Category Archives: forecast

The Land of “I”

Sunday, June 28, 2020  8 P.M.

Disappointing rain, so far.

Weather Service has really cranked up the rain probabilities recently and continues them well into the week.  The best chances for wide spread rains, however, seem to be over.  Lots of rain yesterday, last night and this morning.  Soaking, even flooding, rains fell over central Indiana and most of Kentucky, but not here.  Along and north of I-64 there was about a 60 mile wide area with very little rain.  Plenty of rain north and from southern Jefferson County southward.  But most of us missed out.  Never good news during the growing season.

Meanwhile, NWS continues with 70% – 80% most of the time tonight through Tuesday. I’m hoping they are right, but to me the situation isn’t nearly that clear cut.  The rains of the past 36 hours had some pretty good upper dynamics, but that support has faded.  We still have lots of moisture and a fading warm front hanging around, but with upper dynamics weak I’d drop the rain chances to the 30-40% range – more scattered showers/t-storms than widespread.

I’d still love for some worthwhile rain to hit my lawn and garden.

Now, to that strange headline above.

The Land of “I”

I have a lot of concerns.  The one I’m going to discuss here is nothing new.  It has, however, reared it’s ugly head to much greater extremes and ruinous results during the current presidential regime.  It’s been revealed that our PIC (Prevaricator In Chief) has some really nasty genes.  (True, that was well known before the election, but too many Americans failed to grasp the reality.)

Our PIC has been the embodiment of, and promoter of, the “I” generation.  The “I” generation has only one concern – themselves.  Whenever PIC speaks, the words “I” and “me” are constantly being expressed.  Anybody remember hearing the word “we”?  Doesn’t ring a bell to me.  PIC’s “thing” has been this MAGA  nonsense.  That won’t work with I.  “I” has made America worse before and, especially, after PIC took over.  (A side thought…maybe Joe Biden should campaign using the slogan – Make America Great Again! )

Let’s take a look back.   World War II.  The era that produced what Tom Brokaw named the Greatest Generation.  Along with help from many nations, the United States led the battle to defeat the evil empires of Germany and Japan.  Millions of Americans joined together to produce the greatest military victory this world has ever seen.  It was a huge sacrifice – rationing, shortages, blackouts in addition to the battle casualties.  It was an effort enabled by Americans working together – WE.

After World War II, Americans continued to work together.  WE were the leaders of the world.  WE beat polio.  WE made the Russian missiles leave Cuba.  WE won the Cold War.  It’s impossible to mention all the WE moments Americans achieved.  But, somewhere along the way, WE started to fade and “I” started becoming important.

Looking back, I think things started unraveling during the Vietnam War.  WE became divided over the war.  But, when the war ended, WE never fully recovered.  Additional wars have further divided Americans.  Each time, the “I” factor grew.

But, the change hasn’t been only about war.  Front and center – the Anti-vaxxers.  What could be more simple than taking a shot to eradicate a dangerous disease from the world?  It’s obvious to WE vaccines are a good thing.  But “I” says no.  ‘I” will not vaccinate my child.  I don’t care if your kids get sick.

In this time of great uncertainty, the “I” movement has really become emboldened – and PIC has been cheering them all the way. Don’t do simple things like stay at home or wear masks – that’s your right.  Don’t care about WE who don’t want covid 19.  WE can’t peacefully demonstrate because “I” will send in the troops to clear the way for my photo at a church “I” haven’t been in since Inaugural Day.  And on and on…

“I” has been slowly growing in the U.S. for decades, but the trend has accelerated since PIC took over.  He has clearly demonstrated that “I” only weakens us.  Only WE can get America moving in the right direction again.  My hope is that WE will find something to unite around to get us moving in the right direction…before it’s too late.

Muggy, showery weather continues

Tuesday, May 26, 2020  11:30 A.M.

More showers, t-storms today

Big disconnect today between the NWS forecast and the models’ forecasts.  NWS has just a 20% chance for afternoon/evening showers and thunderstorms.  Models, however, are the most favorable for showers/t-storms they’ve been for quite awhile.  They indicate at least a 60% – 70% chance you’ll have rain at your house this afternoon/evening.  Man vs. machine…we’ll see how it works out!  Personally, I’ll go with the machines.

