Monday, August 29, 2011

8/29 - 3:15pm - First Day of Broadcast Meteorology Lab

Today was my first day of broadcast meteorology lab here at Mississippi State. Most of you probably realize that I have a bit of a head start in this class, but there is always something to learn and I really enjoy helping others learn in a field that I love so much. Each of us started out the semester with an informal "first forecast" to break the ice and get those first-time jitters out of the way. Check out my forecast below:

It's not bad out there in Starkville today since those dewpoints are staying around 60 degrees and lower. We'll see a gradual return to the high humidity after tomorrow as Gulf moisture begins to filter back into the region. About the most exciting thing that will happen this week, excitement being used relatively here, is an upswing in rain chances toward Friday and the weekend as a cold front approaches from the north.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

8/25 - 4:15pm - Hurricane Irene's Fever Pitch

Hurricane Irene is certainly causing some drama both over the airwaves and along the East Coast where thousands are preparing for what could be that area's first hurricane strike in a while. This will also be the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Ike in 2008. States of emergency have been declared by the governors of North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York as the storm takes aim at the region. Areas from Wilmington, North Carolina to Cape Hatteras to Norfolk, Virginia will likely take the brunt of Irene as it makes landfall as a Category 2 or 3 storm on Saturday. A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the entire North Carolina coast and a Hurricane Watch is in effect from Virginia to New Jersey. On the satellite image to the top left you'll notice that Irene does not have a very apparent eye. This is because the storm has just completed an eyewall replacement cycle, which temporarily limits both the strength of the storm and the appearance of an eye. The eye will likely become much easier to see over the next 24 hours and the intensity of the storm will correspondingly increase.

The National Hurricane Center's 5pm EDT outlook for Hurricane Irene has the storm at Category 3 status with winds of 115 mph. For Tuesday and most of yesterday, it looked like Irene was going to miss much of the East Coast and curve back out to sea, but last night's and today's computer model runs have adjusted the storm's track quite a bit westward. This means hurricane force winds will be felt across a much larger portion of the North Carolina, Virginia coasts and even through to the Northeast and Delmarva Peninsula. To the right is a "spaghetti chart" showing all the computer model forecast tracks for Irene. There's a strong possibility that Irene may still be a Category 1 hurricane packing winds in excess of 75 mph and a storm surge up to 15 feet when it hits the New Jersey Shore, New York City, and Long Island areas on Sunday. While hurricanes that affect the Northeast aren't all that rare, the particular track of Irene and the intensity possible as it hits the area are causing great concern, especially about flooding. Folks from North Carolina to New England really need to pay attention to this storm this weekend and evacuate when instructed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

8/20 - 2:15pm - My Return to WBBJ!

This morning I did weather on WBBJ-TV ABC 7 for the first time since April. It's great to be back after a long summer break! Showers and storms that sank southward from Missouri stayed together longer than expected, so a few light showers crossed into West Tennessee earlier this afternoon along with stronger storms in the Memphis area. Additional scattered storms are possible throughout the afternoon and evening before more widespread storms cross through the region tonight through tomorrow. The passage of a cold front will mean an end to the rain by Sunday night and give way to a rather nice day on Monday. Daily storm chances are back in the forecast by mid week. Check out my forecast from this morning in the video below:

Monday, August 15, 2011

8/15 - 6pm - Severe Weather Craziness Back Home

Radar image from NWS Louisville
Saturday's severe weather in Louisville put many LG&E customers without power as winds exceeding 60 mph hit the city. At its peak the storm caused over 128,000 customers to lose power in Louisville, but that number has now dwindled down to 23,000. On radar it appears the storm may have bowed outward a bit due to the strong winds pushing ahead of it, and downbursts were likely the cause of much of the heavy damage in central parts of the city. Folks in Southeastern Jefferson County near the Jeffersontown, Middletown, Fisherville, and even down to Bullitt County saw a bit of a scary sight as the leading edge of the storm produced an arcus or shelf cloud. While not dangerous on its own this cloud often marks the leading edge of the gust front in a thunderstorm, which can carry damaging winds. Check out my photo from my back yard below:

With some schools still lacking power, Jefferson County Public Schools has cancelled classes tomorrow after already cancelling the first day of school for the academic year today. I'm not sure if JCPS has ever canceled the first day of school before, but this is certainly not the first time they've had to cancel due to power outages (wind storm of September '08 and major ice storm of January '09 are prime examples). A couple more nice weather days in Louisville will help with power restoration and tree clearing efforts.

Mississippi State Weather

I'm back at Mississippi State University for the semester and classes begin on Wednesday. The humidity been much lower in Starkville today since the passage of a cold front yesterday. Unfortunately reality will gradually return this week as temperatures surge back into the 90's and humidity increases as return flow transports Gulf moisture northward again. Daily small afternoon storm chances will return on Thursday or so.

Return to TV in Jackson, TN

If you're in Jackson, TN or the surrounding West Tennessee region, you'll want to tune into WBBJ ABC 7 this Saturday morning at 6am as I make my return to the Good Morning West Tennessee Saturday newscast. It's been about four months since my last show there due to my month-long storm chasing trip and time back home in Louisville, so I'm itching to get back to what I love doing most. We'll be bringing you weather updates every 10 minutes along with the morning's top news stories and events that you need to know about to get your weekend started!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

8/11 - 10pm - Cooler Weather Comes at a Price

SE Louisville Webcam
How about that cool down going on around the Ohio Valley? Great, isn't it? We topped out at 83 degrees just before 3pm this afternoon in Louisville. The sky was very blue today due to dry air present both aloft and here at the surface. Tomorrow should feature more of the same with slightly warmer temperatures in the upper 80's and pleasant sunshine. That's where the good news ends.

