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46 posts from September 2017


LIGHTS OUT: How Nighttime Satellite Data Could Aid Rescue & Recovery Efforts In Puerto Rico...

After Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico, it quickly became clear that the destruction would pose daunting challenges for first responders. Most of the electric power grid and telecommunications network was knocked offline. Flooding, downed trees, and toppled power lines made many roads impassable.

In circumstances like this, quickly knowing where the power is out—and how long it has been out—allows first responders to better deploy rescue and repair crews and to distribute life-saving supplies. And that is exactly why teams of scientists at NASA are working long days to make sure that groups like the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) get high-quality satellite maps of power outages in Puerto Rico.


Image Credit: NASA

These before-and-after images of Puerto Rico’s nighttime lights are based on data captured by the Suomi NPP satellite. The data was acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared, including reflected moonlight, light from fires and oil wells, lightning, and emissions from cities or other human activity.

The images above show lighting around San Juan, capital of the commonwealth; the images below show the entire island. One image in each pair shows a typical night before Maria made landfall, based upon cloud-free and low moonlight conditions; the second image is a composite that shows light detected by VIIRS on the nights of September 27 and 28, 2017. By compositing two nights, the image has fewer clouds blocking the view. (Note: some clouds still blocked light emissions during the two nights, especially across southeastern and western Puerto Rico.) The images above show widespread outages around San Juan, including key hospital and transportation infrastructure.


Image Credit: NASA

Note that these maps are not showing raw imagery of light. A team of scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Marshall Space Flight Center processed and corrected the raw data to filter out stray light from the Moon, fires, airglow, and any other sources that are not electric lights. Their processing techniques also remove as much other atmospheric interference—such as dust, haze, and thin clouds—as possible.

To make the VIIRS data more useful to first responders, the Goddard team scaled the observations onto a base map that emphasizes the locations of streets and neighborhoods. The base map makes use of data collected by the Landsat, Sentinel-2, TanDEM-X, and TerraSAR-X satellites. It also incorporates high-resolution data from OpenStreetMap to show the precise locations of streets and neighborhoods.

“It is critical that we get this processing done quickly, so that we can provide the cleanest and most useful imagery to the National Guard, FEMA, and other first responders,” said Miguel Román, who is leading the effort from Goddard. “Uncorrected images can be misleading because of things like cloud cover and changing moonlight conditions.”

Román’s team is also working closely with colleagues from the Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) at NASA Marshall, as well as NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program, to develop and share data products with first responders.

“The expertise of the SPoRT team focuses on helping end users make effective decisions from innovative NASA, NOAA, and partner data products,” said Andrew Molthan, co-investigator of the SPoRT Center. “It has been rewarding to work with Goddard colleagues on solutions that can assist with response efforts.”

Jordan Bell of the SPoRT team, for instance, has developed a product in conjunction with Esri that will display corrected and updated VIIRS observations of nighttime lights on a daily basis and include cloud mapping as detected by NOAA’s VIIRS cloud detection algorithms.

Note that these high-definition black marble maps are experimental. They are designed to make it easier to monitor neighborhood-scale outdoor features; they should not be used to monitor power outages in individual buildings or roads.


-Rick DeLuca



Chilly Mornings Ahead, Average First Frost

Do you feel that?! A chill in the air? That's all thanks to a series of cold fronts that swept through the area this week; one on Wednesday and another on Friday. The second front was a moisture deprived cold front though, so we did not see any rain from the boundary. 
Image 4

The two fronts dropped our temperatures significantly. On Wednesday, we were tying a record high temp in the low 90s.

Image 2

Three days later, today's high will be only in the low to mid 70s!  
Image 5

While the high temps will be a lot cooler, the low temps have probably been a SHOCK to your system! Today and tonight will be the coolest highs and lows this week. The majority of Kentuckiana will fall into the 40s tonight. Downtown will be slightly warmer- in the low 50s. Check out the temp change of our lows the last few days. 

