All Weather News

Severe Threat Mid Atlantic (2012: so far the most extreme year in U.S. history)

10 Aug 2012, 6:30 am

78.14% of the USA is described as “abnormally dry”.
24.14% of America is in extreme or exceptional drought, nearly a quarter of the Lower 48 States.
16.18% of Minnesota in severe drought, down slightly from 16.25% last week.
69.14% of Iowa in extreme drought, up from 30.74% last week.

Photo credit above: “Buchanan County, Mo., employees Ron Martin prepares to go back out onto Lake Contrary Thursday afternoon Aug. 9, 2012, in his jon boat to pick up more dead fish while Shane Hartman tosses what he collected into a front end loader. Low water levels and extreme heat caused a sizable fish kill in the Oxbow lake that the Missouri Department of Conservation estimates to be about 20,000 mostly invasive Asian Carp.” (AP Photo/The St. Joseph News-Press, Eric Keith)

46% record high CEI Index (Climate Extreme Index) for 2012, to date, surpassing the previous record of 42% in 1934. Details from NOAA NCDC below. Photo: WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

El Nino conditions “likely to develop during August or September 2012”, according to NOAA. Details below.

Nearly half of the nation’s corn crop is in poor or very poor condition, as well as a third of soybeans. The damage would be much worse without the crop science advancements of the last 40 years, said Andrew Wood, a professor of plant physiology and molecular biology at Southern Illinois University.” – from a Washington Post article, details below. Photo credit: Nati Harnik, AP.

Thursday Waterspouts In Duluth. Check out the remarkable photos of the waterspout that formed over Lake Superior, just off the shoreline of Duluth. Photo upper left courtesy of Vana Leslee Photography (via WDIO). Photo upper left from Alissa Glickstein. Nicely done.

A Sprawling Heat. Although the Upper Midwest has seen significant relief, much of America continues to sizzle: 1,320 warm weather records since August 2, according to NOAA. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

A Sprawling Drought. An estimated 62.46% of the USA is in moderate drought (or worse). The worst conditions can be found from southern Indiana westward through Missouri and Arkansas into Kansas and Oklahoma, pockets of exceptional drought as far south as Georgia. More details from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought Animation. You can see the progression of the Great Drought of ’12 since May 22 in this animation. The darker the red: the more severe the drought – thought to be the worst since 1956, possibly 1936.

Iowa Farmers Are In Trouble. At first I thought it was a typo – I had to go back and check it again. The percentage of Iowa in extreme drought jumped from 30.74% last week to 69.14% this week, a nearly 40% jump. I’ve never seen that before. Details here.

Evolution Of Drought. The steady spread of drought conditions since May 29 has been striking; more details from NOAA: “The latest drought monitor is now available in the region. Once again, extreme drought continues over much of Kansas and Missouri. However, portions of the area have now been upgraded to the highest level of drought, “exceptional”. The drought monitor does not include impacts of rainfall from last night, but given the scattered nature of rain, the improvements would be minimal. Since the beginning of the drought monitor in 1999, this is the first “exceptional” drought status in western Missouri.”

Severe Losses For Reinsurers From U.S. Drought: Munich Re. has the details; here’s an excerpt: “The recent dry weather affecting crops across the midwest of America will hit the reinsurance industry with perhaps the biggest loss ever, according to Nikolaus von Bomhard, Chairman at Munich Re. “We do think it will be severe and probably one of the severest losses for this market ever,” he told CNBC Wednesday. “It’s too early to tell what the exact claim will be because we have to wait until the harvest is done.”  The prolonged hot spell is said to be the worst in five decades and has damaged corn production across 26 U.S. states.

Photo credit above: “A dry field of corn is seen near Ashland, Neb., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The latest U.S. drought map shows that excessively dry conditions continue to worsen in the Midwest states that are key producers of corn and soybeans. This is the worst U.S. drought in decades. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday, Aug. 9. 2012 shows that the area gripped by extreme or exceptional drought rose nearly 2 percent to 24.14 percent.” (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

2012: Most Climate Extremes On Record. Here’s an explanation from NOAA: “The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was a record large 46 percent during the January – July period, over twice the average value, and surpassing the previous record large CEI of 42 percent, which occurred in 1934. Extremes in warm daytime temperatures (83 percent) and warm nighttime temperatures (74 percent) both covered record large areas of the nation, contributing to the record high year-to-date USCEI value.” Graph courtesy of NOAA NCDC.

Friday Severe Threat. A stalled frontal boundary becomes a focal point for severe storms later today from New York and Albany to D.C. and Raleigh. Flying east? You may encounter delays. Map courtesy of NOAA SPC.

Slow-Motion Weather Map. The WRF model shows a slow-moving cool frontal boundary stalling over the eastern seaboard by Saturday, compounding rainfall amounts from the Mid Atlantic region to the Florida Panhandle. High pressure treats the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest to comfortable sun. The Great Lakes will see frequent showers and T-storms, mainly dry weather west of the Rockies. Upper left: today at 4 pm. Upper right: Saturday at 4 pm.

First Hints Of Autumn. Remarkable news: we may enjoy a spell of cooler, wetter than normal weather as we sail into mid-August in the upper Midwest. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center 6-10 Day Outlook shows a cool, wet bias for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest – more relentless heat for the southern half of America. Map: Ham Weather.

