Weather Blog: Rain Train Makes Another Visit

From Jude Redfield...

    The first wave of light rain is moving into Louisville Metro as I type (10:40am)  The heaviest rain remains near the KY/TN border. The cluster of lightning near Nashville, TN could lead to a storm or two in far southern Kentucky, but with relatively cool air remaining atmospheric instability lacks. No severe weather is expected at this point.

Snow Reports

    Please follow the timeline posted below.  The significant rain should rap up rapidly this evening as we are left with spotty showers at night.

Shoes (2)

    With the heaviest rain expected in southern Kentucky a minor flash flood threat is something to monitor.  Louisville Metro appears to be the buffer zone between the heaviest rain and the lighter amounts expected in southern Indiana.


    LOTS of clouds linger into Saturday. Saturday does not appear to be anything like today, but a few showers will hit some locations in Kentuckiana. With daytime heating a pop up t-storm is possible later in the afternoon. The clearing trend continues into Sunday with sunshine blazing a warmer trail back into the region. -Jude Redfield-


Dramatic Water Rescue on Lake Erie

Watch this dramatic video the Coast Guard took while rescuing 3 people from the chilly waters of Lake Erie, earlier this week. The current water temperature is about 50° and the water was also very choppy, with 6 foot swells at the time of the sinking. 

According to reports, a yacht capsized, after hitting rocks in the water. The ship started to sink and three occupants of the boat were left to fend for themselves, clinging to the hull. Luckily, all three were wearing life jackets, which more than likely saved their lives. They were showing signs of hypothermia, but the Coast Guard says all three declined medical attention.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT. . . this was not the only rescue on Lake Erie. The SAME helicopter rescued a man from the water just hours before this rescue. He was also uninjured. Quite a rough day on Lake Erie!

 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw


Lichtenberg Figures: Shocking Effect Of Lightning...

Looking at the picture below, one would probably think they are simply looking at some type of body art that someone willingly put on their body. Well, it's not and the cause of this unique effect is SHOCKING! Any guesses? At an astounding 50,000 degrees, lightning can do some amazing things and this is one of the more unique I have ever seen...


Lichtenberg Figures

In 1777, a physicist by the name of Georg Christoph Lictenberg built large a large eletrophorus to study high voltage discharges through an insulator. This was an experiment to see what these very high voltage discharges could do. In this experiement, he found these fractal patterns that were created during these high voltage discharges that became known as the Lichtenberg figure. These fractal patterns can be left on the interior or exterior of insulating materials during these types of dischanges. Here is an example of a Lictenberg in an acrylic plastic material...


Image Credit: Wiki

We now know that as the large amount of electricity is discharged, the insulator material starts to breakdown. As this breakdown occurs, branching fern-like conductive channels form extremely quickly allowing the trapped charge to rush out in a large spark. During this dischange process, the powerful electric charge leaves (up to) thousands of branching fractals being called Lichtenberg figures. They can occur in things like plastic, or sand, and even in the human body. When the figures occur on humans, we sometimes refer to them as lightning flowers. The cause of them on humans is a bit fuzzy, but we think the enormous amounts of capillaries under the skin are ruptured as the lightning passes through the skin. These Lichtenberg figures on human beings normally last for hours or days per most medical studies.



-Rick DeLuca



VIDEO: May 18, 1980 - Mount St. Helens Erupts!

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens gave way to a cataclysmic flank collapse, avalanche, and explosion that killed 57 people and displaced many others. The event dramatically reshaped the volcano and surrounding land in southwest Washington.

Mtsthelens_oli_2015110NASA Satellite Image acquired April 20, 2015  Full resolution image available here.

Now, 35 years later, satellites in orbit and scientists on the ground still monitor the mountain and track its recovery. The image above shows a three-dimensional view the mountain, looking toward the southeast, as it appeared on April 30, 2015. The image was assembled from data acquired by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on Terra.

The mountain’s north flank was the site of the collapse and lateral explosion that devastated 390 square kilometers (150 square miles) of the landscape. The visualization below, based on digital elevation models from the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the elevation of the volcano’s summit before and after the blast.


