Saturday, April 29, 2017

Burlington, Vermont's Hottest April Night On Record

Some early season Lake Champlain beach goers in April, 2011.
I didn't go to the beach yesterday, but I bet I would have found
similar scenes amid summer like weather.
If Thursday night and very early Friday morning seemed a bit like a stuffy summer night to you, that's because it was.

The low temperature Friday in Burlington, Vermont. (12:01 a.m. to 12 p.m.) was 64 degrees. That was the warmest low temperature for any April day ever, since 1884.

Montpelier and St. Johnsbury set records for highest low temperature for the date but not for the entire month Friday. with lows of 58 and 60 degrees, respectively.

We did miss the record high for the date, since it reach "just" 81 degrees on Friday. The record high Friday was 90 degrees, set in 1990.

I have to say the warm weather really had an effect on the landscape. The Green Mountains of Vermont are definitely turning green now.

Don't get too used to this summer like weather. True, it's pretty warm today with lots of 70s being reported.

However, next week will be wetter, and turn colder, especially toward the end of the week. Tomorrow- Sunday - looks comparatively chilly as well, with mostly 50s expected for highs.

Summer will return, though.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Progressive Insurance's Hail Advice Is Dangerous

Like most competent insurance companies, Progressive sends out  "what to do" press releases informing consumers what to do if, say, they've had a house fire, a car accident or what have you.
Cars blocking a highway beneath an overpass during a
hailstorm. Don't do this, despite what Progressive says

Recently, Progressive put out a statement on what to do if you encounter a hail storm when driving.  

One of their suggestions was downright dangerous. They said, "Stop under an overpass, and don't forget to pull out of traffic lanes and onto a shoulder Avoid ditches due to possible high rising water. "

The parts about avoiding ditches is great. Pulling over to the shoulder is good, too 

Here's the problem: Very commonly, a bunch of people stop under an overpass during hail. Even if people are somewhat pulled over, oncoming cars can encounter the building traffic jam at the overpass.

Visibility is poor during severe thunderstorms. The rain and the hail make the roads slippery. The hail sure is distracting when you're driving. Stopping under overpasses is a great way to cause a very messy pileup.

Stopping beneath overpasses is very dangerous in another respect: Sometimes, a tornado is attached to the supercell thunderstorm producing the hail. 

Typically, the hail core of a tornadic thunderstorm passes over an area first. Then the tornado follows.  People under the overpass are sitting ducks for the oncoming tornado. Plus, tornadic winds funnel through the overpass, making the wind even stronger and more dangerous. 

And by stopping beneath the overpass, you've blocked traffic behind you on the highway, and now all those motorists can't get out of the way from the approaching tornado. 

If it is hailing badly, it's probably best to pull over while driving, onto a shoulder and outside of traffic. But please don't gum up the overpasses and block traffic.

You might be killing people in an effort to prevent your car from getting dinged. Is it worth it?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Variety Of Bad, Dangerous Weather Still Coming To The Middle Of America

This storm damage from Wednesday in Arkansas is a small
foretaste of what is to come to Arkansas and a wide area
in the middle of the country over the next few days. Tornadoes
and severe flooding are the biggest threats.
Photo by Taylor Kendrick.
America on Wedesday got a taste of the bad weather it is going to get over the next few days.

There was flooding in Missouri, severe weather in the Midwest, snow in the Rockies, and wildfires in the Desert Southwest.

As I mentioned the other day, this extreme weather situation is about to ramp up, and there could be a lot of death and destruction, especially in the middle of the country Friday and through the weekend.

A wide area of the country from Oklahoma to Indiana is in for a severe weather outbreak Friday. This includes strong winds, giant hail and tornadoes.

On Saturday, the risk of tornadoes and hail and damaging winds remains strong, especially in east Texas, Arkansas and surrounding areas.

We're entering the peak of tornado season, so it's not surprising that such an outbreak of severe weather is coming.  We get something like this almost every year.

