Good afternoon everyone. The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for portions of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States including New Jersey until 8:00 PM EDT this evening. A cold front is passing through the region, and ahead of the front there has been the warmest weather this region has seen so far in 2007. Temperatures got up well into the 80s with highs in Central Jersey reaching about 85 degrees.
Temperatures behind the front range from 15 to 30 degrees cooler in such locales as Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chicago. As a result, two strong lines of thunderstorms have developed across the Garden State. The first line has pushed through much of Northern New Jersey including Morris, Passaic, Bergen, and Hudson County, and is now beginning to move through the Northern Suburbs of New York City. Meanwhile, another line is currently pushing through the Central New Jersey area. From Easton, Pennsylvania to west of Trenton, New Jersey, strong to severe thunderstorms have fired up including a severe thunderstorm cell that crossed the Delaware River near Frenchtown, New Jersey some 21 miles to the east of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Hunterdon County in Northwest Central New Jersey, and Somerset County in Northern Central New Jersey at about 3:00 PM EDT, and conditions deteriorated rapidly here in Middlesex County at around 3:30 PM EDT. The most dominant of all the effects associated with this storm was gusty winds. Spurred on by strong winds between 50 and 70 mph at the upper levels around 10,000 feet according to The Weather Channel, winds really began to howl as the sky darkened in the Northwest portion of Middlesex County. Rainfall gradually picked up as time progressed. As of the latest report, about 0.06 inches of rain fell at the GWC Weather Station.
Conditons are getting better as the severe weather has moved off to the east and weakened somewhat. Nevertheless, there are still showers and thundershowers in the area.
The major event taking place this week is the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference, which is occurring in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. However, the first day of training sessions has been hampered by the recent set of brush fires that have been happening throughout the Sunshine State recently. Florida as well as Georgia has been dealing with a terrible drought so far this Spring, and that has produced tremendous brush fires, particularly in the Southeastern portion of Georgia near Waycross, and in Northern Florida near Jacksonville. The event is being sponsored by Florida’s State Emergency Response Team, a division of Florida Emergency Management, Florida Emergency Preparedness Association, American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service. In addition, there are many companies underwriting the program as well.
There will be numerous training and workshop sessions as well as exhibits presented. In addition, there will be a general session as well. See the list of activities in the conference’s agenda section.
Good morning everyone. I had hoped to have some analysis on Andrea sooner, but didn’t get around to writing something up. Anyway, Andrea was originally an extratropical system that gradually picked up some tropical characteristics early last week. As a result, it became more of a hybrid system, one that wasn’t quite tropical, but also wasn’t purely a mid-latitude system either. While the system had tropical storm force winds, it was also still a cold core system. Tropical storms and hurricanes are warm core systems. When we say warm core, or cold core, we are talking about the characteristic of the air near the center of lowest pressure.
Early Start To 2007 Atlantic Season
Traditionally, the Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th, or coincides between the start of meteorological summer and the end of meteorological autumn. With Andrea becoming the first named storm of 2007, the Atlantic season unofficially got underway some three weeks or so ahead of schedule. Although this is rare, it does happen on occasion. For instance, back in April 2003, the first named storm of that season, Ana, developed in late April around Easter. As a matter of fact, when you look at the monthly storm totals courtesy of the Hurricaneville Information Center Database, you might actually be surprised. During the months of January through May, there have been 6 subtropical storms, 19 tropical storms, 5 hurricanes, and one major hurricane of Category Three Strength or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale since 1851. In light of the fact that last year was such a quiet season, and that the country is not yet at an adequate level of hurricane preparedness, Andrea served as a welcome wake-up call.
Obviously, Andrea wasn’t your classic hurricane. At peak intensity, Andrea had winds of 45 mph, and a minimum barometric pressure of 29.62 inches of Hg, or 1003 millibars. The storm didn’t have much endurance either as it only lasted some two days as a named storm or depression. There were several reasons for this. First, the storm was in unfavorable waters. During the month of May, sea surface temperatures off of the Southeast coast are below 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is necessary for tropical development. At the time Andrea was forming, water temperatures were reported to be about 77 degrees. Another reason was the slow, or even non-existent motion of the system. Storms that move slowly, drift, or become stationary have a tendency to bring up cooler waters from deep below the surface in a process called upwelling. The third, and final reason was the fact that there was plenty of dry air to the west of the storm thanks to high pressure over the Southeastern United States. As a matter of fact, the dry air was also responsible for fueling the drought and brush fires in Southeastern Georgia and Northern Florida recently. Dry air sinks, which prevents thunderstorms from developing.
