They Love The Rain


There are some things I’m just going to have to get used to. I have never seen so many people happy about a rainy day! Really, people are ecstatic.

We didn’t get much. The rain started falling before dawn and was gone around 3:00 PM. Most areas got between an eighth and quarter inch–aka, very little. However, in a place that’s only gotten around two inches total since January 2014, even an eighth inch is a notable achievement.

For the next few weeks there will be a little green on the mountainsides. Desert flowers will quickly bloom, then die away.

It’s likely there’ll be no more rain until late fall. Climatically that’s the way it works.

Recent forecasts, first from the Aussies and now from the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, says a strong El Nino is building. If true, next winter in SoCal should be wet. We can really use it.

I wonder how many rain days we need before desert residents stop finding it cool? I’ll report back.

Sometimes I Hate Knowing The Future

Meanwhile, as a forecaster (even if I do it just for fun right now) it’s sad to see tragedy unfold in slow motion. I didn’t know exactly where the flooding would be, but what we’ve seen the past few days was expected.

Deserts flood often.

phoenix flooding

Hurricane Norbert is a weird duck. It was a powerful hurricane. Then kryptonite. Cool water! Norbert deflated like a balloon.


norbertMonday at 2:00 AM the Hurricane Center washed its hands. Norbert had ceased to exist.

Except, of course, nothing ceases to exist. It just shape shifts a little, takes on another form.

Norbert is now a flooding rainstorm. I was scared this was going to happen.

On Saturday I wrote:

This could result in heavy rains and life-threatening flash flooding in these areas during the next few days.

COD Meteorology    NEXRAD Single Site Radar DataThe Mexican state of Sonora and extreme southern California and Arizona seem most susceptible.

I underestimated the scope. Phoenix broke it’s record for single day rainfall. There was more flooding farther north.

Meanwhile, as a forecaster (even if I do it just for fun right now) it’s sad to see tragedy unfold in slow motion. I didn’t know exactly where the flooding would be, but what we’ve seen the past few days was expected.

Deserts flood often. Their sparse rain comes in a very few intense storms. Water rises very quickly especially where there are steep mountains–as there are in the Southwest.

By the point my colleagues and I knew what was about to happen it was too late. Beside that our forecasts weren’t specific enough. Weather forecasting isn’t yet at the point where we can zero on a specific flood basin more than a few hours in advance.

Some Weather Forecasting Inside Baseball

Courtesy: www.coolwx.comA little ‘inside baseball’ on weather forecasting. The graphs on the left (Courtesy: – 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.

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face


There’s an old adage that seems apropos today:

“Cutting off the nose to spite the face” is an expression used to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem: “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” is a warning against acting out of pique, or against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more than the object of one’s anger. – Wikipedia

This has to do with the latest sequester threat. Understand, it comes from Dan Sobien, the president of the union representing National Weather Service employees, so there’s a good chance he’s painting a gloomier picture to bolster his case.

Sobien says cutbacks to the National Weather Service might eliminate some of the weather balloon launches which happen twice a day around-the-world. These observations of the upper atmosphere help seed weather forecast models. Even the lauded European model uses our balloon observations.

This is crazy. Is this what we really want, a return to the significantly less reliable forecasts of decades ago?

We’ve had storms not show. Forecasting isn’t perfect (heaven knows). But when was the last time you were surprised by snow, like the Blizzard of ’78?

I can’t remember the last time!

Who in their right minds slashes a budget indiscriminately, as the sequester’s terms specify?

Bad weather forecasts cost money. Being able to plan and redeploy resources because of anticipated weather is a luxury business has today for the first time in history!

Is there fat at the Weather Service? Undoubtedly. Weather Service employee schedules are environmentally agnostic. As I understand it, there are as many employees scheduled for fair weather as foul in most offices . That seems foolishly inflexible&#185.

The whole concept of a sequester is pretty foolish. We elect representatives to govern, not punt. I am flabbergasted.

&#185 – I am not sure about this paragraph and welcome a correction if warranted.

Ask Me Anything–A Few Weather Questions

How has weather casting changed since you came to WTNH?

I’m currently answering all your questions. Read more about it here.

Jim writes,”How has weather casting changed since you came to WTNH?”

Immensely! Computers are the difference in two ways.

First, faster computers and better data networks have enabled better computer modeling. The forecasts I make now are light years ahead of what I did when I got here.

We have an eight day forecast and even though I admit eight days might be pushing it, back in the beginning there was no way to even attempt it!

Second, better computer graphics. We can show you things visually to help make our point. These computer systems are renderless, meaning as soon as we have data we can display it on-air. Sometimes the data changes while we’re on-air, so what I saw when I ran through my sequence is now different.


David asks, “Do you keep in touch with Bob Tirado?”

No. I have no clue where he is or what he’s doing.

Keith is wondering, “Why News 8 didn’t have a little fishing report in the weather forecast. There are lots of fisherman not just boaters and it would be helpful. Do you think you would be able to relate a fishing report in with your weather?”

Keith this is a shortcoming of broadcasting. It’s tough for us to spend time on things that are unimportant to the vast majority of viewers. Only a tiny sliver of our viewers would care. The rest would be running to the exits.

This is a place where the Internet with its limitless capacity might serve us well. I’ll think about it seriously.

From Bud, who has a webtv email address! “Geoff – I’ve always been under the impression that wind doesn’t affect the reading on a thermometer. On tonights forecast you said that the wind coming on shore from the south will make the temp there about 5 degrees cooler.”

Bud, first congrats on hanging in there with webtv. I seriously hadn’t thought of that service in years.

You are correct. The wind doesn’t affect the reading. It’s where the wind takes the air–over the cool water of Long Island Sound.

During the winter the water is warmer than the land and the opposite takes place.