Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Flights canceled due to pretty colors

Name That Storm
Many of you have seen this map or a map similar to it in the past 24 hours. Accompanying the map were likely strong words like "snarled" or "crippled" or some other media-induced synonym describing how travel will be affected. And if you're a Weather Channel follower, you've heard this storm called "Cato" thanks to their clever marketing team.

All The Pretty Colors
Fortunately, 90% of Thanksgiving-related travel is by personal vehicle as 340 flights have already been canceled in the U.S. as of this post due to current and forecast winter weather conditions. Those who are flying and plan to arrive or connect in the Northeast will either not make their destination or have a long day ahead of them.

Preemptive cancellation of flights by U.S. carriers in recent years when poor weather is forecast has increased significantly. Some of Wednesday's cancellations came as early as Monday morning, well before the first flakes flew and during what will be the peak of the Thanksgiving travel rush. There's no doubt that more pressure than ever is applied to weather forecast models and those who interpret them. 

Off Topic Travel Stats
While crowded airports receive heavy media attention on Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, 9 out of 10 travelers use personal means of transportation. Here are some other Thanksgiving travel stats:

  • The average Thanksgiving long-distance trip length is 214 miles
  • The average age of Thanksgiving travelers is just under 34 years
  • At Thanksgiving there is a nearly even split between males and female travelers
  • About half of holiday travelers make same-day trips without spending a night away
  • Long-distance travelers who make overnight trips at Thanksgiving spend an average of just under three nights away

Regardless how you travel on this weekend, I hope you get to where you're going safely and have a happy holiday.

Strap Your Skis On! The Colorado Edition.

New snow amounts through Wed night
The upcoming holiday weekend is a huge one for Colorado ski resorts. Most major resorts that have not already opened, thanks to Mother Nature's generosity and/or a little help from snow machines, will see their first skiers starting today.

In addition to some already healthy packed powder base amounts, up to 14" of fresh snow is on tap Wednesday making opening day that much sweeter. Question is though, when will more fall? As of right now, the models really do not indicate much fresh snow potential for at least a week.

Resorts opening soon:
Nov. 26: Vail, Crested Butte, Monarch, Beaver Creek
Nov. 27: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Steamboat, Telluride
Nov. 28: Purgatory
Nov. 29: Howelsen Hill
Dec. 5: Sunlight
Dec. 11: Powderhorn, Ski Granby Ranch
Dec. 13: Buttermilk, Ski Cooper
Dec. 14: Aspen Highlands
Dec. 20: Silverton Mountain

Resorts already opened:
Oct. 17: Arapahoe Basin
Oct. 15: Loveland
Oct. 31: Copper Mountain, Keystone
Nov. 7: Wolf Creek, Breckenridge
Nov. 12: Winter Park
Nov. 21: Eldora

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Oklahoma State vs. Baylor vs. Lightning

Weather was a factor in several NCAA games today and WDT was right there in the mix providing forecasts and real-time guidance.

Baylor hosted Oklahoma State in Waco, TX this evening for a 6:30 CT kickoff, however discussion was had earlier in the day about possibly moving the contest because the forecast called for flooding rainfall during game time. It's football though and football should be played in all weather - all weather except severe weather or lightning, right?

While it was a wet game, stronger cores remained south of Waco throughout the first thru third quarters. During the fourth, WDT meteorologists in Norman, OK notified Fox Sports Operations that lightning had entered their previously defined 8 mile radius threshold (NCAA is 6 miles for outdoor events). Due to the threshold being exceeded, cameras were fixed at pre-arranged angles to best cover the game without being manned. Cameras remained fixed for the rest of the game and Fox personnel were moved to safe areas.

The image top right shows Baylor's McLane Stadium in green just south of downtown Waco.
47,179 fans were in attendance for this game, the second largest attendance for that stadium (it's new). You will notice a couple strikes within about 5 miles on the map and it was these that caused alert for the Fox crew. More lightning entered the area following the game so this was a good call by our staff and Fox Sports Operations.

To the left is a wider view with past and present lightning strikes overlaid. Clearly the intensity of these cells were on the decrease as evidenced by many more strikes that are red/purple than newer yellow and orange strikes.

These maps are the same as WDT clients see and are cram packed with cool proprietary goodies.
Feel free to contact me should you have questions or would like more information about large event venue protection.

Event-specific Forecasting Works

Message that was posted by the University of Oklahoma this morning on social media 
This morning WDT meteorologists determined that at the time of kickoff, lightning will likely be in the Norman area.  Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium is a venue capable of holding over 82,000 fans and another 2,000 ancillary staff. Per NCAA standards, lightning within 6 miles of a sanctioned outdoor event requires postponement or cancellation of said event. Only recently has the "potential" of lightning being in an area of an NCAA sanctioned event that will occur in the future been recognized.

WDT Meteorologist JR Hehnly briefing various decision makers 
Officials representing University of Oklahoma Emergency Preparedness, NCAA, and Fox Sports gathered around the radar as WDT meteorologist JR Henhly analyzed and and communicated with meteorologists back in the office.

1:13p UPDATE: The game kicked off at 12:30 as recommended and is currently underway without threat. There is lightning within about 28 miles as I write but it looks to remain north of the stadium. Any other lightning potential will occur in about an hour.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Back To Where It All Began

Here I am writing again about how I'm switching from one blogging platform to another. Innovation is key and it seems about every two years I change because the offering elsewhere has surpassed that of what I'm currently using. The key to the tech I'm interested in is simplicity. I want to make the most presentable articles possible with as little effort as possible.

Some might ask why I don't use WordPress. Well, I do at the office. A lot. It's a powerful platform that is becoming more so as the years go by. Still though, it's a pain in the ass to go and write a simple post and make it look nice. A lot of my posts originate on my phone or iPad as well and most WP apps are clunky messes that someone built then abandoned.

I have been using Tumblr and still really like it's interface, design customization and mobile app. I do not like the fact that it times out too regularly while I'm writing posts and does not have the option for me to fancily write around images like I am the Tumblr logo right now. Most of all though, There is no way to export my work and that is quite simply unacceptable.

So WordPress is a pain, Tumblr is holding my words hostage, and so here I am back to Blogger where it all started.

I'd guess I've written around 6.000 posts since I began in 2001 and as of right now, I'm starting over. That is, unless I manage to get Blogger to finally decide to decipher one very large .XML file that it seems to be throwing up all over as I write this. Another 500 posts are hanging out at Tumblr. Not sure what I'm going to do about that. Maybe just link to them here in case someone really cares what I said a year ago yesterday.

UPDATE: Came across this EXTREMELY useful blog (here on Blogger, no less) about how to export your Tumblr blog. The system Marco outlines is foolproof and works perfectly. You will need to go and resize some images as they are imported in their native size where Tumblr truncates. Enjoy.

Enjoy the blog and contribute where you see fit!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gonna be a little wet this weekend, especially in eastern OK. Rain should begin late Friday and stick around through Saturday in the east. West of OKC; not a lot of potential for accumulation at this point. Models can change though.

Buffalo Lake Effect Snow

Link: Buffalo Lake Effect Snow