Category Archives: Story

Carolina Deluge

We’re still a good 5-6 weeks away from hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin (even though we just had our first named storm last week, which didn’t do anything other than annoy some fish and perhaps a shipping lane or two), but that doesn’t mean areas of the US can’t see tropical moisture in mid-Spring. A cut-off area of low pressure is traversing the Southeast US right now, which has taken some Gulf Stream moisture and dumped it over the Carolinas at its’ leisure. Widespread reports of 2-4 inches of rain has fallen from Central TN eastward throughout the Carolinas, with much of the rain falling over the Carolinas in the last 24-36 hours. Some portions of the Smoky Mountains have come in at 6-8 inches over the last couple of days, prompting Flood Warnings and Flash Flood Warnings over most of Central and Southeastern NC and northern SC as well. Here we see the rainfall amounts over the last 3 days and unfortunately, it continues to rain heavily in NC tonight and will into tomorrow.

April Showers

The 6-10 day outlook is definitely not one that seems to encourage outdoor activities. As it appears right now, a large portion of the country, notably almost all of it east of the Rockies, looks to see above average precipitation. There projects to be a slow moving trough over the center of the country, with a southwest to northeast jet running from Texas to the Great Lakes for several days. Model guidance suggests several systems following this path  from the middle of next week into the weekend, with the rainy core of these features following the brightest highlight on the map.

This is going to be a sloppy week for a lot of the country. With that trough continually reinforced next week, it looks to be rather chilly in the Plains, but unusually warm along the east coast. This clash could lead to a dicey situation in the Ohio and Tennessee Valley. Stay tuned!

Well, this is unusual

Here we sit towards the end of April, taking care to monitor the middle of the country as the severe weather season winds up, and while we haven’t been short changed on rainfall in heartland, we also haven’t been monitoring the Atlantic.

Fortunately, the National Hurricane Cnter has no time for the Plains, and was looking at the Atlantic. Perhaps because they haven’t had anything to do since autumn, they have started issuing advisories for a subtropical area of low pressure, southeast of the Azores. For those still unfamiliar, the official hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1st.

First the good news. This system won’t threaten any land masses, and is mostly a concern for the fish residing in the Sargasso Sea. Actually, it’s all good news. The issuance of these advisories isn’t really an ominous sign of things to come for the summer and fall this year, but rather a representation of improved satellite coverage and a recent aggression from the NHC in labelling sub tropical storms as things to be monitored.

Forecasts have the storm fizzling out by the end of the day today, even further away from land than it is now.

[postscript] After writing this, the NHC has elevated this to Tropical Storm status. Arlene, as she is so named, is still fizzle overnight tonight. As Anthony said on Twitter, “anything to boost the numbers”.

Too many people don’t know where they are

Rusty Lord of WOWT tweeted about a concern that many meteorologists don’t recognize for being as severe as it is.

So many of us roll our eyes when we hear people say that there was no warning of a pending storm. Instead, it might be important to know why people didn’t receive a warning. Often, it’s because they didn’t know there was a warning. They didn’t know there was a warning, because they literally didn’t know where they were.

A study in the state of Alabama expanded on this notion.  So many people don’t know their home county, or where their hometown is within the county. There are many theories as to why this might be. The fact that paper maps are no longer necessary, and the need to recognize landmarks is not as important seems to be one of them, but also a general lack of education on local geography.

Aside from severe weather, why would one need to know most of this information? For public safety, and certainly other reasons, it’s so important though. Even if we can get children educated on where they are on a local map, as well as some of the surrounding spots and local county names, that will necessarily feed into the knowledge as those kids grow up, as well as those around them.

It’s a systemic problem, but unlike most issues meteorologists deal with, the system is societal.

A look at yesterday’s tornadoes near Dimmitt, Texas

Yesterday, Anthony discussed a slow moving super cell thunderstorm near Dimmitt, Texas in the far northern portion of the Texas Panhandle. A slow moving tornado in the Panhandle is basically a storm chaser’s dream, and there is a lot of video out there now of the series of twisters that rolled through (much of it with other chasers in the frame). Above is a long look at several of the twisters from Val Castor.  Below is a collection for Stas Speransky, including a large wedge at the end of the clip.

Throughout the evening, the radar showed a classic hook echo, and as I said, the whole thing reused to move. Ian Livingston has captured the night’s loop.

