12/16/2017

Half and Half Weekend: Some Sun/Some Rain

About time you showed up! The sun that is! Clouds have been hanging around for days and they finally cleared out overnight! 

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This will lead to a bright and sunny day with milder temps. We will be in the 40s and 50s today! That is about 10 degrees above average! However, during the afternoon, the winds will pick up. Gusts will be up to 25 mph. That will make it feel slightly cooler. 

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Clouds will return pretty quickly, later tonight during the overnight and this will keep our temps just slightly warmer, by a few degrees. Clouds will be on the rise thanks to the next system. 

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Speaking of the next system, it is a Tex/Mex cut off low and will be making its way toward our area over the next 24 hours and bring the chance for a few showers. 

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But it will be weakening and the moisture from the upper level low will run into some drier air, just like every other system of recent weeks. So while we will see rain, not everyone will see it. The showers will also be on and off and light. 

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We will start off the morning dry and cloudy. The entire day, even when it is not raining, looks to be rather gray. Rain will arrive to our area from the SW and move NE around daybreak. These showers are going to be hit or miss.

Use the images of Advancetrak below, as a gauge for coverage versus bible truth. 

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Showers will continue through the afternoon. 
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And taper off in the early evening. It will remain cloudy and there will be a few more isolated showers lingering into Monday. 

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Here is a summary for the weekend! The rain tomorrow will not amount to much. I put here, less than a quarter of an inch. But realistically, it will probably be even less than that. While the showers will be annoying, they shouldn't impact your day all of that much. 
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Be sure to join Hannah this evening to get the latest information about the timing of the rain Sunday and then tomorrow morning from WDRB in the Morning from 6-9 am! Until then, you can find me with the links below on social media! 

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-Katie McGraw 

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12/14/2017

Competing Solar Systems? 8th Planet Discovered in Kepler-90 Solar System

Our solar system has some competition!

We have 8 planets orbiting our sun (sorry, Pluto lovers) and that puts us in the lead among solar systems for having the most number of planets around a single star....or so we thought.

Today, NASA announced it recently discovered an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light years from Earth. The planet was discovered in data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. The newly-discovered Kepler-90i  is a sizzling hot, rocky planet and orbits its star once every 14.4 days. It was found using machine learning from Google. No, you didn't read that wrong, "machine learning" is an approach to artificial intelligence in which computers “learn.” In this case, computers learned to identify planets by finding in Kepler data instances where the telescope recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets. 

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The scientists at NASA expected exciting discoveries lurking in the archived Kepler data and they were just waiting for the right tool to find them. 

The discovery came about after researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg trained a computer to learn how to identify exoplanets in the light readings recorded by Kepler – the miniscule change in brightness captured when a planet passed in front of, or transited, a star. Inspired by the way neurons connect in the human brain, this artificial “neural network” sifted through Kepler data and found weak transit signals from a previously-missed eighth planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation Draco.

While machine learning has previously been used in searches of the Kepler database, this research demonstrates that neural networks are a promising tool in finding some of the weakest signals of distant worlds.  

Video Credit: NASA's Ames Research Center

Kepler-90: Like our Solar System...But not quite 

The likelihood of finding life on Kepler-90 star solar system is low and NASA says other planetary systems probably hold more promise.  Kepler-90i (this newly discovered planet) is roughly 30% larger than Earth and is so close to its star that its average surface temperature is believed to exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit, on par with Mercury. Its outermost planet, Kepler-90h, orbits at a similar distance to its star as Earth does to the Sun. Kepler-90's solar system is a mini me of our solar system with small planets on the inside and larger plants on the outside, but it's all very scrunched together. 

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With the discovery of an eighth planet, the Kepler-90 system is the first to tie with our solar system in number of planets. 
Credits: NASA/Wendy Stenzel
 
 
Just Google it... 

Shallue, a senior software engineer with Google’s research team Google AI, came up with the idea to apply a neural network to Kepler data. He became interested in exoplanet discovery after learning that astronomy, like other branches of science, is rapidly being inundated with data as the technology for data collection from space advances

“In my spare time, I started googling for ‘finding exoplanets with large data sets’ and found out about the Kepler mission and the huge data set available,” said Shallue. "Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can't search it for themselves.”

