Showing posts from December, 2011

2011: Glad It Is Over!

The National Weather Service sums up the too-numerous billion dollar disasters of 2011. Glad this year is over! And, this list does not include the pre-Halloween snow storm in the Northeast that likely would have totaled a billion if indirect costs (staying in hotels, etc.) were included. From a meteorological point-of-view, very glad it is over. Jack Hayes, the Director of the National Weather Service, offers similar thoughts . The 552 deaths from tornadoes, the worst since 1925, was the lowlight of the year. Here is a one-minute animation of the tornadoes of 2011.

Last Year at This Time: Tornadoes in St. Louis

Two tornadoes were occurring midday on New Year's Eve 2010 in the St. Louis area. Here is coverage . Doppler radar signatures of two tornadoes on the ground at the same time in St. Louis County, Missouri: No tornadoes expected anywhere in the U.S. today. Just a lot of wind in the central third of the U.S.

Windy End of the Year

The amber color = high wind warnings. Gusts above 60 mph are already being reported in Colorado and they will spread rapidly as a cold front moves across the region.  The magenta color = high wildfire danger. Near the Great Lakes are pink = winter storm warning and blue = winter weather advisory.

Brief Movie Review

If you are looking for a New Year's Eve movie, both Kathleen and I would recommend My Week with Marilyn  the story of shooting a movie with Marilyn Monroe and Sir Lawrence Olivier in the 1950's. We both thought it was the best movie we had seen in quite a while. Added thought: This would be a great "date movie" for New Year's Eve.

2011: A Year of Precipitation in Map Form

Here is how much precipitation (rain and the melted moisture in snow) has fallen since 6am CST on January 1, 2011 until 6am this morning. Click to enlarge, scale at right. While the eye is certainly drawn to the purples (more than 70"!) from the Missouri Bootheel to southern New York, those are not the largest departures from normal. Those can be seen in the map below: The greatest deviation from normal on the plus side is in eastern Montana. This very heavy spring rainfall is what put the Missouri River above flood stage so many days this spring and summer. The driest area is about the same longitude, the southern Rockies down to the Texas Big Bend where rainfall was less than 20% of normal.

Local Leaders Allegedly Ignore Warnings: 1,200 Dead

When Typhoon Washi dumped a month's worth of rain on Mindanao island in just 12 hours, the result was a series of surging flash floods that barreled straight down the slopes of denuded mountains to hit densely populated areas in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities. The local government's failure to pay heed to national leaders' warnings about the size of the storm heading their way was another problem, but the aftermath is focusing squarely on the consequences of Filipinos mistreating their environment. President Benigno Aquino III captured the public mood when he said during a visit to Cagayan de Oro last week that the Philippines hasn't learned the lessons of the past and must do better to safeguard its environment to avoid future calamities. Story from the Philippines reported by the Wall Street Journal . 

If You Would Like to Go Deep into Climategate... here . It tells, first-hand from the main participant, about the climate clique's attempt to evade laws regarding release of public data.

Very Quiet New Year's Eve

Haven't seen this in many years: Click to enlarge, computer program by Dr. Ryan Maue This is the forecast radar for 11:59pm EST on December 31, 2011. Snow is forecast to fall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and across Lake Superior into Quebec and that's it. No other snow in the 48 continuous states. There is some rain from Madison and Rockford down to Quincy and over the highest elevations of the Cascades. That's it for rain, too. So, take it easy while celebrating. But, weather will not be a problem over the vast majority of the U.S.

A Summary of 2011's Weather Disasters

An informative article from The Wichita Eagle  is here .

Nice Time Lapse of Tornado-Bearing Thunderstorms


More on the F.A.A.'s Electronics Rules

Last month, I had some fun with Alec Baldwin and American Airlines' horrible customer service. Of course, the underlying problem is the Federal Aviation Administrations' silly rules about devices being used by passengers before takeoff and landing.  The New York Times  followed up on the issue in the wake of the Baldwin incident and concluded ... “The only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.” The F.A.A. and other groups seem to be running out of reasons we can’t use digital e-readers on planes during takeoff and landing. Maybe their next response will be: “Because I said so!” Yeah, that is about right.

