Yuba City, California

All right! It’s finally time to get a forecast under our belt this month. We’ll do so with a trip to northern California, where last summer the concern was wind and wild fires. It’s been much wetter this year, so let’s hope the fire danger is mitigated.

At 758AM, PT, Yuba City was already reporting 79 degrees under fair skies. High pressure dominated the west coast, and it promised to be a hot day in the central Valley. An excessive heat advisory was already in place.
There is a weak undercutting wave moving through the north Pacific that will arrive tomorrow, and may bring some high clouds and perhaps a dose of cooler weather on Thursday. The upper ridge will diminish through the period, but the low level thermal ridge isn’t expected to go anywhere, and even if temperatures moderate, it will still be hot.
Tomorrow – Fair, High 100, Low 67
Thursday – mostly sunny, High 95, Low 64

TWC: Tomorrow – A few passing clouds, otherwise generally sunny. Hot. High 103, Low 68
Thursday – Mostly sunny skies High 97. Low 64

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny; hot; extreme heat can be dangerous for outdoor activities High 102, Low 68
Thursday – Sunny; hot; air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive groups High 95, Low 64

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny and hot, High 101, Low 70
Thursday – Sunny and hot High 97, Low 67

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 101, Low 70
Thursday – Sunny, High 94, Low 64

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 101, Low 70
Thursday – Sunny, high 97, Low 67

FIO: Partly cloudy until afternoon. High 98, Low 71
Thursday – Clear throughout the day. High 94, low 65

Hot! Here is a look at the heat warnings, geographically, across northern California right now.

Haboobs aren’t just for the Middle East

This massive, sprawling dust storms are more frequently associated with the sandy deserts of the Middle East, or more locally, the dusty landscapes of the Southwest, but this massive haboob swept into Lubbock, Texas late last week, and was captured by Texas Tech University for all of us to marvel at.

As the Red Raiders noted, the haboob is formed, as they often are, but winds rushing away from thunderstorms, thanks to downdrafts hitting the earth and spreading outward, faster than the storm motion itself. This is a feature that often appears in the desert where the climate is arid and the ground can get dusty, but where instability can be such that strong, but low precipitation thunderstorms can develop. Usually, there is more moisture available than this in West Texas, but on this occasion, we get quite the show.

Hot Here, Hot There, Hot Everywhere!

We’re now into Meteorological Summer (June-August), so it’s no surprise that temperatures are starting to heat on up here across the country. After what seemed like an extremely late start to Spring around here in the Upper Midwest, everything is in full bloom as the temperatures have been pushing into the 70s and 80s lately. Well, today here in the Twin Cities, we officially hit 90! We last hit 90 on September 16th, a span of 264 days! (The record, if you wish to know, is an insane 691 days, Minneapolis went all of 1915 without hitting 90F). Luckily the humidity was kept in check today, with dew points around 60, so it was nowhere close as bad as it could have been.

Where it WAS pretty awful was south Texas. Brownsville hit 104 degrees today, not only setting a record for the date, but setting an all-time record high for the month of June! (103F in 1918 and 2012 previously). However, that was no match for Falcon Lake, TX (also along the Texas/Mexico border), which reached an incinerating 116 degrees! Heat Indicies reached into the 120s in some places given the dew points were in the upper 70s to 80 at some spots. Certainly no good for anybody having to be outside in that.

And it’s not just the US that’s roasting right now. Record heat engulfed Scandinavia, as portions of northern Finland reached well into the 80s, nearly into the Arctic Circle. Some reports are saying they haven’t experienced this type of heat that far north so early in the summer season before. And since most of those locations have homes which aren’t equipped with air conditioning, it’s leading to some miserable nights.

Most likely we’ll see more extreme heat “outbreaks” as Summer plugs along, but we can always hope that they’re short in duration and people take precautions to protect themselves from its effects.

The SPC and it’s terminology

There are so many layers of terminology in meteorology and weather forecasting on top of the scientific definitions of various phenomenon that it’s no wonder there is so much confusion when dangerous weather looms. Part of the problem is a fundamental lack one’s own geography, but also a lot of these terms we use in alarm as meteorology, we take for granted that the general public understands.

The problem is that more often than not, the public does not understand. There are a lot of terms, there are a lot of different levels of concern and there is generally a lot of confusion. One of the disconnects is that meteorologists are immersed in the terminology at all times, whereas the lay person only worries about, say, thunderstorm watches a handful of times a year. I’ve seen too many meteorologists get exasperated with the public, but the truth is, there is culpability on our side as well.

I would invite you all to explore my book, coming out on June 18th, for some definitions on watches and warnings. The short version is that warnings are more immediate, while watches are more precautionary. This section begins on Page 108, if you are so interested.

The Storm Prediction Center is truly our first alert for impending severe weather. Still, their terminology can run afoul of the laypersons intuition. Take a look at the current Day 1 (aka – today) forecast for thunderstorms across the US.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that a “Slight Risk” (SLGT) suggests a potentially stormy day, while an “Enhanced Risk” (ENH) portends a bit more intensity, but if you aren’t familiar with these definitions, a “slight risk” may seem dismissable, while an “enhanced risk” sounds apocalyptic.

