02/16/2017

SNOW DROUGHT: Could We See Any Snow This Month?

February has been a tough month for snow lovers. Only a trace of snow has been recorded at the airport which hasn't happened since 1959. That's 58 years! 

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If you are curious about snowfall potential for the rest of the month, it looks like this pattern will hold. The GFS shows absolutely NO snow for our area...  

Snow

The reason behind the snow drought is simple. It's been way to warm and early next week we go into torch mode. The GFS 2-meter temperatures shows 60's, but I think we can easily reach the 70's...

Gfs_t2m_b_ky_17

In fact, a record could fall on Tuesday with a forecast high of 74. That's 4 degrees above the record of 70 set back in 1930. It's going to be a close in regard to the record high on Monday with numbers in the mid 70's...  

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75 in February, are you kidding me? Get ready for a taste of spring and don't forget about our rain chance for the weekend. Timing and location will be key, so make sure you join us on WDRB for the latest! 

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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FIREFall at Yosemite National Park

Mother Nature at her finest. Every year, around this time, hundreds gather at Yosemite National Park in California to watch the setting sun hit Horsetail Falls hit at just the right angle to emit a natural illuminating glow. It takes perfect ingredients for this to occur... there needs snow-melt to feed the waterfall, water temperature has to be just right, the western sky must be clear at sunset. If this all occurs, the falls will light up like this for about ten minutes for a few days every year.

Yosemite

Check out this video that was actually filmed last year during the same phenomenon. You can see how gorgeous the golden hue is and what a spectacular sight it would be to see! 

Video Credit: Blue Zither

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02/15/2017

Earth's Puzzle: Where in the World is this?

Check out NASA's February puzzler! It is beautiful! Care to venture a guess what it is and where it was taken? Do you think this is it recent?

Feb puzler

Each month on Earth Matters they offer a puzzling satellite image. This is February's Puzzler. It was posted last Monday and people posted their guesses on NASA's website and Facebook pages for a few days. They posted the answer on Saturday!

I'll give you a two more chances before I answer the puzzler below! 

Feb puzler 2

Here is it zoomed out and a few hints! Final guesses...

Feb puzzler 3

These images are of New Zealand's Canterbury Plains and Eyrewell Forest!

The Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 on captured these images on October 17, 2015. The shallow, braided channels of the Waimakariri River twist through the landscape and flow into Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The alluvial plains of the Waimakariri contain pastureland and sod farms. Near the shallow, wide riverbed, some farmers keep paddocks and fields where cattle graze; Christchurch gets much of its milk from dairy farms around the river. The poorly-drained soils also lend themselves to sod farming.

The snow-fed river, which has its source in the Southern Alps, has a highly variable flow and sporadic flooding. Even so, the nearby terrain is susceptible to dry periods. Some fields farther from the river are irrigated by center pivot sprinklers, which form a circular pattern when the landscape is viewed from above.

The Eyrewell Forest pine plantations were established in the late 1920s. New Zealand’s dense stands of pinus radiata grow for more than 25 years before they are harvested, and the trees can stand up to 40 meters (130 feet) tall. Patches of older pines grow alongside younger ones, as well as stands of native species such as kanuka trees..

Although bucolic and green, the Canterbury Plains are not always calm. Strong winds occasionally scour the rural area and wipe out forests, which tend to grow in strips parallel to the wind flow. Winds toppled thousands of trees in the area in 1945, 1964, and 1975.  The winds often blow in from the northwest, perpendicular to the Southern Alps, and increase in speed as they roll downhill. The soil beneath Eyrewell Forest is shallow and has compacted gravel beneath, preventing trees from developing deep roots.

I also did a blog on the January Puzzler, follow the link to read about it and see if you can guess what the image is! 

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Feb 15, 2013: Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike! What we've learned.

When the sun rose over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, Feb. 15th, 2013 many residents of nearby Chelyabinsk already knew that a space rock was coming. Later that day, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 would pass by Earth only 17,200 miles above Indonesia. There was no danger of a collision, NASA assured the public.

Russian-Meteor-1

Maybe that's why, when the morning sky lit up with a second sun and a shock wave shattered windows in hundreds of buildings around Chelyabinsk, only a few people picking themselves off the ground figured it out right away. This was not a crashing plane or a rocket attack.

"It was a meteor strike--the most powerful since the Tunguska event of 1908," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. 