Deposits from the landslide on the north flank—one of the largest in recorded history—buried the valley of the North Fork Toutle River with debris up to 180 meters (600 feet) deep in some places. Rivers have since reworked their way across the landscape, and new vegetation has greened up much of the land. The Pumice Plain still looks barren in the satellite imagery, but ground surveys note that small plants have regrown here too.

Not all of the recovery, however, is natural. According to Steve Malone, an emeritus professor at the University of Washington, much of the blow-down area was replanted and fertilized to get commercial crops, such as timber, growing again. “Only within the monument have things been left to recover naturally.”

Scientists also keep a vigilant watch on the inside of the crater, where two lava domes have formed. In the image at the top of this page, the dome in the crater’s foreground grew until 1986, at which time the volcano became quiet again. Renewed activity in 2004—followed by a phase of lava extrusion that lasted until 2008—formed a second lava dome immediately behind the first.

On the left side of the top image, log rafts are still visible in Spirit Lake. These drifting rafts are composed of floating trees, thousands of which were uprooted and carried there in 1980. The raft is gradually shrinking in size from year to year as trees sink to the bottom of the lake.

Not visible in this image, however, is the 2,600-meter-long (8,500-foot-long) drainage tunnel constructed in 1985 to carry water from the lake, through a ridge, and into a nearby creek. Eruption debris had blocked the natural outlet into North Fork Toutle River, so the tunnel was built to control the water level and prevent a potentially disastrous flood. News reports say the tunnel is becoming constricted and “needs work.”

Images and Information Courtesy NASA

See video animation of what the massive eruption/landslide looked like here...


WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Researchers Release 3D Simulation of Wind Fields of EF-5 Tornado!

Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Miami are seeking clues about how what really goes on inside a tornado using highly detailed computer simulations of wind fields.


This "high-swirl animation" depicts a powerful tornado with 200-plus mph winds. The purple tubelike structures depict the movements of rapidly rotating vortices. Near-surface winds are represented by colors ranging from light blue (less than 20 meters per second, or 45 mph) to deep red (more than 100 meters per second, or 224 miles per hour). The vortices and winds are contained within a condensation cloud that rises more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) above the surface.

YouTube Video Credit: AtmosNews :: NCAR & UCAR Science

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Trying to Weather 100+ mph Winds!

Check out this video of hurricane force winds at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. It happened this week and the winds were so strong, it lifted a weather observer off the ground! The winds were howling up to a peak of 109 mph on the 6,000 foot Mountain. Two weather observers, Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham are now making headlines, especially on social media, after they braved the winds and caught it all on camera! 
A little fun fact?
Mount Washington is the location of the fastest wind speed ever recorded in the northern hemisphere! Impressive! There was a peak wind gust of 231 mph, with a 5 minute wind speed at 188 mph, back in 1934! 
Hope you enjoyed the clip! Also, be sure to tune into WDRB News this evening, with Rick and Marc, to find out when we will finally WARM and DRY up!
I'll see you tomorrow at 11:30 am! Until then, find me on social media with the links below! 
 -Meteorologist Katie McGraw


International Space Station Completes 100,000th Orbit! When you can see it cross our sky...

The International Space Station completed its 100,000th orbit early this morning after its first component, the Zarya cargo module, launched Nov. 20, 1998. That is over 2.6 billion miles traveled, nearly the distance from Earth to Neptune (2.9 billion miles), or ten round trips from Mars to Earth.

Blog_iss044e045215This image taken from a time lapse sequence aboard the space station shows the Milky Way and a lightning strike on Earth.

A few hours after the station reached this morning’s orbital benchmark, a several types of Cubesats were deployed from the Kibo lab module’s airlock. More Cubesats will deployed through Wednesday contributing to a wide variety of research designed by students and scientists.


The crew is measuring the grip strength of mice today for the Rodent Research experiment. That study is exploring an antibody used on Earth that may prevent the weakening of muscles and bones in space.

A laptop computer is being readied ahead of next week’s expansion of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The computer will monitor sensors and prepare for upcoming BEAM operations.

Information Courtesy NASA

For those that were wondering, the next good ISS crossing here locally will occur on Thursday May 26th at approximately 11:04 EDT.  Hopefully our weather will clear by then!  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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VIDEO: Fireball Caught On Camera Over New England Sky...