Andrea Unable To Provide Much Needed Rain To Southeast
When Andrea formed, forecasters had hoped that it would bring much needed rain to the Southeast, which is facing its worst drought in several years. Portions of Southeast Georgia including Waycross are battling devastating brush fires as a result of the lack of rain in the area. Northern Florida communities such as Jacksonville are suffering as well. As a matter of fact, much of Florida is dry this Spring with Lake Okeechobee running several feet below normal, and spots in the lake are actually bone dry. The lake is a critical water source for milions of people in the Everglades region of South Florida. Although Andrea brought plenty of coastal flooding and beach erosion, it was unable to come ashore and move inland to provide drenching rains to places that desperately need it.
Harbinger Of Things To Come?
Could the formation of Allison mean that the Atlantic will be back in 2007? Perhaps. While the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season was below normal in terms of activity, the El Nino that developed, and was largely responsible for keeping storms to a minimum, has dissipated. Forecasters such as Dr. William Gray of Colorado State already have indicated that there will be at least 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes in 2007. Those numbers are up a bit from projections made in December of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The Atlantic continues to be in the midst of a very active period. Since 1995, there have only been two years where activity was below normal: 1997 and 2006, which were both El Nino years.
It has been a deadly and devastating week in much of the Great Plains region of the United States. An area known as Tornado Alley, the Plains states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas received the brunt of severe storms during the weekend of May 5-6, 2007. According to the latest report from NOAA, there have been as many as 136 reports of tornadoes as well as 109 reports of high winds, and 429 reports of large hail. One of the hardest hit areas was Southwestern Kansas including the town of Greensburg, which experienced an EF5 twister with winds of at least 205 mph according to the newly created Enhanced Fujita Scale.
But the problems didn’t stop there. With 90 percent of the town devastated by a tornado that was 1.7 miles wide, traveled some 22 miles, and moved very slowly, the task of rebuilding got off on the wrong foot. In a twist of irony from the days following Hurricane Katrina, the Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sibelius, revealed earlier this week that the recovery effort had been slowed by a shortage of equipment used by the Kansas National Guard because much of it is in Iraq to help with the war effort there. Sibelius, a Democrat in a state where Republicans outnumber members of her party by a 2 to 1 margin, and recently selected by Time as one of the top five governors in the nation, stated in a New York Times article, “The National Guard is one of our first responders. They don’t have the equipment they need to come in, and it just makes it that much slower.”
With many troops from the National Guard fighting over in Iraq, there aren’t enough men and equipment stationed back home to help assist residents recovering from natural disasters. The same thing happened in the wake of Katrina, where the recovery effort was hampered by not only the lack of manpower and equipment from the Gaurd, but also a slow response from FEMA, which actually improved this time around. However, this latest problem has many like Kansas State Senator, Donald Betts Jr. concerned. In the same NY Times report, he states, “The response time was too slow, and it’s becoming a trend. We saw this after Katrina, and it’s like history repeating itself.”
In light of the latest rounds of severe weather throughout the country since April, there are still many major problems with government relief efforts since Katrina. Couple that with the facts that FEMA delayed its release of a new federal government plan to respond to emergencies, the budget crisis at the National Hurricane Center, and the lack of funding for necessary projects to either fortify existing barriers to rivers, creeks, and lakes, or strengthen those already in place, the feeling one gets from all of this is that we are in deep trouble. We can’t just rely on having a quiet hurricane season again like last year. Perhaps, we’ll get lucky again, but eventually, the luck will run out.
From brush fires and drought in California and the Southeast to flooding rains and tornadoes in the Plains to a coastal storm off the Carolinas, there is extreme forms of weather throughout much of the United States on this day. The only area where there isn’t any bad weather is in the Northeast. Remember those recent rains of mid to late April in New York and New Jersey? Well, for now they are just a memory as they have been replaced by seven straight days of sunny weather. Temperatures are also on the increase as the mercury climbed to the mid seventies on Tuesday afternoon, May 8th. Here in Northwestern Middlesex County, we reached a high of 75 degrees after only getting to 64 on Monday. Over these past six days, the high temperature has averaged 69.3 degrees after being just 57 for the whole month of April. So far in the entire month of May, the average high temperature has been 68 degrees.
