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71 posts from July 2016


A Steamy and Stormy Week Ahead!

Following lots of afternoon thunderstorm activity the last couple of days... we will be treated to more of the same as we enter the workweek.


At the surface, we have a weak stationary boundary that has been stuck in place for several days now and will remain the focus for additional storms starting on Monday.  

In the upper levels, a rather active pattern continues with a "northwest flow" aloft currently.  Eventually the "big blue H" out west will begin to expand in our direction helping to increase heat and humidity once again.  


In the meantime, a small disturbance located in the flow aloft looks to increase that threat for storms tomorrow.

Let's time it out with AdvanceTrak...

AT starts us out quiet in the morning with patchy areas of fog possible.


By noon, showers and storms begin to approach our western counties.  


Storms become numerous to the west of 65 thru early afternoon.  


Activity pushes east during the mid to late afternoon hours.


While we are talking about mainly "afternoon/evening" stuff and isolated chance will remain with us Monday night.  


On Tuesday, we begin to feel those higher temps back into the 90's and heat indices will also creep up.


The chance for storms on Tuesday doesn't look as widespread, but it can't be ruled out either.  

The rest of the week looks to remain busy with healthy storm chances Wednesday and again by late on Friday. 

Rain chances

Be sure to catch Jude with a full update on those storm chances and how much rain we could see this week on WDRB in the Morning.

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Lightning Scars

It appears it was an electric night this week, at #5 green at Clear Creek Golf Course in Shelbyville, KY! That's where staff of the course believe lightning stuck the ground, leaving some major scars on the grass! Check out a few of the photos taken and posted on Facebook, by PGA Professional Derrick Griffitts. 

Golf course 5

As Griffitts said on his post "Not a hole in one, but Mother Nature sure threw a dart!"

Golf course 4

Golf course 3

Golf course 1

Golf course 2

The vein-like shape in the ground is the shape of the path the lightning current followed in the ground when it struck. Clear Creek Golf Course says they believed this happened late Thursday evening. If you recall, we had a few scattered storms around the area that day, but none of them were severe. HOWEVER, lightning is always going to be dangerous. The golf course staff and the WDRB Weather Team want to stress how dangerous it can be and to always play it safe. *Remember: "Thunder Roars, Stay Indoors!" If you missed my blog from yesterday, it was about a teen who encountered a CLOSE call with lightning. See its power here.

Besides a few isolated showers today, we should be seeing more sun! A better chance for showers and storms returns for the work week as well as more heat and humidity. Jeremy will have an update of the forecast this evening at 10 on WDRB.

Have a great Sunday! 

Want to connect on social media?! Find me with the links below: 

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 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw


The Mysterious "Eye of the Sahara"

When you think of an eye, chances are you don't think of a desert, right?  Yet if you are an astronaut that happens to look down while orbiting over the eastern part of the Sarah Desert, then there it is staring back at you!  

Eye-of-the-sahara-or-richat-structure-nasa-2The Richat Structure in East Africa as seen from the International Space Station.

Some call it the "Eye of the Sahara", others know it as the "Blue Eye of Africa".  Technically known as the Richat Structure, it is one of the most mysterious geological features on Earth.  

Located in Mauritania in the eastern part of the Sahara Desert, the Richat Structure is almost 50 km wide, and is a highly symmetric, circular geologic formation that wasn't discovered until the age of space exploration.  

1366670379_36b0f5abe1 A topographic reconstruction (scaled 6:1 on the vertical axis) from satellite photos. False coloring as follows: bedrock=brown, sand=yellow/white, vegetation=green, salty sediments=blue

Because the geologic formation is so large, it wasn't recognized until early space pioneers noticed it while in orbit over Africa.  In fact, many of those early space missions started using it as a landmark to guide their travels.  

To give you an idea of just how large and prominent this geologic feature is, just look it up on Google Earth.  This is what you will see.

Google earthImage of East Africa highlighting the location of the mysterous Richat Structure or Eye of Africa via Google Maps.

Upon its discovery, experts initially thought it was an impact crator because of its high degree of circularity.  This was debunked and later it was presumed to be a result of a volcanic eruption.  However, that didn't stick either because there is no dome or evidence of igneous or volcanic rock. 

