-degree mark heading into next week.

Montana for instance had some 70s and 80s earlier this week, and now many locations are seeing snow.

It's just par for the course this time of year and it keeps things interesting to say the least.

Over the next few days, if you live in the middle of the country, anticipate wet, and at times, stormy weather.

This is good news for Texas and Oklahoma, but too much moisture may be bad news for the water-logged water ways of the Upper Midwest.

We can't buy a drop of rain in the southeast, where wild fires have been causing a remarkable amount of destruction.

In Horry County, South Carolina, which is the vicinity of Myrtle Beach, a 20,000 acre fire has claimed 70 homes.

We just don't think about fires like this in a coastal community where water is usually so abundant.

The Bermuda High Pressure has migrated west and is keeping the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and much of Florida very dry.

There are really no organized areas of precipitation in the future for this region looking out 5-10 days.

So let's keep our fingers crossed that the land-sea breeze interaction can be enough to stir up some local showers to help the situation out.

Severe storms rolled across the Atlanta metro area last night with a ton of hail and an intense light show featuring dozens of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

The winners this weekend for best weather in the nation will be those living in New England as temperatures climb into the 80s with sunny skies.

The most recent poll on the CoCoRaHS blog closed with a record number of votes. We had 171 responses!

The question was how many US States have you been to?

  • 0-10 states -- 14%
  • 11-20 states -- 22%
  • 21-30 states -- 15%
  • 31-40 states -- 17%
  • 41-49 states -- 27%
  • All 50 states -- 2%

    We've got some people who love to travel in our CoCoRaHS community!

    A new poll will be posted later today.

    Have a great weekend!
  • Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Measuring Snow Each Hour

    OSNW3 -- you can measure snowfall each hour to find out the rate of accumulation, but you would measure snow depth every 6 hours or when the storm moves out. (that is clearing the board you measure snow depth on)

    This is so you don't get an inflated snow depth.

    As snow falls, natural melting, settling and compacting takes place, and if you cleared the board each hour, you'd interrupt this process.

    When I worked on a weather record project in Minnesota for the State Climatology Office, I saw a lot of this.

    So a 25" snowfall would produce a 25" snow depth. Sometimes, especially in the dead of winter, this would be possible, but not all the time.

    The storm last weekend here in Denver produced about 20 inches of snow at my house, but it never piled up to more than 10 or 11 inches on the ground because it was so wet and heavy it compacted.

    An hourly clearing of the snow board may have made it appear as if I had a 20" snow depth to go along with the 20 inches of snow that fell from the sky.

    But due to the weight, settling and compacting, along with some melting because the temperature bounced between 31-33°, it never piled up that deep.

    Hope this makes sense...I am writing fast on a lunch hour.

    Measuring Snow

    The other day I had the question from Texas about a 25" snowfall that only accumulated to 4" deep.

    So how did they know 25" of snow fell?

    Snow measurement definitions and practices have changed and evolved over the years. There are some differing opinions on how you should handle different situations, such as measuring with wind, or when the temperature is hovering around freezing.

    At one time in NWS history, observers were taught to estimate the accumulation of snow as if it were not melting when it reached the ground.

    This was normally done by estimating an approximate snow to water ratio, then measuring the amount of precip that fell from the melting snow, and then multiplying that amount of precip but the inches of snow per unit amount of water to get a total snowfall estimate.

    In the 1990s, many observers and users of snow data decided that was not an appropriate way to report snowfall.

    Since then, we report only snow that can be seen to accumulate. If it melts on contact, it does not contribute to a reported accumulation.

    So more than likely, in the case of the 25" snow that only measured to be 4" on the ground, they were estimating the accumulation.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Mudslide Warning System

    I read a story on NOAA's web site today about a new early warning system to forecast mudslides.

    Click here to read.

    Around the country it is pretty dry and quiet with a taste of summer in the west and some lingering effects of winter around the Great Lakes.

    Cold and snow have been in the picture across northern Wisconsin, northeast Minnesota and upper Michigan over the past 48 hours.

    A few spots in upper Michigan saw more than 6 inches of heavy, wet snow.

    A new storm system will move on deck in the west later this week -- and it may be the start to a cool and damp weather pattern for the last few days in April for a large part of the country.

    Stay tuned!

