Crazy Weather — Last Minute Changes


The Palm Springs area is known for it’s beautiful weather, especially now during ‘the season.’ For most, today was no exception. For some it was nuts!

I planned on showing a telescopic image of last night’s asteroid fly-by. It’s cool show-and-tell. I got to do that at five, but it was quickly pushed off my agenda.

My forecast yesterday called for moderate to strong winds this afternoon. By 4:30 police had closed Gene Autry Trail in Palm Springs because of reduced visibility in blowing sand! I quickly worked up a graphic showing the gusts tonight.

As we went to air (and the road reopened) I got a photo of what looked like a funnel cloud. I hurriedly pushed that into my TriCaster and aired it a few minutes later.

It was probably a landspout. Conventional tornadoes come from mature storm cells. Landspouts are weak tornadoes that form early as storms are building.

This evening I got the video you see at the bottom of this entry. It’s the landspout near Desert Center (population around 150), a rural community surrounded by sandy wilderness. I showed it briefly at 9:00 and will feature it again at 11:00.

The landspout was unexpected, unforecast and unseen by Doppler radar! Luckily, It did no harm. It made for great TV.

Rain For SoCal, Again

Once again we’re right on the 3-hour flash flood line. I expect some flooding. Homes in burn areas will be threatened by mudslides. A few inches of rain probable through this region.


Helaine saw the hashtag #stormageddon touted on TV a few minutes ago. SoCal is bracing… again. Is there some weird secret competition with the East on weather?

“Yeah… well… rain!”

Actually this storm looks very un-SoCalish. The radar from Vandenberg AFB shows a squall line out front. The HRRR agrees. The squalls remain intact as the line slides down the coast. Embedded thunderstorms are entirely possible.

We’ll have rain most of the day Friday though the bulk falls between 4-7 AM. We’re right on the 3-hour flash flood line, again. I expect some flooding. Homes in burn areas will be threatened by mudslides. A few inches of rain probable through this region.

wind15min_t410m_f0945The heaviest wind comes with the heaviest of the rain. Winds will gust out of the south. The wind map to the left highlights the higher ground where winds will be strongest.

If there’s snow for our two nearby tall peaks it will happen late in the storm. My second winter and no white so far.

Father north, San Francisco proper has gotten 2-4″ of rain with some windward mountainsides getting over 7″.

So far, this is the awful winter everyone was praying for!

Is It Ever Not Perfect Out?


I’m not going to lie. It’s January 14th. It’s sunny. It’s 87&#176!

Are you kidding me? We’ve already blown through the forecast high.

I have one of my office windows open. There’s a cool breeze. No need for a/c.

It doesn’t seem logical. 87&#176 and a cool breeze simultaneously.

This is where the dew point comes in, it’s 4&#176. The relative humidity is 4%. Exceptionally dry.

The dry breeze evaporates moisture on your skin, which cools you and makes this temperature very comfortable.

Yes, this weather is unusual. 81&#176 was today’s record at John Wayne Airport. It’s been smashed.

There are serious implications from our dry weather. Most of California is already water challenged. And, of course, fire danger is high at a time of year fire season should be done.

BuzzFeed’s home page currently has an entry titled: “19 Questions New Yorkers Ask When Visiting Los Angeles” Number 18: Is it ever not perfect out?

So far, no.

Everything But Snow

Wednesday will be a stormy day in Connecticut. This is a big systems and it will be tossing its weight around!

As I type this (Tuesday at 4:00 PM) there are three Tornado Watch areas, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, scattered Winter Storm Warnings and all sorts of flood and wind warnings from this singular system. Most of what’s up in Connecticut today (Tuesday) has been issued in anticipation of tomorrow.

Not so fast Litchfield County.

Light rain starts later tonight statewide. In the Litchfield Hills there’s a chance some of that rain will fall as a liquid, but freeze on contact. There’s a Freezing Rain Advisory for Litchfield, but only until 10:00 PM. That’s because this storm is packed with advection!

ad·vec·tion (d-vkshn) n. The transfer of a property of the atmosphere, such as heat, cold, or humidity, by the horizontal movement of an air mass.

There will be enough warmer air headed our way that temperatures will rise through the night. That’s why the advisory expires at 10:00 PM.

