Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Snow

Snow chances are pretty much gone for the weekend.

European model tries to bring an upper-level cold core low through southern Missouri, southern Illinois, Kentucky and southern Indiana December 28. That could bring a little snow but don't bust out the shovels just yet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Eve Snow Update

Just a quick update to give you the latest on what the computer models are showing for Christmas Eve.

All of the models have dried up the atmosphere for December 24. Temperatures will be cold enough in the atmosphere, however with no moisture, we won't get anything to fall. Bottom line, the chances for snow on Christmas Eve is looking pretty slim for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

The only hope if you want snow is this morning's European Weather Agency's forecast model. It hinted at some overrunning moisture for the Missouri bootheel and western Kentucky Christmas morning. If that were to pan out, there could be maybe a dusting to a half inch of snow by Christmas afternoon. That being said, I wouldn't hold your breath just yet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Flakes for The Holidays

"Am I going to have a White Christmas?" That is the question I am most asked this time of year.

As is usually the case, it just depends on where you live. If you live in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas or Kansas you could definitely have a "WhiteChristmas". Blizzard-like conditions are expected later today.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

Weather data coming in from morning computer models indicates over a foot of snow could fall in some of the above mentioned locations. National Weather Service forecasts are calling for up to 15" of snow over southwest Kansas and northwest Texas.

Meanwhile, we're waiting to see if any snow will introduce itself in the forecasts for the Midwest.

This time of year there are "typical" storm tracks that will favor snow accumulation.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

Typically for there to be a big accumulating snow storm for southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky we need a storm to track just south of the "Mississippi Valley" line shown above.

This means we're looking for low pressure systems to move from Dallas to the east/northeast.

Later this week models are now hinting at the possibility for a few snow flurries or snow showers to be flying through the skies of the Midwest.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

The storm that will bring the precipitation will form along the gulf coast and take more of a "Nor'easter" track, similar to what is shown in the above Storm Tracks map.

Models are suggesting that moisture will ride far enough north that some of it could fall as snow in east/southeast Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Right now, amounts look minimal. Perhaps just flurries to a dusting in most locations. Although, a few spots, like Indianapolis, could see a half inch of snow. A lot of the fine details have yet to be shown.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

The above map shows where Accuweather forecasters thinks there could be snow for the weekend. I think they may need to drop the snow line a little further south over the KFVS viewing area.

That being said, the chances for a "White Christmas" seems relatively small for all of the areas described above. A "White Christmas" is defined as having 1 inch of snow measured on Christmas day. I don't think we'll see that much.

A lot will likely change in the forecast between now and the weekend so stay tuned to the forecast. Also, remember to follow me on Twitter (@johndissauer) for more frequent updates.

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, December 16, 2011

Signs of Snow

There are signs that snow may arrive to parts of the Midwest early next week.

For several days forecast models have been hinting at a storm developing over the southwest United States, eventually moving through the Midwest. The models haven't been jiving too well with each other to the course the storm will take. If you follow me on Facebook you might remember a status update that said, "Models are flip flopping around..."

Last night's runs started coming together and this morning's model runs are pretty similar in to the track of the surface low. (See graphic below.)

(Click image to see larger version.)

The above graphic was created by AccuWeather but is pretty close to what the models are showing regarding the track of the storm.

Northwest of the surface low cold air is expected to move in. This will allow for some significant snowfall in parts of the country.

It is interesting to compare the amount of moisture north of the surface low that could interact with the cold air and fall as snow. Models are not on the same page with this feature.

The European forecast agency's computer model is more bullish on the liquid amounts compared to NOAA's computer model. Here's a closer look at what the models are indicating for liquid available during the time it would fall as snow.

European Model:
  • Kansas City - 0.77"
  • Kirksville, Mo - 0.44"
  • Columbia, Mo - 0.09"
GFS Model:
  • Kansas City - 0.09"
  • Kirksville, Mo - 0.03"
  • Columbia, Mo - 0.00"
If the European model is correct, Kansas City could end up with 6"-9" of snow (maybe more). If the GFS is correct Kansas City could get 1" of snow. That is a pretty big difference.

I should mention that areas along and south of the track of the surface low will see good ole' rain.

Stay tuned...

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Year Ago

The snow has been pretty much nil for much of the Midwest this winter. I'm hoping we start to see the action pick up soon but looking at computer models for the next two weeks it isn't looking too promising.

It is interesting to look back to a year ago and compare this year to last year's snow cover.

Take a look at the image above. (Click the graphic to see a larger version.). There's a pretty dramatic difference.

According to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, 24.6% of the United States is covered by snow. Contrast that to 2010 and on this date 38.4% of the country was covered by snow. That's a 36% decrease in snow cover! Take that back to 2009 and it's even more dramatic as 48.7% of the country was covered.

Temperatures were also a lot colder last year. Minimum temperatures on December 14, 2010 was 1° in Carbondale, 4° in Indianapolis and Paducah, 7° in Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. Instead this year temperatures are in the 50°'s.

- Posted from my iPhone

4:00pm CT Update: I was curious when the last time we had such a small amount of snow on the ground so I went back and looked at December 14 going back several years.

United States Covered by Snow
  • 2011 - 24.6%
  • 2010 - 38.4%
  • 2009 - 48.7%
  • 2008 - 40.9%
  • 2007 - 50.2%
  • 2006 - 13.2%
You can see that today is the least amount of snow cover (for this day) in the last 5 years.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snow Totals from Dec. 7

Snow fell across parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi overnight.
I have to admit, I am pretty happy with how my snow forecast turned out.

