Friday, December 19, 2014

January - March 2015 Temperature/Precip Outlook

Here is the Jan - March 2015 temperature outlook from the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center:

And here is the three month, Jan-Mar 2015, precip outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center:

WeatherBug says these are the top weather stories of 2014

From January to December, here’s a look at the Top 10 U.S. Weather Headlines for 2014 in chronological order:
1. Arctic Chill Grips Half of U.S.: In January, record-breaking cold Arctic outbreaks swooped across the U.S. east of the Rockies. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia all had among the coldest Januarys on record. The cold weather helped push the Great Lakes’ ice coverage to 92.2 percent by March 6 -- the most since 1979.
2. Winter Storm Paralyzes East: In Februarya powerful Nor’easter swept up the East Coast before Valentine’s Day. One to 3 feet of snow covered the Mid-Atlantic to eastern New England. Farther south, ice coated roads from central Alabama to eastern North Carolina. At least nine people died across the Atlanta area and more than 70 percent of flights were canceled in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C.
3. Spring Snow Wallops Upper Midwest: In April, two snow storms within two weeks helped the Twin Cities and Duluth, Minn., enter the record books. On April 3-4, a storm dumped 6.5 inches on the Twin Cities, while other areas got more than a foot. Less than two weeks later, a second storm brought more than 6 inches of snow to Duluth – bringing the city’s total to 125.3 inches for the season and making it the fifth snowiest season on record.
4. Slow but Fierce Tornado Season: On April 25, nine tornadoes hit eastern North Carolina. A baby died and more than 300 homes were damaged or destroyed. A rash of tornadoes two days later from the Mid-South to the Plains and Upper Midwest killed 22. On April 27, the deadliest tornado of 2014 tore through Mayflower and Vilonia, Ark., causing 16 of these deaths. Rare twin tornadoes hit Pilger, Neb., June 16, leveling much of the town and killing two.
5. Hurricane Arthur Clips East Coast: As the July 4th holiday weekend approached, Hurricane Arthur became the earliest known land-falling hurricane to hit North Carolina. Its peak wind gust hit 101 mph at Cape Lookout as Arthur made landfall as a Category 2 storm on July 3. Arthur accelerated on July 4, dampening Independence Day festivities across the Northeast. Total damage from the Bahamas to Nova Scotia was estimated at more than $50 million.
6. Wildfires Gut Western U.S.: Spurred by prolonged drought and Santa Ana winds, wildfires burned more than 3.5-million acres, causing $640 million in damages. In northern California, the Happy Camp Complex fire burned more than 134,000 acres. Washington’s Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 250,000 acres, becoming the largest in the state’s history. Oregon’s Buzzard Complex Fire was the largest in 2014, burning almost 400,000 acres.
7. Relentless Drought Plagues California: A relentless three-year long drought continued to plague California. In the wake of the driest-ever year in 2013, 2014 (through November) ranks as the state's twenty-third driest year in 119 years. As of December 17, California’s major reservoirs held just 57 percent of their average storage and 78 percent of California is in an "extreme" drought.
8. Tropical Systems Soak Southwest: In early September, the sixth major hurricane of the eastern Pacific season pumped record rain into the Southwest. The storm washed out a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas. On September 8, a record-setting 3.30 inches of rain fell in Phoenix. The next day, Yuma, Ariz., got 1.44 inches, breaking the daily record. Overall, Phoenix got 5.11 inches -- its second wettest September on record.
9. Lake-Effect Snow Buries Buffalo: Two weeks before Thanksgiving, snow fell at an astonishing 4 inches per hour on the eastern Great Lakes and the Buffalo, N.Y. area, which received total snowfall up to 6 feet. Snow shut down a swath of Interstate 90 and the New York State Thruway. A second system brought 1-2 feet of additional snow. The lake-effect snow forced the typically weather-resistant NFL to reschedule the Buffalo Bills’ home game from November 23 to the following night in Detroit.
10. Much-Needed Rain for California: On the Way: Mired in a multi-year drought, many Californians recently saw a glimmer of hope. A series of Pacific storms dumped more than a foot of rain across the state in December. Whiskeytown measured an astonishing 14.48 inches, while Lakeshore Shasta County, Hawkeye, and Boggs Mountain each soared past 10 inches in under 72 hours. San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Rosa, Calif., all boasted records on December 11.
"The top 10 weather events of 2014 were chosen based on the impact they had in each part of the U.S., says WeatherBug Meteorologist Chad Merrill. “There was no single, outstanding storm -- like a Hurricane Sandy or Katrina -- that gripped the nation. Despite that, a plethora of events unfolded, starting with the major cold outbreak that kicked off the year in the Central and Eastern U.S. to drought, wildfires and flooding that plagued the West."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why not balloons?

I read an article today about better understanding tornadoes by penetrating them with scientific instruments attached to $30-50k drones. The article is entitled "Drones might help explain how tornadoes form" and can be found here.

I'm really curious as to why rarely anyone considers the weather balloon as a viable way to deliver instruments near to or into a tornado. So many people concentrate on hair-brained ideas like flying helicopters and RC airplanes or shooting rockets, seemingly never able to consider that in application they will be in a supercell environment. Not only are these expensive, they are not going to fly well in the inflow.

Weighted sensors and cameras on the ground have proven successful and seem to be what the majority of chasers and/or scientists lean toward when attempting to gain usable data. The activity of placing these in the path of an approaching tornado can prove deadly.

