Weather

Hurricane forecasts will see some changes for 2020: Here’s what will be different

Just a few weeks before hurricane season officially gets underway in the Atlantic Basin, forecasters revealed upcoming changes to the way they inform people about approaching storms. On average, 12 tropical storms – six of which become hurricanes – form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said it’s making minor changes to the information it puts out during hurricane season, which runs six months, from June 1 to Nov. 30. According to the NHC, it will now include a graphical depiction of its storm surge forecast. Forecasters previously used only a text format to give storm surge information. The graphic forecasters plan to use in 2020 will give expected storm surge inundation values for the United States Gulf and Atlantic coasts, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “These values represent the peak height the water could reach above normally dry ground somewhere within the specified areas,” the NHC said. In addition to the storm surge graphic, forecasters will add a wind speed and wind radii forecast at 60 hours, which will include in the time-of-arrival and storm surge forecasts The new 60-hour mark also will be noted on the “cone of uncertainty” over areas possibly affected by a future storm. Previously, forecasters used a cone for 48 hours and 72 hours ahead of the storm. The NHC said that the size of the tropical cyclone track forecast error cone for the Atlantic basin will be mostly unchanged in 2020. “The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of imaginary circles placed along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc.),” according to the NHC. One other tweak for Atlantic hurricane forecasts in 2020 is the addition of new local time zones for systems in the far eastern Atlantic. Tropical cyclones centered in the central and western Gulf of Mexico use Central Time, while those near the East Coast of the U.S. or Gulf have used Eastern Time. Other systems in the Atlantic basin use Atlantic Standard Time. “This however, can be problematic for systems affecting the Cabo Verde Islands or other locations in the northeastern Atlantic basin where locations are 3 to 4 hours ahead of Eastern Time,” the NHC said. So starting this year, systems far north and east will have appropriate local time zones noted in their associated forecasts. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center will provide its initial seasonal outlook for the Atlantic basin in May, researchers at Colorado State University are predicting an above-average hurricane season this year, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Researchers at Colorado State are predicting 16 named storms, of which eight are forecast to become hurricanes. Four are expected to reach major hurricane strength with winds greater than 111 mph. The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and will include the names: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.

For more from the NHC on the upcoming hurricane season, click on the text above.

Hurricane warning vs. hurricane watch: Here’s the difference

Between early June and late November, coastal locations from Texas to Maine are vulnerable to the wrath of hurricanes that can cause vast destruction. On average, 12 tropical storms — six of which become hurricanes — form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season, according to the National Weather Service. In a typical two-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of three hurricanes, one of which is classified as a major hurricane with winds of 111 mph or greater. The storms can have winds ranging from 74 to over 157 mph that brings destruction from storm surge and torrential rains that have the ability to cause massive flooding. When such storms approach land, the National Hurricane Center will issue either what is known as a “hurricane watch” or “hurricane warning” for affected communities. So what’s the difference between the two? When “hurricane conditions” or sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected, forecasters will issue what’s known as a hurricane warning. “A warning means that hurricane conditions are expected, whereas a watch means that conditions are possible,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service (NOS) said. Since hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force — which are sustained winds between 39 and 73 mph — hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of those winds to allow for “important” preparation. “During a hurricane warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials,” according to the NOS. Hurricane warnings also can be in effect for other reasons besides wind “The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force,” the National Weather Service states. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions — sustained winds of 74 mph or higher — are possible within the specified area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area. “During a hurricane watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued,” the NOS states. “Listen closely to instructions from local officials.”

 

Groundhog Day 2020: Here’s what Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction is for the rest of winter

As light snow fell early Sunday in western Pennsylvania, the Keystone State’s most famous groundhog revealed that warmer days are apparently ahead. At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the groundhog declared: “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”

Let’s hope the little guys is right!!!  If so..then..  Happy Groundhog Day!!     🙂

 

Storm to hit Rockies before forming new ‘bomb cyclone’

