All posts by Anthony

Holiday Heat Subsides

For everybody on the East Coast who wanted a warm, sunny holiday weekend, they certainly got what they wished for. As mentioned in an earlier post, The Mid-Atlantic up through New England baked earlier this week as monster ridge of high pressure set up shop and didn’t budge for nearly a week. While the actual weekend was pretty toasty, Tuesday and Wednesday were the hottest of this whole episode. Most areas in southeastern NY, CT, NJ, and eastern PA cracked 100 Wednesday, and Newark topped 100 for 4 straight days, only the third recorded instance of that happening (1953 and 1993). What’s more remarkable, given the sheer volume of people living in the area affected by the worst heat, was the fact that (as of last reported count) only 5-6 people died as a direct result of the heat. This goes to show that word got out well ahead of the heat wave about its’ intensity and knew where to go to keep cool. Hopefully that count stays low when the official total comes in. In any event, it’s clear that people have learned from the 1995 Chicago heat wave how to take care of themselves and others. Kudos!

Summertime Swings

As expected, the front shifted through Cheyenne late in the day on Tuesday, bringing a few light showers Tuesday evening into Wednesday, with the stronger thunderstorms developing not too far off to the east of the city. However, what wasn’t expected, was the degree of the temperature drop-off on Wednesday. Most of us were pretty close on the low temperature Wednesday morning, but… it never recovered. Overcast skies kept Cheyenne particularly chilly Wednesday, never making it out of the mid 50’s, an impressive 27-degree drop from Tuesday. Victoria Weather nabbed the top spot, with WB and AW bringing up the rear with their relatively sultry and dry Wednesday predictions.

Tuesday: 0.02 in rain showers. High 81, Low 49.
Wednesday: another 0.02 in rain showers. High 54, Low 49.
Forecast grade: C

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Off we go to the capital of the least populous state in the US. For some reason, it’s totally opposite of what Wyoming is best-known for, Yellowstone Park. Perhaps they just like the nightlife in Denver better.

At 7:53PM MDT, the temperature at Cheyenne was 70 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. Most of these clouds were fairly high-based and will dissipate as the evening wears on. An upper-level trough has been very slowly pushing its’ way eastward over the last few days, mainly due to the overpowering ridge that’s parked itself over the eastern US with triple-digit highs. This trough will continue to slowly shift its way through the Northern Plains over the next couple of days as the mega-ridge breaks down somewhere. At the surface, a stationary front has set up shop from ND through northern WY back into ID. This front, however, will turn into a slow-moving cold front as it reluctantly travels towards the southeast. As the front approaches the Central Dakotas down into southeast WY, the base of the trough will be swinging through the Cowboy State as well. This influx of energy could set off some strong to severe thunderstorms around the capital late in the day into the overnight hours. A few lingering showers could last into early Wednesday, with much cooler weather expected as a cooler airmass settles in overhead. While there will still be a chance of some scattered showers/isolated thunderstorms on Wednesday, it’ll be significantly cooler. Gotta love these crazy summer months!

Tuesday: Increasing clouds, possible severe storms in evening/late night. High 78, Low 51.
Wednesday: Scattered showers early, slight chance of a passing shower/storm in afternoon. High 63, Low 49.

TWC: Tuesday: Scattered thunderstorms. High 74, Low 49.
Wednesday: Isolated thunderstorms. High 60, Low 46.

AW: Tuesday: 40% chances of thunderstorms. High 76, Low 51.
Wednesday: Cooler with clouds and sun. High 67, Low 48.

NWS: Tuesday: Severe thunderstorms possible. High 78, Low 52.
Wednesday: Slight chance of showers/storms. High 63, Low 48.

WB: Tuesday: 40% chance of thunderstorms. High 76, Low 52.
Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. High 66, Low 48.

Here we see a deck of clouds off to the north dropping some showers and isolated thunderstorms. These will be dropping southward tomorrow and affect Cheyenne by evening.

Gorgeous Weekend

Given that the 4th of July was on a Sunday this year, this meant lots of people would be out and about hoping to score some nice weather with their holiday weekend. Luckily, for the people of San Jose anyways, Mother Nature pulled through. Mostly clear skies and some breezy afternoon winds pushed temperatures into the mid to upper 80’s. Whatever was perplexing VW and others about the cooler Independence Day came to fruition, as the NWS nabbed the top spot with their cooler 4th of July. Hope everybody had a safe and happy weekend!

Saturday: High 88, Low 56.
Sunday: High 85, Low 56.