Here's a look at some of the totals that were turned in to the National Weather Service.

  • Blytheville 2"
  • Jonesboro 1"-2"
  • Cooter 2"
  • Hornersville 2.75"-3"
  • Covington 2"
  • Dyersburg 1"
  • Jackson 1.5"
  • Memphis 1"-2"
  • Union City 1"
Did you have snow where you live this morning? If so, tell me how much in the comments section. *Remember, measuring snow on the grass doesn't work as it includes air/mud/dirt in the total.

It is kind of strange this season how Memphis, Tennessee has had more snow that St. Louis. I hope that changes soon. I'd like to get a couple of good snows!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wednesday Snow Part 3

Looking over some of the new data that is coming in tonight.

So far, data from just one of the models (the NAM) is in. The model seems to be coming in slightly wetter than earlier today. Snow to liquid ratios could be anywhere from 12:1 to maybe 16:1. The 16:1 may be pushing it a little because we aren't that cold at the surface. However, a 1,500' thousand feet up in the air we are -5 degrees Celsius.

Here is what the model is suggesting for moisture available and the potential snow using the ratios above.

CITY | Liquid | Snow (12:1)/(16:1)
  • Blytheville, AR - 0.14" | 1.6" / 2.2"
  • Cape Girardeau, MO - 0.02" | 0.2" / 0.3"
  • Dyersburg, TN - 0.16" | 1.9" / 2.5"
  • Jackson, TN - 0.17" | 2" / 2.7"
  • Jonesboro, AR - 0.16" | 1.9" / 2.5"
  • Murray, KY - 0.05" | 0.6" / 0.8"
  • Poplar Bluff, MO - 0.05" | 0.6" / 0.8"
  • Sikeston, MO - 0.05" | 0.6" / 0.8"
I think it will be possible for a half inch to perhaps a few isolated spots of 2" of snow to fall through mid-morning Wednesday.

As previously mentioned, a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until noon Wednesday for parts of southeast Missouri, western Tennessee, northeast Arkansas and northern Mississippi.

Winter Weather Advisory

The National Weather Service office in Memphis, TN has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Missouri bootheel, northeast Arkansas, western Tennessee and northwest Mississippi. The advisory is in effect until noon Wednesday.

The NWS is calling for up to 1.5" of snow to fall in the areas mentioned above.

As snow moves in from the west later tonight remember that you can check out the latest radar by clicking the "Radar" tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday Snow Part 2

As a follow up to the "Wednesday Snow" post from earlier, I wanted to let you see what another computer model is hinting at for snow.

This is a look at this morning's run of the North American model (NAM) running a snow computation.

You can see that the model is spitting out anywhere from a dusting to 1" of snow in parts of the Missouri bootheel, western Kentucky northeast Arkansas, west Tennessee and northern Mississippi.

Surprisingly, this is pretty close to what I was thinking.

Unlike last week's snow, this one may be able to stick on the ground a little longer. We shall see. Stay tuned...

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday Snow

Forecast models are hinting at another snow for parts of the mid-south Wednesday. This could include parts of southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northern Alabama.

There is still some uncertainty with the snow possibilities. Not all models have converged on the same solution. The other thing, there doesn't appear to be a lot of moisture to work with. However, like last week, it appears there will be enough cold air aloft (and at the surface) to support snow.

Here is a look at NOAA's morning run of the GFS model.

Specifically, this is looking at Wednesday afternoon.

The models shows an upper level low developing over Oklahoma late tonight and closing off by Wednesday morning over Arkansas. The low then pushes east deepening over west Tennessee.

They solid grey coloring indicates some very light moisture to work with. Looking at Murray, Kentucky it is showing only 0.03"- 0.02" of total liquid to work with. That's not a lot. However, if you fluff it up there could be a half inch of snow squeezed out if a snow to water ratio of 20:1 could happen.

I'm not sure if that high of a ratio could happen yet. Temperatures aloft (a few thousand feet) will be cold enough, it will greatly depend on temperatures at the surface.

Again, this is far from a sure bet we will see a measurable snow but it's something to keep an eye on. Stay tuned...

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shot of Cold

If you follow me on Twitter (@johndissauer) you know that I have been talking about a BIG shot of cold air coming down for the Midwest early next week. I've been looking over data trickling in this morning and it still looks to be the case.

Interesting to note that the European computer model and NOAA's Global Forecast model are similar but have subtle differences. Last night's run of the European model is much more aggressive with the cold air intrusion but holds it off for a Wednesday arrival. The later arrival is about a 24 hour delay as to what it has been showing for several days.

NOAA's morning run of the Global Forecast model continues to bring in the cold air starting Tuesday. (Tuesday night is looking cold! Good thing we don't have a snow pack on the ground or it would be really cold.)

I am still waiting for the rest of the morning's GFS to come in so I can take a look further out and I am waiting for the morning run of the European model to come in.

Never the less, I would plan on the coldest air of the season (so far) to arrive Tuesday/Wednesday of next week.


Happy start to Meteorological Winter!

Yes, today marks the beginning of Meteorological Winter. The year breaks down like this...
  • Winter: December 1 - February 28 (or 29)
  • Spring: March 1 - May 31
  • Summer: June 1 - August 31
  • Fall: September 1 - November 30

Monday, November 28, 2011

Eyes Watching Snow

A spoke of energy is spinning around an area of low pressure that is currently centered over south central Kentucky.

Just ahead and along the spoke precipitation should begin to pick up in intensity.

