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“Ernesto” To Become A Hurricane (posing some risk to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, possibly south Texas late week)

5 Aug 2012, 7:17 am

Hurricane Ernesto? Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, landing a direct hit on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. More details below.

Sunday PM Weather Map. High pressure settling across the Midwest and Central Plains will insure comfortable sunshine, while the leading edge of this (much) cooler, Canadian air sparks strong to severe storms from the Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic states. WRF model valid at 4 pm above courtesy of NOAA.

Severe Sunday. SPC is predicting another severe storm outbreak from New England to D.C. – west to Louisville and Little Rock, along the leading edge of Canadian relief

 

Serious Tree Damage. Thanks to KARE-11 for passing on this photo of some of the tree damage in the Red Wing area, reports of numerous 100-year old trees knocked over by Friday night’s severe storms – winds estimated at 70 mph.

NOAA Drought Outlook. This isn’t the weekly Drought Monitor, but rather a prediction of where drought is expected to expand or contract. The worst drought since 1956 is forecast to push into North Dakota and eastern Montana (as well as much of Texas), but some improvement is likely over the southeast and Arizona, courtesy of a persistent “monsoon” flow of moisture. NOAA’s latest Drought Outlook is here.

Hot Weather Factoids:

Friday 110+ F. weather for three straight days at Oklahoma City? This is only the second time in recorded history this has happened – the last year: 1936.
Friday: 24 days at or above 95 F. in Washington D.C. Most to date on record.
Friday: 39th straight day of 80+ highs in the Twin Cities, second longest 80+ stretch on record.
24 days of 90+ at Denver as of Frrday, tying the longest streak on record.
32 days so far in 2012 with 90+ highs at Cincinnati. 30-year average is 21 days/year.

* thanks to WeatherNation meteorologist D.J. Kayser for tracking down these (remarkable) numbers.

A Tale Of Two Summers. Moisture trends above average this week east of the Mississippi, with some 2-4″ rainfall amounts predicted by NOAA HPC for the southeastern states, relatively dry weather for the western half of the USA.

Dozens Of Homes Destroyed In Oklahoma Wildfires. A withering drought is producing ripe conditions for major fires – NBC News has the story (and video): “At least 121 structures, many of them homes, have been destroyed by wildfires in Oklahoma, officials said Saturday as temperatures topped 100 degrees for a 19th straight day. New evacuations were under way Saturday as well: Included were the entire towns of Glencoe, population of around 600, and Mannford, population about 3,000, and surrounding areas. Thousands were on the move as a fire spread quickly in Creek County, 20 miles west of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported. Gusty winds were expected in the area on Saturday evening.”

Pyrocumulus. Here’s a spectacular example of “pyrocumulus”, updrafts from wildfires providing enough lift for cumulus formation over Slagherville, Oklahoma. Pic courtesy of @southshorechick.

Don’t Write Summer Off Just Yet. You may need a light jacket or sweatshirt this morning, and there’s little doubt our weather is transitioning into more of a “progressive” pattern, meaning more frequent changes, with intrusions of cooler Canadian air coming with slightly greater frequency and intensity. The heat-pump high pressure bubble that has been nearly stationary over the Central Plains and Ohio Valley since late June is weakening, and migrating westward, allowing the flood gates to open up, pushing cooler fronts farther south, from the Upper Midwest into New England. That could also mean more frequent rains for the Corn Belt, but over the Plains the damage has already been done; wilted crops are past the point of no return, many farmers plowing under their (stunted) crops. The map above shows NOAA’s “NAEFS” long-range model for August 12-18.

 

Latest On Ernesto. Packing 60 mph. sustained winds, Ernesto is a moderate to strong tropical storm. In spite of weak wind shear aloft conditions are ripe for additional strengthening – Ernesto forecast to hit near Punta Grueasa, Mexico on Wednesday, packing winds of 84 mph. The brunt of the storm is forecast to pass south of Cancun and Cozumel. NHC models bring Hurricane Ernesto into the southern Gulf of Mexico later this week, a possible threat to far southern Texas by late week. Maps above courtesy of NHC and Ham Weather.

Threat Of Hurricanes Looms Over RNC Convention. No, it couldn’t possibly happen, right? The odds are small, but not zero, as reported by Fox News Latino; here’s an excerpt: “The Republican National Convention is scheduled for late August, prime time in the Atlantic’s dicey hurricane season. Though planners are banking on years of data that a major storm won’t hit, they also have laid out worse-case scenarios that include canceling if it’s clear the 70,000 expected delegates, officials, journalists and protesters would be in harm’s way. Tampa is one of the places in the region most vulnerable to storm surge. In a major hurricane, floodwaters could reach some 3 miles inland — Tampa is on a bay, not directly on the Gulf of Mexico — and storm surge could reach as much as 17 feet. The Tampa Bay Times Forum, the convention’s home, is in an area that would be required to evacuate if winds exceeded 96 mph.”

“Ask Paul” Weather-related Q&A:

What was the winter like in the Twin Cities after that hot summer in 1988?

Thanks Paul, 

Ginger Knaff, West St. Paul, MN

Ginger – it’s tempting to go back in time to a similar (blazing) summer for clues about what we can expect this upcoming winter. After 44 days at or above 90 during the steamy summer of 1988, we had an old fashioned fall and winter in the Twin Cities; 15.8″ snow in November – a total of 70.1″ for the entire winter. It would be (too) simplistic to say we’re in for a tough winter this time around. One big mitigating factor: El Nino. NOAA is predicting an El Nino winter, which correlates with milder winters for Minnesota (with less snow overall). One thing I’ve learned the hard way: don’t buck the trends. We’ve had 14 months/row of warmer than average temperatures, and if I had to gamble and make a long-range (winter) prediction I’d go with a continuation of milder than normal, with more sporadic snowfall (based on El Nino). Lately it seems maybe 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 winters is an old-fashioned (butt-kicking) winter with bitter temperatures and excessive snowfall. Personally, I hope we see more than the meager 22″ that fell last winter, but I’m not (yet) convinced we’re going to see a 70″ snowfall this winter. Somewhere between 23″ and 70″ would be my guestimate. How’s that for vague?

* 3 month outlook from NOAA’s CPC (Climate Prediction Center) shows a lingering warm bias east of the Rockies from August through October. Beyond that, place your bets. Good luck.

 

Dog Days of August. That’s our 1 year old spaniel, Leo, helping me in the kayak – his first time out on the water.

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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 startribune.com/weather And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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