Generally speaking, the outlooks are based on the potential for severe weather to occur within 25 miles of a location. The threshold for severe wind and hail is a 15% chance to be referred to as a “slight risk” which means that roughly, you can expect a severe weather event once every 6 or 7 times a slight risk is issued in your area. Tornadoes have a lower threshold, of 5%, or one in every 20 issuances, to have a slight risk be issued for an area. This is the case today in southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.

when a “Moderate” or “High” risk is issued, this should be an advanced notice of a significant severe weather outbreak expected for the day. Usually, this terminology is broadcast by the media. For further information, a visit to the SPC website will give a breakdown of the individual threats. and will even label areas under the threat (10% or higher) of significantly severe weather, by use of hatching in their graphics.

It kills us as meteorologists to hear that there was “no warning” when a catastrophic storm moves through an area, because in our minds, there are often at least three layers of notification before a storm arrives. We must accept the fact that the messaging is not as crystalline for the lay person as it is for us, and attempt to deliver out alerts more clearly. for the time being, I hope that this helps to clarify some of the terminology that exists today.

May Forecaster of the Month

Between a move and a long vacation, Victoria-Weather wasn’t very active, so as much as I like to laud active months for their clarity in selecting a forecaster, I think luck had more to do with the result than usual. The win was split by The Weather Channel and Accuweather all the same.

sOutletMonth wins
The Weather Channel1
Weatherbug0.5
Accuweather0.5
Victoria-Weather0
National Weather Service0
WeatherNation0
Forecast.io0
OutletMonth winsyear wins
Victoria-Weather07.5
The Weather Channel17.25
Weatherbug0.56.08
National Weather Service05.25
Forecast.io05
Accuweather0.54.83
WeatherNation04.08

Redding, California to Montgomery, Alabama

Got a long trip from northern CA to the Deep South, covering 2,536 miles, which should take 5 days to cover.

DAY ONE

A broad ridge of high pressure is found over the Great Basin/Four Corners region, which is keeping most of the thunderstorm activity over the Sierras as well as the Rockies in the Four Corners region. Much of the day should be dry and fairly quiet as we travel southward from Redding along I-5 to Sacramento, then along Hwy 99 through much of the Central Valley past Fresno and Bakersfield. Late in the afternoon and evening we’ll cut across the Antelope Valley on 58 before ending our long day in Barstow.

DAY TWO

Going to be spending all day on I-40 as we head east out of Barstow and eventually make our way into northwestern AZ by midday. Some spotty thunderstorms are expected to get going over the mountains as we make our way towards Flagstaff, so by the evening hours some of this activity looks to roll off of them, which could give us a bit of a wet welcome heading past Winslow and Holbrook before ending our night in Gallup, NM.

DAY THREE

Slightly shorter day today, but still a hike across New Mexico as we continue our tour of I-40. However, storms are expected to flare up over the mountains in the central part of the state, so if we don’t get past them in time, we’ll be needing to turn on our wipers as we pass Albuquerque and eventually Santa Rosa. If we can get out ahead of the storms, it should be smooth sailing into Amarillo, TX, where we’ll end the night. Don’t be surprised if some late evening storms roll into town however, might keep us up a bit.

DAY FOUR

Our tour of I-40 comes to an end as we head southeast on 280 out of Amarillo towards Wichita Falls. Unfortunately a boundary settling across the Central Plains eastward is interacting with moisture coming up from the Gulf, and widespread showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop during the midday hours and persist well into the evening. Some thunderstorm activity could get potent as we pass by the Dallas-Fort Worth area, hopefully we’re able to dodge it as we continue onwards and end the long day in Shreveport, LA.

DAY FIVE

Looks like it will be another day of dodging showers and storms as low pressure shifts into the Mid-MS River Valley, increasing the chances of storms from AR/LA eastward into AL/GA as the day progresses. I don’t expect a washout, but you will have to keep an eye on the sky as we push through MS on I-20 past Jackson and eventually into Alabama before finally ending our trip in Montgomery.

Montgomery, Alabama

Tonight let’s take a trip down south and see how the rest of the weekend shapes up for the lovely folks in Montgomery, AL!

At 953pm CDT, the temperature in Montgomery, AL was 74 degrees under fair skies. The tail end of a boundary is working through the TN Valley this evening, but behind it high pressure is moving in. This area of high pressure is going to keep the Montgomery area dry over the next couple of days, with just a few passing afternoon clouds anticipated. Looks like a good start to the month!

Sunday: Sunny. High 93, Low 66.
Monday: Few afternoon clouds. High 92, Low 68.

TWC: Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 94, Low 65.
Monday: Partly cloudy. High 93, Low 68.

AW: Sunday: Mostly sunny; warm. High 90, Low 64.
Monday: Mostly sunny; warm. High 89, Low 68.

NWS: Sunday: Sunny. High 93, Low 68.
Monday: Sunny. High 91, Low 70.