The Storm Prediction Center has also taken notice of the current environment. They have recently issued a Mesoscale Discussion for western Tennessee, southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas concerning snow rates picking up.

Laura Wibbenmeyer, former co-worker of mine at KFVS-TV, is in Portageville, Missouri and is reporting that it is all falling as snow. Nothing is sticking to the roads but snow is covering grass and car roofs.

The National Weather Service in Memphis is going a little higher than me with snow totals. They have mentioned that the freezing level has dropped further and is approximately 800-1,000 feet above the surface. If that is the case, more snow is likely to fall. Unfortunately, I don't have access to all the hi-res temperature profile data right now. (That is all located on my laptop at home.) However, I still think the snow will only accumulate on grassy and elevated surfaces.

Interesting to note the the NWS in Memphis has noticed that the rain is changing over to snow once the surface air temperature hits 36°-37°.

- Posted from my iPhone

Winter Weather Advisory

The National Weather Service in Memphis has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Missouri bootheel, northeast Arkansas and northwest Tennessee. The Advisory is in effect from 6pm through noon Tuesday.

The following is from the text of the Advisory.

222 PM CST MON NOV 28 2011

How Much We Talking?

Everyone wants to know "How much?". That is not an easy question to answer. The reason being that it will be difficult to accurately measure the amount of snow we could see. A lot of this snow is going to melt as it falls through the sky. A lot of it is going to melt as it hits the ground.

I am still feeling pretty good about my projection as to where there could be snow. If anything, I might need to drop my line a little further south. Perhaps something along the lines of "south and east of a line from Murray, KY to New Madrid, MO to Malden, MO to Jonesboro, AR.

Rain is going to continue to fall. Forecast models are still on to that solution. The problem is the temperature profile of the atmosphere. In other words, if you go outside and look straight up, I am looking at the temperatures at different altitudes. In my previous post I went through and showed you what the models were indicating temperatures would be like at the surface and at 5,000 feet. The short range models, specifically the Rapid Update Cycle, are keeping the temperatures pretty close to what I mentioned before.

Cold air is on the move through Missouri. At 2pm CT, it is 33° F in Rolla, Missouri. Temperatures in southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, northwest Tennessee and northeast Arkansas are hovering in the upper 30's.

The tricky part is determining how much moisture will there be to interact with the strengthening cold air later this evening and tonight. Models are indicating that ss the colder air moves in the moisture will begin to move out.

Temperatures at the surface should be a degree or two above freezing as we go through the late night hours. So anything that falls is going to start to melt as it approaches the surface. That is why I don't think we will see any accumulation on roadways. The ground is just too warm. However, we could see a little snow accumulate on elevated surfaces (deck railings) and on grass.

I've extrapolated the following data from a recent run of the RUC model. I am going to use a snow to liquid ratio of 4:1. That is a low ratio as normally, you will see snow to liquid ratios of 10:1. Although, we can see snow ratios as high as 30:1 and as low as 1:1.

CITY | Rainfall amount interacting with below freezing air aloft | Snow
Blytheville, AR | 0.2" | 0.8"
Dyersburg, TN | 0.18" | 0.7"
Jackson, TN | 0.06" | .25"
Jonesboro, AR | .29" | 1.1"
Murray, KY | 0.02" | 0.1"
Walnut Ridge, AR | 0.17" | 0.7"

Keep in mind that the above numbers are if we were able to squeeze out every little bit of moisture and make it in to snow. I just don't think that's going to be the case tonight.

My "Freak Out Meter" is still pretty low with this system. I'm still giving it a 1 out of 10.

Light Snow Tonight

UPDATE Below: It appears like there is a chance for some light snow today and tonight across parts of southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, northwest Tennessee and northeast Arkansas.

As first mentioned 7 days ago, cold air is wrapping in behind the cold front/surface low pressure that initially brought rain to the region Sunday. Temperatures at 10am CT are in the upper 30's across southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, northwest Tennessee and northeast Arkansas. Temperatures are likely to hold steady in the upper 30's through the day.

Cold air aloft (a few thousand feet) will be between -1° and -3° Celsius. This will allow moisture to freeze in the form of snow. As the moisture drops to near the surface it will encounter temperatures that will be a couple degrees above freezing. This will allow for the snow to melt slightly. That's what we mean when we talk about a "wet snow". It is falling in to an environment that allows it to start the melting process.

The areas I think have the best chance at seeing accumulation, mainly on grassy and elevated surfaces, will be south and east of a line from Mayfield, Kentucky -- New Madrid, Missouri -- Malden, Missouri -- Jonesboro, Arkansas. That's not to say we couldn't see a little north of that line, but the bulk should be south and east of of that line. (I wouldn't be surprised to hear some reports of snow around Doniphan, Mo, Poplar Bluff, Mo, Van Buren, Mo or even Sikeston, Mo or Charleston, Mo.)

At this point, I don't think it will be a big deal. My "Freak-Out-Meter" is around a 1. (That's on a 10 point scale.) Soil/ground temperatures are still warm so that will allow for snow to quickly melt, especially on roads.

11:42am CT Update:

To give a little more perspective as to the temperature profile of the atmosphere I wanted to show you what temperatures are forecast to be at the surface and at 5,000 feet (850mb).

The following is from NOAA's morning run (12z) Global Forecast model (GFS). All tempertaures listed in Celsius.

