All posts by Ryan

Not quite tropical, except for the rains

Late last week, it appeared that tropical storm Beryl was in the near future for the western Gulf of Mexico. As it would ultimately turn out, however, the storm didn’t organize enough to be named, but it did bring quite a bit of rain to eastern Texas. On Friday and Saturday, though, College Station was still concerning itself with the onshore flow associated with the strengthening low. The problem was that it wasn’t quite strong enough to really pipe in any moisture based on circulation alone. There was nary a drop those two days, which was unexpected by almost everyone, and the dry, sunny days meant warm days as well. The warmest forecasters were the Weather Service and WeatherNation, and they snagged the top spot.
Actuals: Friday – High 96, Low 74
Saturday – High 95, Low 75

Grade: B-D

Topeka got throttled

Early last week, we took a look at the forecast for Kansas’ capital, Topeka. A cold front preparing to bisect the Plains was set to touch off thunderstorms in the area on Monday, and it was going to be close, whether or not those storms fired up before the boundary passed Topeka or not. Perhaps the headline gave it away. There were severe storms all around Topeka, particularly northeast of town on Monday night. They collected exactly one inch of rain before all was said and done, with hail and gusty winds to boot. There was just a trace on Tuesday, and the subsequent day must have felt much more comfortable.
Actuals: Monday – 1.00″ in heavy thunderstorms, High 99, Low 69
Tuesday – Trace in rain, high 92, Low 69

Grade: C

College Station, Texas

Midweek, and time for another forecast. This time, we’re going to head to the home of one of the finer meteorology schools in the country, College Station, in east Texas.

At 153PM, CT, College Station was reporting a temperature of 92 degrees with partly cloudy skies. Some seabreeze thunderstorms were popping up along the coast, with the strongest storm presently passing through downtown Houston. A tropical wave in the Bay of Campeche was directing a southeasterly flow into the Texas coast, helping to contribute to the thunderstorm activity.
The NHC is monitoring the wave, with the expectation of some development in the next few days, though models seem to agree that it won’t develop beyond a weak tropical storm, making it Tropical Storm Beryl. In the meantime, afternoon thunderstorms will continue today, tomorrow and Saturday, as the future Beryl drifts into the western Gulf.
Tomorrow – Warm but with isolated thunderstorms, High 92, Low 75
Saturday – More thunderstorms, but still other wise warm and sunny, High 91, Low 75

TWC: Tomorrow – Intervals of clouds and sunshine. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible High 94, Low 73
Saturday – Sunshine and clouds mixed. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible.  High 93, Low 74

AW: Tomorrow – Partly sunny; humid High 93, Low 74
Saturday – Clouds and sunshine, a shower or thunderstorm around; humid High 92, Low 74

NWS: Tomorrow – A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, High 95, Low 74
Saturday – A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, High 92, Low 75

WB: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, High 89, Low 75
Saturday – Partly cloudy with a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms, High 86, Low 75

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with scattered thunderstorms, High 95, Low 74
Saturday – Partly cloudy with scattered storms, High 92, Low 75

FIO: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy starting in the morning, continuing until evening.High 92, Low 72
Saturday – Partly cloudy starting in the morning, continuing until evening. High 92, Low 73

Here is a look at the radar, showing those isolated thunderstorms. Very hit or or miss, and mostly miss.

Topeka, Kansas

All right, I’m back. Anthony monitored the site and took some good notes for Lubbock while I was away, but now we’re fully staffed. My new babies are sitting here in the room with me as I make this forecast, so now the paternal pressure is on!

At 353PM, CT, Topeka was reporting a sultry 98 degrees with a dew point of 68. Sunny skies dominated the region, but with upper level forcing hanging out in the Dakotas today, it appeared that their was no relief in sight for the day, and 100 degrees with those sticky dew points ensuring heat indices would remain dangerous for the rest of the day.
The pattern is unusually complicated for the middle of June, with a strong area of low pressure developing over the central Plains, though that is currently inactive. Showers and thunderstorms presently on satellite are the creation of a well organized system in the lee of the Canadian Rockies producing storms in the northern High Plains, while a stationary front in the southern Great Lakes is creating storms into the Mississippi Valley.  The surface low in the central Plains will draw northeast as the upper level trough associated with the system in Alberta will dig southwestward. The cold front will hang back with the jet diving into the Dakotas, but a prefrontal trough, acting as a remnant of the original low moving away from the central Rockies, will move through in the evening on Monday. There is a chance for an isolated strong thunderstorm during the PM hours on Monday as the trough moves through. It may take some of the humidity out of the air for Tuesday, however it won’t be a whole lot cooler when the sun comes out again.
Tomorrow – Hot and humid again, with some strong thunderstorms in the area, High 100, Low 76
Tuesday – Clearer and not as hot, High 87, Low 69

TWC: Tomorrow – Intervals of clouds and sunshine. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 99, Low 77
Tuesday – Generally sunny. High 91, Low 70

AW: Tomorrow – A severe afternoon thunderstorm, with damaging winds and hail; otherwise, partly sunny, hot High 97, Low 76
Tuesday – Some sun, then turning cloudy, a thunderstorm in the afternoon High 92, Low 67

NWS: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny (Late Stors), High 96, Low 77
Tuesday – Mostly sunny, (early storms) High 90, Low 68

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 95, Low 76
Tuesday – Sunny, High 90, Low 69

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with scattered storms, High 96, Low 76
Tuesday – Mostly sunny, High 90, Low 68

FIO: Tomorrow – Light rain starting in the afternoon, continuing until evening. High 98, Low 76
Tuesday – Light rain overnight. High 91, Low 67

This forecast both overstates and understates the thunderstorm threat. Expect storms could be extremely isolated, but those that develop could be monsters, with large hail and heavy precipitation, in particular. Truth be told, this forecast took about 3 hours to write thanks to those babies I was talking about, but here is the satellite from that time. Note all the activity northeast of Topeka.

