Posts Tagged ‘Weather’

 

The Foxes Are Heading Back Into Winter

Friday, April 11th, 2014

melissaMy niece Melissa is expecting. This weekend is her baby shower. We’re heading to Milwaukee where it’s still winterish.

I’ll let the Weather Service forecasters try to polish this turd of a forecast.

WE WILL HAVE A PROLONGED PERIOD OF WET WEATHER THIS WEEKEND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK.

Great!

We will see no sunshine in Wisconsin. Most of the weekend will be rainy. There’s a chance for snow late Sunday into Monday, though not much. That’s when we fly home.

It makes no difference. My parents are there, plus my sister and her family. Four generations together. It’s totally worthwhile. We’re very excited.

Of course I’m saying that in the abstract. A little winter might change my attitude.

Departure is VERY early tomorrow morning.

It’s All About Perspective

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

irvine-skyAs I type, it’s 53° at Bradley Airport back in Connecticut. It’s 60° at John Wayne Airport here in the OC. That’s about as close as Connecticut’s come since last fall!

People in Connecticut are probably outside commenting on how it’s warming up. I just complained to Helaine how chilly it is!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

People say your blood thins. No, that’s not what happens. Spend a winter here, you’re spoiled.

I actually feel cheated we are cloudy and chilly today. That didn’t take long.

I’m This Storm’s Spectator

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

prec

You will have to excuse me tonight but I’ve become obsessed with our upcoming weather. This is a first for me. My first real California ‘winter storm.’ I’m trying to gauge how pre-game coverage matches what really happens.

Viewers often accuse TV stations of hyping weather for ratings. I didn’t think we did, but this is an opportunity to watch as an outsider.

The late run of the GFS is VERY wet through the weekend. More rain than we’ve had in the last year!

For 28 years I lived in Connecticut. The hills there were more gentle than California’s steep slopes. These amplify rain’s effects. Most people are surprised to see the width of some of our washes (dry river beds). The mountains will fill those washes very quickly.

But, again, I haven’t experienced this first hand. Most of my SoCal weather knowledge is book learning and observing from afar.

Where there have been large fires, where brush hasn’t yet reestablished itself, expect landslides. Truly, insult added to injury. Haven’t these people had enough?

The vast majority of hills will remain intact. It’s just tough to say which ground is solid at any given moment.

I can’t imagine the big stuff will be widespread. We had around 800,000 without power in Connecticut after Hurricane Sandy. That seems very unlikely. Widespread outages of any number seem unlikely.

The main thrust of the first wave of rain is still offshore to the northwest of us. The GFS says .42″ at John Wayne in Santa Ana, with most centered around morning rush Thursday.

Round two gets here early Friday. For this the GFS says 3.349″ at Long Beach over 48 hours or so¹. That’s a huge amount of rain for this place to absorb. It won’t be absorbed gracefully or easily.

The good news is there are few basements to flood!

¹ – QPF, how much we’ll get, is the least accurate surface forecasters make. Giving it to the thousandth of an inch, as I did, is ridiculous.

Graphic courtesy coolwx.com

This Storm Is A Big Deal

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

sgx qpf map

I’m watching a PowerPoint presentation from the NWS San Diego office on the upcoming storm. One of their meteorologists, Brandt Maxwell, has just gone through an impact table and is beginning rainfall projections.

“You don’t see rainfall maps like this too often in Southern California.”

This storm is a big deal.

Those who report the news have dialed it up. It’s the biggest storm in years.

SoCal is a fragile flower as far as weather is concerned. We can’t take a lot. We’re not equipped.

We have roads that flood, hills that slide and boulders that tumble. Drainage, especially in older areas, is iffy. A house sized piece of mountain relocating itself to the middle of a highway isn’t uncommon here.

Traffic will slow to a crawl. Actually, it’s already done that. Traffic will just stop.

We live in amazing times. Everything needed to monitor and forecast the weather is at my desktop. I will do both for the next few days.

Rain Coming And Folks Are Excited

Monday, February 24th, 2014

gfs-bufkit

“It will be good for the state.” Those were Helaine’s words a few minutes ago. We were talking about the threat of rain in SoCal. We’ve had hardly any since last year’s rainy season–also a dud.

The image above is a screengrab from the afternoon GFS, using BUFKIT. If you want to know what kind of person I am, I find it fascinating. I like charts, graphs and numbers. They like me back!

I’m not going to be a whiner. Drought sounds and is bad. However, our infrastructure was designed knowing we get droughts. It needs much less than normal rain to work properly. No one is being forced to conserve.