 

In a coincidence that still has NASA experts shaking their heads, a small asteroid completely unrelated to 2012 DA14 struck Earth only hours before the publicized event. The impactor flew out of the blue, literally from the direction of the sun where no telescope could see it, and took everyone by surprise.

"These are rare events and it is incredible to see them happening on the same day," says Paul Chodas of NASA's near-Earth Object Program at JPL.

Researchers have since pieced together what happened. The most telling information came from a network of infrasound sensors operated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Their purpose is to monitor nuclear explosions.

Infrasound is a type of very low-frequency sound wave that only elephants and a few other animals can hear. It turns out that meteors entering Earth's atmosphere cause ripples of infrasound to spread through the air of our planet. By analyzing infrasound records, it is possible to learn how long a meteor was in the air, which direction it traveled, and how much energy it unleashed.

The Russian meteor's infrasound signal was was the strongest ever detected by the CTBTO network. The furthest station to record the sub-audible sound was 15,000km away in Antarctica. 

Meteor1

Western Ontario Professor of Physics Peter Brown analyzed the data: "The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 10,000 metric tons," he reports. "It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion exceeded 470 kilotons of TNT." For comparison, the first atomic bombs produced only 15 to 20 kilotons.

Based on the trajectory of the fireball, analysts have also plotted its orbit. "It came from the asteroid belt, about 2.5 times farther from the sun than Earth," says Cooke.

 

Comparing the orbit of the Russian meteor to that of 2012 DA14, Cooke has shown that there is no connection between the two. "These are independent objects," he says. "The fact that they reached Earth on the same day, one just a little closer than the other, appears to be a complete coincidence." [orbit diagram]

Infrasound records confirm that the meteor entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle of about 20 degrees and lasted more than 30 seconds before it exploded. The loud report, which was heard and felt for hundreds of miles, marked the beginning of a scientific scavenger hunt. Thousands of fragments of the meteor are now scattered across the Ural countryside, and a small fraction have already been found.

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Preliminary reports, mainly communicated through the media, suggest that the asteroid was made mostly of stone with a bit of iron--"in other words, a typical asteroid from beyond the orbit of Mars," says Cooke. "There are millions more just like it."

Images and information courtesy NASA

 

So what is NASA doing to prepare for the inevitable arrival of a catastrophic asteroid strike??  Glad you asked...

What Is NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission?

NASA is developing a first-ever robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. Once it’s there, astronauts will explore it and return with samples in the 2020s. This Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is part of NASA’s plan to advance the new technologies and spaceflight experience needed for a human mission to the Martian system in the 2030s.

NASA has identified multiple candidate asteroids and continues the search for one that could be redirected to near the moon in the 2020s. Since the announcement of the Asteroid Initiative in 2013, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program has catalogued more than 1,000 new near-Earth asteroids discovered by various search teams. Of those identified so far, four could be good candidates for ARM. Scientists anticipate many more will be discovered over the next few years, and NASA will study their velocity, orbit, size and spin before deciding on the target asteroid for the ARM mission.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission is one part of NASA’s Asteroid Initiative. The initiative also includes an Asteroid Grand Challenge, designed to accelerate NASA’s efforts to locate potentially hazardous asteroids through non-traditional collaborations and partnerships. The challenge could also help identify viable candidates for ARM.

NASA plans to launch the ARM robotic spacecraft at the end of this decade. The spacecraft will capture a boulder off of a large asteroid using a robotic arm. After an asteroid mass is collected, the spacecraft will redirect it to a stable orbit around the moon called a “Distant Retrograde Orbit.” Astronauts aboard NASA's Orion spacecraft, launched from a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, will explore the asteroid in the mid-2020s.

Asteroids are left-over materials from the solar system's formation. Astronauts will return to Earth with far more samples than have ever been available for study, which could open new scientific discoveries about the formation of our solar system and beginning of life on Earth.

The robotic mission also will demonstrate planetary defense techniques to deflect dangerous asteroids and protect Earth if needed in the future. NASA will choose an asteroid mass for capture with a size and mass that cannot harm the Earth, because it would burn up in the atmosphere. In addition to ensuring a stable orbit, redirecting the asteroid mass to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon also will ensure it will not hit Earth.

Perhaps most importantly, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission will greatly advance NASA’s human path to Mars, testing the capabilities needed for a crewed mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s. For more information, read “How NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission Will Help Humans Reach Mars.”