WB: Sunday: Sunny. High 92, Low 66.
Monday: Mostly sunny. High 91, Low 69.

WN: Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 93, Low 68.
Monday: Mostly sunny. High 91, Low 70.

FIO: Sunday: Clear throughout the day. High 93, Low 66.
Monday: Partly cloudy until evening. High 92, Low 70.

Here we see a fairly calm and clear night over the Deep South, with much of the same expected over the next couple of days.

El Centro, California to Lakeland, Florida

This is a drive I can get behind. It will be a 4 day drive along the southern tier of the US. The drive will cover 2331 miles, and we will cover ground at approximately 68.5mph, which is a decent clip. That decent clip also means a robust 548 miles traveled on days 1-3, with a long day in the southeast on day 4. they drive fast in Florida, so I bet we save some time.

El Centro, California

DAY ONE (Saturday)
For a drive in the southwest, our route will take us through a couple of pretty large areas, as we will encounter the sweltering Phoenix and moderately cooler Tucson on our way to New Mexico. Precipitation is not expected, and population will be minimal between the towns in question. The terrain in central New Mexico may aid in the development of a few showers and storms, but I think those will all remain east of where we will stop, exit 116 between Akela and Las Cruces.

DAY TWO (Sunday)
The dry line and the monsoon will be the two most identifiable features on our route on Sunday, but the late in the day develoment of these two features, and the lack of moisture available to them because of a batch of energy in the northeast means we will thread this needle without much threat for precipitation. We’ll make it to Kerrville, on the outskirts of San Antonio to finish the day.

DAY THREE (Monday)
The tail of a cold front will wrap around an advancing bubble of high pressure on Monday, and will touch off a few squirts of rain and isolated thunderstorms along the Texas/Louisiana border as we approach. It looks the wettest on the Louisiana side of the line, and the last couple of hours to Denham Springs, just east of Baton Rouge, bring a chance of a wet windshield.

DAY FOUR (Tuesday)
This isn’t something we see very often, especially this time of year, but high pressure is expected to settle into the southeastern US by early next week. Hot? Yes. Dry? Also yes, even in Lakeland. There might be a stray spritz left over in Denham Springs, but it should be good weather to enjoy the lakes of central Florida.

Lakeland, Florida

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to El Centro, California

This has been a challenging week. Tornadoes have now struck in several places, most famously in Jefferson City, Missouri and Dayton, Ohio. This 5 day trek, covering 2,585 miles will cover nearly all of the regions that were most heavily impacted. We’ll parcel this day into 530 mile segments, with a pace of 66mph. I thought it would be quicker given the surfeit of interstate we will cover, but safety first. hopefully the tornado threat is lessening as we traverse the central Plains.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

DAY ONE (Thursday)
Eastern Pennsylvania hasn’t been safe from the tornadoes either, with a twister northeast of Philadelphia last night. There is severe weather in the offing again today, however by tomorrow, when we start on our way westward, the system will finally be abating a bit. The rain won’t be any less, unfortunately, as the strong area of low pressure causing all this nastiness will occlude south into the Ohio Valley. Some rain, thunder and maybe another rogue severe (not as widespread!) thunderstorm will be possible through Pennsylvania in the morning. Rain will be heaviest on the western exposures of the Appalachians, but it will be tapering off through eastern Ohio. We should be dry by Columbus, and pleasantly cool in Huber Heights, a suburb of Dayton, though not as heavily damaged by the Memorial Day tornado. It will be our stop on Thursday night.

DAY TWO (Friday)
The weather is going to take a dramatic turn for the better on Friday. There might be a rogue thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon across Illinois, because we can’t just leave it well enough alone, but they will be garden variety, pop up storms on the back end of a broad spring cyclone. We’ll make it to Sarcoxie, Missouri in the southwest part of the state on a hot, humid afternoon.

DAY THREE (Saturday)
You might think that the drive from southwest Missouri, through Oklahoma and into the Texas Panhandle would bring the best chance for significant severe weather, and with the way things have gone lately, it would seem even more likely that you’d be right. By Saturday, though, the tail of the cold front that has caused so many problems will lie through Kansas, leaving us with some warmer, humid but dry conditions for the day. As the day turns to night, it looks like instability will take over and some terrific lightning producing, if not severe thunderstorms will pick up across the state. Not that this should bother us, we’ll be in the Texas Panhandle, spending the night in Pampa by the time things get going in the Sooner State.

DAY FOUR
We will likely see and hear some overnight convection associated with the dry line in the Texas Panhandle overnight, but it will also be associated with cooling aloft. That cooling is going to be gone when the sun rises, and after a short drive to the west, we will be on the dry side of the dry line anyways. The air will be clear in New Mexico, and it’s tough to find a good stopping point in northeast Arizona, but there is a travel center about 15 miles from Chambers that will suit us fine.

DAY FIVE
The most significant change we will be the elevation. The Petrified Forest is fairly high up there, and we will descend towards Phoenix, and then cut off towards El Centro. No significant weather is expected, but El Centro is pretty stinkin’ hot.

Imperial Valley, with El Centro at the bottom left