CITY | 1pm CT 2-meter/5,000' Temp | 7pm CT 2-meter/5,000' Temp | 1am (Tue) CT 2-meter/5,000' Temp

Cape Girardeau, MO | 3.6°/-0.7° | 2.3°/0.5° | 2.6°/1.6°
Dyersburg, TN | 3.7°/-2.1° | 1.5°/-2.5° | 0.7°/-1.5°
Jonesboro, AR | 4.8°/-4.0° | 3.3°/-3.2° | 1.3°/-1.0°
Murray, KY | 3.3°/0.8° | 2.7°/-0.8° | 2.0°/-2.0°
Paducah, KY | 3.2°/0.6° | 3.1°/1.2° | 3.8°/0.8°
Poplar Bluff, MO | 4.4°/-2.5° | 2.1°/-0.8° | 1.2°/1.6°

Looking at the above data you can see when the colder air aloft strengthens yet temperatures at the surface remain above freezing. You can also see areas where temperatures never get below freezing. Also notice the times when the temperature barely makes it below freezing (0° Celsius). Yes, a few tenths of a degree can make a BIG difference in what type of precipitation falls.

This gives you a look at some of the data forecasters look at when trying to determine what type of precipitation is going to fall. Keep in mind, this is only one model of several we look at. For big snow storms I may look at seven to eight models.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turn up the Thermostat

November has been warm across much of the Midwest compared to what is "normal". I'd be willing to bet your electricity bill reflects the milder temperatures. I know mine has!

Temperature departure from normal across the Midwest.

  • Bloomington +4.4°
  • Indianapolis +4.6°
  • Lafayette +4.6°
  • Carbondale +3.0°
  • Chicago +3.5°
  • Moline +1.8°
  • Louisville +2.3°
  • Paducah +2.9°
  • Cape Girardeau +3.6°
  • Chesterfield +3.9°
  • Poplar Bluff +3.8°
  • St. Louis +4.8°
We're getting close to the end of Meteorological Fall (September 1 - November 30) and the start of Meteorological Winter (December 1 - February 28). Temperatures in Fall 2011 will go in to the books above normal for just about everyone in the Midwest. But it appears that Mother Nature is aware that meteorological winter is just around the corner as it looks like colder air is on the way.

Forecast models are hinting at a change in the weather pattern starting as early as this weekend. The change in the pattern should bring a prolonged period of colder air to much of the country.

Before we get too excited about the cold air coming for the weekend, let me say that Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving look to be nice. Winds will begin to turn out of the south Friday (it will be breezy) and temperatures will climb under mainly sunny skies.

A strong cold front is projected to move through the central United States starting Friday. Along the front, showers and thunderstorms will develop. Some of the rain could be heavy at times Saturday/Sunday (depending on where you live).

Once the front passes, winds will shift and temperatures will plunge. Here's a view of the weather setup for Sunday evening as advertised by NOAA's global forecast computer model (GFS).

According to the GFS, cold air will dive all the way to the gulf coast by Sunday evening. (Hint: Look at the blue 540 line.) This also indicates an upper-level low will develop and center over Missouri by Sunday.

With the low, low clouds will hang around. The clouds are indicated by the gray shading. Along with the clouds notice the model keeps some precipitation around Illinois, extreme eastern Missouri and western Kentucky. IF this precipitation lags behind the cold front and IF the temperatures drop as much as advertised much of this moisture would fall in the way of light snow.

The European Forecast Agency's computer forecast model is also hinting at something very similar. (See above) The slight difference in the European model holds off the moisture until Monday afternoon/evening. At this point, it is splitting hairs between the two models. The key is to see the trend of what the two models are showing and the trend is very similar.

At this point I'm not concerned with the amounts as it should be relatively light. But yes, there could be snow flurries and snow showers Sunday night through Tuesday morning. Again, this is nothing to get excited about. My "Freak-Out-Meter" is pretty low, less than a 1 (on a scale of 1-10).

The models keep the cold air in place all next week. Yes, the temperatures might warm up a little but I think we will likely be below normal during the stretch. This would make sense with my belief in the "Law of Averages". November was very mild, relatively speaking, so we are due for some below normal temperatures.

Let's have some fun now... Look waaaay out in to the future. The GFS allows us to look 384 hours in to the future (16 days). At the end of the forecast run it is hinting at a decent storm developing along the gulf coast.

Over running the storm is a moisture plume that extends as far north as Kansas City. The model also brings down some colder air on the back side of the storm that would likely interact with the moisture plume spreading north. IF this storm were to pan out this way, that's a BIG IF, southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky would likely start out as rain December 7 and eventually change over to a rain and/or snow mix by that night or early December 8. This would definitely bare watching if the model is right.

I should say that the model is not very good at depicting what is going to happen that far out in its run. The model is likely to take the storm out of the equation over the next several runs. In fact, what usually happens is the storm will show up once and then go away on all subsequent model runs. I just wanted to give you a "behind the scenes" look at some of the data meteorologists look at but don't always mention because we know it isn't likely to happen. But, as I like to say, "Stay tuned..."

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Few Storms Possible

The Storm Prediction Center is monitoring southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky and northeast Arkansas for the need of issuing a tornado watch.

According to SPC the threat appears to be isolated. It will depend on how many storms can get fired up in the next couple hours as to whether a watch will be issued.

A Tornado Watch is currently in effect for most of Indiana. That watch is in effect until 9pm ET.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Storms Tonight

The Storm Prediction Center has placed all of southeast Missouri and portions of southern Illinois, western Kentucky and Arkansas in a "Slight Risk" area for severe thunderstorms in their latest outlook.

It appears the best chance for severe storms in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois would be later tonight.

There are still a few question mark for severe thunderstorms to develop.

