05.27.08

Rain Returns For The Start Of The Work Week In Central Jersey

Posted in General, GWC News at 12:08 pm by gmachos

Good morning everyone. I’m in a bit of a rush since I have to be at work in an hour or so, but I do have some time to talk about the latest weather moving through the Garden State. Since Thursday, there has been a great deal of severe weather in the central portion of the country while the Northeast, and in particular, New Jersey has enjoyed perhaps its best weather in over a month. The mercury finally climbed into the 80s on Monday with a high temperature almost reaching 83 degrees (82.6 in fact) here in South Plainfield, New Jersey according to the data provided by the Greg’s Weather Center WX station. It was a perfect weekend to kickoff the unofficial start of summer, and many took advantage despite the rise meteoric rise in gas prices. For those, who did decide to stay home, there were plenty of activities going on in the local area to keep one busy and entertained.

However, the rain, which dominated much of the weather last week with measurable rainfall for seven straight days, has returned just in time for the start of the abbreviated work week. Rain began falling during the overnight as overcast skies kept temperatures up for the most part. The high so far for the day on Tuesday occurred after midnight at 72 degrees while the low occurred this morning after sunrise at 65 degrees. The rainfall has been steady. I went out for my usual morning walk that I take several times during the week as part of my exercise routine, and the rain came down pretty good. After walking for about 45 minutes, I got a pretty good soaking. This rainfall is coming from a storm system that has had quite a history in recent days. Since Thursday, this vigorous low that has fed off the strong clash between the retreating winter cold from Canada, and the summer like moisture and warmth from the Gulf of Mexico has produced a ton of severe weather with a total of 1020 storm reports filed as of Monday.

The fact that the rain came during the overnight, and not after a significant heating of the day, may help New Jersey and the rest of the Tri-State area get away unscathed in terms of severe weather. However, don’t be surprised that there will be some thunderstorms, especially if the sun happens to peak out at any point during the day to act as a catalyst by heating the already saturated atmosphere. According to the latest forecast for the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey, there is a chance for thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoon with a high temperature of 83 degrees today. In addition, a Hazardous Weather Outlook has also been issued calling for a chance of severe thunderstorms in Northern Pennsylvania and New Jersey with those areas receiving the maximum amount of daytime heating, and the position of the front will be over these areas during the afternoon hours. Greatest threat from these storms is straight line winds. Keep an eye to the sky, particularly this afternoon in Central Jersey.

05.26.08

Another Deadly Day In Nation’s Mid-Section

Posted in General, GWC News at 11:59 pm by gmachos

On Sunday, it was another deadly round of severe weather for the nation’s mid-section. This time the carnage occurred further north with tornadoes and severe thunderstorms occurring in Minnesota and Iowa as well as Missouri, which has seen more than its fair share of severe and deadly weather in 2008. According to an article written by the Associated Press, there were 8 people killed in Minnesota and Iowa. Coming into Sunday, there had been at least 100 people killed by tornadoes this year in the United States, which is one of the highest death tolls in years from twisters.

According to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, there were a total of 543 storm reports issued in 11 different states from Minnesota in the north to Texas in the south. Making up the 543 storm reports were: 50 tornadoes, 202 high wind incidents, and 291 hail episodes. Since Thursday, there have been a total of 1020 reports of severe weather including: 174 tornadoes, 335 with high winds, and 511 with hail. Looking at the Weather Channel maps on Sunday, there was a very large swath of strong to severe weather expected over the Central United States from the U.S. border with Canada in the north to the Gulf Coast in the south.

While this has been a very brutal year in the Midwest with tornadoes as far back as January and February this year coupled with flooding in the Missouri Valley, this latest weather outbreak is not really unusual in the sense the spring is a very active time for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms since there is such a strong clash between the cold air coming out of Canada, and the warm, moist air flowing up from the Gulf of Mexico. May, in particular, is the most active month of the year in terms of twisters. More severe weather was expected on Monday in the Midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois, and parts of the Ohio Valley.

