weather, weather safety/preparedness

The winds win! (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Today through tomorrow evening, large areas of the Nation and some nearby ocean water areas are under various types of wind warnings. From hurricane-force wind warnings in New England’s offshore waters (large-scale winter storm and intense pressure gradient) to Santa Ana (canyon-channeled) winds in southern California (Fig. 1), the winds win!

In New England, for added measure, heavy snow and bitter cold will add to the misery. Across parts of west Texas, a wintry mix will develop. In the mid-Atlantic, it’s a combination of large-scale vertical mixing (high speed winds from higher altitudes mixed down to the ground) and the effects of downslope winds.

In all of these land areas, winds will be high enough to affect the travel of high-profile vehicles and even passenger cars. Offshore from New England, waves will build to heights of more than 30 feet. As noted in National Weather Service marine warnings, “seas are given as significant wave height…which is the average height of the highest 1/3 of the waves. Individual waves may be more than twice the significant wave height.” Hence, if a 60-foot wave does form, it would take on the scope of the self-proclaimed “George Clooney Memorial Wave” in “The Perfect Storm” movie.

Winds will die down in many locales by Tuesday, as a more tranquil weather pattern establishes itself. Until then, drive safely, act cautiously, and stay in safe places.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/12/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

weather, weather safety/preparedness

One New England Blizzard…Two New England Blizzards… (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

On Feb. 9, 2017, southeastern New England experienced a significant snowstorm. Within the storm’s circulation, blizzard conditions lasted for some three to almost six hours and affected many areas. The National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Taunton, MA summarized the storm in a lengthy weather release on the evening of Feb. 9, 2017. Excerpts from that release have been provided here (all times Eastern Standard Time).

The storm responsible for the blizzard (Fig. 1 – left) was a “meteorological bomb,” a storm that undergoes rapid pressure falls (or “explosive deepening”) of at least 24 millibars (0.71 inches of mercury) in 24 hours. Bombs typically contain some “thundersnow,” which often means locally heavier snowfall. This bomb was no exception.

First, it’s important to reiterate what a blizzard actually is. According to the NWS, a blizzard involves falling and/or blowing snow, sustained or frequent wind gusts of 35 miles per hour or more and visibilities frequently reduced to less than a quarter of a mile. All of these conditions must last for three hours or more.

For purposes of this summary, the NWS meteorologists used only official airport reporting stations (since all of the above weather conditions are routinely reported at these). For visibilities, they decided to use reported values of one-quarter mile or less since, “…that is quite low for an automated sensor to detect.” Obviously, blizzard conditions occurred elsewhere across the area.

  • Providence, RI wins the competition with 5 hours and 18 minutes of blizzard conditions (10:51 a.m. to 4:09 p.m.).
  • Hyannis, MA was a close second with 5 hours and 4 minutes (12:56 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).
  • Boston, MA netted blizzard conditions for 4 hours and 34 minutes (12:20 p.m. to 4:54 p.m.).

Other locations reporting blizzard conditions (in decreasing length of time of blizzard conditions) included Martha’s Vineyard, MA; Block Island, RI; Beverly, MA; Marshfield, MA; New Bedford, MA; and Westerly, RI.

As the region digs out, another storm system looms on the western horizon. This one, much like its predecessor, promises to involve “explosive deepening” as it passes by the region from late Sunday into late Monday (Fig. 1 – right). However, its movement will be significantly slower, allowing heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions to last longer. Already, local snowfall forecasts are pegged at approaching two feet.

This will be a “hunker down” storm. So stay home, dress in layers if you venture out, and, unless you have a snowblower, consider letting a local teenager shovel your driveway.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/11/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

photography, weather

Nephelococcygia from space (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

On Sat., Feb. 4, 2017, I gave a talk to the Friends of Barefoot Beach. The talk centered on “Celebrating The Weather.” I decided to use cloud photography to focus the talk on the sky.

As part of the talk, I shared some cloud photography of things familiar to us. One image was a happy dog (ground perspective); another was a flying goldfish (taken from an airplane window over London).

Last evening, I was perusing some GOES (Geostationary Observational Environmental Satellite) images and came across an interesting cloud pattern, one the showed a smiley-faced storm just offshore from Washington State (Fig. 1). I’ve rotated the image clockwise 90-degrees to make the image easier to view (Fig. 2).

The term for viewing shapes in clouds is “nephelococcygia.” Loosely translated from Aristophanes’ play, “The Birds,” it means “cloud cuckooland.” Since Aristophanes lived around 400 B.C.E., I am 100 percent certain that he never considered cloud watching from some 22,000 miles above the Earth in his literary repertoire. However, interpretations from his writing indicate that Nephelococcygia was a utopian city in the clouds.

Stay tuned for more nephelococcygia stories.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/5/17

climate, humor, weather

Southwest Florida winter to continue (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

BULLETIN: Four Naples groundhogs spied their shadows early Thursday morning. Hence, look for six more weeks of south Florida winter. Yahoo!

Punxsutawney Phil does not have a sterling record of furcasting the weather for the last six weeks of winter, even though the official Punxsutawney web site says otherwise. I know because an intern and I analyzed about 100 years of Phil’s forecasts in the late 1990’s. During our research, we discovered that, at best, Phil was accurate only about 10 percent of the time. Phil just kept getting it wrong…and getting it wrong…and getting it wrong, much like Bill Murray did in the movie, Groundhog Day.

Phil’s forecast accuracy is far below chance and offers stark testimony to the inability of the Groundhog legend to really offer any hint about upcoming weather. Still, the legend is fun and offers a great escape for mid-winter blues. And even with a spate of Johnny-come-lately Marmota Monax’s (Phil has many ancestors and bretheren), groundhog weather prediction simply doesn’t cut it.

One reason these groundhogs keep getting it wrong is because of media coverage. No, the furry critters aren’t creating fake news. Rather, as Al Roker noted on the Today Show, Thursday morning, there are simply too many camera lights. Hence, the only forecast possible is ongoing winter. Not surprisingly, even with cloudy skies (Fig. 1), Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Thursday (Fig. 2). I didn’t even bother to see what the other nationally known groundhogs predicted. I knew the answer.

Instead, my focus was on four Naples groundhogs. Okay, so they are Ty babies™. They are still groundhogs! And I can report, unequivocally, that no camera lights were at play. It was pure sunshine that allowed these marmots to see their shadows (Fig. 3).

While folks in northern climes are dreading six more weeks of winter, we in Naples are thrilled about winter’s continuance. The reason is that in southwest Florida, winter means lovely weather. Average daily climatological temperatures start in the mid-60’s in early February and only rise into the lower 70’s by the end of March. The daily range spans about ten degrees above and below these values. In short, it’s almost like late Spring in northern states. With minimal rainfall chances, it’s the weather southwest Floridians crave.

The only drawback to the lovely weather is that southwest Florida could use a few days of steady rainfall. Southwest Florida and much of the Florida peninsula, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, has been (and is expected to continue to be) abnormally dry.

Wherever you may live, and whatever the weather brings, please, enjoy. Summer heat and humidity, for most of us, are just over the distant horizon.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/4/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.