All posts by Anthony

When Snow is Relative

Minneapolis has the most snowfall before New Year’s since 1991. Central Park just got socked with their 4th largest single storm total in recorded history. Places in the Sierra Nevada have racked up over 10-15 FEET of snow over the last couple of weeks with intense storms hitting the West Coast. Today, however, the biggest weather story to a majority of my friends and family… was the ONE inch that Valencia, California received today.

Valencia is part of the Santa Clarita Valley, the furthest north valley before you hit the High Desert portion of the state, or the Central Valley. Just north of the Valley, the Grapevine is hit by a few good snowstorms, which is the high point of where Interstate 5 is as it connects the SCV to the Central Valley. However, snow levels rarely fall low enough for snow to make it to the valley floor, as it’s around 1300-1800 feet above sea level. Today’s upper level low pushing over the region dropped snow levels down all the way to 1500 feet, meaning some of my family and a slew of friends spammed their respective social networks with pictures of tiny snowmen, snow-covered lawns, snow angels on their sidewalks. While it wasn’t the first time it’s snowed there in forever, I saw it snow there once myself while living there, it was the first time in 22 years that they got a measureable snowfall. An awesome way for some lucky Californians to bring in the new year! In a related story, milk supplies are running low, bread is scarce, and gas is shooting up to $4 a gallon. Oh wait, that’s normal for them…

Note the palm tree trunk in the background. Happy 2011 everybody!

Naples, Florida

2010 is wrapping up a busy weather year, and we have a large system affecting the Midwest. Blizzard in the Dakotas! Severe Thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Nation’s Heartland! Possible flooding rains in the Central Gulf Coast! So where are we forecasting for today? That’s right… South Florida. Where pretty much nothing is going on…

At 11:53AM EST, the temperature in Naples, FL was 78 degrees under partly cloudy skies. High pressure over the Southeast is keeping the Florida Peninsula fairly quiet outside of some spotty clouds. Our mega-system over the central US is pushing a cold front towards the east, but that high pressure is doing a fairly good job at slowing down it’s progression towards the Sunshine State. The whole tail end of the front pretty much stalls out over northern FL on Sunday, leaving some increased clouds over the rest of the Peninsula. There’s a shot of some scattered shower activity over South Florida Sunday evening, but should be isolated if anything. However, I’ll leave a chance in there. Last time I left it out and got burned. I’m not going to finish 2010 on that mistake!

Saturday (New Years Day!): Afternoon clouds. High 79, Low 59.
Sunday: Increasing clouds, isolated evening shower. High 77, Low 60.

TWC: Saturday: Sunny. High 79, Low 57.
Sunday: More clouds, slight chance of a shower. High 76, Low 56.

AW: Saturday: Partly sunny and beautiful (really, beautiful!) High 77, Low 59.
Sunday: Mostly sunny and warm. High 77, Low 60.

NWS: Saturday: Mostly sunny. High 77, Low 60.
Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 77, Low 61.

WB: Saturday: Partly sunny. High 77, Low 60.
Sunday: Partly sunny. High 76, Low 60.

Here we see the relatively benign weather over Florida and portions of the Deep South. Most of it will stay away from South Florida, so festivities tonight will be warm and dry for everybody! Well, dry as far as Mother Nature is concerned, your bartender will say otherwise. Happy New Year’s Eve readers!

Altoona, Pennsylvania to Little Rock, Arkansas

Today, we embark on a trip from Altoona, PA to capital of Arkansas, Little Rock! At 1006 miles, this will encompass 2 days, nearly splitting it right down the middle with a stopover at Louisville. Let’s go!

DAY ONE

We head out of Altoona, making our way towards the outskirts of Pittsburgh and cut through the northern sliver of WV before entering OH. A cloudy start is expected to our day as a frontal system working its way through the OH Valley will drop some light snow showers over western PA. As we continue towards Columbia and southwestward, warmer temperatures will give way to a better chance of a rain/snow mix at times, but overall any precipitation we encounter will be on the light side. We make our way into Louisville to end the evening, still under overcast skies dodging only a couple stray light showers.

DaY TWO

Once again, we get off to a cloudy start. However, with the dissipating system shifting towards the northeast, only a couple isolated showers are possible this morning as we head out of Louisville towards Nashville. Once we head west towards Memphis, clouds will start to break up some and should be dry conditions as high pressure slowly works its way into the Southern Plains and Lower MS River Valley. There may be some lingering stratus as we make our way into Arkansas, but overall a quiet day as we cruise into Little Rock under tame conditions.

