Friday, May 29, 2009

Atlantic Hurricane Season Off To Early Start

The 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season will officially begin this coming Monday, June 1.

However, forecasters have a little pre-season action on their hands with Tropical Depression 1 making waves in the open Atlantic.

It will not be a threat to anyone except possibly some ships, but hopefully they will just steer around it.

The storm is moving into colder waters about 300 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusettes.

Forecasters are calling for a near-normal hurricane season, so perhaps Tropical Depression 1 just has perfect timing to remind us it is "that time of the year" again -- and to make coastal residents start refreshing their hurricane action plans.

To read more about the official forecast, Click here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Temperatures Across Washington State

Alright let's wrap up Washington climate today by talking about the temperatures.

It varies quite a bit depending on if you are west or east of the Cascade Mountains.

In meteorology, the difference between the daily high and low temperature is called the diurnal range.

Drier climates have a much larger diurnal range than more moist climates.

Here is an example from August 31, 2008.

On the western side of Washington, the city of Seattle had a high of 65 with a low of 51. That is a difference of 14 degrees.

On that same date, on the eastern side of Washington, where the climate is much drier, the city of Spokane had a high of 69 and a low of 42. That is a difference of 27 degrees.

Drier air warms up and cools down faster than air with more moisture in it.

Sometimes those drier climates can really heat up, but cool down just as quick. On August 17, 2008 -- Spokane saw a high of 103 degrees after a morning low of 68. That is a diurnal range of 35 degrees.

The state follows normal thinking in terms of the coldest months being December and January and the warmest time peaking around August.

In Seattle, temperatures range from the mid 40s in winter to the lower 70s during the summer -- on average.

There is a little more contrast in Spokane with winter temperatures averaging around 30 degrees for a high and summer averages in the lower to middle 80s.

So folks in eastern Washington see a little more contrast and change between the seasons as opposed to western Washington residents.

The entire state can see both cold and warm spells.

"Deep freeze" winters have been recorded statewide. One such winter was over 1955-56 where western Washington saw up to 6 feet of snow.

Snow stayed on the ground in some places for up to 3 months and both lakes and rivers completely froze.

It can also get very warm in Washington, especially across eastern Washington.

The National Weather Service office in Spokane did a great study called the Hottest Day Ever in the Pacific Northwest -- August 4, 1961.

Click here to read more.

The all-time record low for Seattle is 0 degrees and their all-time record high is 100 degrees.

However, that low is a little misleading because of Seattle's proximity to the waters of Puget Sound -- which protect the temperature. Just a matter of miles outside the city and away from the water it has been as low as 20 degrees below zero.

Compare that with Spokane whose all-time record low is -25 degrees and their all-time record high is 108 degrees.

For the state, the all-time record low has been recorded at 2 locations. It was -48 degrees at Mazama (elevation of 2,120 feet) and Winthrop (elevation of 1,755 feet). The date was December 30, 1968.

The all-time record high was 118 degrees last recorded on August 5, 1961 at Ice Harbor Dam, with an elevation was 475 feet.

So hopefully this has been interesting and you've learned a little something new about Washington state.

The summarize, the weather is highly variable from west to east. The western part of Washington is wet with not as much variability in annual temperatures compared to the much drier eastern part of the state.

I am sure there are a ton of micro-climates across Washington -- simply due to the varied topography and elevation changes between the two mountain ranges in the state.

For those interested in a much closer and detailed look at the climate of Washington, I've been told there is a great book called The Weather of the Pacific Northwest by Cliff Mass.

Cliff teaches atmospheric science at the U. of Washington -- Seattle.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Haven't Forgotten

Hey everyone -- sorry for the delayed post to wrap up our Washington climate series.

I have just had a busy few days but should find time either tonight after work or in the morning to get back on blogging track.

Thanks for understanding!!

Hope everyone is well!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Soggy Weekend Ahead For Some

I didn't have time to finish up a little research on the last bit of Washington climate, and I didn't want the weekend to come without writing a blog.

So real quick, let's talk about two weather features that will keep it wet for millions of fellow Americans this Memorial Day Weekend.

Two area of low pressure at the upper levels, each cut-off from the main flow of jet stream winds, are meandering about and bringing a lot of tropical rains.

The large one, pushing into the Gulf Coast states, has dropped over 25 inches of rain across portions of east-central Florida in just 5 days.

