Monday, February 28, 2011

Journey to the Center of the World...

More AWESOME pictures for The Big Picture blog... Enjoy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Classifying Derechos...

Above is the derecho criteria found in the definition of a family of downburst clusters, by Fujita & Wakimoto (1981). While a weaker derecho, 2/24/11 falls into Fujita & Wakimoto's criteria. I would also argue it was a fairly progressive derecho, while not the strongest ever. If I wanted to rate it, I would say this derecho was a solid Cat-1, if I tried to rate derechos like the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale rates hurricanes. So just for fun, here is my quick derecho wind scale. This is based off convective gusts, assuming all other criteria are met!

Category - 1: 75 - 95 mph
Category - 2: 96 - 110 mph
Category - 3: 111 - 125 mph
Category - 4: 126-150 mph
Category - 5: 151 mph or greater

150 mph is pushing the top of the possibilities for straight line wind events, so anything over 150mph is considered a Cat-5 in my book of derechos. Again, this was just for fun!

2/24/11 - 258 wind reports


This was a derecho! There were continuous 58 mph + wind reports for well over 400 km! Currently, were up to 237 wind reports, including two reports of 100mph winds (many at 70-80 mph +)... Again, this may not have been the strongest derecho ever, but still, it's a derecho in my opinion! Also, there was still a lot of damage with this derecho, so it's nothing to sneeze at! Power poles snapped in half, houses damaged (several losing roofs), many large trees down, car ports destroyed, and several cars blown off the roads! I still can't believe there was a derecho on the 10th anniversary of my first storm chase! Crazy!

Friday, February 25, 2011


It just so happens a Derecho hits the Deep South on the 10th anniversary of my first storm chase! Nothing is offical, and this was a weaker Derecho in the grand schemes of things, but still a Derecho in my opinion. You need severe wind criteria (continuos (58 mph)) for 400km or more, and I think we easily achieved that. Winds at my house were approaching 60mph for about 2 minutes! Not bad...

Here is a 0z Jackson, MS sounding... You see a nice dry punch, and winds aloft increased from 0z to 3z. Tons of evaporation helped mixed these winds to the surface. See 925mb charts below!



Thursday, February 24, 2011

10 Year Anniversary!

Today is the 10 year anniversary of my first storm chase! It was the night of the Pontotoc, MS F3 tornado, but we only saw a transformer blow up that night... While fairly uneventful, I was hooked! I always wanted to storm chase since I was a little boy, and have several memories of taking the family camera around the neighborhood "chasing" the big weather events that hit my house. I've come a long way since those days, as I have been in 12 hurricanes (5 major), seen lots of tornado (some a half mile wide), and have experienced some of the biggest Nor' Easters in Washington D.C. history! Not bad in 10 years! This is my passion in life, and I'm very blessed to get to chase as much as I do. So here's to another fun/exciting 10 years of chasing! I'll leave you with 10 goals (Have more...) I would like to accomplish over the next 10 years...

1) Get into the eye of a category-5 hurricane
2) Chase a major hurricane in the Caribbean
3) Get into a major hurricane in the Florida Keys
4) Chase a typhoon in the Pacific/cyclone in Australia
5) Get into at least 25 hurricanes (10 major)
6) Get into a 6' plus lake effect snow event
7) See the northern lights
8) See an anticyclonic tornado
9) Record a lightning strike during a blizzard (I have experience thundersnow 3 times, but I would like to see the actual lightning strike!)
10) Go to the main island of Hawaii to see the volcano

*Also, I would like to personally thank all of you for your support/encouragement over the last 10 years! I really do appreciate it! :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake...

Here are some incredible pictures from the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake! A 6.3 earthquake struck the 2nd largest city in New Zealand yesterday during the middle of the day! Unfortunately, hundreds are still missing with 75 confirmed deaths! Theses incredible pictures are from the Big Picture blog... Warning, some are graphic! My prayers go out to the people of New Zealand!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Northern Lights!

