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.

Jefferson City, Missouri to Gainesville, Georgia

We’re going to take a day and a half to sneak from Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, to Gainesville, Georgia, the Chicken Capital of the World. The World! It’s a 683 mile drive, of which we will cover 483 miles on the first day. A lot of time spent off the main roads will mean a pokey 60mph pace. Well, let’s get pokin’ already!

DAY 1

Our first pokey day in the car will spend time in St. Louis and Nashville before terminating in Smyrna, Tennessee, which lies on the southeast side of Nashville. The drive should be all right, as a stationary front is wrapping from northern Illinois to Northern Missouri and southwest towards Oklahoma. South of this boundary, we’ll get to see some hot weather by afternoon, but we won’t have any other problems than that, especially if the rain stays along the front, north of our route, as it’s expected to.

DAY 2
All the moisture being trucked north from the Gulf is being brought north on the backside of a weak ridge in the southeast. That means all the showers and storms are going to develop over Texas and the southern Plains, and the front, as it sags south towards our route will dry up. Expect some clouds, though, and still warm weather as we arrive in Gainesville.

Deja Vu

For the second time this week, we’re going to be verifying a forecast in Bridgeport. Popular place for us this week. I’m just happy we could oblige with a forecast that busted, due to somewhat nicer weather. Clouds were present overnight in Bridgeport which kept lows warmer than expected. On top of that, the showers some called for on Tuesday stayed south of the city. The Weather Channel tied Accuweather atop the leaderboard in this typically Springtime forecast.
Actuals: Tuesday, High 58, Low 46
Wednesday – High 63, Low 41

Grade: B

Jefferson City, Missouri

Our forecast takes us to the capital of Missouri, and a city enjoying some 80 degree weather right now.

At 1153AM, Jefferson City was reporting sunny skies with a temperature of 80 degrees. Positioned squarely in the warm sector of a system moving into the Northern Plains, the area is seeing increased humidity and gusty southerly winds. The Gulf of Mexico is cool so far this Spring, so even though humidity is increased, it isn’t yet oppressive.
The cold front associated with the the area of low pressure over the Northern Plains is well defined, running from western Minnesota to western Kansas, though it isn’t particularly active, with only light showers being seen thus far. The system is rapidly occluding, and an area of high pressure is building over the southeast, cutting off most of the energy in Jefferson City before it can really arrive. As the pattern progresses east, the Gulf will reopen Friday evening with the high pressure shifting out to sea. The boundary will finally sag into Missouri and interact with the new found moisture, with showers and thunderstorms expected Friday evening.
Tomorrow – Mostly sunny and warm, High 78, Low 58
Friday – Afternoon showers and thunderstorms, High 70, Low 55 (non standard)

TWC: Tomorrow – Sunshine and some clouds (PM TStorms). Very warm. High 85, Low 55
Friday – Thundershowers. High 71, Low 59

AW: Tomorrow – Pleasant with intervals of clouds and sunshine High 79, Low 56
Friday – Mainly cloudy with a shower or thunderstorm High 72, Low 55

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny (PM rain) High 82, Low 56
Friday – A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy High 68, Low 55

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny (PM Rain) High 82, Low 56
Friday – Cooler. Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms High 69, Low 56

Here is a look at the satellite, showing that cold front very well over the Northern Plains.

Protected by mountains

Anchorage looked to be in line for a rather nasty couple of days, however the elevation around the Cook Inlet kept all that nasty weather out of the city. In the end, they ended up with only a bit of rain overnight from Monday to Tuesday, and cloudy skies all around. Victoria-Weather ended up with the top forecast, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Actuals: Monday – Rain observed, but not measured, High 45, low 39
Tuesday – Rain observed but not measured, High 44, Low 36

Grade: C

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is renowned as a tropical paradise in central America. It is one of the more politically stable countries in Latin America, which helps it’s good tourist reputation, but the tropical climate does even better to further that reputation. The predominant flow is easterly and associated mostly with the fluctuating ITCZ. The wet weather is it’s most abundant on the Caribbean side of the nation, and is most abundant in the summer months. As one could imagine, the central spine of highlands is cooler than coastal Costa Rica.
The Instituto Meteorologico Nacional is one of the better constructed weather services of Central America, and their site is visually pleasing. Forecasts of many different varieties are all available through Java capable maps, which are easy to navigate, even if everything is in Spanish. I am, actually, surprised that I was unable to find an English version of the site, given the American tourist trade in their fine nation. Even so, my rudimentary Spanish allowed me to find the satellite images offered by the Costa Ricans, all of which were centrally focused on Costa Rica, a rarity among most weather services. It’s very nice for anyone looking for current weather data for the country, not having to squint at a Caribbean satellite image. All in all, it’s a good resource for Costa Rican weather, which is all I could have asked for.