Some places that were up to 10 or more inches below normal on rainfall this time last week now have a surplus of 10 inches for the year.

The other area of low pressure is out west near the 4 corners, keep the southern Rockies cool and damp.

I have to say all my plants and my yard are loving the weather -- and so am I -- let's save on the water bill for a few days!

No severe weather is expected over the weekend -- nothing widespread anyway. You could always have a storm or two get rowdy with a little hail and gusty wind, but that should be about it.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend -- we will wrap up Washington climate next week.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Washington Climate Continued

In the last blog we talked about precipitation across Washington state.

Over 100 inches per year in and near the Olympic Mountains on the west coast to less than 10 inches per year in a few locations on the eastern side of the state.

Much of this falls as rain, but snow is also an important form of precipitation in many locations too, especially as you move up in elevation.

Stampede Pass, east of Seattle, receives over 400 inches of snow annually. It causes a lot of traffic headaches on I-90 during the winter months as you cross over the spine of the Cascade Mountains.

Another weather feature residents of Washington must often deal with is wind storms, especially along the coast and Puget Sound areas.

Click here to watch an informative video about wind storms across western Washington.

The most common time for wind storms is during the cooler season, from approximately November to March.

As we talked about earlier, this is the stormy time of the year and the wet season for the region.

Wind storms can spread inland too and impact eastern Washington, such as on January 7, 2007 and on February 2, 1999.

Another weather hazard that can sometimes impact locations across eastern Washington is freezing drizzle.

This occurs as moist air masses crosses the Cascades and mixes over the inland basin.

Though often light, it can cause travel problems, such as in this example along I-90 in eastern Washington this past January.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Precipitation In Washington State

For those of us outside of the Pacific Northwest and Washington state, if someone says describe the weather in Washington -- I think many would say wet.

This, of course, is because of all the press the Seattle area and the mountains get during the weather segment, especially during the cool season.

But actually, using the term wet completely depends on which side of the Cascade Mountains you reside. This is clear on the map below.

West of the Cascades you will find a wetter climate than you will for locations east of the mountain chain.

Let's break it down by a few cities and on the state level.

Overall, the statewide average precipitation is a whopping 38.44 inches, but this is heavily skewed by the western portion of Washington.

Here is the average annual precipitation for some selected cities...and the average annual snowfall.

  • Quillayute -- 101.72" (10.9 inches of snow)
  • Hoquiam -- 68.69" (2.7" of snow)
  • Vancouver -- 41.92" (6.5" of snow)
  • Seattle -- 37.07" (7.1" of snow)
  • Bellingham -- 36.25" (11.2" of snow)
  • Spokane -- 16.67" (45.6" of snow)
  • Yakima -- 8.26" (23.5" of snow)

    Not too many states can boast that type of varied annual precipitation on a 300 mile road trip between Quillayute and Yakima.

    By the way, Yakima is sometimes referred to as "the Palm Springs of Washington" due to it having such an arid climate.

    The dry climate makes it a great apple growing area, one of the best in the world in fact. And approximately 75% of all hops grown in the United States come from this region.

    Every state in the nation has local weather phenomena called micro-climates. These are small-scale, unique weather patterns due to the local geography.

    I think some of these micro-climate are most obvious when we get into the western states that have such dramatic differences in elevation over a small area.

    Washington has a local weather feature called the Puget Sound Convergence Zone. This impacts a lot of people since much of the state's population lives along the Puget Sound, including the Seattle metropolitan area.

    As air flows around the Olympic Mountains on the west coast of Washington, it converges to the east over the Puget Sound vicinity.

    This enhances the precipitation in that part of the state.

    Click here to watch a great slideshow that will better explain the Puget Sound Convergence Zone.

    While most of the Olympic Peninsula receives copious amounts of annual precipitation, there is one area that is drier and warmer than the rest of the region on average.

    That is the northeast part of the Olympic Peninsula and the adjacent San Juan Islands, around the town of Sequim.

    This region sits in an area called the Banana Belt.

    The Banana Belt is a loose term used in the weather and climate world to describe an area within a larger area that sees drier and warmer temperatures than the surrounding region, especially during the cold season.

    Other states have "Banana Belts" including Colorado, Michigan and South Dakota.

