Category Archives: Story

The Gulf catches a break

We will still have to wait to see what a tropical storm or hurricane will do to the Gulf oil spill. Tropical Storm Bonnie developed over the Bahamas before making landfall in Miami-Dade county in Florida. It moved quickly over the Florida Peninsula, almost entirely unnoticed by most Floridians. It was simply a rainy system that brought a little bit of rain to south Florida and ALMOST knocked Jim Cantore’s hat off.
The fear, then, was that it would track over the oil spill, intensifying the whole to once again become a tropical storm before crashing into New Orleans. It was going to be interesting to see how such a system would affect the slick.
Well, that never happened. Bonnie moved through Florida very quickly, which was part of the reason it’s mark there was so mitigated. She continues to move quickly, which is preventing her from accumulating energy. Additionally, an unfavorable shear environment aloft is hampering the further strengthening of the system, even though Bonnie is over the warm Gulf waters. The result is that the system is now not expected to strengthen much beyond it’s current state. Winds are about 30mph, which isn’t an uncommon wind speed over the Gulf of Mexico even without a tropical system to contend with.
This is a huge break for residents of the Gulf of Mexico. Bonnie will merely be an inconvenience, rather than a disaster.

The Weather Channel is invading

Shortly after Anthony posted the forecast for Atlanta (apologies for the delay.. some server issues beset us last night), I took this screen capture with a very impressive, very blue side bar ad.

Thanks Google, I’m sure most readers of this site are unaware of The Weather Channel. That said, with the way they have been forecasting this year, the whole site could pretty much be described as an ad for TWC.

This forecasts almost HAS to pan out

The above image is the current SPC forecast for severe winds today. For forecasting an individual type of severe weather, seeing the 60% is extraordinarily rare. When the SPC puts out such outlooks, they generally expect SOMETHING to happen, even when there is only a 15% chance, for example, of severe weather, because technically those percentages are for the chance that one of those events happens within 25 miles of a point in the outlined area. The suggestion of that 60% area isn’t so much that damaging winds are more likely or will be stronger, it’s simply that the damaging winds are almost certain to be widespread.
Later this afternoon, Anthony will come through and post a radar still to see how the storms are doing after what is certain to be a derecho sets itself up in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin. Later, I’ll come back and update with an image of the storm reports of the day. Stay tuned and keep safe.

UPDATE (5:16PM CDT): Well our line of thunderstorms developed nearly right on top of the Minneapolis-Twin Cities metro area earlier this afternoon, with a confirmed tornado not too far south-southeast of the area. Now as the line heads towards the east, it’s starting to transition to a severe thunderstorm threat, albeit with some embedded tornadoes possible. And later tonight, another possible line of thunderstorms as the front itself moves through the region. Active day around here for sure.


We can now take a look at the storm reports so far today to see how things have gone. They are widespread across northern Wisconsin, but fairly absent from the area where we had a 60% chance for the severe winds. That said, there is still a line of thunderstorms along the front extending from north central Wisconsin southwest towards Omaha, and some more reports could come in to help verify that little bubble a little later tonight. So far, the forecast put forth by the SPC looks as though it was good, but perhaps it’s safe to say this wasn’t quite the event they were expecting in Norman.

The Earth is hungry, enjoys Toyota Camrys

Once again, the earth has opened up following a good dose of rain and swallowed everything above it. This time it happened in Tampa, when a 20′ by 20′ hole gobbled up part of a parking lot, the lawn in front of a condominium complex and, of course that delicious 1995 Toyota Camry. I’ve heard that the Earth’s crust loves Japanese food.

No word on anything special that might have caused this sinkhole. The last we saw a sinkhole, it was in Guatemala and had been caused by Tropical Storm Agatha, which dumped an enormous amount of rain on the city. Tampa typically sees an exorbitant amount of rain, on the order of 6 and a half inches for the month of July, and there weren’t any tropical systems in the area that might generate a marked increase in rainfall, and in fact, Tampa only reported only about a tenth of an inch of rain yesterday, and none the day before. IT appears this may have just been another case of a leaky pipe, natural spring or just bad luck.

A new idea

Now that we have had our first Feature Forecast on the new site, thanks to Dan Thomas of WSMV in Nashville, I was thinking of other ways to bring the weather community to you. Every few weeks, I’ll link to any and all blogs from the city in question that I can find in any post that fits for the day. I’ll tell you early in the week, in case you are aware of any sites for the area that you might want me to link to. Does that make sense? Probably not. But we’re going to give it a shot on Friday when we look at Wasau Wisconsin to see what they have to offer! We’ll see how this goes.

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!

Heat wave

The difference between a summer and winter ridge is that in the winter, clear skies over night mean that temperatures over night plummet to well below zero. This is most common in the interior of the country, where they are far away from the warming effects of the ocean. In the summer, the persistently sunny skies inevitably lead to warming conditions. This is the case along the east coast, as you may have heard, where they haven’t had any rain or cause to break up the sunshine for over a week, and temperatures have responded by climbing into the upper 90s, even triple digits in some of the larger cities which will be aided by the concrete and asphalt in their quest for higher temperatures.
The east coast is also aided by the fact that the atmosphere isn’t as soupy in the mid Atlantic as it is further south in places like Atlanta and Birmingham, so the lower moisture don’t inhibit temperatures looking to skyrocket. Temperatures will continue to be toasty tomorrow for the east coast, and by toasty, I mean dangerously warm, in the neighborhood of 100+ degrees for many cities. Thursday may finally spell relief when a low in the Atlantic could bring some clouds and cooler weather.
It should be noted that with the flow of ridges, it is typically stagnant underneath them, as with the Megalopolis, however on the western flank, there is southerly flow, which could mean warmer temperatures, and almost certainly soupy weather in the Mississippi Valley as well, though there will be more widespread thunderstorms for residents there to cool off with.
Stay cool, residents from Concord to Charlotte! Only a couple more days to go!

June Forecaster of the Month

There was really no competition this month. Well, there was some last minute jockeying for position for numbers 2 through 5, but The Weather Channel simply ran away with things this month. It’s turning into a strong year for our friends in Atlanta.

We have a hurricane (almost)

Tropical Storm Alex is churning in the Bay of Campeche and now appears destined to make landfall south of the Rio Grande, but near enough to the US that it will certainly cause some consternation. This system has been incredibly difficult to get a bead on. Early in it’s life cycle, it appeared as though the system would split the gap between the western tip of Cuba and the northern reach of the Yucatan, which would have allowed the storm to intensify rapidly before making a land fall somewhere in the eastern Gulf Coast.
Next, after model guidance had a better handle on it’s directionality, there were questions about how the storm would hold together as it crossed the Yucatan. It appeared that he would be able to maintain enough circulation that he wouldn’t send too much thunderstorm activity north into the central Gulf Coast. Well, Alex tracked over Belize and the southern, wider part of the Yucatan and was almost pulled apart. Now weakened, it appeared Alex would trudge slowly across the southern Bay of Campeche and make landfall as a weak hurricane at most, if it was able to get organized.
Well, now it has taken a northerly turn and is taking its time across the Gulf, getting stronger and better organized as he goes. Right now, it seems as though he will make his landfall late Wednesday night or tomorrow morning. The way it’s gone so far, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his track shift a little bit further north and into Brownsville. Here is the official track at this time.

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.