Computer models, part 3

Tuesday, May 5, 2020  6 P.M.

Current weather:  A strong upper air disturbance over upper midwest now will rotate southeast toward Kentucky tonight.  This system will provide some reasonably potent lifting motions over the lower Ohio Valley late tonight.  Not much moisture is available, but additional periods of light rain/drizzle are likely late tonight into tomorrow’s morning rush hour.

We’ll get to see some sunshine as tomorrow wears on, but temperatures will remain unseasonably cool.  The below normal temperatures will likely continue through the next week or two.

Computer models, part 3

The past two posts have told the story how weather forecasting and computers have been wedded since the beginning of electronic computing.  Today there are computer models/projections for just about everything.  Even one that predicted Secretariat to win the Super Derby last Saturday.

We all know that weather forecasts certainly are still not perfect, even though meteorologists have been at it the longest.  Other forecast models have the same problem, but do get better with age.  That leads us to the Coronavirus Models,  Unlike sports, weather, economics, etc., the available data on pandemics is pretty sparse.  Luckily not many pandemics occur.  Nevertheless, models have been built and put into action.  As expected we are hearing a variety of conflicting reports.  Pandemic modelling is a relative new field…its going to take some time for the model errors to shrink.  But with more data rapidly becoming available, improvement will occur.

Early talk of millions of deaths possible in the U.S. were simply “potential”.  They assumed no precautionary steps taken.  When precautions/restrictions went into effect across the country, the oft-quoted University of Washington model predicted 100,000 to 240,000 fatalities.  Our PIC (prevaricator in chief) just laughed that off.  Meanwhile, as the volume of data escalated, a few weeks later, UW lowered its prediction to 60,000.  Subsequent revisions went to 68,000 and then to 76,000.  All the recent revisions have been ridiculously low.  I’ve been watching the case/death numbers closely.  They just didn’t mesh with the predictions.  For example, Monday UW estimate was still in upper 70,000’s.  Just following the daily data, it was obvious we’d exceed that this week.  But, then, yesterday…

Kudos to the New York Times

For some (obvious) reason, it appears that PIC and his gang have been withholding information from an internal government forecast model.  That model predicts total U.S. deaths at 135,000.  To me, that number seems about right.  But with the recent rush to reopen the country, even that number could be low.  Thanks to the Times for breaking this story.  PIC, however, will likely just discard it as “fake news.”    (The only thing worse for PIC was if Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post had broken the story.)

Computer models, part 2

Monday, May 4, 2020  6 P.M.

First, our local weather

A weak low pressure system will work its way across the southern plains tonight and across Kentucky tomorrow.  It’ll bring us some rain tonight (after Midnight) into tomorrow.  Any rain after mid-morning tomorrow will be very light.  Total rainfall is expected to be in the quarter inch to half inch range.  Cooler air filters in tomorrow and we’ll see below normal temperatures likely through the weekend, at least.

Computer models and forecasting, part 2

After the Army built the first eniac  (computer) from 1943-6, the Navy decided to build a second one in cooperation with the private sector.  A group of mathematicians and meteorologists was chosen to complete the project.  Why meteorologists?  Two reasons: first, the earliest computers had no what we now call “software.”  The machine had to be built to solve one single problem.  It would have no other use since the “software” had to be built into the machine,  Second,  the project leader was  John von Neumann, a mathematician.  Von Neumann, however, was familiar with Richardson’s work from the 1920’s.  (previous post)

He figured the team had an already-solved problem.  All they had to do was build the machine to perform the calculations.  Thus, he reasoned, meteorology had the problem and a pre-existing method to solve the problem.  That would save a lot of time.

In reality, Richardson had made some mistakes and faulty assumptions.  The meteorology team spent a lot of redoing the physics and methodology before the machine could be built.

Finally, in 1950, in a large lab at Princeton University, eniac produced the world’s first non-military computer “output” – a 24 hour numerical weather forecast.  It took the machine 24 hours to produce it.

Within two years, the computer time dropped to two hours.  The world of “computer weather forecasting models” accelerated from there.  Improvement has been immense.

