Saturday, December 31, 2022

Three-Day California Precipitation to 4pm PST

Desperately needed rain falls in Northern California. Over the next few days, the rain will shift to the south. 

National Weather Service Watches and Warnings

Color codes:
  • Greens: flood forecasts and advisories
  • Pink: winter storm warning
  • Dark blue = winter weather watch 
  • Purple = winter weather advisory (lesser condition)
  • Gray = dense fog advisory 
  • Bright blue = avalanche warning (Colorado)
  • Amber = high wind forecast
  • Orange = avalanche watch (Colorado)
Please check the weather before you travel in this area between tonight and Monday night.

Go Kansas State Wildcats!

I expect the 'Cats to do well today. 

Those were famous last words. It is one of the rare times when I believe the game turned on bad decisions by the coaches. We should have settled for three at the end of the first half and the decision to try an onside kick to start the second was ridiculous. 

That said, I believe Kansas State has a great coach that will take the team far in the future. 

Snow, Ice and Tornado Forecast

Snow Forecast
This is the forecast for snow between today and 6am Tuesday. There will be accumulating snow at the Salt Lake City Airport tonight through Sunday night and at the Denver Airport on Monday and Monday night. Many cross-country interstate highways will be affected. 

Ice Forecast
Travel conditions will be hazardous due to freezing rain in the areas shown above. Particularly affected will be I-35 between Des Moines and Minneapolis and I-90 + I-94 in Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

There is a significant chance of tornadoes in the yellow area Monday. There is an enhanced risk in the red area with the hatched area where strong tornadoes are forecasted to occur. 

Mission Creep? CDC?

This has been obvious for a decade (see below, from this blog in 2012). There were times in the early teens where they were publishing real-time tornado information. It was obvious they had lost their way.
The Centers for Disease Control published a great deal of mis-information during COVID and seemed to be caught flat-footed. 

I hope CDC will get some new leadership that realizes the agency has just one job. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Major Storm to Start the New Year - Updated Friday Afternoon

Scroll up for an updated forecast

Major Winter Storm Likely; 
Tornadoes Possible First of the Week

Updated Friday 3:50pm
The map below is unchanged from yesterday. The snow and ice areas are likely too large. I will narrow them down tomorrow when I have better data (the storm system is still out over the ocean). 

This forecast of the location of possible tornadoes and severe thunderstorms with large hail and damaging winds has been updated. The forecast is valid from 6am Monday to 6am Tuesday. 

Again, these forecasts are pretty far into the future and the locations will probably have to be adjusted. If you are traveling, please monitor the weather and adjust your travel plans, if necessary. Please make sure your friends and family are aware. 

I Had No Idea the Opposition to Wind Energy was Growing So Quickly

From a piece by Robert Bryce, published yesterday:

...state of Vermont, where no new wind projects are being built. Why not? Simple: Vermonters hate wind turbines. Or ... look at New York, a state where big renewable projects are so unpopular that bureaucrats in Albany are aiming to override local zoning laws to force communities to accept wind and solar projects. Or he could look at California, a state with an aggressive “clean” electricity mandate, where the amount of installed wind capacity has been stuck at about 6,000 megawatts since 2015. Why hasn’t it grown? Californians are like Vermonters: they don’t want giant wind projects in their neighborhoods.

Blue State + Blue State + Blue State + Blue State. 

It is just amazing that these states, especially New York, have people that urge us to put up with expensive and unreliable wind power when they will not tolerate it for themselves

Mr. Bryce has a database of locations which have rejected wind projects and the number of locations is growing rapidly. 
I urge you to read the entire article!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Wyoming and Kansas Report In: Wind Energy Collapsed During Cold Wave

This report from Wyoming on its near blackout during the recent cold wave and winter storm. 

Lee Boughey, a spokesperson for Tri-State Electric Generation and Transmission Association, said the nonprofit, which provides power to eight electric cooperatives across Wyoming, planned for the impacts of the storm as it approached. 

They anticipated higher demand from member utilities in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, and Tri-State prepared for wind energy resources to decline. 

For safety, during extremely high winds, wind turbines will stop running and feather their blades. Icing also can cause turbines to stop running. 

