Cuba

Today’s trip around the world takes us to our nation’s nearest maritime neighbor, Cuba, which of course lies less than 100 miles south of the Florida Keys. Like many nations in the tropics, Cuba sees a seasonal variation in their thunderstorm activity based on the flow of the ITCZ. This is their rainy season, which also happens to correlate with hurricane season. Ah, the hurricanes. Cuba’s position at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico and at the end of the Atlantic Basin path that most hurricanes take when they develop off the coast of Africa means that the island is frequently ravaged by tropical storms. It’s actually rare that the residents of Cuba don’t get hit by a hurricane at least once a summer. When they aren’t fending off hurricanes, the easterly trades of summer make Cuba an active island for thunderstorms, thanks again to it’s elongated position, perfectly oriented to intercept those winds, and have the elevation and required moisture to make every afternoon an adventure in thunderstorm dodging, particularly in the middle of the main island.
The Cubans have been scorned by much of the western world because of their dictator Fidel Castro and his communist state, however in an effort to get back in the good graces of the rest of the world and perhaps show his effective leadership (or something) Castro has sunk a lot of money into the sciences, most notably medical training and research. It should be no surprise, then, that the Instituto de Meteorologia appears to be relatively well funded. Most nations don’t have their own satellites or models from which to grab data, and the often pull from the United State’s ample resources, so given the current frosty relations between our nations, I was curious to see where they got their satellite data from. Sure enough, NASA, The University of Wisconsin and Intellicast, of all things. Under the Pronostico tab, the “para hoy” you will find today’s forecast. An interesting feature is that they show the picture of their forecasters which provides a little accountability, I suppose. Speaking of accountability, the entire roster of the Cuban Meteorology Service lists their e-mail address. Usually, I would e-mail the weather service to find out more about them, or at least inform them of the post. That said, I have personal experience forecasting for Cuba so I know I am mostly accurate on the details, and I don’t care to get flagged permanently by the FBI, so if you want to know more about the Cubans, by all means, e-mail away.

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.

Too many storms

I suspected that Cleveland may be in good shape over the forecast period, avoiding any real severe weather due to the timing of the thunderstorms. Well, instead the storms came through in the middle of the day on Sunday and left a swath of damage in the Cleveland metro. There was a small tornado up in Ashtabula, but most of the damage was the result of straight line winds. The airport in Cleveland reported winds of over 40mph in the early evening. The Weather Channel, as seems to be usual lately, had the top forecast.
Actuals: Sunday – .21 inches of rain in thunderstorms, High 93, Low 73
Monday – .02 inches of rain, High 82, Low 73

Grade: B

Morristown, Tennessee to Sioux City, Iowa

Remember how much fun we had yesterday with the day long road trip? Well, let’s try to double the fun with a two day trip from Tennessee to Iowa. It’s going to cover 1034 of the flattest miles you may ever see. All that travel will be done at a pace of 62.8mph, and we will get to shy of half way after the first day, covering a mere 502 miles. I’m ready. Are you?

DAY ONE

The day may start a little slow for a variety of reasons. First, it will take an hour or so to get from Morristown to the interstate in Corbin, Kentucky were we can really start to drive. Second, the back side of a system moving through tonight may leave some memories in the form of some early morning showers for the Smokeys. By the time we are on the interstate, however, we will be able to drive quickly free of lingering showers and restrictive speed limits. We will end the day in Mansfield, Illinois, between Urbana and Bloomington.

DAY TWO
Day two, Wednesday, will be a very easy drive. The interstates are good, the roads curve every once in a while to keep you engaged. Other than that do, it’s a good day for a road trip, with sunny skies and warming temperatures. Roll the window down and enjoy the open road on our way into beautiful Sioux City.

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux City has been getting raked over the coals the past few days, but finally it appears they are clearing out, ready to enjoy some much better weather.

At 152PM, CT, Sioux City was reporting a temperature of 82 degrees with clear skies. A long, low amplitude ridge was shifting into the center of the country. It wasn’t inhibiting much because of it’s strength, but there was little at the surface to kick up showers or storms.
The presence of Tropical Storm Alex in the Bay of Campeche will also aid in capping any thunderstorm development for the next several days by redirecting Gulf moisture away from the typical corridor up the Mississippi. A weak trough will begin to move in late on Wednesday, however it will only serve to knock down temperatures by a couple degrees and kick up some winds as there will be no moisture to work with.
Tomorrow – Sunny, High 81, Low 58
Wednesday – Sunny with increasing winds High 87, Low 60

TWC: Tomorrow – Sunny skies. High 83, Low 57
Wednesday – Sunshine. High 87, Low 58

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny and pleasant High 80, Low 54
Wednesday – Sunshine High 85, Low 57

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny High 81, Low 56
Wednesday – Sunny High 84, Low 58

WB: Tomorrow – Sunny. High 82, Low 55
Wednesday – Sunny. High 84, Low 58

It’s certainly going to be a relief for residents of Siouxland not to have to deal with another torrential downpour tonight. A look at the satellite tells that, in fact, it is quiet in Sioux City.