Haiti

Today’s country brings us to the Caribbean, and one that has been in the news quite a lot over the last year. Haiti makes up the western side of the island Hispaniola, with the Dominican Republic constituting the eastern half. The country was rocked back on January 12 by a massive 7.0 earthquake centered very close to the capital of Port-au-Prince, devestating the city as well as most of the rest of the country. Geographically speaking, the country is fairly mountainous, making it relatively difficult to get from one place to another quickly. Port-au-Prince is found in a fairly protected harbor where the Canal de Saint-Marc and Canal du Sud join, jutting into the western side of the island. Being located in the tropics, Hispaniola enjoys a typical climate of such latitudes, with warm year-round temperatures, frequent trade showers, and like the other larger Caribbean islands, some afternoon thunderstorm activity. Haiti also lies in an active tropical area, with tropical storms and hurricanes often manacing the region from June – November. With its’ mountainous terrain, along with rampant deforestation, a slow-moving tropical system can wreak havoc upon the country, with flash-flooding common when a tropical system takes aim on the country, regardless of the actual intensity of the storm.
The “Centre national de meteorologie” is the nation’s governing meteorlogical body, with much of the site in French. There isn’t a handy link to translate it to English that I could find, but some navigating of the site shows a vast amount of satellite images that are pretty helpful. However, it appears that the one radar site for the island is non-operational along with no apparent current observations. There is a couple of pages devoted to Marine forecasts and tropical weather, which i’m sure is very valuable when a dangerous system is approaching the region. However, with December now upon us, the country should be safe from additional storms until June when the next season revs up.

Honolulu, Hawaii

As I look out my window and see some light snow falling, it makes me wish even more I was at where I am forecasting for. Thankfully, today it’s Hawaii and not the Yukon.

At 8:53am HST (Hawaii Standard Time, 4 hours behind us in the Central time zone), the temperature at Honolulu was 79 degrees under partly cloudy skies. Being located in the tropics, normally Honolulu doesn’t have to worry about many synoptic systems sweeping through the region, like our cold fronts and inverted troughs and explosive low pressure systems. However, the tail end of a stationary front found a little bit to the north of the islands is enhancing some shower activity, although most of that should stay off to the north. A weak disturbance east of the Hawaiian Islands has been very slowly trekking westward and could bring some showers to the area in the next couple of days. Thursday will be a better chance of this activity making it to Honolulu, as some of the lighter stuff on Wednesday might not make it over the mountains that make up the island chain to affect the capital. Most sites are giving a chance of showers on both days, but I’m rolling the dice and saying the first day of the new month will stay dry. Will VicWx prevail? Stay tuned!

Wednesday: Increasing clouds. High 82, Low 71.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy, a few showers possible. High 82, Low 73.

TWC: Wednesday: Scattered showers. High 83, Low 72.
Thursday: Better chance of scattered showers. High 82, Low 73.

AW: Wednesday: Scatted shower possible. High 81, Low 71.
Thursday: Breezy with a few scattered showers. High 82, Low 72.

NWS: Wednesday: Scattered showers possible. High 80, Low 71.
Thursday: Widespread showers likely. High 80, Low 72.

WB: Wednesday: Rain expected. High 82. Low 63.
Thursday: Widespread rain showers expected, heavy rains at times possible. High 82. Low 63.

Weatherbug is going significantly colder than everybody else on their lows, and the lowest they’ve gotten in the last 72hrs is 69 degrees. Do they know something we don’t? Time will tell I suppose. Here we see some high clouds to the west.

Severe Season Roars Back

As November starts to wind down and most people are more concerned about turkey, stuffing, Black Friday sales, usually the biggest weather related question people ask me is “Will we have a white Thanksgiving?”, not “Will we get rocked by a tornado today?”. Sadly, for the people of Northern Illinois, Mother Nature decided to blast the Great Lakes and Mid-MS River Valley earlier this afternoon. Last night it only appeared that maybe a few thunderstorms would roll through the WI/IL/MO region as a cold front pressed through the area, with some heavy rains at times. However, dynamics came together to produce a few severe cells that plowed through Northern Illinois. The worst one produced a rather nasty tornado (Click HERE to watch some amazing footage) that touched down near Rock Cut State Park. That’s on the northeast side of Rockford and continued NW to Caledonia, where sadly it flipped over a school bus in sent 6 children to the hospital. A couple storm reports from the area earlier today…

300 PM TORNADO 3 E LOVES PARK 42.34N 88.95W
11/22/2010 WINNEBAGO IL BROADCAST MEDIA

ESTIMATED 1/2 MILE WIDE TORNADO SPOTTED ON GROUND AT THE INTERSECTION OF ARGYLE RD AND HARLEM RD EAST OF ROCK CUT STATE PARK NEAR CALEDONIA. POWER LINES DOWN AND DEBRIS IN THE AIR REPORTED IN THE AREA.

