Monday, November 20, 2017

Traveling For Thanksgiving? Looks (Mostly) Great Nationwide

Fortunately, for the vast majority of Americans, Thanksgiving
travel won't look like this this year because there are
no large storms on the horizon.
It seems like every Thanksgiving, when people are traveling all over the country to talk turkey with their far-flung families, there's a big storm mucking things up in much of the nation.

Not this year.

Most of us are going to have a quiet Thanksgiving travel week, but of course there are a few exceptions.

Broadly, there is a general west to east air flow across the country, with no big southward dips or northward leaps in the jet stream.

That means no big storms can form, since there's no real opportunity for a wannabe storm to scoop large amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. And there's no big opportunity for Arctic air to plunge way south, which would set up a temperature contrast to spawn a big storm.

Instead, there are just little moisture-starved features zipping along, mostly along the northern tier of the United States.

That means not much precipitation, if, anywhere in almost all of the nation. It'll be rather chilly or the most part in the northern third of the country, but not extremely cold. The south and west of the country will be generally warm, especially in the southwest, say, southern California, Arizona and those areas, which could see record high temperatures over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Many of us will tune into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, and conditions look good there, too. At parade time, it will be sunny and chilly, with rather light winds so the giant inflatable characters in the parade will behave and not blow away.

One trouble spot would be the Pacific Northwest, where on onshore flow will probably bring a fair amount of rain and mountain snow, which would affect road travel and perhaps delay flights Wednesday.

It looks like some Gulf of Mexico moisture will head toward Florida so the Sunshine State isn't lookintg particularly sunny this Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, when a lot of us will be traveling back home, it looks like the same weather pattern will be holding, so I don't expect huge problems then, either.

Locally, here in Vermont, a cold front will zip on through, mostly Wednesday morning. We'll get some rain showers, changing to snow showers, especially in the mountains. There might be a few slick spots, mostly in the higher elevations, but no big mess.

Thanksgiving Day itself (when I travel from St. Albans to Rutland, Vermont) will have quiet weather, so if you have to drive somewhere in the Northeast, don't worry.

Safe travels, everyone and Happy Thanksgiving week!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Warm World Continued In October

Yearly global October temperatures from the
1880s to now. See a trend?
A strong cold front is sweeping past my house in northwestern Vermont this Sunday morning as I write this, and rain will soon change to snow showers.

It's going to be another chilly day, which has been the trend around here for the past couple of weeks.

However, the worldwide warmth seems to be continuing, at least as far as NOAA data from October is concerned.

NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information put out their monthly report late last week and said October on a global scale was the fourth warmest on record.

What makes coming in at Number 4 rather than Number 1 is that we are settling into a La Nina pattern in the Pacific, which tends to cool the world a little bit. The opposite, El Nino, warms the eastern Pacific and tends to make the entire globe a bit warmer. The record hot years of 2015 and 2016 were generally El Nino, or at least neutral years.

So far, 2017 is the third warmest year on record, with only 2015 and 2016 being hotter.

Here in Vermont, we contributed our tiny bit to make October the third hottest global one on record. Vermont had, by far, its hottest October on record.

So far here in Vermont, November is running a little cooler than normal, but that obiously won't have much of an effect on the overall global temperature readings for the month.

Because of global warming, we are permanently having warmer than normal months on a global basis. The only question about November is how much warmer than average will it be, and will it be another top 10 warmest November?

We'll watch that report when it comes out in another month.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Russians Have Problems Driving In The Winter, Too

Chaos in Vladivostok, Russia streets during the first
major snowstorm of the season. Image from RT.
Russia has a pretty wintry weather reputation, but that doesn't mean everybody can handle the cold season.  

The most recent example comes from Vladivostok, which had just had a slippery snowstorm (which is not at all unusual for mid-November in that city. )

It was the first major storm of the winter, which always seems to catch people off guard.

Like in cities in the United States and elsewhere, things did not go well on the roads and highways around Vladivostok.

The Russian news and propaganda agency RT says there were at least 256 accidents around the city due to the storm.

Let's not get too smug here in the U.S. There's already been plenty of winter-related car mishaps and there will be many, many more before winter ends.

The video below shows you the traffic jams and the wrecks that ensued during the snow in Vladivostok and is an instructional video of what not to do when it snows. Although the cat at the very end gets it right by staying indoors and just observing.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Geeky But Wicked Cool NASA Video Shows Sea Salt, Smoke And Hurricane Interaction

An image from NASA's visualization of aerosols in the
atmosphere during the hurricane season. The blue and
white swirls over the oceans are hurricanes and other
storms concentrating sea salt in the atmosphere. The ghostly
white stuff in western North America is smoke from wildfires.
I just came across a cool visualization video that shows how aerosols in the atmosphere such as sea salt, smoke from wild fires and dust from the Sahara Desert interact and move around the world.

I know, I know, it sounds just a bit dull and science-y, but definitely watch the video at the bottom of this post. It's mesmerizing. Even to people who aren't weather geeks.

Says NASA:

"This visualization uses data from NASA satellites, combined with mathematical models in a computer simulation (that) allows scientists to study physical processes in our atmosphere. By following the sea salt that is evaporated from the oceans, you can see the storms of the 2017 hurricane season."

That is perhaps the most striking feature of the video. You can see high concentrations of salt gathered up in strengthening and strong hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Maria and Ophelia.

