What Is Going On?
"Waiting for summer? I'm still waiting for spring!" my wife mumbled. A lot of mumbling & grumbling lately. In fact I can't hear you right now because I've gotten a non-stop earful.
I honestly can't remember a faux-spring so depressing.
It's green, the drought is history, there's water in the lakes!
"Shut it Paul".
Why? Proving cause and effect is tricky, but I still think this tortured weather pattern may be linked to record melting in the Arctic last fall - which seems to have thrown the jet stream out of alignment. A 2012 research paper by Francis & Vavrus shows a 14 percent drop in the speed of upper level winds since 1979 as far northern latitudes warm up the fastest. is this sparking "amplification", big north/south swings, with weather systems moving much slower, magnifying the potential for flood drought? It's a theory, but it underscores my sense that we're in uncharted waters.
Climate change is flavoring all weather now.
Clouds and sprinkles linger today, lukewarm sun Friday and the first half of Saturday. Showers and T-storms arrive late Saturday and spill over into Sunday. I find that shocking.
Long-range models still hint at a real warm front (90+ F hot front?) in about 7-9 days.
* image above: Brad Birkholz.
The First Tropical Storm Of The Season, And "Hurricane Apathy". The last major hurricane to strike the USA? Wilma, back in 2005. We are long overdue for a major strike, and I have a hunch this is going to be a very busy year for hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Details in Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist looks at Andrea the first storm of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. More details on hurricane apathy and the storm that got him interested in meteorology."
* Tropical Storm Warning Gulf Coast of Florida, Tropical Storm Watch coastal Georgia and Carolinas.
* Greatest risk from Andrea is inland flooding; greatest potential for urban/river flooding Tampa to Panama City and Destin, then inland over Georgia and Appalachian communities from Chattanooga to Asheville, Roanoke, Hagerstown, Altoona and State College, where some 4-6" rainfall amounts are possible by Friday night.
* 3-4 foot storm surge predicted for Clearwater Beach by late morning Thursday, capable of minor to moderate coastal flooding and beach erosion.
* 3 foot storm surge in Lower Manhattan (Battery) by Friday evening as a weakened Andrea accelerates right up the coast.
Let me say this again: warm sea surface temperatures, a lack of El Nino shearing winds over the tropics, and a persistently negative NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) all point to a much busier than average hurricane season. With a negative NAO the Bermuda High tends to set up much closer to Florida, nudging Atlantic storms closer to the USA. The fact that we're seeing a tropical storm in early June may be a strong signal of an active 2013 hurricane season to come. The last major hurricane to strike the USA was Wilma in 2005. We are long overdue for a Category 3+ landfall. The Boy Scouts have it right: "be prepared".
Summary: Andrea continues to strengthen (slowly) and reaches Florida's Gulf Coast as a moderate tropical storm Thursday afternoon or evening. As we've been saying for a week now inland flooding poses the greatest risk from this storm, especially over the hilly terrain of the southeast from northern Georgia to Asheville. Minor to moderate coastal flooding is expected in the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg market Thursday, a minor storm surge from Savannah and Hilton Head to Charleston and the Outer Banks. New York Harbor and Long Island Sound will experience minor flooding with a 3 foot storm surge by Friday evening.
Some people minimize tropical depressions and tropical storms, but this can be a dangerous oversight. Some of our worst inland floods have been sparked by dying, slow-moving tropical storms interacting with mountainous terrain, which accelerates rainfall amounts and the potential for serious flooding. Andrea should move quickly enough to avoid severe or historic flooding, but I anticipate widespread flash flooding from the Panhandle of Florida across Georgia and the western Carolinas, with swollen rivers and urban flooding possible into Maryland and interior Pennsylvania by Friday afternoon. Minor flooding from 1"+ rains may slow traffic (land and air) from D.C. to New York and Boston Friday PM into Saturday, with conditions rapidly improving along the eastern seaboard by Sunday.
A Warm Light At The End Of Our (crummy) Tunnel? I sure hope so. I know we keep pushing back the warm air; Mother Nature teases us with a possible warm front, only to have the warmth evaporate and pass well south of Minnesota. Is next week's ECMWF prediction of 70s and 80s real? I suspect so - but I'm not holding my breath just yet. I also wanted to highlight Sunday as the wetter day of the weekend, the best chance of rain morning hours.