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Rain & Gallon Buckets; How Do They Relate?

    Pretend we had a method to collect every single drop of moisture that fell from the sky before it evaporated, got absorbed into the ground, or ran off...and we filled empty gallon buckets.

    How many would we have needed in the Denver metro area this past weekend?

    To put this storm a little more into perspective...let me give you a conversion to gallons of water instead of inches.

    Of course this is an estimate only -- and meant to illustrate a point.

    Denver International Airport

    The Denver International Airport sits on 53 square miles of land, the largest US airport in terms of size and the 2nd largest in the world.

    During our 3-day storm, the airport recorded 2.45 inches of water. (some melted snow)

    Assuming that the moisture fell uniformly over the entire airport, meaning each square mile of the 53 square miles saw 2.45 inches of water, we can make the following calculation of converting the moisture that fell into gallons.

    Before we convert into gallons, let's establish some standards for when 1 inch of rain falls over 1 acre of land.

  • 1 inch of rain over 1 acre of land is equal to 27,154 gallons of water

  • 1 inch of rain over 1 square mile is equal to 17.38 million gallons of water. (Note: There are 640 acres in 1 square mile)

    OK...let's calculate how many gallons of water fell over Denver International Airport.

    First take 53 square miles and multiply that by 17.38 million gallons. This tells us that 921,140,000 gallons of water falls with 1 inch of rain over the airfield.

    So now take the 1-inch standard we calculated above and multiply that by the total amount of moisture collected.

    921,140,000 gallons of water (X) 2.45 inches of precipitation = 2,256,793,000 gallons!!

    So over 2 billion gallons of water fell over the 53 square-mile airport property.

    City of Denver

    So when looking at a larger footprint, such as the city of Denver, which is about 155 square miles, that calculation would look something like this...

    17.38 million gallons of water over 1 square mile (X) 155 square miles (X) 2.45 inches of precipitation...

    = 6,600,055,000 gallons of water over the city of Denver

    7-County Denver Metro Area

    And to really blow your mind, let's say the average precipitation over the entire Denver metro area was 2.45 inches...

    The 7-county Denver metro area is about 4,531 square miles, which is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut.

    17.38 million gallons of water over 1 square mile (X) 4,531 square miles (X) 2.45 inches of precipitation...

    = 192,934,511,000 gallons of water over the 7-county Denver Metro area -- yes that is over 192 billion gallons of water

    Water, The Lifeblood

    So now let's turn the tables and say the area is in a drought, and finally a little tiny storm system moves through and drops a quarter-inch of rain over the 7-county Denver metro.

    That is still over 19 billion gallons of water. (19,687,195,000 gallons of water to be exact)

    We have a saying in CoCoRaHS and that is "EVERY DROP COUNTS" -- and now hopefully you see why that is so.

    What About Runoff?

    Now does all this water get absorbed into the ground?

    Of course not. There are a number of factors involved with what happens to the water once it falls from the sky, including evaporation and runoff.

    Here are some other factors that determines how the water gets absorbed and where it might end up.

  • Rate of rainfall -- luckily this event we just had in Colorado was either snow or a light but steady rain, so the ground will absorb a lot more than if that all fell within a few hours during intense thunderstorms

  • Topography -- this obviously impacts the runoff as water falling over unlevel land will run downhill until it becomes part of a river or stream, finds a place to accumulate like in a lake, or gets absorbed into the ground

  • Soil conditions -- clay soils don't absorb water as well as sandy soils for instance

  • Density of vegetation -- the more plant cover, the less runoff and erosion

  • Amount of urbanization -- the amount of impervious surfaces (i.e. concrete or asphalt) impact runoff and force the water into creeks, rivers and streams where nature didn't necessarily intend for the water to go -- which is why despite the engineering put into to flood mitigation, sometimes with huge precipitation events, we still see flooding in our cities

    Today's Weather

    Well get ready for a warm one across portions of the country, especially the west.

    90-degree heat is likely all the way into northern California and the greater Phoenix area will be knocking on the door of their first 100-degree temperature of the year.

    This is early for that -- typically the first 100 doesn't get recorded until May.

    The cause of the early season hot streak is a large ridge of high pressure. The picture below is compliments of the NWS office in Phoenix.