    Tomorrow we will continue talking about the climate of Washington.
  • Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Climate of Washington State

    It's time for state #2 of my climate series, which is Washington. But before we start, let's recap the most recent poll.

    Ever officially studied meteorology? We had 82 votes. And the results follow...

  • Yes, took some classes in college -- 19%
  • Yes, I have a degree in it -- 10%
  • No, but I would like to -- 46%
  • No, just high school Earth Science -- 23%

    So the majority of voters have not had any official meteorology classes. If you ever want to wet your appetite and learn a little more about weather and climate, there are now several colleges that offer the intro classes online, including the one I graduated from -- Metropolitan State College of Denver.

    Now on to the climate of Washington state.

    If you want diversity, this is a state to get it.

    Washington has everything from rain forest to arid deserts in the rain shadow of the Cascades.

    Western Washington has an oceanic climate while the eastern half of the state has a semi-arid climate.

    There are a few factors that really dictate the climate of Washington.

  • the global circulation -- which includes a large semi-permanent area of high and low pressure over the northern Pacific Ocean
  • continental air masses of North America
  • Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges

    Let's talk more about the semi-permanent areas of high and low pressure over the north Pacific.

    In the spring and summer months, high pressure tends to dominate the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.

    Air spirals around an area of high pressure in a clockwise motion. This keeps the prevailing wind direction over Washington from the northwest, bringing cool and usually dry weather to the region.

    The opposite happens in the fall and winter months when low pressure usually
    replaces the spring and summer area of high pressure over the northern Pacific.

    Low pressure has a counter-clockwise circulation of air around it.

    This switches the predominant wind direction for Washington state out of the southwest, which sends mild and wet storm systems through the region.

    Sometimes that flow of moisture during the fall and winter months can connect with the jet stream and come all the way from Hawaii. When this happens, it is often called the Pineapple Express.

    Below is a picture of this happening, taken right as a storm is getting ready to slam the Pacific Northwest.

    In the next blog, we'll dive in and explore precipitation patterns across Washington.
  • Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Wanna Go Inside A Tornado?

    If you want to go inside a tornado, you can do so safely from the comfort of your own couch tonight at 6 pm on the National Geographic Channel.

    Veteran Storm Chaser Tim Samaras and his team of chasers put their lives at risk to learn more about super cell thunderstorms that can and often spawn tornadoes which put so many lives in danger each year.

    These tornados can unleash winds up to 300 mph and massive hail the size of softballs. Samaras’ risky two-part mission is to first deploy scientific devices inside and outside a storm in hopes of gathering a 3-D snapshot of information that could improve tornado warnings, and then measure the impact of hail strikes to help passenger jet manufacturer Boeing improve aircraft safety.

    Braving unpredictable tornados, flooded gravel roads, downed power lines, lightning strikes and flying debris, Samaras’ team takes its chances on the next big superstorm looming overhead to get the data they need.

    Check it out tonight on National Geographic -- show times may vary from time zone to time zone so check your local listing.

    Speaking of tornadoes, it was a violent day on Wednesday across the midwest, with a lot of damage to both life and property in Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.

    Unfortunately the counts are still coming in, but at least 3 people were killed from the severe weather outbreak in Missouri alone.

    To wrap up our climate discussion on Tennessee...I want to leave you with a few links to some great climate information about the state.

    Click here for climate info on western Tennessee, including a new climate top 10 list for anchor locations in the territory covered by the Memphis National Weather Service.

    Click here for climate info on middle Tennessee. The folks at the Nashville office of the National Weather Service have been busy over the years putting together some great data on the region, including the following...

  • Tornado climatology of middle Tennessee spanning over 150 years
  • Lots of snow data including white Christmas' and 6" or greater snowfalls
  • One day rainfalls of 4 inches or greater at Nashville

    Click here for climate info on eastern Tennessee. Here you will find some great climate information including flash flood climatology which is very important to know and understand when you live in a mountainous region.
  • Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Wrapping Up Tennessee; Severe Weather Outbreak Ahead

    I'll start with the breaking news of the day and that is a moderate risk for a severe weather outbreak in the center of the nation today.

    The state of Missouri is the target for many storm chasers this Wednesday as well as western Illinois.

    Overnight the Storms Prediction Center added much of northeast Oklahoma, southeast Kansas and northwest Arkansas to the threat area, but my gut still says eastern Missouri and western Illinois will be the place to be if you want in on the worst of the storms.

