Thursday, June 25, 2009

Amazing Dewpoint Temperatures

I was just doing a little reading and can't believe I am about to drive to Little Rock during some of the hottest weather in years.

The dewpoint temperature at the North Little Rock airport on Tuesday of this week was 83 degrees, making the 94 degree air temperature feel like 119 degrees to the body!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Sorry I haven't finished up Vermont's climate info...the past week has just been a blur for me with my 2 jobs and getting ready to make a road trip down to Little Rock.

My grandma had a hip replacement on June 5 and she is finally home so I'm heading to spend some time with her this weekend.

I should actually have the time while down there to do some good blogs since I will have no work distractions! ;-)

I did want to call out that it is Lightning Awareness Week all across the US. The catch-phrase for lightning is "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!"

Click here for a link to learn more about lightning and how you can stay safe from it during stormy weather.

There have been 15 deaths already this year due to lightning. There were 28 last year in the US.

In the news today a heat wave is gripping the center of the country with widespread 90s and lower 100s from Texas to southern Wisconsin.

Heat advisories are in effect for Dallas, New Orleans, Little Rock, St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee.

This is largely due to the humidity making the "feels like" temperature, or the heat index, range between 100 and 110 degrees during the afternoon, with some places seeing a heat index as high as 115 to 120 degrees.

I heard a report that one location in Iowa yesterday had a heat index of 121 degrees.

Here is a great link to read more about the heat index.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Climate of Vermont

Well it is time for state #4 in our climate exploration series...Vermont.

Let's start with a few interesting facts about the state.

  • Vermont is the only New England state with no coastline along the Atlantic Ocean
  • 50% of Vermont's western border is Lake Champlain
  • Only 2 of Vermont's 14 counties are completely surrounded by other Vermont counties. The other 12 all border either another state or Canada

    The climate of Vermont is a moist continental climate, heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Champlain.

    Although a small state, factors such as the large nearby bodies of water and the Green Mountains cause the state to have 3 distinct climate divisions...the west, northeast and southeast.

    The western climate zone runs the full length of the west side of the Green Mountains.

    The northeast climate area of Vermont is one of the coldest regions, averaging some 10 degrees colder than the southeast region during the winter.

    And the southeast area of Vermont has it's climate characteristics due to the lower elevation than most of the rest of the state.

    Spring is know as the mud season, summers are mild and muggy, turning down right hot by August, and then relief comes in the fall along with some of the most amazing color in the country outside of the aspens in the Rockies.

    We'll talk more about Vermont in the next blog.
  • Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Missouri Soaker

    What an appropriate day to wrap up our Missouri climate chat -- when much of the state is sitting under a flash flood warning.

    A complex of storms that developed over eastern Colorado and Kansas on Monday moved in overnight and is slowly pushing across the state as we speak.

    A large swath of 2 to 4 inch rainfall amounts has been measured across the region with many reports of flooding from south of Kansas City to St. Louis and across the Ozarks.

    Over 5 inches of rain fell in a few isolated locations.

    Numerous roads are closed in spots, including state routes E, U, FF, HH, WW, Z, P, W, H, 18 and 123.

    Near Marshfield, a spotter reported 1.60 inches of rainfall in just 30 minutes along with 55-60 mph wind gusts.

    Annual precipitation follows a similar gradient to the temperatures, with lower values in the northwest and increasing as you move southeast.

    Northwest Missouri averages about 34 inches of precipitation each year with southeast counties closer to 50 inches.

    Northwest Missouri has a large influence from continental climate influences and sees a pronounced wet and dry trend in their annual precipitation. June is 5 times wetter than January.

    But as you move into the southeast counties, where the climate is influenced more by sub-tropical air masses off the Gulf of Mexico, we don't see near the variation during the year as they do up north.

    Winters are dry in the northern counties and fairly wet across the south, ranging from an average of 0.8 inches during January across the northwest to about 3.60 inches in the southeast.

    However, when we look at the warmer months, July in particular, the wet bullseye moves from the south to the northeast, where the average precipitation is 4.40 inches compared to 3.20 inches in the southwest.

    This pattern during July is mainly due to the convection patterns that set up from the thunderstorm cycle over the high plains of the central US. Storm complexes form across eastern Colorado and Wyoming and move east, often staying together overnight and traveling all the way to Iowa and Missouri.

    Rain isn't the only form of precipitation that falls over Missouri, snow can be seen as early as October and as late as May in the Show Me state.

    However, most snow falls during the climatological winter, which covers the months of December, January and February.

    Northern Missouri sees the most snow annually, with 18-24 inches common north of the Missouri River.

    The southern counties see 6 to 12 inches of snow each year on average.

    It is unusual for snow to remain on the ground more than a week or two in Missouri.

    Freezing rain or drizzle can also fall -- but not usually more than 5 times a year on average according to the Missouri Climate Center.

    Most of Missouri's precipitation comes from thunderstorms. While storms have been documented each month of the year, the most common months to see storms are April through July.

    Hail can also fall any time of the year, although much less common during the winter months.