Eye-of-the-sahara-or-richat-structure-nasaThe Eye of the Sahara or Blue Eye of Africa as seen from a detailed satellite image courtesy NASA

Although no one knows for sure, it is now argued to be a highly symmetrical and deeply eroded geologic dome that collapsed.  So it is thought to have been caused by uplifted rock sculpted by erosion.

But this doesn't explain some of the more peculiar features of the formation.  The fact that the "rings", are equidistant to the centre and that the Richat Structure is almost perfectly circular remains a mystery.

Eastern flank of the Richat Structure showing many concentric rings.

Some researchers point out that in many ways, the Eye of the Sahara fits the description of the lost city of Atlantis as described by Plato.

According to Plato, the island was circular, divided into concentric circles of land and water: "There were 2 of land and 3 of water... Atlantis when sunk by the earthquake became an impossible barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean..."

Giant-blue-eye-mauritania-03 Atlantis main Island according to the text of Plato in Timaeus & Critias written in 360 BC.

Plato went on to reference a mountain sheltering the city to the north "and encompassing a great plain of an oblong shape in the south".  A quick study of the topography of this area does indeed show a high, mountainous, ridge to the north with a great oval shaped plain to the south.  

That's quite a coincidence isn't it???  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Too Close for Comfort

"When thunder roars, stay indoors" - there is a reason this catchy phrase has become a popular saying among meteorologists. When you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. A Jersey Shore man learned this the scary way when he wasn't playing it safe during a storm, in fact he was doing the opposite! He was hoping get a photo of the storm, including a lightning shot over the ocean, when this happened...


Video Courtesy: CNN

In the video from CNN, the 16 year old victim, named Ethan Riozzi-Bodine, got caught in a storm on his way home. There were two lightning strikes and the second was mere feet away from him. He did go to the ER after the incident, but luckily walked away from it unharmed. Not even a burn! 

I am sure he is counting his lucky stars and we should all take his experience as a learning experience and always stay indoors or to seek shelter A.S.A.P. during thunderstorms! 

Locally, we will have to dodge a few showers and storms this afternoon. Jeremy will have an update of the forecast this evening at 10 on WDRB. I hope to see you bright and early tomorrow morning on WDRB in the Morning from 6-9 am! Have a great Saturday.

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 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw



The United States is Getting Bigger!

The United States is getting a little bit bigger this week!
How is that possible?!
Hot lava
Image Courtesy: USGS 
Hot lavaaa
Image Courtesy: CNN Photographer David Ford
Red hot lava is flowing from the Volcano Kilauea, on Hawaii's Big Island, for the first time since 2013 and is entering the Pacific Ocean. Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the more than 6 mile-long lava flow, finally reached the water at 1:15 am local time on Tuesday, after the flow started back in May. 
The lava is so hot it creates a ton of steam as it hits the cool water, drawing the attention of locals and tourists alike! 

Check out this video below and see how close people are getting to this lava!! 
Video Courtesy: earthsky102
This is just one of many videos I found online, there are plenty more on youtube! If you want more information about the volcano, head to USGS' website. 
I'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning on WDRB from 6-9 am! Until then, you can find me on social media with the links below! 

Outdoor Plans? This Will Help You Plan

From Jude Redfield...

    Light wind, standing water, recent rain, high humidity...THE SKEETER METER IS HIGH through the weekend. These are perfect conditions for mosquito bites.


    I've seen lots of talk on social media about camping this weekend. As long as you have a shelter to duck into if the stray storms impact you then it should be alright. The sun sets tonight at 8:55pm.  Locally heavy rain will occur in every storm. Make sure to stay away from any body of water as creeks could rapidly rise if impacted by storms.


    Taking the bike out?  Pop up storms this weekend into next week are on the table. Just be aware they could happen any day, but also be aware most of the time will be fantastic. Safe riding to everyone.



Do Contrails Affect Conditions On The Surface?

You don't have to be a meteorologist to know that clouds have a significant impact on the Earth's climate. They cool the planet's surface by reflecting the sun's rays, warm the atmosphere and surface by absorbing solar and longwave radiation, and even replenish surface waters through precipitation. But what about artificial clouds, particularly jet contrails; do they affect the Earth's climate too? 

For several years, Penn State geography professor Andrew Carleton and his university colleagues have been trying to find out, and they're using data from NOAA satellites in the process.