NOAA: “El Nino Conditions Likely To Develop During August Or September 2012”. More details from NOAA NCEP: “ENSO-neutral conditions continued during July 2012, despite above-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across the eastern Pacific Ocean. Reflecting this warmth, most of the weekly Nino index values remained near or greater than +.5 C. The oceanic heat content anomalies (average temperatures in the upper 300 meters of the ocean) also remained elevated during the month, consistent with a large region of above-average temperatures at depth across the equatorial Pacific. Althugh sub-surface and surface temperatures were above average, many aspects of the tropical atmosphere were inconsistent with El Nino conditions.”

Graphic credit above: “Average sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (C) for the week centered on 1 August, 2012. Anomalies are computed with respect to the 1981-2010 base period weekly means.”

NOAA Raises Hurricane Season Prediction Despite Expected El Nino. The forecast calls for El Nino by autumn (see above). El Nino patterns usually imply stronger winds over the tropics – conditions not favorable for hurricane development (those winds tend to shred developing tropical storms and prevent them from reaching their peak potential). In spite of this, NOAA NHC is predicting a higher than average number of tropical systems: “This year’s Atlantic hurricane season got off to a busy start, with 6 named storms to date, and may have a busy second half, according to the updated hurricane season outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The updated outlook still indicates a 50 percent chance of a near-normal season, but increases the chance of an above-normal season to 35 percent and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only 15 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the season – June 1 to November 30 – NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects a total (which includes the activity-to-date of tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, Florence and hurricanes Chris and Ernesto) of:

  • 12 to 17 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 5 to 8 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 2 to 3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

Photo credit above: “Satellite image of Hurricane Ernesto taken on Aug. 7, 2012 in the Gulf of Mexico.” (Credit: NOAA)

Haboob! I still have trouble talking about haboobs without chuckling. Sorry. I know, infantile. One of many personal defects. Thanks to Mike Olbinski, who shot this advancing wall of dust and sand outside Phoenix. Amazing.

Get Flood Insurance Before You Need It. Are you in a flood zone? When was the last time you checked? Here’s an excerpt of an important article from Reuters: “The best time to get protection against a flood is before it happens. That means if you keep anything in a basement or live on the ground floor, it’s important to have flood insurance. Floods are the most common natural disaster and they can cause significant damage. Buying flood insurance is always a good idea but in some cases it’s also mandatory. It’s important to understand how and when to buy flood insurance so that you’re prepared before disaster strikes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the National Flood Insurance Program which is generally a good place to start. Under federal law, homes with a federally regulated mortgage must have flood insurance if located within a Special Flood Hazard Area. Even if your home is not within a SFHA, banks may require that you have flood insurance before approving a mortgage.” Photo credit: NOAA.

Photo Of The Day. Art Fightmaster captured a photo of a sunlit shelf cloud in Gardnersville, Kentucky Thursday. Photo courtesy of WeatherNation TV.

Flames From Above. Photo courtesy of Wyoming’s Bureau of Land Management: “Yesterday, firefighters were able to mop-up the perimeter of the Sheep Park Wildfire south of Jeffrey City. The fire burned 528 acres and is approximately 90% contained.


Weather Services International Acquires Weather Central. This may be inside baseball, but WSI (owned by The Weather Channel) and Weather Central create the weather graphics systems that 90% of America’s TV stations and networks use for weather visualization. Full disclosure: a previous company of mine, “EarthWatch Communications”, was acquired by a local company, Kavouras, back in 1997, which went on to license 3-D weather technology to Weather Central, which is about to be owned by WSI, which is owned by The Weather Channel. Confused? Me too. Not sure how this will impact the TV weather graphics landscape, but I’m keeping an open mind. Details from Madison-based Weather Central: “Weather Services International (WSI) today announced an agreement to acquire Weather Central, a Madison, WI based global provider of interactive weather technology, graphics and data services for professional, media, and consumers delivered to television, web and mobile screens. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “The acquisition of Weather Central enables us to immediately expand the range of products we offer to each company’s business clients in television, wind energy, insurance and retail, as well as increase the speed at which we can develop new innovations,” said Mark Gildersleeve, president of WSI. “Our goal is to make the best products available to our collective customer base. Every broadcast customer, for example, will gain access to new tropical data, radar data, forecast models, and severe weather tracking tools within the first thirty days at no charge. In addition, we are offering a wider suite of products in the interactivity, social, news, traffic, web, mobile and video categories.

How To Make Your Lost Phone Findable. The New York Time’s David Pogue had quite an adventure last week; he lost his phone, and using Twitter (and local police) was able to track it down. But it got him thinking; what technology or apps can I utilize to find my phone, if and when it gets lost again? Here’s an excerpt from his column at The New York Times: “Last week, I lost my iPhone on a train. I used Apple’s Find My iPhone feature to track it to a house in suburban Maryland, and the local police were able to return it to me. Because I’d tweeted about these developments, the quest for the phone became, much to my surprise, an Internet-wide, minute-by-minute real-life thriller. (You can read the whole story here.) Several readers wrote to ask how to set up their own phones to be findable. As you’d guess, given last week’s experience, I have some strong feelings about the importance of setting up Find My iPhone or the equivalent on Android phones.”



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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