Category Archives: Story

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.

Spencer Christian speaks to my soul

This site here is something known as “The Weather Blog”. There is a very good reason we don’t talk about the global warming and climate change controversies. If we did, it would probably be called the “Climate Blog”. On my way back from California, I sat next to a climate researcher from Harvard. We talked climate and weather a bit, but it became very clear we didn’t have much to talk about. He researched carbon, and had to ask me what type of clouds we were seeing out the window.
In an article from the Contra Costa Times discussing the schism between TV meteorologists and weather forecasters on the topic of global warming. San Francisco area meteorologist Spencer Christian has the most prescient.

“The climatologists are the experts in this field,” said Christian

Regardless of what you feel on the issue, it’s very important that you shy away from taking a TV meteorologists’ opinion as gospel truth. We weathermen have oh so little to get truly worked up about, and we’re probably all a bit more excited that people are taking what we have to say seriously for once. Mr. Christian and I are here to tell you: Go to the experts on the issue. Unfortunately, meteorologists aren’t them.
If you need another 2 day forecast for Bridgeport, however, we’re here for you.

Weather a factor in death of Polish president

The president of Poland, and other Polish officials were killed in a plane crash earlier today as he head into western Russia to honor the Katyn Massacre, which occurred 70 years ago during World War 2. Early accounts are that the cause of the crash is the dense fog permeating much of eastern Europe. The pilot, who likely couldn’t see the airport when landing, came in too low and clipped trees ahead of the runway, taking the plane down.
Much of eastern Europe is susceptible to dense fog for about half the year. The continent is surrounded by water, with warm water in the Mediterranean apt to filter north through the Adriatic and Black Seas much as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico finds its way into the center of the US. The continent is at a cooler latitude than most of the United States, and the cooler temperatures coupled with the higher humidity lead to often dense fog. When the area is ensconced in high pressure, wind is unable to mix out the fog, and it can be foggy for days if there is no injection of dry air. This is the situation presently in western Russia. Typically, it is not as grave a concern for Europeans, but in this instance, the Polish nation was met with tragedy.

March Forecaster of the Month

Our month began rather haphazardly, with the devious hacking from China that took us down for a week, but in the end, it turned into a neck and neck race to see who could claim supremacy as the top forecaster. In the end, it was The Weather Channel who was able to edge out their competition, to become the Forecaster of the Month

For the billionth year in a row, expect an active hurricane season

Ah, March. This is the time of year that your various long term forecasters project the hurricane season. What are they saying this year? Oh, it’s going to be active, just like every other year. Well, except last year, but everyone still SAID it would be an active year. Let’s see what the Charlotte Observer has to say:

“This year has the chance to be an extreme season,” says Joe Bastardi of Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather,

Because Joe Bastardi has never exaggerated the threat for anything before. The more telling of the quotes from the Observer (emphasis mine) is below:

Not all the forecasts are in. For example, the National Hurricane Center’s seasonal prediction won’t come until late May. And some forecasters plan to fine-tune their outlooks later this spring, when conditions become a bit clearer.

Besides, long-range hurricane forecasts have been unreliable in the past.

It’s tough to say. Right now, the Gulf of Mexico after a very chilly winter is quite cold. It’s hard to say how long it will be until tropical systems will be able to even move through the Gulf. It’s hard to say this early how many hurricanes there will be, or how active a season we are looking at. It’s dangerous to put a number on the hurricane outlook, especially when talking about how many storms will make landfall along the coast. Every hurricane is it’s own animal, and could just as easily miss land as make landfall every single time.
I’ve often said that anyone who says they can forecast past 10 days is full of it. sure, you can make predictions, but the accuracy is always going to be subject to more short term patterns. Mostly, it’s a way for people like Mr. Bastardi to get his name in the paper, and he can get a feather in his cap on the off chance he gets one of his forecasts right.

I guess I’ll try to cover this

All morning, The Weather Channel has been bringing up the new health care bill being signed into law in their half hourly updates. Far be it from me to ignore the popular trend in meteorology. Here is the Victoria-Weather meteorological take on the signing.

Temperature was about 75 degrees, perhaps warmer with all the radiative warming with the crowd in there.
Ceilings were at 15 to 20 feet.
Winds were light and variable (I assume the air conditioner was on).

Hope you enjoyed it

Most of the country has been enjoying some great weather the past few days. There have been 60s and 70s across most of the country lately, melting the snow and thawing things out for a nation that has been cold and snowy for months. It’s been great.

As you can see by The Weather Channel’s temperature map, things are about to change for almost everyone. That’s a 30 degree drop on either side of the cold front from Chicago to Minneapolis, and 25 degrees as far south as Oklahoma City to Amarillo. Those of you that have enjoyed this Springtime resurgence, I’m sad to say we will be reverting to a bit of winter for a few days.

The power of the sun

If you read the Columbus verification carefully, you’ll note that I mentioned that Friday’s high was 66. This took a dynamic system in the Gulf to import a boatload of warm air under a thick layer of clouds. Since the winds changed and they have remained cloudy, the Columbus area hasn’t reached 60 since. Much further to the northwest in Minneapolis (we cover Minneapolis like the Weather Channel covers Atlanta) the city that had been immersed in clouds broke out for most of the day. It was 65 in Minneapolis.
It’s not difficult meteorological theory to say that the sun makes things warmer, but through most of the winter at our latitude in northern Minnesota a clear sky wasn’t a guarantee of warmer air. Now with a better sun angle, no more snow pack and a lack of a bitter northerly wind, a sunny day can mean a spike in temperatures. I apologize to those in Columbus (and those in St. Louis who didn’t even see 50 on Sunday) for being cool and cloudy, but your plight helped illustrate a sure sign that Spring is on it’s way. And Spring IS on it’s way.