2012 is an Election Year: Are We Going to Reform the TSA?

From Vanity Fair : As you stand in endless lines this holiday season, here’s a comforting thought: all those security measures accomplish nothing, at enormous cost. That’s the conclusion of Charles C. Mann, who put the T.S.A. to the test with the help of one of America’s top security experts. The article demonstrates the TSA accomplishes nothing. And, it doesn't even talk about how it is diminishing our constitutionally-protected rights. It is long past time to disband the TSA and turn it back over to private contractors. Far less cost and probably better security. Instead, "Infowars" is reporting that Congress is going expand the non-airport activities of the TSA. Even though I have written them all once, I'm going to contact my Congressional delegation again about this ridiculous expansion of a ridiculous agency. And, I'm going to start looking for candidates that promise to put a stop to this nonsense.

The Driest 5-Day Precipitation Forecast in Months

Is here: Needed moisture is forecast to fall in the Northwest with lake effect snows in the Midwest. Other than that, things are pretty quiet.

How Good Are the Climate Models?

This blog has been highly critical of the computer models that are used to forecast future climate. A review article, just out, says: There should be little confidence in climate models. The model simulations fail in their attempts to provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, on regional, or continental, or global scales. The models have shown little to no ability to reproduce observed features of current climate and past climate changes. Confidence in model estimates is greatly overstated by the IPCC for the most common of climate variables (e.g., surface temperature) used to present the supposition of manmade global warming.   Details here . Undoubtedly, climate models will begin to show skill at some point in the future. But, at this point, there is no reason to give them any credibility.

Walt Is My Kind of Guy

More Zits here .

Ten Years of Snow in Two Minutes

An animation from AccuWeather .

If You Got an eBook Reader for Christmas...

...please consider the ebook version of Warnings.  The ebook version has the same great story with additional photos we could not get into the hardcover book. The Kindle version is here . The Nook version is here .

Christmas Tornado Down Under

A tornado occurred on Christmas near Melbourne, Australia, with damage reported. Attached is a radar image of the supercell and hook echo (arrow). As would be expected in the Southern Hemisphere, the hook is on the northwest side of the supercell. Click to enlarge. Hat tip: Michael Thompson.

Important Scientific Study: Why We Always 'Have Room' for Dessert

I often make fun of silly science studies. This one is near and dear to my heart, err, stomach. My "dessert stomach" seems especially capable and on the job this holiday season.

I Was There -- Chiefs Lost

Christmas Day, 40 years ago at this time, I was with my family at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium to watch the Chiefs lose a playoff game to the Dolphins in the sixth period. I have always thought that game was the beginning of the end of the Chiefs' dynasty. They were one of the dominant teams in the 1960's and they played in Super Bowls I and IV, and winning the latter. The NFL Channel will have a one-hour special on the nearly six hour game tonight at 6pm Eastern. Because of the numerous opportunities to win, the memories of that afternoon that stretched into evening are so painful I don't know whether I'll be able to watch. UPDATE: Well, well worth viewing even though it was extremely painful. It was nice to see the rumor confirmed that one of Jan Stenerud's missed kicks was supposed to be a fake and the ball was mis-snapped to Len Dawson (the holder). Highly recommended viewing.

"I'm Dreaming of Homeland Security Snow Cones"

Speaking of frozen water (see snow post immediately below): Every time you think the whole homeland "security" realm cannot get more bizarre, someone ups the ante. When most people are thinking about a White Christmas, Michigan homeland security is thinking of -- yes -- snow cones. The Daily News was able to confirm that the the snow-cone machines were funded by a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program, but nobody seems to have had a good answer for the "appropriate use" question, surprisingly enough.  So, with the U.S.'s terrible budget deficit, we learn that this was an essential expenditure because of this essential use of the snow cone machines: According to the report, "Feldpausch [also] said the machine could be useful at the scene of a large fire." I can just see the courageous firefighters lobbing snow cones into the large fire. If you want more chilling details, click here .