However, the system responsible for bringing us this great weather has been also the blame for the extreme weather going on in other parts of the country. High pressure entrenched itself in the Eastern third of the country, which created another blocking pattern. As a result, storms that were responsible for spawning 136 tornadoes in the Great Plains from Kansas to Texas, remained there with drenching rains that are forcing the Missouri River to swell near levels reached during the terrible floods back in 1993. Meanwhile, out west in Southern California, wildfires rage in Griffith Park just shy of the well known Griffith Observatory, which was the site for a scene from the great James Dean film, “Rebel Without A Cause.” There are also massive wildfires raging in Georgia and Florida thanks to the regions worse drought in many years. The drought has been so bad in Florida that Lake Okeechobee, which provides water for millions of residents surrounding the Everglades, is drying up.
To add insult to injury for the Southeast, a coastal storm that was an extratropical, or cold core system earlier in the week, has now taken on more tropical characteristics over the past several days, and has a slight possibility of becoming a tropical storm. The subtropical storm is located off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, and is expected to slowly meander westward toward the Georgia shoreline over the next few days. The system, which has already provided major impacts from North Carolina to Florida in the form of coastal flooding and gale and storm force winds, is expected to weaken. However, waves can be expected to be as high as 8 to 12 feet along the North Carolina coast with minor to moderate beach erosion still expected for a period of time. CNN reported on Wednesday morning that NOAA is going to have hurricane hunter aircraft investigate the system for any tropical development. Sea surface temperatures in the area are running around 77 degrees. A minimum temperature of 80 degrees is required for tropical cyclone formation. The Atlantic Hurricane Season is not scheduled to begin until June 1st, but storms have preceeded the start date in some years including 2003, which had Tropical Storm Ana form in April of that year.
People often talk about being prepared for when that next storm hits. Safety tips and storm preparedness guides are provided by FEMA, The Weather Channel, and sites such as Hurricaneville and Greg’s Weather Center to advise people to have things such as a First Aid Kit, plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and non-perishable foods as well as know nearby evacuation routes, and where the nearest shelter are located. However, we tend to forget about another aspect of storm preparedness and hazard mitigation, and that is taking political action. For instance, residents in Bound Brook and Manville frustrated with the slow progress of the federally funded Green Brook Flood Control Project may want to use that as a campaign issue in the Presidential elections in 2008.
Last year, the Bush Administration didn’t allocate any money in the federal budget for this project, which is only about one-third completed after nearly 35 years. Promises were made to these residents after Hurricane Floyd in September, 1999 that this type of flooding wouldn’t happen again. Those promises weren’t kept. If you are a resident of Bound Brook, Manville, Fairfield, Lodi, Paterson, and Wayne, and you want to have something done so that this issue is dealt with, you must advocate for yourself and your community by letting politicians know that this is important to you. Advocacy can be accomplished by writing to your Senator, Congressman, state, county, or local officials. It can be also done by supporting the candidate you feel will overcome the red tape, and solve the problem of getting those federal dollars needed for projects essential to protecting life and property of you and others.
Every election cycle there are always many voters, who are undecided even as they step into the voting booth. Well, one deciding factor could be where the two or three candidate stand on flood control, or flood insurance. Perhaps you’re curious to find out where candidates stand on federal funding for beach restoration projects, or running federal agencies such as FEMA. Candidates that say the same thing on issues such as the War in Iraq, Universal Health Care, or Education may differ on this issue. Democrats and Republicans have different philosophies when it comes to handling your tax dollars. For instance, under President Clinton, FEMA, led by James Lee Witt was doing great things such as Project Impact, which helped many communities including some in the New York Metropolitan area fortify natural defenses against storms.
However, when the current administration took office, Project Impact was phased out and eliminated as emphasis was placed on terrorism, and the newly formed Department of Homeland Security, which FEMA became a part of. A program such as Project Impact could have helped towns such as Bound Brook or Manville prevent the flooding that occurred in April. People must realize that they can empower themselves to get results, and be pro-active in protecting themselves, their families, and community by getting involved in the political process because one thing we’ve learned quite a lot over the last few years is that you can’t always give government the benefit of the doubt that it will always be there for you. Don’t let politicians take your vote for granted.
A delegation of officials from the borough of Bound Brook, New Jersey met with federal officials in Washington, D.C. on May 1st. According to the report filed in the May 2nd Star-Ledger, the officials met to discuss increasing the federal funding for the Green Brook Flood project, a undertaking that has only one-third completed in nearly 35 years. In the article, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Paul Woodley Jr., stated that the “Army Corps of Engineers could complete flood barriers around Bound Brook in two years in funding is accelerated.” Thanks to the efforts of U.S. Representative Mike Ferguson, a Republican from the seventh district that covers a vast area from Hunterdon and Somerset to portions of Middlesex and Union Counties, and other members of Congress, President Bush has proposed allocating another $10 million toward the three decade plus old project, which was initiated in the wake of severe floods back in the early 1970s.