With all the talk/pictures about northern lights recently, I figured I would share some amazing sites with many unbelievable pictures of the northern lights! This is definitely on my "bucket list" one day! I can't even imagine how amazing it would be see these unbelievably beautiful lights! Enjoy the photography!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Joe Bastardi Leaving Accuweather!

This really sucks! Joe Bastardi is BY FAR my favorite forecaster, so I'm going to really miss his video/blog updates! I wish him only the best in wherever he goes! Hopefully, it will be somewhere where I can still follow him... I'll leave everyone with his famous quote, "Enjoy the weather because it's the only weather you got!"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Hurricane Season Trailer...

Here is a cool 2011 hurricane season trailer my good friend Jesse Vinturella made! It's time to start getting ready... Only 103 days away! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

10 Years Later!

Today is the 10th anniversary of the derecho that blasted Starkville, MS! Wind gusts approaching 110mph were reported near campus (south farm)! What a crazy day that I'll never forget! I wanted to leave a link to a post I wrote about a strong derecho that affected the northern plains/midwest on June 18th, 2010. I revisit the Starkville, MS derecho, and I also talk about derechoes in general... Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Big Picture Returns!

Here are a few great Big Picture blog posts over the last couple of months! One of the best blogs on the web, as I highly recommend it to anyone interesting in amazing photograpy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Loop Current!

Check out the warm loop current! While it has been a cold/snowy winter in the Deep South, the loop current is still staying strong in the Gulf! This warm feed of water will eventually help warm up the rest of the Gulf of Mexico rapidly. You could see the same/similar setup last year, when the Gulf was completely worked over with constant northerly flow! If anything, it looks healthier/stronger at this point compared to last year! This does NOT mean it will be warmer this year, but it may lead to some early development in the Gulf if upper level conditions are favorable. See Hurricane Alex last year as a possible similar early trend? Here is an awesome satellite loop showing stratus/cumulus development near the surface, just above the loop currents warm waters! Thanks to Mark Sudduth for the satellite loop! Enjoy!

SST anomalies on Feb. 15th, 2010

SST anomalies on Feb. 14th, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Low Temperature Revisited...

Quickly, I want to talk about last night's low in Starkville. It got down to 13 degrees at Doug Gillham's house in Starkville, but only 16 at GTR... I was thinking around 12 degrees, but I did think we had a legitimate shot at 10 degrees. When you miss a forecast, even when it's not horrible, I always like to figure out why I was off. First, the winds never went calm last night! While the winds were low, it stayed around 5mph most of the night which kept temps up slightly! However, the biggest reason why we didn't hit 10, was the snow melt we had on Thursday. Yes, we never got above 32, but the sun still did its work on the snow. This caused the snow to get a lot more wet, and also just added to the water content in the ground. This did two things! First, all this water had to refreeze first during the early part of the night. Freezing is a warming process (I know that sounds weird to many), but the freezing process added latent heat to the atmosphere, which warmed things up a little. Also, all the extra water kept the dewpoints up some, which again kept us from hitting 10 degrees.

I'm glad I was leaning more towards 12 degree than 10 and below, but I still feel like I blew my forecast a little. I should have thought about the snow melt and extra water, but the winds did surprise me a little as I thought they would get near calm for a few hours. Anyways, at least I know where things went wrong, and I'll try my best to not forget that again in the future... Still, 13 to 16 degrees is very cold for Starkville, MS! Tonight will be another fairly cold night with lows in the lower-mid 20's. The winter "flip" is coming soon though, as temperatures are forecasted to be in the 60's by Sunday! Sounds great to me!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Starkville Snow Day!

Snow beginning to pick up! ~4pm February 9th, 2011...

Final measurement of 5" around 9pm February 9th, 2011. Snow ratios were pushing 20 to 1 the last couple hours of the event!

At my house in west Starkville, I measured just a tad over 5". That is the 2nd highest snow total I've ever seen in Starkville since moving here in August of 1999. January 2000 is still the highest I've ever seen in Starkville, with totals around 8". At first MSU was going to open at 11am, but decided around 8:45am that campus would be closed for the whole day! I honestly think that was the smart/safe choice, as high temps never got above freezing today. It hit 31.9 degrees on the roof of the climate lab, where GTR only hit 30/31 degrees.