By midday Wednesday the intensity of the rain picks up. Thunderstorms seem probable.

From my trips outside with Doppler I can assure you the ground is frozen or close to it. Little of this rain will ‘perc.’ Flooding from runoff is likely, especially near small brooks and streams and on low lying roads.

By Wednesday evening the wind begins to pick up. Winds of 15-30 mph with higher gusts are likely. Scattered limbs and power lines will fall.

Windblown rain: No fun!

The rain ends Thursday morning, but not before we get a lot–probably an inch or two. Meanwhile, the wind will continue to howl and the mercury will plunge.

On one of my forecasting charts the graph for temperature resembles the climb to the first hill on a roller coaster. Steady up, then a plunge down! We’ll hit Thursday’s high temperature at midnight then tumble for most of the next 48 hours. Low 50s Wednesday, but 20s and low 30s for the high Friday!

The funny thing is, this late January storm will bring everything but snow.

Maybe not funny. Quirky?

There are chances for light snow Saturday and Monday nights. Let’s get through tomorrow first.

When Rotten Weather Makes Me Happy

It’s just a shame we need a state full of minor to moderate flooding with tree limbs and power lines down to make people happy with my work!

A few days ago one of my co-workers commented on the now fallen then expected precipitation and said, “We really need the rain.” I asked her to be careful what she wished for!

For me today’s storm (the second half of a system that spanned two days with a sizable lull in the middle) was very much like a snowstorm. I came to that conclusion around 3:00 AM when I checked the radar to find the rain already a few hours west of where I said it would be. Obsessive radar gazing is a winter tic for me.

Like a winter storm a good part of the overnight was also spent rechecking computer guidance. There are more models run more often nowadays. It’s a second guesser’s paradise!

I’m not sure why I do it. There’s little upside. Mostly it’s just a way to increase my anguish while alone of the sofa in our darkened family room.

What am I supposed to do? If I find things have changed do I give everyone a call? It’s a pointless exercise I can’t shake.

When I went to sleep around 5:10 AM my driveway was still dry. My next conscious thought came a few hours later. The wind woke me! No rain was falling yet, but we were in the middle of a howling gale.

I apologize. Even though I knew it would adversely affect lots of people there was satisfaction the forecast was beginning to verify. Then came the rain–buckets of rain. A little late, but as forecast&#185

As a forecaster I see weather before it happens. The actual numbers aren’t as important as being able to paint a picture from my pre-visualization. Viewers should be left with an actionable understanding.

The forecast is never 100% accurate–never. There is always some parameter (mostly small, sometimes not) that doesn’t play out.

It’s just a shame we need a state full of minor to moderate flooding with tree limbs and power lines down to make people happy with my work!

&#185 – “As forecast” are the two most important words I can hear.

Leave No Storm Unhyped

I’m not trying to split hairs here, but Doppler functions from the Weather Service Upton, NY radar can’t get close to the ground in Brooklyn/Queens/Staten Island!

Any time I want to get upset I take a look at Drudge. No disappointment today!

“109 mph Winds Rip Through NYC…”

I hadn’t heard that number so I clicked the link and ended up on AccuWeather‘s site. Their headline reads:

“109 mph Winds Rip Through NYC. NWS Investigating Possible Tornado”

The story by AccuWeather meteorologist Meghan Evans was factual and straight to the point until she said,

Radar indicates that winds topping 109 mph tore through parts of the city.

Oh. Sorry Meghan, that doesn’t count!

I’m not trying to split hairs here, but Doppler functions from the Weather Service Upton, NY radar can’t get close to the ground in Brooklyn/Queens/Staten Island! The NEXRAD radar scans at many different elevation angles. Even the very lowest (.5&#176) is a few thousand feet up by the time it makes the approximately 60 mile trek across Long Island.

Low level winds are effected by friction with objects on the ground. At a few thousand feet that effect is greatly diminished. What the radar shows is often different than what’s happening on the ground.

I’m not saying there wasn’t a 109 mph wind yesterday on the streets of New York City. However, if that wind was there it wouldn’t be seen on NEXRAD!

There’s no doubt yesterday’s weather in New York City was scary and damaging. Is it necessary to quantify it in this less than scientifically sound way?