It was a night similar to this in 1995 that researchers were able to capture a wealth of information for a large tornado near Dimmitt. There is a great deal of data out there from this set of tornadoes as well, so hopefully, important information can be gleaned from the new knowledge.

Panhandle Slowpoke

As we push further into Spring, severe weather seems to be a possibility every single day. Earlier today, a couple of supercells popped up over the TX Panhandle, one of them spawned a very picturesque tornado near Dimmit, Texas (which later evolved into a very large wedge tornado, but luckily nobody seemed to get injured from it). Working in the interest of public safety, was the absolute snails pace of which it was moving. Over the span of 8 hours, the cell moved only 80 miles, a glacial pace when it comes to supercell storms. Radar indicated that over 10 inches of rain fell over a couple of counties, leading to many reports of flash-flooding in the region. However, due to hail contamination, that’s probably an over-representation of how much actually fell, probably closer to 4-7 inches (which is still a TON of rain in a 6-8 hour period). At least the storm’s slow movement meant people had plenty of time to avoid the tornadoes associated with the cell, which is what we all like to see.

March Forecaster of the Month

It’s rather incredible that we are on April 12th already, without a verification for a forecast from this month. Incredible, really, when you look at how busy we were in March. There were 14 forecasts in the month of March, meaning our champion was not cheated in their victory. It was a stormy month, marked by some record heat, fueling that severe weather. Now, since I’ve mentioned those two factors, severe weather and record temperatures, can you guess who claimed victory in March? That’s right, it was The Weather Channel who claimed victory as Spring came in like a lion.

Sierra Snowfall

This Winter saw storm after storm demolish California, leading to the demise of their incredible multi-year drought. It will still take a couple years worth of storms to help get the groundwater level to where it should be, but the Sierra’s supply much of California with their drinking water through its winter snowpack. That’s why the groundwater has gone down rapidly these last few years, the snowpack had been way below normal when it finally melted in the spring/summer months. This year, however, was an entirely different story. Feet upon feet of snow fell during numerous winter storms, resulting in gargantuan season snow totals. Here’s a map (courtesy of NWS Sacramento) that shows the impressive totals seen throughout the CA Sierra’s this season. Hopefully this provides plentiful water to the major cities of the state this summer!

Thunderstorms to take a swing at Houston tomorrow

After a bit of a break in the severe weather today (there will still be a few storms in west Texas today) tomorrow looks to be quite active from east Texas into far western Louisiana.

An upper level trough will swing through the southern Plains tomorrow, and the local access to the Gulf of Mexico and the abundant available energy, including a great amount of helicity, will lead to a threat of widespread severe weather. As you can see from the map above, the SPC has a hatched area, including Houston, College Station and surrounding areas. That means they suspect a threat for significant severe weather.

What does that mean? Significant severe weather can mean strong tornadoes, of EF2 or greater, or hail stones larger than an inch in diameter. I suspect both of those criteria will be met tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Be sure to pay attention to the weather. It’s a Sunday, so you really don’t have a good excuse not to be fully plugged in.

Strong storms continue in the mid-South, look even dicier tomorrow

The last several days have seen strong thunderstorms dance through the south central United States into the Tennessee Valley. In fact, there has been a glut of severe weather reports each of the last three days. It doesn’t appear like there are very many severe reports yet, but you can be sure that they will fill in as storms clear out and people are able to file reports. Take a look at the current radar for the region.

The clusters of storms from southern Missouri to central Arkansas have produced hail and have the potential to drop tornadoes on the underlying locales. The lines from Texarkana to the Piney Woods and the multiple squalls in southwestern Louisiana have the ability to produce very strong straight line winds, along with the attendant threat for hail and an isolated tornado.

The bad news is, the Storm Prediction Center says there is more in store tomorrow, and that it projects to be even worse.

The bullseye tomorrow will be in western Tennessee, extending south to northern Mississippi. The threat will be similar as it is today, but the threat for tornadoes will be magnified at the northern end.

The upper level jet will come more clearly into phase, amplifying the threat for severe storms in the Tennessee Valley, while also increasing the threat for strong straight line winds as the cold front’s momentum increases.

There will be a break on Friday, but things will start up again, over the same areas, this weekend.