A Hot Front Next Weekend? We're due, and the ECMWF (European) model shows a prod of hot air surging across the Rockies and Plains 8 days from now, possible setting the stage for shorts and sunglasses the weekend of June 15-16. Wouldn't that be nice.
A 'Tornado Sense' Could Save Your Life
By Eric Waage, Hennepin County Emergency Management Director
Guest Post. From time to time I include longer-form narratives from people I know (and trust). I still worry about tornado-apathy and warning-fatigue in the Twin Cities metro area, a sense "it can't happen here" is still pretty prevalent. The last EF-4 tornadoes were 1965 in the immediate metro; since then the population has nearly tripled, so has the size of the metro. What was farmland 10-20 years ago is now subdivisions; when the next big tornado does touch down the damage will be extensive. Here's a guest post from Eric Waage, Hennepin County Emergency Management Director.
"The deadly start to the 2013 tornado season is a wake-up to all of us who live in tornado prone states. It also is a call to develop a strong tornado sense. Weather awareness and preparation for the worst doesn’t cost money or take much time. But tornado sense can increase your odds of survival. Tornado sense can save your life and the lives of loved ones, friends, workmates and employees.
Dedicate 10 minutes each spring to prepare your mind for another tornado season. Then, take one minute each month to mentally practice the actions you would take, at home, at work or at school, if a tornado hit. Finally, take a few seconds each day to be aware of the weather conditions and your surroundings. If you read this entire article, you are well on your way to becoming someone who will make the best decisions possible under a tornado threat.
Tornado sense has five parts:
* Be aware of weather conditions.
* The best survival stories are the ones you’ll never see in the paper, such as: “Family saved by deferring boat trip due to severe weather forecast.”
* Check forecasts daily during tornado season (May-August), and be prepared to adjust your plans. If even a small chance of thunderstorms is forecast for your area, check updated weather forecasts several more times during the day. Free resources for weather information include the Twin Cities National Weather Service at www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx, the continuous weather stream on TPT WX television (KTCA Digital 2.4 and via select cable providers) and some radio and TV stations.
* When thunderstorms start to pop up, check their movement on radar frequently. See if the storm is becoming violent on its way to your location by checking nearby counties for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Staying connected with the weather situation will prevent dangerous surprises.
* Know your location. As you listen to reports of tornado movement, knowing your location can save your life.
Understanding forecasts and reading radar requires knowledge of basic geography. Cities are generally the smallest areas used for severe weather warnings. More commonly, forecasters will narrow warnings only to the county level. It is simply not possible to name individual neighborhoods, schools, stores and golf courses that are at risk.
As you travel your region for work, shopping or recreation, read the signs along the road so you know when you have passed into another city or county. Do this often enough and you will develop a sense about where you are at all times.
It is also important to be able to identify where you are on a map. Use a highway map to locate the places where you and your loved ones live, work and frequent. You should become able to identify your location on a radar map just by seeing your county’s shape. Radar maps often only show county boundaries, large cities and sometimes major highways. Learn city and county names, and learn how to place locations within county boundaries.
A tornado warning is actually the last stretch of a long trail of clues that should prepare you for action. A tornado sense mindset means that you are forewarned and ready to act. Most killer tornado conditions are forecast days in advance and should come as no surprise. A few days in advance of when severe weather is expected, the National Weather Service issues a large-scale and very general Hazardous Weather Outlook. Several hours in advance of the expected violent weather they will issue a watch, narrowed down to county level. A watch means that weather conditions seem right for the development of tornadoes. This is your last notification to be ready to act if you hear a warning.
When tornadoes are seen by trained spotters or by radar, then a tornado Warning is issued for specific areas. A warning usually offers about 10 minutes’ notice before a tornado, but it can be much less time. When a warning is sounded for your area, you must take immediate action.
If you are outside you may hear sirens, if they are installed in your area. Outdoor warning sirens sound for three minutes in a steady tone during a warning. All metro area counties sound sirens for tornado warnings. Most also sound their sirens when straight line winds approach hurricane force at 70 mph or more. Know your county’s siren policy, as well as those of the counties you frequent.