Crisp cool nights with storms on the horizon

Thunderstorms were rampant and dangerous across the Dakotas on Friday, with severe storms afflicting the central parts of those states. There were tornadoes west of Bismarck in North Dakota and gusty winds and hail along the Missouri river in South Dakota. It mostly erupted to the east of Rapid City, however, with cooler air encroaching after the strong thunderstorms blew up and moved on. There was a trace of rain Friday night for Rapid City, but their forecast was marked mostly by clear skies and temperatures that were significantly cooler than what had been forecast for the overnight lows. Victoria-Weather ended up with the top forecast for the day, to take us into June..
Actuals Friday – .01 inches of rain, High 83, Low 51
Saturday – High 72, Low 45

Grade D-F

May forecaster of the Month

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the forecasting fields this month, focusing on the big stories, like a heat wave and Tropical Storm Alberto, but there wasn’t much doubt over who the top forecaster was. The weather moderated and brought us unseasonably warm weather after a chilly April, and it brought us some white hot forecasting from The Weather Channel, who gets this shiny trophy.

Under the influence

Alberto was about parallel with Spartanburg when we compiled a forecast for the Carolina city on Tuesday, and the storm moved north towards the Great Lakes during the verification period. Over the course of that period, Alberto still exerted his influence along the Atlantic coast, training a great deal of rain fall, especially on the eastern exposures of the Appalachians. In Spartanburg, it rained about half an inch over the two day period, but more sun peeked between the clouds on Thursday to bring temperatures up a few degrees. The Weather Channel had a very good forecast and won the day.
Actuals: Wednesday – .28″ of the rain, High 82, Low 69
Thursday – .25″ of rain, High 86, Low 68

Grade: A-C

Rapid City, South Dakota

South Dakota may be contending with some rough weather before the night is through. But then what will come for the beginning of the weekend? That’s the mystery, isn’t it?

At 652PM, MT, Rapid City was reporting a temperature of 75 degrees with clear skies. Strong thunderstorms were erupting on a well defined warm front, running from south of Sheridan Wyoming to north of Mobridge. There was a severe thunderstorm likely producing large hail north of Hulett, in the far northeast corner of Wyoming. A short wave trough pivoting through the northern High Plains will initially bring a surge of clear, if hot and sticky air through overnight into the early afternoon tomorrow.
A cold front arriving on the area at the back end of the same system has the potential to touch off a few thunderstorms in and around the Rapid City area tomorrow evening, but the greater threat will be in the center of the state. Heavy rain and thunderstorms will press east through the Dakotas, while the Black Hills and Rapid City get an infusion of cooler, dryer air Friday night, leading to a quite pleasant day on Saturday.
Tomorrow – Warm and stuffy, with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon. High 85, Low 60
Saturday – Mostly sunny, much more pleasant. High 74, Low 52

TWC: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy skies. High 87, Low 64
Saturday – Mainly sunny.  High 75, Low 54

AW: Tomorrow – Partly sunny; very warm High 86, Low 61
Saturday – Plenty of sun; breezy, pleasant High 74, Low 51

NWS: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny (late thunderstorms) High 87, Low 63
Saturday – Sunny, High 73, Low 53

WB: Tomorrow – Breezy, Partly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Some thunderstorms may be severe. High 82, Low 65
Saturday – Breezy. Mostly sunny. High 71, Low 53

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with isolated storms, High 87, Low 63
Saturday – Mostly sunny, High 73, Low 53

FIO: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy until afternoon. High 85, Low 63
Saturday – Partly cloudy until morning and breezy in the morning. High 76, Low 56

That’s a pretty significant cool down for the weekend! Enjoy it, South Dakota. Here is the radar, showing the strong storm in northeast Wyoming.

Peoria, Illinois to Spartanburg, South Carolina

Are you ready to press for one long day of driving? That’s what we’re in for, headed southeast from northern Illinois to the upstate of South Carolina. The route will cover 739 miles at a pace of 65mph, slowed in large part to the course through Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, and Knoxville. There aren’t many stretches of unpopulated regions, and those stretches that are will be through the high terrain of the Smokey Mountains. We will have a travel companion – Tropical Storm Alberto. So let’s see if he will make the drive terribly uncomfortable.


When we get going, the center of whatever is left of Alberto will be centered near Evansville, Indiana, but will be fully dissipated into a system moving through the Plains. All that rain pulled in by Alberto needs to go somewhere, though, and without the organizing pull of a tropical feature, it will instead go everywhere. Scattered showers and storms are expected across the extend of our route, but the heaviest activity will be between Indianapolis and Louisville, thanks to the now diminished Alberto. There might be a few more robust downpours during the final stages of our trip, thanks to flow off the Atlantic attempting to climb the Smokey Mountains. You know, I said it was going to be a long drive, but all this rain is only going to make it seem longer. Hopefully there is a good time awaiting in Spartanburg.