All posts by Ryan

What will the volcano in Iceland mean for us?

Back in the early 90s, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, ejecting 10 billion metric tons of magma and 20 million tons of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. Not only was the system devastating to Luzon, the island where the eruption occurred, but it affected the entire planet for about a 12 month period. The hemispheric average temperature was down an entire degree Fahrenheit after the eruption, thanks to the concentration of ash in the atmosphere, reflecting the suns radiation. This is a dramatic drop in temperature. Consider, that’s the same temperature change that is being discussed in regards to global warming. Even then, the degree change is somewhat misleading, as the lowest temperature change would be over the Pacific, where there are fewer recording stations, and the change in temperature would not have a dramatic impact.
Now, in 2010, we are poised for a similar event. The Eyjafjallajokull (and that’s the last time I’m typing that) volcano in Iceland hasn’t put out as much ash, or sent it as high in the atmosphere as Pinatubo did, but the Icelandic volcano has a history of longer eruptions. That said, the global temperature drop will likely be imperceptible when taken on a large scale. That said, this stands to have a greater impact on more people than Pinatubo did. Remember, that Pinatubo’s most dense ash was over the Pacific. Iceland’s ash will end up over Europe, as it already is. Even as the ash clears up at flight levels and air travel picks up again, temperatures for the summer and perhaps even into the window are going to be down in Europe. Here in the United States, it is extremely unlikely we see any temperature changes, unless the volcano somehow becomes more explosive. Even then, we won’t see a substantial drop in temperature stateside as we did with Pinatubo, as the ash would have to wrap its way all the way around the globe.

It got a little chilly

It’s been unseasonably warm for the past few weeks for most of the eastern part of the country. That all changed about three days ago. For anyone who tells you that they think it just felt cool because of how warm it was, the Weather Channel has a map to tell you that you are mistaken. In the upper Ohio Valley, temperatures were 15 degrees below normal in 15, which put them in prime temperature range for some snow. Which there was in western PA, as well as northeast through New England. So, yes, we did get a little bit cooler, and it wasn’t just you.

Like day and night

The temperature in Jefferson City fell off a little bit form Wednesday to Thursday. After a balmy 84 degree day on Wednesday, a cold front and it’s associated clouds arrived on Thursday, preventing temperatures from even reaching 70. The Weather Channel and Weatherbug most accurately foresaw this dramatic turn for the worst (if you like hot weather), and ended up with the top forecasts.
Actuals: Wednesday – High 84, Low 54
Thursday – .05 inches of rain, High 68, Low 53

Grade: B

The Week Ahead: 4/18/10-4/24/10

We drew a rhombus with our road trips this week!

Monday – Naples, Florida
Tuesday – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Road Trip: Naples to Oklahoma City
Thursday – Johnson City, Tennessee; Road Trip: Ames, Iowa to Johnson City

This isn’t what I meant by meteorologist

The National Weather Service’s offices in the western Great Lakes have had to field calls lately about something else falling from the sky. Cameras everywhere captured this fireball over Wisconsin, northern Illinois and eastern Iowa the other night:

The initial reaction, I’m sure, was that this was lightning, surely a phenomenon for the Weather Service to investigate! Well, no. It was actually a meteor, falling from the heavens. Well, that’s a job for meteorologists, right?
Um, no. It’s a job for an astronomer. The “meteor” in meteorology relates to hydro meteors, aka rain drops. Even so, this was a pretty cool incident that many people in Wisconsin and surrounding areas caugh, many on tape. The consensus among people who know these things is that it was a meteoroid, perhaps part of an expected, the Gamma Virginids shower, though that appears unlikely because of the directionality.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to keep an eye on the weather, and not meteors, because I’m a meteorologist.

Jefferson City, Missouri to Gainesville, Georgia

We’re going to take a day and a half to sneak from Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, to Gainesville, Georgia, the Chicken Capital of the World. The World! It’s a 683 mile drive, of which we will cover 483 miles on the first day. A lot of time spent off the main roads will mean a pokey 60mph pace. Well, let’s get pokin’ already!