However, the predicted tornadoes and severe storms might not be the worst part of this weekend storminess.

Extreme rains - up to 10 inches of it - is predicted in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. This will be falling on saturated groud from previous heavy rains, so that area can expect some very dangerous floods.

The National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Oklahoma is already saying this is a particularly dangerous situation.   Several rivers might experience major flooding. This is not your typical severe weather event. The floods look like they could end up being pretty bad., to say the least.

Not as dangerous but still not good is the snowstorm forecast in Colorado, Wyoming and nearby areas.

Like most bad storm episodes, the basic cause of this one is wild temperature contrasts combined with an intense moisture feed.

Record high temperatures are forecast in the southeastern United States over the next few days. Unusual cold for this time of year covers the west. In between, there's a strong, strong moisture feed from the Gulf of Mexico.

It's a toxic weather setup, so you can see why forecasters are nervous.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

All Those Gloomy Spring Days We've Had Are Good News

OK, folks, I've heard some of you complaining we've had maybe a bit more than our share of gloomy days here in New England so far this spring.

Yellow and orange areas on this map are still dry
or in drought. It's a lot less than it was a few months ago

Buck up! The timing of this precipitation was perfect to really ease the drought we were in last fall.

I had been worried that it would remain dry, and the drought would intensify this spring and summer, leading to more well failures, water shortages, crop problems and the like.

But at least here in the Champlain Valley of Vermont, precipitation has been above normal since February.

The U.S. Drought Monitor comes out every Thursday, and it will be interesting to see if there will be even more improvement in the Northeast in the past week when we get new data tomorrow.

As of last week, just over 22 percent of  the Northeast region, which extends from West Virginia to Maine, was in drought or at least abnormally dry.  . That compares to 70 percent of the region being dry at the end of December.

Severe drought in southern New England has gone away completely.

Here in Vermont, drought conditions are hanging tough in a small area in the mid-Connecticut River valley in and near White River Junction, but the rest of the state is fine.

Droughts are easier to break when leaves are not on the trees yet. Leafed out trees suck up a lot of water from the ground, all other things being equal.

During last night's mild showers, I noticed the trees in the Champlain Valley really started to show signs of green.

No worries, though. If rainfall remains near normal for the rest of the spring and summer, we'll have no trouble with drought.

In the short term, the next week or two, the weather pattern looks active, so chances are good we'll get more spring showers.

Even if eventually does turn dry again, at least we won't start out in the hole in terms of water supplies. Though I hope some steady drenchings keep hitting the White River Junction area.

So enjoy the sunny days, but rejoice in the rain, too. We still could use it. and it's good for all of us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wild Weather Nationwide Over The Next Several Days

A guy had to be rescued from this North Carolina truck
Monday. He's OK
Springtime weather can be volatile across much of the United States and this week, and possibly next are proving that point.

Flooding, tornadoes, wind, severe weather and snowstorms are all on the agenda for varying parts of the nation over the next several days. Starting now.

Let's break it down:

FLOODING: 

That coastal storm has caused widespread flooding in the Carolinas since yesterday. Several water rescues were reported in eastern Tennessee and in the Carolinas. Downtown Charleston, South Carolina was under water and several people had to be rescued from cars there.

The flooding continued this morning, with widespread flooding noted in North Carolina, where some places have received more than six inches of rain.

The big city of Raleigh, North Carolina was especially in trouble with flooding this morning. The National Weather Service there declared a flash flood emergency and a "particularly dangerous situation." You usually don't get such strong wording from the NWS, so you know things are bad in that region.

The rain is spreading up the coast toward New England, but flooding further north should not be nearly as extensive as it was in the Carolinas.  Still, the combination of high tides, strong east winds and heavy rains could cause some high water issues along the coast all the way into New England.

Later in the week, we're going to have to watch parts of the mid-Mississippi river valley, especially around Arkansas and Missouri for more possible big time flooding. The high water there will be part of a severe weather outbreak, which is in the next secton.

