Clearing the air

Some of the most vibrant and horrible images of the last few weeks have been from the west coast, where smoke from fires had polluted the skies, turning cities from Seattle to the Bay Area an eerie, haunted shade of red.

After the conflagrations had exploded across he region, under a high pressure regime that trapped the ash and haze near the surface, reducing air quality, visibility and sense of reality. Setting aside the summer long conditions, and climatological deterioration that helped set the ground work for the fires, the high pressure was a short term weather pattern that made things worse over a broader area.

The attendant jet also spilled into the middle of the country, and brought all that smoke with it, rendering most of the country hazy. Fortunately, one feature was going to come through and help with both situations. A trough of low pressure.

Well hallelujah. Early this weekend, a weak, but still strong enough area of low pressure came through the area and scoured the atmosphere of smoke and ash and made life and the air a bit more livable. This is a recent capture from the Space Needle’s skycam.

Not only does this removed the smoke from Seattle, but also removes it from the jet stream, clearing skies through the Midwest as well.

Hopefully, the worst is over, even as fires rage in the Cascades. At least, the impact is no longer felt as severely for as far away as it was earlier this month.

There’s not enough satellite space

Above is this evening’s satellite picture of the Atlantic. Usually, when we discuss the tropics, we can focus on one storm, or if it’s particularly busy, we can look at the western Atlantic and appreciate the activity bubbling up in September.

We need an entire corner of the Earth to fully capture what’s going on, and even then, we can count our blessings that Tropical Storm Alpha has already expired over the Iberian Peninsula, otherwise we wouldn’t be looking far enough to the east to fully encompass all the activity.

Right now, the biggest and most intense storm, right in the middle of the Atlantic, is Teddy. Teddy will only be what we call a “nautical concern” for the next few days as he drifts through the Sargasso Sea. Still, he is a strong enough storm that a hurricane landfall will be possible in Nova Scotia, of all places.

Wilfried is still far enough to the east that she is not a terrible threat, and will continue to be a fish storm, like Teddy but significantly weaker. That leaves Beta.

Tropical Storm Beta stands to become the third Greek Letter hurricane in history, after Beta and Epsilon in 2005. It’s curly path may result in an extended stay off shore. A trip further inland by the middle of next week would surely accelerate deterioration of the storm. Wind and surge don’t look like the primary threats with Beta, but rather rain, like Sally in the Southeast.

There is a lot made out of the prolificity of the 2020 season, but one bit of good news is how infrequently these storms have developed into hurricanes. While there have been a bunch of named storms, and we we will surely surpass 2005 in the number of such storms, we aren’t nearly to the pace of hurricanes as that horrible year. We are on the downslope of the hurricane season now, and hopefully the back side of this peak decelerates much more quickly than it ramped up.

Not so far off

An anomalous batch of cold air settled into the High Plains late last week, bring snow to Denver shortly after they saw triple digits. The cold air spread across the Front Range, and that included places as far south as the Mexican Border. The cold air hung on for a couple of days even in Las Cruces thanks to a cut off low in the region. The cooler forecasts prevailed on this forecast, which is not something you can say that often. Forecast.io nabbed the top forecast honors as the only outlet not to forecast precipitation on Thursday morning.
Actuals: Thursday – High 64, Low 49
Friday – High 73, Low 56

Grade: B – D

Forecaster (s) of the month(s)

OK, I get it. We’re in the middle of September, and I simply haven’t had a chance to circle back and name our forecaster of the month for either July or August. I’m not sure why, especially since Victoria-Weather was the forecaster of the month for July!

It was a tighter contest in August, which isn’t a bad thing, because there were more forecasts. I like to believe the convergence of forecasting values suggests a higher quality of forecasts across the board. That means WeatherNation, the forecaster of the month for August should really embrace their title.

OutletMonth winsyear wins
The Weather Channel9.5
Victoria-Weather7.91
Weatherbug6.49
WeatherNation5.08
National Weather Service4.91
Accuweather3.75
Forecast.io 3.33
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Las Cruces, New Mexico

I’ve seen a lot of the country through the years, and the blind spots to me are endlessly fascinating. Southern New Mexico is definitely one of those places for me.

At 1055PM, MT, Las Cruces was reporting overcast skies and a temperature of 51 degrees. A band of showers lay north of Las Cruces. A few showers were nearly certain o clip the city overnight, though it looked as though the bulk of the shower activity would remain north of town. A cut off trough centered in the northern portion of the Land of Enchantment is responsible for the shower activity, but is expected to be drawn towards the mean jet flow over the next couple of days.
The threat for rain and cloud cover will peter through the day on Thursday as the jet trough shifts away from New Mexico. Even though rain will not remain in the forecast, Las Cruces’s position in the entrance region of the jet will allow for a freshness in the air, and a few layered clouds.
Tomorrow – Clearing after some light rain early, High 66, Low 49
Friday – Partly cloudy, High 75, Low 51

TWC: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower High 71, Low 51
Friday – Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 82, Low 54

AW: Tomorrow – Pleasant with periods of clouds and sunshine (early showers) High 70, Low 51
Friday – Pleasant and warmer with sun and some clouds High 80, Low 55

NWS: Tomorrow – Isolated showers. Partly sunny, High 72, Low 52
Friday – Mostly sunny, High 81, Low 56

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy in the morning then becoming partly cloudy. Isolated rain showers, High 65, Low 53
Friday – Partly cloudy, High 78, Low 57

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy iwth isolated showers, High 72, Low 52
Friday – Partly cloudy, High 81, Low 52

FIO: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 67, Low 49
Friday – Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High 76, Low 53

Well thank you, Forecast.io, for making my cooler forecast not seem so outlandish. I think some forecasts haven’t been updated recently, since some lows for Thursday aren’t as cold as the current temperatures. Here is the radar with showers streaming past Las Cruces.

No secrets

When forecasting for Santa Barbara, I speculated that the Weather Service knew something that the rest of us didn’t, as their high temperature forecast was several degrees warmer than the rest of the group. I’m here to say that the NWS had no inside information. Temperatures along the coast weren’t quite the furnace that they were inland, where fires have exploded in the last couple of days. That’s good news for Santa Barbara, but bad news for the Weather Service’s forecast. Accuweather had a very good forecast and won the day, which made the NWS look even worse.
Actuals: September 1st, High 72, Low 58
September 2nd, High 73, Low 54

Grade: A-D

Lukewarm for Louisville

The Ohio Valley was afflicted by a low level perturbation as August wound down. This affliction was felt by our forecasters looking at Louisville. Generally, everyone was in the right ball park, but the temperatures didn’t trend in a particular direction or another to give any outlet in particular an advantage. Cloudy skies, especially overnight, kept low temperatures from getting too low, but the high minimums and just enough sunshine allowed the highs to trend into the high end of the outlook. Weathernation took home the victory, though not by much.
Actuals – 8/30 – High 81, Low 68
8/31 – .1 inches of rain, High 84, Low 69

Grade: C

Last gasps of summer

East of the Rockies, we’re headed for a cool stretch through the middle of September. The end of August was quite the opposite, with the final throes of hot weather reaching as far north as Muskegon Bay. Bay City saw temperatures on August 21st and 22nd that climbed all the way up to the upper 80s. One last dance for summer time. It was a family affair, with Victoria-Weather, The Weather Service and Weathernation each grabbed a piece of the win.
Actuals: August 21 – High 88, Low 64
August 22 – High 89, Low 62

Grade: A-B