    In fact, this high pressure is bringing 90-degree temperatures to the San Francisco Bay area today where a heat advisory in in effect.

    But don't worry, it won't last long -- by Friday you will be back to highs in the upper 50s with a chance for rain.

    And although it is cool and damp in the northeast, things will dry out and warm up later in the week.

    Severe storms are possible along the southeast coast of the US today.

    Your Comments

    There were a few comments left on yesterday's blog that I want to answer real quick.

    OSNW3 -- yes, Denver is one of the "sunniest" cities in the states. I really think ranking the sunniest locations depends on the criteria set forth, such as what days count (i.e. days with 50% of the possible sun, 60%, 90%, etc.) and how many years of data are available.

    Here is a web site that ranks the top major cities in the US for sunshine. Click here. You will often see Denver advertise itself as having over 300 sunny days a year.

    Due to our dry climate, most all days start out sunny. We very rarely have a morning with all clouds, and if we do, it is more often during the cold season.

    The National Climate Data Center ranked cities based off data available through 2004. Here is that link.

    I find it interesting to see my home town of North Little Rock, Arkansas ranked higher than Denver, Colorado. I would have never guessed that being as humid as the climate is in Arkansas.

    And this question came from an observer in Texas.

    A couple of weeks ago on our NWS site one of the weather historical facts was a snow in TX that totaled 25" but never exceded a depth of 4" because it was melting as fast as it fell. Question: as a CoCoRahs observer how does one get a measurement of such a snow?

    I am going to send it to Nolan and I will post his answer when he gets back to me.
  • Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Colorado Snow Photo Tour

    OSNW3 made an amazing radar loop of the storm from start to finish -- it not only shows the "fire hose" of moisture out of the Gulf Coast and into the central part of the country -- but also the very large scope of this April spring storm.

    Click here to view that radar loop.

    We basically didn't see the sun along the Front Range of Colorado from when it set on Thursday night until it rose on Sunday morning. That is extremely rare for this part of the country.

    Here are a few pictures of the creek behind my house and how it was filling up quickly from all the precipitation.

    Typically this is just a little meandering creek just a few feet wide.

    To give you an idea of the water that was in this snow, I walked down to get the mail on Saturday and one of my neighbors had not cleared their snow yet.

    Look at the water that was pooling beneath the snow at their end of their driveway. It is the area of snow that has a brownish/yellowish tint to it.

    While I was shoveling, I took a picture to show you how dense the snow was -- which illustrates the water content.

    Ricker, you are right -- this was the most dense, water-logged snows I think I have ever seen. Without seeing data, just knowing my experience from shoveling both storms, I'd say there was even more water in this one than in the March 2003 blizzard -- although that storm did dump a whole lot more snow in terms of inches.

    Literally, the bottom layer of the snow was sitting on top of liquid water, and the snow almost sat off the ground a little at times. It was a perfect snow to make an ice fort, which I know some area families did -- there is a picture of one of the local ABC station website, along with hundreds of other snow event scenes.

    Gardenbuzzy in Alabama, welcome to CoCoRaHS!! If Fort Collins wasn't so far away from me, I'd take you up on the snow removal offer!! ;-)

    Click here for more pictures courtesy of KMGH-TV.

    In the pictures below you can see what I was talking about above with the snow almost sitting above the ground on top of water.

    Also, when you would shovel the snow would break off into compact, water-logged snow balls -- making each load with the shovel at least 50 to 75 pounds. It was literally back-breaking!

    Finally, here is a shot once the driveway was finished being cleared and then one of my little girl, Lucy Lu, begging me to open the door and let her come inside!

    In the driveway shot, you can see how deep the snow (mostly slush really) was in the road.

    Although area travel wasn't completely stopped in the Denver metro area, it was tough on side streets that didn't get plowed due to the depth of the slush.

    And when a car would pass you -- oh my goodness -- I was on I-70 in the right lane and a car passed me in the center lane. He kicked so much water back onto my windshield that my wipers wouldn't even clear it so I could see.

    This went on for like a quarter-mile and when I slowed down he did too. (not purposely I don't think) He was just slowing since he encountered a huge area of standing slush/water.

