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Blog

Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

Filtering by Tag: Featured

3:15 PM (Thursday) | **An active weather pattern setting up for the southern and central Plains in terms of severe weather and flooding rains...biggest threat comes on Monday/Monday night**

Paul Dorian

Unusually cold air has dominated the western states in recent days at the same time increasingly warm and humid air has ruled the southeastern states and this on-going split across the country will put the southern and central Plains right in the “battle zone” region in coming days.  The combination of this sharp temperature (and humidity) gradient and vigorous upper-level energy will bring a couple of serious threats to the southern and central Plains for severe weather and flooding rains.  The first opportunity for severe weather and heavy rainfall will likely come this Saturday and then an even more impressive threat will come on Monday and it may last into Tuesday.

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3:25 PM | *The snow just won’t stop for the Sierra Nevada mountains in California*

Paul Dorian

According to the latest “US Drought Monitor” report, the long-term drought in California is now “officially” over following the very wet winter season of 2018-2019. For the first time since 2011, the state has no region suffering from prolonged drought and the vast majority of the state California is “normal”. The reservoirs are full, the lakes are full, and there is a ton of snow in the higher elevation locations.  In fact, the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada – a major source of California’s water supply – has reached incredible amounts by doubling in the month of January and then doubling again in February and despite the calendar showing mid-May, more significant snow is on the way. 

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3:20 PM | *Showers/storms this evening...soaking rain event begins this weekend for an extended period*

Paul Dorian

There will be scattered showers and thunderstorms later this afternoon and tonight in the DC-to-Philly-to-NYC corridor as a cold front approaches and some of it will be on the heavy side; especially, south of the PA/MD border. This rain event will be relatively short-lived compared to what is coming later this weekend and early next week. Following tonight’s cold frontal passage, weak high pressure will try to get us off to a decent start this weekend, but it will be facing long odds as low pressure will head our way from the Lower Mississippi Valley.  Rain is likely to return to the Mid-Atlantic region late in the day tomorrow or early tomorrow night and then continue off and on into Tuesday of next week.  The heaviest rainfall may come in two parts with one period centered on tomorrow night into Sunday morning and then a second phase from late Sunday into Monday.  Residual showers may very well last into the day on Tuesday in the Mid-Atlantic region.

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2:50 PM | *Winter just keeps hanging on in parts of the Northern Hemisphere*

Paul Dorian

It snowed on Sunday in the Swiss capital of Bern and it certainly wasn’t enough to disrupt travel or most outdoor activities as it only amounted to about an inch and a half.  It was, however, the latest snowfall ever recorded in Bern with the previous latest date for snow on May 1st in 1945. The unusual cold snap that led to this snowfall in Europe looks like it may continue for another ten days or so before more normal temperatures return to the central part of the continent.  The unusually late cold and snow hasn’t been confined to that side of the Atlantic Ocean as parts of the interior western US, for example, continue to get accumulating snowfall even as we slide well into the month of May.  In fact, there is a strong likelihood that Denver, Colorado receives another couple inches of snow later this week and new accumulations are possible in other parts of the Rocky Mountains.

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7:15 AM | *The role of weather in the Hindenburg disaster of May 6th, 1937*

Paul Dorian

While weather played an important role in the 1912 Titanic disaster, it was perhaps an even more direct cause of another disaster that took place 25 years later – at least that is the prevailing belief. On May 6th, 1937, while the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg was attempting to land at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, a flame appeared on the outer cover of the rear of the ship. Within 34 seconds, the entire airship was consumed by fire and the golden age of airship travel was over.

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7:15 AM | *Deep solar minimum fast-approaching and cosmic rays continue to rise*

Paul Dorian

The sun continues to be very quiet and it has been without sunspots this year more than half the time as we approach what is likely to be a deep solar minimum. In fact, all indications are that the upcoming solar minimum which is expected to begin later this year may be even quieter than the last one which was the deepest in nearly a century.  Solar cycle 24 has been the weakest sunspot cycle with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906. Solar cycle 24 continues a recent trend of weakening solar cycles which began with solar cycle 21 that peaked around 1980. The last time the sun was this blank in a given year on a percentage basis was 2009 during the last solar minimum when 71% of the time was spotless.  That last solar minimum actually reached a nadir in 2008 when an astounding 73% of the year featured a spotless sun - the most spotless days in a given year since 1913.  One of the natural impacts of decreasing solar activity is the weakening of the ambient solar wind and its magnetic field which, in turn, allows more and more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. The intensification of cosmic rays can have important consequences on such things as Earth’s cloud cover and climate, the safety of air travelers and as a possible trigger mechanism for lightning.  

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10:00 AM (Friday) | **Strong-to-severe thunderstorm threat later today/early tonight…strong winds late tonight and Saturday will follow the passage of a strong cold frontal system**

Paul Dorian

There will be numerous bands of showers and thunderstorms today in the Mid-Atlantic as the combination of strong surface low pressure, a warm front and a cold front impacts the region.  One line of storms in particular could reach the I-95 corridor region later in the afternoon and early evening hours with strong-to-severe thunderstorm activity and any these cells can produce damaging wind gusts, hail and flooding rainfall.  Following the passage of the cold front, temperatures will drop dramatically in the overnight hours and winds will become very strong from a northwesterly direction.  The strong winds will continue on Saturday to go along with cooler conditions and partly-to-mainly sunny skies.

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7:15 AM | *2019 Tropical and Mid-Atlantic Summertime Outlook*

Paul Dorian

The overall numbers are likely to be slightly below-normal this year in terms of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin (includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico) with around 11 named tropical systems, 5 hurricanes and 2 majors. In a normal Atlantic Basin tropical season, there are about 12 named storms with 6 reaching hurricane status and 3 actually reaching major status (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

The major factors involved with this year’s tropical outlook include the likely continuation of El Nino in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.  In addition, the Atlantic Ocean is sending mixed signals in terms of the prospects for tropical activity this season with some sections featuring (unfavorable) colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures and others featuring (favorable) warmer-than-normal waters.  The sea surface temperature pattern in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean (i.e., warmer-than-normal) makes the southern and eastern US somewhat vulnerable to what I call “home-grown” tropical hits during this upcoming tropical season.  

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10:20 AM | *More cold shots are quite likely in the eastern US as we progress through the month of April*

Paul Dorian

The month of April began with a colder-than-normal air mass in the eastern US and it looks like we’ll have additional cold air outbreaks over the next couple of weeks or so.  Teleconnection indices such as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) both signal a sharp drop in coming days to negative territory which typically results in the penetration of cold air outbreaks from central Canada into the eastern US.  Medium-range forecast maps of 500 mb height anomalies support this notion of additional cold air outbreaks as we progress through the month of April with “high-latitude blocking” in evidence over northern Canada and Greenland.

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2:55 PM (Monday) | *Another early spring night with below-freezing low temperatures…nor’easter forms on Tuesday and likely just skirts the Mid-Atlantic’s I-95 corridor*

Paul Dorian

After a spring tease on Saturday with temperatures in the 70’s, a strong cold frontal passage on Sunday ushered in a cold air mass for this time of year and it looks like another early spring night is coming to the DC-to-Philly-to-NYC corridor with low temperatures generally below-freezing.  On Tuesday, low pressure will form and intensify along the Southeast US coastline and then it’ll make a push to the northeast tomorrow night and early Wednesday as a full-fledged nor’easter.  The corridor between DC and NYC is likely to be spared the worst of the storm’s impact, but eastern New England could very well get hard hit with strong winds and some heavy precipitation.

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