We will finally end the fire season. That will be a relief to many. California has a tendency to burn.

Our first rain comes Wednesday evening. A cold front off a low hitting the California Coast near the Oregon border is the trigger. Not a lot. The GFS says around a quarter inch.

Meteorologists are lucky here. I’ve read and seen all sorts of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF). It’s our least accurate prediction. They’ll all be wrong, but unlike snow, no one will check up on them.

The rain (and snow) should be significantly heavier farther north, including the Sierra Mountains. They are our sponge! Snowfall in the mountains is slowly released through early summer. Much of what would run to the ocean now flows toward the Southland.

Water from the Sierras is California’s lifeline. It’s how we house people and grow crops in the desert! Like so many other spots in America, we have overcome nature to tame a place not naturally suited for any of what now happens on it.

The second wave of rain arrives Friday morning. The GFS shows three inch range, much more than this area can easily perc. Flooded intersections and slow traffic will follow. Thunderstorms, less frequent here than back east, are possible with heavy embedded downpours.

NEXRAD is pretty bad here. Too much topography. There are lots of holes using individual radars. This is one place where composites help.

During these storms our temperature will stay in the 60s.

Friday’s deluge will taper to showers then some scattered drizzle under cloudy skies through Sunday. People here are looking forward to this brief change. I will miss my friend, the blue sky.

I Agree. The Weather Is Nuts

Monday, February 17th, 2014

wtnh pkng lot snow

Bill Koczocik posted the photo above to Facebook. He didn’t say where, but I recognize the Channel 8 parking lot. Not much in that scene has changed over the last thirty years. Well, except that damn snow.

For those counting at home, Connecticut DOT’s plows have been on the road 19 separate times this season!

Over 29″ of snow at Bridgeport in February alone! Hartford’s at 23″.

Everything’s topsy turvy this season. The polar vortex event. Heavy snow this week in Northern Japan. Historic floods on the Thames and along the coast in Britain.

I look back and wonder how I operated in that? After all, before Connecticut I lived in Buffalo!

But you do.

You play the hand you’re dealt. Is there really a choice?

Like Paul Blart, Mall Cop

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

NEsf.fronts.20140214.07

At 11:15 PM PST/2:15 AM EST

Observe and report. Like Paul Blart, Mall Cop, I’m observing and reporting.

First stop, radar. It’s active. Snow, identifiable by radar only recently, is the only precipitation being seen at the moment. It’s moving west-to-east.

Meteorologists call the radar’s targets, hydrometeors. Cool name.

We can detect rain, snow, hail, sleet, whatever. If a radar beam can bounce off it, it’s tracked.

Most times the radar is amazing. Not always. I’ve seen storms develop in an unusually bright patch of ground clutter. Surprise! Where did that come from? A once every few year event.

All my observing tonight is on the College of DuPage weather website. They carry nearly every product with well chosen color tables. Highly recommended.

The surface map shows the low pulling east, leaving New England. There’s more moisture following and colder temperatures. The snow isn’t quite finished.

Before ending this morning that additional snow will cover the slushy wet mess already on-the-ground. Up to a half foot more will fall in scattered sections of the Litchfield Hills all the way to the UCONN campus. Most areas a few inches less. Even less on the shoreline and near 395.

But still, look what it’s covering!

Oh–and windy and much colder.

The amount of forecast and observational data available is immense. New tools arrive all the time. For nerds like me, this is heaven. Forecasting in pajamas!

I Feel Your Pain — Still

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

IMG_5154

“I love the four seasons,” said no one in the Northeast today. The weather sucks!

There’s already six inches to a foot on-the-ground in Connecticut.

With rain/sleet/freezing rain and then a turn back to snow, the pack will be wet, heavy and tough to clear.

I just traded texts with my niece Melissa in Milwaukee. She and husband Mark are supposed to fly Southwest to New York City tomorrow. Good luck.

New York City’s new mayor is in snow denial mode. Another attempt to blame the weatherman. It’s bipartisan. Everybody does it!

The mayor and Al Roker battled it out on Twitter this morning. Winter will do that to you. Everyone gets testy.

Southwest hasn’t cancelled flights for tomorrow yet. They will!

Will Melissa’s plane even make it to Milwaukee tonight so it’s available for a 6:05 AM departure? Will the crew have enough rest hours? How crazy will our nation’s air traffic system be?

I’m not sure what to do on a day like today? It’s 75° and partly cloudy at John Wayne Airport. Out my window, totally blue skies. Should I just keep my mouth shut and hide?

I totally understand what folks in the Northeast are going through. It might seem like I’m rubbing it in. I’m not. My dues are paid-in-full.