05.25.08

More Severe Weather In Central U.S.

Posted in General, Storm Facts, GWC News at 4:36 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. This morning, I happened to be talking to my mother, who told me that there was another severe weather outbreak in the Central United States on Saturday. Tornadoes touched down in Kansas and Oklahoma while a tornado watch had been issued for about seven hours in portions of the region. Upon hearing this, I went in to investigate. According to the Associated Press, there were strong storms and twisters that affected western portions of Kansas and Oklahoma on Friday.

One of the more notable areas that was affected was Greenburg, Kansas, which experienced a significant tornado last year. This time the storm brushed the outskirts of the town. Over in Oklahoma, a tornado was spotted some 10 miles to the Northeast of Fort Supply. These storms were already in addition to another twister that emerged on Thursday in Northern Colorado. On Friday, the National Weather Service conducted a survey of the damage caused by the twister in Greeley, Colorado. With the evidence collected, the NWS figured that an EF3 tornado struck Greeley with 136 to 165 miles per hour while another hit Windsor with winds clocked at 111 to 135 miles per hour. Moreover, twisters even struck Wyoming. On Friday, a couple small twisters touched down in Platte County as well..

In total, there were 209 storm reports throughout eight different states on Friday according to figures provided by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. They broke down into 63 tornado reports, 44 high wind reports, and 102 hail reports. On Thursday, there were 249 storm reports spread across 12 different states including: 48 tornado sightings, 57 high wind reports, and 144 hail reports. Moving on to Saturday, the severe weather was quelled somewhat with only 119 reports including: 13 twister sightings, 29 high wind reports, and 77 reports of hail.

More specifically, the severe weather on Saturday produced three touchdowns near Dewey, South Dakota according to a rancher there. Furthermore, there were four more twisters sighted across the state of Oklahoma. Golf ball sized hail was also reported in South Dakota while many other locales indicated that nickel to dime sized hail fell. Looking at the latest analysis courtesy of The Weather Channel, more of the same is expected not only for Sunday, but also for Monday as well. Severe weather consisting of possible tornado threats coupled with the chance of 3/4 inch hail, and winds exceeding 58 miles per hour is expected over a large swath of the nation’s mid-section. From the international border between the U.S. and Canada in Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, strong to severe thunderstorms are expected.

05.24.08

Sun Returns To Shine Over Central Jersey For Holiday Weekend

Posted in General, GWC News at 11:59 pm by gmachos

On Friday, the sun returned to the Central Jersey area after seven straight days of measurable rainfall. Over the previous seven days from May 15th to May 22nd, there was a total of 2.08 inches of rain, which accounts for approximately 55 percent of the total rainfall for this May. The recent rains have also catapulted the month to be the second highest so far this year in terms of monthly rainfall behind February, which had 4.61 inches. The recent forecast from the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey called for the sun to remain over the region for the next several days going into early next week after the Memorial Day holiday with the next chance of rain on Tuesday.

So far this month, the mercury has not climbed up into the 80s yet. The highest temperature recorded in May in South Plainfield was 78.1, and that was on the 6th. The conditions have been so cool that we’ve yet to record a single cooling degree day. The mean temperature for the month has been 56.6 degrees with the mean max reaching 66.5 degrees, and the mean min bottoming out at 46.7. As a matter of fact, the lowest minimum temperature for the month occurred on the very first day at 33.4 degrees. Knowing all of this data, you can see why we’ve yet to have any serious severe weather in the form of thunderstorms. By this time last year, there were already a couple of thunderstorm outbreaks in the area. Most notably, severe thunderstorms on May 16th, and May 20th. You can check out the video footage of these events in the YouTube and Weather Channel video sections.