We need to see the atmosphere destabilize. Right now the air mass in place is relatively stable. As the surface low currently over Texas/Oklahoma tracks northeast the low will deepen (become stronger). Ahead of the low, southerly winds should tap in to more humid air to the south.

Forecast models are indicating instability should move back north and allow the atmosphere to become unstable by tonight.

If the air mass can become unstable there will likely see a few thunderstorms moving east across Arkansas and Missouri.

The main threat appears to be damaging wind. I can't rule out the chance of a quick spin up tornado, especially close to the track of the surface low. The good news is that if there is a tornado it won't be like the long lived tornadoes seen in Oklahoma yesterday.

A couple things bother me about the setup... Cloud cover. Missouri is pretty well socked in with cloud cover. This is going to limit instability somewhat.

Timing... The storms would likely move in well after sunset. This will take away some of the spark in the atmosphere. That's not to say we couldn't see something after dark, I just think that storms will be on the downward trend of severity.

Bottom line...
  • Will there be thunderstorms? Probably.
  • Will there be a watch? Possibly.
  • Will there be a severe weather outbreak? No.
  • Could there be warnings? Yes, there could be a few.
  • Should you freak out? No. Just keep an eye on the situation. Make sure you have your NOAA weather radio plugged in. Have a way to be alerted if a warning is issued for your location.

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Threat of Storms

We are less than 25 days from the start of meteorological winter but we need to be thinking about spring... spring storms.

I have talked about the chance for colder air moving south out of the arctic in the next week and a half. Ahead of the colder air it appears we will have a chance for strong thunderstorms across the middle United States.

The Storm Prediction Center has included parts of Missouri, all of Arkansas and places further south in a "Slight Risk" for severe weather 7am Tuesday through 7am Wednesday.

An area of low pressure is going to develop over New Mexico and Texas over the next two and a half days.

Strong winds in the jet stream will rotate around and provide lift in the atmosphere. By mid to late afternoon Tuesday I expect to see thunderstorms developing over eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas and western Missouri. The thunderstorms should develop in to a line of storms that will move east across Missouri, Arkansas and further south.

I have been looking over the morning run of the GFS and NAM computer models. There are a few subtle differences between the models but both appear to be pointing at diverging winds at the 300mb level over southeast Missouri by Tuesday evening/night. The NAM keeps winds a little more divergent over Arkansas and the GFS keeps winds a little more divergent over southern Illinois.

Here is a look at one of the computer models. This indicates winds at 300mb (approximately 30,000 feet) 7pm CT Tuesday.

I look for divergent winds at 300mb because that gives an indication if there will be lift in the atmosphere. Diverging winds create a void and wind from below lift in to fill the void.

All of the above said, it looks to me there could be strong to severe storms along the line of storms as it moves through Arkansas and Missouri. It is still a little early to nail down the main threat from the storms but it damaging winds, isolated tornadoes and hail all could be possible.

Stay tuned...

Daylight Saving has come to an end. Hopefully you remembered to change the times on your clock this morning.

Fire departments across the country use the time change as an opportunity to remind everyone to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. This is good practice. I want to suggest you take it a step further and use the time change as an opportunity to replace the batteries in your NOAA weather radios.

Friday, November 4, 2011

ISS Sighting Tonight

There is another opportunity to see the space station tonight for part of the midwest. Unfortunately, it looks like areas in southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas will have cloud cover obscuring the view.

The details:

  • When: 6:42pm (local) - The space station will be visible for 5 minutes.
  • Where: Look to the WNW sky. The space station will travel across the sky and exit to the SE. It will reach a height of 55° above the horizon.
Columbus, IN:
  • When: 7:42pm (local) - The space station will be visible for 6 minutes.
  • Where: Look to the NW sky. The space station will travel across the sky and exit to the SE. It will reach a height of 73° above the horizon.
  • When: 7:41pm (local) - The space station will be visible for 6 minutes.
  • Where: Look to the WNW sky. The space station will travel across the sky and exit to the SE. It will reach a height of 68° above the horizon.
  • When: 6:40pm (local) - The space station will be visible for 6 minutes.
  • Where: Look to the WNW sky. The space station will travel across the sky and exit to the ESE. It will reach a height of 79° above the horizon.
St. Louis:
  • When: 6:41pm (local) - The space station will be visible for 6 minutes.
  • Where: Look to the NW sky. The space station will travel across the sky and exit to the ESE. It will reach a height of 65° above the horizon.
Skies will be clear for the areas listed above so it should be perfect conditions to see the ISS as it passes overhead.

It will initially look like a dim star but it will be moving like an aircraft.

Check it out and let me know if you see it. Leave a comment here on my blog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cold Air Building

It is the time of year when I like to start looking further out in the computer models. What am I looking for? I'm looking for cold air marching south through Canada and I am also looking for storms taking shape that can interact with the cold air. When the two play together, "fun things" develop.

For the last couple of days NOAA's Global Forecast model (GFS) has been advertising some cold air building and marching south out of Canada for mid-November. The latest run of the GFS (12z) continues to hint at the cold air coming.

Right now it looks like the cold air would come down in two shots. The first would arrive in the Midwest/Ohio River Valley sometime around November 13/14.

The second shot, and most likely the colder of the two, would arrive in around November 16/17. (The image above depicts the morning of November 16.) If the above image were to hold true, then I might have to use the "s" word for the first time this season. Yes, snow.

I should also add that the European Forecast Agency's computer model is also hinting at a shot of colder air coming down around November 12. At this point, it is splitting hairs between the two models. However, it is interesting that both models are hinting at something similar around the same time.