Currently, we are under a hard freeze warning, with temps forecasted to be near 10 degrees tonight! At 8pm, it is 28/27 degrees and I do think we will get close to 10 degrees. Personally, I'm thinking a couple degrees over 10, but it should be close! I know 10 degrees is nothing compared to what many have experienced to our west, but that is really cold for Mississippi! Hey, like I said though, it could be much worse... A mesonet station in Nowata, OK hit -31 degrees this morning, which is the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state of Oklahoma (The old record of -27 happened twice back in 1905/1930)! Absolutely amazing! Thankfully, the winter "flip" is coming fast, as high temps should be in the mid 60's by Sunday! I love the snow, but I'm ready for the warm up! Many more pictures/videos to come this weekend when I have some free time...

The Delta is clearly outlined on visible satellite imagery! ~ 3:30pm February 10th, 2011...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2-4" Likely in Starkville!

The snow is really starting to come down now in Starkville. We are about 29 over 27, as the roads are already covered. I think 2-4" is pretty safe bet at this point! All across Arkansas snow total are severely overachieving, so nothing would shock me at this point! I'll stick with 2-4" as I highly doubt MSU will be opened tomorrow at this point! NOTHING is official yet, but 2-4" is more than enough to cancel school! I have to say I was a little worried earlier today when we were already 42 degrees at noon. Thankfully, the winds shifted to the north and temps started to drop! Add in evaporative cooling, and temps dropped from 42 to 29 in about 3 1/2 hours! Amazing! Thank you north wind! LOL!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Starkville Snow Update!

I'm going to try to keep this as short as possible! I still think 1-3" of snow is on the way to Starkville, but there is one thing that has me a little concerned. The system seems to be speeding up (Canadian has almost .5" by 0z) overall. This would bring max precip amounts during the late afternoon, which is not exactly conducive for snow sticking on the roads. However, it is a little more complicated than that. If we can get in the middle 20's tonight and clouds start streaming in during the early morning hours, I doubt if we will even see 40 degrees tomorrow before the snow starts.

There is something I use called the 1/3rd rule, so if we are 38/20, in theory we should be near 32 when the snow starts. At 32, while the snow will stick in the grass, it is going to have trouble sticking a lot on the roads unless precip rates are high enough to overcome that! That's tough right now, as both the NAM/ECMWF are near .20-.25", even though they hold off the max precip to after 0z... Once the sun goes down and you lose the infrared radiation, then I do think the snow will start to stick on the roads. The question is by then, how much QPF will be left to fall? The GFS is still showing about .05" for Starkville, even though the overall precip field has expanded in coverage. Also, the GFS ensemble mean is painting about .5" for Starkville! Personally, I think .5" is overdone, but I do think precip will hold off enough that max precip rates will be near or a couple hours after 0z! This will make a big difference with the road conditions!

I'm sticking with 1-3" for Starkville. 2-3" more in the grass, and closer to 1-2" on the roads. Add in some freezing drizzle at the end of the event when we lose the moisture in the snow growth region, and I expect the roads to be fairly treacherous with lows Thursday morning pushing 20-22 degrees! Of course things can change quickly, but I think 1-3" is a solid bet at this point! I could easily see going 2-4" in Starkville, but I want to edge on the side of caution just in case the precip starts as some light rain or if temps start out too warm for much accumulations... Also, just in case QPF rates underachieve!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Starkville Snow?

It is looking more and more likely that snow is on the way to Starkville, MS! How much? Well, that is still tough to tell with accuracy. Funny enough, the GFS, which completely blew up this system last week, had completely lost the system until recently. I haven't looked at the updated 18z model data through Bufkit, but it was showing at 12z about .02" of QPF for Starkville. It looks a little higher now, but still less than .05-.10"...