This holiday weekend, conditions will become more typical of this time of year as the thermometer is expected to climb into the 80s for the first time since April 18th when the mercury rose to 84.4 degrees. On Monday, the high is forecast to be around 83 degrees so it is quite possible we could enjoy the warmest day of the year to date. Tuesday will be slightly cooler at 81 as clouds embedded with thunderstorms will develop during the afternoon and evening hours as a frontal system moves into the region. On Wednesday, temperatures will cool to about the upper 60s to low 70s.

05.23.08

NOAA Issues Its 2008 Hurricane Season Forecast

Posted in General, Storm Preparation, GWC News, Storm Safety at 11:37 am by gmachos

TAMPA, FL–On Thursday, the federal government agency in charge of monitoring our weather, NOAA, announced its annual hurricane season forecast for the upcoming 2008 year. According to the forecasters at NOAA, and its National Hurricane Center, you can anticipate anywhere between 12 to 16 named storms, 6 to 9 hurricanes, and as many as five major hurricanes. Named storms are those that have winds of at least minimal tropical storm force, or 39 miles per hour. Hurricanes are those that have winds of at least minimal hurricane force, or 74 miles per hour while major hurricanes are those that have winds exceeding 110 mph, or are at least Category Three Strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

However, keep in mind that both NOAA, and Dr. William Gray of Colorado State, have not had a lot of success with making accurate seasonal forecasts over the past several years. For example, back in the historic 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season, NOAA indicated that there would be between 12 to 15 named storms that season. Meanwhile, Dr. William Gray projected that there was going to be 17 named storms. The finally tally for that year would be about twice as much with 28 storms, the most ever on record. The following year, 2006, NOAA and Dr. Gray projected an above average season as well, and the final actual numbers were actually below the 50 year average, which was only the second time that had happened during this recent active cycle that began in the 1995 season. The other time was during the 1997 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Last year, both NOAA and Dr. Gray again indicated that there would be above average numbers for the season, and while the season was above average in the sense of the number of named storms (15), it was below the projected amount while the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes met only the 50 year averages.

Moral of the story: Prepare for anything. Don’t let the forecasts of an above average, average, or below average season determine how to get ready for these storms. You must realize that all it takes is one storm. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 proved that as the most costliest disaster in United States history until Katrina came along in 2005, and the Category Five storm that ravaged South Florida occurred in a below average season with just 7 named storms.

05.22.08

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Posted in General, GWC News at 1:31 am by gmachos

While its nice to see that the Northeast, and in particular Central Jersey is getting its fair share of rain, it’s getting to the point where it is becoming a depressing sight. On Wednesday afternoon and evening, another round of showers and even thunderstorms moved through portions of Middlesex County including the South Plainfield area, the home of Greg’s Weather Center. As of Sunday, there was almost as much rainfall during the month of May as there had been all April, which is usually one of the rainiest months of the year in this part of the world.

Looking at the current weather data for the year in the GWC WX Station, there has been approximately 3.59 inches of rain here in the Northwestern portion of Middlesex County, which not only surpasses the amount for April (2.93 inches), but also eclipses the tally for the month of March (3.14 inches), and is catching up to the total for the month of February (4.61 inches). Since Sunday, there has been measurable rain each day this week, and that makes it six straight days with at least 0.01 inches of rainfall. So far this May, there have been measurable rain on 11 of the 21 days. Add to that the fact that there has been some sort of rainfall on at least part of the last four weekends, it has become quite a dreary spring.

Alas, the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend is upon us, and forecasters indicate that there is a chance of fine weather. I sure hope so! On a positive note, the weather did turn for the better during the day today with the temperature rising to 69 degrees before the clouds came in to ruin the party. It was a nice afternoon to go out for lunch like I did. Drove the car with the windows rolled down to get the natural air conditioning. Coming out of work at the end of the day, it was interesting to note how ominous the clouds appeared. Looked like we were in for some severe weather, but despite a downpour, Central Jersey was spared of any afternoon spring storm outbreak. Today’s rainfall was measured to be just 0.08 inches, which was paltry compared to Tuesday’s 0.55 inches.