Kepler’s four-year dataset consists of 35,000 possible planetary signals. Automated tests, and sometimes human eyes, are used to verify the most promising signals in the data. However, the weakest signals often are missed using these methods. Shallue and Vanderburg thought there could be more interesting exoplanet discoveries faintly lurking in the data. There are also a lot of false positiives of planets, but also potentially more real planets.  “It’s like sifting through rocks to find jewels. If you have a finer sieve then you will catch more rocks but you might catch more jewels, as well.”

In fact, Kepler-90i wasn’t the only jewel this neural network sifted out. In the Kepler-80 system, they found a sixth planet. This one, the Earth-sized Kepler-80g, and four of its neighboring planets form what is called a resonant chain – where planets are locked by their mutual gravity in a rhythmic orbital dance. The result is an extremely stable system, similar to the seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. 

Kepler has produced an unprecedented data set for exoplanet hunting. After gazing at one patch of space for four years, the spacecraft now is operating on an extended mission and switches its field of view every 80 days.

For more information on this announcement visit: nasa.gov/mediaresources.

Or to learn more about the mission and Kepler-90 click here. 

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12/13/2017

Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Geminid meteors will be most active tonight, so this is your best chance to see a shooting star.  Unfortunately, it looks like clouds won't be cooperating all night. 

Bill Cooke from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office says there could be up to one meteor per minute (that's 60 per hour) under good conditions! He went on to say, "Good rates will be seen between 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and dawn local time the morning of Dec. 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4 a.m. on Dec. 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky."

Below is the HRRR model, one of the best short-term forecast models when it comes to cloud forecasting, at 8 PM.  At this point the thickest clouds are starting to slide down from the south, so it will be tough to see the meteors. 

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The image below is that same model showing midnight.  You can see even more clouds around Louisville at this point, so this will be even worse for viewing any possible meteors.  

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Below is that same forecast model showing 4 AM.  Early Thursday morning looks like your best chance to see a shooting star, though you certainly won't see a totally clear sky.  By early morning you can start to see some clearing over northern Kentucky and southern Indiana.  In my opinion, this is your best chance to see the meteor shower.  Remember it will be VERY cold, so plan and dress accordingly, but I would suggest setting the alarm for 2 or 3 AM if you really want to see the show. 

4 am

About the Geminid Shower

The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth's atmosphere in a flurry of "shooting stars."

"Phaethon's nature is debated," said Cooke. "It's either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet." As an added bonus this year, astronomers will have a chance to study Phaethon up close in mid-December, when it passes nearest to Earth since its discovery in 1983.

Meteor showers are named after the location of the radiant, usually a star or constellation close to where they appear in the night sky. The Geminid radiant is in the constellation Gemini. The Geminids can be seen with the naked eye under clear, dark skies over most of the world, though the best view is from the Northern Hemisphere. Observers will see fewer Geminids in the Southern Hemisphere, where the radiant doesn't climb very high over the horizon.

If you do manage to see one and snag a picture, make sure to send it to us! 

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-Hannah Strong

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Hurricane Irma: Most Googled Term in 2017

Google released its list of the most popular searches of 2017 and people, as always, were pretty much curious about everything. However, there were a few topics searched more than others. 

The most searched term across the entire world this year was actually a natural disaster: Hurricane Irma. Irma swept across the Caribbean and Florida Keys back in September and caused catastrophic damage. 

Check out this moving video about everything searched in the past year. 

Video Credit: Google

Top Global Searches: Below are the top ten global searches of the year:

1) Hurricane Irma

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2) iPhone 8

3) iPhone X

4) Matt Lauer

5) Meghan Markle

6) 13 Reasons Why

7) Tom Petty

8) Fidget Spinner

9) Chester Bennington

10) India National Cricket Team

Top US Searches:

As you can imagine, Hurricane Irma was also the top US search as well. Plus, there were other weather/Earth events that made the US list as well, including the Solar Eclipse and Hurricane Harvey.  

1) Hurricane Irma

2) Matt Lauer

3) Tom Petty

4) Super Bowl

5) Las Vegas shooting

6) Mayweather vs McGregor fight

7) Solar eclipse

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8) Hurricane Harvey

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9) Aaron Hernandez

10) Fidget Spinner

Were you surprised by the most searched items this year? Tell me your thoughts on social media! The links to my pages are below! 

