Category Archives: commentary

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”.

 

Winter arrives (finally) next week.

9 P.M. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020

Mild weather continues a few more days

I don’t know how many times over the past six months, our forecast models have predicted a reversal in the upper air pattern over North America, but it’s been often.  Only once (November) did it actually happen.  Now, it’s seems like it will reverse for a second time, starting Sunday.

The shift to west coast ridge/east coast trough is underway.  The strong northwesterly winds aloft will definitely put us into below normal temperatures.  When pattern reversals occur, they generally persist at least 2-3 weeks.  But, this has been unusual winter, to say the least.  When the “cold phase” hit us in November, it lasted about 3 weeks before the “warm phase” took over.  And the warm phase has been around ever since.  Since November 25, we’ve only had six days with below normal temperatures.  For those keeping score, that’s 45 above normal days and only 6 below.

So, are we going to have a “3 week” winter, or will be longer?  Good question.  Answer unknown.

Old rule of thumb:  After 3 weeks, if the upper air winds over us are stronger than when the cold regime began,  it will persist another 3 weeks.  If the winds are weaker than originally, the warm regime will return quickly.

Rest of this week

Official forecast gives Louisville a chance for rain tomorrow.  I’m not buying that although some light rain will be possible over southern KY.

Another midwestern storm is likely late Friday, but it’ll be much weaker than last week’s storm.  We’ll probably see periods of rain from Friday into Saturday.

Then, winter arrives Sunday!  Next chance for snow comes from a weak clipper next Tuesday.

 

Worst of storm is over

Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020  1:30 P.M.

Potential damage area moves east.

After following this storm system for a week,  I still didn’t get it right.  The rain and heavy downpours arrived long before I expected them to – the heaviest rain passed through Jefferson County between Noon and 1 P.M.  Also, in spite of the rain acting as a break, wind gusts reached 50+ mph in a few spots.  Surprisingly, the number of power outages locally are less than 1000 customers.  Even an average spring/summer thunderstorm produces many more than that.

So, overall, the system proved to be a pretty typical midwestern winter storm for us.

This afternoon, the rain will continue, then fade away around dark.  The winds have been silenced for awhile.   They’ll get stronger again as the rain ends, but top gusts tonight will be in the 25-35 mph range.  They’ll be pushing colder air across the Ohio Valley, but nothing unusual for January.  In fact, tomorrow’s temperatures will remain above normal.

Take your pick

Sat. Oct 26, 2019 3 P.M

Windy and wet

As I usually do when I get up in the morning, I turn on NOAA Weather Radio to get an idea on what the latest ideas are.  I didn’t get much help today.  Rain…yes, but that has been pretty obvious for the past couple of days.

But, high winds were also expected today.  Here’s what I got… from the “official forecast” the winds were predicted for this afternoon to be 15-25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.  However, there was also a Wind Advisory.  That said late afternoon gusts would be 40-45 mph with a few gusts possibly reaching 50 mph.  Well, there is quite a difference between 30 mph and 50 mph gusts.  Thirty is pretty ordinary; fifty can create significant damage. So we’re getting two very different forecasts at the same time!  Probably should have just used the word “windy” and let everybody decide for themselves.

At least the Noon forecast updated the gusts up to 35 mph, but that doesn’t change the situation very much.

Meanwhile, the latest short term models have been lowering their wind predictions.  Current indications point to the strongest wind gusts should be between 4 and 7 P.M.  My best current estimate is for gusts reaching 35 and 40 mph with perhaps into the low 40’s

U of L’s Homecoming game should see those gusty winds and about a 50-50 mix of showers/no showers during the game.

UK’s game should also see a rain/no rain mix.  However, the winds should be quite a bit weaker.  Top gusts around 30 mph or so.

Mystery forecast?

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019

Spent some time this morning and again this afternoon looking at the GFS and NAM forecasts for the rest of the week.  Both models move a full-latitude trough into the Ohio Valley Friday and Friday night.  It’ll positive-tilted, so no major storm development is expected here.  But, there’s almost certainly going to be plenty of moisture around with a large area getting rain, especially Friday night.

Then I checked the National Weather Service’s forecast.  This morning they had a 20% chance for rain Friday.  Now, the Friday/Friday night forecast has no mention of rain at all!

I’ve said this thousands of times..things change.  And I’m certain Friday won’t turn out exactly as the models are saying now.  But, if your two most important forecast tools are practically yelling “rain” at you, shouldn’t you at least mention the possibility in your forecast?

Really?!

Nit Picking

Noon Oct.9,2019

Just checked the afternoon forecast from the NWS.  Cloudy with a high in the upper 70’s.

Here we are sitting under cloudy skies, light NE winds at about 60 degrees.  How are we going to get almost 20 degrees of warming over the next 4-5 hours?  We’re not.  Even if the clouds cleared immediately, we’d be hard pressed to get that warm.  In reality, clouds should begin to thin by 3-4 P.M.  Even with thinning clouds, we’ll be lucky to reach the low 70’s.  Around 70 seems more likely.

What’s up?  Isn’t anyone paying attention?

Stuff

A little perspective…

Slashing and burning of the Amazon has been going on for decades.  All of a sudden this year, it became the “climate destruction gang’s” next big thing on the climate agenda.  But why now?  The  average amount of deforestation over the past five years has been only about 50% of what was occurring 20 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong on this, Amazon deforestation is (and has been) a big climate problem.  But, programs have been ongoing for years to reduce the burning.  Success has been modest, but this certainly is not a new problem.

Dorian footnotes

5 P.M. Friday, Sept. 6,2019

Some laughs in a serious situation

Looking back on some things said this week, it appears the U.S. coastline got off pretty easily.  We had plenty of damage, but nothing that could compare anywhere close to the damage sustained by our Bahamian neighbors just 100 or so miles east of Florida.

Meanwhile, I just couldn’t resist laughing at our Prevaricator-in-Chief.  Some really funny sound bites – actually, though, crying should have been my reaction instead of laughter.  But, when the Prevaricator speaks about science, funny things roll out of his mouth.  He’s the classic example of speaking first, thinking later.

1).  Alabama.  He postpones (or cancels) a trip to Poland because of the potential hurricane damage to Alabama.  No National Hurricane Center bulletins on Dorian ever mentioned Alabama.  There was never a potential threat to ‘Bama.  (Of course, now he’ll probably ask the citizens of Alabama to vote for him because he kept the storm away from them.  Prevaricator-in- Chief indeed,)

2). Cat 5.   Numerous quotes earlier this week about…Category 5, nothing like this has ever happened before.  Who can believe this?  Amazing, Category 5’s just don’t happen.  And on and on.  Trouble is, he used the same words over and over and over in 2017 when another Category 5 storm approached the U.S.  Are we talking about memory loss or slow learner or both.

3).  Nuke it.  Hurricanes should be no problem, says the PIC.  We can just nuke ’em.  In any other reality, that just makes matters worse.  Instead of a hurricane hitting the coast, we’d have a radioactive hurricane hitting the coast.  We’d need a far different system to clean up from that hurricane.  Why won’t nuking a hurricane work.? The amount of energy nature works with dwarfs what we humans can do.  The NHC estimates that a typical average hurricane releases an amount of energy equal to about 10,000 average nuclear bombs.  Over an typical 7 day lifetime, that amounts to about one bomb per MINUTE.

Basically, the PIC should keep away from talking about science.

P.S.  I’ve just had an even scarier thought.  What if his science advisers told him to say those things???

Dorian has stopped, for now

Sunday, Sept. 2, 2019  5 P.M.

Northern Bahamas still getting blasted

Dorian has weakened a bit today, down to a Cat 4, but is still very potent.  The weakening trend should continue for awhile due to interaction with land.  More importantly, weakening may be even greater than expected because the storm has essentially stopped.  To simplify things, hurricanes grab a lot of their energy from the warm surface waters  beneath them.  But, when a tropical system stops, the warm surface water gets essentially “used up.”  In fact, cooler water from below the ocean’s surface rises to the surface.  When this happens, the hurricane becomes energy deprived and weakens.  The longer Dorian remains stalled, the better the prospects become for the southeast U.S. coast.

As you might suspect, the closer (in time) Dorian comes to possible landfall, the closer the forecast agreement gets.  But, there are still some very destructive scenarios to consider.

Florida and Georgia Coasts:  Neither the GFS nor the euro models expect landfall along these coasts.  The GFS, however, does nudge Dorian closer to the coast.  Either way keeps any major storm problems away from these coasts.

South and North Carolina coasts:  The GFS continues the northeast movement of Dorian.  As the storm parallels the coast, A very strong storm surge will produce moderate to major damage.  How much damage depends upon how much Dorian weakens by that time – late Tuesday into early Thursday.  Another thing to consider is that the current weakening should be temporary.  Dorian will be riding the Gulf Stream along the coast and that warm water favors reintensification.

Meanwhile, the euro has Dorian closer to the North Carolina coast, with a possible touching of land, over North Carolina.  This is a decidedly worse scenario than the GFS is offering.

So in summary, the Florida and Georgia coastal areas are likely to have strong winds and very heavy rains.  But, extreme conditions are not likely.  However, severe damage is still a possibility for the Carolina coasts, especially from Myrtle Beach northward.  But, things change.  Stay tuned.

More changes, this time it’s better news

Sat.  Aug. 31, 2019  3:30 P.M.

Much better news for Florida!

Over my 50+ years of trying to into harmony with nature, I repeated countless times, “Don’t trust any forecast beyond two days.”  We still miss forecasts in days 1 and 2, but that forecast is usually pretty accurate.  But when you get beyond 2 days, things change.

Hurricane Dorian forecasts this week have been  a prime example.  Early this week Dorian was projected to hit somewhere along the Florida east coast.  Where?  We have many different models looking at the storm (you’ve probably seen the “Spaghetti Diagrams” on tv), but the  U.S. showcase is the GFS and the top model in the world is referred as the EURO.  Let’s just track those two.

Early in the week, the GFS landfall was predicted to be along the FL/GA border.  The euro focused on southern FL.  Over the next day or two, the GFS gradually worked its landfall southward to close to the euro position.  Yesterday, the GFS still predicted a hit north of Miami then at least a two day journey northward over Florida.  That matches the horrific damage projection I mentioned Thursday.

But, yesterday’s morning euro changed!  It no longer predicted Dorian to hit Florida.  Instead, it would get within a 100 miles or so, then turn slowly northward along the coast and probably not hit land until about North Carolina.  That’s VERY important!  As far a potential damage goes, there’s a huge difference between a hit and a near miss.  Meanwhile, the GFS maintained it’s devastating forecast.

This morning, the GFS caught up to the euro  with the “close miss” scenario, but was still putting landfall along the area along the North/South Carolina border.  Today’s euro, however, has shifted the storm track farther east, possibly even missing the Outer Banks.

So, what’s going to happen?

Good question.  We’re still more than two days away from U.S. coastal interaction and “trends” sometimes do reverse.   So, no one from Florida to North Carolina is completely out of danger yet.   But, current trends are indicating a much better situation, especially for Florida.  As it stands now, Florida’s biggest threat will come from beach erosion.   But remember, things change!

GFS vs. euro

Remember earlier this summer when the National Weather Service made a big fuss over it’s introduction of its “new and better” GFS version?  The model was designed to oust the euro as world’s best.  Dorian has been the first big test for the new GFS.  So far, so bad.  But, things change.  Let’s see how it plays out.

Stuff

The director of the Internal Revenue Service during the mid 1940’s later went to jail for failing to pay his income taxes.

Barry “underperforms”

Tuesday, July 16, 2019  4 P.M.

Barry provides a wet night

Remember all the frightful forecasts about the flooding rains Barry would cause last weekend over Louisiana and surrounding states?  Well, the storm did produce the normal heavy rains that a tropical storm does, but the big weather story for the past couple of days has been Barry’s “underperformance.”  A huge part of the damage and destruction predicted never happened.  That’s the good news.  Here’s the bad news:  All the familiar meteorologists’s phrases popped up – “We dodged the bullet”, “We got lucky”, and “The storm underperformed”.  Ah!  The world we live in.  All the reasons given imply that the forecast was correct.  Thus, it was nature that blew it!

Note to fellow forecasters:  Nature does NOT make mistakes, but we do.  Isn’t it about time that forecasters actually own up to their mistakes and just admit them rather than trying to push the blame to “the weather”?

Barry’s moisture finally reaches us.

Barry’s remnants are being picked up by a weak upper air system over the midwest that will push eastward tonight and cross the lower Ohio Valley by midday tomorrow.  Ahead of this system we’ll see periods of rain and a few thunderstorms tonight.  There could be a few lingering light showers tomorrow, but the bulk of the rain will be overnight.  Current model trends are for the heaviest rains to occur over the western third of KY and over the eastern third of KY later tonight and tomorrow.  Both of those areas could see 1″-2″ rain totals with perhaps higher totals in the mountains.  Most of southern IN and central KY should receive up to an inch of rain with a few areas higher if thunderstorms develop.

Break in the heat coming?

For at least a month, the GFS model has been predicting a change in the upper air pattern over North America.  The forecast has always been for the shift/change to occur 10 days to two weeks ahead.  But “next week’s cooling” has never shown up…yet.

Late last week the forecast was for a transition to the cooler pattern to happen Sun/Mon (July 21-2).  Now we’re less than a week away and the forecast hasn’t changed.  Could it be “real” this time?  It sure looks like it.  So, a more comfortable weather pattern should set if next week.

Then, the question becomes whether the cooler pattern will persist for several weeks or just be  a minor “blip” in the summer heat.  Longer range models keep the cooler pattern in place for most of August.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Stuff:

There’s been a lot of news and celebration this week concerning the 50th anniversary of the Apollo II moon landing.  Here’s a tidbit I read this week…

The Apollo II computer system required about 145,000 lines of code.   (Today, Facebook runs about 62 million code lines while Google uses more than 2 billion lines!)