Contrails, or "condensation trails"—the line-shaped clouds often seen behind aircraft — are ice crystal clouds formed by the combination of carbon particles and water vapor emitted from the combustion of aviation fuel and atmospheric water vapor. They typically occur at about the same altitudes as natural cirrus clouds, approximately 25,000 to 35,000 feet.


Image Courtesy: NOAA /Contrails, or “condensation trails” are ice crystal clouds formed by the combination of carbon particles and water vapor emitted from planes and naturally occurring atmospheric water vapor.

Depending on the temperature and the amount of moisture in the air at this altitude, contrails either evaporate quickly or persist. If the humidity is low and the temperature is not cold enough (above -40 degrees Fahrenheit) contrails will dissipate quickly. However, if the air is moist and the temperature is -40ºF or below, then a contrail will "persist" for as long as 30 minutes to an hour. These persistent contrails are of interest to scientists because they increase the amount of clouds in the atmosphere and, as a consequence, can affect meteorological and even climatic conditions at or near the Earth's surface.

Of course, before scientists can study the effects of contrails they have to locate them. To do that, Carleton and his colleagues accessed data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), an instrument aboard several of NOAA's POES (polar orbiting environmental satellites) spacecraft.

The AVHRR provides radiance data for investigation of cloud types, day and night cloud distribution, and many other meteorological parameters through passively measured visible, near-infrared and thermal-infrared spectral radiation bands. Since its first flight aboard TIROS N in 1978, data from the AVHRR instrument have been used in a wide variety of applications, including detection and analysis of cold fronts, severe weather systems, cloud movement, boundary clouds, jet streams, cloud climatology, and hurricanes. In addition, AVHRR data has been used to monitor the effects of climate change and the environmental impacts from human activities.


Image Courtesy: NOAA / This AVHRR infrared image shows a "clear sky” contrail outbreak over Kentucky in October 2002. Image courtesy of Andrew Carleton

"We were mostly interested in the AVHRR's thermal-infrared [imagery], both day and night (AVHRR channels 4 and 5) because the thermal-infrared bands are where you can see the contrails clearest," he said. "We downloaded the data from the NOAA CLASS website, for multiple times per day to cover the conterminous United States. We weren't doing it for the whole year, just for the mid-season months (January, April, July, and October) as representative of the seasons for the years 2000 to 2002 and then for the period 2007 to 2009."

The researchers then imported the AVHRR images into ERDAS (software that allows users to prepare, display and enhance digital images for mapping) to determine when and where contrails occurred, derived their latitude and longitude, and then mapped them. The resulting "heat maps," as they are called, not only show where the greatest frequencies of contrails exist, but also their seasonal variability.

"Essentially, the Midwest—Illinois, Indiana, into Ohio also including Kentucky – the Southeast, and the Northeast are the primary areas where the satellite shows the contrails as being most persistent," said Carleton.


Image Courtesy: NOAA / The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument aboard NOAA’s polar orbiting (NOAA-series) satellites provides radiance data for investigation of cloud types, day and night cloud distribution, and many other meteorological parameters through passively measured visible, near infrared and thermal infrared spectral radiation bands.

After mapping the areas in which contrails were most likely to occur, the researchers then investigated the proposed link between increased aviation and the increase of contrails (also referred to as non-opaque, cirrus-like clouds) by comparing climate records on clouds from ground- based weather stations beneath and further away from well-traveled flightpaths. (The results of this study appeared in a paper published in the journal Climate Research in 2013.)

"What we found was that, from the 1960s to the late 1990s (which is when the station data on opaque and non-opaque clouds ends), there has been an increase in the non-opaque or the cirrus-level clouds in the areas [beneath flightpaths] as compared to stations that don’t have many flights over them," Carleton said. "This suggests that the high-cloud increases are at least partly related to the presence of aviation and contrails."

Later, in a paper published in the International Journal of Climatology in 2015, Carleton and PhD student Jase Bernhardt looked at the relationship between persistent contrails and temperature conditions, particularly in regard to what’s known as the diurnal temperature range (i.e., the difference between the daytime high temperature and the nighttime low temperature).  Again, the researchers compared data records from ground-based weather stations beneath and further away from areas of frequent contrails, namely the Midwest and the Southeast, to see if the diurnal temperature ranges in these areas differed.