I never did care for New Mexico

Some of the worst forecasts I have ever seen came from New Mexico. Many moons ago, there was a forecast out for Albuquerque where the best one was a mere 44 degrees in error off from the proper forecast. Perhaps we should count ourselves lucky that this forecast in Las Cruces was only off by 20 or so degrees. Despite calm winds and clear skies, the temperature failed to get above 90 on Saturday, while clear skies allowed temperatures to drop to 60 degrees on Sunday morning. Those two factors led to some very sad forecasters. Sidebar: I can’t figure out why Las Cruces reported an observation every 20 minutes. Everyone I know, unless there is ongoing weather, reports on the hour. Quite peculiar, New Mexico. Despite my complaints, Victoria-Weather had the top ‘cast for Las Cruces.
Actuals: Saturday, High 89, Low 71
Sunday, High 96, Low 60

Grade: D

Cleveland, Ohio to Morristown, Tennessee

And here we are, with another 1 day journey. Just an extra half hour tacked on to the end of our typical 8, but it will be through the beautiful Smokey Mountains, so who are we to complain? It’s a 520 mile journey, which equates to our travel coming at a rate of 61.9mph. Shall we?


I’m not going to mince words. This drive is going to suck. We’re going to be following a cold front as we head from Cleveland to Morristown. In the morning, it will likely be a general rainy type of precipitation, with a stroke of lightning intermittently lighting up the sky. By about 1 in the afternoon, three hours in, the thunderstorms will really ramp up. The heaviest of the wet weather will come between Parkersburg and Charleston, West Viriginia as we start to come into the mountains, which will only help the development of soaking thunderstorms. Between Beckley, West Virginia and Abingdon, Virginia, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a break in the rain, but as we swing back southwest into Tennessee, some showers and storms will again be possible, though not as strong as we will have seen earlier in the day.

Foiled by sprinkles

Only one outlet had the thundershowers properly forecast in Lewiston, Idaho. One little guy snuck into town in the early afternoon on Friday and brought a trace of rain, and the Weather Channel had it in their forecast. TWC’s correct precip forecast gave them the victory, as it knocked V-W out of the top spot. Blast!
Actuals: Friday – Trace of rain, High 84, Low 59
Saturday – High 83, Low 56

Grade: B

Cleveland, Ohio

Finally, we’re moving out of the Mountain Time Zone for today’s forecast. Perhaps by issuing this forecast, we can convince Lebron James to stay in town.

At 1151, AM, ET, Cleveland was reporting a temperature of 78 degrees with overcast skies. A southwesterly wind was ensuring a warm wind ahead of a stationary boundary in southern Ontario. Some showers were beginning to show up over western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, and the threat was there for some showers and thunderstorms, some heavy, this afternoon.
A weak upper level trough will gather itself over the northern Plains after having dug deep into the Rockies, which should lead to a more well established and easily defined system. It will also become more likely that the stronger showers and thunderstorms follow the jet stream, which is to the north of Cleveland. The hot humid air will still touch off a few thunderstorms as the system passes through Michigan into Canada. Sunday night into Monday morning, the cold front associated with this system will work it’s way through town, another bit of luck, as this will keep the threat for severe storms to a minimum. A subsequent cool flow off of Lake Erie will keep things pleasant during the day on Monday.
Tomorrow – Scattered showers and thunderstorms, warm. High 88, Low 71
Monday – Early AM Showers and storms, cooler, High 83, Low 71

TWC: Tomorrow – Showers in the morning with isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. A few storms may be severe. High 90, Low 70
Monday – Partly cloudy with a stray thunderstorm. High 83, Low 73

AW: Tomorrow – Clouds and sun, hot and humid with a thunderstorm, becoming breezy in the afternoon High 90, Low 68
Monday – Clouds and sunshine with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm; breezy High 83, Low 69 (non standard)

NWS: Tomorrow – chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy High 87, Low 68
Monday – A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy High 81, Low 70

WB: Tomorrow – Partly sunny…warm and humid. A chance of showers and thunderstorms High 87, Low 68
Monday – Partly sunny with a chance of showers and thunderstorms High 81, Low 70

And now a look at the radar to show you were those scattered showers are.

The Week Ahead 6/27/10-7/03/10

Taking us up to the holiday weekend with another week away from the East Coast.

Sunday – Road Trip from Cleveland, Ohio to Morristown, Tennessee.
Monday – Sioux City, Iowa; Road Trip from Morristown to Sioux City
Wednesday – Jefferson City, Missouri
Friday – San Jose, California
Saturday – Fargo, North Dakota

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