All Weather News

Severe Risk Much of East Coast (last subzero smack of winter pushing into Upper Midwest)

30 Jan 2013, 7:55 am
Weather Relativity
It doesn’t take much to please a Minnesotan, at least when it comes to weather. “The forecast calls for freezing!” Just about anywhere else on the planet, except for Fairbanks or Novosibirsk, such a prediction would trigger a wave of cold weather angst.
“Dig out the parkas, set out space heaters, weatherize the cat!”
But here? After a spell of subzero-burn, 32 F. feels like a relief, a bad Club Med Vacation. 30s – above zero? I’ve seen neighbors in t-shirts, grilling in shorts.
Only in Minnesota.
Now comes a second wave of bitter; not quite as numbing as last week, but cold enough to get you trolling Expedia or kayak.com.
Last week: 5 consecutive nights below zero, one daytime subzero “high”. This week: 2 nights below zero; Thursday highs hover just above zero, but the wind makes it feel like -20 F. Crisp.
A thaw is possible on Sunday, likely late next week. Right now I don’t see any subzero lows in February. Hey, that’s progress.
America’s weather is more baffling than usual: 60F & severe storms as far north as Chicago, record-setting 70s for the central Plains, soaking rains pushing into the east coast.
On the weather blog below: a correlation between weather and migraines?
* photo above courtesy of Hot Tub Cover Pros. Great picture (and no Photoshop involved, I’m told).


Doesn’t Look Like Late January. A risk of severe thunderstorms as far north as Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia? I don’t remember that happening recently. The same powerful storm responsible for tornadoes over the Middle Mississippi Valley yesterday will spark more severe storms, high winds and large hail later today – although the risk of tornadoes should diminish. Map: SPC and Ham Weather.

 

Snowfall By Friday Night. The NAM model shows a stripe of 3-6″ from central and eastern Iowa into southern and eastern Wisconsin, maybe 5″ for Madison and Green Bay. So close. Lake effect may dump another cool foot on the U.P. of Michigan (best snow can be found here), but precious little new snow is predicted for most of Minnesota, looking out 1-2 weeks. Nothing new there.

Extended Outlook: February 6-12. NOAA’s experimental NAEFS temperature trends show warmer than average conditions over much of the USA for the second week of February as bitter air finally retreats into northern Canada. The worst of the chill should be history by Saturday. Spread the news.

The Silver Lining In Drought: 5 Upsides To Rain-Free Weather. O.K. I’m a glass-half-full guy, but I’m not sure this one passes the smell test. Try explaining this to a farmer in Worthington or someone with lakeshore (in theory) on White Bear Lake, or towns in southwestern Minnesota where aquifers continue to recede, threatening agriculture and drinking water. But in the spirit of full disclosure here’s an excerpt from a story at NPR: “Drought is mostly seen as a bad thing — and for good reason. It dries up crops, destroys landscaping and stops ships from moving. But even the lack of rain clouds has a bright side…Another upside of the drought? Fewer pests. And not just those plaguing grapes, but fewer bugs that, well, bug humans. Mike McClain at Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in the Twin Cities says the types of mosquitoes that drive people crazy tend to multiply after it rains. “And when you have real dry conditions that we did the last half of 2012, the actual number of complaints about mosquitoes and the number biting people tends to go way down,” he says. “And that’s a good thing. People are a little less irritated by mosquitoes during drought…”

* photo above courtesy of Timothy Butz in Ellicott City, Maryland, where Tuesday’s high was a balmy 64 F.

63 F. record high in Chicago yesterday.

Are Tornado Alleys A Myth? It’s all how you look at the data, right? Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating perspective from Discovery.com: “…As she wrote in her AMS meeting poster, Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley are concepts coined by members of the meteorological community, specifically, Tornado Alley by Fawbush & Miller in 1952, and then Dixie Alley by Dr. Allen Pearson in 1971. “But no universal definition of either concept exists; they shift, expand, and shrink with different publications, authors, and purposes. They are sociopolitical rather than scientific concepts,” Henderson explained (you can see her poster here). The thing about the original Tornado Alley, she said, is that once it was established, it became the scientific standard against which other alleys were defined. The concept of a tornado-prone “alley” is a natural outgrowth of 20th century meteorological history. Tornado alleys are terms that have become “scientized,” she told me. “Scientization transforms sociopolitical concepts, ideas, and other phenomena into metrics that can be standardized and measured…” (photo: meteorologist Aaron Shaffer at WeatherNation TV).

