09/01/2015

So are we destined for ANOTHER bad winter???

Both of the "farmers" almanacs are out and both are calling for another "COLD and SNOWY" winter season ahead.  

The Farmers' Almanac, which has been published annually since 1818, is predicting a winter that is "Snow Filled and Frigid" for the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes.  

Farmers-almanac-mapThe Farmers' Almanac’s Winter weather Map for 2016

This forecast is not to be confused with the one recently released by The Old Farmers Alamanac (published since 1792) which coincidentally is also calling for a "Cold and Snowy" winter here locally.

Winter2015580The Old Farmers Almanac’s Winter weather Map for 2016

So are we destined for ANOTHER bad winter?  

Not necessarily.

While both almanacs claim to have developed a "secret formula" for producing winter forecasts over the years, both have shown little actual skill and tend to rely on general or generic wording to justify their forecasts.  

In addition, there certainly seems to be a tendency for these almanacs to use hyperbole and more often than not call for "bad" winters in an attempt to sell more almanacs.

I'm not saying there is no science behind these forecasts, I'm only saying there seems to be tendencies that support my above stated opinion.  

What does science say? 

Beyond secret formulas and folklore there is a more scientific method for seasonal forecast prediction.  

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) uses a number of "indicators" when it comes to putting together it's long range forecasts.  

These indicators include such things as the current state and forecated state of sea surface temperatures over the Eastern Equatorial Pacific (known as El Nino/La Nina), the tropical 30-60 day oscillation known as the Madden Julian Oscillation or the MJO, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Pacific North Amercian Oscillation (PNO) and current climatological trends.   

Among these indicators, the most important are the forecasted state of El Nino/La Nina and current climate trends.  

El Nino/La Nina is a preferred indicator because it's predictability is higher than the other climate patterns and can be a very strong signal when either a strong El Nino or La Nina is present.

The 800 lb Gorilla - El Nino!

In case you've missed the memo, a hugely impactful El Nino event is on going across the Equatorial Pacific with sea surface temperatures as warm as they have been in nearly two decades.  

Current sea surface temps are running 2 to 3 degrees C above normal over parts of the Eastern Pacific and these conditions are projected to persist through the winter months.

Nino3SeaE120

So what does this mean?

According to the folks at CPC, we are probably looking at near normal to slightly above normal temperatures this coming winter.  (A stark contrast to the forecast currently being advertised by the above mentioned "farmers" almanacs) 

Off04_temp

CPC is predicting above normal temps for much of the Northern Tier and below normal temps for much of the South.  

Precipitation-wise, CPC is expecting drier than normal conditions across our area, the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies with wetter than normal conditions for much of the South.

Off04_prcp

So what do I think?

I think it is highly unlikely that we will see a repeat of the last two winters.

As mentioned above, El Nino is completely driving the CPC forecast and for good reason, because of the high correlation between winter seasonal forecasting and strong El Nino/La Nina events.  

Because this one is so strong, it will have a significant influence on our weather during the approaching cold season.  

Something to watch for...

One of the chief characteristics of a strong El Nino winter is a dominate southern branch of the jet stream which can help to produce strong storm systems that develop over the Southern US.  

When these storms "couple" with the northern branch of the jet, they can create big snow makers for the Eastern US and sometimes into our region too. 

It's not just El Nino

When it comes to Pacific Warmth right now, it's not just the waters along the equator.  Notice the plumes of warmth off the Baja of California and also further north into the Bay of Alaska.    

 Global_anomaly_oper0

This massive area of warm ocean water was a major influence on our weather over the last two seasons causing a semi-permanent upper level ridge to form along the West Coast which had a cascading effect on our weather here locally as shot after shot of cold air was able to dig into the Eastern US out of the Arctic.  

While I don't see this winter as being as persistently cold and snowy and the past two, the interaction between a still potent northern and now a much stronger southern branch of the jet could give birth to infrequent, but powerful winter storms this season. 

It is interesting to note that the largest snowfall in Louisville history occurred during the last strong El Nino during the winter of 1997-'98.  

We'll have a more complete winter outlook posted once we get into the fall months.  

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy this late season summer warmth. 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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08/31/2015

Tropics are Heating Up! 4 Named Storms Roaming World Oceans.

When it comes to the tropics, it doesn't get much busier than this.  

Tropics

Currently, there are four named storms roaming the world's tropical oceans and while it has been a slow year for the Atlantic, that has not been the case for the Pacific.  

Already, there have been 10 named storms this season in the Eastern Pacific alone with Category 4 Hurricane Jimena the latest to develop. 

CNw3g3QWUAEm4ct

Fortunately, this trio of hurricanes looks to remain at sea with only minimal affects on the Hawaiian Islands.