However, Joe Tyrrell points out in his articlethat the Army Corps of Engineers and the local delegation agreed that “roughly $30 million is needed to complete a mile of flood bariers along the Raritan River.” Bound Brook along with nearby Manville were devastated by flooding for the third time in just eleven years when heavy rains from a rare April Nor’easter forced the Raritan to swell and go over its banks. The most memorable flooding prior to mid-April 2007 was from torrential rains spawned by what was Hurricane Floyd, which weakened to a tropical storm prior to its arrival in the Garden State on September 16, 1999.
Last year, Congress was able to allocate $5 million in funding to the area project. In recent years, funding for such projects has been cut while other projects such as improving the levee system in New Orleans have been given greater priority since the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina nearly two years ago. In addition, costs to complete such projects continue to increase as long as they are delayed, or not much work is done on them. Damage to the Garden State from this powerful Nor’easter is estimated to be as high as $180 million with residents of a dozen counties including: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Middlesex, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Union qualifying for individual assistance from the federal government. April 2007 was the wettest April on record in New Jersey according to the National Weather Service. Rains from the Nor’easter as well as rainfall from a storm system some ten days later produced nearly 12 inches of rain for the month in Newark breaking the previous record set in 1983.
The recent rains during the last two weeks of April 2007 made the month the rainiest on record for Newark, New Jersey according to a May 1st article in the Star-Ledger. In the story by Rudy Larini, National Weather Service forecaster, Tim Morrin, stated that this month was indeed a record breaker. Morrin, who works at the NWS office in Upton, New York, which covers several counties in Northeastern New Jersey including Union, Essex, Hudson, Bergen, and Passaic said, “a record 11.85 inches of rain fell last month, surpassing the old mark of 11.14 inches in April 1983.”
Much of that rainfall came from a rare mid-April Nor’easter that brought up to nine inches in some parts of the Garden State while another storm dumped three to five more inches just a few days ago. The Nor’easter left several people dead, and approximately $180 million in damage while numerous communities such as Bound Brook and Manville in Somerset County, Fairfield in Essex County, Lodi in Bergen County, and Paterson in Passaic County were under water for several days to a week after the storm.
Nearby in New York City, it was the second wettest April on record, and fifth wettest month overall. There was over 13 inches of rain in Central Park including 8.47 inches of rain falling on April 15th and 16th. Meanwhile, here at Greg’s Weather Center in South Plainfield, New Jersey, there was about 8.68 inches of rain during the Month of April including 0.91 inches on April 12th, 4.3 inches from the Nor’easter, and 3.52 inches on April 27th. The month of May started out wet as well. A storm system moved in on late Tuesday night (May 1st) and brought 0.86 inches of rainfall including 0.58 falling on Tuesday night, and another 0.28 falling on Wednesday morning. The record breaking rainfall in April has put New Jersey well above average for the year. To put things in perspective, conditions could be absolutely dry until July 4th, the state would still have above average rainfall. Dry weather is expected for the time being with temperatures, which began in the mid 60s, moving up into the low 70s on Tuesday, and rising well into the 70s by the end of the forecast period. Next chance of rain is on Friday.
According to the Star-Ledger article, Morrin explained that the reason for the above normal and record setting rainfall was “a stubborn high pressure zone that stalled over the northern Atlantic for much of the month.” When there is a blocking pattern such as an Omega block, high pressure sits in an area near Greenland called the Davis Strait. This ridge serves as the blocking mechanism because it prevents low pressure systems from escaping into the Atlantic. Without the presence of this high, low pressure systems usually head to the northeast as the migrate toward the Icelandic Low. Blocking patterns such as this one are key ingredients for powerful Nor’easters that can linger up to several days like this recent storm did. Morrin not only believes that this blocking pattern was “much more persistent than normal,” but also was only recently “showing signs of breaking down.” Hopefully, the wonderful weather of the past week is an indication that he is right.
Good morning everyone. Last week I posted another video to YouTube.com. It was another timelapse of the weather in New Jersey, but with something extra. I was able to capture the moon rising during the evening. The moon appears fuzzy on the video due to the lack of light, and there were clouds around. Anyway, enjoy.