There are many other warning methods. Among the very best warning tools is a NOAA Weather Radio that constantly monitors for broadcast warnings.
Local television stations will usually provide weather captions on their screens. Only a few radio stations provide weather warning services; many broadcast automated programming and are managed elsewhere. WCCO AM (830) and Minnesota Public
Radio network (FM 91.1 and many others) are among those who reliably broadcast weather warnings. Several, free or low cost smart phone apps will alert you to severe weather. Learn more at www.weather.gov/subscribe. People with qualifying mobile phones can get automatic calls from the National Weather Service when a tornado warning is issued.
Many digital commercial billboards also will provide tornado warnings in the Twin Cities area.
Choose good shelter. Despite our technological advances, it is your shelter choice that most determines your survival. Experience tells us that you should be in a small, windowless interior room on the lowest level of a structure for the best shot at survival. Know where these spots are located in your home, workplace, school and other places. If you are in unfamiliar surroundings during a tornado risk day, look around for places that might offer good shelter. Cars, boats and mobile homes are not good shelter. Sometimes, there will be no good alternative for shelter, and that’s where tornado sense could have kept you out of a dangerous situation.
Accept the facts. To develop a tornado sense mindset also requires a reality check. Know this:
* Adequate warning is there for those who listen. In almost every case of a killer tornado, there were days of indications, hours of alert time, and many minutes of warning.
* Outdoor warning sirens are not ‘always going off.’ Monthly tests plus the annual average of just over one siren activation for storms in Hennepin County, adds up only 27 minutes a year.
* Finally, there is not a single spot in Minnesota where a tornado cannot hit. Weather that spawns tornadoes rises miles into the sky and releases huge amounts of energy. These forces are far too big to be directed by a river valley, hilly terrain, hot pavement or tall skyscrapers. Thunderstorms produce many deadly hazards in addition to tornadoes (lightning, hail, extreme winds, flooding).
If you have a healthy tornado sense mindset, you and your loved ones will be well-prepared to weather any storm."
Photo credit above: "A storm develops just before it produced a tornado near El Reno Okla. just south of Interstate 40 on Friday May 31, 2013. Several tornadoes in the area caused damage and injuries." Photo: Chris Machian, ASSOCIATED PRESS.
Photo credit above: "Amateur tornado chaser Richard Charles Henderson sent this cellphone photo of a tornado to a friend minutes before the tornado killed him. The friend, George "Sonny" Slay, provided the photo to The Oklahoman."
Photo credit above: "People arrived at Fred and JoAnn Horn's home to help in their salvage efforts, Saturday, June 1, 2013 in El Reno, Okla. . He is a retired state trooper and now serves as a deputy for the Canadian County Sheriff's Department. Their home was heavily damaged in Friday night's tornado. More than two dozen family members, church friends and neighbors came to the Horn's home to help recover items that can be saved." (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
Image credit above: "This May 21, 2013 file aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Okla., following a tornado the May 20, 2013 tornado. The Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF5 tornadoes in only 11 days. The tornado that hit El Reno had a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles. The one in Moore, a city about 25 miles away from El Reno, killed 24 people and caused widespread damage." (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin, File)
Photo credit above: Shutterstock. "The gem of Florida's long eastern coast faces -- not surprisingly -- the greatest risk of damage, with 615,756 homes susceptible to flooding caused by hurricanes. About 25 such storms have struck the city in the past century. The city's location near the tip of Florida makes it highly vulnerable."
Photo credit above: "A Chinese man blocks military tanks on Changan Avenue, near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 5 1989." AP Photo / Jeff Widener
Photo credit above: "Storm clouds gather over New Mexico in 2012. Increases in surface temperature and moisture will likely increase the intensity of thunderstorms." Photo by Nicoló Ubalducci/flickr.
Photo credit above: cumberlandregiontomorrow.org.
Photo credit above: "Americans have increasingly been building homes in the wilderness, often in areas where fire had been part of the natural landscape." Photograph: Reed Saxon/AP
Photo credit above: "A magnolia warbler, one of the most-sought birds on the shores of Lake Ontario this month. One of dozens of types of warblers to make appearances in trees and bushes from Oshawa to Hamilton in May."