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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Out Like March

What happened to the warm air? A Frost Advisory was issued for the northern and western counties as expected, and we had the temperatures to support that. Was it a record?- Not quite. That was 32F back in 1961. That's not the latest freeze on record. that was May 11, 1966.
It's the radar that surprised me. While High Pressure is usually dry- it is an upper level disturbance feeding off of the cold air and the Great Lakes that produced flurries just to our west this morning.

We do expect a quick rebound into the 60s and 70s over the next few days, but that will come with more clouds and showers. It did not look like much on the maps this morning, but here is the Canadian Model outlook for Saturday Evening. I've highlighted the surface features with a typical spring Low near St. Louis that will provide a severe weather outbreak in the Ohio Valley and down south. Unfortunately this includes the Kentucky. The 134th running of the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and that is prime target for stormy weather. These storms often slow down and take their time moving east. So, we may end up with a warm dry day on Saturday, but I had to put in a chance of a thunderstorm since there may be some that fire up ahead of the main system, or reach us in the evening. This is one of those situations when the right forecast may still be wrong, like last weekend. The simple weather graphic has rain, and I even wrote (Afternoon/Evening), but that can get lost in short time I have on the air. This would make 10 out of the last 11 weekends with rain- so I will do my best to pay extra close attention to the timing of the rain until then.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Virgina Tornadoes! Frost Tonight?

Yesterday's storm gave us about 1 inch of rain locally, but that was nothing compared to the severe weather in south east Virginia. Here you can see the peak of the storms as captured around 4pm. If you see the map I posted in yesterday's blog- it was a strong cold front that sparked the storms.
Here is an example of wind sheer similar to what caused yesterday's tornadoes... Winds at the surface were from the south east, while the storm was moving cloud level winds from the south west to north west. A different direction and speed with height. That caused the wind to sheer or rotate with height. For the record, a Tornado Watch was posted for this region by The National Weather Service. A 75 mile path of at least 3 separate tornadoes straddled North Carolina and Virgina. Ironically this was the 6 year anniversary of the La Plata tornado. Today is the day that the NWS will survey the damage and confirm the strength. Early Doppler estimates of perhaps an EF 3- which would mean winds of 138mph-167mph.
For a comparison of the original Fujita Scale and the new Enhanced Fujita Scale- click here.

What I find most interesting, was that this morning, the cold upper level low was passing through Ohio, and brought snow to the mountains of West Virginia - see here at 6am. Due to this upper level Low, I am not sure we will clear out and get back to 60F today. I think clouds will likely hang on longer, and many of us will stay in the upper 50s. When we do clear out tonight, frost is likely just inland with temperatures back into the mid 30s... The sun will be back tomorrow.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Rain. More April Snow. What it Means...

The rain we have today is part of a slow moving storm riding up the Appalachian Mountains. It's actually a good thing, since we are 1.71 inches below normal for the year.
As for that thunderstorm on Friday night, it pounded places north of the beltway to PA. BWI did get about .39". Sunday's rain however was not that impressive. Since it was mostly drizzle, and light showers- only .10" was recorded. We are pulling out of a winter drought, so consider this as catch up. Model Guidance has us with over 1 inch today. Localized thunderstorms can double that amount and lead to some ponding or flooding on roads this afternoon. I understand that some of you are not happy with the new view of our Doppler Radar since the coloring is set highlight only the heaviest rain. That can be see on my TV Graphics Radars and Cams Page (above). I made a new Storm Page that shows the old coloring of the NWS radar along with Warnings and Lightning Tracker. See the tabs above on the Full Web Site.
April Snow Anyone?
This is just a sample of the Midwest snow pack. Parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas have 1-2 feet of snow on the ground. This is part of a very cold upper level Low that can bring snow showers to Chicago later today. That's nothing compared to what Anchorage, AK had over the weekend. They have had 109 inches of snow for the season, which is 40 inches above normal. Below is a video clip showing the 2 feet of snow that had. Listen to the guy- and it's something a lot of the northern folk are thinking. I had nothing to do with it....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Waiting for Storms?