Topsy-Turvy White Christmas

Who has had more more snow this season than Chicago + Boston + New York + Buffalo combined? Answer: Midland, Texas. The town, in southwest Texas, is suffering from a severe drought but the recent unusual weather patterns have brought more than usual snowfall. Hat tip: AccuWeather .

Merry Christmas!

Christmas decorations in the lobby of the Bank of America Building where AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions has its Wichita offices From Mindy and me, we hope you and your family have a joyous Christmas. Enjoy the day!!

My Kind of Christmas Lights

My friends and entire family are acutely aware that I have zero motor skills. The thought of using "handy" and "Mike Smith" in the same sentence would cause them to laugh out loud. So, you can correctly surmise there are no Christmas lights on our home. So, when I heard about these Christmas lights, I had to find a picture. This is my kind of guy. Photo from NBC Chicago The story about over-the-top Christmas lights is here . 

TSA Protecting Us From Killer Cupcakes

Gee, this one is just too easy to make fun of. Even though foods can be brought through security, the Keystone Cops in Vegas confiscated a cupcake (yes, just one) because the frosting was " gel-like ." Video and details at the link. Baa-Humbug! Hat tip: Drudge Report

Gearing Up for Tornado Season 2012, Part 1

One of the things discussed at last week's Weather Ready Nation Conference was an idea to enhance your safety during tornadoes by wearing bicycle/motorcycle helmets and putting children in car seats. Here is more from The Birmingham News . 

The Amazingly Good Forecasts of the Boxing Day Blizzard of 2010

My AccuWeather colleague, Jesse Ferrell, just tweeted copies of our  forecast  maps for the 2010 record Boxing Day Blizzard.  Here is what we forecast on December 22 for a storm that began in the NYC area Christmas evening. And, here is what occurred: Forecast from LAST YEAR at this time. Not a current forecast. Jesse tells the full story of our forecasts here . A frequent theme of this blog is how reliable forecasts of all types of major storms have become. We (and, in this case, Mayor Bloomberg) ignore them at our peril! Fortunately, nothing like this is in our forecasts for the contiguous 48 states for Christmas, 2011.' NOTE: I had an incorrect graphic up earlier. Fixed now. Apologize for the error.

Tornado Watch Atlanta and Northwest Georgia

Right now the airports with delays are LaGuardia and Newark with averages of 16 and 45 minutes, respectively. That will likely change as strong thunderstorms approach Atlanta. A tornado watch has been issued for the area: Below is AccuWeather's regional radar at 4pm EST. There is a small thunderstorm just north of the Atlanta airport with strong thunderstorms moving in from the west. Expect major delays when the storms move in. Airline Crisis Survival Guide is here .

Wider Drought Perspective

Reader asked for it, here it is. The map below is precipitation the last 60 days. Green = 2-4" and red = 20" (!) or more. Yes, the drought continues to be quite severe in south Texas, New Mexico, and southeast Louisiana (the latter is getting rain right now). Here is a map of percentage of normal precipitation the last 60 days. Scale at right.

New Tornado Watch


Big Environment is a Special Interest? Who Knew?

Ratings firm Charity Navigator lists 225 organizations dedicated to environmental causes, of which 77 have revenues of more than $3.5 million per year. While the list includes smaller organizations like the American Chestnut Foundation which spent some $2 million last year to preserve the evidently threatened American Chestnut tree (who knew?), it also includes behemoths like the Environmental Defense Fund, which raised nearly $55 million in 2010, the Rainforest Alliance that took in $34 million, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which racked up more than $95 million in its last fiscal year and The Sierra Club Foundation which took in over $40 million. (This does not include the Sierra Club’s 501c(4) outfit).  Charity Navigator does not attempt to list or rate organizations that take in less than $1,000,000 per year, so your local group working to preserve open spaces or to clean up ponds – of which there are thousands in the U.S. – would not be included.  There are also scores o

Today's Storms

We have a tornado watch in effect until 1pm in Mississippi and Louisiana: The strong thunderstorms are expected to spread east today. This is the tornado probability with the brown-tint an area where you should keep up on the weather. Note it includes Atlanta -- and the Atlanta Airport. In the Rockies and High Plains, it is snow. Denver has received 7" of snow and parts of Boulder County north of Denver more than a foot. There are 1 hour, 15 minute delays at Denver International Airport. This will be a regional storm affecting mostly Colorado and New Mexico. Amounts out into the low Plains will only be an inch or less.