    The map below shows tornado probability today, and 10% is a high number.

    So if you live in this part of the nation today, go ahead and activate your severe weather plan. If you have kids who come home alone on the bus after school, make sure you have a plan in place for them to follow because things will probably be heating up in terms of intense storm activity by late afternoon.

    My good friend, and officially now Meteorologist Tony Laubach as of Tuesday afternoon, is currently in Missouri chasing. He has a great web site if you want to check it out. Click here to follow him today. Tony has already seen 6 tornadoes this year alone.

    I am very proud of this guy, it took 9 long hard years to accomplish his goal of adding the title meteorologist to his name. Ironically it took me the same amount of time. Our paths to becoming meteorologists have been very similar, taking us across the country to a new home in the west, working 2 and 3 jobs the entire time and holding down internships too. Both us of got very involved with a weather passion that took up a lot of our time as well -- him storm chasing and me CoCoRaHS. I am so glad he stuck with it and didn't give up. Tony -- congratulations!!!

    I am supposed to go on a chase with him, every year I say I will and never do, so this year I have decided it will be the one! When and where will have to be determined later this summer.

    Wrapping Up Tennessee Climate

    Last but not least let's talk about the temperatures across Tennessee.

    Annually, one word sums it up and that is warm.

    But where is the warmest locations?

    Memphis and western Tennessee experience the highest annual average temperatures, but it beats out the rest of the state by only a few degrees.

    The annual summer high is about 90 degrees at most locations, coolest in the higher terrain of eastern Tennessee where mid to upper 80s are more common.

    The annual winter low temperature is about 30 degrees at most locations, with mid to upper 20s in the eastern half of the state where the terrain is a bit higher.

    So for a person who doesn't like the bitter cold of the northern states, Tennessee would be a great place to live.

    You will definitely experience all 4 seasons, but you will also have to contend with a lot of humidity.

    Personally, having spent a fair amount of time visiting family and vacationing in Tennessee as a kid, I think the western half of the state is the worst for those hot and humid days. Once you get east of Nashville and I-65 you gain elevation and lose a few degrees so the feels-like temperature becomes a little easier to handle.

    The temperature extremes for the state of Tennessee span over 140 degrees.

    The highest temperature ever recorded was 113 degrees, most recently measured on August 9, 1930 at Perryville, Tennessee.

    Perryville sits at just under 400 feet above sea level in Decatur County, Tennessee -- which is about half way between Memphis and Nashville, just south of Interstate 40.

    The coldest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee was -32 degrees on December 30, 1917 in Mountain City, Tennessee.

    Mountain City, with an elevation just under 2,500 feet, is located in extreme northeast Tennessee, near the borders of Virginia and North Carolina.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    More About Tennessee Climate

    Yesterday we established that Tennessee receives a lot of moisture annually.

    Today I want to talk more about their climate -- specifically, precipitation.

    Here are the top three wettest months for the main 4 anchor cities.

  • Memphis -- April (5.79"), November (5.76"), December (5.68")
  • Nashville -- May (5.07"), March (4.87"), December (4.54")
  • Chattanooga -- March (6.19"), January (5.40"), November (4.88")
  • Knoxville -- March -- (5.17"), July (4.71"), May (4.68")

    And the top three driest...

  • Memphis -- August (3.00"), September (3.31"), October (3.31")
  • Nashville -- October (2.87"), August (3.28"), September (3.59")
  • Chattanooga -- October (3.26"), August (3.59"), June (3.99")
  • Knoxville -- October -- (2.65"), August (2.89"), September (3.04")

    So we can tell a few things about Tennessee from the wettest and driest months at the four stations above.

  • Late summer and early fall appear to be the driest months to be in Tennessee on average
  • It is hard to come up with a clear pattern for the wettest time of the year statewide other than it is wet in spring, and at most stations, also in late fall (perhaps this has to do with the second peak of severe weather season the south usually experiences in late fall)


    Tennessee averages about 50 thunderstorm days each year. Some of which can turn quite severe.

    Tornadoes are possible statewide, but west Tennessee is slightly more vulnerable. Possibly just due to location being closer to the tornado alley of the United States.

    On average, there are about 15 tornadoes per year that touch down in the state of Tennessee.