According to energy mix data from the Southwest Power Pool, as the storm began to move through Wyoming on Dec. 23, at 3 p.m., wind energy resources began to drop. Within 24 hours, wind energy resources were about 25% what they were prior to the storm. 

They didn’t begin to rise again until Christmas morning. 

To compensate for the decline in wind energy, Tri-State turned to its fossil fuel and hydroelectric resources to keep the lights on. 

That's right: wind-generated electricity dropped by 75% when it was needed the most. It was reliable fossil fuels that allowed the lights and heat to stay on. 

Kansas Reports In

Kansas is the #2 state for wind power (Texas is #1). Via a column in the Wichita Eagle from James Zakoura, attorney for Kansans for Lower Electric Rates, Inc., we learned:
On December 22, the Southwest Power Pool had the highest winter day electricity demand in its history. It beat the previous record by 8%. 

"To meet the demand of of 47, 127 megawatts,
  • About 17,000 was provided by wind energy,
  • About 28,000 were provided by coal and natural gas, and,
  • About 2,000 were provided by nuclear." [there are few nuclear plants in the region]
As I've written in several posts (scroll down), the wind calmed on the 24th and 25th. Mr Zakoura went on to write that demand dropped (due to warmer conditions) to 34,482 megawatts, of which,
  • Nuclear energy provided 2,000 megawatts,
  • Coal and natural gas provided 27,585, and
  • Wind energy provided just 3,061.
Put another way, wind energy -- when it was needed due to single digit temperatures -- dropped by 72%! This validates what I wrote at the time here which included a map of Kansas weather stations that  showed calm or nearly calm winds across the area. 

We were able to keep the lights on over Christmas weekend only because we had nuclear and fossil fuels. 

My Conclusion

We can continue with magical thinking or we can get serious about the reliability of the electric grid. My recommendation: began an urgent program of installing standardized, proven nuclear power generation stations. They generate carbon-free electricity. As far as I'm concerned, if we never install another utility-grid wind turbine, that's fine.

I have been asked why I'm not as critical of solar as I am of wind. The reason is there could still be some technology breakthrough which allows solar to better perform than it does now. That is not the case with wind. It fails when the wind is too light, too strong and -- because it is quite complicated mechanically -- it fails too often because it just breaks. Wind energy has received tax subsidies since the Carter Administration -- really! -- and it still frequently fails. The tax subsidy should stop. 

If we continue on our current course, the grid reliability problems that we have seen during the past week will only worsen and blackouts will increase. 

Hat Tip: Troy Kimmel

Need Stock Photography Related to Weather and Nature?

I hope you will take a few minutes to check out my collection at Adobe Stock Photography. Please also feel free to look if you'd just like to view some nice weather photography. Thank you. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Attention: Returning Holiday Travelers

Here is the forecast precipitation between 6pm CST this evening to 6pm CST on Monday, January 2nd. 
As you can see, this is forecast to be a very active period. I would expect I-80 to be closed across the Sierra at least once. I also believe the snow band across the Great Plains (arrow) may end up occurring at least a bit father south than indicated. 

Given the meltdown at Southwest Airlines, I would be extremely reluctant to fly them during this period with at least two more coast-to-coast storms on tap. I would also be proactive and have "Plan B" reservations in mind in case yours get cancelled (i.e., you'll find airline reps are often happier if you have something in mind rather than asking them to fish the reservation system for you), regardless of airline.

While the timing during a holiday travel period is lousy, it is great that this moisture will put a significant dent in the drought in the West. 

Also, thunderstorms, some strong, will be numerous in the area outlined on Monday (2nd) and Monday night. 

"Unforeseen Storm"? You're Kidding, Right?!

"That's our story and we're sticking to it!" seems to be Southwest's (SWA) strategy of blaming "unforeseen weather" for their operational meltdowns. 

I've often written about weather being the "all-purpose excuse" when businesses fail their customers or fail to meet organizational goals. But, Southwest's continuing to offer weather as an excuse for their current meltdown is particularly egregious. 