Check out my new Storm Page - On the main web site. So if you are viewing this directly from Blogger- hit the link just above and find the 2nd tab. It has a state map with Active Warnings and Lightining, a Local Lightning Tracker with 30 minute count, and the State Composite Radar. I am still building it, but if you have any suggestions- please let me know...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Historic Heat Wave. Severe Weather Plan Video

After three days of filling in the daily almanac for my morning graphics, I noticed a trend... The Record High dates kept staying the same as the previous day. So I went back into the archives and found this 4 day stretch of records. You'll notice the 23rd and 25th(today's date) both at 94F. That is the warmest ever for Baltimore.
I have frequently documented historic heat waves, and it still amazes me how frequently these 'waves' last 3 or 4 days. It takes a special pattern to develop first to establish a record, that it can last for a while.

Well, we are not in record heat, but this pattern will hold our temperatures up through the first half of the weekend. A series of showers will move through and knock out numbers down. First, a round of showers will try to move through tonight and early Saturday. Most of Saturday should be dry, but some thunderstorms will arrive in the afternoon and evening. Then Sunday will bring in the cooler temps and a better chance of steady rain. At least the new grass seed will get a drink. It's possible that 1-2 inches of rain may fall.
What would you do if a tornado struck? Do you have a family plan? Watch this video- this guy did.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pattern of warm and wet days. Phoenix Lights Answered (video).

Today will turn out to be another beautiful day with sunshine and temps in the upper 70s with low humidity. The story is that Thursdays and Fridays have been warm for the past month. I noticed this since I started running and use Thursday as my 'hills' day. Warm weather can make running hard- so it stuck out in my mind. Here's the warm pattern:
Thu- March 24th- 64F (+9) Fri - March 28th - 70F (+12) Thu- April 10th- 73F (+10) Fri - Apr 11th - 78F (+15) Thu - Apr 17th- 76F (+11) Fri - Apr 18th - 85F (+13)

The wet pattern is probably more noticeable since it falls on the weekends. I have noticed that 7 of the past 8 weekends have had wet weather. That is heavy weight in a statistical report. Here is the breakdown:
Saturday Sunday
March 1 (.02") 2-dry 8 (.24") 9-dry 15(.01") 16(.17") 22(0.01") 23-dry 29- dry 30-dry

April 5(trace) 6(.30") 12(trace) 13(.02") 19-dry 20(.65")
So as for this weekend....
With snow continuing our in the Rockies and severe storms in the south, you had to figure that our pleasant weather would not last long. Here are the forecast maps from the GFS model. A warm front will approach on Friday evening with a SE wind. That will be the sign of increasing moisture and clouds. Saturday's map here shows a cold front reaching us by evening with an increased chance of rain all day. Sunday map shows the tail end of that front will have another wave of low pressure develop and bring us more rain lasting into Monday.

Here is the video report from ABC News about the Hoax of UFO lights in Phoenix this week. No wonder the video was of video on a TV. That should have been the first red flag.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Flares on Balloons?

It appears that there might have been a hoax involved with the lights over Phoenix Monday night.
A man has come forward saying that he saw his neighbor launch helium balloons with flares hanging from them. More from It might be a disappointment to some, and this goes beyond the scope of my blog. One day, maybe....
As for the local weather scene- it gets a little boring again. We did have some morning fog, as you can see here from our camera a Villa Julie College, in Baltimore County.
We can thank clear skies overnight, moist ground from recent rain, and a light easterly flow to get this to form. Usually this 'radiation fog' forms in valleys where the temperature gets colder and can reach the dew point first. You'll notice the parking lot does not have fog, since the blacktop holds in some of the heat. The hilltops also were fog free since overnight conditions create and inversion- warmer air rises and sits just above the ground, while the valley floors cools off. During the day, the sun heats up the ground, and the lower elevations end up warmer than the surrounding hills as that rising air cools.

Today a little nudge from New England's High and the old Low gets pushed farther away and we end up with a nice day. The weekend unfortunately looks to be a little wet, as this slow moving pattern settles another front near Maryland. I will go a little deeper into that tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Surprise Party? Visitors From another Planet? Go Blue Not Green!

UFO over Phoenix?
Our sister station ABC15 in Phoenix has exclusive video(note the format was not compliant so it is video of a TV screen) of light formations in the sky overnight. An official from Luke Air Force Base stated that they do not have any aircraft in the sky tonight and that the lights are not part of any Air Force activities. So, are we being visited? Here is another report from 12News with a pictures of four red lights in unique formation. Below is a you tube video clip from 2006 with strange lights once again over Phoenix.