Don't get too excited just yet. This is a LONG way out in the computer models. There is a likely climatological bias in the models trying to bring in cold air to keep in mind. If I were a betting person, I would say the above scenario is not likely to happen this far in advance. However, it is something to keep an eye on. Especially if you enjoy colder weather.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

U.S. Winter Outlook

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its winter outlook for 2011-2012. According to the forecasters, another La Nina will influence winter for the second year in a row.

La Nina returned in August and is expected to gradually strengthen and continue through the winter. It is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Forecasters also say there will be a wild card in play that will allow dramatic short-term swings in temperatures this winter. The wild card is the Arctic Oscillation.

Here is an explanation of the Arctic Oscillation from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)...

The Arctic Oscillation refers to the opposing atmospheric pressure patterns in the northern middle and higher latitudes. The oscillation exhibits a "negative phase" with relatively high pressure over the polar region and low pressure at midlatitudes (about 45 degrees North), and a "positive phase" in which the pattern is reversed. In the positive phase, higher pressure at midlatitudes drives ocean storms farther north, and changes in the circulation pattern bring wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia, as well as drier conditions to the western United States and the Mediterranean. In the positive phase, frigid winter air does not extend as far into the middle of Northn America as it would during the negative phase of the oscillation. This keeps much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains warmer than normal, but leaves Greenland and Newfoundland colder than usual. Weather patterns in the negative phase are in general "opposite" to those of the positive phase, as illustrated below. Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phases. Starting in the 1970's, however, the oscillation has tended to stay in the positive phase, causing lower than normal arctic air pressure and higher than normal temperatures in much of the United States and northern Eurasia.
Effects of the Positive Phase | Effects of the Negative Phase
of the Arctic Oscillation of the Arctic Oscillation

(Figures courtesy of J. Wallace, University of Washington)

So what does all of this mean? Here is a look at NOAA's U.S. Winter Outlook for 2011-2012. Remember that winter is considered December through February.

Temperature Outlook:

Precipitation Outlook:

According to the outlook...

Ohio and Tennessee Valleys: Wetter than average with equal chances for above, near, or below average temperatures. Potential for increased storminess and flooding.
Great Lakes: Colder and wetter than average.

The outlook specifically points out "The seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance."

I don't know about you, but I am ready to start talking about snow. What about you? What would you like to see this winter? Weekly snow storms or calm and 55°? Let me know by leaving what you'd like to see for the winter in the comments section of this post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Frost and Freeze

Its getting to be that time of year. The time leaves are falling off the trees, heavier coats are coming out of the back of the closets and time to unpack the shovels. Ok, it might not be time for shovels just yet but that time is getting closer, albeit a few months off.

So when is the normal first frost and freeze? The Midwest Regional Climate Center has put together some nice maps to try and help show when dates of the average first 32° F and 28° F temperatures.

Average Date of 32° F Freeze:

Average Date of 28° F Freeze:

According to the National Weather Service office in Paducah the mean date of the first freezing temperatures over the last 30 years for Paducah, KY is October 25 and October 26 for Evansville, IN.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazing Milky Way

I have always enjoyed looking up in to the sky. Whether it be day or night, there are always things to find up there.

Take a look at this amazing video shot by Randy Halverson of the Milky Way. Enjoy.

One of the challenges in making this video, was trying to get good storm with stars shots. The opportunity doesn't come along very often, the storm has to be moving the right speed and the lightning can overexpose the long exposures. I had several opportunities this summer to get storm and star shots. In one instance, within a minute of picking up the camera and dolly, 70mph winds hit. One storm was perfect, it came straight towards the setup, then died right before it reached it.

Extended cut available here

At the 1:57 mark a Whitetail buck came in to check out the setup. It was caught on 20 frames, and was there for about 10 minutes. It was only 50 yards from the camera, dolly and light.

At the 3:24 mark, a meteor reflects on the water of the small lake, see still below in Photos. There are also quite a few other meteors in the timelapse.

This was all shot in central South Dakota from June-August.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Signs of Change

It's that time of year. Wild swings in temperatures every couple of days. The battle of the seasons is beginning.

Take a look at temperatures from this morning. The below freezing line crossed the U.S./Canadian border. Where's Homeland Security when you need them? Haha

A cold front is moving through the Midwest today. Yesterday, ahead of the front, highs climbed in to the 90°'s. Today, temps are being held down in the 60°'s.

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And He's On It

In the words of the late Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer, Tom Carnegie, "And he's on it."

Yes, that is right. I am going to be back on the television giving you the latest forecast. You can watch my forecast starting this Saturday on Fox59 News at 10 on WXIN-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I will be working as one of the weekend meteorologists at the station for three weeks this month.

Don't worry, if you don't live in central Indiana and can't get the station on television, they stream their newscasts live on their website - Keep in mind that Indiana is in the eastern time zone. The 10pm ET news will be on at 9pm ET in Missouri, Illinois and western Kentucky.

Currently scheduled dates I will be on Fox59 News at 10:
  • Saturday, September 10
  • Saturday, September 17
  • Sunday, September 18
  • Saturday, September 24
  • Sunday, September 25
I am excited for the opportunity to work on-air for Fox59. Having grown up in central Indiana I always watched the weather people on the Indianapolis television stations. So this fulfills a goal I have had since I was 15 years old. That goal, to get on-air as a weatherman in Indianapolis.

I am not a total stranger to WXIN. During the summer of 1997 I interned in the weather department with the station's chief meteorologist, Brian Wilkes. After the internship ended they couldn't get rid of me. I stuck around and helped out in the weather department when storms would move through the state. In many ways I became an apprentice to Brian. Most of my forecasting "know how" has come from him.