Study Links Headaches And Migraines To Weather. Lightning as a possible trigger for serious headaches? Here’s a clip from wkms.org: “If you’ve ever blamed the weather for a splitting headache, you might be right.  A new University of Cincinnati study finds that lightning may affect the onset of headache and migraines. “What we found was that on days with lightning around the patients’  homes there was approximately a 30-percent increase in headache activity, or headache occurrence, and also a 30-percent increase in migraine,” said fourth-year medical student Geoff Martin, one of the researchers. The study looked at chronic headache sufferers.  There are a number of ways lightning might be a  trigger...” (Lightning photo: AP)

Twice As Many Structures In FEMA’s Redrawn Flood Zone. Many homeowners living near the ocean will be forced to raise their homes by several feet, or risk not being able to qualify for any insurance. The New York Times has the story; here’s an excerpt: “New federal flood maps released on Monday revealed the grim news that many New Yorkers were girding for after Hurricane Sandy sloshed away: More areas farther inland are expected to flood. Tidal surges will be more ferocious. And 35,000 more homes and businesses will be located in flood zones, which will almost certainly nudge up insurance rates and determine how some structures are rebuilt. (Photo above: Gizmodo).

“Superfog” Not To Be Taken Lightly, Expert Says. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting article at gainesville.com that caught my eye: “The monster that formed over Paynes Prairie on Jan. 29, 2012, and led to what is believed to be the deadliest set of accidents in Florida history wasn’t merely fog or smoke or a combination of the two. It was a unique phenomenon that can arise when the conditions are ripe, and it could kill again. Meteorologist Gary Achtemeier with the U.S. Forest Service knows it well. He had named it “superfog” and warns it is not to be taken lightly. “There is only one course of action for a motorist encountering superfog, and it is not to drive. I liken it to a bridge collapse,” Achtemeier said. “It has to be stressed that it is a unique phenomenon and is extremely dangerous…”

Photo credit above: “Aerial view of Interstate 75 in Gainesville, Fla. where according to Florida Highway Patrol at least 9 people have died as a result of multiple crashes Sunday January 29, 2012 involving 4 commercial vehicles and at least 10 passenger vehicles. The majority of the accidents happened in an area adjacent to where a brush fire was burning and producing heavy smoke.” Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer

Research: Discovery Of Upper Atmosphere Bacteria That Affect Weather. Here’s an excerpt from examiner.com: “…The finding is of interest to atmospheric scientists, because the microorganisms could play a role in forming ice that may impact weather and climate. Long-distance transport of the bacteria could also be of interest for disease transmission models. The microorganisms were found to be the appropriate size to facilitate the formation of water droplets and ice in the regions where they were discovered. When the air masses studied originated over the ocean, the sampling found mostly marine bacteria. Air masses that originated over land had mostly terrestrial bacteria. The researchers also saw strong evidence that the hurricanes had a significant impact on the distribution and dynamics of microorganism populations…”

Popularity Of New Weather-Reporting App Stuns Officials. Have you downloaded “mPing” yet? Talk about crowd-sourcing weather; this app takes weather observations to the next level. Interactive Intelligence has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Already, the National Severe Storms Laboratory has received 22,000 reports in the first month the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground — or PING — app has been in use. That’s five times the number of observations gathered by telephone over the past six years, Elmore said. And NOAA hasn’t even begun promoting PING’s existence. “It’s unprecedented,” Elmore said. “We have more than we ever thought we would” in such a short time. It’s all due to social media, he said. Folks are hearing about the apps on sites such as Facebook and signing up for it…”

Climate Stories…

Fight Fire With Fire. Here’s an overview of a Kickstarter project unlike anything you’ve ever seen: “Global warming might be real.  The problem is that this unfortunate phenomenon hurts the pocket books of some really great Americans, like Charles and David Koch.  We are two filmmakers who want to tell the other side of the story.  If we can get enough funds together, we’ll be able to make a documentary that discredits the current theory of Global Warming so that Charles and David can quit worrying about the earth and get back to their favorite pastime, making money….”

Groundwater Depletion Linked To Climate Change. We assume that when we drill a well, we’ll eventually find (drinkable) ground water. But aquifer depletion is a real concern, especially over southwestern Minnesota. Here’s a clip from a must-read article at ScienceDaily:…”Over-pumping of groundwater for irrigation is mining dry the world’s ancient Pleistocene-age, ice-sheet-fed aquifers and, ironically, at the same time increasing sea-level rise, which we haven’t factored into current estimations of the rise,” says Allen. “Groundwater pumping reduces the amount of stored water deep underground and redirects it to the more active hydrologic system at the land-surface. There, it evaporates into the atmosphere, and ultimately falls as precipitation into the ocean.” Current research estimates oceans will rise by about a metre globally by the end of the century due to climate change. But that estimation doesn’t factor in another half-a-centimetre-a-year rise, says this study, expected due to groundwater recycling back into the ocean globally…”

Photo credit above: “SFU earth scientist Diana Allen has co-authored a major study linking groundwater depletion to climate change.” (Credit: Image courtesy of Simon Fraser University).