Much-Needed Moisture

Here is a map of precipitation (rain and the moisture contained in the snow) from the recent storm. Badly, badly needed moisture west of I-135 north of Wichita and west of I-35 south of Wichita. click to enlarge Wheat farmers are rejoicing in most areas. Below is the 60-day percent of normal  map for the winter wheat belt. While the severe drought continues in the southern Rockies, the green through blue and violet colors indicates improvement with at least 125% of normal rainfall.

Last Minute Christmas Gift Suggestion

Max, Lyla, and everyone loves Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather . Need a last minute gift? It would be a wonderful choice as it is an uplifting story of courage, passion and saving lives.

How Good, or Bad, Were the Blizzard Forecasts? The Response, Part 2.

Satellite image of snow cover taken at 9:30am. Light gray is snow except in eastern Oklahoma where it is low clouds. In Part 1 of the forecast review (below), I discussed the forecasts of the blizzard that began on this blog Friday until the snow began falling in the area of interest Sunday evening. Now, I'd like to discuss the reaction to the forecast. Saturday afternoon, I was very confident this was going to be a major storm that would seriously affect holiday travel. So, in addition to posting the forecasts on my blog, I cross-posted that forecast on a railroading blog where I have several friends I knew would be interested. One reader posted a reaction immediately below my forecast: While it is nice to wish for such storms, I doubt that this is anything more than wishful thinking by the author.   I have seen nothing on any NWS sites that indicate that anything of this sort is forecast for the areas mentions. And, I live there!   This is a problem that was discus

How Good, or Bad, Were the Blizzard Forecasts? Part 1.

One way meteorologists get better at what they do is by holding themselves accountable for their forecasts by validating them after the fact. Here is the National Weather Service's total snowfall map as of midnight CST this morning. click to enlarge And, here is a detailed map of the High Plains where the heaviest snows fell. The dark blue area in southeast Colorado is more than twenty inches. This blog provided its first alert of a major winter storm in the Plains at 7:52pm Friday evening by linking to Mike Umschied's blog. I followed up with my own analysis of the potential storm at 9:18pm. It included this graphic for up to 11" that you can compare it to the NWS graphic (above) of actual snowfall. This initial forecast, about 48 hours before the snow started falling in New Mexico, isn't too bad but is too far southeast. Because of the holiday travel period, I saw this posting mostly as a "heads up." My sense is it served its purpose. The ne

Today's Flight Delays

AccuWeather regional radar at 7:30am CST We have flight delays at O'Hare, Philadelphia, and Charlotte due to low clouds. With the rain moving through the East, delays will multiply as the day progresses. So, pack some extra games for the kids and an extra magazine for you. And, talk a moment to read the Airline Survival Guide . UPDATE: 8:52am. Average delays of 1 hr. 15 min. were posted at Newark and 25 minutes at LaGuardia.

Why People Get Sick on Airplanes

I'm one of the people who, too often it seems, gets sick from airplanes. Here is a very educational article about why: One well-known study in 1979 found that when a plane sat three hours with its engines off and no air circulating, 72% of the 54 people on board got sick within two days. The flu strain they had was traced to one passenger. For that reason, the Federal Aviation Administration issued an advisory in 2003 to airlines saying that passengers should be removed from planes within 30 minutes if there's no air circulation, but compliance isn't mandatory. These days, with airlines pinching pennies, they do not power the auxiliary power unit (APU) and no air circulates. The article suggests bringing it to the attention of the flight attendants but, given the state-of-mind of today's flight attendants, it is probably futile. Details from The Wall Street Journal . Ahh-Choo!