After college I was looking for a weather position at a television station. Eventually, I was offered the position at KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. However, there was a three month period between college and my start at KFVS. To fill the space I worked as a sports videographer for Fox59. It was a lot of fun as I was able to cover the Indianapolis Colts, the Indianapolis Indians, the NHRA Bud Shootout, PGA golf, college football and high school football.

Hope you will catch me on the tube over the next couple of weeks!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Viewing Party

It will be passing overhead this evening and you can see it with your own eyes. Yes, another viewing opportunity for the International Space Station in the Midwest.

Grab the family (especially kids) and head
outside and take a look up in to the sky and see it pass overhead.

To see it, use the information for the various locations listed below and go outside. Look in the specific direction just above the horizon. Look for a dot that looks like a star but is slowly moving. It will initially start out dim but will get brighter and brighter. It may even look like an aircraft but it won't have flashing lights.

Tip: When trying to spot it in the sky. It won't be visible a couple minutes ahead of the listed times. It will appear at the time listed. If you see something that you think is it five minutes before, it is either a star, a helicopter, and airplane or a UFO (haha).

Viewing Time:
  • Cape Girardeau (Southeast Missouri): Starting at 7:57pm (local time) look to the northwest. The space station will track across the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 53° above the horizon, and exit to the east-southeast. It will be viewable for five minutes.
  • Chicago: Starting at 7:58pm (local time) look to the west. It will track across the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 56° above the horizon, and exit to the southeast. It will be viewable for four minutes.
  • Columbus (Indiana): Starting at 8:57pm (local time) look to the west-northwest. The space station will track across the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 72° above the horizon, and exit to the southeast. It will be viewable for four minutes.
  • St. Louis: Starting at 7:57pm (local time) look to the northwest. The space station will track across the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 62° above the horizon, and exit to the east-southeast. It will be viewable for five minutes.
  • Indianapolis: Starting at 8:58pm (local time) look to the west-northwest. The space station will track across the sky, reaching a maximum elevation of 69° above the horizon, and exit to the southeast. It will be viewable for four minutes.
A couple of years ago I took a picture of the space station during one of the viewable fly-overs with my iPhone. It looked like a dot in the picture but when I zoomed in on the picture I could see the shape of it. I am not sure what it would look like with binoculars or a telescope but I imagine you would definitely be able to see the shape.

Information about the international space station.
  • Currently, there are six crew members aboard the ISS. Three from Russia. Two from the United States. One from Japan.
  • The space station is as long as a football field (357 feet).
  • Living space is 12,705 cubic feet.
  • It weighs 925,627 lbs.
  • 2.3 million lines of computer code to run the space station.
  • 8 solar rays generate 84 kilowatts of electricity.
If you go out and see it, leave a comment and tell me what you thought of it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Looking at Irene for the Weekeend

If tonight's run of the GFS were to come true, it could get REALLY interesting for the North Carolina coast, New Jersey, NYC, Long Island, Rhode Island, etc...

However, my gut still tells me Irene moves out to sea.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tropics Heating Up

You are going to start to hear a lot of talks about the tropics over the next 4-7 days. Hurricane Irene has developed and is expected to get stronger over the next 24 hours.

Currently, Irene is located 55 miles north of the Dominican Republic and is moving WNW at 10mph. As of the 7am CT update from the National Hurricane Center, Irene is a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100mph.

Here is a look at the visible satellite image from space. The picture was taken at 8:45am CT.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expect Irene to gain strength within in the next 24 hours once it gets away from Hispaniola. In fact, the forecaster writing the morning forecast update said the storm getting away from Hispaniola "should allow for Irene to become a major hurricane within the next 24 hours."

Where will the storm go? That is a good question.

Here is the latest forecast from the NHC.

This is when we start to talk about the "cone of uncertainty". Why do we call it that? That is because we (forecasters) don't know for certain. Forecasters have a pretty good idea of where it is going to go, but this is not a time to be splitting hairs with a forecast. Too many people would be impacted by the storm making a little wobble at the last minute. That is the reason for trying to narrow it down but also keep our options open.

Something else that is good to look at is the plot of various forecast models. This is called a "spaghetti plot".
Each line represents the forecast path of the storm over the duration of the forecast model's run. You can see how there is a variance from model to model. This is why forecasters look at the various runs to see if there is a trend the models are going with. More of a consensus.

I know there is some talk about a direct hit in North Carolina but if you look at this morning's plot of the forecast models it appears that the storm may take a run to the right and move just off the coast of North Carolina.

It will be interesting to watch over the coming days to see how Irene tracks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Take Cover

Something I don't understand...

I hear people complain all the time, "It's really bad here. Why isn't there a warning?". Often times the answer is the storm hasn't met severe criteria or we haven't gotten reports of severe weather (58+mph winds, 1"+ hail or tornadoes).

If you feel that it is bad, take cover. Please don't wait for us to tell you there is a warning and then take cover.

There is no reason to get upset if you think the storm is bad and there isn't a warning. It's almost as if people can't seek shelter unless a warning is issued.

Rant over...

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coming to you in HD

Did you notice that KFVS12 and Heartland News is now being broadcast in HD? They debuted the new set and HD equipment today during Heartland News at Noon. The set looks great! Wait until you see all the background changes that can be done with the set.