    May is the month with the most hail on average across Missouri.

    If you live in Missouri, you can expect precipitation about 100 days out of the year.

    Anywhere in Missouri is subject to high-intensity precipitation events.

    The town of Holt, on the northeast fringes of Kansas City, holds the title for highest precipitation intensity in the world, having received 12 inches of rain in just 42 minutes on June 22, 1947.

    On average, southwest Missouri is prone to the highest frequency of high-precipitation rain events.

    Residents in that area can expect to receive a 4.5 inch rain event in a 24 hour period once every 2 years.

    Along with all the thunderstorms you can expect to see about 30 tornadoes each year in Missouri.

    Of those, up to 8 can be considered violent, rated EF2 or higher.

    About 80% of Missouri tornadoes happen between noon and midnight, with the greatest activity between 4 and 6 pm.

    Missouri tornadoes are usually short-lived, staying on the ground an average of about 10 miles.

    Here is a great link to find additional weather information about Missouri.

    Much of the research I did came from the Missouri Climate Center. Click here to visit their web site.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Missouri Climate Continued & Some Misc. Stuff

    Let's wrap up the talk about Missouri temperatures today.

    In looking at the 4 larger weather stations across the state...St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia, they all have something in common.

    January is the coldest month on average and July is the warmest.

    There is also not really a whole lot of variance between the places.

    Kansas City has the coldest average January temperatures of the 4 stations with an average January low of 17.8 degrees and high of 36.0 degrees.

    Springfield has the warmest average January temperatures with a normal low of 21.8 degrees and high of 41.6 degrees.

    In July, St. Louis has the warmest average overnight low in July with 70.6 degrees. The other 4 stations range from 66-68 degrees.

    The highs are just about the same at all 4 locations with 88.6 to 89.9 degrees, the warmest being in Springfield.

    One of our CoCoRaHS observers in Lincoln County, Washington, sent me a link recently to an article about a new radar located in the polar region of Alaska that is scanning the atmosphere and finding some pretty cool things that are displayed in 3-D images.

    Click here to read about it.

    Wednesday was another active severe weather day in the middle of the country with tornadoes reported in 8 states, including Missouri as well as some more here in the Front Range of Colorado.

    There were some damage reports out of Missouri and Illinois, as well as Texas. But I haven't heard of any injuries so far which is a good thing.

    Houses and cars can always be fixed and/or replaced, but people can't be.

    Severe weather is possible today across eastern Colorado and western Kansas, as well as over a large portion of real estate from Dallas to St. Louis to Philadelphia on the northern side, and Austin to Jackson, Atlanta and Raleigh on the southern edge of the area outlined in the map above.

    Central and southern Florida could see some action too.

    And with summer vacation season here, a trip to the beach may be in store for many blog readers this year. Find out how to break the grip of the rip!

    Check out this article about a hidden danger sometimes found at the beach -- the rip current.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    More On Missouri Temperatures

    Thanks for all the comments about the tornado. I was asked if I had any other sensory observations other than sounds, such as smells.

    No, but it may have been because I was on the north side of the tornado and was locked into a hail shaft that lasted some 30 to 45 minutes.

    Temperatures in Missouri show much more contrast in the winter than summer months.

    During the heart of the cold season in January, overnight lows usually follow a northwest to southeast gradient, ranging from about 12 degrees in the northwest corner to 24 degrees in the boothill of southeast Missouri.

    In the warm season, temperatures usually only vary a few degrees statewide. So not as much contrast as you drive across the state versus that same drive during the winter.

    The northern half of Missouri and much of the Ozarks see about 100 to 110 days a year where the overnight low drops to or below freezing, with an average of about 70 days a year in the boothill of southeast Missouri.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    My First Tornado, More About Missouri Climate

    Well over the weekend you cannot believe what happened to me.

    I was in the yard working yesterday and like the flip of a switch, clouds started building shortly after 12 noon.

    By a little after 1 pm we were under a severe thunderstorm watch with dark clouds looming on the northwest sky.

    There was an incredible amount of shear in the atmosphere, in fact, it was visible with the naked eye. You could see clouds at one level moving southwest while clouds above that were heading north or northeast.

    All of a sudden a tornado warning came out up north of Denver and east of Boulder, and a huge shelf cloud started to form, as seen below.

    So I grabbed my digital camera, set it to digital mode and started filming the swirl in the clouds.

    It took about 5 to 6 minutes but the funnel finally formed and came down, touching down in the fields due west of my house.

    The sounds were incredible as it roared closer and closer, eventually picking up live debris, not just dirt, as it took out the fencing to a subdivision just across the way.

    Once I started hearing the freight train sound, I left the deck and went down to the basement.

    Here is my view of the tornado as it passed by from the basement window.

    I am literally on my knees almost looking straight up into this thing!

    It did a lot of damage from essentially the intersection where my neighborhood begins, up to the mall, about 3/4 mile away.

    I did a live phone interview with the tv station I used to work for during the storm, and then another one as I drove around looking at damage to area homes.

    For much more complete coverage of the tornadoes in metro Denver on Sunday, refer to this link.