Usually by mid-February, winter had gotten the best of me. And yet I knew there was more snow to come. There was nothing to do but grin and bear it and plan my escape.

More snow Saturday. Post photos. That’s as close as I’m getting.

Some Weather Forecasting Inside Baseball

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Courtesy: www.coolwx.comA little ‘inside baseball’ on weather forecasting. The graphs on the left (Courtesy: coolwx.com – click the image for a better look) show Wednesday’s weather in New Haven as forecast over time by various computer models.

The ‘ptype’ forecast has been all over the place. What’s it gonna be? The guidance has waffled between snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Even if I got it right on the last forecast, it was little consolation to those who’d watched earlier. That made me very unhappy. Sometimes there’s no choice but to change the forecast. You can’t feel married to it.

I traded tweets with a former co-worker this week who shares my angst. It really made storm nights, hell.

Most people don’t realize the most important part of the forecast is, impact. There are fewer potential impacts than storm parameters.

If the timing is right… if the road hazards/conditions are right… if the school situation is properly handled, then how much snow falls or whether it’s a freezing sleety mix don’t matter as much.

But it killed me every storm. There was never a forecast I was really happy with. Not one.

When In Doubt, Blame The Weatherman… Again

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

georgia snow

When in doubt, blame the weatherman! Maybe there was a time that worked. It doesn’t anymore. The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, understands that better today than yesterday.

Tuesday at 10:00 AM, as a crippling snow and ice storm was moving through the south, Governor Deal said,

“At that time it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any, and that the majority of the effects of the storm would be south of here. Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Except those weren’t the predictions.

Here’s a segment of the NWS Area Forecast Discussion from Tuesday at 4:11 AM:

IN MAIN BAND FOR THE AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT…HAVE SNOW/SLEET AMOUNTS OF 1-3 INCLUDING ATL METRO. GREATEST AMOUNT ALONG A BROAD LINE FROM LA GRANGE TO THOMASTON TO LOUISVILLE. BUT SOUTH OF LUMPKIN TO MACON TO SWAINSBORO LINE…ACCUM WILL BE 0.1-0.3 INCH MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WITH UP TO AN INCH OF LIGHT SNOW ON TOP. ALL THESE ACCUMULATION… OTHER THAN THE NW GA LIGHT BAND…WILL MEET WARNING CRITERIA SO HAVE CONTINUED WARNING AND EXPANDED THIS TO ANOTHER TIER OF COUNTIES INCLUDING ATL METRO AREA.

FINAL NOTE…WE REMAIN CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT WITH ONSET OF PRECIP AROUND RUSH HOUR AND SCHOOL RELEASE.

The governor has now been taken to task by pretty much everyone who knows the definition of the isobar!

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

“The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus,” he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said. – USAToday

This reminds me of Connecticut’s Halloween snowstorm of 2011. You remember Jeff Butler, the president of CL&P.

“But I will assure you, when we had the weather forecast and everything we looked at in preparation for this storm, the amount of snow, which ended up being the problem, was far more significant than what had been forecast,” he said.”This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer, with more snow accumulation–and remember, all the trees still had their foliage on them.” Butler’s comments stood in stark contrast to the dire warnings issued by local television meteorologists and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday, more than 24 hours before the first flakes fell. “If we get the amount of snow that’s being forecast, a lot of people are going to lose power, and power is going to be out for an extended period of time,” Malloy told reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building late Friday morning. – Hartford Courant

I don’t think so. Here’s what I wrote in my blog a few days before that storm hit.

Whatever falls will be heavier inch-for-inch than a typical storm. The snow to water ratio will be low. It’s the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs and extra slippery for drivers!

There’s one more element of this storm which is worrisome. Sustained 20-30 mph northeasterly wind with higher gusts is likely. If this wet snow clings to trees and leaves we’ll have enough wind to bring down limbs and power lines. – My Permanent Record

I wasn’t alone. NBC30′s Ryan Hanrahan’s early take:

“One of the reasons I’m unusually concerned about this storm is that the amount of leaves on the trees make them particularly vulnerable to damage. If the snow is of the heavy and wet variety we could have major and widespread power outages. We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of this type of storm this early in the season.” – Ryan Hanrahan

This same excuse was trotted out after Hurricane Sandy left Long Island powerless! Are we that easy a target?

What happened in Georgia is truly a tragedy. It would have been nice to get a really long lead on this forecast, but sometimes science doesn’t cooperate. However, once the forecast is there you can’t stick your head in the sand and you can’t blame the weatherman.

Well, you can, but we’ll call you on it in a hurry.