All posts by Anthony

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!

Pocatello, Idaho to Little Rock, Arkansas

Today’s trip takes us 1,555 miles from the lovely Rocky Mountains to the Land of the Ozarks. Off we go!

DAY ONE

We begin out trip traveling east out of southern Idaho, watching a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. Well, if we’re lucky. A cold front is making its way through the Northern Rockies, streaming some high clouds out ahead of it with showers pushing their way through the Pacific Northwest. While we should stay dry during the morning as we make our way into southern Wyoming, the skies should remain mostly cloudy out ahead of the front. With the flow increasing ahead of the system, our main issue throughout the day will be gusty south-southwesterly winds of 25-35mph at times, especially in western Wyoming through some of the mountain passes. While we won’t get the worst of it, it’ll still be breezy as we travel through Cheyenne southward into Fort Collins, CO, the stop for our first night.

DAY TWO
A fairly quiet start to the day as we travel southbound towards Denver, some partly cloudy skies greeting us. Our area of low pressure over the Northern Rockies is continuing to shift east and intensify some, increasing the southerly flow over the Plains. By midday, some showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop over KS as a remnant boundary kicks up activity. Most of this activity is expected to be off to our north, however, making for some picturesque scenery as we travel eastbound through Hays towards Salina. Some southerly wind gusts might catch us off guard as the low shifts towards the Northern Plains, and maybe a stray thunderstorm or two, but otherwise the evening shall end on a quite note as we roll into Wichita, KS.

DAY THREE
Our friendly low pressure system is now shifting fully into the Northern Plains and deepening. The old frontal boundary that was lingering over the Central Plains yesterday has disintegrated as strong southerly flow continues to stream up through the Plains to the low. Also, broad high pressure is found from the Great Lakes down to the Lower MS River Valley, quelling much of the activity through the morning hours. With the low level jet feeding northward, our trip out of Wichita through Tulsa will be rather windy, but dry and sunny. Winds should die down as we cruise across the Arkansas state line at Fort Smith. While we may see some thunderstorms off in the distance, east of Little Rock, we should remain dry as we pull into the state capital.

Decatur, Alabama

Off to the Deep South, where it NEVER thunderstorms this time of year…

At 1:53pm CDT, the temperature at Decatur, AL was 80 degrees under fair skies. A few thunderstorms are found just off towards the east near Huntsville, but otherwise right now seeing a little break in the action. The overall regime for the next couple of days doesn’t look to be changing much as the main jet stream stays fairly zonal over the northern tier of the US. A Bermuda High looks to stay rather persistent over… well… Bermuda, which keeps a general southerly flow going over the Southeastern US, keeping the flow of moisture from the Gulf open. Add in the normal afternoon instability that always results when temperatures push into the 80s and 90s over the region, and you get scattered thunderstorms over pretty much the entire area every afternoon. Just be sure to keep an eye on the radar as these types of thunderstorms seem to pop up quickly and die out just as fast. Happy Memorial Day readers!

Tuesday: 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms. High 86, Low 67.
Wednesday: 40% chance of some scattered thunderstorms. High 89, Low 67.

TWC: Tuesday: 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms. High 84, Low 66.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy, 20% chance of isolated thunderstorms. High 88, Low 66.

AW: Tuesday: 60% chance of thunderstorms. High 87, Low 67.
Wednesday: 20% chance of thunderstorms. High 94, Low 65.

NWS: Tuesday: 40% chance of showers and storms. High 87, Low 66.
Wednesday: 20% chance of isolated showers/storms. High 92, Low 66.

WB: Tuesday: Mostly cloudy, 40% chance of storms. High 87, Low 66.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy, 20% chance of storms. High 92, Low 68.

Here we see the thunderstorms currently off to the east, and moving away from the Decatur area. Will we see some of this activity move overhead in the next couple of days? Time will tell…

2010 Hurricane Season Approaching

With Summer soon approaching, Mother Nature’s activity will be in full swing across the US. Blazing hot temperatures, ridiculous humidity, swaths of thunderstorms on a daily basis, severe weather outbreaks, and now… hurricanes! The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30 (The Eastern Pacific season is already underway, that one runs from May 15 – November 15), and pre-season forecasts are predicting an above average season. Dr William Gray, one of the leading hurricane season forecasters, and his team at Colorado State University are currently predicting 15 named storms, 8 becoming hurricanes, and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes (achieving Category 3, 4, or 5 intensity). Normally, the CSU team is relatively close in the grand scheme of things with their seasonal forecasts, and is hoping to redeem themselves after being off last year. Their 2009 forecast had numbers of 14, 7, 3 initially, but amended it downwards to 12, 6, 2 in April 2009; Even then it didn’t pan out too well when the season finished with a below-average 9, 3, 2. Given the historical accuracy of Gray’s forecasts, I’m apt to lean towards their predictions, as opposed to NOAA’s forecast put out just a couple of days ago, where they predict 14-23 named storms, 8-14 hurricanes, and 3-7 major hurricanes. 14-23 named storms?! Really?! Why don’t they just issue forecasts of “Sunny with high temperatures of 72-94 degrees” while they’re at it?

In any event, all it takes is one storm to cause countless damage to a populated area, or set a region back many years in infrastructure. Having lived in North Carolina from 1995-1997, and living through Hurricane’s Bertha and Fran I can be the first to tell you that these storms are no joke and should be prepared for carefully and seriously. But never fear, us here at Victoria Weather will keep you informed of any impending storms coming close to the US!

Jacksonville, North Carolina to Jackson, Mississippi

We travel from one namesake to another as we go off on a 2-day trip through the Deep South. Whoever could have sponsored this journey? Randy? Peter? Michael? Maybe we’ll find out at the finish of our 852 mile trip.

DAY ONE
We start off the trip on a cloudy note, as some east-northeasterly flow over the region continues to keep some patchy morning fog and low status clouds over the Carolinas. During the morning the clouds will lift up and the fog will dissipate, we don’t expect to see much sun throughout the day as broken clouds will linger throughout much of the region. Scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms will dot the region as well, which will also be aided by an area of low pressure that’s pushing closer to the Carolina coastline from the waters of the Atlantic. Expect thundershowers to be waning as we pull into Atlanta, GA for the night.

DAY TWO
It should be a somewhat less cloudy morning as we continue our westward trek, aided by a general high pressure and an upper ridge not to far off to the north. Breaks in the clouds for sun to sneak through will become more numerous as the morning progresses. However, it won’t be totally devoid of activity, as some afternoon showers and a few isolated thunderstorms are expected to pop up as we trek into through Alabama. It should be easier to dodge them today than yesterday, however, and be a fairly uneventful afternoon as we finish our drive into MS towards Jackson.