Don't Scream a Green Theme...Go Blue!
I have spent a lot of time sharing information on this blog that is not played up in the mainstream. Scientific information that should calm alarmist thoughts about our atmosphere and stop the fear brainwashing our children. I realize that there is such emotion with this issue it is hard to break through and get some to listen to facts they don't want to hear. Some of my colleagues and fellow atmospheric scientists are getting tired of the discussion. I will not give up sharing proper information, but decided not to fight today. Instead- I want to direct your energy away from the Green theme and Go Blue. All this green talk, and we forget that the planet is 71% water. The recent ban of the crab harvest from the Chesapeake is due to dwindling populations... and of course the protection of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Much more for your love of the sea can be found at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Below I have posted another You Tube clip of the BBC program Blue Planet- Deep Sea. It is broken up into 10 minute parts- so you can take a break from your work and get your sea fix. Enjoy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Severe Weather Season Is Here....

Due to the storms yesterday and what is expected today- I will not be posting about the Chesapeake Health and Earth Day as expected. Sorry....
Yesterday's Tornado Warning was issue by NWS due to Doppler Indicated Tornado. There was none spotted at the time on the ground, but here are the Doppler Images showing what we look for.
Note: This image on the left is your standard return of rain intensity measure in DDZ you might see on TV or online. This was the image from Baltimore County around 6:20pm Sunday. The rainfall rates were over 1 inch per hour with small pea size hail in Parkton (account from a co worker). I've highlighted the central point of the storm and wind field, however the possible 'hook' on the south side in the rain free zone is a signature of rotation in a storm. Most tornadoes are in the rain free section on the south or southeast side of a storm.

This image is a different level showing the wind profile. The whole premise for Doppler Radar is measuring a frequency change as wind/rain, etc move towards or away from the radar site. Much like the sound Danica Patrick's car winning in Japan's Indy race. That change in movement is measure and shown here with wind away from the radar in red, and towards the radar in green. When they are stacked side by side, that indicates rotation and potential spin of a funnel cloud. You'll notice I did not say tornado yet since this is all at cloud level. There is no guarantee that it will reach the ground, and as of this posting (6am), I did not see any confirmation of touchdown.

I am working on placing the lighting tracker with Radars and Stuff, but until then I will continue to post a live image here:
In terms of rain, how about those giant drops? This type of environment will produce what appears to be larger drops as small hail generated in these storms will melt on the way down from the clouds. The wind turbulence will help to break up these drops, but some can hold together. There is a lot of moisture available, so rain amounts under these storms may exceed a few inches.
Our severe weather is all thanks to a cold upper level trough with this pocket of warm moist air underneath. That allows the freedom for this air to rise and quickly dump rain. The spin from the upper low (check it out on Water Vapor Loop)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tornado Warning "Doppler Indicated"

It was around 6:15 or so this evening when I first heard the warning. It was indicated by radar that the storm might be rotating, but that does not guarantee a funnel on the ground. Here is our lightning tracker which shows strikes over the past 30 minutes and any other indication on radar with rotation and storm centers. I have also posted an enhanced radar view. These colors are much more intense than our normal view- to help see the storm....
This is part of an upper low that will be stuck nearby for another day or two. For more mas go to the TV Graphics tab above (on my website view of this blog)
That's all I have time for now- be safe...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weekend with a change...

I will be off line for a few days, but we will have a drop in temps and maybe some showers. Below are temperature maps and radars that will update every time you check in..

Friday, April 18, 2008

Big Earthquake Near Full Moon Again!

Loyal readers of my blog should recall my frequent mention of large earthquakes and the lunar cycle. It does appear to have some gravitational connection, and had been on my radar since the December 26th Indian Ocean/Sumatra earthquake. This morning a 5.4 magnitude quake hit the Indiana/Illinois border. It's rare, but still an active fault area. This may be the first since 1984, but here is a link to the history of earthquakes in Illinois, and Indiana. Here a neat widget that plots and follows recent global earthquakes. It is completely interactive. Below is my daily weather post.