TORNADO OUTBREAK?

What could be the most extensive tornado and severe weather outbreak of the season looks like a real possibility in the southern Plains, especially around Friday.

An initial round of severe weather, including possible tornadoes looks to get going Wednesday in through Arkansas, Missouri and surrounding states.

That will only be a warm-up for Friday when a stronger storm sets the stage for possible strong and numerous tornadoes Friday and maybe Saturday.

Forecasts could change a bit but right now the Friday target area seems like it will be centered in and around Oklahoma with activity spreading east and south by Saturday. Again, more details will emerge with this forecast, but people in this area ought to be ready for some very bad weather at the end of the week.

DID SOMEONE SAY SNOW?

On the colder northwest side of the storm that is expected to cause all that severe weather I've been chattering about, it looks like a snowstorm might be looming Friday and Saturday for Colorado and Wyoming, and maybe some surrounding areas.

This snowstorm, if it materializes, could hit Denver pretty hard, and other Colorado cities such as Boulder, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

That'll be a harsh slap in the face after a mild spring out there.

It's possible the snow could spread into the northern Plains and all the way to Minnesota after Friday.

Before that even happens, there's a winter storm watch out for the Arrowhead area of Minnesota, including the Duluth area, for mixed precipitation tonight, Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?

So far, at least, it doesn't look like all this wild weather is going to really screw us up too badly here in Vermont.

That coastal storm will make us wet and damp later today and tonight, especially over the southeastern half of Vermont.

The storminess in the Plains is going to pump some nice warm air up our way. It'll peak Thursday with highs in the lows 70s to around 80. It'll remain fairly mild through the weekend.

Showers are a risk, though, especially later Sunday.

It looks like a strong cold front Monday could bring heavy bursts of rain, gusty winds and maybe some thunderstorms to Vermont, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Follow The Bouncing Temperatures: It's Spring After All

Spring continues to progress nicely, despite
the usual swings in temperatures
Up here in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast, spring always means that temperatures almost always, well, spring from one extreme to the other. 

We saw that over the weekend, and we're seeing that for the rest of the week. Skies are certainly changeable, too. 

This past Saturday and Sunday sure had two personalities, didn't they?

Saturday was damp and chilly, the kind of day you curl up on the couch with a hot chocolate, and maybe a nice purring cat or happy dog.

Sunday was glorious, as temperatures soared into the 60s under sunshine and blue skies. If you didn't get outside Sunday, you missed out.

I do know the daffodils in my yard loved Sunday's weather and went into bloom mode accordingly.

Now we're into the work week. And we're still going to be following the bouncing temperatures.

Today's weather depend upon which part of the state you're in. In northern Vermont, today started pretty cloudy and chilly.

The clouds will gradually melt away this morning, but it won't be nearly as warm as Sunday. Low to mid 50s should do it.

This is all due to a weak cold front that settled south through the region early this morning. In southern Vermont and southern New England, the cold front will have even less oomph, so look for more 60 degree readings down there today.

Tomorrow will have the opposite regime, with temperatures turning cooler the more south and east you go, with somewhat warmer temperatures north and west.

A coastal storm is gathering over the southeastern United States. It's being boosted by this weird storminess that by my reading actually has some tropical characteristics. It was off the Florida coast this morning, and will combine with the coastal storm somewhere near North Carolina tonight.

As an aside, it's awfully early to keep getting these tropical storm wannabes this early in the season. We had Tropical Storm Arlene in the North Atlantic last week, and now this.

I sincerely doubt today's system will turn into a tropical storm, but it is weird.

In any event, this storm will dump quite a lot of rain in the mid-Atlantic states today. Flood watches and warnings are already up for the Carolinas and parts of Virginia.

There has already been quite of flooding in downtown Charleston, South Carolina this morning. Flooding has also been reported in eastern Tennessee.

Up here in New England, the storm will create a raw east wind. Water temperatures are normally the lowest of the season off the Northeast coast, so east winds this time of year create chilly weather, fog, drizzle and rain. Especially the closer to the coast you get.

Most of the eastern half of New England will stay in the 40s Tuesday. That includes the southeastern half of Vermont.

Northwestern Vermont will be further away from the coast, so it will be a bit milder -- 50s should do it.

It will probably rain region wide Tuesday, but the steadiest rain will be toward the southeast. Rain to the northwest will be lighter and more showery.

Next, we follow the bouncing temperatures again, this time upward. The coastal storm will depart, and we'll get an air flow from the southwest starting Wednesday and continuing Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, temperatures will get well into the 70s. I wouldn't be surprised if we get a few spots near 80 degrees.

Friday, a cold front comes in, so temperatures will start to dip toward the weekend, but it won't get all that cold.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Best Of The March For Science On Earth Day

One of the signs at one of the Marches for Science on Saturday
I get it. The marches for science around the world on Saturday, Earth Day, were not all about climate.

This is a weather and climate blog, so I'm co-opting things a little bit from the scientists.

However, we can't escape the fact that much of the energy from the Marches for Science was a rebellion against science denial, and specifcially, denial of climate change.

Turnout, as expected was great. There were marches in all 50 states and in more than 600 cities around the world.

I'll (mostly) let people smarter than me decide whether these marches will advance activism on climate change, or change people's minds about the issue.

I've heard concerns that marches like  Saturday's are making science political. After all, it seems lately that liberals are tending to go for the fact based stuff and the extreme right (not the moderate GOP) seem to think that any fact that doesn't fit their world view is "fake news."

The climate deniers are the worst offenders with this. I heard somebody quoted this way and it make sense: Science has indeed become political but it's bipartisan. In other words, only the extreme wackos call scientific facts "fake news"

The debate now in climate change and other issues concerning science is do we find conservative or liberal or centrist solutions? These are obvioiusly debates worth having.

I guess I'll just devote the rest of this column to a somewhat more shallow look at the the marches: That means, the most entertaining moments, the weirdest, the most meaningful snapshots.

This was a very common sign at the Marches for Science.
After all, if you're going to engage people in any issue, you want to draw them in. Make them enthusiastic about what's going on.

People think science and scientists are  boring.  They're not. The Marches for Science Saturday I think was the coming out party for knowledge.

Of course, if it's a science march, things change a little bit from traditional demonstrations.

The usual chant at protests is: "What do we want?" "X" "When do we want it? "Now"

This time, the chant was "What do we want?   "Evidence-based science!" 
"When do we want it?!?"   "After peer review!"

As always, people got creative with signs during the marches.

One of my favorite signs was "Science is a cure for bullshit."

One of the saddest signs I saw was "I can't believe I'm marching for facts." Yeah, that is depressing isn't it?

The second-saddest sign I saw was, "Society should worry when geeks have to demonstrate."

Still, people want to stay optimistic. So one sign read, "Think like a proton: Stay positive"

Specifically to climate change: one popular sign captured the urgency of climate change: "Rise up before the oceans do."

Many people carried signs the read "Make Earth Cool Again," in reference to our already climatic-driven overheated plantet.

Another sign referenced President Donald Trump's climate denial and his shyness about revealing his finances: "Climate change is real. Donald'$ Net Worth is Not."  (The dollar sign is not a typo.)

And this gem: "Sticking your head in the sand is not a solution to global warming.  Your ass will still get very hot."

Animals were well represented in the marches. Which is effective. Everybody loves animals. Most people want to protect them. So this is great marketing.

A sled dog at one march carried a sign that read, "Climate change is melting my home."

As with all protest marches, it remains to be seen whether the Marches for Science have any real effect. But at least it puts politicians on notice that people who believe in a fact-based world are a very large constituency.

And they vote.