Image Courtesy: NOAA This map shows the locations of all bounding boxes enclosing longer-lived contrail outbreaks in the Midwest sub-region (April 2008 and 2009). Graphic courtesy of Andrew Carleton

“Particularly for the South and Southeast [Bernhardt] showed that, yes, stations underneath the contrails had a suppressed diurnal temperature range versus stations a bit further away,” Carleton said. “The same was basically true for the Midwest, but it was not quite as statistically significant as it was for the South.”

In a second 2015 paper appearing in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, the researchers again used AVHRR data to investigate the feasibility of developing a statistical model to predict where clusters of contrails were likely to occur based on meteorological data, such as the temperature of the upper troposphere, humidity, wind shear and so on.

According to Carleton, such a model could be used to re-route planes to prevent the formation of contrails, thereby limiting their impact on surface temperatures.

“The temperature increases related to global warming could be made worse in areas where you have a lot of contrails,” said Carleton. “When you’re increasing the temperature, then that means there is more potential for evaporation of water, which can put more water vapor into the atmosphere and increase temperatures further by increasing the greenhouse effect.”

Beyond temperature, Carleton also said that contrails could have an effect on wind patterns.

“If you have variations at the earth’s surface in that diurnal temperature range, or just in the daytime high or the nighttime low, those differences could change local-scale wind patterns, which could have impacts for pollution dispersal near the Earth’s surface.”



-Rick DeLuca



Jupiter's Giant Red Spot: A Heat Source?!

This is really cool information and helping us understand more about the planet Jupiter! For years, scientists have wondered why temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are comparable to those found at Earth, when Jupiter is more than five times the distance from the sun.

Well, new NASA-funded research suggests that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot may be the mysterious heat source. The Great Red Spot has delighted and mystified since its discovery in the 17th Century. With its swirl of reddish hues, it’s 2-3 times as wide as Earth and is seen by many as a “perpetual hurricane,” with winds peaking at about 400 miles an hour!  It is the most noticeable feature of the planet (and what makes it my favorite planet) and is about 1,000 degrees hotter than elsewhere on Jupiter. The heat then spreads to other parts of the atmosphere.

Jupiter full

What's Heating Jupiter?

On Earth, sunlight heats the atmosphere at altitudes well above the surface—for example, at 250 miles above our planet where the International Space Station orbits. So scientists have been stumped as to why temperatures in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are comparable to those found at Earth, when it is so much farther away.  If the sun isn’t the heat source, then what is?

According to NASA, researchers from Boston University’s Center for Space Physics set out to solve the mystery by mapping temperatures well above Jupiter’s cloud tops using observations from Earth. They analyzed data from the SpeX spectrometer at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, a 3-meter infrared telescope operated for NASA by the University of Hawaii. By observing non-visible infrared light hundreds of miles above the gas giant, scientists found temperatures to be much higher in certain latitudes and longitudes in Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, where the spot is located.

“We could see almost immediately that our maximum temperatures at high altitudes were above the Great Red Spot far below—a weird coincidence or a major clue?” said Boston University’s James O’Donoghue, lead author of the study.

The study, in the July 27 issue of the journal Nature, concludes that the storm in the Great Red Spot produces two kinds of turbulent energy waves that collide and heat the upper atmosphere. Gravity waves are much like how a guitar string moves when plucked, while acoustic waves are compressions of the air (sound waves). Heating in the upper atmosphere 500 miles (800 kilometers) above the Great Red Spot is thought to be caused by a combination of these two wave types “crashing,” like ocean waves on a beach.

“The extremely high temperatures observed above the storm appear to be the ‘smoking gun’ of this energy transfer,” said O’Donoghue. “This tells us that planet-wide heating is a plausible explanation for the ‘energy crisis,’ a problem in which upper-atmospheric temperatures are measured hundreds of degrees hotter than can be explained by sunlight alone.”

This effect has been observed over the Andes Mountains here on Earth and may also be happening elsewhere in the outer solar system, though it has not been directly observed. Scientists believe this phenomenon also occurs on giant exoplanets orbiting other stars.