Image 6

Image 4

To put this in perspective though, average nighttime lows for the last day of September are in the mid 50s. So we are below average, but only by a degree or two. Today and tomorrow are days to dress in layers! It will be chilly to start and then temps will eventually be in the low 70s, once again, by the afternoon with plenty of sunshine.  We will actually begin to warm by Sunday afternoon and into next week. 

Image 7

So will it be cold enough for a FROST?? 

We will be flirting with upper 30s, but no one in the viewing area will be cold enough to see frost, which is at least 36 degrees. But that made me think about when we typically DO see a first frost/freeze. The average date of the first 36 degree reading (Frost) in Louisville is October 20th, so only three weeks away! 

 Image 5

It's important to note that these statistics are for the city of Louisville.  Rural areas may have significantly different statistics, even within Jefferson County.  

10-8 36

Image Courtesy: NWS

The average date of the first 32 degree reading (Freeze) in Louisville is November 1st...

10-8 32

Image Courtesy: NWS

The average date of the first 28 degree reading (Hard Freeze) in Louisville is November 12th...

10-8 28

Image Courtesy: NWS

And for the curious bunch, here are a lot of other records and stats: 

Latest spring frost (36°): May 27, 1961
Latest spring freeze (32°): May 10, 1966
Latest spring hard freeze (28°): April 23, 1986
Earliest final spring frost (36°): March 15, 1884
Earliest final spring freeze (32°): March 5, 1927
Earliest final spring hard freeze (28°): February 19, 1905
Earliest fall frost (36°): September 25, 1950
Earliest fall freeze (32°): October 3, 1974
Earliest fall hard freeze (28°): October 10, 1964
Latest first fall frost (36°): November 23, 1902
Latest first fall freeze (32°): November 28, 1899 and November 28, 2009
Latest first fall hard freeze (28°): December 13, 1939
Longest growing season: 257 days in 1884
Shortest growing season: 166 days in 1976

Averages, using the entire period of record:
Last spring frost (36°): April 18
Last spring freeze (32°): April 5
Last spring hard freeze (28°): March 24
First fall frost (36°): October 20
First fall freeze (32°): November 1
First fall hard freeze (28°): November 12

Normals, 1981-2010:
Last spring frost (36°): April 14
Last spring freeze (32°): April 3
Last spring hard freeze (28°): March 23
First fall frost (36°): October 25
First fall freeze (32°): November 4
First fall hard freeze (28°): November 16

Are you loving the fall weather? Or do you wish we were still in the 90s? Let me know on my social media pages! The links are below. 

Katie McGraw's Facebook Page

Katie McGraw's Twitter Page

-Katie McGraw 



WAVES OF AURORAS: Time-lapse Of Auroras Borealis Seen From Space...

The European Space Agency released images of the Aurora Borealis shot from the International Space Station. Auroras have been very active lately, in fact, they reached "storm level" on September 26, 2017. When sunspots erupt, we get what is called a cornal mass ejection or CME. These CME events hurl solar matter at high speeds away from the surface of the sun. When the charged particles precipitate into the upper atmosphere due to Earth's magnetic field, they become ionized or excited. It's through this process that particles emit light of varying color and complexity. These brilliant displays of light are called Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights for the Northern Hemisphere. Watch this soothing time-lapse and notice the wave-like structure of the auroras...

Video Credit: Associated Press




-Rick DeLuca



TIME-LAPSE: Did This House In Florida Survive Irma's Eyewall?

Incredible time-lapse video surfaced that shows Hurricane Irma lashing out on a house in Naples, FL. Notice how the winds increase in strength, followed by calm conditions as the eye passes over. Then winds shift in the other direction as the back side of the storm moved through, but miraculously, the house stood strong...