    But I temporarily went into a panic because I thought oh my gosh I cannot see where I am going I am going to wreck. Luckily I didn't, but when I did get far enough behind him that he wasn't throwing that volume of water at me, I was driving half on the shoulder and half in my lane -- so imagine if that happened to someone driving in the center lane and they temporarily lost control -- it could have caused a nasty wreck.

    The storm did cause some area power outages and some trees did fall around the Denver metro area -- mostly on the south and west sides of town where more snow fell.

    And in the foothills it was 30-60 inches of snow, many locations from Evergreen to Conifer to Pine and Bailey lost power for 15 or more hours.

    There was a snow slide on Berthoud Pass that buried two cars full of people on Friday night, but thankfully, no one was injured and the cars were able to keep traveling once dug out.

    Interstate 70 was closed from Golden to Vail on Friday night, keeping hundreds in area shelters until late Saturday morning.

    Here is a list of area snow totals from the April Storm.

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Snow, Snow and More Snow

    Ok I am about over the water with this one. My snow blower isn't working and my shovel is ready to break.

    I am not kidding you it seems like this snow per square foot weighs about 50 pounds.

    It is not your normal 10 inches of snow to 1 inch of water ratio. This is more like 6 to 8 inches of snow per inch of water.

    I am not personally measuring precipitation right now because I am doing some work in the backyard and had to take my gauge down.

    BUT -- it is very similar to the March 2003 blizzard which had those type of snow-to-water ratios.

    It has been really hard to get an actual snow measurement with this event because of the snow's weight. It compacts down into a block of frozen water.

    I would estimate at my house we are sitting somewhere in the 15-20 inch range since Friday morning.

    Most of the foothills just west of Denver are in the 30-50 range, with two locations at 51 inches of snow with over 5 inches of water.

    The creek behind my house is out of it's banks in a big way, and the retaining pond at the edge of the neighborhood went from empty, cracked ground on Thursday to nearly full today.

    Severe thunderstorms are possible today from Kansas to Texas. Currently there are tornado watches in effect for southwest Kansas and southeast Texas.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    More On The Storm

    Well it rained all night, and in the last few hours (between 5 and 7 am) the temperatures went from 35-37 down to 31-33 and now it is snowing like crazy!

    It is so wet -- man will things be green around here for a few weeks once this comes to an end.

    The snow isn't a foot deep here in the city OSNW3, at least not yet, but in the foothills about 30 miles west there are a few spots closing in on a foot!

    Look at the surface weather map below compliments of The Weather can see just how large this spring storm is, but also how organized it is -- all this rain and snow falling on Colorado is coming straight out of the Gulf of Mexico, almost as if there was a large firehose connecting the two points.

    That is a moisture conveyor that covers some 1,000 miles!

    Mother Nature can be powerful that is for sure!

    Did you see the storm reports from Texas on the national news today?

    Hail piled up so deep in portions of Texas with severe thunderstorms yesterday, such as around Lubbock, that it clogged the storm drains and caused a flash flood.

    There were a few high water rescues due to the hail clogging storm drains on areas freeways.

    In the post below I put a picture of the seasonal drought is a link to the full discussion in case you are interested.

    On this date in weather history, the Red River set a record high in Fargo, North Dakota. I think we all remember the images from areas like Fargo and Grand Forks, including that massive fire that broke out on the 19th in downtown Grand Forks -- flames shooting out of buildings that were surrounded by feet of water.

    In 2002 -- record heat hit the big cities of the northeast, with 96 in New York, 97 in Newark, Philly and DC. It was 91 in Boston and Albany.

    On this date in 1875, Louisville, Kentucky saw April's coldest temperature on record with 21 degrees.

    In 1922, an outbreak of deadly tornadoes struck from Ogden, Illnois to Allen County, Ohio.

    AwaitingThe Snow

    It's 2 am, it's a "school night" -- and I am up like a little kid looking out the window waiting for the snow.

    The temperature has dropped from 39 to 34 over the past few hours, the fog in super thick and we've seen over a quarter-inch of light rain/drizzle since nightfall.

    Denver is supposed to see a heavy, wet snow with up to 2 feet in some locations!

    This storm has brought severe weather, several tornadoes and heavy rain to Texas. They don't need the severe weather, but the rain is a blessing!

    In fact, this entire spring storm is a blessing -- look at how it is helping the very dry conditions from Texas to Colorado on the map below.