This is my first forecast of the storm and cold wave back on December 8. There was more on December 9. To conclude the December 9 forecast, I wrote:

The first forecast with detailed timing and extent of the event was December 12. This forecast was amazingly accurate considering the event didn't begin until the 22nd. You can roll the blog back and see the extremely detailed forecasts between the 12th and 22nd. I believe you will be impressed.

SWA has an internal meteorology department. It is unthinkable they missed this event. If I were employed by them, I wonder how I would feel being thrown under the bus like this. As a meteorologist, I object because it makes us look incompetent when we did our job extremely well. 

Finally, this continuing use of weather as an all-purpose excuse hurts the credibility of American business. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Guest Column: Climate and Energy By Dr. Judith Curry

Dr. Judith Curry is one of the world's most esteemed climate scientists. Earlier in her career, she believed global warming was an emergency. Over time, as data accumulated, she has come to believe that -- while it is a problem to be managed -- it is not an existential crisis. 

Her column, published on her blog earlier today, on the topic of energy and climate. is excellent. I'm very pleased she gave me permission to reproduce it below. 

The faux urgency of the climate crisis is giving us no time or space to build a secure energy future

by Judith Curry

There is a growing realization that emissions and temperature targets are now detached from the issues of human well-being and the development of our 21st century world.

JC note:  this is the text of my op-ed for SkyNews that was published several weeks ago

For the past two centuries, fossil fuels have fueled humanity’s progress, improving standards of living and increasing the life span for billions of people. In the 21st century, a rapid transition away from fossil fuels has become an international imperative for climate change mitigation, under the auspices of the UN Paris Agreement.  As a result, the 21st century energy transition is dominated by stringent targets to rapidly eliminate carbon dioxide emissions.  However, the recent COP27 [climate policy] meeting in Egypt highlighted that very few of the world’s countries are on track to meet their emissions reductions commitment.

The desire for cleaner, more abundant, more reliable and less expensive sources of energy is universal.  However, the goal of rapidly eliminating fossil fuels is at odds with the urgency of providing grid electricity to developing countries. Rapid deployment of wind and solar power has invariably increased electricity costs and reduced reliability, particularly with increasing penetration into the grid. Allegations of human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, where global solar voltaic supplies are concentrated, are generating political conflicts that threaten the solar power industry. Global supply chains of materials needed to produce solar and wind energy plus battery storage are spawning new regional conflicts, logistical problems, supply shortages and rising costs.  The large amount of land use required for wind and solar farms plus transmission lines is causing local land use conflicts in many regions.

The Climate Crisis Isn't What It Used to Be

Given the apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding climate change, does the alleged urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions somehow trump these other considerations?  Well, the climate ‘crisis’ isn’t what it used to be.  The COP27 has dropped the most extreme emissions scenario from consideration, which was the source of the most alarming predictions.  Only a few years ago, an emissions trajectory that produced 2 to 3 oC warming was regarded as climate policy success. As limiting warming to 2 oC seems to be in reach, the goal posts were moved to limit the warming target to 1.5 oC. These warming targets are referenced to a baseline at the end of the 19th century; the Earth’s climate has already warmed by 1.1 oC.  In context of this relatively modest warming, climate ‘crisis’ rhetoric is now linked to extreme weather events.

Attributing extreme weather and climate events to global warming can motivate a country to attempt to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels.  However, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that eliminating emissions would have a noticeable impact on weather and climate extremes in the 21st century. It is very difficult to untangle the roles of natural weather and climate variability and land use from the slow creep of global warming.  Looking back into the past, including paleoclimatic data, there has been more extreme weather everywhere on the planet.  Thinking that we can minimize severe weather through using atmospheric carbon dioxide as a control knob is a fairy tale.  In particular, Australia is responsible for slightly more than 1% of global carbon emissions.  Hence, Australia’s emissions have a minimal impact on global warming as well as on Australia’s own climate.

There is growing realization that these emissions and temperature targets have become detached from the issues of human well-being and development.  Yes, we need to reduce CO2 emissions over the course of the 21st century. However once we relax the faux urgency for eliminating CO2 emissions and the stringent time tables, we have time and space to envision new energy systems that can meet the diverse, growing needs of the 21st century.  This includes sufficient energy to help reduce our vulnerability to surprises from extreme weather and climate events.

