Wonders of Technology
I tend to get fewer (bragging) phone calls from Florida friends during hurricane season. They love to share the latest temperature in January, but when "storms with names" pop up they go radio-silent.
Tropical Storm Karen is being shredded by strong winds aloft (wind shear), the atmospheric equivalent of putting bad gas in your car. The engine is sputtering. Despite this, I'm predicting breathless TV reports from the beach in Pensacola. But Karen is no Katrina or Sandy. Not even close.
Non-essential personnel at NOAA have been furloughed as part of a government shut-down. Hurricane forecasters aren't affected, and it's a good thing.
50 years ago we relied on ship reports (!) to tell us where hurricanes were. Now we receive a continuous stream of high-resolution images, supplemented with flights into storms, even automated drones.
Snow tapers over the Black Hills, while gusty Santa Ana winds fuel a critical fire risk over California today.
Showers taper later today in the metro, but a cold core low drifting overhead may spark more showery rains for the Twin Cities Marathon. Overheating won't be a problem tomorrow.
Skies clear Monday (naturally) with a few 70s next week. No frost in sight for the metro area looking out 7-10 days.
Million Dollar Soaking. The NWS MPX Doppler image above was saved at 11: 20 PM last night. The same vigorous warm frontal boundary that sparked large, potentially historic tornadoes over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa rotated north into Minnesota, sparking heavy rain and frequent lightning. Between blizzards in western South Dakota and freakishly large tornadoes near Sioux City, we got the better end of this storm.
Raw Weekend - Warming Trend Next Week. We have to muddle through a few cool days, although I suspect temperatures will be a bit cooler than the ECMWF numbers above today and tomorrow. Skies clear Monday with a warming trend, maybe 3 or 4 days above 70F next week. Another potential storm or cool frontal passage is shaping up for next weekend. Graph: Weatherspark.
Partly-Soggy Weekend. You can watch as an area of heavy snow shrinks and tapers from Wyoming into the Black Hills and Nebraska Panhandle. The same system that spawned an early-season blizzard over South Dakota and major tornadoes over Iowa will push a surge of drier air north today (the dreaded "dry tongue") and skies may try to brighten by afternoon. But conditions will be ripe for more showers later, lingering into a portion of Sunday. It gets nice and mild again next week. NAM Future Radar loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.
Something For Everyone. The GFS model shows the major, full latitude cyclone that sparked 1-2 foot snows over the Black Hills and mile-wide tornadoes near Sioux City, tracking northeastward into the weekend. Strong and gusty (60 mph) Santa Ana winds may fan wildfires across southern California, while Karen meanders in the Gulf, strafing the coast from Louisiana to Florida with torrential rains. 192 hour loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.
* The NOAA.gov portal, which often serves as a hub for life-threatening storm information and resources; it is redirecting to weather.gov, which is fully functional
* NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory, which provides storm imagery on a daily basis
* NASA’s Hurricane Web site, which provides news and visuals about tropical weather systems
* NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s weather imagery..."
Major Storms Are Forming, And America's Meteorologists Are Stuck At Home. Well, some of them. Here's a clip from a story at Quartz: "...As potential natural disasters loom, the American government is shut down because of a budget dispute. As part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mission to “protect life and property,” critical civil servants such as weather forecasters must remain at work—without pay —while support staff and other “non-essential” personnel are being sent home. Although essential personnel are still on the job (and others have been recalled in face of the impending weather disruptions), it’s impossible to think that the fragmentation of bureaucracy won’t have an impact in the context of a rapidly changing natural disaster..." (Map above: Ham Weather).
* As of 10 PM Tropical Storm Karen is losing some of its tropical characteristics, being "decapitated" by wind shear, in the words of NHC. Steering winds should nudge the storm north, and then sharply northeast over the next 36 hours.
* Intensity has dropped from 50 to 45 mph this evening.
* Hurricane Watches have been discontinued. A Tropical Storm Warning is posted from Morgan City, LA to the mouth of the Pearl River.
* New Orleans is in a Tropical Storm Watch.
* Karen is still showing the effect of considerable wind shear. Very slight strengthening is possible as Karen approaches the Gulf Coast Saturday night and Sunday.
* Doppler data from NOAA P-3 aircraft initializing HWRF model with more accurate data - strong trend toward weakening storm, and possible eastward drift toward central/northern Florida by Monday.
* Odds of a Category 1 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico have diminished, less than a 20% risk. But Karen is still capable of torrential rains, flash flooding and minor to moderate storm surge flooding, especially late Saturday into Sunday night.
Meanwhile, things are heating up again in the western Pacific with two typhoon risks:
Photo credits: upper left: Jeff Pietrowski, upper right: Nathan Jurgensen.
Summary: Mother Nature is in a foul mood, between 1-2 foot snows, blizzard conditions and power outages near Rapid City, South Dakota, 60-70 mph Santa Ana winds increasing the risk of fast-moving wildfires in southern California, and potentially historic tornadoes over the Midwest. And then there's Karen. The storm doesn't look impressive, and although we are maintaining tropical storm strength in our outlook I wouldn't be surprised to see further weakening before landfall Sunday. Minor storm surge flooding is still anticipated impacting coastal areas below 2 feet in elevation. Heavy rains are expected, especially Florida, sparking flash flooding late in the weekend.
Asia interests will want to closely monitor Wutip and Danas, with impacts likely over southern Japan and near Wenzhou, China. After a quiet spell I'm almost afraid to see what comes next. We'll keep you up to date on multiple weather-threats in the coming days.
Graphic credit above: "In this 3-D map of potential temperature, relatively cool air wraps around Sandy's core near the surface (purple and blue colors), while air parcels gain heat from moisture condensing into clouds and precipitation as they ascend through the storm’s core." Credit: UCAR.
Photo credit above: "An ephemeral lake in California's Yosemite National Park where Pacific tree frogs breed." Credit: USGS.
Earth, 2100 AD. Four Futures Of Environment And Society. How quickly will we wean ourselves off fossil fuels will determine the Extended Outlook - for the planet. Here's an excerpt from New Scientist: "...Here, New Scientist explores four hypothetical futures for human society in 2100, using criteria set out by climate modellers – though we cannot reproduce the huge amount of data in their scenarios (see graph). We have selected some key points and sketched out an image of society in each scenario. To do this, we drew on descriptions published by the IPCC in 2000 and, in consultation with climate modellers, chose the ones that correspond to the concentrations of greenhouse gases published in last week's IPCC report (see "Climate report: Lull in warming doesn't mean we're safe")... (Image: NASA).
Politically biased media climate coverage is not a coincidenceThe scientific evidence is what it is, and it has no political bias. The same is not true of the media outlets that cover the topic. It's not a coincidence that politically conservative tabloids and newspapers like the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Australian, and Wall Street Journal spend a disproportionate amount of time amplifying the voices of the less than 3 percent of climate contrarian scientists, as well as many non-scientist contrarians..."
Image above: Clean Technica.