Dodging the severe weather

It’s been a rough couple of days for the southern US in terms of severe weather. In Oklahoma City, however, they got lucky. It didn’t rain or storm in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, and they avoided any severe storms yesterday. Temperatures were down, which may have prevented the genesis of strong storms in their immediate area, but the bigger deal was that storms developed further west than anticipated and began to die out overnight. Accuweather and The Weather Channel had the top forecasts for the better than expected weather.
Actuals: Wednesday – High 75, Low 57
Thursday – .17 inches of rain, High 75, Low 61

Grade: C

Ames, Iowa to Johnson City, Tennessee

We’re taking off for a 2 day journey from Ames to Johnson City, a journey that covers 931 miles. On the first day, we’ll try to cover about 500 miles on that first day. It’s not an easy, interstate heavy drive down to Johnson City, so we’ll move slowly at about 62mph. We’ll make it though, even though we will deal with quite a few showers and storms along the way.


A system developing over the center of the country will be shifting into Iowa in the morning, bringing with it some heavy rain.for the beginning of our drive with some isolated thunderstorms embedded with it. Expect heavy rain from Ames to Des Moines as we travel south, then rain continuing, but not as intense as we head towards the Quad Cities. There will be redeveloping showers as the afternoon carries on, with heavy showers possible anytime through the afternoon. Don’t be surprised if we have to pull off the road due to visibilities near Peoria or Champaign. It will still be raining, with some thunder, as we sneak into Indianapolis at the end of the first day.

Don’t be fooled by the weather at the beginning of the day. We’ll see wet weather to our east and some clearing skies in the morning in Indianapolis, and we’ll be able to enjoy some of it as we head south into Kentucky. The heavy rain will really pick up after we hit Louisville and start veering off towards Lexington then south to Johnson City. We’ll stay just ahead of the crushing rain that will eventually sneak into Johnson City, but we’ll definitely experience it. Have fun with THAT.

Johnson City, Tennessee

We’re headed into the Smokey Mountains and the eastern tip of Tennessee.

At 555PM, ET, Johnson City was reporting clear skies with a temperature of 68 degrees. Weak pressure gradient across the east belied the massive system developing over the High Plains, triggering the first real severe storm outbreak of the season. A warm front is extending into Tennessee is associated with this boundary, but is not developing much by way of precipitation. Even so, the presence of the boundary in Tennessee lends to power of the system in the Plains.
The cause of the system is a cut off upper level low over the western US. The subtropical jet over Mexico will lift north to intercept the low and transport it towards the Tennessee Valley. When the low pushes west it will tap into the Gulf and it’s moisture. The resulting rain and thunderstorms, which will arrive in Johnson City late Friday into Saturday will bring about torrential rains, with 1-2 inches of rain possible to begin the weekend.
Tomorrow – Late rain, High 74, High 51
Saturday – Torrential rain expected in the evening, with thunderstorms possible, High 75, Low 56

TWC: Tomorrow – Showers early then scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 74, Low 50
Saturday – Thundershowers. High 75, Low 55

AW: Tomorrow – Variable cloudiness with a shower High 71, Low 47
Saturday – Mostly cloudy with a shower or thunderstorm around High 74, Low 53

NWS: Tomorrow – A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy High 74, Low 48
Saturday – Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 2pm. Mostly cloudy High 74, Low 55

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms High 74, Low 48
Saturday – Cloudy. Scattered showers and thunderstorms in the morning…then showers and thunderstorms likely in the afternoon. Some storms may be severe in the afternoon. Locally heavy rainfall possible in the afternoon. High 75, Low 55

So that’s it. Doom and gloom coming Saturday. Here you can keep an eye on it as it approaches off to the west.