05.21.08

Findings! Findings! Findings! Another Scientist Joins The Global Warming-Hurricanes Debate

Posted in Commentary, Global Warming And Hurricanes at 11:57 pm by gmachos

Good evening. Sorry that I’ve been away from posting something in the Hurricaneville Blogosphere these past few days, but I’ve been busy with my job, and also work on another site that I do called GMC Hoops. The site is devoted to covering high school basketball in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and the summer league season is beginning to heat up. However, I continue to watch things in the news, and pass interesting stories I find on the internet to the readers on the Hurricaneville Mailing List. A couple of interesting articles caught my eye this week including the discovery of a new tool to predict hurricane season activity in the Atlantic, and another scientist’s findings in regard to the link between global warming and hurricanes.

Earlier this week, a highly regarded American scientist, Tom Knutson, stated in a recent published study that there is no link between the recent increased tropical activity and global warming. As a matter of fact, Knutson believes that in the long run, tropical storm and hurricane occurrences will dramatically be reduced by warming although storms that do occur will be stronger and more devastating. In the study that was released on Sunday, Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J., stated that by the end of the 21st century, the number of hurricanes will be reduced by 18 percent.

Furthermore, the number of tropical storms will decrease by about 27 percent. However, the number of major hurricanes, ones that reach an intensity of Category Three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale will only fall by eight percent. Looking at this information, one would wonder how would that be possible. I gave it some thought, and while I didn’t read Knutson’s work, I logically deduced that he came up with the findings using a model that showed a relationship between the oceans increased temperatures due to global warming, and wind shear. Say for example, we have increased sea surface temperatures globally. Well, that means for the Atlantic that the Eastern Pacific would be more likely an environment that is similar to an El Nino episode, where warmer sea surface temperatures off Western Mexico, Central America, and South America would produce stronger hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific.

These storms in turn would come ashore in Mexico and Central America, and then bring its remnants across into the Atlantic bringing hostile upper level wind conditions that would hamper the development of fledgling storms such as tropical storms and minimal hurricanes. Wind shear for a developing tropical storm, or hurricane, can be a death sentence. Hurricanes need light winds aloft to help nurture its very delicate vertical cloud structure. You’ll often hear the term, vertically stacked when forecasters refer to the cloudy system of a hurricane, and that is because the storm produces towering cumulonimbus clouds that produce the rain and fierce thunderstorms. Consequently, we have the reduction in those numbers for developing storms. This idea has come up before during the constant and sharply contested debate on this subject.

In response to Knutson’s findings, MIT professor, Kerry Emanuel, who is author of the book, Divine Wind, admired Knutson as a scientist, but stated that one of the government’s top weather researchers was wrong in his analysis. According to the USA Today article that features the results of Knutson’s findings, Emanuel stated that his conclusion was, “demonstrably wrong” since it was “based on a model that doesn’t properly look at storms”. Another highly regarded researcher, Kevin Trenberth, also criticized Knutson’s model as being inadequate for assessing tropical weather, and “fails to replicate storms with any kind of fidelity.” Earlier this year, Emanuel issued results of another study that he had done on the subject that indicated he was at a quandry over some of the results since they demonstrated that global warming may not dramatically increase hurricane activity after all, which was a revision of his earlier thoughts from the summer of 2005 just weeks before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Central Gulf Coast of the United States.

When the average person reads these stories, and the basic theme of these studies, he or she may wonder if the hurricane researcher has gone the way of their medical brethren. Often, you’ll hear on the news that the Journal of American Medicine has come up with a study that revealed the benefits that drinking coffee has on people only to have another one come up a year or so later that conflicts what they’ve previously found. Perhaps, this is the journey that is called learning. You’ll always find out new things. These things are ones that you’ve never considered before. Obviously, this global warming question in regard to hurricanes is still open ended. While there a consensus that global warming is occurring on the planet, there is still doubt on its impact on tropical storms and hurricanes. The moral of the story here is that residents along the coast from Maine to Texas need to be prepared for anything each and every year, and also doing things to fortify the coastline against the present threat from storms.