More Information to Come Soon:

NASA's Juno spacecraft, which recently arrived at Jupiter, will have several opportunities during its 20-month mission to observe the Great Red Spot and the turbulent region surrounding it. Juno will peer hundreds of miles downward into the atmosphere with its microwave radiometer, which passively senses heat coming from within the planet. This capability will enable Juno to reveal the deep structure of the Great Red Spot, along with other prominent Jovian features, such as the colorful cloud bands.

Keep up to date on more cool facts about weather, space and our local forecast by following me on Facebook and Twitter! The links to my pages are below: 

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 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw

Flash Flood Update

From Jude Redfield...

    A flash flood warning is in effect for Spencer, Shelby and Franklin counties in Kentucky until 6:45 this morning. Keep an eye on creeks and rivers as levels climb. A flash flood watch is also in effect for most of Kentucky through tonight. I will have live radar updates through 9am on WDRB In The Morning. -Jude-



Multiple Meteor Showers Over Next Few Weeks

For all you meteor shower lovers, mark your calendars and pack up the blankets! The next few weeks are going to feature some spectacular shows over the next few weeks! All we need is Mother Nature to cooperate!  For the next few days the Delta Aquarid will reign supreme. Then from early to mid August, it will be the Perseid Meteor Shower that lights up the sky. 


2016 Delta Aquarids Forecast
This year the Delta Aquarids will peak today through Friday (27-29 July). This year's peak occurs during a waning crescent moon, so that could compete with the meteors. We also have to contend with some showers and storms as well as more clouds than clear skies during this peak time frame.

Fast Facts

  • Comet of Origin: Unknown, 96P Machholz (suspected)
  • Radiant: Constellation Aquarius
  • Peak Activity: 27-29 July 2014
  • Peak Activity Meteor Count: Approximately 15-20 meteors per hour
  • Best Chance to see: An hour or two before dawn
  • Meteor Velocity: 41 km (25 miles) per second

About the Meteor Shower
The Delta Aquarids are active beginning in mid-July and are visible until late-August. These faint meteors are difficult to spot, and with the moon present, it makes it more difficult. It will be a new moon in early August, so you might be able to see a few then as well. 

If you are unable to view the Delta Aquarids during their peak, look for them again during the Perseids in August: You will know that you have spotted a Delta Aquarid if the meteor is coming from the direction of the constellation Aquarius -- its radiant will be in the southern part of the sky. The Perseid radiant is in the northern part of the sky.

Viewing Tips
The Delta Aquarids are best viewed in the Southern Hemisphere and southern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Find an area well away from city or street lights. Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Lie flat on your back and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. However, looking halfway between the horizon and the zenith, and 45 degrees from the constellation of Aquarius will improve your chances of viewing the Delta Aquarids. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. Be patient -- the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.

2016 Perseid Meteor Shower Forecast

The Perseid meteor shower will peak during August 11-12.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 3.52.43 PM
This is probably the most popular summer meteor shower, because it can have up to 200 meteors per hour, making it a very viewer friendly meteor shower! While the peak is a few days away, it will gradually build. So on clear nights, give it a go and try to see them! They will be fast and bright across the entire sky. This year, a waxing gibbous moon will impact the light show a bit, but it will set before dawn. The best chance to see the Perseid shower is right before dawn. If you plan on viewing the either meteor shower, you should try to get as far away from city lights as possible and give your eyes some time to acclimate to the dark sky. 


Since 2008, the Perseids have produced more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The Geminids are a close second, but they are not as bright as the Perseids.


Video Courtesy: ScienceATNASA

A fireball is a very bright meteor, at least as bright as the planets Jupiter or Venus. They can be seen on any given night as random meteoroids strike Earth's upper atmosphere. One fireball every few hours is not unusual. Fireballs become more numerous, however, when Earth is passing through the debris stream of a comet. That’s what will happen this August.

The Perseid meteor shower comes from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in early- to mid-August, Earth passes through a cloud of dust sputtered off the comet as it approaches the sun. Perseid meteoroids hitting our atmosphere at 132,000 mph produce an annual light show that is a favorite of many backyard sky watchers.

Where Do Meteors Come From?
Meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids. When comets come around the sun, the dust they emit gradually spreads into a dusty trail around their orbits. Every year the Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 4.05.17 PM

If you have a watch party or able to capture any of these meteors, be sure to share them with me on social media! We would love to see them! Find my Facebook and Twitter Pages below: 

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 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw