Thursday, August 17, 2017

Predict Your Eclipse Experience Here

Vox has a cool interactive map that shows you the timing and the extent of the upcoming solar eclipse Monday.

Just type in your zip code and you will see what time the eclipse peaks in your area and to what extent the sun is covered by the moon.

For example, when I entered my St. Albans, Vermont zip code, I learned that at its 2:40 p.m. peak, 59.5 percent of the sun would be covered. I also learned I would have to travel 829 miles to the southwest if I wanted to see the total eclipse.

Click on this link to see it.

At this point, the weather forecast looks good for solar eclipse viewing in Vermont on Monday. The current National Weather Service forecast for Monday predicts mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 80s.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No Severe Vermont Storms. Cool Videos From Elsewhere, Though

A non-severe storm over Milton, Vermont last evening
I'm not aware of any of Tuesday's thunderstorms becoming severe in Vermont yesterday, so that was kind of a fortunate bust.

There were locally heavy downpours and some wind gusts, but nothing extreme.

That's not to say there wasn't action elsewhere, though. I've got a couple of videos to show you:

This week, Stormlapse recorded a gorgeous, menacing supercell thunderstorm over the Badlands of South Dakota.

Quite an impressive storm, watch:

I'm not sure when the next video was taken, but it's an illustration of what happens when a thunderstorm rolls into Atlanta's Hartsfield airport, the world's busiest.

You see the planes trying to fly around the storms, go in circles, and just kinda hope this thing passes quick. I'm sure there were quite a few flight delays on this day:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Smattering Of Strong Storms In Vermont Today

A storm bubbles up over northwestern Vermont on Saturday.
Today looks similar to Saturday as partly sunny skies
get interrupted by scattered storms, some strong. 
It looks like today in Vermont is going to be a bit like Saturday was:

In other words, we'll be dodging some thunderstorms, and some will be strong.

It's only moderately warm and humid out there today. And there's a weak cold front approaching.

That doesn't sound like the perfect setup for severe storms, and it's not. But the atmosphere has more instability than you'd expect from my description, so some of the storms this afternoon will get strong to marginally severe.

It will totally be hit and miss, like Saturday was. Most of us won't have any big deal weather, while a few pockets will.

The best chances of severe weather, if any develops, would be northeastern New York, all of Vermont, especially north of a Middlebury to Thetford line, and western New Hampshire.

As far as timing goes, it looks like the 2 to 8 p.m. slot looks best for the storms.

So the usual applies: Keep an eye on the sky. Head indoors if things look threatening. And be prepared, in just a few spots, for strong gusty winds, some hail, dangerous lightning and brief, heavy downpours.

You know, the usual summer drill.

Wednesday, we go back to partly sunny skies with temperatures down a bit again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Watch The Atlantic Ocean For Maybe Lots Of Tropical Storms Soon

Tropical Storm Gert, pictured here Monday morning,
is expected to strengthen far out in the Atlantic
Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1 through November 30.

Tropical systems can develop at any time during this period, sometimes even before or after this "official" season begins.

However, if you really want to see tropical storms and hurricanes, start now.

The heart of the season, when we get the most storms, and usually the strongest, runs from now until early October.

The bottom line is you'll see lots of news about tropical storms and hurricanes starting now.

As of this morning, Tropical Storm Gert was spinning far to the east of Florida. The bad news is Gert is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.

But the very good news is the storm will stay far off the East Coast, and accelerate toward the northeast, where it will eventually die in the cold North Atlantic waters.

The only effects in the United States from Gert will be the potential for dangerous rip currents at the beaches.

However, there are more areas of disturbed weather far out in the Atlantic or even over Africa that might develop into tropical storms and/or hurricanes. It's possible they could threaten the United States.

These systems haven't even formed yet, so it's impossible to tell now what, if anything they will do.

It's still worth keeping a lookout for this stuff over the next several weeks, though.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Real Oddball Storms Saturday in Vermont, In My Opinion At Least

Thunderstorm near Franklin, Vermont Saturday afternoon.
Spates of strong to severe thunderstorms never go exactly as forecast, and Saturday's scattered activitiy in Vermont was a case in point.

A lot of us thought things would be a bit more organized than they were.

Sure, there would be storms scattered seemingly randomly, but some of us thought a broken, somewhat organized line of thunderstorms would cross through in the late afternoon and evening.

True, the time between 4 and 7 p.m. seemed to be the peak of the scattered rough weather, as expected, but there was a randomness to the storms that was odd

I was also stunned by how fast strong thunderstorms would randomly develop over a spot, then seemingly within minutes, wither away just as fast. That was unusual to see, at least from my perspective. Also fascinating. Glad I had a chance to watch this cloud performance.

The storms would go from a sprinkle, and within 10 minutes be spitting out lightning, dropping torrential downpours and pushing out gusty winds. Then, in some cases, not all - poof! They're gone.

The thunderstorms, especially before 5 p.m. or so, struggled with a layer of air just a few thousand feet up that inhibited storm development, so they were few and far between. Later on in the evening, they became somewhat more numerous, but still hit and miss.

For instance, at my house in St. Albans, Vermont, I didn't get any rain. Just two miles north of my house, however, streets were briefly flooded by a torrential late afternoon downpour.

There were scattered reports of damage from the storms across Vermont, especially after 6 p.m. One storm caused wind damage in Addison County around 6 p.m. Another bad storm very quickly popped up in eastern Chittenden County around 6:20 p.m., knocking down trees and powerlines in towns like Williston and Jericho.

Another severe storm caused damaged in parts of north central and northeastern Vermont after 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

It's all over now. There were a few light showers around northern Vermont this Sunday morning, but they were quickly drying up.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some Strong Storms Likely In And Around Vermont Today

BOL on the risk of strong storms
this afternoon in Vermont. 
It's looking like it might be a noisy afternoon here in Vermont and surrounding areas this afternoon.

Humid, unstable air, made more unstable by glimpses of sunshine, combined with a weak weather front approaching from the west, will trigger some pretty strong thunderstorms this afternoon and evening.

As usual, who gets what depends upon the luck of the draw. A few places will get a lame shower, maybe a rumble of thunder.

Other spots will get some gusty winds, heavy downpours and lightning, maybe even some small hail.

And a few places- not many, but a few- could get into some severe thunderstorms, with damaging winds and hail big enough to ding your garden at least.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center  has us in a marginal to slight risk area for severe storms, which means they're thinking there will be a couple bad storms, but they will be relatively few and far between.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington is timing things out such that the storms erupt in the Adirondacks at around 2 p.m and start marching east. They'd be in the Champlain Valley roughly between 4 and 7 p.m., and from the Green Mountains east from 5 to 8 p.m.

By 8 p.m., the storms will be heading into New Hampshire while weakening.

Just how widespread the storms get this afternoon depends on how things play out this morning. Early on, there was an area of showers and embedded storms in northern New York, maybe clipping northwestern Vermont.

If they don't clear out quickly, these early storms may limit how unstable the air gets this afternoon. However, the just-past-dawn storms in New York State seemed to be moving along pretty fast, so they'll probably be out of our hair by late morning.

Which would open the door for this afternoon's storms. We'll see how that plays out.

Sunday, expect a cooler, less humid day, with partly sunny skies and just a slight chance of a shower. Definitely will be the nicer of the two weekend days.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wildfires In Greenland? Yeah, Weird, But Not As Weird As You'd Think

Believe it or not, there have always beem a few wildfires
in Greenland, but this year's spate of fires up
there appears to be a doozy.
August is one principal month in Earth's Northern Hemisphere when you'd expect wildfires.

The summer sun has been beating down on this half of the world, and some forests in Asia, North America and Europe have burst into flames.  

(The problem is especially bad in British Columbia, Canada this year.)

Wildfires have also broken out this summer in a place you wouldn't expect: Greenland.

Yes, Greenland. 

Greenland is mostly covered by an immense ice cap, so you'd think wildfires wouldn't be a problem up there.

But low lying coastal areas are outside of the ice cap, and summer does hit up there.

True, it's not exactly 90 degree beach weather in coastal Greenland, and there's certainly no tinder dry forests anywhere up there, but the snow and ice does briefly disappear along Greenland's shorelines in the summer.

Wildfires can burn through the grasslands, stunted willows, peat and other low vegetation in Greenland, and that's what's going on now. And they do sometimes occur in "summer" weather in coastal Greenland, when temperatures "soar" into the lower 50s.

Kind of like grassfire season here in Vermont during April.

Past history of wildfires in Greenland is vague, but we know they've always occured there. But some evidence suggests that this summer's wildfires are worse than usual. Perhaps worse than ever, but we don't know that for sure.

Satellite data, cited by Scientific American, suggest that this year's wildfires in Greenland are far above what has been experienced in recent years and decades. This does suggest climate change could be playing a role, but we have no proof of that. At least not yet.

Wildfires are almost always bad, and Greenland's are no exception. But there's a unique reason why Greenland wildfires are bad.

Soot from the wildfires can deposit soot on parts of Greeland's vast ice sheet if the wind is right.

If the ice is very clean, it tends to deflect the sun's heat away, and summer melting is slower.

If you add soot or other dark debris and deposit it on the ice, it will draw the sun's heat onto the ice, accelerating melting.

You don't want Greenland's ice to melt, because the added water can raise global sea levels.

On the bright side, an odd weather pattern brought unusual snow and cold to parts of the Greenland ice cap earlier this summer, so overall melting there has not been insanely above normal.

As of early July, the melt season in Greenland was the slowest since 2009, although it's pretty fast by historical standards.

I'm not sure where the 2017 Greenland melt season will end up, but it's aways good to hope the melting stayed slow throughout this summer, despite the odd wildfires.