The Final Word on the Crash of Air France 447

The seemingly mysterious crash of Air France Flight 447 over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009, was a mystery to the aviation and meteorological professions. Now, a new book by an aviation expert has confirmed the plane crashed due to pilot errors. And, the first error was flying into a tropical weather system that other commercial flights were avoiding. We now understand that, indeed, AF447 passed into clouds associated with a large system of thunderstorms, its speed sensors became iced over, and the autopilot disengaged. In the ensuing confusion, the pilots lost control of the airplane because they reacted incorrectly to the loss of instrumentation and then seemed unable to comprehend the nature of the problems they had caused. Neither weather nor malfunction doomed AF447, nor a complex chain of error, but a simple but persistent mistake on the part of one of the pilots.   The full story is here .

A Word from Our Sponsor

The Meteorological Musings Blog is brought to you by Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC . Content is Copyright 2011 Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC. Check out Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather   and our professional speaking about people, business, weather, and the environment.

Quick Travel Update

Here are the snow depths as of 7am: From NWS, click to enlarge Roads are closed throughout the western third of Kansas, including I-70 west of WaKeeney along with much of southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico (including I-25 into southern Colorado), and the western Oklahoma Panhandle. The snow has stopped in these areas so conditions should start to improve this afternoon. The snow has not stopped falling farther east. Here is the AccuWeather regional radar from 9:45am: And, here is the forecast additional accumulation from 7am (the time of the map above) to 9pm CST, which should be the ending time of this storm. Another 2-3" will fall along I-70 in central Kansas where it is still open, but is already snowpacked. Believe it or not, there is another storm behind this one for the Central third of the U.S. plus the East may receive some snow by Christmas . This is the last forecast I'm going to post on this storm. Tomorrow when the final figures are in, as is cust

Blizzard Update - What to Do if Stuck

The orange area is where the blizzard warning continues. Essentially all roads are closed within the blizzard warning area. Pink is a winter storm warning and blue is a winter weather advisory (a lesser condition).  If you are on the internet, stuck in the snow, here is what to do . The map below is the forecast additional  accumulations from 5am this morning to 3pm this afternoon: Wind gusts between 30 and 35 mph are now common with a few gusts to 40 mph.   Believe it or not, more snow could occur later in the week in these areas. More on that late today.

NWS April 27th Outbreak Report Released

The National Weather Service has issued its Service Assessment of the record April 27-28, 2011, tornado outbreak. You might find it interesting reading .

The Storm at 6pm

Here is the AccuWeather regional radar at 6pm: A line thunderstorms is moving east across eastern Texas. Strong winds are possible with a few of the strong thunderstorms. The purple is the transition zone from rain (east) to snow (shades of light blue, west). Very heavy rains are occurring over eastern Kansas. The blizzard is in full force from northeast New Mexico to central Kansas. Orange = blizzard warning on the map below. Pink = winter storm warning. Blue = winter weather advisory meaning inconvenient, but not dangerous, winter weather. Winds are gusting to 50 mph from the north in southeast Colorado, far southwest Kansas, the western Oklahoma Panhandle, and northeast New Mexico. The map below is the expected snow accumulation from 3pm this afternoon until 5pm Tuesday morning. Note: This does not include snow that fell prior to 3pm. There are very heavy amounts of around a foot between Salina and WaKeeney, KS on Interstate 70. This will be the last storm update this ev

Snowfall from 11am until 11pm

Here is the predicted snowfall from 11am this morning (note: snow began earlier than that in New Mexico and southeast Colorado) to 11pm tonight. You can use this for travel planning purposes. This is showing 6" or so along Interstate 70 which accumulations accelerating after about 4pm as temperatures begin to cool. Yes, that is 12-15" inches centered in southeast Colorado in just 12 hours!

Blizzard Now in Kansas

Conditions in western Kansas are deteriorating very rapidly as shown by the light blue snow echoes on AccuWeather: 1:30pm CST Compare to two hours ago (below). 11:30am CST You can see on the upper image the purples/greens/yellows have changed to the light blue snow colors. Whiteout conditions are being reported in parts of west central Kansas and road conditions are worsening.