Flood, snow, avalanche and fire alerts popped up Monday from Idaho to Colorado, as parts of the U.S. interior that were paralyzed by blizzards and floods last month braced for round two of an unusual weather phenomenon. Welcome to springtime in the Rockies and parts of the Great Plains. It’s not unusual for floods, snow and fire to co-exist in the Rockies thanks to powerful storms blowing through the mountains, melting snow swelling waterways and high winds sweeping across dry grasslands and trees that haven’t seen their first green shoots and leaves. Those conditions are what drove a wildfire Sunday on southeastern Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, where a house fire sparked a blaze that quickly burned through 1,700 acres (688 hectares) of dry grass and trees. It forced evacuations Sunday in Lame Deer, a town of about 2,000 people that is the seat of the tribal government, before fire crews were able to contain it. Also normal are the fire warnings issued for eastern Colorado on Monday, a day after a wildfire near Colorado Springs forced the temporary evacuation of about 20 homes. Forecasters frequently issue red flag warnings for March and April on the eastern and southeastern Colorado plains as the jet stream moves southward and brings stronger weather systems and higher wind, said Jennifer Stark, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in Pueblo, Colorado. “This is the time of year when we get a roller coaster of weather,” Colorado state climatologist Russ Schumacher said Monday. “Going from 80 degree temperatures one day to a snowstorm the next is not that out of the ordinary, especially in March and April, around here.” But what is unusual is what’s coming next. A storm system that is moving in from the Pacific Ocean is forecast to intensify and form into a new inland “bomb cyclone.” A bomb cyclone is a rapid drop in air pressure — at least 24 millibars in 24 hours — and often is over or near oceans or seas because it requires warm moist air smacking into cold dry air, along with volatile weather from the jet stream. The central and mountain part of the country may get one of these every few winters, said Greg Carbin, forecast branch chief for the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in Maryland. But this would be the second such storm in less than a month. The March 13 storm caused massive flooding in the Midwest, a blizzard in Colorado and Wyoming, and produced winds of between 96 mph and 110 mph (155 and 177.02 kph). This week’s bomb cyclone one is expected to be similar in intensity and in snowfall, meteorologists said. Heavy, wet snow will fall from the Nebraska panhandle through south central and southeastern South Dakota into western Minnesota. Wind speeds can reach 50 mph to 60 mph (80 to 96 kph) across Kansas. “This blizzard will further exacerbate flooding in Nebraska with the added insult of heavy snowfall to eventually melt,” said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at the private weathermodels.com. “This is more bad news for suffering farmers who are unable to flip the calendar on winter.” But first, the storm is expected to flooding in Idaho and western Montana, and dump up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) feet of snow in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming as it moves in from the Pacific Ocean. Parts of Colorado that were under a fire warning Monday are expected to see snow and temperatures drops of more than 40 degrees by Wednesday at the southern edge of the storm, meteorologists said. The storm dumped rain on parts of Oregon Sunday and Monday as it moved inland, causing flooding that closed some schools in the central Willamette Valley and forced the release of water from dams. While it’s unusual to see two consecutive inland bomb cyclones, it’s difficult to pin the cause on climate change, said Schumacher. “I think it’s an interesting question to ask whether there’s some climate change fingerprint on this,” he said. “But it’s a complicated puzzle to piece together.” That includes what is happening as the storm forms over the Pacific Ocean, what happens once it’s over land and what effect climate change may have on those variables. “I’m not sure we have the answer,” Schumacher said.

Obviously..  Well, at least the man is honest..  Here we go again..

Farmers Almanac predicts brutal winter for much of the US

They have been in business since 1818, so you would think they would have weather prognostication down to a science. The folks at the Farmers’ Almanac have issued their forecast for the upcoming winter, and for many, purchasing a snowblower might not be a bad investment. The Farmers Almanac predicts that the Central US, Midwest and Northeast will see a cold, brutal winter. For those who live in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and to the east, the almanac calls for “teeth-chattering cold” and “plentiful snow.” For those in the Midwest, expect “biting cold” and snow this winter. And those in the Northeast should expect a “cold and white” winter. The West Coast should see a more average winter, with greater than average rain in the Pacific Northwest. While it will remain cold in Texas, the Southeast should be closer to average, with above-average rainfall. If you are hoping for a more modest winter, you will like the forecast from the Old Farmers’ Almanac. Old Farmers’ Almanac is suggesting a mild winter for most of the United States, with the exception being in the Southwest. The Rockies, while still mild, should expect a snowy winter. How these publications come up with said forecasts are a bit of a mystery, much like KFC’s secret recipe. “we derive our weather forecasts from a secret formula that was devised by the founder of this Almanac, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792. Thomas believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the Sun,” the Old Farmers’ Almanac says on its website.