05.18.08

2008 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Underway

Posted in Eastern Pacific at 9:36 pm by gmachos

On Thursday, the 2008 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season got underway, and NOAA was on duty with two daily Tropical Weather Outlooks issued. The Eastern Pacific Hurricane season starts earlier to coincide with the Mexican monsoon season, and it lasts all the way until the end of November. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st.

With La Nina conditions still in effect throughout the Pacific, sea surface temperatures will be cooler than normal for the time being, and that may have an impact on how many storms will form in the EPAC this season. On the contrary, the Atlantic will benefit from the La Nina episode in the form of light upper level winds. The lessening of hostile upper air conditions from the Eastern Pacific will help storms be able to grow and build in the Atlantic Ocean, especially during the peak months of the season from August to October.

While the Atlantic has enjoyed a great deal of activity in the last 13 years or so, the Eastern Pacific has been either just average, or below average. The first two seasons of the period, 1995 and 1996 were the way they were because of La Nina as was 1998. Meanwhile, 2005 was a year when other factors emerged such as heavy rainfall from the Sahel, low pressure and high sea surface temperatures played a pivotal role in the development of such powerful storms as Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Usually when activity picks up in the Eastern Pacific, it is due to the El Nino, and the warmer than normal sea surface temperatures that develop. When numerous storms occur in the EPAC that usually means more upper level shearing conditions in the Atlantic, which hinders tropical cyclogenesis in that region.

Another Wet Weekend Here In Central Jersey

Posted in General, GWC News at 9:04 pm by gmachos

For the fourth weekend in a row, the clouds and their accompanying rains paid another visit to Northwestern Middlesex County as well as the rest of the Central Jersey area. The inclement weather actually began in earnest on Friday with a wet, windy, and dreary day. According to the data measured by the rain bucket with the GWC WX Station here in South Plainfield, there was just under an inch of rain for the day on Friday (actually 0.96 inches). Saturday and Sunday also saw some measurable precipitation with 0.06 on the first day of the weekend, and 0.05 on the second.

So far this month (May 2008), there has been some form of measurable rain on 8 of the first 18 days. Now, while this didn’t match the rainfall in the first two weeks of April 2008 (rainfall on 9 of the first 12 days), it has still been a rather wet month by May standards. With Friday’s rain, there have been two of the top four rainiest days this year during the month of May 2008. The second highest rainfall occurred on May 9th. Moreover, there has already been 2.75 inches of rainfall during the month. Compare that to what occurred for the entire month of April (2.93 inches), and you can see that there haven’t been May flowers, but rather, May showers. For the year, there has been a total of 15.21 inches of rainfall.

Moving on to the temperature data for the day and the month thus far, the high on Sunday reached 63 degrees, and that occurred at 11:10 AM while the low for the day was 51, and that took place at 6:30 AM. The mean temperature for Sunday was 57.4 degrees while the mean has only been below 51.4 degrees twice this month. The maximum high for this past week was actually reached on Wednesday, May 14th when the mercury climbed to 76 degrees while the lowest also occurred on that day at 43 degrees, and the resulting diurnal range of temperature was 33 degrees, the largest for the week. So far this month, the average mean temperature has been 57.4 with the mean max being 67.2 while the mean min dropped to 47.6. Consequently, the average diurnal range of temperature for the month of May 2008 has been 19.2.

Another interesting stat that hasn’t been discussed much so far in the past two months or so of local weather discussions has been the number of Heating Degree Days. This was always a weather statistic that perplexed me during my studies of Meteorology at Rutgers a few years back. According to the latest edition of the C. Donald Ahrens book, Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Weather, Climate, and the Environment, the number of Heating Degree Days is a indicator of how cold the weather is. This is always a very critical statistic when it comes to measuring energy consumption, and with things being the way they’ve been in recent years with the gradual rise in the price of oil, and its ripple effect on gas prices as well as prices of other consumer goods, especially in just the past couple months. Ahrens states that, “Heating degree-day is a form of the degree-day used as an index for fuel consumption. On the contrary, a Cooling degree-day is, “a form of degree-day used in estimating the amount of energy necessary to reduce the effective temperature of warm air. A cooling degree-day is a day on which the average temperature is one degree above a desired base temperature.”

