learning, weather

THEWEATHERMOGIL:: It’s National Sky Awareness Week

Following in the footsteps of Earth Day, this week offers earthlings an opportunity to look up and celebrate and appreciate the meteorological sky overhead. Coined National Sky Awareness Week (SAW – which is what the week is all about, seeing), the event has been featured in Chase’s Calendar of Events for nearly two decades (after an official start in 1991).

NATL001-SAW-BWI-MD-160424-IMG_1608  NATL002-sundog-near-ATL-GA-160424-IMG_1634  NATL003-sunset-ATL-160424-IMG_1652

This week (April 24 – 30, 2016), we can add “storm spotting” to the SAW menu. That’s because the second of three severe thunderstorm events this week, involving a major tornado outbreak, is expected today and Wednesday. Storm spotters (including law enforcement personnel, Amateur Radio operators and trained individuals) routinely scan the skies and report about the key cloud formations and weather events they observe to the National Weather Service and local emergency managers.

Meteorologist H. Michael Mogil and educator Barbara Levine, of How The Weatherworks, a weather education and forensic services company, conceived the idea of Sky Awareness Week. The event/celebration has been recognized in over 40 states and the District of Columbia. Sky Awareness Week is held every year during the last full week of April.

The goal of Sky Awareness Week is to get people of all ages outside, to “look up” and to see the myriad of cloud patterns and formations that grace the sky. Once someone has done this, they will be primed to look at all parts of their natural world and examine the patterns and shapes that tell about our very existence here on Planet Earth.

This year, we are encouraging people to post their sky photographs at our Sky Awareness Week Facebook Page. If you do post, please be sure to indicate location, direction of view, date and time of the photograph and a copyright/ownership notice. I’ll be posting a few photographs that I have taken the past few days with this article.

NATL004-APF-FL-seabreeze-160425-IMG_1673  NATL005-APF-tcu-with-pileus-160425-IMG_1676NATL006-APF-sky-cloud-covered-thunder-se-160425-IMG_1682  NATL007-APF-outflow-rainshaft-rain-curtain-160425-IMG_1692

NATL008-APF-AC-early-morning-160426-IMG_1692Enjoy! And, please remember, this a week to celebrate the sky. However, every day provides opportunities to look up and enjoy the sky.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 4/26/16


THEWEATHERMOGIL:: More rain for Houston!

Following torrential and historic Houston area rainfall on Mon., Apr. 18, 2016, Houstonians will need to brace for more rain and flooding. Another thunderstorm outflow boundary (the leading edge of rain-cooled air from a cluster of thunderstorms) is enroute to Houston this morning (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) and will likely stall to the south of the city later today. Much like the other day, this outflow boundary can serve as a focusing mechanism for new thunderstorm development and allow a track along which storms can move in a repetitive manner.Fig001-radar-HOU-160420-1411Z

Fig002-sfc-map-STX-160420-13ZAlthough, this outflow boundary seems to be much weaker than Monday’s, saturated ground and high rivers, streams and bayous have primed the area for additional flooding, even with lesser rainfall amounts.

A flash flood watch and numerous river and urban flood advisories and warnings are in effect across the greater Houston area until at least this evening.

There remains a risk for more rainfall as the week unfolds.

Driving remains hazardous in many places. Deaths from the recent flooding have mostly been linked to motorists driving their cars into flooded roadways. The National Weather Service mantra, “Turn around, don’t drown,” should be heeded by all in the Houston area.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 4/20/16


THEWEATHERMOGIL:: Enroute to a solar minimum, Sun displays a large sunspot

Our Sun exhibits a periodic march from a minimum of sunspot activity to a maximum, and back again (Fig. 1). Right now we are deep in minimum territory. Still, solar activity can deviate from the larger scale cycling at any time.

Sunspot AR2529 has become quite a large sunspot (Fig. 2), doubling in size over the past weekend. The sunspot (the largest of 2016 to date) is now large enough to, figuratively, “swallow” the Earth.

NATL001-sunspot-cycles-1745-date  NATL002-sunspot-2529-160410

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is keeping a close eye on this active sunspot region. Scientists at the SDO note that the magnetic fields near the sunspot’s core are crackling with minor C-class solar flares. While none of these flares is very strong, the ensemble of explosions is doing a good job heating the sun’s atmosphere above the sunspot. The towering “hot spot” is clearly shown in an extreme ultraviolet image taken by the SDO on Apr. 10, 2016 (Fig. 3).


Despite its large size and state of unrest, Sunspot AR2529 has not yet launched a significant solar storm. It could still do, scientists note, should the sunspot continue to grow in size in the days ahead.

Here at the Global Weather and Climate Center, we’ll keep you posted on any changes to the sunspot and its potential impacts to Earth.

Sunspot Number computation information can be found here.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 4/11/16