Back to the weather and the warmest day of the year- so far:
First the stats:
Today's Record High is 94F set in 1896
My theory holds: These spring warm ups often end up warmer than expected. I was the first in town to call for an 80 degree day back on Tuesday. So as we aim for temperatures even higher (my call this morning is for 83F) it will pale to the long standing record. Still a cap to a beautiful week. Now we need some rain, since my new grass seed has been battling low dew points. I do not have much hope for this weekend to give us that rain. The system out west will be delayed a day and weaken a lot when it reached us. I am downgrading our chances of rain to 30% or less for Sunday, and will leave the radars up on this blog to watch beginning tomorrow.

TV Date:
Weather Myths on 20/20 tonight. I may have to Tivo this one...

Earth Day and the Sea...
The Polar Bears are fine:

Earth Day in the sea today moves the attention to the arctic sea and fear of dwindling sea ice. First of all, this past winter resulted in a dramatic recovery of ice in the northern hemisphere. There has mean recent reports that it is young ice and will melt faster.. but nonetheless it has also enhanced the snow pack and ice on many glaciers in the Rockies. In fact, that source of cold air has led to the latest freeze and start to the crop season in Iowa.
The Polar Bear has been the mascot of Climate Change since Big Al's movie and that poor neglected cub Knut in Berlin's Zoo. However there has been a dispute from scientists that argue accusations made in 'The Movie' and by environmentalists. The Polar Bears are doing pretty well. Professor Scott Armstrong announced to Senator Boxer that his joint effort paper has been accepted by his peers to be published. There are two sub populations of bears that have had trouble, but most are doing well. Overstating or misleading information that has scared many. Unfortunately it may backfire as facts such as this and MIT's Tropical Expert Kerry Emanuel state a reversal on their positions. Monday's post below has the link to Emanuel's announcement opposing his earlier beliefs that Global Warming would increase Hurricane numbers and strength. Will National Geographic publish this?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Omega Block- Summer Heat and Snow!

This is the Greek letter Omega, which is used to describe a blocking pattern in the atmosphere common in the spring. A pattern seen on the surface with two Low pressure systems and on large High stuck in the middle. This High will have below normal temperatures on the east side (like we just had), and above normal temperatures on the west side (like we are about to experience).
Below you will see how this plays out with the morning surface map (left), and 300mph jet stream (right). You can see how the letter Omega appears.
A very strong storm is siting just off of the East Coast. thanks to it pushing a little farther away, we get the wind shift and warm up. On Monday I was bold enough to post my 7 Day forecast. I made an adjustment on Tuesday and held all of my numbers since then. So far I am two for two- hitting 60F on Tuesday and 67F yesterday. This pattern will help us reach my target of 75F today and 80F tomorrow. The GFS models has bumped up to around 80F as well, and I am sure you will start to see some local forecasters jump on the wagon. Meanwhile, the western fringe of this ridge has another storm. Denver, CO has 6 inches of snow in their forecast today. How about that for contrast. Honestly though , that is pretty common for them. I would expect Denver to be between 75 and 80 by next week- but that does not mean that we will get snow. Sorry :-(

Did you know that the earth gives off a measurable sound? It's something beyond our scope of hearing, but quite interesting. For more- check out this story in Yahoo.

In this week leading up to Earth Day- The National Aquarium has a weekend of events scheduled. Click here for more info. The oceans should get more attention than the media is giving to- well other topics. This report from Scotland is particularly disturbing. A recent tide of plastic and debris washed onshore and is a major threat to wildlife. It is not isolated to Europe...This story on Yahoo's page (a double hit today) tells of 6 million pounds of trash on world beaches.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bone Dry=Quick Warm Up.

I've been searching the Internet for the reason for the expression Bone Dry, and can't seem to find one. Essentially the meaning is: Void of moisture- which in an of itself does not apply to our weather. As of this morning, our dew point was 25F- so we would develop fog to prove the moisture if the temperature dropped that low. We got close with this Frost and Freeze Warning that was in effect... But with sunshine and light winds, a quick warm up will occur. The normal range of temperatures in April (Today's Normal Low 42F- high 65F) is 23 degrees. When it is Bone Dry- temperatures can range from 30 to 40 degrees from morning to afternoon. It is common in desert areas. Water vapor can slow down the solar heating, so when there is less the temperature can jump more. That is why I am aiming for the upper 60s today despite the 30s in many areas this morning. I am still on target for nearly 80F by Friday. In fact, these types of warm ups typically show up with noon temperatures the same as the high for the day before. That means at noon today, we should see at least 60F at BWI to prove my case.
The only drawback to tomorrow's heat would be a south easterly wind that could keep bay areas in the 60s. Since BWI airport is only 5-10 miles from the Bay- it might impact the official temperature. But I am holding true to 80F on Friday! Last year, our first 80F day was April 2nd. Then again- it was followed by a trace of snow on April 6th...