A lot of work and planning has gone on behind the scenes at the station to get the switch complete. A brand new set had to be designed, built, shipped and installed. Not to mention the HUGE expense of a new set ($$). All new television broadcast equipment had to be ordered, delivered and installed. Some of the new things include HD monitors, new switcher, graphics computers, wiring, lights, etc. I can tell you that the planning has been going on for months and, in some cases, years. Great job to everyone in the Engineering and News departments at KFVS.

I am going to be filling in for weather this Saturday, July 30 on Heartland News at 6pm, Heartland News at 9pm and Heartland News at 10pm. So you will soon get to see me in HD. I apologize in advance for having to see me in HD. It could be a scary!

I have gotten a lot of questions asked if I am coming back to KFVS12. I am not going back to KFVS12 full time. Before I left, I told the station I would be willing fill in for an occasional Saturday shift until they find a person to fill my old position. This is more of an occasional thing, not permanent.

On a side note: I have been a little slow at updating my forecast page. I am still in the process of getting moved in to a place in St. Louis. In fact, I am playing a game of musical hotels until my place is ready. Once I get settled in I will be able to get in to a routine of updating the forecasts on a daily basis.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Here's...... Johnny! 7/22

You will get to see me make an appearance on Heartland News/KFVS12 tomorrow (Saturday, July 23). I am filling in for the day while the other weather people get a well deserved day off.

You can see me starting with The Weekend Breakfast Show from 6am-7am. Then I'll be on Heartland News at 6pm, Heartland News at 9pm on Fox23 and on Heartland News at 10pm. (All times listed in CT.)

It has been a month since I was last on the air giving the weather forecast so hopefully I haven't forgotten how to do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Heat is On 7/19

Glen Frey had it right. "The Heat is On". Temperatures have been hovering in the 90°'s and 100° for the last five to six days across the country. Heat warnings, advisories and or watches are in effect for 26 counties in the United States. Right now, it appears that the heat won't be going away anytime soon.

(Click on the image to see a larger view.)

The upper-level high pressure, I mentioned a couple days ago, is slowly progressing eastward across the middle section of the country. Did I mention it was moving slow?? It is going to take several days for it to move east of the Midwest. In the mean time, temperatures will continue to flirt with the 100° mark.

Along with the heat, moisture is abundant in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the moisture isn't in the way of rain. It is mainly in the form of thick, humid air. Currently, there is a broad area of dew points in the middle to upper 70° that stretches from North Daktoa to southwest Ohio. Amazingly, the Minneapolis airport has a recorded dew point of 82°. This makes it the most humid day for Minneapolis since 1891. The heat index at 2pm CT is 110°+ from eastern Iowa through north central Illinois and in north central South Dakota.

High temperatures will continue to climb a couple of degrees each day through the weekend. The one bit of good news is the air won't get much humid than it is now. To get a look at my latest forecast for Cape Girardeau, Indianapolis, Indiana and St. Louis check out "John's Forecast".

The heat can be extremely dangerous. Many don't realize this but heat is the leading weather cause of death in the United States. Often times it isn't the first couple of days in a heat wave that deaths occur, it is usually after several days when the temperatures don't drop much at night. It is a cumulative effect. Unfortunately deaths have already occurred from the heat in the St. Louis area and when dealing with this type of heat, that number is likely to go up. Stay safe. Check on your neighbors. Check on the elderly. Stay cool!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Airfare Price ALERT 7/15

AIRFARE PRICE ALERT: Delta Airlines has some pretty good deals right now. If you fly from St. Louis, Missouri (STL) to Tampa, Florida (TPA) in September and October you can go for as little as $138 round trip including taxes.

I don't know how long the deal is good for and I don't know if the price is good for other times of the year, i.e. if you look at November or December. I imagine the prices are higher then as you get out of hurricane season and in to the winter season.

I am thinking about taking up the deal and flying down to Tampa for the Indianapolis Colts vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL Monday Night football game.

If you know me, you know I LOVE to travel. Not just travel, but find good (and cheap) deals for travel. To me, half the enjoyment of a trip is the planning and purchasing process.

Heat Returns 7/15

We have had a little break from the oppressive heat over the last couple days. It is still hot out, just not as bad as it was. Plus, we've had a little break from the humidity.

Forecast models are advertising hot air building back east of the Rocky Mountains and central Plains. An area of high pressure will establish itself in the upper levels of the atmosphere. This upper-level high is going to allow for temperatures to likely climb higher than the models are indicating at this time.

Over time, this upper-level high, a.k.a. Hot Dome, will move to the east over Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana.

Here is a look at the European Forecast Agency's computer forecast model's projection for 7pm CT Wednesday, July 20.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

What you are looking at is the atmosphere at 500mb (approximately 18,000 feet). This is the level that I am looking at for the upper-level high. You can see it centered over St. Louis. It is the area inside of the 594 line.

With high pressure, air sinks. As it sinks it compresses. When a gas, in this case air, compresses it heats. This is what usually causes extremely high temperatures in the summer. Since the high will be right over the Midwest, temperatures will likely be high.

Here is a look at forecast temperatures by the European model for the same time frame.

(Click the image to see a larger version.)

The image is showing the temperature in Celsius at 850mb or approximately 5,000 feet up in the atmosphere.

Most likely the computer models do not have a good grasp of the higher temperatures just yet. I suspect we'll see the models trending warmer for next week over the weekend.

Highs will likely top out in the upper 90°'s to maybe 100° by mid-week. The timing of the heat obviously depends on how quickly the upper-level high moves in to the Midwest. Regardless, have your air conditioners, water bottles, pools, slip-n-slides and fans ready to go for next week!