    A study out of Northern Illinois University concluded that Tennessee has the highest number of nocturnal tornadoes of any state in the United States, with 45.8% of all reported tornadoes between 1950-2005 happening overnight.

    Arkansas was second with 42.5% and Kentucky was third with 41.5%.

    Now my mind says hmmmm....why?

    The first thing that popped into my brain was simply geography and the time line that thunderstorm development usually follows.

    A common set up for severe thunderstorms is a dry line that initiates storms in the mid to late afternoon across west Texas and Oklahoma and then moves east.

    By the time it reaches Arkansas and west Tennessee it is usually night.

    I recall as a kid growing up in Arkansas watching the storms on most nights enter western Arkansas around sunset and be to us in the Little Rock area between 9 pm and midnight.

    Another study says that Tennessee doesn't have the highest number of tornado fatalities in the United States, but that it does have the highest number of tornadoes that produce fatalities.

    Which would go right along with the highest number of overnight tornadoes since most people are sleeping and don't have measures in place to monitor the changing weather conditions outside.


    Tennessee is prone to remnants from tropical systems.

    Due to the size and long shape of the state, it is possible that a tropical remnant from land-falling hurricanes and tropical storms will pass either over or close enough that some impact will be felt.

    The biggest threat is simply heavy rain, but some wind and even a few tornadoes are possible when tropical systems pass by.

    In 2005, west Tennessee had 3 tropical remains pass over the region.


    Winter storms don't hit often in Tennessee, but when they do, it can be a nightmare. This is partly due to lack of equipment to handle wintry weather, and also to a population that isn't accustomed to traveling on snow or ice.

    Ice storms can be a problem in Tennessee. They can do significant damage to trees and power lines, and trap people at home for days.

    Fog is also a persistent problem in portions of Tennessee, especially in the eastern part of the state.

    You might recall back in 1990 there has a horrible traffic accident on Interstate 75 over the Hiwassee River 40 miles northeast of Chattanooga.

    It involved over 70 vehicles and unfortunately resulted in over a dozen deaths and several dozen injuries.

    Here is a link to an article about the fog-related traffic accident.

    Tomorrow we will talk a little about temperatures in Tennessee and find out where the warmest annual temperatures can be found.
  • Monday, May 11, 2009

    Exploring Tennessee's Climate

    Well I am going to attempt our blog series where we explore each CoCoRaHS state's climate and hopefully we all will learn something new.

    I have a variety of sources for my information, and may find new ones as we go along.

    I am going to start the series today with the state of Tennessee.

    The climate of Tennessee is quite interesting simply due to the shape of the state, stretching several hundred miles from the Gulf Coastal Plain along the Mississippi River, all the way to the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the North Carolina border.

    Overall, it could be described as mild and wet.

    Most of Tennessee is classified as having a humid sub-tropical climate, but the highest terrain along the eastern border is considered to be a maritime temperate climate.

    Although maritime usually describes climates that are near an ocean, it can also be used to describe places inland that have climates similar to tropical or sub-tropical areas in terms of annual moisture moisture, but the temperatures are too cool to be truly classified as tropical or sub-tropical.

    In the United States, there are only a handful of inland locations with a maritime temperature climate, and they are mostly along the spine of the Appalachian Mountain chain from Pennsylvania to east Tennessee.

    Europe has the highest number of inland locations classified in the maritime temperatate climate zone. In fact, the majority of the continent is classified in the maritime temperatate climate zone.

    Tennessee receives a copious amount of moisture annually. Winds from the south transport most of the state's annual aveage of 50 inches of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Here is the average annual precipitation for a few major cities.

  • Memphis (west Tennessee on the Arkansas and Mississippi border) -- 54.65 inches
  • Knoxville (east Tennessee near the North Carolina border) -- 48.22 inches
  • Chattanooga (southeast Tennessee near the Georgia border) -- 54.52 inches
  • Nashville ( middle Tennessee near the Kentucky border) -- 48.11 inches

    One thing I noticed right off the bat by just taking a quick look at the data from the 4 cities above is that Memphis and Chattanooga are almost the same and so are Nashville and Knoxville.

    Now look at the map above and find Memphis and Chattanooga. They are nearly on the same line of latitude and both on the southern border of the state.

    And by latitude, I mean you could nearly draw a straight east-west line between the two locations.

    Nashville and Knoxville are also nearly on the same line of latitude and both are much further north, closer to the top of the state.