Forecast grade: A

And our 2010 Captain Obvious Award Goes to…

As meteorologists, we always look at what other people are forecasting for various things: tornado outbreaks, an upcoming blizzard, intense heat wave, etc. One of those would also be the upcoming Hurricane season! The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season officially started on June 1, and it’s been a quiet start so far. One tropical wave is moving through the Caribbean south of Hispaniola, but is having a tough time doing much of anything. In an earlier post, we mentioned that various forecasters were forecasting an above average hurricane season, with something around 14 named storms. Other outlets went slightly higher with 15-17. One of them, however, not only takes the cake with his recent updated forecast, but also the way he displays the information.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2010 Captain Obvious Award goes to Joe Bastardi of Accuweather! If you wish to check out his newly updated 2010 Hurricane Outlook and refresh yourself, click on the link. Also, it will give you an idea of why he wins the Captain Obvious Award. First, he INCREASES his outlook for the season from 16-18 to 18-21! Only 3 seasons have had 18 or more named storms (that I can remember anyways), so to predict such a prolific season is pretty tough to put out there. What is most annoying, however, is how the graphics and data he says which he emphasizes as critical information… isn’t very ground-breaking in the least.

First, look at the Threat Zones graphic. The area of Biggest Threat goes from Louisiana to the Outer Banks of NC. Now lets take a look at the climotological best tracks for storms in the months of September and October, typically 2 of the most active months of the season.

So, the area of Biggest Threat… is the normal area that’s under the gun. Every. Single. Year. If I didn’t know fancy graphics didn’t exist back in the 60s you could use that same graphic for the season Hurricane Camille roared ashore. Making a fancy image showing information that is normal doesn’t make it any more informational, just grabs peoples attention and scares them. Then again, to everybody from New Orleans to Miami to Myrtle Beach, I’m pretty sure they know the danger they’re in each year.

Second, the line “Bastardi predicts the heart of this season’s storms will occur between Aug. 15 and Oct. 15”. Now, let’s look the seasonal average for tropical activity during the season…

So he predicts the heart of the tropical season to be… directly when the season normally peaks. Way to go out there on a limb Joe. The 1933 Hurricane Season peaked at the same time (2nd most active on record). The 2005 Hurricane Season peaked at the same time (most active on record). Even the way overforecasted 2009 Hurricane Season peaked at the same time. Him telling us that time frame is of crucial importance, isn’t any different than any other year, active or not.

So for that, Mr. Bastardi wins the award for making a big deal out of weather phenomena that naturally occur in a certain timeline and normal paths on an annual basis. Oh, and for also predicting possibly the 2nd busiest season on record. If it does indeed happen, I’ll be the first to eat a slice of humble pie. Until then, we’ll let the Atlantic do the talking.

East Timor

Seems recently we’ve had a string of small countries being featured. Things… won’t be changing today.

East Timor is a small island nation about 400 miles northwest of Darwin, Australia, sharing the island on the west side with part of Indonesia. Laying at a whopping 9 degrees south, East Timor (or as it’s officially known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) has a distinct tropical climate with wet and dry seasons. With a land area of under 5750 sq. miles, there isn’t a ton of room to move around, but does impressively have mountain peaks above 9,500 feet. The Northwestern quadrant of the island has the most mountainous region, while the southern coastline is predominately plains. With it’s proximity to the equator, East Timor actually avoids most tropical systems that spin their way towards Northern Australia, only getting a brief glance as they stroll by.
The Dirrec√£o Nacional Meteorologia e Geofisica is the governing meteorological body of East Timor, however, it seems they forgot to pay their internet access bill this month, and the site is non-operational at this point.

Asleep at the Switch

Apparently the reporting station in Visalia ran out of juice sometime on Sunday, or maybe the person there accidentally pulled the plug while watching everybody stumble their way down the Back 9 at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open and didn’t notice. In any event, no reports were logged from 6pm Sunday till darn near noon on Monday, save for 1 lonely report just before 7am, a morning low perhaps? If these numbers panned out, it’d have been a lil cooler than forecasts, but still a nice weekend.

Sunday: High 84?, Low 51
Monday: High 87, Low 59?

Visalia, California

Visalia, CA is found on the eastern side of CA’s Central Valley, nestled up against the Sierra Nevada. Very picturesque scenery is abound there, as I’ve driven past Visalia a few times in the past during trips between L.A. and Fresno. Will the rest of this weekend bring more nice weather?