Images and information courtesy NASA

 

 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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02/14/2017

NASA Image of the Day: Drought Turns to Deluge in California

Oroville_vir_2016314  Drought Turns to Deluge in California : Natural Hazards

Acquired February 11, 2017 Full resolution image available here.

 

Oroville_vir_2017042  Drought Turns to Deluge in California : Natural Hazards

Acquired November 9, 2016 Full resolution image available here.

 

After extreme drought and water shortages plagued California for years, a series of winter storms pushed reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley to the brim in January and February 2017.

Rivers and reservoirs are swollen throughout California. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP captured this natural-color image of sediment-filled waterways in the Sacramento Valley on February 11, 2017. For comparison, the second image shows the same area on November 9, 2016, before the wet weather arrived. Large amounts of water have pooled in the Yolo Bypass, a water storage area designed to minimize flooding in Sacramento. Sediment stirred up during the flooding has turned waterways throughout northern California—including San Pablo Bay and Suisun Bay—a dark shade of brown.

With weather stations in the northern Sierra Nevada recording remarkably high levels of precipitation for the 2016-2017 water year, reservoir levels are well above the historical average in the Sacramento Valley and elsewhere in California. As of February 11, 2017, Lake Oroville stood at 151 percent of the historical average. Folsom Lake was at 144 percent, Lake Shasta was at 138 percent, Don Pedro Reservoir was at 141 percent, and Lake McClure was at 182 percent.

At the Oroville Dam, the situation became dire on February 7, 2017, when a large hole appeared in the main concrete spillway, a part of the dam managers use to release excess water in a controlled fashion. The hole limited how much water authorities could safely release through the spillway, so water levels in the reservoir continued to rise. A few days later, water began flowing over an emergency spillway that has never before been used. When the emergency spillway began showing worrisome signs of erosion on February 12, authorities ordered the evacuation of 188,000 people living downstream.

Lake Oroville’s levels have declined since the evacuation order and the risk of a catastrophic failure has lessened. But reservoir managers remain concerned that rain showers forecast for this week could elevate reservoir water levels and stress the spillways again. As of 11 a.m. on February 13, the evacuation order remained in effect.

Images and information courtesy NASA

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ISS ENCORE! One Evening, Two Viewing Opportunities...

Looking into the night sky and seeing the International Space Station fly overhead is mind-blowing! Just think, you are watching something that is 230 miles above you, flying at nearly 5 miles per second. This evening we have not one, but two viewing opportunities to discuss...

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How To View The International Space Station

Tuesday:

When To Look...

The ISS will be visible in our area this evening at 7:13 pm for 5 minutes! 5 minutes is more than enough to view it, but remember it will be moving FAST.

Where To Look...

At 7:18 pm, the ISS will appear about 10 degrees above the horizon in the northwest part of the sky and move toward the east-southeast. The ISS will reach a peak elevation of 53 degrees above the horizon, so don't look too high in the sky...

Weather

Here's where we run into a problem. Sky conditions will not be ideal south of I-64 with a healthy amount of clouds overhead. A deck of high clouds should dim the ISS for areas along I-64, but if you concentrate it's still going to be visible. North of I-64 looks better as skies gradually turn partly cloudy...

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The other viewing begins at 8:51 PM, but it only lasts for less than 1 minute. A max height of 11 degrees means it will be very low on the horizon as it moves to the WSW. If you want to head outside and give it a try, I'd recommend the first passing despite all of the clouds. 

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

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02/13/2017

Is Winter Over Already???

OK, it's getting to that part of the "winter" where we have to ask ourselves, is it over already?

I know what you are thinking, what winter??  While we've had a few short duration cold spells and a few dustings of snowfall (2.7" total for the season), overall it seems we haven't really had a winter yet.  Following a "near normal" December, January turned out to be a top ten warmest on record and now February has started out some 7° above normal.

Where do we go from here?

After a brief cool down over the next few days, it appears that temps will soar again into the extended with the Euro advertising a HUGE area of 20 to 25° above normal across much of Eastern US and Canada.  

Ecmwf_t2m_anom_conus2_31

Locally, this could push temps into the 70's early next week, but what about beyond that?  

The latest forecast from the Climate Prediction Center is calling for a SLAM DUNK for above normal temps in the 6 to 10 day range.  (90% confidence in the dark red)

610temp_new

And beyond that a still high 60 to 70% confidence for above normal temps in the 8 to 14 day range over the Eastern US. 

814temp_new

Today's run of the Euro Weeklies strongly agrees with this forecast showing the very warm conditions for the last week of the month.