    Of course just using those 4 data points is not enough to make a generalization about the whole state of Tennessee, but seeing as how they are very well spread out and represent most of Tennessee, I am inclined to say that the average annual precipitation drops off as you head north.

    Which would make sense since you are moving further away from the moisture source for Tennessee, which is the Gulf of Mexico.

    In my next blog entry, we will explore the precipitation patterns of Tennessee a little more -- and talk about an interesting flip flop of rainy vs. dry seasons as you travel from Memphis to Knoxville along Interstate 40. (a VERY LONG drive by the way -- but also VERY SCENIC)
  • Friday, May 8, 2009

    Derecho, MCC Hammers Southern Missouri

    A very large complex of thunderstorms has swept across southeast Kansas and into southern Missouri this morning.

    It is currently moving into southeast Missouri and clipping extreme northern counties of Arkansas.

    When you get a long-lived complex of thunderstorms like this, it is called an MCC, or meso-scale convective complex.

    A meteorologist usually uses an infrared satellite to determine an MCC. They typically form at night and cover a large area.

    MCC's bring heavy rain, a lot of lightning and wind, often hail and sometimes even tornadoes.

    In today's case, this MCC has been dropping 3 inches of rain per hour on some locations in southeast Kansas.

    Today's storm system moving across southern Missouri also is a derecho.

    The origins of this word are Spanish and mean straight.

    Check out the radar image just before 10 am local time below.

    Notice the comma shape to the radar return, or backwards "C" shape, shown in red.

    This is the leading edge of the thunderstorm complex that has bowed out and moved across dozens of counties for over 100 miles.

    All along that comma shape there are very strong, straight-line winds at times in excess of 80 mph.

    This is a textbook example of a derecho, which is a widespread and long-lived, violent straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms in the form of a squall line usually taking the form of a bow echo.

    Portions of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas remain under a PDS Severe Thunderstorm Watch.

    PDS means particularly dangerous situation.

    Out ahead of this MCC a tornado watch has been issued for southeast Missouri, northeast Arkansas, southern Illinois and portions of western Tennessee and Kentucky.

    Elsewhere around the nation the weather is active on a different note.

    Record heat can be found from west Texas to the deserts of southern California and wildfires are still threatening many areas of the Santa Barbara, CA vicinity.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    New Poll Posted, More Severe Weather & Heavy Rain

    Wow my friends and family in the south are just about over the rain. I just keep reminding them to enjoy it because when the "Dog Days of August" (and July) come they will long for the cool and damp weather.

    More severe weather and heavy rain is possible today in the south, with even greater chances tomorrow.

    Moderate severe weather risks have now been posted for eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

    I posted a new poll today asking if you have ever formally studied meteorology.

    And grandma (whom I call Mimi) has one final lesson for us before she starts some college level teaching. She informed me these lessons are intro level.

  • A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat
  • All babies are subject to change without notice
  • His luck is so bad, he put a seashell to his ear and got a busy signal
  • I don't know how much money I have in the bank I haven't shaken it lately
  • All banks are the same They have one window at which ten people are standing and four windows called "Next window"

    Enjoy and have a great day!

    Sorry for the short blog but I am on a time crunch today with work.

    Over the weekend I will throw some thoughts together so next week we can start learning more about our CoCoRaHS states.
  • Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Flooding, Severe Weather & Another Lesson From Grandma

    Wow, check out these pictures my mom sent me this morning from her front yard. This is in northeast Pulaski County, on the northeast side of the Little Rock metro area.

    This is her street and the picture below is the house across from her. Luckily, the road peaks at a small hill right where she lives, and she happens to be on the high side of it.

    But her nieghbors aren't so lucky.

    The Little Rock area picked up another 2 to 3 inches of rain overnight, bringing their total for the last week into the 8 to 12 inch range.

    Some isolated locations have seen in the 15 to 20 inch range.

    And the problem is not just in Arkansas. There are flood watches and/or warnings in effect from Texas to Pennsylvania.

    More rain is in the forecast for these water-logged areas.

    In addition to the flooding, severe thunderstorms rolled from southern Arkansas across Mississippi overnight.

    Currently they are moving across northern Alabama and impacting some major population centers, including Huntsville, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

    There have been several reports of severe weather and even a few tornadoes. There is a possible fatality in Mississippi.