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-Katie McGraw 

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12/12/2017

DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS? Check Out The Historical Probability Of A White Christmas...

This is the time of the year that everyone asks if we will see a white Christmas. In tonight's blog, I want discuss how often we actually have a white Christmas in the Ohio Valley and the chance of us seeing one this year.

Louisville and most of our central Kentucky counties have about a 9% chance of a white Christmas with southern Indiana closer to the 15% category. This means Louisville statistically has a white Christmas about once every 10 years. In order for it to be "officially'' a white Christmas there needs to be a least one inch of snow on the ground. Pick out your location on the map below... 

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While we have several small snow chances lined up over the next week or so, there doesn't appear to be any big storms in our near future. The ECMWF EPS Probability Snowfall Accumulation of 1" or more product takes us into the week leading up to Christmas. 

It has less than a 10% chance for one inch of snow on the ground from Louisville south & west with less than a 20% chance for locations north & east. Please keep in mind this is highly subject to change and I want you to keep up to date with our forecast. For now, chances of a white Christmas don't look very high. Stay with WDRB as we get deeper into the month of December and stay warm this week! 

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Image Credit: WeatherBell

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

Rick

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Wednesday Rain/Snow Chances

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, another low pressure system will bring a rain and snow chances to Kentuckiana Wednesday afternoon. 

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The low pressure itself will stay to our north and drop more snow with colder air near the Great Lakes.  For us a bit farther south, we are tracking the transition from rain to snow. 

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There will be limited moisture from this system in general, but what we do see will likely start as rain drops.  Since temperatures will fall quickly behind the cold front, the transition to snow is likely to happen quickly. 

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Think of this as two separate waves.  We've already looked at the first wave which will be mostly rain and come Wednesday evening (see above image).  The second wave will be the transition to snow and happen overnight into Thursday morning. 

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The stringy nature of these snow showers, instead of dots, suggests we could see morning snow squalls.  That is what we saw Saturday with some places only seeing flurries, but others seeing heavier snow that accumulates. 

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AdvanceTrak even shows one of those snow squalls moving over Louisville early Thursday morning.  

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Notice how low temperatures are during and after these snow squalls.  While it won't be much snow, it could cause similar problems to Saturday.  If roads are treated, we will be in better shape.  However, if they are untreated, it is likely ice will develop where these snow squalls drop heavier snow that doesn't melt. 

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So what does this mean for you? Little to no snow accumulation, but if you see one of these snow "squalls," ice may be a problem by Thursday morning (like what happened Saturday night).

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Check in with Jude and Mike during WDRB in the Morning from 5-9 for forecast and road updates. 

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12/11/2017

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER Peaks This Week! When You Could See An Average Of 60 Meteors Per Hour...

Maybe you've already seen a bright meteor streak across the December sky? The annual Geminid meteor shower has arrived. It's a good time to bundle up, go outside and let the universe blow your mind!

"With August's Perseids obscured by bright moonlight, the Geminids will be the best shower this year," said Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The thin, waning crescent Moon won't spoil the show."

The shower will peak overnight Dec. 13-14 with rates around one per minute under good conditions, according to Cooke. Geminids can be seen on nights before and after the Dec. 14 peak, although they will appear less frequently.

"Geminid activity is broad," said Cooke. "Good rates will be seen between 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and dawn local time the morning of Dec. 14, with the most meteors visible from midnight to 4 a.m. on Dec. 14, when the radiant is highest in the sky."

Video Credit: NASA

About the Geminid Shower
The Geminids are active every December, when Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris shed by a weird, rocky object named 3200 Phaethon. The dust and grit burn up when they run into Earth's atmosphere in a flurry of "shooting stars."

"Phaethon's nature is debated," said Cooke. "It's either a near-Earth asteroid or an extinct comet, sometimes called a rock comet."

As an added bonus this year, astronomers will have a chance to study Phaethon up close in mid-December, when it passes nearest to Earth since its discovery in 1983.

Meteor showers are named after the location of the radiant, usually a star or constellation close to where they appear in the night sky. The Geminid radiant is in the constellation Gemini.