Khl

Including the Western Pacific typhoons, there have been 26 named tropical cyclones in the Pacific so far this year which is nearly double the average through the end of August. 

Meanwhile in the far Eastern Atlantic, Category 1 Hurricane Fred became the first storm to reach Hurricane strength while crossing over the Cape Verde Islands since the late 1800's.  

Ir4-l

Fortunately, this storm is expected to shift towards the north and weaken in the coming days.

Khl

Currently, there are no tropical storms threatening the US.  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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08/30/2015

Heat Wave Cooks Kentuckiana This Week...

It's hasn't really felt like summer for the last 2 weeks with temperatures running way below average. In fact, we have gone 13 days in a row without hitting the 90 degree mark. This is pretty rare for August, and it's the fewest number of 90's we've had since 1997. On average, 11 of the 31 days in the month are spent in the 90's. So far we've only had 4...

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Over the next few days, the jet stream will lift further off to the north allowing the heat to build. This should give us a string of hot days all the way into next weekend. Have a plan to stay cool and be sure to drink plenty of water during this potential heat wave. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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-Rick DeLuca

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08/29/2015

Storm Chance Goes Up Tomorrow

Following a nice stretch of early fall-like conditions, it was back to reality today as highs reached back into the upper 80's with higher humidity as well.

Almanac

The humidity is being carried into the area by a south breeze that has developed ahead of a weak cool front.  

Satrad

This front will act as the focus for scattered showers and storms as we wrap up the weekend. 

Let's time it out with AdvanceTrak...

At1

At2

At3

At4

At5

While most of the area will probably remain dry, a few locally heavy storms will be possible.

Highest storm chance will occur between 3 and 8 pm tomorrow. 

Rick will be in with a full update first thing tomorrow.

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Updating Weekend Rain Chances...

Summer is back! Along with the heat and humidity, a few storms are possible this weekend. Many of us will end up missing out on the rain, but downpours and lighting should be expected with any storm that does boil up. Severe weather is very unlikely as well. Daytime heating will spark hit or miss storms as we head into the afternoon and evening hours, but NOT MANY. Notice on future radar how the best chance lines up along and south of the Ohio River...

Blog 1

 More clouds along with a slightly better chance for scattered storms arrives tomorrow. Even then, they will still be scattered in nature meaning a good chunk of the area stays dry. Both days we should see highs in the mid to upper 80's, feeling closer to 90 when you factor in the humidity...

Blog 2

If you have any outdoor plans, just download the WDRB Weather App and you get access to our FREE radar! Make sure you turn on WDRB tonight for an update with Jeremy Kappell. 

Blog 4

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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Katrina Special: Marc Weinberg's Experience Chasing Hurricane Katrina...

Ten years ago, one of the strongest storms to ever strike the United States made landfall along the Louisiana–Mississippi border. Hurricane Katrina remains the costliest natural disaster to ever impact the United States and the deadliest since 1928. The cold statistics are by now well known: 1,836 deaths, an estimated 300,000 homes destroyed or made uninhabitable, and about $108 billion in damages. 

Katrina1615z-050829-1kg12

Hurricane Katrina, as seen by the GEOS-12 satellite. Image Courtesy: NASA

WDRB's Chief Meteorologist Marc Weinberg went down to Gulfport, MS to chase Hurricane Katrina. The following video is a 30 minute special showing highlights from the chase and the horrific aftermath...

 

Video Courtesy:  WDRBWeather's channel

 

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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08/28/2015

Signs Of Katrina Linger In The Marshes...

Ten years after making landfall, scars from Hurricane Katrina still linger. And not just in the blighted houses that mar some neighborhoods. The marshes and swamps that buffer New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico still show evidence of Katrine’s wrath.

The wetlands surrounding Delacroix, a fishing town to the southeast of New Orleans, were some of the hardest hit by the hurricane. Pounding surf, driving winds, and a potent storm surge transformed the marshes by picking apart mats of dead grass, stirring up and disbursing soft underlying sediments, scouring several new channels, and depositing leftover sediment and debris in new areas.

This pair of false-color images shows the transformation. The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 acquired the top image a week before the storm hit. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the second image in August 2015. With this band combination, normal vegetation appears bright green and flood-damaged vegetation is brown. Water is dark blue. (Note that you also can download a large image of the area as it appeared two months after the storm.)

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One Week Before Katrina         Image Credit: NASA

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One Week After Katrina         Image Credit: NASA

Katrina delivered a massive surge of water that dramatically enlarged lakes, including Lake Lery and Petit Lake. It also scoured new channels and widened canals in ways that eliminated large amounts of marshland. As seen in the 2015 image, flood-damaged vegetation has returned to its normal color, but the enlarged waterways have persisted.