Going beyond the definitions, these numbers are calculated by different means. First, the heating degree-day is tabulated by taking the mean temperature for the day, and subtracting that from 65 degrees, the base temperature used in the formula. So, for example, the heating degree days for today would be 7.6 (65-57.4). When you are able to determine the heating degree days for the year, you can figure out a rough estimate of heating requirements for a particular location. Meanwhile, the cooling degree day is determined by taking 65 degrees, and subtracting that from the mean. So, today there would be 57.4-65, which is -7.6, which would indicate that this would be a heating degree day since the value was negative. Having knowledge of this kind of information can also be useful in determining the size and type of equipment to install in a house for proper air conditioning.

So, for the month of May, there has been 140.2 heating degree days and 3.0 cooling degree days. For the year, there has been 3051.5 heating degree days and 4.6 cooling degree days. However, the trend for heating degree days is going down while its rising for cooling degree days. Another indication that the physics of the earth and sun are changing, the days are getting longer, the perpendicular angle of the sun is getting closer to the Northern Hemisphere, and the colder air that had dominated the weather in much of the United States for a good portion of the year to date is retreating back toward extreme Northern Canada, Alaska, and the North Pole. According to the latest forecast discussion from the Mount Holly office of the National Weather Service, “A series of fronts and low pressure areas will rotate around a mid level low that will move very slowly from southeastern Canada to the Canadian maritimes through the week. High pressure will very slowly build toward the area toward the end of the work week.”

Translation, there is going to be some sort of chance of precipitation from the rest of today through Wednesday with the highest likelihood of rain projected for the late afternoon on Sunday. A Coastal Flood Statement was issued for the region, and it indicated that there is a chance for spotty and minor coastal flooding in light of the presence of the full moon on Monday. This threat is expected to exist for the next several days. Meanwhile, a Special Weather Statement was also issued for the region, and it stated that a line of strong to severe thunderstorms is approaching the Central Jersey area.

As of 4:20 PM, the line of thunderstorms extended from Upper Bucks County to Upper Montgomery County and trailing into the Lower Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania. This line of storms contain heavy rain, potential dangerous lightning, hail, and winds in excess of 45 miles per hour. These storms will be moving east and continue affecting Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester until 5:30 PM while they will begin to impact Central Jersey including Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, and Middlesex County within the hour.

2008 Hurricane Awareness Week Starts Next Sunday

Posted in Storm Preparation, Storm Safety at 7:31 pm by gmachos

Good afternoon everyone. Just wanted to give you an update on what’s happening in the tropics as we continue to build up to the start of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season. In case you weren’t aware, the official beginning of the hurricane season is rapidly approaching. Two weeks from today, June 1st, is the first day of the season. The season runs for the six months that cover meteorological summer and fall, June 1st to November 30th. Yes, meteorological summer and fall do not coincide with astronomical summer and fall, which covers the period from around June 21st to December 21st every year.

In an effort to get ready for the upcoming season, the National Hurricane Center in conjunction with NOAA will be running its annual Hurricane Awareness Week starting next Sunday, May 25th and continuing all week until Saturday, May 31st. Topics that will be featured during the week include the following: History, Hazards (Rain, Wind, and Surge), Forecast, Prepare, and Act. This week has become a fixture at the NHC over the time Hurricaneville has been in existence, and its importance is huge in light of the recent wave of tropical activity throughout the Atlantic since the 1995 season. In addition to HAW, NOAA will be issuing its annual pre-season hurricane season forecast. So, the next couple weeks will definitely be busy as the federal government does its part to get the public involved in the process of preparation and awareness.

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