The Geminids can be seen with the naked eye under clear, dark skies over most of the world, though the best view is from the Northern Hemisphere. Observers will see fewer Geminids in the Southern Hemisphere, where the radiant doesn't climb very high over the horizon.

Observing the Geminids
Skywatching is easy. Just get away from bright lights and look up in any direction! Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. Meteors appear all over the sky, but they should radiate from the south. The GFS shows clouds around Wednesday evening and again Thursday morning. However, there is some clearing that occurs around 1 AM that should allow you to check out the show for a few hours. During this time, you could see an average of 60 meteors per hour...

Sky

Not all the meteors you might see belong to the Geminid shower, however. Some might be sporadic background meteors, and some might be from weaker, active showers like the Monocerotids, Sigma Hydrids and the Comae Berenicids.

"When you see a meteor, try to trace it backwards," said Cooke. "If you end up in the constellation Gemini there's a good chance you've seen a Geminid."

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

Rick

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Snow + Single-Digit Wind Chills

Our weather setup has a low pressure to the north with a trailing cold front moving through Kentuckiana early Tuesday morning. That brings us a chance for snow which Meteorologist (and snow-enthusiast) Jude Redfield explained here.

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Behind that cold front we will see strong wind and colder air. Wind speeds Tuesday could climb as high as 30 mph!

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The air coming down from the northwest will be frigid.  Below is a look at temperatures this afternoon from our "source region" showing much colder air is on the way.

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The wind plus the cold air brings wind chill values in the single digits in a few places by Wednesday morning.  Expect to see wind chills in the teens and 20s all day Tuesday. 

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This is the kind of cold you need to prepare for, so below is a chart showing how long it takes for frostbite to set in at different temperatures and wind speeds.  This graph is from the National Weather Service and shows temperatures along the top with wind speeds down the left side.  Those work together to come up with wind chill values shown in the chart. The colors in the center show how long it takes for frostbite to start at these wind chills. 

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This chart shows it will take more than 30 minutes for frostbite to start on exposed skin.  That's plenty of time and not yet considered dangerous but serves as a great reminder to bundle up as temperatures plummet these next few days.  WebMD says there are three stages of frostbite.  The early symptoms are skin turning pale yellow or white and skin itching/stinging/burning/feeling like "pins and needles."

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Arctic Air Jailbreak Brings Snow Showers

From Jude Redfield...

     Another rush of arctic air spreads south tonight. This cold air jailbreak swoops deep into the southeast by tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be a complete change from what we get today! Expect steady temps between 25-30 on Tuesday with wind chill readings in the teens.    

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     I'm sure you're wondering about snow chances so lets get into that topic. 

RadarUpdate

    A few snow showers are possible well after midnight. These hit or miss snow bursts (winter's version of summer pop ups) look to get going between 3am - 10am. The best chance would be along and east of I-65. A quick dusting could occur where they hit. While widespread travel issues aren't expected, a slick spot or two can't be taken off the table.

    Future radar images below should help paint the picture of an event that isn't going to be widespread.

Temps

TempPlunge

    The more widespread snow bursts look to take aim just to our north and east. Check out that narrow snow streamer blowing off Lake Michigan!!! This will create a real travel nightmare where it hits. 

Specialgraphic

    These nickel and dime snow jobs with the current weather pattern aren't going to impact everyone, but certainly need to be monitored for situations like this past Saturday night. Hannah, Rick and Marc will update the snow outlook this afternoon and tonight so make sure to check back with them. -Jude Redfield-

12/10/2017

Wildfires Can Be Seen From Space

There are currently several wildfires burning in southern California.  The largest wildfire (Thomas Fire) is only 15% contained as of Saturday night. The fires are so large and technology has progressed so far that we can see those fires from space! 

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The image above is from the Himawari-8 satellite.  The imager that took this "picture" is the same one on the new GOES (American satellite).  That satellite will be operational in just a few weeks, and we will have regular images like this one.  Right now the Himawari-8 satellite is regularly pointed at Asia, so we don't get these images every day. 

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Image Credit: NASA

A NASA pilot took this picture of those same fires.  Obviously wildfires pose many threats.  Thousands of people and their animals have been forced to evacuate, and air quality is very poor even outside that evacuation zone.  Strong Santa Ana (dry and gusty) winds are forecast to continue through Monday, which will help fuel these fires. 

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