    Back To Missouri

    Let's talk temperature today and explore the huge variation often found in the Show-Me state.

    Since Missouri is located inland, it is subject to frequent changes -- cold in the winter, hot in the summer. However, each season can and often does see a variety.

    Winters can have stretches with above freezing, mild weather. And summers can see occasional bouts with cooler, drier weather to break up the hot and humid days.

    Prolonged periods of hot or cold weather are more unusual since the state often lies where the air masses battle it out.

    Temperature Extremes

    Temperatures above 100 degrees are rare, but 90 degree days are much more common. Western and northern Missouri can see about 40 to 50 days each warm season where the temps climb above 90, while southern and eastern Missouri sees closer to 60 days.

    Below zero days are not that common but have been recorded in every county, according to the Missouri Climate Center.

    On the norm, northern counties see up to 5 days each year below zero and southern counties 1 to 2 days -- however -- there can definitely be winters that never fall below zero, especially across the southern counties of Missouri.

    The hottest temperature ever recorded in Missouri was 118 degrees, last seen back on July 14, 1954 in the towns of Warsaw (705 feet in elevation) and Union (560 feet in elevation).

    What is interesting about these two cities is one is near Kansas City on the west side, and the other near St. Louis on the east side. You could just about draw a straight line and connect the two.

    The town of Warsaw is a double record holder, also having the state's coldest temperature ever recorded. That was 40 degrees below zero back on February 13, 1905.

    Tomorrow we will continue talking more about temperatures in Missouri.

    Don's Comment

    Don from Missouri asked me about reporting hail that fell sometime overnight, but there isn't a lot of information to file a complete hail report.

    I would say just leave as much information as you can in the comment section of your daily report.

    If you can piece together enough info for a hail report, that is ok too -- some info is better than none.

    Whatever you feel most comfortable with is great -- either way we are getting good documentation of the weather in your area.

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Exploring Missouri's Climate

    Missouri is an interesting state to live in if you like weather because there is a pretty high variability in the climate depending on where you live.

    This is something I didn't know until I started researching this morning, but if you take a line and draw it diagonally (southwest to northeast) and cut the state in two -- you will find some of the largest diversity of climate characteristics along this line.

    And this really makes sense since Missouri lies center of the nation. Think of the size of the state alone. The northern end often catches cold fronts that move out of Canada but don't have enough dynamics to move all the way across the nation.

    And the southern end of the state can catch warm fronts moving up from the Gulf of Mexico, but are blocked by other weather features and so they don't make it all the way across the state.

    There are no geographical barriers in Missouri that impact weather systems moving through. (i.e. something like the Rocky Mountains)

    Spring and fall are transition months for the state of Missouri, sometimes bringing rapid changes in the weather with large temperature and precipitation swings.

    Summers can become hot and dry if high pressure builds over the middle of the country.

    In the next blog we will dive in and explore temperature patterns across Missouri.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Sleepless In Seattle

    No, I am not talking about the movie -- it is just plain hot for residents in the Seattle-Tacoma area today with highs near 90 degrees.

    A heat advisory is in place for the entire metro area of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and the surrounding I-5 corridor.

    So for some, especially daytime sleepers, it might be a sleepless rest!

    I am in a rush for work again this morning so I didn't get a chance to start the Missouri climate entry.

    Some of you know in addition to my full-time job I work an evening data-entry job for about 2.5 hours a night.

    But the last few evenings have been in excess of 5 hours, which hasn't allowed me to come home and do my normal routine, which is being pushed to the following morning.

    Thanks for understanding and have a great day!

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Cool Start To June, Exploring Missouri's Climate

    If you have checked the national watch/warning map online over the past several days you've probably seen a lot of blue!

    There have been all kinds of frost and freeze watches and/or warnings posted along the northern tier of the US, in particular, from portions of Minnesota to interior New England.

    It is even cool here in Colorado.

    It is also wet, the rain fell most of the night and we are socked in for the day with a high struggling to reach 50 degrees.

    I have been planting new shrubs and trees over the past 3 weeks so I am VERY thankful for this moisture and cool weather.

    So is my water bill and monthly budget!

    Alright well it is time to explore state #3 on our climate exploration series, so I chose Missouri.

    The "Show-me" state is an interesting one simply due to it's location in the middle of the nation.

    There are no nearby mountains or oceans to impact the weather so the humid continental climate is greatly impacted by the upper-level wind patterns of the jet stream.

    Before I go further, let me clarify my statement above that says no mountains.

    Southern Missouri is a beautiful place to visit and live with many picturesque views amongst the Ozark Mountains.

    But the Ozark Mountains are not tall or varied enough to create or significantly influence major weather patterns like the Rocky Mountain chain.

    Now locally? Sure -- I bet there are some small-scale micro-climates created just due to the varied topography.

    Winters across Missouri can be long and cold while summers are humid and at times, down right hot!

    I have to just tease you with that little introduction today due to a time constraint but hopefully I can get a post up tomorrow and we'll dive in deeper to the climate of Missouri.