Video Credit: voki erii

What is a Hurricane?
A "hurricane" is the most severe category of the meteorological phenomenon known as the "tropical cyclone."
Tropical cyclones are low pressure systems that have thunderstorm activity and rotate counterclockwise. A tropical
cyclone that has winds of 38 mph (33 kt) or less is called a tropical depression. When the tropical cyclone's winds reach
39-73 mph (34-63 kt), it is called a tropical storm. When the winds exceed 74 mph (64 kt), the storm is considered
to be a hurricane.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale defines hurricane strength by categories. A Category 1 storm is the weakest hurricane
(winds 74-95 mph or 64-82 kt); a Category 5 hurricane is the strongest (winds greater than 155 mph or 135 kt).
The category of the storm does not necessarily relate directly to the damage it will inflict. Lower category storms (and
even tropical storms) can cause substantial damage depending on what other weather features they interact with, where
they strike, and how slow they move.


Image Credit: NOAA

Anatomy of a Hurricane
Typical hurricanes are about 300 miles wide although they can vary considerably in size.
The eye at a hurricane's center is a relatively calm, clear area approximately 20-40 miles across.
The eyewall surrounding the eye is composed of dense clouds that contain the highest winds in the storm.
The storm's outer rainbands (often with hurricane or tropical storm-force winds) are made up of dense bands of
thunderstorms ranging from a few miles to tens of miles wide and 50 to 300 miles long.
Hurricane-force winds can extend outward to about 25 miles in a small hurricane and to more than 150 miles for a large
one. Tropical storm-force winds can stretch out as far as 300 miles from the center of a large hurricane.
Frequently, the right side of a hurricane is the most dangerous in terms of storm surge, winds, and tornadoes.
A hurricane's speed and path depend on complex ocean and atmospheric interactions, including the presence or absence
of other weather patterns. This complexity of the flow makes it very difficult to predict the speed and direction of a hurricane.
Do not focus on the eye or the track–hurricanes are immense systems that can move in complex patterns that are difficult
to predict. Be prepared for changes in size, intensity, speed, and direction.


-Rick DeLuca




BEFORE & AFTER: Maria's Damage In Puerto Rico Seen From Space...

Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, ravaging both urban and rural areas with category 4 winds and intense rainfall for several days. Most of the electric power grid and telecommunications network was knocked offline; towns both inland and at the coast were swamped with floodwaters and storm surges; and the lush green landscape turned brown from damaged vegetation and mud and debris deposits.


Image Credit: NASA


Image Credit: NASA

On September 26, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured some of the first natural-color satellite images of Puerto Rico. Cloud cover is common in the tropics and has been particularly bad in the days since Maria, so researchers have been unable to see much from orbit.

The images above show the Rio Grande de Loiza, the island’s largest river by volume, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean several miles east of San Juan and west of Suarez. The images below show an interior portion of the island around the Lago Loiza reservoir, south of San Juan and north of Caguas. In each pair the second image shows the same area one year ago (September 23, 2016) so as to provide a proper seasonal comparison. (Note: the green color of the lake in 2016 could be an algae bloom or some other form of water vegetation.)


Image Credit: NASA


Image Credit: NASA



-Rick DeLuca




POP QUIZ: Do You Know Why So Many Galaxies Are Shaped Like Flat, Stretched-out Pancakes?

Located some 25 million light-years away, this new Hubble image shows spiral galaxy ESO 373-8. Together with at least seven of its galactic neighbors, this galaxy is a member of the NGC 2997 group. We see it side-on as a thin, glittering streak across the sky, with all its contents neatly aligned in the same plane.

We see so many galaxies like this — flat, stretched-out pancakes — that our brains barely process their shape. But let us stop and ask: Why are galaxies stretched out and aligned like this?

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA

Try spinning around in your chair with your legs and arms out. Slowly pull your legs and arms inwards, and tuck them in against your body. Notice anything? You should have started spinning faster. This effect is due to conservation of angular momentum, and it’s true for galaxies, too.