    Due to the water-logged soils and high thunderstorm winds, hundreds if not thousands of trees are down across the region. The high winds combined with the very loose roots systems/soils due to all the recent heavy rain, and they just simply fall right over.

    Several tornadoes touched down just east and south of the Raleigh/Durham, NC metro area on Tuesday causing some damage.

    Several months ago I talked about starting a blog series where we go CoCoRaHS state by CoCoRaHS state and explore the climate characteristics.

    I am hoping to start that next week.

    And finally, today's lesson by my ham of a grandma, Amelia. She is teaching from the book called Jolly Jokes For Older Folks.

    She writes, and I quote...

    "Alright kids, sit up straight, spit out the gum, and look smart!"

  • Reading while sun bathing makes you well-red.
  • A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
  • Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.
  • If you stand up, you'll be seen. If you speak up you'll be heard. If you shut up you'll be appreciated.
  • A man was complaining about the cost of a baby. The nurse said "Sure, but look how long they last"

    And last but not least,

  • If a sea gull flies over the sea, what flies over the bay?----A bagel!

    Bye now
  • Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    May Means Increased Thunderstorms

    With the month of May comes a lot of things...such as warmer temperatures, greener landscapes, flowering plants and trees, more humidity and longer days.

    A few of the above combine to bring an increased threat of afternoon showers and thunderstorms to a larger territory as well. (the longer days, warmer temperatures and higher humidity)

    Today the threat for storms is mainly in the southern states, with a moderate risk in the Red River Valley of Texas and Oklahoma.

    Currently, there is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for coastal South Carolina. This is kind of good news.

    As dry as it has been there, any cloud-to-ground lightning strikes that occur could start new wildfires.

    But at the same time, the threat for thunderstorms could deliver some MUCH NEEDED moisture to places lucky enough to see the inclement weather.

    May is the start of a very important time of the year for portions of the country, such as eastern Colorado.

    While the mountains depend on snow for the bulk of their annual precipitation, the eastern plains of Colorado depend on the warm season cycle of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

    Although this cycle doesn't really get going until late June when the monsoon kicks in, May is still a very important transition month.

    In Denver, we average about 2.32 inches of precipitation in May, which happens to be the wettest month of the year for us on average.

    Suzanne sent me some more great pictures of the high waters in her area of middle Tennessee. Needless to say, after 6.34 inches of rain over the weekend, area creeks and stream are running high.

    She calculated that over 400,000 gallons of water fell on her property this past weekend alone.

    There is even flooding in her backyard due to the water table being so high from all the rain the ground has absorbed.

    Here is picture below from Suzanne near Lewisburg, Tennessee. The waters are muddy due to all the runoff from the recent heavy rains.

    Someone asked me in the blog yesterday if there is an outlet online for us to all share weather pictures?

    Not yet, but hopefully soon.

    And finally, I want to leave you with a cute email my 83 year old grandmother sent me yesterday. She calls it her daily lesson.

    This woman is smart, sharp as a tack and down-right sassy at times. I am lucky God chose her to be my grandma.

    When two egotists meet, it is an I for an I.
    A bicycle cannot stand on its own because it is two tired.
    Time flies like and arrow,Fruit flies like bananas.
    A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
    The man who fell into the upholstery machine is fully recovered.
    When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
    He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
    The short fortune teller who escaped from prison, was a small medium at large.
    And last but not least for my lesson today
    A lot of money is tainted --- It taint yours and it taint mine.

    Have a great day!

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    Spring Weather Can Be Extreme

    It seems like the weather has been so active over the last few weeks, and at times extreme.

    From Fairbanks, Alaska -- where highs in the 70s posted 4 days in a row, including a new all-time April record high of 76 degrees on the 30th of April.

    That type of weather is more like the third week of July.

    Fairbanks typically averages 47 days each year with a high above 70 degrees, and only 7 days with the mercury cracking the 80-degree mark.

    This week things are back to more seasonal levels with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s.

    In the mid-south it has been very wet, mostly due to the recent pattern of the polar and sub-tropical jet streams, along with a nearly stationary cold front.

    The result was 4 to as much as 8 inches of rain falling from Arkansas to Alabama over the weekend.

    CoCoRaHS observer Suzanne from Lewisburg, Tennessee sent this picture to me over email. It really tells the story of just how wet and dismal the weekend was for the mid-south.