Our first pokey day in the car will spend time in St. Louis and Nashville before terminating in Smyrna, Tennessee, which lies on the southeast side of Nashville. The drive should be all right, as a stationary front is wrapping from northern Illinois to Northern Missouri and southwest towards Oklahoma. South of this boundary, we’ll get to see some hot weather by afternoon, but we won’t have any other problems than that, especially if the rain stays along the front, north of our route, as it’s expected to.

All the moisture being trucked north from the Gulf is being brought north on the backside of a weak ridge in the southeast. That means all the showers and storms are going to develop over Texas and the southern Plains, and the front, as it sags south towards our route will dry up. Expect some clouds, though, and still warm weather as we arrive in Gainesville.

Deja Vu

For the second time this week, we’re going to be verifying a forecast in Bridgeport. Popular place for us this week. I’m just happy we could oblige with a forecast that busted, due to somewhat nicer weather. Clouds were present overnight in Bridgeport which kept lows warmer than expected. On top of that, the showers some called for on Tuesday stayed south of the city. The Weather Channel tied Accuweather atop the leaderboard in this typically Springtime forecast.
Actuals: Tuesday, High 58, Low 46
Wednesday – High 63, Low 41

Grade: B

Jefferson City, Missouri

Our forecast takes us to the capital of Missouri, and a city enjoying some 80 degree weather right now.

At 1153AM, Jefferson City was reporting sunny skies with a temperature of 80 degrees. Positioned squarely in the warm sector of a system moving into the Northern Plains, the area is seeing increased humidity and gusty southerly winds. The Gulf of Mexico is cool so far this Spring, so even though humidity is increased, it isn’t yet oppressive.
The cold front associated with the the area of low pressure over the Northern Plains is well defined, running from western Minnesota to western Kansas, though it isn’t particularly active, with only light showers being seen thus far. The system is rapidly occluding, and an area of high pressure is building over the southeast, cutting off most of the energy in Jefferson City before it can really arrive. As the pattern progresses east, the Gulf will reopen Friday evening with the high pressure shifting out to sea. The boundary will finally sag into Missouri and interact with the new found moisture, with showers and thunderstorms expected Friday evening.
Tomorrow – Mostly sunny and warm, High 78, Low 58
Friday – Afternoon showers and thunderstorms, High 70, Low 55 (non standard)

TWC: Tomorrow – Sunshine and some clouds (PM TStorms). Very warm. High 85, Low 55
Friday – Thundershowers. High 71, Low 59

AW: Tomorrow – Pleasant with intervals of clouds and sunshine High 79, Low 56
Friday – Mainly cloudy with a shower or thunderstorm High 72, Low 55

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny (PM rain) High 82, Low 56
Friday – A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy High 68, Low 55

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny (PM Rain) High 82, Low 56
Friday – Cooler. Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms High 69, Low 56

Here is a look at the satellite, showing that cold front very well over the Northern Plains.

Protected by mountains

Anchorage looked to be in line for a rather nasty couple of days, however the elevation around the Cook Inlet kept all that nasty weather out of the city. In the end, they ended up with only a bit of rain overnight from Monday to Tuesday, and cloudy skies all around. Victoria-Weather ended up with the top forecast, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Actuals: Monday – Rain observed, but not measured, High 45, low 39
Tuesday – Rain observed but not measured, High 44, Low 36

Grade: C

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is renowned as a tropical paradise in central America. It is one of the more politically stable countries in Latin America, which helps it’s good tourist reputation, but the tropical climate does even better to further that reputation. The predominant flow is easterly and associated mostly with the fluctuating ITCZ. The wet weather is it’s most abundant on the Caribbean side of the nation, and is most abundant in the summer months. As one could imagine, the central spine of highlands is cooler than coastal Costa Rica.
The Instituto Meteorologico Nacional is one of the better constructed weather services of Central America, and their site is visually pleasing. Forecasts of many different varieties are all available through Java capable maps, which are easy to navigate, even if everything is in Spanish. I am, actually, surprised that I was unable to find an English version of the site, given the American tourist trade in their fine nation. Even so, my rudimentary Spanish allowed me to find the satellite images offered by the Costa Ricans, all of which were centrally focused on Costa Rica, a rarity among most weather services. It’s very nice for anyone looking for current weather data for the country, not having to squint at a Caribbean satellite image. All in all, it’s a good resource for Costa Rican weather, which is all I could have asked for.