Earth Day Early: It's ironic that I mention bone dry then shift to the water, but I will be at the National Aquarium for our noon news. There is a week leading up to Earth Day, and there is more to it than just the debate on warming and energy. The exact percentage of water (on Earth) is 71.11%. Oceans account for 97% of that, but below you will see the full breakdown. So in the next week, I will spend some time focusing on marine life on earth with the help of the National Aquarium. Hopefully you will join me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Less Is More. Temps will Soar!

We never did get the clouds to truly build up yesterday- so with less clouds, we get more on the thermometer. Our normal temps should get up into the mid 60s, and today we begin our return with a shot at 60F. Look at the heat out west. Even for the desert, these were not records. In fact that Phoenix record high was 103F back in 1925- but still quite warm. A sign of some of the heat in the nation. Often when one coast is cold, the other is warm. This is no exception, but as the jet stream lifts- we get some heat to return in a hurry. My forecast from yesterday was perhaps to conservative. In 10 years of forecasting for Maryland- there is one thing that almost always proves true. Warm ups are warmer than expected. As soon as the wind shifts to the west or southwest we get the benefit of downslope warming. Combine that with sunshine, and the forecast models usually can't handle our warming. Here is the GFS Outlook for BWI. I do not like to rely on just one model, but this is used by most forecasters as a benchmark for your typical 7-day forecast. I've highlighted the high temperatures which shoot for 78F for Friday. My 80F is not much higher, and only 2 degrees higher than last Friday's 78F. I will track this for you over the next few days to see if there is a trend up, which may be the case...

FHR 24| 36 48| 60 72| 84 96|108 120|132 144|156 168|180 192
TUE 15| WED 16| THU 17| FRI 18| SAT 19| SUN 20| MON 21| TUE 22 CLIMO
X/N 60| 27 68| 37 74| 45 78| 50 69| 47 62| 45 66| 49 67 45 68
TMP 52| 38 58| 46 65| 52 68| 55 60| 51 56| 49 59| 54 60
DPT 26| 28 31| 38 42| 44 48| 47 46| 42 40| 41 44| 46 45

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Chill of April

So much for 70s and spring- at least for now. This is a classic delicate balancing act of seasonal shifts that takes place every year. While you might think, or say, or hear about how strange the weather is, it's not. I hate to burst the bubble, but extremes this time of the year are the norm. A range of temps 15 degrees above and below normal can give nearly a 30 point swing in one week! Just last Tuesday it was 52F, and Friday hit 78F. Today we are back into the low 50s with a chance of frost. And so goes the week ahead, as you can see here. It will be interesting to see how this actually plays out- but for now, a nice warm up should be here by Thursday.

So this brings me back to the environmental discussion. As Earth Day approaches (April 22) and we roll through spring, you will be inundated with how dramatic the warming is on the planet. This after record cold and snow across much of the nation- even a fresh foot+ of snow in Minnesota last week. Sure, it's spring and as the sun returns to the arctic some of their ice will melt.
Hurricane Expert Pulls Back on Global Warming Connection
June brings Hurricane season which has been subject to dire outlooks since the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Last year failed to produce the results of an active forecast, and only 1 hurricane has hit the US in the past 2 years. So are we due? Perhaps. But now an article in the Houston Chronicle shows that Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has changed his argument for the link of Global Warming to increased Hurricane Activity. This is most profound since he has been one of the leaders of that charge. Did you read the 2008 Hurricane Outlook I posted last week? That was from Dr. William Gray- the lead tropical forecaster who himself testified to congress after 2005's Katrina and Wilma scared the public. Dr. Gray has been steadfast for decades that, contrary to pop culture- we are in the middle of a natural 30 year upswing in activity. We are in the peak now, which is expected slow down in the next decade.