    I will try and post an update later today if I can. For now, I had better try and get some sleep.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    April Storm Leaving Large Footprint

    Well here in Denver we are all anxiously watching the forecast and scaning the local television stations to see who will do the best job of predicting the approaching storm.

    As usual, our local NBC station is scared to make a call either way. It makes me so mad.

    I think it is good for the television meteorologist to explain the possible scenarios, and give you the range of what may happen -- but I also like them to then say so with that, here is what I think.

    The boys on Fox and Channel 2 are doing just that -- they are saying it is a tough call, if the snow level changes are little as 500-700 feet, it changes the outcome. BUT we're going with 10-20 inches of snow.

    The team of NBC are all over their map. Their graphcs show winter storm watch with up to a foot plus of snow possible, but if you listen to the message being delivered, they are going for more rain than snow. However, they won't right out say it because they always want to be right, so they deliver a vague message that technically will verify no matter what type of weather we see.

    I haven't seen the ABC or CBS station yet, and I may not get a chance this morning before work, but I do find it very interesting to watch the different styles and confidence levels of the local forecasters.

    I worked in the media here in Denver for a few years, and this is by far one of the hardest places to forecast for -- but I think the general public is expecting a blown forecast in Denver, and they also deep down understand the complexities of forecasting along the Front Range and are forgiving of the blown forecast -- so to the television meteorologists out there -- pick a scenario and go with it! Don't ride the fence.

    Take a risk and if you are wrong, try again next time.

    Ok I am off my soapbox.

    Snowstorms in Colorado are not rare in April. I think I have seen at least one good snow each April since I moved here in 2000.

    We typically even get one final hoo-rah snow in May it seems. One year we had 4 inches on May 21 or 22 -- I can't recall which date.

    Now a storm of this intensity -- if Denver gets up to 20 inches and the foothills up to 36 inches -- that is somewhat rare for this late in April.

    It takes a really strong and organized storm to get that much cold air support to produce that much snow over the lower elevations.

    This approaching storm has already left it's mark in the history books.

    The storm has spread snow from Spokane, Washington to the central Rockies. Click here for more about the eastern Washington snowfall earlier this week. It's been one heck of a snow season for the city of Spokane, with new records set and many new memories made for local residents.

    Severe thunderstorms will spawn from eastern Colorado to the southern plains as the storm moves eastward this weekend. And heavy rain is anticipated from Texas to locations as far north as Nebraska.

    This is GREAT news for Texas -- they need a good, widespread rain -- and some locations may see up to 4 inches of rain over the next 2-3 days.

    This April storm is also a great storm for Colorado. We are way below normal on precipitation and have been for quite some time.

    The latest poll has closed with 82 votes.

    I am happy to report that of those who participated, no one has had their home destroyed by Mother Nature.

    However, over half have had either slight or moderate damage.

    35% have been fortunate to have never experienced damage to their home from the weather.

    Here are the official results...

    Has weather ever damaged your home?

  • Yes, destroyed -- 0%
  • Yes, moderate damage -- 17%
  • Yes, slight damage -- 47%
  • No, I have been fortunate -- 35%

    A new poll will be posted today.
  • Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Large & Slow Moving Storm On Way

    A very large, slow and wet storm will sweep across the country the rest of this week and through the weekend.

    It will bring severe weather to the southern plains, a lot of wind and rain to many locations, and even snow in the west.

    Depending on the exact track, we could see up to 2 feet of snow here in the Denver metro area between Thursday night and Saturday morning.

    I kind of hope for it, but at the same time, am ready for spring to stay around for a while. We desperately need the water so I will take it in whatever form we can get it.

    This is a large storm, so precipitation will be possible from North Dakota to south Texas. But the heaviest rains should stay in the central and southern states.

    Severe storms hit much of central Florida yesterday, with some tornado damage near Tampa.

    A tight pressure gradient produced 50-70 mph non-thunderstorm wind gusts across the Sunshine State too.

    Flooding continues in the Florida panhandle, south Georgia, and along the Red River of the North.

    NOAA released the March weather averages recently, and the month ended with near average temperatures for the USA. Click here to read more.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Red River Flooding Now Felt In Two Countries

    The Red River is not only impacting residents of North Dakota and Minnesota, but also people in Manitoba, Canada.