Whispers From The Ghosting Trees. This is a very long (and rather haunting) explanation of why so many trees are sick and dying worldwide. An excerpt of this worthy read courtesy of ScienceBlogs: “…Is it merely a colossal coincidence that all over the world, within the past few decades and at a hugely accelerating rate, trees are dying? If it’s not a coincidence, what is the underlying factor? Fair warning – this post will be a long explanation as to how there is an underlying factor, and why it is pollution. One of the strongest and most persuasive evidence for me has been the visible damage to foliage and needles that became virtually universal several years ago. Serious, terminal damage can occur in roots before any of the classic symptoms appear on leaves…so the fact that by the end of the summer growing season, it is just about impossible to find a single leaf on a tree, bush, garden produce or ornamental flowering plant that ISN’T visibly injured indicates the extent to which the problem has intensified. Just about any link to my blog will include photos of typical leaf damage….”

Colorado: Are January Red Flag Fire Warnings In The Mountains Part Of A New Climate Reality? Here’s an excerpt from The Summit County Citizens Voice: “January fire warnings, nearly unprecedented 30 years ago, have become more common the last decade. Illustrating the persistence of extraordinary drought conditions in parts of Colorado, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag fire warning for the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Denver north to the Wyoming border and encompassing areas that were scorched by last summer’s High Park Fire. Boulder-based National Weather Service forecaster Mike Baker said the agency decided to post the warning after three wildfires were reported Wednesday (Jan. 24) within the span of an hour. All three fires were above 8.500 feet elevation on the east slope of the mountains along the Front Range, Baker said…”

Skating Rinks Monitor Climate Change. A grass-roots, citizen’s crowd-sourced effort to track the impact of a warming climate across Canada, by monitoring ice skating conditions. Here’s more from discovery.com: “In the latest citizen science venture, backyard ice skaters are monitoring climate change in Canada and the northern United States. After Canadian scientists predicted that global warming will eventually be the demise of backyard skating rinks, a group of geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo created RinkWatch. In just 20 days, 630 volunteers signed up to keep tabs on the condition of their home rinks…”

Obama Talks Climate Change. California Is Acting On It. Here’s a clip from a story at Time Magazine: “It’s not the happiest time to be an environmentalist. Climate change hit home last year with brutal force: 2012’s historic drought singed much of the Midwest, turning farms to dust and withering the corn crop. Other parts of the U.S. suffered through storms like Sandy and massive wildfires. Average annual temperatures in the continental U.S. beat the previous recorded high by a full 1°F (1.8°C). And the future is uglier still: over the weekend, the British economist Nicholas Stern warned that climate change could be even worse than he predicted in his sobering 2006 report on the financial impact of warming, while on Jan. 28 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a draft report outlining the serious threat that sea-level rise poses to the coastal U.S…”

Photo credit above: Jonathan Alcom – Bloomberg. “A row of homes on a residential street stands as the ConocoPhillips refinery performed a non-emergency burn-off in the Wilmington district of Los Angeles on Sept. 15, 2012.”

Fox Promotes Debunked Claim That Scientists Exaggerated Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Media Matters: “Fox News seized on a leaked draft of a U.N. climate report to suggest that climate change has been “overstated for the last 20 years.” But the draft itself clarifies that observed temperatures over the last 20 years have fallen within the range of past projections despite natural short-term variation. Fox & Friends First claimed “scientists say” that “global warming been overstated for the last 20 years,” based on a draft of the fifth assessment report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report, which was leaked in December 2012 to a blog called “stopgreensuicide,” contains a graph that conservative blogs claimed showed observed temperatures were lower than the projections of IPCC’s first assessment report in 1990…”

New U.S. Secretary Of State Argues Climate Change A Top Priority. Scientific American has the story; here’s an excerpt: …”Climate change is not something to be feared in response to. It’s to be feared if we don’t,” Kerry said, citing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data showing more than 3,500 U.S. communities shattered heat records last year and noting the billions spent mopping up disasters from wildfires in the West to Superstorm Sandy in the East. Meanwhile, he said, America has barely begun to tap the $6 trillion global clean energy market. “I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology. Based on facts, based on science. And I hope to sit with all of you to convince you that this $6 trillion market is worth billions of American jobs and we better go after it,” he said….”

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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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