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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

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.

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