Trough position by Sunday AM
On Saturday a gargantuan trough of low pressure is going to punch its way into the Eastern US. This will disrupt our tranquil weather pattern quite a bit as conditions become favorable for a couple areas of severe storms to form. The first line of storms will likely come through during the early to mid morning hours as the trough begins to dig in and southerly surface winds bring in the initial Gulf moisture. These probably won't be too bad, but frequent lightning, heavy rain, and a few wind gusts appear to be in the cards. Depending on how long these morning storms and their clouds stick around during the later morning and afternoon hours, we could be dealing with a considerable severe weather threat later Saturday afternoon or evening as a the associated surface cold front moves through the region. If dew points do indeed recover into the mid to upper 60's during the day on Saturday and we're able to get a good helping of sunlight, Saturday night will be rough. The storms that could roll through will pack damaging winds and a flash flood risk. I cannot rule out a tornado or two embedded in some of these storms in the evening because of the wind shear that this sharp trough will be ushering in. The biggest risk for severe weather will cover Louisville and points eastward according to the National Weather Service. (Below: Saturday morning storms on the left, Saturday evening severe storms on the right.)

The Storm Prediction Center says the severe risk around the Ohio Valley is conditional at this point due to uncertainty with cloud cover and moisture return to the area (both very valid points), but these factors likely won't be known until Saturday's morning storms clear out. Nevertheless, they've issued a Slight Risk for severe weather for areas just southeast of Louisville and mention that more areas might be added.

After Saturday, I'm off to Mississippi State University for another semester of classes, most of which will be weather-related this time around (yes!). I'm returning to WBBJ-TV in Jackson, TN on August 20th to begin again my Saturday morning weather shift on Good Morning West Tennessee. I've missed my job at ABC 7 like crazy over the summer break, so going back there will be very exciting!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

8/7 - 5:15pm - More Storms in Our Future

Did the storms in Louisville wake you up this morning? I slept through them, which is probably a good thing because those that couldn't sleep through them early this morning sure looked tired today. Locations near Downtown Louisville saw rainfall amounts exceed one inch this morning, but most of the suburbs and outlying areas received under an inch. Click the image on the left from NWS Louisville to see a complete map of the rainfall totals from this morning. More storms are possible this afternoon and especially tomorrow as a cold front to our north provides a focus for development.

I've been watching the radar and satellite image for the past couple hours and it appears that ongoing storms dropping southeastward near Indianapolis may send out a some outflow boundaries toward Louisville over the next few hours. Outflow boundaries are like miniature cold fronts created by the cool air flowing out from a thunderstorm's downdraft. They also can cause storms to develop because they are a source of lift and that's why they're so important when forecasting short-term storm development. Since we have a little bit of wind shear and a very unstable atmosphere over the Louisville area right now, a kick from one of these southward-moving outflow boundaries may cause a few isolated storms to develop this evening. Storms may also form without the boundary if another small-scale feature or surface heating gets things going first. So, a vast majority of the area will stay dry, but if you happen to get under one of these wildcard isolated storms get ready for some heavy rain and wind.

There's a much better chance for storms tomorrow as a shortwave disturbance moves through the region. These storms will likely cluster together into an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System - complex of storms) and severe weather is possible. These scattered or MCS storms will roll through Louisville sometime tomorrow late afternoon or evening. Damaging winds, frequent lightning, and small hail will be the main threats from these storms. If they cluster together in a line, wind damage probabilities will be higher. The Storm Prediction Center has placed much of Kentucky, including Louisville, in a 30% Slight Risk area for severe weather tomorrow due to these factors.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

8/4 - 11:30am - Finally, a Break in Sight!

Ridge breaking at 500mb on Wed.
The weather here in Louisville is about the same as when I left it last week on vacation in California! The good thing is that a cold front that came through yesterday will keep temperatures in the lower 90's today, as opposed to mid 90's for the last few days, and the humidity will be a little less oppressive. That said, daily afternoon storm chances will increase tomorrow and especially Saturday when an area of surface low pressure will pass right over us. That low and the accompanying cold front will finally begin the breakdown of this hot, humid ridge that we've been stuck under for so long, but not before some higher heat and humidity sneaks its way into the region for the weekend. Temperatures will be in the 80's next week as this pattern breaks, which could be temporary at best if some of the long-range models are to be believed.

So far we've had 40 days with highs at 90 or above in Louisville, with 18 consecutive days at 90 or above on our current streak. At this point last year we were counting 46 days in the 90's so far, so it seems this summer is a fairly close repeat of last.

Talk of development in the tropics has come to a fever pitch lately as Tropical Storm Emily seems to be taking a path that will pass very close to the southeast coast of Florida. The forecast path has been flip flopping around a little bit over the last couple of days, but at least right now it appears that Florida will not see a landfall from this storm. Emily has sustained winds at 50 mph, which is still a ways from the 74 mph needed to be declared a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center's forecast includes Emily reaching hurricane status by Monday well off the coast of South Carolina.