I agree with every word of Dr. Curry's essay and I appreciate her allowing me to print it here.

Monday, December 26, 2022

It Isn't a Mystery: The Culprit is [Lack of] Wind Energy...

...and, to a lesser extent, solar; along with the recent phenomenon of electrical "marketers" who are not in the utility industry. 
Texas is the #1 state for wind energy. When it fails, as it did Saturday, they are in serious trouble as they were during the Valentine's Day energy catastrophe is 2021. Midday Saturday, wind energy dropped to less than 3% of capacity in the Lone Star State. Texas has its own power grid.

Nashville and Tennessee are served by the federal government's Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The problem there is that temperatures were unusually cold over the eastern power grid. In Kansas Saturday (#2 state for wind), the winds were nearly calm. The same was true in nearby sections of Nebraska and Oklahoma. There just wasn't any power to send east. 
Map of the three grids that serve North America

When you combine that with the "power marketers" (people who sell power without the backing of physical resources), you have a recipe for disaster. Dr. Judy Curry (a climate expert) posted a piece from an expert in the electric utility industry on November 28. It says, in part,

Eventually the competitiveness of the market and diminishing returns made it harder and harder for marketers to make money as they had in the past. Some took shortcuts and employed questionable and unethical practices.

While costs were going down, these new arrangements left the power systems without as much redundancy, robustness or resilience as they had had in the past. Previously, although there were not formalized sharing agreements in place, utilities would come to their neighbor’s aid with their excess in times of emergency. But in an efficient market such excess capabilities are increasingly rare and in theory should disappear. At times when emergencies happened, there were not enough resources on the ground to supply the load irrespective of the complex financial arrangements intended to support the system. 

None of this is a mystery to people in the industry. But it is extremely politically incorrect (losing one's job is possible) to criticize renewable energy. The wind energy lobby is extremely strong. So, when you have shortages (as we did Saturday) and marketers have to deliver "guaranteed" power they don't have, things go haywire. 

You'll recall that during 2022 I have urged -- numerous times -- to raise the issue about electrical reliability with your legislators and congresspeople before the election. Few appeared to have done so. 
The MSM isn't going to cover this as it should because to do so would make renewables look bad. I'm confident politicians are hoping you will have forgotten by the time they go back in session in January.

But, I guarantee this: Unless we change course, this is only going to get worse. 

Oh, Good Grief!!

This is so ridiculous, it deserves no further comment. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

If You are Traveling Tonight or Tomorrow...

...there are several areas of concern, weatherwise.

Here are the color codes:
  • Orange = blizzard warning.
  • Pink = winter storm warning. 
  • Purple = winter weather advisory*
  • Green = freezing fog advisory
The winter weather advisory for parts of eastern Kansas is for freezing rain. Any freezing rain can make roads hazardous. Far northeast Kansas and Missouri is expecting snow. 

Torrential Rains Forecasted for the West

Desperately needed rain is forecasted in the West this week. Unfortunately, there will be flooding in places, but there is no such thing as breaking a severe drought with gentle rains. Right now, flooding is the lesser of the two evils. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Have Yourself a Wonderful Christmas!!

To all of our readers, 
we hope you have the best Christmas ever. 
I hope all of your family members made it to your celebrations safely. If there is any way to do so, please consider going to church to thank God for our immense blessings. There are many who have labored to bring Christmas to those less fortunate. They deserve our thanks. 

While you are in church, say a brief prayer for meteorologists. Most all forecast operations have as many meteorologists working today as any other day. Our field often does not get the respect it deserves. 

Early last week, during the storm coverage, we passed the eight million page view mark since 2013. While it says "all time," there was no counter from the start of the blog in 2009 to 2013. I guesstimate that we've had more than ten million views since the blog began. 
Thanks to all of our readers. 

The Chiefs Won Today in Front of Especially Well-Dressed Fans

For Those Doing Last Minute Christmas Shopping For Me...

....I prefer the Lionel type. 