Going on a soapbox here, but PLEASE don't quote GFS model output 7 days out as the "truth"! I'm sorry, but the GFS is HORRIBLE, and when it is showing weather conditions that has maybe happened once or twice in the history of Starkville, don't post high/low temps 7 days out! Especially, when the GFS was calling for a foot + of snow with temps getting down to -5 degrees! Was it possible, yes, as almost anything is possible in weather! But, this is the GFS people, so don't start quoting temps/precip amounts a week out! The GFS has so many problems with heat/heat transfer/bundling energy that it really can't even get 48 hours out correct most of the time! Just ask NYC how well it has handled these Nor' Easters this year even 48 hours out!

Back to Starkville, I do think we will see some snow Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Again, it is still too far out to get into specifics, but I think we "could" see maybe 1-2" of snow at this time (3" tops right now!). Of course it will depends on many factors, and also, any accumulations on the roads will depend on how warm we get on Wednesday, and how much evaporational cooling we see Wednesday night! I was talking to Doug Gillham today, and we were talking about how this setup is similar to the Jan. 2000 setup (8" of snow in Starkville), but obviously on a much weaker scale. The dewpoint depression is big and also how warm we get on Wednesday is big! This doesn't even factor in the dynamics of the system, which is more likely to overachieve in my eyes!

While the GFS is still out to lunch, the NAM is painting about .25" of QPF, the Canadian/ECMWF was similar, and the JMA was painting about .5" of QPF... So I think an inch or two of snow is probable at this point on grassy surfaces. For it to accumulate on the roads, temps are going to have to be near 30/31 since the QPF rates won't be high enough to overcome the road surfaces. Plus, if we are somehow pushing 45-50 on Wednesday (Personally, I don't see that! Lower 40's tops...), then the roads will be too warm for much accumulations! I think the roads will likely get covered, but it's still very difficult to speculate on how treacherous they will be! I will say, beware the lack of moisture in the snow growth region! This will lead to a period of freezing drizzle after the snow, which by far worries me the most with this setup! I'll update tomorrow, but it does look like snow is on the way for Starkville once again this winter!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cyclone Yasi...

We had some light snow/sleet/freezing drizzle today in Starkville, so things have been a little crazy! On my way home from work, every bridge was completely iced over! Unfortunately, there has been several accidents today... I know many joke about how people in the south can't drive in the snow, but remember, ice is a completely different story. I have lots of experience driving in winter weather conditions, but ice is so dangerous no matter how much experience you have! Thankfully, temperatures are starting to rise, and it should be above freezing by early morning... Before I go, I wanted to leave a link to a blog my friend Todd Torsrud wrote the other day about cyclone Yasi! What an INCREDIBLE cyclone! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicago Blizzard + More!

History always seems to repeat itself: Chicago Blizzard of 2011 (Left) vs. Chicago Blizzard of 1967 (Right)...

Quick post on the Chicago Blizzard... Obviously, this blizzard affected many many more people than just Chicago, but I wanted to focus on Chicago tonight because of an amazing picture my friend Wayne Verno posted on his facebook, and also some amazing thundersnow video from Chicago! I'll focus on other areas later, as I'll try my best to post a lot of incredible storm totals...

The final snow total in O'Hare was 20.2" and 20.9" at Midway. This was the biggest Chicago snowstorm to ever occur in February and the 3rd biggest snowstorm in 126 years of Chicago records. The 20.2" and 20.9" fell in just 22 hours compared to Chicago's top snowstorm in January 1967 which fell over a 29 hour period. Pretty amazing! Above is an amazing picture of traffic at a complete stop due to the blizzard! The great 1967 blizzard vs. the great 2011 blizzard! Really cool... Also, I'm going to link some AMAZING thundersnow video from Chicago! Jim Cantore was in the right spot at the right time! This is probably the best thundersnow video I have ever seen in my life! ENJOY!!! :-)

Another amazing picture of Lakeshore Drive in Chicago posted on facebook by Jennifer Rukavina. Photo taken by Barbara Krasnicki...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cyclone Yasi!

Just wanted to quickly bring everyones attention to cyclone Yasi, which is now a deadly Category-5 cyclone! Wind gusts over 180 mph with a surface pressure of 924mb! Amazing! Here are a couple of links everyone should check out! I know there is a historic winter storm in progress, but a Category-5 will always take center stage in my eyes! For the latest check out twitter (Especially Jim Edds)...