How Air in the Pacific Northwest Became Dirtier Than Beijing

SPOKANE, Wash.—On a recent morning in this city bred on the great outdoors, the halls of Mt. Spokane High School were filled with some 600 football players throwing spirals, cross-country runners doing laps, and marching band members twirling batons. The air outside was too smoky to breathe. The Pacific Northwest, sandwiched between Canada’s smoldering British Columbia to the north and six fire-wracked Western U.S. states, is feeling the side effects of one of the worst fire seasons on record. For much of the past several weeks, clouds of choking smog have upended daily life and posed a health hazard for millions here. “It was like being at a campfire wherever you went,” said Paul Kautzman, Mt. Spokane’s athletic director, after a particularly noxious day. Flights have been delayed because of visibility problems, the Seattle Seahawks moved practice to an indoor facility, and people are showing up at hospitals and medical clinics with complaints of wheezing, shortness of breath and other ailments. Long-planned surgeries have been canceled because patients are too ill from the smoke. In Spokane last week, a thick, gray fog draped the sky, obscuring the view of Mt. Spokane and the fir trees that dot the skyline here. A YMCA camp had to shuttle 60 children from a park to its nearest indoor facility, a former Gold’s Gym, where they arrived wearing protective masks. This region has dealt with smoke pollution before, but this year has been significantly worse, residents and experts say. Aug. 20 was the worst day so far for Spokane, population 215,000. Its air was dirtier than that of any major city—outpacing typically smog-addled places like Beijing and Lahore, Pakistan, according to a global pollution survey by IQAir Group, a Swiss-based manufacturer of air-pollution equipment that has a data collection unit. Among 80 cities with populations of more than 300,000, Vancouver, British Columbia, had the worst air quality in the world that day, followed by Seattle, IQAir said. Under the Air Quality Index, a standard followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 101 to 150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151 to 200 is unhealthy for everyone, and over 200 very unhealthy. Spokane reached a high of 226 last week. Vancouver hit 165. Eric Lewis, chief executive of Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Wash., on the Olympic Peninsula north of Seattle, said he has experienced a sore throat, raspy voice and difficulty breathing—even though he suffers from no respiratory illness and has forsaken his daily walks for more than two weeks. “It’s like suddenly becoming a smoker,” he said. Rain over the Spokane area cleared out the skies Sunday and Monday, but smoky conditions were expected to return later this week there and in other parts of the Pacific Northwest that got a reprieve. Experts say it is unclear when the smoke will lift for good. An unusually stubborn ridge of high pressure has blocked most of the cleansing onshore winds from the Pacific, said Ranil Dhammapala, an atmospheric scientist at the Washington State Department of Ecology. High-pressure systems and wildfires are frequent occurrences this time of year in the region, but the duration and extent of the pollution is unusual, said Mr. Dhammapala.

Crazy..  For more, click on the text above.

Thousands of acres ablaze in Colorado, New Mexico

Massive wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico have torched thousands of acres and forced hundreds to evacuate their homes. A blaze known as the 416 Fire in Colorado’s La Plata County has burned 1,100 acres, US Forest Service spokesman Jim Mackensen told CNN on Saturday. The fire, about 15 miles outside the town of Durango, is 0% contained and has forced the evacuations of 1,500 residents, Mackensen said. No structures have been destroyed, he added. By Friday evening, the blaze had prompted La Plata County Manager Joanne Spina to declare a state of local disaster. Grass, brush and timber continued to fuel the fire on Saturday morning. The fire broke out on the west side of US 550, according to a Forest Service update posted on InciWeb, a government-operated multiagency fire response site. That highway is closed as firefighters work to prevent the fire from crossing it. About 825 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders Saturday, and another 760 were under a pre-evacuation notice. Residents were told to be ready to leave if necessary. Temperatures in the area were still high, Mackensen said, adding the forecast for Sunday shows a 50% chance of thunderstorms. It should help, he said, but “being that they are thunderstorms, they could cause another fire.” And a massive fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, had grown to 27,290 acres by Saturday morning and was 0% contained, according to InciWeb. Nearly 450 personnel were battling that fire. A mandatory evacuation order was in place for the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were threatened by the blaze, called the Ute Park Fire, InciWeb said.

This story is developing…