Sunny south Florida

Our forecast for Naples called for some typically active Floridian weather. Fortunately for them, all the thunderstorms that Florida saw the past two days went up inland, away from Naples and then continued to drift off towards Orlando and Lake Okeechobee. Florida thunderstorms are always tough to pinpoint, but it’s never a good idea to beat against them, regardless of what today’s verification suggests. The top forecast went to Weatherbug.
Actuals: Tuesday – High 79, Low 64
Wednesday – High 78, Low 69

Grade: A

The “Weather” Channel

The other day, The Weather Channel had a nice little clip talking about the New Madrid Fault Zone, which is an active earthquake zone in the Mid-Mississippi Valley region. Most of the earthquakes are too small to be felt, with perhaps 1 a year being noticeable to most people. Check out the video here: New Madrid Fault Zone.  Overall, it is pretty informative, a very large quake nowadays would devastate Memphis and cause damage to St. Louis, Evansville, Louisville, and even Cincinnati. The main reason an earthquake here would so damaging is because the ground under the region is mostly loose silt and soft earth, whereas a large earthquake in say, Los Angeles, would be less ranging b/c of the mountain ranges and mostly rocky base throughout the region. While a powerful earthquake, especially the ones of 1811-1812 that reversed the flow of the Mississippi for roughly 3 days and was even felt in New York City, is unlikely anytime soon, retrofitting buildings isn’t such a bad idea.

However, WTF does this have to do with weather!!?!  Last time I checked, there aren’t Earthquakes on the Eights or Seismic Stories on the programming, so why bother even reporting about this? Granted, more people probably know somebody who’s a meteorologist than seismologist or geologist, but for some reason being a meteorologist is layman’s terms for “all-knowing scientist”. While “The Geology Channel” doesn’t quite have that ring to it, perhaps TWC should stick to what’s going on above the ground rather than below it. Then again, if there’s anything going on in the Atlanta area, you wouldn’t be hearing about your own weather anyways.


Zimbabwe is located in southern Africa, landlocked west of Mozambique. As it happens, they are also north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and experience a tropical climate. The heat and humidity are tempered by their elevation, which is predominantly high plateau. Their rainy and dry season correlate with our winter and summer, respectively, as the ITCZ pivots north and south during the year. Every once in a while, the western parts of the country get a little bit cooler as a cold front associated with a low over the south Atlantic will actually break the heat in their winter.
Zimbabwe has a meteorological services division, however their site is flagged by the internet as being an attack site, so so much for that.

Naples, Florida to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Our trip will take a little under three days as we traverse the suddenly active Southeast. If anything, we’ll be headed the 1404 miles to a somewhat less humid area in Oklahoma City. Perhaps we’re just interested in shipping oranges to Oklahoma. Anyways, we’ll be able to cover 506 miles on the first two day at 63.3mph. So let’s box up those oranges!


A weak band of showers is still moistening the Florida Peninsula, but it’s on it’s way out of town. We’ll likely see some red skies as we wake up, but only partly cloudy skies when we take off. We will be problem free all the way through Florida and then on to Georgia, where we will hop off the main road. Our day will end in Richland, Georgia, which I am sure is a beautiful town south of Columbus.

The drive will be easy again on Thursday, but not quite as pleasant as the drive on Wednesday. There will be a chance for some showers and thunderstorms as we approach the Memphis area. Call it Holly Springs, Mississippi where we run into some wet weather, which will take us through the Memphis metro. We’ll likely be out of it, however, by the time we reach Forrest City, Arkansas. Let’s not push our luck though, and call it a day in Carlisle, which is east of Little Rock.

If, and that’s only an if, we see a thunderstorm on Friday, it will likely be between Little Rock and Fort Smith, and there is a decent enough chance that we should be wary that the storms will be strong. It’s a well wooded stretch of road through Arkansas, so we probably won’t get too much warning when a squall line is coming, not as much as we would in the Plains, so be sure to stay tuned to local radio and not the iPod until we make our way to Sallisaw, where we should be out of the woods all the way to Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A late night forecast for OKC, and we are in the midst of tornado season. How fun!

At 1052PM, CT, Oklahoma City was reporting cloudy skies and a temperature of 55 degrees. A perturbed jet over the Gulf and northern Mexico as generated several somewhat weak disturbances that have swung from the high plains to the Gulf and into the Atlantic. Currently, the next wave is developing over the Oklahoma Panhandle and is generating thunderstorms over northern Texas.
The southerly jet is expected to shift off east, taking support from the thunderstorms over the southern Plains, however this will be motivated by a developing closed upper low over the Rockies. A stationary to warm front will develop through Kansas, indicative of the warm, moist air moving into the Oklahoma City area over the next two days. Showers will not be widespread, but they will be possible in the afternoon each day, with stronger thunderstorms becoming a concern late on Thursday.
Tomorrow – Partly to mostly cloudy, with passing showers and thunderstorm, High 71, Low 51
Thursday – Partly to mostly cloudy, with isolated severe storms before midnight, High 76, Low 59