    If you didn't already know, the Red River is somewhat unusual in that it actually flows north and empties into Lake Winnipeg, just north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

    Click here to learn more about the Red River.

    It is also sometimes called the Red River of the North, simply because there is a Red River that flows along the border of Texas and Oklahoma, into southwest Arkansas and then Louisiana.

    There have been several rooftop rescues in southern Manitoba as a result of the flooding and ice flows. Click here to read more.

    My grandmother sent me a great article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in my Easter card. I think I have shared with you all before that I am from central Arkansas.

    It was titled "State Joins Program To Track Rains" and featured one of Arkansas' newest CoCoRaHS volunteers, Edward Swaim.

    In the article, he stated that he is checking the local precipitation patterns to better understand the conditions that lead to the opening of the spillways on a lake near his home.

    I found that very interesting and it made me wonder if any of you have a story to share about either what attracted you to CoCoRaHS or why you chose to get involved? Was there something specific you hoped to learn, like Edward?

    Severe weather is once again lurking in the Ohio River and Tennessee River valleys today. There are currently tornado watches in place from southern Indiana down to northern Alabama, including hard hit Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

    Tornado watches are also in place across south Georgia and north Florida.

    If you live in these areas, please keep an eye to the sky and an ear to your NOAA Weather Radios!

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Spring Floods Continue, Snow Rollers Spotted In Idaho

    Spring flooding continues in portions of the country, with some of the worst currently in north Florida and along the Red River between Minnesota and North Dakota.

    The southern flooding will be irritated by storms passing through today and tomorrow, and the upper midwest flooding will have some influence from new precipitation but also from warming temps and melting snow.

    There are also some high waters in the center of the nation in Missouri and Illinois.

    Looking ahead at the next 5 to 10 days, the western US may see a large ridge of high pressure build in with extremely warm temperatures.

    Highs in the 70s and 80s across lower elevations are possible heading into the upcoming weekend. Below is a map of this potential warm trend in the west.

    And the 8-14 day precipitation outlook for the nation is calling for most of us to be drier than normal.

    If this comes true, it will be good news for those areas with flooding and for those in the south needing time to clean up from the killer tornadoes of the past few days.

    I pull these maps from the Climate Prediction Center's website. If you don't already have it bookmarked, it is a great site to check every few days. Click here to go there now in a new window.

    These next few weeks, maybe even days in some cases, to me -- will be some of the most exciting of the year because it will seem like overnight the grass will green up and the trees will leaf out.

    At least here in the colder climates.

    Some of the warmer locations may already be in that phase. I was out this morning putting lawn food down and noticed my maple trees have small little buds. The aspens too.

    Here is a little weather history I ran across this morning while checking out the national weather.

    On this date in 1957, two tornadoes touched down in Oregon.

    One was in the Sandy area. The twister was about 35 To 50 Yards in diameter, and it uprooted large fir trees and lifted them 40 feet into the air.

    A large barn was carried several hundred yards and roofs were torn off some houses. The path was about 3 miles long.

    The second tornado was larger and touched down west of Ione. It rapidly moved towards Lexington.

    The twister was nearly a quarter-mile wide at times and traveled nearly 20 Miles. Ironically it did very little damage.

    And on this date in 1972, the temperature climbed to 100 degrees in Oklahoma City.

    That is the earliest date in the year that a temperature of at least 100 has ever occurred in the city.

    The 100 degree high also set a record as the warmest temperature ever observed in April for Oklahoma City.

    Meanwhile, Wichita Falls also set an April high temperature that day, with a reading of 102 degrees.

    For our CoCoRaHS family in Oklahoma, if you live within 90 miles of the National Severe Storms Lab in Norman, and you are a die-hard weather geek like myself, you can participate in a special hail project. Click here to learn more.

    And finally in the title of this blog I said snow rollers spotted in Idaho. What the heck is a snow roller?

    It's not a hockey team, or a road band from the 80s, nor is it the local roller skating club -- ah a lost past-time of good, clean fun -- the roller skating rink. (yep I am a child of the 80s/early 90s).

    Well can I just tell you -- I've been following weather since I was 4, that is just shy of 30 years now, and I have never heard of this terminology.

    Snow rollers are very unusual and extremely rare because of the unique combination of snow, wind, temperature and moisture needed to create them.