    The heavy rain nearly drowned her tomato plant starts!

    Several tornadoes were reported over the weekend as severe weather developed from Texas to North Carolina.

    I am sure many saw the damage around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area on your local and national news as severe storms rolled though.

    Tornadoes caused some injuries in Miller County, Arkansas on Saturday along with a lot of damage to trees, power lines and even some homes.

    There was a death in Mississippi that was storm related.

    I even saw a tornado warning for a brief time on Sunday just north of Boise, Idaho. I never saw any confirmed touchdowns, but there were a few hail reports in Idaho yesterday.

    This week the storm track will shift to the northern tier of states as the weather pattern becomes more zonal, or moving basically from west to east.

    A storm is currently hammering the Pacific Northwest and will move into the upper mid west over the next few days.

    And in the southern tier of states it will heat up this week. Some 100s will show up on the maps both in Texas and the deserts of the southwest.

    The most recent blog poll closed on Friday and there were 64 votes. 53% of participants don't typically notice air pressure changes with regards to body and health.

    The rest sometimes and often do notice changes when the air pressure shifts, mostly with past injuries and headaches.

    Here are the actual results...

    Does your body notice air pressure changes?

  • Yes, I get headaches -- 14%
  • Yes, a past injury hurts -- 20%
  • Yes, both the above -- 6%
  • Yes, other symptom -- 6%
  • No, I don't notice any symptoms -- 53%

    Recall back on Good Friday there was an outbreak of severe weather in the southeast states. See picture of storm reports below.

    The local National Weather Service offices are starting to publish final reports on these tornadoes.

    Here is a report of the tornadoes that struck middle Tennessee.

    Here is a report of the twisters that hit Georgia.

    Here is a report out of central Alabama.

    There may be others from a few other NWS offices.
  • Friday, May 1, 2009

    Wet Weekend Ahead For Central States

    It's a somewhat rare morning in Denver. We woke up to fog and mist.

    It happens here, but so infrequently that when it does, you kind of look around for a minute and double check the clock, the calendar and your location, just to be sure you weren't transported elsewhere during your sleep.

    Ok I am being a bit silly -- I think I needed a little more sleep last night. Hang on while I top off my coffee. ;-)

    So we are forecasting a socked in weekend with periods of showers weekend along the Front Range of Colorado. It will be warmer than last weekend so the entire city shouldn't wake up to snow like we did on Monday.

    But then again it is possible as some data shows snow levels down near 6,000 feet over the weekend.

    If it does snow the accumulations would be none to minor at best with the exception of places above 8,500 feet or higher.

    This will be weekend #2 like this -- a little irritating since I need to get out in the yard and start a few major projects, but -- I know how precious this moisture is and that our window for long duration, gentle precipitation events is rapidly closing.

    Soon we will be into the hot and drier months where we long for afternoon thunderstorms.

    A stratiform precipitation event, like what is coming our way this weekend, is great because that means the clouds are socked in, and the precipitation is light and gentle with no convection, or thunderstorms.

    Therefore all the moisture, or at least a good percentage of it, has time to absorb into the ground and not run off.

    But a little east and south of here, there will be plenty of convection where a lot of water may pour form the sky in a short amount of time.

    Numerous flash flood watches have been posted in the midwest this weekend, in particular, across Oklahoma and Missouri.

    There is also the risk for periodic rounds of severe thunderstorms in the middle of the country over the next few days.

    A severe thunderstorm watch is active even as I type across northeast OK and northwest AR.

    Currently a severe storm is in the Enid, OK vicinity where all that tornado damage remains from the storms last week.

    Attention East Coasters

    If you live on the east coast, this coming week will feature the chance to go and tour the hurricane hunter aircraft if you live in or near the following locations...

  • Monday, May 4: Pease Air National Guard Base, Newington, N.H., 2:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 5: Republic Airport at Farmingdale, N.Y., 2:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 6: Raleigh-Durham International Airport, N.C., 3:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 7: Wilmington International Airport, N.C., 3:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, May 8: Naval Air Station Key West at Boca Chica Key, Fla., 1:30-4:00 p.m.

    It is all part of a campaign by the National Hurricane Center to raise awareness about the upcoming hurricane season, which begins June 1.

    If anyone of you can attend and tour the aircraft, be sure to share your experience and a picture or two.

    You can read the full press release by clicking here.