Other models:

Computer modelling has expanded over the years.  Virtually anything you can think of is under the scrutiny of various models.  Weather has had 70 years working on the problem and we still make mistakes.  Same goes for other models you may hear mentioned.  Which brings up today’s most talked about model – the coronavirus model.  The conversation continues tomorrow.

non-Derby Weekend odds and ends

Sunday, May 3, 2020  5 P.M.

Summary

Weekend forecasts for Louisville were reasonably good although temperatures were several degrees higher than predicted yesterday. If this had been a “business as usual” Derby Day, I wonder how many bad sunburns the infield crowd would have suffered.  Today’s temperature forecast was far worse than yesterday’s.  The expected showers finally arrived, but rain so far has hardly been worth the effort.  We’ll still maintain a chance for a few more light showers until about 8-9 P.M.

Looks like a nice day tomorrow with mid 70’s highs, then a good shot at a more significant rainfall tomorrow night into Tuesday.

Below normal temperatures will prevail from midweek through the weekend.

Forecast Models

Homo Sapiens (that’s us) evolved, we believe between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, but did not  develop language skills until about 50,000 years so.  So, we’ve been trying to predict the future for at least 50 thousand years.  The first scientific numerical attempts, that I’m aware of,  were by Lewis Richardson in the early 1920’s.  He used equations developed by Wilhelm Bjerknes ( the Farther of modern meteorology) to create a numerical “model” of the atmosphere.  He then extrapolated the input data forward in time.  He produced a 6-hour forecast for two cities in Europe.  Sounds pretty simple, but there are an enormous number of calculations required to move forecast data horizontally and vertically through the atmosphere, even for just six hours.  Working off and on, Richardson took six MONTHS to complete his 6-hour forecast!

The numerical prediction did not produce realistic results.  But, the concept was proven correct. But the huge number of calculations needed proved it was not feasible at the time.

Jump ahead two decades.  During World War II the military wanted some way to speed calculations needed during battles.  Started in 1943 the project ended in 1946 by calculating (very rapidly) trajectories for canon balls by a machine called eniac  (electrical numerical integrator and computer).

Story continues tomorrow

 

 

Rainy night…severe threat very low

Sunday, April 12, 2020   4:30 P.M.

For the past two days the Storm Prediction Center has been predicting a major severe weather outbreak over the deep south into central Tennessee.  They have been including KY and southern IN in the “slight risk” area, but their discussion has included several “ifs” for us.  In essence, plenty of uncertainty for KY/IN.

As the situation has been evolving today, there’s been a good news/bad news scenario developing.  Bad news for the deep south means good news for us.  Mississippi has been hit this afternoon and things look very bad for Alabama, central TN and Georgia tonight.  That major outbreak will block some needed severe storm ingredients from traveling this far north. So, even though we’ll see two periods of showers/thunderstorms tonight, the threat for “severe” thunderstorms will be very low – less than 5%.

Showers/thunderstorms in the local area now will move northeast of Louisville by 8-9 P.M.  Then, we’ll have a 5-6 hour period of dry weather along with rising temperatures!  Another period of showers/t-storms will arrive with gusty winds a couple of hours after Midnight.  This rain system should end during the morning rush hour.

Tomorrow will be cloudy, very windy and cooler.  Temperatures should drop into the low to mid 50’s tomorrow morning and stay steady during the afternoon.  The winds will be tomorrow’s weather feature with frequent gusts over 30 mph and a few gusts over 40 mph possible.

Dry Tuesday?

Monday, March 30, 2020  11 P.M.

I’ve been puzzled since yesterday about the NWS forecast for a 50% chance for rain tomorrow.  All the models have been keeping the rain south of Louisville.  Tonight’s models keep the rain even farther south.  50% seems far too high for Tuesday.  So, a mostly cloudy sky with pleasantly cool temperatures in the 55-58 range appears likely.

A little rain tonight

Sunday, March 22, 2020  6 P.M.

A weak upper air system will pass over the area tonight.  However, it’s not likely to bring much rain.  Low level moisture is very low, so it’s going to take a long time for the rain/snow above us to saturate the air to bring us some rain.  A few sprinkles or patches of light rain are possible this evening.  However, our best chance for some light rain will be for rush hour tomorrow morning.  Overall, total rainfall from this system will most likely be a trace to a couple hundredths of an inch.