In Visalia, CA at 11:55 A.M. PDT, the temperature was 72 degrees under sunny skies. Normally around this time of year we’re used to an upper ridge of high pressure spending most of it’s time out along the West Coast, kicking any frontal systems off towards the Pacific Northwest and further north, keeping CA pretty much bone dry. However, there’s currently an upper level trough sitting over the Western US and will slowly push its way eastward over the next few days. However, there aren’t many clouds, let alone precipitation, associated with this trough. The main upper low is found up in Washington and Oregon, keeping that portion of the West in shower and isolated thunderstorm activity. Down in Visalia, only a few high clouds were pushing through the area earlier, and should be a fairly pleasent day there today. The next couple of days look to be more of the same with the upper trough continuing its sloth-like pace towards the east. At least it’s keeping the temperatures from getting too terribly high!

Sunday: Sunny. High 86, Low 53.
Monday: Sunny. High 89, Low 56.

TWC: Sunday: Sunny. High 86, Low 53.
Monday: Sunny. High 91, Low 55.

AW: Sunday: Sunny. High 83, Low 53.
Monday: Sunny. High 87, Low 54.

NWS: Sunday: Sunny. High 84, Low 54.
Monday: Sunny. High 88, Low 56.

WB: Sunday: Sunny. High 87, Low 54.
Monday: Sunny. High 91, Low 57.

We see most of CA being nice and clear at this time, with clouds bringing showers up in Oregon and Idaho.

El Paso, Texas

Off to El Paso, pretty much the westernmost point in Texas. But at least it’s not a far walk to get some authentic Pesos!

At 6:51 MDT, the temperature was 98 degrees with just a few clouds in the area. Tis the season for hot and dry weather over the Desert area of the Southern U.S., where temperatures often creep up towards triple digits. In fact, including today, 10 of the 17 days so far in June have hit 98 or higher. Also, most people don’t realize El Paso is at 3,740 feet above sea level. Often times during the summer heating, thunderstorms like to kick off over west TX/east NM over the plateau when upsloping winds like to get the atmosphere riled up. For El Paso, however, most of this activity is usually well enough off to the east for them not to have to worry about it. For the next couple of days, that looks to be the case as the dryline continues to linger over west-central TX and the monsoon hasn’t quite kicked into full gear yet. Friday has a slightly better chance at seeing a rogue thunderstorm, but either way, probably unlikely they’ll see anything but continued heat.

Friday: Partly cloudy. High 102, Low 71.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. High 101, Low 74.

TWC: Friday: Sunny. High 103, Low 74.
Saturday: Sunny. High 101, Low 76.

AW: Friday: Mostly sunny. High 101, Low 71.
Saturday: Partly sunny. High 98, Low 74.

NWS: Friday: Partly cloudy. High 102, Low 71.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. High 99, Low 72.

WB: Friday: Partly cloudy. High 102, Low 72.
Saturday: Partly cloudy. High 101, Low 72.

Here we see some of the thunderstorms going off over the high plains area of western TX, but nothing really back towards El Paso. And back in NW AZ, you can see the Grand Canyon even! Amazing!

Heat Index

With the official start of Summer just a few days away, and kids across the country enjoying a couple of months with nothing to worry about, another meteorological danger lurks about that not many people really pay attention to. Temperatures will continue to be heating up over the country, along with more humid conditions, leading to heat indicies often soaring over 100. The Heat Index is the apparent temperature felt by a human in hot conditions, much like how the Wind Chill does the opposite for cold conditions. Some minimum requirements must be met, however, for a Heat Index to be calculated, and those being:

1) Actual temperature is above 80F
2) Dew Point is higher than 54F
3) Relative humidity is higher than 40%

Once the Heat Index gets above 100F, dire consequences can result of prolonged activity outside without seeking occasional relief in shade, air conditioning, or replenished fluids. Recently i was in Las Vegas when it was 106F (the day before it was 110F, the earliest Sin City had ever reached 110F), but even though it felt blistering hot when I stepped outside, I’ve encountered far worse conditions living in NC. Countless days during the summer there I would go outside to get the mail in the middle of a 94-degree day with a 72-degree dew point. Those numbers equate to a 104 heat index, which is perilously close to the Danger Zone (no, not the Kenny Loggins hit). In this zone, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are quite possible if one doesn’t seek relief, and continued exposure can lead to heat stroke (which I myself have nearly been a victim of). In the “Absolutely Ridiculous” department, the world record was set back on July 8, 2003 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, when the temperature topped out at 108. More incredibly, the dew point was 95F, which calculates to a mind-numbing 172F!
So this summer when you’re out at family picnics, baseball games, or a nice 6-mile run outdoors, be sure to keep cool and plenty of fluids nearby and you’ll have a great summer! Stay safe readers!