A unique feature of Ophelia that you can see in the video is how it sucked up sea salt, like all hurricanes do, but also Saharan dust and smoke from deadly wildfires in Portugal, and that helps explain the odd smoky skies over Britain as Ophelia and its post-tropical remnants blustered through.

Another fascinating part of the video is how you can see wildfires break out in western and northern Canada, and in the western United States, then watch the smoke blow across the continent and over to  Europe and Asia.

The erupting wildfires are seen as dense pinpoint plumes of smoke before the smoke and ash disperse over wide areas.

The video sure helps explain why the sky was so often hazy and smoky over Vermont in August and September. A lot of wildfire smoke blew our way.

Smoke from the increasing trend of wildfires is raising health concerns as all the additional smoke from longer and more intense fire seasons is affecting human health, especially in areas relatively close to the fires.

You'll probably want to watch the video repeatedly to catch all the activity going on with the hurricanes, salt and smoke.

Here's the video:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Watch Out In Vermont During Friday A.M. Commute: Looks Icy To Me

A rainbow graced the November skies over St. Albans
Vermont Thursday. Snow will probably grace the ground
by Friday morning, with a dusting to two inches
likely in the valleys, maybe more in the mountains.
Today was a pleasant, classic November day in Vermont.

Lots of dark, brooding clouds overlooking a landscape of gray, leafless trees. Shafts of sunlight cut through the clouds, and a few rain showers managed to produce some rainbows to light up the otherwise dark late autumn vibe.

Also typical of November, things are about to change abruptly, as they always do this time of year.

It was pretty mild today, but a sharp cold front is on our doorstep. Upper level support, moisture - a lot of it from the Great Lakes - and favorable winds will give many of us some snow late tonight.

The weather set up looks like that - unlike last Friday - the snow showers will extend into the Champlain Valley. That means most of us are in for a dicey, icy Friday morning commute, not just the people who live up in the high elevations or in central Vermont away from the lake. Those places will get some snow, too, so it looks like we're all in for it.

There's a good chance Burlington could see its first measurable snowfall of the season. It won't be much - probably less than an inch - but with rapidly falling temperatures, melting snow will then refreeze on the roads.

The western slopes of the Green Mountains stand to get more snow out of this, probably one to three inches. And the summits of the central and northern Green Mountains, , like the top of Mount Mansfield and Jay Peak, could come in with six inches of fresh powder.

I'm sure that will encourage the skiers. The resorts are opening at a fast pace, thanks to chilly weather that is encouraging snow making. The snowfall tonight and tomorrow morning will just add to the mood.

Another storm over the weekend will produce first a little mix, then rain regionwide, then mountain snow showers Sunday. The mountains could pick up a few inches on Sunday.

Winter is settling in.

Flooding In Greece Kills At Least 14 Damage, More Floods Feared

Destruction from severe flash flooding in Greece
this week
The weather across the United States is relatively quiet, other than quite a bit of wind and rain over the Pacific Northwest. 

However, as usual, the weather isn't staying quiet in other parts of the world.

The worst and most tragic situation is in Greece, where flash flooding has killed at least 15 people and has left widespread destruction.

The hardest hit area seems to be a heavily populated region called Attica, near Athens. The Greek government has declared three days of mourning because of the disaster.

Forecasters fear a that the weather pattern over the Mediterranean will encourage more heavy rain and flooding in Greece over the next couple of days.

Here's a video of a the powerful floodwaters, and a Greek highway overrun with water, with scary results. It reminds me of an even worse version of the extremely frightening 2016 flash flood in downtown Ellicott City, Maryland.  

This video shows the destruction in the aftermath of the powerful flood:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

You MUST Skip Stones Across A Frozen Pond Or Lake

This dude reacts after, for the first time in his life,
he skipped a stone across a frozen lake.  He's
obviously amazed at the sound. 
As yesterday's weather proved in Vermont, there's usually not much  joy or action or beauty during November in the North Country.  

Typical of this time of year, it was overcast and dark and dreary and quiet and gray. A few snowflakes descended through the chilly air from time to time. The forests, now devoid of leaves, was as gray as the depressing sky.

So you've got to find the cool things. Here's one thing I have done, especially as a kid, that you should go out and do, too.

Ponds and quiet coves in lakes are beginning to freeze this time of year. Please don't walk out on the ice, as it's way too thin to support you. You'll fall through.

Instead, pick up a rock and skip it across the frozen surface. Many of us Vermonters and other northerners have done this, and it's rewarding for the cool sounds it makes. If you have not given yourself the pleasure of doing this, please do it!

If you want a preview, watch this guy's reaction when he tries this for the first time in his life.

Live Science explains why you get sci-fi sounds when you skip a rock out onto a frozen lake:

".......The lake ice acts like a vibrating plate. When the stone hits, the impact launches a bending wave           (also called a flexural wave) in the ice. The bending wave travels at supersonic speed and continuously radiates sound into the air while it zips forward (away from the impact).......Because short waves travel faster than long waves, the higher pitches, or frequencies, hit your ear first."

So, you hear the higher pitch sounds separated from the lower pitches that are combined when the rock hits the ice. You need to be a little distance away from impact. If you drop the rock on the ice next to you, you just get a boring thud. So give the rock a good throw when you try this.

I will surely find a frozen pond soon to do this, as I often do. I'm still a kid at heart.

Here's a video of what you'll hear: