All posts by Ryan

The Week Ahead 6/13/10-6/19/10

We’re looking at a very west heavy week. The furthest east we go is Little Rock on a road trip. Not often something like this happens.

Monday – Road trip from Pocatello, Idaho to Little Rock, Arkansas
Tuesday – Oakland, California
Thursday – El Paso, Texas
Friday – Road Trip, El Paso, Texas to Lawton, Oklahoma
Saturday – Visalia, California

Elmira, New York to Ocean City, New Jersey

Our trip is short for Saturday, as we will only be moving from one state to the next state over. It’s a 5 hour drive that covers about 302 miles. It will be a slow way, because we won’t get to take the interstate too much, and we’ll only average 57mph. How will the day go? Let’s find out.

It’s been a very active couple of weeks to begin the summer across the northern tier of states. This won’t change for our trip through the Mid Atlantic on Saturday. Showers and isolated thunderstorms will be possible through the day, I suppose, but I wouldn’t worry about them until it’s around 1 in the afternoon, by which time we will be in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After that, some storms may follow us into Ocean City, but really, I just think it’s going to be dry and hot. Well, humid, but you know what I mean.

A smattering on the coast

The forecasts in Corvallis were bunched much better than they were in Hagerstown, and they all called for cool temperatures and some light rain through the forecast period. A trough collapsing at the coast did it’s part and brought that drizzle into town for the middle of the week. The Weather Service and Weatherbug had the top forecasts, correctly calling for the decided Pacific Northwest weather.
Actuals: Wednesday .04 inches of rain, High 66, Low 53
Thursday – .01 inches of rain, High 62, Low 51

Grade: B

The blob

A massive blob of rain has slowly worked its way north from near San Antonio to Dallas and now in the Tyler area, and has dumped as much as NINE inches of rain on some locations. It certainly looks impressive on radar:

What’s even more impressive is how little forcing it is taking to generate this low. The National Weather Service described this system as an “effective rainfall producer”. It is warm core, which just means that it is tropical in nature, not unlike a very weak, very rainy hurricane. Of course, hurricanes usually show up on surface analyses, because there is lower pressure at their core. This isn’t even a blip on the surface pressure plots. It sort of shows up in the mid-levels and even then, it’s very week. It doesn’t look like much.
Until you look at the output at the surface. The crazy thing is, all models have pegged this blobby mass of rain up to this point. They have even suggested the torrential rain that has been caused by the system so far. Ignoring the fact that this is the only thing the models have handled well lately, I have no reason, then, to believe that this mid level low and it’s associated wall of water won’t track through Arkansas into southeastern Missouri by tomorrow, then slowly march its way up the Ohio to Cincinnati overnight into Saturday, as the GFS posits. The good news is, the system is actually, you know, moving now, so there is a better chance that the overall rain totals won’t be up to a foot in Cincinnati, instead around the more manageable 3 or 4 inches. So that’s good.
What a weird system.

Summer is fleeting

Tuesday in Hagerstown couldn’t have been nicer. It was 80 degrees with clear skies, birds were singing and children were playing in the park. Then Wednesday happened. Almost a half an inch of drizzle fell through the day, and the temperatures stayed in the 60s all day. Rather unpleasant, and the bipolar weather did a number on our forecasts as well. Except the Weather Channel, who must have insight into mental disorders, because their forecast was a revelation, and they were 12 degrees better than the next forecaster, Accuweather. Well played, Atlanta.
Actuals: Tuesday – High 80, Low 56
Wednesday – .45 inches of rain, High 69, Low 60

Grade: A (for the Weather Channel, C’s and D’s for the rest of us)

The deal with models

Yesterday, I mentioned in my post on the Philippines how awesome it was that there was a proprietary model that had been developed by that nation. I thought I would mention a few things about models, and why this is such an interesting quirk.
Models, first off, are generated when observations are plugged into nasty, almost unsolvable calculations. They have to make certain assumptions so the calculations can be solved to some degree, and the reason that there are different models is because of the different assumptions. The models that encompass the highest area solve those equations for a larger plot of land, just so the models can generate output fast enough to be usable for forecasters.
Some models are produced to cover smaller areas and thereby have a smaller resolution. They can miss the greater picture, sometimes, but can often interpret smaller scale events. There is the one GFS model that covers the globe that we use here in the United States, and is produced at NCEP in Colorado. Additionally, the NAM is nested in the GFS and has a higher resolution and solves exclusively for North America. It does better often with southern convection, but the GFS is the superior model for larger systems. Both serve their purpose. Additionally, there are models called the RUC and WRF that are short term models that do very well with convection. For longer forecasts, American meteorologists can use models produced in Canada and Europe, colloquially known as the Canadian and European models.
It’s not often that models are seen outside of the meteorological world, though the American models are freely available if you know where to look. Many other countries keep theirs under wraps, but the Philippines put theirs out there. It was a small area, so the resolution is likely good, though it appeared to only solve for a few variables, like wind, pressure and rain, however in the tropics, that is more than enough.

Seems like it should be easier

The temperature and precip totals for Elmira were exactly the same on Monday and Tuesday. So why were the forecasts so errant? Well, it wasn’t terribly cloudy, but those that were there did keep the temperatures from climbing over 70 or dropping below 45, which meant that the spreads from our vaunted forecasters were a little off on every verifying time. The Weather Channel had the top forecast.

Actuals: Monday, High 69, Low 46
Tuesday, High 69, Low 46

Grade: C


Our journey around the world takes us to the archipelago in the far western Pacific that lies just to the north of the equator. As one could imagine, the climate is hot and humid. They are far enough north that they are in the typhoon belt and are typically assailed, particularly on the eastern shores, by an annual handful of tropical systems. With the adjustment of the ITCZ, they see a seasonal monsoon, particularly on the western islands that, as luck would have it, is going on now. They are fairly rainy on the east coast all year long.
The Philippines has the delightfully acronymed PAGASA, or Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Atmospheric Services Administration to make sure the weather isn’t threatening the island chain. Every panel on the side bar of their site opens an informative new window that will talk about their real time weather services or disaster prevention or what have you. There isn’t a radar available, but under the “real time weather” you can access satellite and city forecasts. Quite impressively, they discuss their proprietary MM5 model, which they use for forecasting in the Philippines. Perhaps that’s only cool to a meteorologist. I love a site that gives access to the numerical models for their particular region, because it gives insight into the way the forecast. A very cool feature from the Philippines. It’s not often that you see a country with it’s own model.

Hagerstown, Maryland to Corvallis, Oregon

A long distance drive today, likely to take us into a short 6th day. It will cover 2753 miles, and after a slow start through some hill country, we will eventually speed up. Our average pace will be 64.9mph, fairly slow for a cross country trek. We’ll cover about 519 miles a day at that pace, which, frankly, isn’t a whole lot. We have some driving to do, so lets get to it!


Well, we couldn’t have timed our departure better. A system will move into Hagerstown by the time we leage, with a warm front angled from Hagerstown northwest towards Pittsburgh, which is essentially our route to start the day. By afternoon, the heaviest slug of rain will be up towards Cleveland, also part of our route. Rain will clear out by the time we are south of Sandusky, and we will be in dry weather for the rest of the day, which will end in Elkhart, Indiana. Our route will take us just south of Milbury, Ohio, the suburb of Toledo devastated by an EF4 tornado over the weekend.

Our day will begin quietly, and we can traverse the rest of Indiana and Illinois in peace (aside from any traffic in our neighborhood) though as we slip on out of the Quad Cities, the threat for some showers and isolated thunderstorms will pick up. A developing system in the High Plains will be the culprit, and any rain we see will be the result of hot humid air streaming north. That means it could be torrential at times, but won’t likely be associated with anything severe. Our day will end in Walnut, Iowa, which is about 45 miles from the Nebraska border.

Most of the rain, at this point, looks like it is going to stay north of I-80 in Nebraska. Expect a lot of driving in Nebraska, by the way. There is a chance we could see some rain before we reach the Panhandle, but the way things have trended lately, it seems much more likely that we will be dry and fairly warm from Walnut to Ogallala, Nebraska. Some rain and a cooler wind will then kick in, ending our party. The day will end in Burns, Wyoming, just after we cross the border from Nebraska.

This will likely be the rainiest day of our drive. A distinctly summerlike wave will get hung up over the Upper Midwest and trail back into Wyoming, stalled and bleary. We’ll see our heaviest rain as we pass through the highest elevations of the state. Frankly, we’ll hope to be out ASAP,, given the way things look. Utah will be better, but now much. We’ll again be driving through the peaks and valleys of that state, and contend with some remnant showers into the Panhandle there. The day ends right up along the Idaho border, in Blue Creek.

We’ll experience some showers to begin our Sunday. We should get out of it by the time we reach the Rupert, Idaho area, and then finally be in the sun. I can’t foresee any rain for our Sunday afternoon. The day will take us through the rural parts of Oregon, and the day will end in the remote town of Millican, right in the middle of the state.

With that many words expended thus far, I think we deserve a nice finish to day. We’ll get to enjoy the Cascades in all their sunny glory. Don’t worry about any weather problems as we finally close in on Corvallis.

Corvallis, Oregon

Off to the west coast for the only time this week. It’s been rainy for weeks out there, could things be on the upswing?

At 935AM, PT, Corvallis was reporting a temperature of 59 degrees with clear skies. High pressure was beginning to nose into the Pacific Northwest, though clouds were still being generated with light westerly flow off the cool Pacific. A jet streak a loft was transporting the next bundle of energy into the area, expected to arrive overnight tonight.
The system, as it often happens in the west, will get mired in the Northern Rockies as the trough digs deeper into the Great Basin. It will then act as an inverted trough as another surface system develops in the High Plains. The wettest weather will be tomorrow morning, and there is a chance it won’t rain Thursday, but at the very least, it will be cloudy through midweek for Corvallis..
Tomorrow – Rain, especially in the morning, High 65, Low 56
Thursday – Cloudy with a chance for some drizzle, High 66, Low 52

TWC: Tomorrow – Overcast with rain showers at times. High 64, Low 55
Thursday – Showers possible. High 65, Low 52

AW: Tomorrow – Breezy and cooler with rain High 64, Low 56
Thursday – Mainly cloudy with showers High 64, Low 52

NWS: Tomorrow – Showers High 64, Low 54
Thursday – Showers likely. Mostly cloudy High 64, Low 50

WB: Tomorrow – Showers. High 64, Low 53
Thursday – Showers likely. High 63, Low 48

Pretty dreary, but this is what you get with a day on the west coast, right? Here is the satellite, showing some clouds streaming in towards Corvallis.