Unfortunate Vindication

Those of us who have been pleading that politicians listen to our factual presentations that 'renewables' were making the grid unreliable have been -- unfortunately! -- hugely vindicated today. It gives me no pleasure to state this. 

When the grid is so fragile that turning on stadium lights (the delayed kickoff of the Titans game in Nashville this afternoon) risks crashing the system, it is all proof that is needed: America's power grid is crumbling to third-world status. There is no quick fix because more wind farms are being erected every day. The next snow, just like this last, will cover existing and future solar panels rendering them useless in winter's cold.

[Addition] I had correspondence with a reporter this afternoon. She indicated the people she spoke to were surprised about the electrical issues from the cold wave. I directed her to this screen capture of a portion of my December 13 cold wave forecast. That's ten days advance notice!

[Original Text]

As we've said over and over and over: Solar and wind fail when you need them the most as they have the last 36 hours. Adding insult to injury, they raise costs to consumers. 

Congress and state legislators: are you paying attention? It is past time for an embargo on shutting down fossil fuel electric generation (which was done earlier this week) units. We need a crash program to bring more fossil fuels online until nuclear can be built. 

The Appalling State of America's Electric Grid

As of 9am, here is a map of power failures across the Lower 48.
In many areas in the Northeast, the high winds are responsible for the outage. But, in the South, it is poor planning ("we didn't know it was going to be this cold") and, you guessed it, renewables. 

From this morning's Nashville Tennessean
"Demand ran 35% higher than a normal winter day." 

Remember how yesterday I wrote about how we forecasted this extreme cold wave an amazing 13 days in advance? I also wrote,
It is hard to believe that they claim they were expecting a "normal winter day." And, it isn't just Nashville.

Once we ignore the spin, I suspect there were two problems:
  1. Thanks to wind and solar, we no longer have excess capacity. As during the Texas 2021 power catastrophe, there isn't enough power anymore, especially when (as happened in Texas) wind drops to 2% of capacity.
  2. They didn't believe the weather forecasts in time to maximize the power they had.
From my December 13 forecast on this blog.

With the exception of Texas, which has highly limited "sharing" (called "interconnection") capacity, electric utilities can "dispatch" (send) electricity from one area to another. But, as they call wind and solar within the industry, they are "non-dispatchable." That is because they are so unreliable. 

For example, today, in Kansas (#2 state for wind power), most areas have winds too light to turn the turbine blades. 
9am Kansas weather map. The winds in most areas are less
than 5 mph; too light for wind energy.
So, with our own cold weather, we -- almost certainly -- do not have sufficient power to share for areas farther east. Had we built a second nuclear plant instead of all of these ridiculous (expensive and unreliable) windmills, we would have lower rates and more reliable power. 

Many of the power failures in the Southeast can be traced to the absurd policy of relying on expensive wind and solar for decarbonization rather than nuclear and hydro. 

Too bad the election was last month.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Modern Meteorology -- A Vital, But Underused, Tool

The economic loss and human casualties from the major storm and cold wave now winding down are still to be totaled, there is no question that they are much lower than they would have been 150 years ago before the science of meteorology began. 

The conditions with this storm -- extremely cold air with a rapid drop in temperature -- have, in the past, resulted in horrendous loss of lives. For example, "The Children's Blizzard" of 1888 took a stunning 235 lives. The snow amounts in the Great Plains in '88 were not that great -- the maximum was just six inches. But the extreme cold and high winds combined with greatly reduced visibility caused the children to become lost. There were thousands of children walking home from school at the time and they were caught, unaware, in those extreme conditions. Many died from exposure. 

That was certainly not the case with this storm. I made my first post about the cold wave on this blog on December 8, 13 days before the start of this event. 

On the 12th, I had narrowed down the timing and intensity:
My blog forecasts continued, in some cases several times per day, until late this morning. 

I personally know people who took earlier flights and modified their plans to avoid or manage the risks posed by this giant, powerful storm. 