TWC: Tomorrow – A few showers in the morning with scattered thunderstorms arriving in the afternoon. High 71, Low 54
Thursday – Partly cloudy with a stray thunderstorm. High 76, Low 60

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with a shower or thunderstorm around High 74, low 53
Thursday – Mostly cloudy and breezy; an afternoon shower or thunderstorm High 78, Low 60

NWS: Tomorrow – A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy high 70, Low 52
Thursday – A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy High 75, Low 59

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with chance of thunderstorms High 73, Low 53
Thursday – Mostly cloudy with chance of thunderstorms High 77, Low 59

A look at the satellite shows the looming nastiness over the Rockies.

Naples, Florida

At 12:53pm EDT, the temperature in Naples, Florida was 75 degrees under mostly cloudy skies. A lingering cold/stationary front that’s been found over the Florida Peninsula and along the Gulf Coast has slowly been weakening the last couple of days, but there will still be a decent amount of instability over the region. An ill-defined disturbance over the Lower MS Valley will slowly trek eastward through the Deep South over the next couple of days, enhancing some of the thunderstorm activity farther north over Florida. Tuesday should see a fair amount of activity over the northern 2/3rds of the state especially when the sea breezes converge over the interior part of the state, but Naples could see a few scattered showers still make it down their way. Wednesday sees that aforementioned area of low pressure become a bit better defined towards the Carolinas, giving them a good chance of some stronger thunderstorms during the day. A weak area of high pressure looks to build back over Florida and into the Central Gulf behind this system and keep southern Florida mostly on the dry side, but there will still be a few scattered showers popping up during the afternoon. Overall it should be a good couple of days for beach goers, but Tuesday will definitely be the day to keep an eye on the sky for more scattered activity.

Tuesday: 50% chance of scattered showers/thunderstorm. High 80, Low 62.
Wednesday. 20% chance of a scattered shower, maybe an isolated thunderstorm. High 79, Low 65.

TWC: Tuesday: Mostly sunny. High 80, Low 64.
Wednesday: 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms. High 77, Low 66.

AW: Tuesday: Scattered thunderstorms. High 80, Low 61.
Wednesday: Isolated shower/thundershower possible. High 78, Low 65.

NWS: Tuesday: 20% chance of showers. High 79, Low 64.
Wednesday: 20% chance of showers. High 79, Low 65.

WB: Tuesday: Mostly cloudy. High 79, Low 64.
Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High 79, Low 66.

Some moderate showers are found well off to the north of Naples and off over the Gulf. Some more of these might draw closer tomorrow.

What will the volcano in Iceland mean for us?

Back in the early 90s, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted, ejecting 10 billion metric tons of magma and 20 million tons of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. Not only was the system devastating to Luzon, the island where the eruption occurred, but it affected the entire planet for about a 12 month period. The hemispheric average temperature was down an entire degree Fahrenheit after the eruption, thanks to the concentration of ash in the atmosphere, reflecting the suns radiation. This is a dramatic drop in temperature. Consider, that’s the same temperature change that is being discussed in regards to global warming. Even then, the degree change is somewhat misleading, as the lowest temperature change would be over the Pacific, where there are fewer recording stations, and the change in temperature would not have a dramatic impact.
Now, in 2010, we are poised for a similar event. The Eyjafjallajokull (and that’s the last time I’m typing that) volcano in Iceland hasn’t put out as much ash, or sent it as high in the atmosphere as Pinatubo did, but the Icelandic volcano has a history of longer eruptions. That said, the global temperature drop will likely be imperceptible when taken on a large scale. That said, this stands to have a greater impact on more people than Pinatubo did. Remember, that Pinatubo’s most dense ash was over the Pacific. Iceland’s ash will end up over Europe, as it already is. Even as the ash clears up at flight levels and air travel picks up again, temperatures for the summer and perhaps even into the window are going to be down in Europe. Here in the United States, it is extremely unlikely we see any temperature changes, unless the volcano somehow becomes more explosive. Even then, we won’t see a substantial drop in temperature stateside as we did with Pinatubo, as the ash would have to wrap its way all the way around the globe.

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