If you’ve been watching radar this afternoon, you’ve been seeing in action what I described above.  If you have watched Louisville radar, you’ve seen rain all around us, but none close to us.  However, if you’ve seen so-called “composite” radar, it looks like we’ve had rain for the past few hours.  In fact, it has been raining aloft, but not reaching the ground.  It’s evaporating before it hits the ground.  You may see gray vertical streaks coming from the clouds.  That’s called virga – falling precipitation evaporating before it reaches the surface

Note:  Composite radar, which most media outlets show, integrates data from all NWS radars in the area.  Locally, what we are seeing is a merging of radar data from our radar (at Ft. Knox) with data from Nashville, Cincinnati, Indy and Evansville.  While our radar sees no rain, the others all show rain aloft over Louisville.  Compositing also creates problems for accurately locating thunderstorms.

Stuff

Being of a certain age, I’ve been closely following the spread of the coronavirus.  I’m also a scientist and have been closely watching the numbers.  As a result, I’m convinced we’ve reached the point of no return. Within the next day or two,  I expect the U.S. healthcare system to become completely overrun.  Our Prevaricator In Chief (PIC) constantly tells us we have all the medical supplies we need.  But where are they?  (Perhaps he sent them to our friends in North Korea?)  It’s obvious PIC has no sense of science.  Many of his serious science statements have been just harmlessly funny.  But, this time, his failure to even consider his science/medical advisers has allowed a great plague to take hold of our citizens.  He was advised of the possible consequences of coronavirus as early as January.  Instead, we got “It’s just the flu” , “Don’t worry about it” and it’s a “Democrat Hoax!”

It looks to me as though the next two weeks (at least) are going to be very bad.  PIC and Congress will throw trillions of dollars at the problem, but it’s not going to do much good.  That’s a lot of money to spend on a “Democrat Hoax”.

 

Flash Flood, Tornado Watches tonight

Thursday,March 19, 2020

Flash flooding likely: severe storms iffy

A fairly strong upper air disturbance will come across the lower Ohio Valley tonight.  Lucky for us, it’s focused mostly on Indiana.  With this upper system, we’ll see two clusters of thunderstorms overnight.  With the rains of the past two days, periods of heavy rain, especially over southern IN, will pretty much guarantee widespread pockets of flash flooding over northern KY and southern IN.  If you live in a flash flood-prone area, you know the drill.

The first cluster of thunderstorms will be over the area this evening.  The southern side is weak and will provide plenty of rain to west and central KY and initiate some of the expected flash flooding.  But no severe thunderstorms.

The first cluster of storms will be more noteworthy over the southern half of Indiana.  Severe storms are moving over southern Illinois and will race eastnortheastward.  Heavy downpours are likely and a few severe storms will be possible between, roughly, 8 P.M. and Midnight.  Primary threat will be strong winds and possibly some hail.

The second cluster of storms will move through the area between about 2 A.M. and 8 A.M.  This one is much stronger and is likely to produce an outbreak of severe storms from Arkansas, southeast Missouri and southern IL this evening.  By the time this cluster arrives in the Louisville region, it is likely to be weakening.  Plus, atmospheric instability will be diminishing. Also, the strongest dynamics will remain north of our area.

The result will be a very noisy night north of the Ohio River.  Flash flooding will probably become  a serious problem.  Storms will be strong, but probably not severe.  Along and south of the Ohio River, the primary line of thunderstorms most likely won’t arrive in Louisville until 5 A.M. or later.  They will not be very strong, but deposit enough rain to make a very messy rush hour before the exit the area by 8 A.M.

 

Recent trends looking good for us

Strongest storms will stay south and west of Louisville

Thursday, March 12, 2020  4:45 P.M.

Latest radar trends and short term forecast models are strongly indicating that we’ll get plenty of rain this evening, but severe weather will not reach the Louisville area.  Severe storms are forming along the approaching cold front over western KY and dropping rapidly southeast.  That area of severe storms is heading toward central Tennessee.

Meanwhile, area of showers and non-severe thunderstorms has been expanding over  SW IN and is moving our way.  Cold front may produce some gusty winds as it passes through the Louisville area between 6:30 and 8:30 this evening.  Our biggest problem will be with heavy rain and possible areas of flash flooding.