A team of U.S Geological Survey scientists has published detailed maps of land change around Delacroix. By looking at a series of Landsat and commercial satellite images of the area over time, and comparing them pixel by pixel, they have determined how much effect Hurricane Katrina had on the marshes compared to Gustav, another hurricane that struck in 2008.

Their conclusion was that Katrina’s extreme winds, long duration (20 hours), and major storm surge (up to five meters) did serious, lasting damage to Delacroix’s marshes; Gustav reinforced it in 2008. After Katrina’s flooding had subsided, 8.2 percent of the pixels in their study area had changed from land to water; Gustav changed an additional 1.4 percent of pixels.

Katrina did build new land in a few areas. In the 2015 image, for instance, note the expansion near Big Mar and along some of the other new ponds and channels west of Lake Lery. In total, 3.3 percent of pixels were converted from water before Katrina to land afterward.

Land losses tended to be more severe in freshwater and intermediate marshes closer to the town than in saltwater and brackish marshes closer the Gulf. Freshwater marshes have more pliable soil that is easily washed away. They also tend to support plants with shallower root systems than salt marshes.

“If Delacroix continues to dodge hurricanes, we can expect to see the extent of aquatic vegetation increase even if we don’t see the full reestablishment of healthy marsh in all the areas that had it before Katrina,” said Monica Palaseanu-Lovejoy, one of the U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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08/27/2015

Tropical Storm Erika Update...

Tropical Storm Erika is in the eastern Caribbean Sea, dumping heavy rain on the Lesser Antilles. Deadly flooding has been reported in Dominica where four lives have been lost. Check out this scary video of water tearing through the streets...

 

Video Courtesy: JNews

Erika is poorly organized at the moment as is travels to the west-northwest at 16 mph. Winds are sustained at 45 mph with gusts up to 65 mph. It should maintain it's tropical storm status as it moves across Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and the eventually the Bahamas.

Mail.google.com

The exact track for Erika is still uncertain, but Florida and the Carolinas needs to be on alert. Notice that the latest forecast has Erika picking up steam as it approaches the U.S. coast as a Category 1 hurricane early next week...

Mail.google.com

We will keep an eye on this and have updates online and on air. Don't forget to flip on WDRB tonight for a look at the weekend forecast with Marc Weinberg. 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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08/25/2015

Extended Forecast Trending MUCH Warmer!

It has been nothing less than a sensational start to the workweek with temps running a full 10 degrees below normal for much of our region.

Gfs_t2m_a_f_conus2_2

While the early taste of fall continues for a couple more days, all good things eventually must end and so too will our unseasonably cool pattern. 

The latest data suggests that temps will gradually warm by late week and through the weekend.

Today's run of the GFS (below) shows temps actually warming to above normal again by early next week with highs returning to the low 90's here locally. 

Gfs_t2m_a_f_conus2_31

This warm up may not be short lived either.  Medium range models indicate that the warm spell may well last through next week and possibly beyond.  

The folks at the Climate Prediction Center agree with this assessment and have placed our area in a rather high, 70% for above normal temps in the the 8 to 14 day range.  

814temp_new

This means we will be sweating again soon and a bonafide heat wave may be lurking as we head into September.  

For the latest on how warm it will get, be sure to join Marc for an updated forecast tonight on WDRB.

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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08/24/2015

NASA Image of the Day: Strange Sighting From ISS

Viewing from a point over northwest Mexico, astronauts aboard the International Space Station looked northeast and shot this unusual photograph of a red sprite above the white light of an active thunderstorm. In the top image, the sprite was 2,200 kilometers (1,400 miles) away, high over Missouri or Illinois; the lights of Dallas, Texas appear in the foreground. The sprite shoots up to the greenish airglow layer, near a rising moon.

Iss044e045553Full resolution image available here.

Two minutes and 58 seconds later, as the ISS was over the coastal Mexican resort of Acapulco, the crew documented another red sprite (lower image) over a brilliant white thundercloud and lightning discharge near the coast of El Salvador. The shorter distance to the storm—about 1,150 km (710 miles)—makes it somewhat easier to see details of the sprite. City lights are a diffuse yellow because they are shining through clouds.

Iss044e045576Full resolution image available here.

These photos show the sprite’s tendrils reaching as much as 100 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Sprites are major electrical discharges, but they are not lightning in the usual sense. Instead, they are a cold plasma phenomenon without the extremely hot temperatures of lightning that we see underneath thunderstorms. Red sprites are more like the discharge of a fluorescent tube. Bursts of sprite energy are thought to occur during most large thunderstorm events. They were first photographed in 1989.

Astronaut photographs ISS044-E-45553 and ISS044-E-45576 were acquired on August 10, 2015, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 28 millimeter lens, and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The images were taken by a member of the Expedition 44 crew. The images have been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC. 

Information and Images Courtesy NASA

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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