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.

Bridgeport, Connecticut

Back to Bridgeport on this fine Monday evening. Let’s rock and roll!

At 1152PM, ET, Bridgeport was reporting a temperature of 53 degrees with clear skies. A long boundary ranged from the central Rockies and tailed off as it swept into the Mid Atlantic. Later tonight, showers should develop along this boundary as an area of low pressure over the Rockies shifts into the high plains.
Models have been universally poor for the past week or so, however the basics are still valid. The extended stationary front south of the area will dissipate over the coming days, with a Canadian ridge shifting into New England. Some showers are a remote possibility Tuesday morning, though clearing is expected to move in by midweek.
Tomorrow – Scattered showers in the morning, then clearing. High 59, Low 41
Wednesday – Partly cloudy, High 64, Low 43

TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy skies. High 58, Low 40
Wednesday – Mainly sunny. High 62, Low 39

AW: Tomorrow – Times of clouds and sun High 56, Low 42
Wednesday – Mostly sunny High 61, Low 42

NWS: Tomorrow – A chance of sprinkles after 1pm. Mostly cloudy High 57, Low 38
Wednesday – Sunny, High 65, Low 39

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with a chance of sprinkles High 57, Low 38
Wednesday – Sunny. High 65, Low 39

A look at the satellite shows that long stream of clouds headed towards Bridgeport. Good times to be had by all.

Way too dry

I had mentioned that Youngstown was going to see an area of high pressure stanch the flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico north to their neck of the woods. As it so happens, this had a greater influence on the forecast than I had originally prognosticated. The low temperatures, unchecked by moisture on Saturday, plummeted to the upper 20s, and the cold front passed through yesterday completely dry. In the end, there was a three way tie at the top, between Accuweather, the Weather Service and Weather Bug.
Actuals: Saturday – High 63, Low 28
Sunday – High 66, Low 42

Grade B

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, historically, has proven to be a nightmare to forecast for. I don’t think that will change.

At 853AM, Alaska time, Anchorage was reporting a temperature of 37 degrees with cloudy skies. A broad area of low pressure crashing into western Alaska was sending an occluded front south through the Anchorage area, and substantial snows were being seen all around the Cook Inlet, however none of it had reached Anchorage by 9AM. With temperatures continuing to rise during the day, expect most activity in southern Alaska to be rain, though some snow my still mix in.
The system is winding itself up over the center of Alaska, and will continue to infuse moisture into Anchorage. Expect a snowy, rainy couple of days in Anchorage, with wind on the increase, though most of the moisture will be stunted by the high elevation of the Kenai Peninsula.
Tomorrow – Snow and rain, High 46, Low 32
Tuesday – Snow and rain continue, High 45, Low 34

TWC: Tomorrow – Rain and snow in the morning will become intermittent in the afternoon. High 40, Low 34
Tuesday – Mix of rain and snow showers. High 40, Low 33

AW: Tomorrow – Cloudy with a bit of rain, mixed with snow early with little or no additional accumulation High 44, Low 33
Tuesday – A bit of morning snow; otherwise, remaining cloudy High 46, Low 34

NWS: Tomorrow – .Snow likely in the morning…then a chance of rain and snow in the afternoon. Little or no snow accumulation. High 42, low 32
Tuesday – Snow likely, High 37, Low 32

WB: Tomorrow – Snow likely in the morning…then a chance of rain and snow in the afternoon. Little or no snow accumulation. High 38, Low 28
Tuesday –
Snow likely. High 38, Low 28

I estimated the NWS forecast, because they didn’t put any actual values. Who knows with Anchorage. They could be totally accurate. Here is the Alaskan radar.

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