Beijing Pollution Problem:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cold Air Delayed a Day

These images will update every time you load the page. The trough I mentioned on Friday will be moving through today. The radar will show a line a showers that will develop as the final push of cold air moves in. Typically showers will persist in the mountains of PA, WV and western MD after the cold air settles in. For most of central MD however, it will be the trough itself that will most likely bring us showers. As you can see, at least as of Sunday morning, the truly cold air was lingering just north on the other side of the Appalachians. There is a shot of snow mixed in back west, but I do not see it for us now. Since the cold air will be delayed a day, it will have a chance to modify before reaching us. However, if we get some convective storms to develop this afternoon- small hail is possible. That is because the freezing layer is pretty low, so it would not take much vertical lift to reach this. In fact, most showers in the spring and summer do have hail, but tends to melt before reaching the ground so you would never know it. That is a minor factor though. Plan on a much colder than normal pattern into Wednesday. There may be a dramatic warm up beyond that- but I will look into that tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't Get Excited Yet! Spring and Drought Retreat!

Oh, 73F was so nice yesterday- 10 degrees above normal, and pretty close to my forecast of 70F. In fact it almost felt hot on my afternoon run. My body is just not use to running in anything above 60F yet. This morning was a bust, as I thought we would escape the fog. Oh no! It formed just around sunrise, and stuck around into the morning ride. I still have high hopes of another 70 degree day, thanks to the storm out west and a push of warm southerly winds. Here is the 850mb map (around 5,000 ft aloft and a good indication of what our surface air temperatures will be). Just looking at the color coding you can see yellow and orange with the warm air, and the blues wrapping around the monster storm, where up to a foot of snow will fall today.
There is a dramatic change on the way- so spring will take a little break. Tony Pann sent and email about potential snow flakes on Sunday. Well- that got my attention, and yours a well. Here is Sunday morning's 850 map. The kink in the lines (isoheights) show an upper level trough- which will bring back the late winter chill. Some upper level support will provide clouds and mountain flurries, but I can't get too excited yet. It's very hard for us to have snow showers in April as the boundary layer and surface temperatures will be too warm (at least in the 40s). If anything, this is when elevation comes into play. So any chance of flurries or a snow shower would be above 1000 feet. That is up near or north of the PA line or west of Frederick. Regardless, it will get much colder, so yesterday was just a tease.

Recently I discussed the drought situation, and mentioned the record snowfall out west. That will result in a benefit to the Colorado watershed when it melts into the summer. This is an area that has had explosive population growth and desert drought to deplete the water supply. It's a situation many have seen beyond recovery, yet this winter has changed that. I encourage you to pick up a Wall Street Journal today for an article on this. It is not available to the general public online- but click here for some maps from The Wall Street Journal .
that explain a little bit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The numbers are up!

Temperatures and Hurricanes
First: Our temperatures...It's been an interesting ride this week with our marine layer. While just about every morning has had fog, each afternoon has punched a bigger hole in the cloud deck. As a result- our temperatures have jumped each day.
Mon: 47F
Tue: 51F
Wed: 61F
Considering that our normal high is 63F- this has been a big improvement. Now we get the flip side. We can thank the cold front (producing severe storms out west in the Mississippi Valley) for shifting our winds and bringing us back above normal by this afternoon. Think of it this way- our sun angle now - nearly 3 weeks after the Spring Equinox- is roughly equivalent to the sun angle 3 weeks before the Fall Equinox. That is early September when normal high temperatures are 82F. That does not happen often in April since the ground and water is still warming up from it's winter chill. However there is solar support- so low 70s are pretty likely once we get the sun back out.
Tension in the Tropics:
An increase in the 2008 hurricane forecast was released by Dr. William Gray yesterday. Essentially the Hurricane guru gave a 69% chance that a major hurricane will strike the US this season (June 1- Nov. 30). That breaks down to 45% along the east coast and Florida Peninsula, and 44% through the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, TX. More details below..
It should be noted that most tropical experts agree that we are in a normal 30 year cycle of increased tropical activity. The extremes 2004 and 2005 are not expected to repeat, and as I wrote yesterday- there are other factors such as African dust storms that could inhibit storm formation.

Tropical Cyclone Forecast for 2008

(1950-2000 Averages in parenthesis)

  • Named Storms 15 (9.6)*
  • Named Storm Days 80 (49.1)
  • Hurricanes 8 (5.9)
  • Hurricane Days 40 (24.5)
  • Intense Hurricanes 4 (2.3)
  • Intense Hurricane Days 9 (5.0)
  • Net Tropical Cyclone Activity 160 (100%)

* Numbers in ( ) represent average year totals based on 1950-2000 data.