This galaxy began life as a humongous ball of slowly rotating gas. Collapsing in upon itself, it spun faster and faster until, like pizza dough spinning and stretching in the air, a disc started to form. Anything that bobbed up and down through this disk was pulled back in line with this motion, creating a streamlined shape.

Angular momentum is always conserved — from a spinning galactic disk 25 million light-years away from us, to any astronomer, or astronomer-wannabe, spinning in an office chair.


-Rick DeLuca





ISS Set To Make A HIGH ALTITUDE Crossing Over Our Sky TONIGHT!

The International Space Station (ISS) will be making a HIGH ALTITUDE pass over our sky this evening.

At a blazing speed of 17,000 mph, it will cross our sky in about 6 minutes total time.  


Z iss crossing


You will be able to view it rise over the SW horizon at approximately 8:34 PM EDT this (Tuesday) evening.  The ISS will appear as a very bright point of light as it moves across the sky before exiting the NE horizon at approximately 8:40 AM EDT.

Unlike many ISS crossings, this one will take it very high in the sky, almost directly overhead in fact, rising to about 83° altitude at around at around 8:37 PM.

6a0148c78b79ee970c017c370e8365970bLong Exposure Photograph of the ISS Credit: Mark Humpage

See an amazing time-lapse video taken from the ISS here.

For information on how to photograph the ISS: http://www.universetoday.com/93588/a-beginners-guide-to-photographing-the-international-space-station-iss/#ixzz2Lll4JR00


You can track is progress live here on isstracker.com.

Outside of a few passing clouds, viewing looks to be very good.  Enjoy! 

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Fall Heat Streak Expected to Reach a Week! When to expect 40's...

Our fall heat streak continued with 5 days at or above the 90 degree mark now!


The heat wasn't a local either.  90's were recorded as far north as Des Moines, Chicago and Pittsburgh.  


Our streak of 90's is expected to continue for a few more days reaching 7, possibly 8 days by Wednesday, which would be the longest such streak of the year btw.  

Temp trend

Finally, the passage of a cool front late Wednesday looks to usher in some MUCH cooler conditions for the end of the week with highs only in the 70's and lows dropping down into the 40's for much of the area over the weekend!  

At temps

Jude has a full update on how cool it will get first thing on WDRB in the Morning.

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Fall Heat Wave Continues... Maria Update.

It was just another typical summer day today... oh wait, that's right it's fall.  

Our high reached 90 degrees this afternoon marking the 4th straight 90° day and we weren't alone.  90's were widespread across the East-Central US with Chicago recording their warmest reading of the summer at 95 degrees!


We can thank the development of a large, slow moving, upper ridge of high pressure for all the warmth recently.   This high and an upper low out west have formed a "blocking pattern" that is currently preventing the normal progression of systems across the US.  It is also this block pattern that is currently keeping Maria off shore from the US East Coast.  At least for now.  


The latest model data suggests that the category 3 storm will continue moving north over the next few days while slowly weakening.  

After approaching the North Carolina Outer Banks early in the week, the storm is expected to make a turn out to sea.  

Tropics track

For us, it will be a heat repeat with more 90's through Tuesday or possibly Wednesday.

Temp trend

We'll likely end up with about 7 possibly 8 days in a row of 90's before we see a cold front arriving with the return of normal fall temps in the 70's.  

WDRB Meteorologist Jeremy Kappell

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Sum, Sum, Sum, Sum, Sum, Sum, Summertime...In Fall

From Jude Redfield...

    Nothing says the first day of fall like a skeeter meter that is 4 out of 5 and a heat index that nears 100.


    A wind shift to the east will allow a SLIGHT, SLIGHT, SLIGHT drop in the humidity on Saturday and Sunday. At this point we'll take any relief we can get.

Colin jost

White brick 2

    By the end of next week cooler air begins to arrive. Next weekend could end up with low temps in the 40s and 50s.  -Jude Redfield-