New Englanders who were awake early Tuesday morning saw a rare treat as a meteor streaked across the sky! The American Meteor Society received 425 reports so far about a fireball event around 12:50am EDT (4:50 UT). It was seen primarily from Maine, but witnesses from Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Connecticut also reported the event. Take a look at this dash cam video from a cruiser of the Plattsburgh Police Department...


Text & Video Courtesy: American Meteor Society 




-Rick DeLuca




Weather Prediction: It's Math! 2.8 Quadrillion Mathematical Calculations Per Second...

Dutifully processing 2.8 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second around the clock, these computers — each about the size of a school bus — are the nucleus of weather and climate forecasting in the United States and the calculations they make are the foundation of NOAA’s life-saving weather predictions.


Every day, the supercomputers collect and organize billions of earth observations, such as temperature, air pressure, moisture, wind speed and water levels, which are critical to initialize all numerical weather prediction models. All these observations are represented by numbers.

How does NOAA observe the planet? 

  • Weather Balloons

  • Satellites

  • Buoys

  • Radars

  • Sensors on commercial aircraft and ships

  • Coastal and river gauges

  • Nationwide network of ground-based observing stations


The supercomputers then plug these observations into a series of mathematical algorithms that represent the physical properties of the atmosphere and predict what will happen globally up to 16 days into the future. Using observations of the atmosphere’s current state mapped to a model grid, the equations help predict the formation, intensity and track of complex weather systems, which take into account how they influence each other and underlying atmospheric patterns driving their behavior. Smaller grid spacing closes the gap on observations in time and space, resulting in higher resolution model output that is more accurate and reliable.


A math whiz: One of NOAA's newest supercomputers, nicknamed Luna, crunches numbers 24/7 to assist with accurate weather predictions. (NOAA/Susan Buchanan)

Using math to model the future state of the atmosphere is called numerical weather prediction, a branch of atmospheric sciences that was pioneered after World War II, but really took off in helping make reliable weather predictions in the U.S. in the 1980s with advancements in computing and the development of the global model system. Today, powerful supercomputers and advances in modeling capabilities continue to improve weather, climate, and water prediction, especially for extreme events.

NOAA runs numerical weather models operationally to predict global weather, seasonal climate, hurricanes, ocean waves, storm surge, flooding and air quality. As gains are made in supercomputing capacity and power, models are upgraded to take advantage of the growing volume of earth observations. Although no single model is accurate 100 percent of the time and observations are imperfect, access to a wide range of models with different abilities, strengths, and characteristics allow scientists to run ensemble forecasts with perturbed initial conditions or physics, helping increase certainty in the prediction. Model agreement leads to higher certainty in forecasts. If the models are not in agreement, forecasters can present that uncertainty to the public.

While observations, supercomputers and models are foundational tools for predicting the weather, the skill of meteorologists is critical to the process of generating forecasts and warning the public of weather threats. Improvements in weather information enable forecasters to support public safety officials in better anticipating and preparing for the impacts of weather events.



A Wet Week Ahead! Timing and Expected Rainfall Totals...

 Our weather this week will be dominated by a pair of upper level systems that looks to bring multiple rounds of heavy rainfall.  


System #1

The first system is currently ejecting out of the Rockies and into the Southern Plains.  The interaction between this "jet streak" and strong jet stream winds located to our north is already beginning to spread precipitation in our direction.  This precip looks to increase overnight and will become locally heavy late tonight.  Additional rains are expected thru the day tomorrow with temps remaining WAAAAY below normal for this time of the year.  

Here's a look at the precip via the 12z GFS...





How much rain?

The first system will be a good "stratiform" rainfall which means it will be rather steady and should add up nicely for much of the area with some locations picking up in excess of an inch tonight through the day tomorrow.  


System #2

The second system looks to begin spreading precip into our area Friday morning.  If today's data holds true, then rain picks up in intensity by afternoon as a potent, but compact low pressure system takes shape to our south.  This storm could pull up enough moisture for embedded thunderstorms to develop Friday afternoon/Friday night.  Precip looks to taper off to showers on Saturday.

Here's a look at the precip via the 12z GFS...





How much rain this week?

Both the GFS and the Euro support the idea of better than two inches for much of our area by the end of the week.  


While the rain will likely be heavy, fortunately the threat for severe weather looks to remain low.  

Marc and Rick will have a full update on the timing of our rain this evening on WDRB News. 

 WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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