Eps_t2m_168h_northamer_3

Looking Further Out

Early indicators are that the arrival of March may not change our outlook with both the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) and the AO (Arctic Oscillation) trending into the positive.

Ecmwf_nao_bias

Ecmwf_ao_bias

Both of these signals indicate a warming pattern for our part of the world and are backed up by the Euro Weeklies which currently shows the warmer than normal conditions extending through the first week of March.

Eps_t2m_168h_northamer_5

So what do I think?

I think the ground hog was wrong.  It does indeed appear that spring will arrive early this year.  While you can not rule out the possibility of a legitimate cold spell even through the month of March, the chances do decrease rapidly during the month which features AVERAGE highs that warm from the lower 50's into the 60's by month's end.  

What about snow?? 

In short, it doesn't look good.  At this range, February looks to quickly close with nothing more than perhaps a few flurries and if we don't catch some cold early during the month of March, then our chances for a decent snow will be slim to none.  While climatologically we do occasionally see heavy snow events during the month of March (think March 2015), when they do occur they almost always happen during the beginning of the month.  

So while the proverbial barn door hasn't completely closed on us just yet, it is getting close! 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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HEADS UP! The International Space Station Will Fly Across The Sky Very Soon...

Looking into the night sky and seeing the International Space Station fly overhead is mind-blowing! Just think, you are watching something that is 230 miles above you, flying at nearly 5 miles per second. If you've never taken the opportunity to check it out, it's worth a few minutes of your time...

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How To View The International Space Station

Monday:

When To Look...

The ISS will be visible in our area this evening at 8:06 pm for 3 minutes! 3 minutes should be more than enough to view it, but remember it will be moving FAST.

Where To Look...

At 8:06 pm, the ISS will appear about 10 degrees above the horizon in the northwest part of the sky and move toward the west-northwest. The ISS will reach a peak elevation of 56 degrees above the horizon, so don't look too high in the sky...

Weather

Blotchy areas of high clouds may dim the ISS in spots, but you should still be able to see it. Grab a jacket and enjoy the show as temperatures fall into the 40's...

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-Rick DeLuca

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02/12/2017

LIVE COVERAGE of Oroville Dam Spillway... Imminent Failure Likely!

LIVE COVERAGE of Oroville Dam Spillway via KRCR...  Imminent Failure Likely!

LIVE STREAM via KRCR

Mandaory evacuations have been ordered due to a failure at the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam in Central California.  This is the highest dam in the United States and 16,000 residents are in the zone of concern.  Failure of the spillway is deemed "imminent"!

Prayers for those impacted.

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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The Temperature Pendulum Keeps Swinging

Has Spring Sprung? It was incredibly warm outside this morning! After a few light showers, now we are seeing decreasing clouds and sunshine will begin to peek out slowly throughout the day. It will also be breezy. Notice the winds are around 10-15 mph. 

2-12 8 am currents

But. . . enjoy the warmth while we've got it! A cold front is right on top of us! It will be sliding through the area early today and it will kick up the winds even more. Expect wind gusts up to 25-30 mph. The front will drop temperatures significantly. By tomorrow morning we will be back in winter! 

2-12 surf map

This graph gives you an idea of our temperatures throughout the day today. Notice that most of the day will be in the 50s. We will drop from about 60 degrees to 50 degrees in a 6 hour window (12-6 pm). The most dramatic drop will happen around dinner time, from 6-9 pm, when the temps will drop roughly ANOTHER ten degrees.  

2-12 temp trend

We will continue to see decreasing clouds tonight. Remember what I always say, the clouds act as a blanket or insulation for us. So with clear skies, a shift in the winds to the NW and a cold front moving through, it is about to get CHILLY! 

2-12 At 9 pm

By tomorrow morning's commute, it will be around the freezing point! Back to reality we go! But it will also be very bright. So grab the shades as well as the heavy jacket! 

2-12 am commute

It will still be breezy, so wind chills will be about ten degrees cooler, in about the mid 20s. 

2-12 wind chills

The NAM is below and notice is a bit cooler. At times, we could see briefly colder wind chill values tomorrow, but I think mid-20s are closer to where they will be for most of the morning. 

2-12 nam teasers

We have a pretty nice looking seven day forecast! One of the best weeks I have seen in a while! I will let Jeremy tell you the good news this evening on WDRB News! 

Let's connect on social media! The links to my pages are below! 

Have a great rest of your weekend! 

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