Volcanoes, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes- Oh My!

This image of the summit of Kilauea Volcano shows a white plume streaming south-southwest from the active vent on March 29, 2008. The image is from the Formosat-2 satellite, operated by Taiwan’s National Space Organization. Throughout the eruption, which began on March 19, the emissions have alternated between gray-brown plumes dominated by ash and white plumes of gas, including sulfur dioxide, and steam. (Some rock dust and ash continued to fall nearby during the “white plume” phases.)

The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite recorded the increase in sulfur dioxide rising out of Kilauea between March 20 and March 27, 2008. Throughout the period, the easterly trade winds swept a long plume of sulfur dioxide south and west, away from major populated areas. The highest concentrations of the gas are shown in red. The lower image shows more typical sulfur dioxide levels as observed between March 1 and March 7, 2008. This plume is much smaller and contains significantly less sulfur dioxide.

We are in prime tornado season, so this should not be a surprise...

With lingering fog and clouds- we were 10 degrees below normal yesterday. Our 52F temperature was embarrassed by 78F in Charleston, WV. At least it's an improvement from last year. The all time record low temperature for this date was set then at 26F.

Improvement on the way for us, at the cost of severe weather out west. The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted the slight to moderate risk area for severe storms and potential tornadoes today. This is the stuff storm chasers look for, but of course the fear for residents. a low level jet, and warm moist air will provide the chance for large hail, damaging winds, and possible tornadoes. It's the active weather pattern along a cold front in the nation's mid section that will eventually help us break our marine layer. Our winds will shift to the south and bring us back close to 70F as soon as tomorrow- yet clouds that overshoot from these storms may not allow us to get too much sun. For more just click on the TV Graphics tab above (or on my main page).

Hurricane Center Tour

It is less than two months until the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. The outlook is for an active season based on warmer than normal water temperatures in the Atlantic as well as the La Nina to neutral wind pattern in the Pacific. That would not hinder development of storms like an El Nino would. The latest speculation was reported here on

One caveat would be dust storms in Western Africa. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on April 4, 2008. These dust plumes can travel all the way to Florida. The dust can coat the ocean with a very thin layer that can inhibit tropical storm formation. It is believed that might have affected last season, and could influence this season as well. Check out this 2001 study on how African Dust Storms can result in drought in the US. This story examines how it may have caused the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chill on Global Warming Bill

We are currently in a volatile environment, however that is all a matter of perspective. For some it's about the housing and credit crunch. For others, it's the rising costs of food and fuel. Still the debate on the atmospheric environment comes into play for a few reasons. First, how bad is it? Just like that blue line painted in Annapolis in March- is there a misleading idea of future flooding? Or is the latest ice chunk breaking off of Antarctica really a sign of progressive warming? The debate continues (even though you don't read much in the papers or hear much on TV) about the human vs. natural influence on recent warming and future expectations. Second, what can we afford to do? We all want lower energy bills, and I have yet to find someone who wants to hurt the environment. However, is overly aggressive legislation cost effective? Some claim a moral dilemma since there 'might not be a future' if we don't act now. While many see the short term more important. How can we worry about potential conditions decades or centuries away while some can't get through tomorrow. Here in Maryland, taxes have just gone up in addition to the other costs mentioned, yet some additional costs would seriously push many over the edge. Cutting carbon emissions 25% by 2020 and 90% by 2050 seemed a little too progression for the Maryland Assembly. See how Maryland's Global Warming Bill died yesterday. It's unfortunate that there were also cuts to Save The Bay, but it does show that the worst case scenario will not play out, and you get to keep some of your hard earned money. With Earth Day approaching on April 22, I will try to stay away from the debate and policy stuff, and focus on the water with our National Aquarium relationship.
So what do you think? Are we already paying too much? Are we not paying enough for our 'potential' future? Just thought I would spark some debate either with your comments here or in your own conversation.
Back to our local weather- a return to normal begins today. While we still have that cool easterly wind, a few breaks in the cloud deck will get us back into the mid 50s. Tomorrow and Thursday, a shift in the wind should boost us back to the 60s and nearly 70F. We can thank the stormy pattern to our west, staying west... at least for now. The push of showers will reach us by Friday and into the weekend. The good news, no cold air in sight. It seems safe for plants, and promise for the lawns needing a cut by the end of the week.