But, here is the problem: I also know people who didn't change their plans. Some of them are leaving today since they are now behind the storm and road crews have had chance to clear the highways. Others cancelled their trips. Some of them are in dark, cold homes due to the (explicitly forecasted) power failures. 
12:05pm map of power failures. They were 
rapidly increasing at that point. 
The part that is perplexing to me is why more people did not alter their plans. I'm sure some attempted to but earlier flights were filled. But, when I saw the video of cars off the road and on their roofs, I have to again ask, why?
Chicago Sun-Times
I've written extensively about the gap between what weather science actually accomplishes versus the perception that forecasts of major events are too unreliable upon which to base action. But, I can tell you that my business clients at WeatherData/AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions acted on our forecasts. We had an extraordinarily high renewal rate even though our rates were higher than the industry average. 

We had a long-time client that signed a contract with another commercial meteorology company for three years because they offered a lower price. Because the client was federally regulated and was required to release this information, they found that they saved ~$140,000 over the three years as compared with our higher rates. But, they also had ~$32,000,000 more in weather costs (over the three years) than they had when they were using us. The greatest testament to the quality of our service was that they came back and resigned with us when the contact with the competitor was up. There are other, similar, examples. 

However, excellent weather forecasting and consulting services take both expertise and time. Some of the postings on the winter storm (this, for example) took more than two hours of time to accomplish. I had to do forecasts, make graphics and write the pieces (which have a higher than average number of typos, my apology). The same huge amount of time for each posting went into my forecasts for September's Hurricane Ian which struck southwest Florida. 
The above forecast was days before landfall and differed from others' forecasts in that it explicitly forecast a possible landfall farther south along Florida's Gulf Coast. That difference in forecasts continued until about 18 hours before landfall when other forecasts became more similar to mine. 

Because I don't like some of the advertisements I see on advertiser-supported blogs (which have, in the past, bordered on pornographic), I've never switched to that business model. I wanted a blog where people could come to receive high-quality information they could trust without worrying about their children seeing the content. But, as with the now-ending winter storm, some of the posts for Ian took hours. 

All this is to say that, after this most recent winter storm, I am likely in 2023 to move to a paid blog. If I do, I will likely add other features such as chat sessions and, perhaps, live coverage where I do a "play-by-play" on storms in progress. I can't justify these huge investments of time (which seem to be increasing) without some financial renumeration. 

Finally, if you are a businessperson who has a business affected by weather and would like to discuss my services, I invite you to call after Christmas and I'd be delighted to speak with you. You will find my contact information on my website. Or, if you would like to book one of my highly-entertaining and informative live presentations, please get hold of Ms. Mindy East at Baron Ridge Speakers Agency, here

I very much appreciate every one of my readers which is why I put so much effort into each and every posting. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you and yours have the best Christmas ever!

9:50am CST Winter Storm Update

The major storm is causing havoc to transportation and to the general public as it has moved east.
High winds are occurring throughout New England. Burlington has recorded a gust to 70 mph, the second highest gust ever recorded at that weather station. 

A map of the current power outages is below.

I have gone to the FAA's web site and it should be assumed that all of the areas showing rain or snow on the radar have significant delays. Of course, these delays cascade through the system. If you are trying to fly today, I would urge you to go online (don't try to call) and check the status of your flight. According to the news media, 3,000 flights have been cancelled. 

The West isn't without troubles. 
Because of the mountains, the radar algorithm is having issues with precipitation type in Washington. There are more areas that are receiving freezing rain (pink/orange) than shown. There are power outages as a result. 

Finally, there are areas of snow and rain in the Southwest that are affecting I-40 and branch interstates such as I-27. 

National Weather Service winter storm warnings and advisories. 
Color codes for winter storm info:
  • Orange = blizzard warning
  • Pink = winter storm warning (for snow in the East and for ice in Oregon and Washington)
  • Dark green = winter storm watch
  • Purple = winter weather advisory (a lesser condition than a warning)
  • Gold/Brown = high wind forecast
  • BlueGray = extreme cold warning 
  • Purple = ice storm warning
We are at the point where the storm has transitioned into a news story, so I am going to discontinue my comprehensive coverage which began on December 8. Modern meteorology has become a powerful tool for society at large and business, in particular, when properly used.

Addition for Canada
A reader yesterday asked me to include Canada when I learned something that be useful. This for southwest Ontario. Please take the advice seriously!