    They form with light but sticky snow and strong (but not too strong) winds.

    Click here for a link to the National Weather Service office in Spokane, Washington -- and you will see some awesome pictures of these snow rollers.

    They look like little bales of hay -- only they are snow.

    That is it from here -- off to church. If you celebrate, I wish you a very Happy Easter Sunday!

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Severe Weather Outbreak Spawns PDS Watch

    Wow, Thursday and Friday turned out to be deadly days across the mid-south as tornadoes caused miles of damage from Mena, Arkansas to Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

    Damage and some injuries were also caused by tornado touchdowns in Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and both North and South Carolina.

    The two days brought over 500 reports of severe weather with over 2 dozen reports of large hail and 71 possible tornadoes.

    Below are maps of the severe weather reports.

    I know at least one of the tornado watches on Friday was a PDS Tornado Watch. These are issued only a handful of times each year.

    PDS means particularly dangerous situation -- if one of these watches are issued, forecasters are almost 100% certain there will be a deadly tornado outbreak.

    Today the hard-hit areas will have a break in the weather to begin cleaning up, but more storms are in the forecast as we head into next week.

    The unsettled weather on the maps today can be found in pockets, mainly in the west, but also in the big cities of the northeast.

    It is currently raining here in Denver, and I am loving it.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    National Tornado Project Coming Soon

    Good morning!

    We may see some April showers here in the Denver area today and off and on actually for the next few days.

    That is very welcome around these parts -- we need some moisture to delay the start of fire season.

    Unsettled weather is impacting portions of the west and central states today, with high winds across Texas bringing the threat for wildland fires.

    Severe thunderstorms are possible across the mid-south and lower Mississippi River Valley.

    The east will see a nice day.

    Coming soon to the center of the US is the National Tornado Project, called Vortex2.

    This will be the largest and most ambitious attempt to study tornadoes in history, involving more than 50 scientists and 40 research vehicles, including 10 mobile radars.

    Click here to read more.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Spring Is Here, Really?

    Well some of you might be saying really.

    A slew of frost and freeze warnings and advisories cover the southeast quarter of the US today and tonight.

    Temperatures are far south as Dixie started out in the 20s today and will do so again tomorrow morning.

    If you live in this part of the world and have planted tender vegetation already, take precautions to protect your investment.

    Aside from the spring chill in the east, the weather maps are pretty quiet today.

    Portions of the south and areas along the Mississippi River and the Red River are still dealing with flooding.

    A new storm system is getting ready to move onto the west coast with valley rain and mountain snow.

    It is carrying a big pool of cold air aloft, and is expected to sweep east this week, bringing unsettled weather along with it.

    It will impact the east coast by the coming weekend. Heavy rain is expected in the middle of the country by Thursday and Friday along with a slight chance for some severe weather.

    Some headlines from around the globe today include the large piece ice shelf breaking away from Antarctica. Click here for more.

    And Tropical Cyclone Jade has slammed into the coast of Madagascar with high winds, heavy rain and large waves.

    The last poll we had asked about the largest 24 hour rainfall you've experienced.

    We had 83 replies and they were as follows...

  • Less Than 1 Inch (gauge has never overflowed) -- 9%
  • 1-3 Inches -- 36%
  • 3-6 Inches -- 30%
  • 6-12 Inches -- 22%
  • More Than 12 Inches in 24 Hours -- 1%

    A new poll will be posted today.
  • Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Bad News For Fargo, Surrounding Areas

    The National Weather Service is predicting a second crest on the river later this month.

    The latest forecast was released by the National Weather Service on Friday.

    Click here to read more.

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Severe Weather Threat In South

    The southern states are under the gun today with a moderate risk of severe weather for much of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

    There is the possibility of long-track tornadoes, large hail, high winds and very heavy rain.

    This area has seen a parade of storms in recent days and is already water-logged.

    Flooding is currently taking place along waterways from Louisiana to northern Florida and southern Georgia.

    Some roads and schools are even closed.

    Meanwhile, here in the west, we are under a winter storm watch as a new storm approaches for the weekend.

    Depending on the track, Denver could see as little as a few inches to as much as 18 inches or more.

    We went all winter with no snow, and since the seasons changed, we've seen storm after storm -- which is good -- maybe now the fire season won't be so bad this summer.