0300 PM TORNADO 3 E LOVES PARK 42.34N 88.95W
11/22/2010 WINNEBAGO IL BROADCAST MEDIA

*** 6 INJ *** DAMAGE IN CALEDONIA AREA NEAR ARGYLE ROAD AND HARLEM ROAD AND PAULSON ROADS…ONE BUSINESS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED…OTHER HOMES AND GARAGES PARTIALLY DOWN. GRAIN SILO DESTROYED AND LEAKING GRAIN ONTO STREET. LARGE BARN COMPLETELY DOWN. LARGE SUBSTATION DAMAGED AND HIGH TENSION POWERLINES DOWN. BUS ROLLED OVER AT PAULSON AND HARLEM ROAD.6 CHILDREN INJURED…SENT TO HOSPITAL. ALL INFORMATION REGARDING TIME AND LOCATIONS IS PRELIMINARY UNTIL DAMAGE SURVEY CONDUCTED.

Being born and raised in Rochelle (just 25miles south of Rockford), I know this area very well and drive through it often when I travel south to see family, so hits a little close to home. Those reports came in around 3PM (as indicated), meaning schools all over the city were letting out when the system moved through. Really, it’s lucky (it appears, we’ll see until more reports come in) that nobody was killed, especially children, given how many people were probably traveling around the city at the time. Just another reminder than bad weather can crop up at anytime, so always keep an eye on the sky!

Record Highs to Record Snows

Normally we like to blog about weather from other parts of the country than just up here in our own backyard of the Twin Cities, because what fun would that be for our faraway readers? However, this week’s hectic weather has been centered over the central part of the country, so I won’t feel quite so bad about putting the focus on Minnesota for this evening. Earlier this week, a very slow moving low pressure system over the Northern Plains pumped plenty of warm air up into our neck of the woods, giving us a rare streak of 4 straight 60+ degree days in November, marking only the 8th time in the last 72 years Minneapolis had such a streak (Note: this was the 3rd straight year of such a streak here at MSP however. Something to look forward to in 2011?). On the 9th we hit 69, missing out on tying the record by 1, the next day we hit 68, breaking the previous record of 67.
Then, Mother Nature came back with a vengeance today. After such a nice stretch of days, it was time for winter to make it’s grand appearance. A band of snow stretching from Omaha, NE through western IA up into the Twin Cities, changing us over from rain to snow here roughly around midnight and continuing throughout the day. With temperatures around freezing for most of the day, the heavy, wet snow accumulated rapidly, bringing down numerous tree branches throughout the city and leaving as many as 70,000 people without power (including myself for 3 hours early this morning) at one point or another. Widespread reports of 6-10″ blanketed the Metro up towards St. Cloud, with 7.7″ officially falling, cracking the record of 4″. So record high temperatures on Wednesday to record snowfall on Saturday. What next will Mother Nature have in store for us? Stay tuned!

Serene Skies

The expected quiet weather in Lancaster didn’t disappoint, with some pleasant daytime highs, but a bit chillier Friday morning as high pressure ruled the region. The mostly sunny skies led to the NWS nabbing the top spot.

Thursday: High 57, Low 34.
Friday: High 62, Low 28.
Forecast Grade: A

Active Coasts, Central Reprieve

After the historic low pressure system in the Upper Midwest a couple weeks ago and the persistent rains from a slow-moving low pressure system along the Gulf Coast region last week, the Central US is enjoying a bout of pretty quiet weather right now as massive high pressure from the Southern US to the Northeast is keeping the area high and dry, and quite chilly as well. Freeze warnings were pretty widespread over eastern sections of the country as the first strong push of lows in the 20s plowed into the TN Valley and the Southern Appalachians, which also brought a few inches of snow to the higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains in the last 48 hours. Most of the country between the Rockies and the Appalachians should be dry through Monday.
The coasts, however, are not as lucky. A strong trough of low pressure is digging into the Western US, with a strong cold front expected to bully its’ way through the West Coast. Portions of the Sierra Nevada are in Winter Storm Warnings as 18-24″ of the white stuff are expected through the end of the day Sunday. Portions of the Northern Rockies look to get a few inches themselves Sunday night into Monday. On the other side of the country, an area of low pressure is expected to develop off the New England coast Sunday afternoon and push over the region overnight into Monday, bringing plentiful rains of upwards of 1-1.50″ in areas possibly. More proof that Mother Nature is quickly switching into winter mode, something I’m sure some of our readers wish would stay away for just a bit longer.

Cleveland, Tennessee to Chicago, Illinois

From the Southern Appalachians to shore of Lake Michigan, this trip will cover 625 miles. We’ll split it up into 2 days and give you a bit of an overnight rest in Indianapolis. Away we go!

DAY ONE

As we travel northward to Knoxville then onwards to Lexington, clear skies and calm winds greet us as high pressure looks to take hold over much of the Mid MS Valley and OH Valley. It’ll be more of the same as we make our way past Cincinnati to Indianapolis, our stop for the night.

DAY TWO

Nothing much else to speak of today either, as high pressure over the region will keep the trip from Indianapolis to Chicago dry and only seeing a few high clouds. Time to put on the sunglasses and visit Navy Pier!