So why not the balloon? No, probably not a full fledged weather balloon due to the fact that the logistics of filling on location would be a huge downside; but rather a scaled down version capable of carrying pertinent instruments, cameras, and a locator. Getting the instrument headed toward its target is as simple as releasing it into the inflow. Sure, the balloon will burst when impacted by debris but at that point it is likely close enough to provide valuable data.

Rain and more rain + Cali update

Impressive rainfall amounts are expected over the next three days as yet another strong system delivers with it plentiful energy. The upper NW coast is in the crosshairs this week with 6+ inches of rain possible along with up to 8" of snow in the higher elevations of northern California.

Worth noting is a small area of east Texas and central Louisiana that could receive over 3 inches of rain in the next couple of days. There is no drought to extinguish in that area.

Dents have been made in the California drought situation and hopefully this map will look even better next week for the northern 1/3 of the state. Last week's rain helped to supplement reservoir levels. The Nov. 28 Trinity, Shasta, Oroville, Folsom, and San Luis Lakes percent of capacity was 23, 23, 26, 28, and 23; on Dec. 16, they increased to 29, 32, 33, 38, and 33 percent, respectively. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A very interesting day at the lake...

I am positive that GM should purchase this video from me. Yesterday I had our Cruisers Yachts 3870 hauled out for some maintenance and an upgrade or two. Boats like these are hard enough to get on the trailer, much less pull. Once it was aligned and the Freightliner got the boat far enough out of the water for the stern to drop, all 30,000lbs was supported and the Freightliner was unable to pull.

Enter the Chevy 2500 4x4 with diesel in low gear and 4x4 engaged.

Hey GM, basically here's your :30 second commercial!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weather Bomb, Polar Vortex, Winter Storm Sally, Oh My!

It started with Frankenstorm. Then there was the Polar Vortex. Now Britain faces the "Weather Bomb".  Add in The Weather Channel tagging winter storms with proper names and all of a sudden you have completely removed the science from weather for the masses.

To standard-issue weather geek, terms like Bomb and Polar Vortex actually mean something, although they sound ominous to the layperson so they're perfect for media application. Frankenstorm, well, that was just a board forecaster having some fun in an official discussion. The NWS is still trying to shake that one off.

Weather tops the national news more often than not these days, what with climate change having been officially established even though we only have 130 years of record-keeping and 30 years of global data for a planet that's 4.54 billion years old. I digress. The weather is the weather. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad; but it's easier to talk to the masses about it when it's interesting and research shows the masses relate better to non-weather monikers than weather terminology.

So I've written all of this to basically say, stop spinning your wheels trying to fight the media machine. Naming is here to stay and extraction of only the most menacing weather terms will be the norm, and they'll rarely be used in proper context.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

California Love

Left: Estimated rainfall over the next three days
Right: Current California drought monitor
California should get some drought-denting rainfall over the next three days thanks to a pungent storm system that will bring widespread rain and snow to the west coast and continue spreading the love as it pushes east. This will supplement rainy weather along the central Cali coast from last week that served rainfall from 1-3 inches resulting in a positive impact on reservoirs in watersheds affected. 
7+ inches of additional rain would make a huge contribution to the area.

Below ground
A true measurement of drought recovery in an area heavily dependant upon groundwater is replenishment of these important water sources.

Natural refilling of aquifers at depth is a lengthy process because groundwater moves slowly through unsaturated zones. The rate of recharge is also an important consideration. It has been estimated, for example, that if the aquifer that underlies the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico was emptied, it would take centuries to refill at the present small rate of replenishment. In contrast, a shallow aquifer in an area of substantial precipitation may be replenished almost immediately. 
California has both shallow and deep aquifers.
  • A multi-agency research project led by NOAA estimated that peak summer acreage of farmland idled in California in 2014 was 1.7 million acres, almost 700,000 acres more than in 2011, a recent wet year.
  • California's groundwater provides between 30 and 46 percent of the State's total water supply, depending on wet or dry years, and serves as a critical buffer against drought. 
  • Some communities in California are 100% reliant upon groundwater for urban and agricultural use.

Where's it going?
In 2010, Californians withdrew an estimated total of 38 billion gallons of water per day, compared with 46 billion gallons per day in 2005.
Red: levels that have fallen 50'+  past 10yrs
  • Surface water withdrawals in California were 25 billion gallons per day (67%), compared with 35 billion gallons per day (76%) in 2005.
  • Groundwater withdrawals accounted for 13 billion gallons per day (33%), compared with 11 billion gallons per day (24%) in 2005.
  • About 82% of all California water withdrawals were from fresh-water sources, compared with 72% in 2005.
  • In both 2005 and 2010, about 74% of all freshwater withdrawals were for irrigation.
  • 95% of all saline water withdrawals were for thermoelectric power generation, compared with 98% in 2005.

How is it used?
38 billion gallons of water withdrawals per day were distributed among 8 categories (2005 numbers):
  • Irrigation: 60.7% (23,056 million gallons per day)
  • Thermoelectric power generation: 17.4% (6,601 million gallons per day)
  • Public supply: 16.6% (6,307 million gallons per day). Average daily gross per capita use was 181 gallons (total Public Supply withdrawals divided by population served).
  • Aquaculture: 2.6% (973 million gallons per day)
  • Industrial: 1.0% (400 million gallons per day)
  • Mining: 0.7% (272 million gallons per day)
  • Livestock: 0.5% (188 million gallons per day)
  • Self-supply domestic: 0.5% (172 million gallons per day). Average daily per capita use was 69 gallons.