Saturday, July 29, 2017

Istanbul, Turkey Gets The Bad Weather Award Of The Week: Extreme Hail, Flooding

People struggle through hail and debris during an epic
storm in Istanbul, Turkey this week.
Istanbul, Turkey probably had the world's worst weather this week.

On Thursday, an epic hail and wind storm and flash flood struck the sprawling city, injuring 10 people and, as you might expect, caused widespread damage.

Countless car and building windows were blown out, a number of roofs collapsed and flooding caused additional destruction.

Thursday's storm also knocked a crane over onto some oil barrels, setting off a large fire. An airliner had to make an emergency landing after hail badly damaged its front cone.

This was the second severe, very damaging storm in Istanbul this month.

Here's hail at least as big as baseballs hitting a street inundated by the flash flood:

Here's a video compilation, which includes outdoor tables at a restaurant disappearing into the maw of the storm, traffic navigating through the hail with car windows blown out, and flash flooding in the streets of Istanbul:

I don't know the veracity of this video, so it could well be a fake joke, fake news, but it's supposedly an Istanbul reporter outside in the storm who is perhaps too dedicated to her job.

Reputable news organizations have also shared this video, so I'm assuming they checked and it's legit. In any event, it's goofy enough to post:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Weird Summer Nor'easter To Drown Parts Of East Coast

Flooding in Pennsylvania this past week. An out of season
nor'easter could make flooding there and in nearby states
worse in the coming two days. Photo by @SeanSimmers from
Nor'easters are normally creatures of the winter.

These strong, windy winter storms are notorious for causing blizzards, tidal floods and high winds in the Mid-Atlantic states and Northeast during the cold season, but these nor'easters usually go away for summer vacation.

Not this year.

A nor'easter is set to flood parts of the Mid-Atlantic states and maybe a few places in the Northeast with torrential downpours.

Nor'easters do sometimes happen in mid-summer, but they're pretty rare. Summer nor'easters, this one included, are not as strong or as windy as their winter counterparts.

However, being summer, and the fact that warm air can hold more moisture than cold, this nor'easter looks like it will be a blockbuster in terms of heavy rain.

The bullseye zone for this looks to be around Maryland, northern Virginia, West Virginia Washington DC, Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and a good chunk of New Jersey.

Flooding seems inevitable there later today and tomorrow. The only question is how bad it will be.

It's already been wet down there lately. For instance,  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania got 4.27 inches of rain in just an hour Sunday, though that was a highly localized event. Still, the region under the flood watch has had a series of soaking thunderstorms over the past week or more.

The storm will stay offshore and be suppressed to the south and east. That means southern New England might get some rain, and some raw and gusty northeast winds out of this thing.

Here in Vermont, we can relax and enjoy a gorgeous weekend, as we will be too far to the north and west to be affected by this nor'easter. The storm might throw some high, thin clouds our way, especially in southern part of the Green Mountain State, but it won't be that big a deal.

We here in Vermont can expect to be in a meteorological sweet spot again today through Sunday, with sun and normal to slightly below normal temperatures and low humidity.

The reason: That nor'easter is going to make an area of high pressure, which contains fair weather, to pretty much stall nearby. The unseasonable nor'easter, then, is giving Vermont a dose of Chamber of Commerce weather.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Yes, Punish Criminals But Giving Them Heat Stroke Is Cruel And Unusual Punishment

People being held in this St. Louis jail during a recent heat
wave yelled for help from inside the building, which
lacks air conditioning, as temperatures got up over 100 degrees.
The other day I saw a disturbing video of inmates in a St. Louis jail screaming for help as heat in the building climbed to over 100 degrees.

The "Workhouse" as the local jail is called, is largely without air conditioning, and St. Louis summers can get torrid.

This was another example of how jailers use summer heat to punish prisoners beyond what they were sentenced to, and the whole thing is terrible.

I'm all for punishing criminals and getting them off the streets, but putting them in prisons without air conditioning in places that get very hot in the summer ought to be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

In some cases, people intervened, or lawsuits were filed to force the air conditioning, but often times even these efforts don't work.

In the St. Louis instance, some help arrived. Most of the people in the Workhouse were people who were awaiting trial and had not been able to post bail, so local community organizations raised money to release some of those that had been jailed on bail, according to 

A demonstration erupted in front of the Workhouse too, as the public demanded better conditions in the building.

And finally, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson ordered that portable, industrial-size air conditioners be installed in the Workhouse.

But why did it take public pressure after years of trouble at this building?

In even hotter Texas, state prison officials have been dragging their feet and not getting air conditioning for prisons there, most of which are not cooled.

According to the Texas Tribune:

"The lack of cooling in Texas prisons has thrown both controversy and an ongoing class-action lawsuit onto the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Inmates at another Texas prison claim that heat constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and argue that prison housing should be kept at a maximum of 88 degrees."

A federal judge in Houston recently agreed, ordering air conditioning for medically-sensitive inmates at one jail near College Station.

But of course the state of Texas is appealing that ruling, because they want to seem tough on crime. Kill a few inmates with heat stroke, even if they weren't sentenced to death, and that will make everybody feel good, apparently.

Texas maintains the air conditioning would be too expensive, yet Texas has spent $2.1 million and counting defending itself against the prison heat lawsuits.

There is even a more extreme case: In Phoenix, an overcrowded jail prompted former evil sheriff Joe Arpaio to create an outdoor tent jail, forcing inmates to endure temperatures of up to 120 degrees. 

Arpaio, of course, seemed to enjoy doing this to inmates. He was finally voted out of office last year and officials pledged to remove the outdoor tent jail.

But it was still up this June, and about 380 inmates were still there as temperatures reached 120 degrees, and dropped all the way down to 90 degrees at night.

Jail officials assured us they were giving the inmates all the ice water and ice cubes they want. Oh, as if that would help in that kind of weather.

At least there's fewer inmates in that tent jail, and they're still promising to take it down.

We'll see.

I just worry that one day, we'll have a lot of heat stroke victims in jail, combined with a terrible prison riot. This all could come back to bite prison officials in Texas, Missouri and elsewhere.

Here's the video out of St. Louis:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wild, Funny Video Of People Fleeing Hail At A Fair In Canada

In this screen grab, fairgoers in Red Deer, Alberta us
Westerner Days in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada this past week was a rousing success, despite a glitch that forced the fair to close an hour early on Sunday, the Red Deer Advocate informs us. 

First it hailed like crazy, but that's OK. The storm passed and it turned sunny and warm for a few hours. Then it got windy and they had to close the fair down, the Advocate says. 

The best part of the disruptions, though, judging from the video you'll see below, was the hailstorm.

Gawd, you have to love Canadians' reaction to that country's sometimes volatile weather. First we had that now famous guy who mowed his lawn while a large tornado loomed behind him.

Then there was one of the videos I featured the other day, in which the guy calmly applied fungicide to his farm fields while another tornado loomed behind him.

And now we have Westerner Days in Red Deer, which pelted fairgoers with large hail, forcing them to flee into nearby pavillions.

I just love the reaction of the people fleeing. Some held folding chairs over their heads to fend off the hail. Then there's the woman pushing a little pink toy car through the hail, for reasons unknown. Another fleeing woman took care to hang on tight to the fair food she had just purchased. Wouldn't want it to go to waste.

The piece de resistance was the groups of people cooperating to hold tables over their heads as they strived to get out of the hail.

This video from the Weather Network is priceless.  Watch:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Welcome To Our Brief Autumn Preview

This might not be what you want to
see right now, but today will feel
like fall, although much more
dreary than in this photo. 
Normally, in late July, high temperatures get to the low 80s.

It'll be as much as 20 degrees cooler than that. Today will be our reminder that, though there's plenty of summer left, it won't last forever.

Often in mid-winter, we get a January thaw, which gives us a break from the snow and cold. It's a real climatological thing: There does tend to be a slight warmup, on average, in the third week of January. Then we get back to mid winter conditions until a real uptick in temperatures starts in mid to late February.

The July fall preview is not a climatological thing. I so far haven't found concrete evidence that temperatures tend to slump a bit in late July before recovering.

However, I have noticed, anecdotally, that we often do get a cool spell sometime between mid-July and early August that gives a case of mid-summer chills.

This year's is more obvious than many others. It started in Maine yesterday. While temperatures here in Vermont weren't that far off from normal on Sunday, a remote corner of far northern Maine actually got below freezing Sumday morning.

Today, a huge slug of rain is moving across New York and New England. The warm, muggy air has been suppressed south. With no sun and plenty of precipitation, temperatures this afternoon will be more typical of mid to late September than July.

The high temperature for today in Burlington already happened early this morning at 69 degrees. We'll stay in the low 60s all day today. On Tuesday, most places will top out between 60 and 70 degrees.

There's going go be an awful lot of rain today and tonight, too, though flooding won't be widespread.

However, there is already a flash flood warning in a corner of northwestern New York and there may be a few other local trouble spots today, especially in New York where the rain is expected to be heaviest.

On the bright side for us, at least, the really heavy rain is hitting much further south. For instance, there was a lot of flash flooding problems in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey yesterday, including in the Philadelphia area.

Plus, it'll be back to summer soon. I still don't see any signs of a big heat wave coming in. Still,  temperatures will pop back up to near normal Wednesday, and stay that way at least into next weekened.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dramatic Videos Show The Weather Could Always Be Worse Where You Are

A five story building begins to topple into a
river in China during severe floods recently. Video
is below. 
It's a somewhat cloudy Sunday, and us Vermonters are destined to endure a very rainy, quite chilly Monday.  

As Trump would tweet: Sad!

To prove it could always be worse, what follows are some videos that show some pretty dramatic storms elsewhere in the world. T

hey will make you happy that your biggest weather problem is a dreary, wet and cold midsummer start to the workweek.

The bad weather has hit all corners of the world, as you'll see.

For starters, we've had a week of repeated severe storms stretching from South Dakota, through the Great Lakes and on into the Mid-Atlantic states. (There was even a rogue, isolated severe thunderstorm Saturday in southern Addison and Rutland counties in Vermont, but I don't think there was widespread damage.)

Not true elsewhere, though, as this video of a terrible hailstorm Tuesday in South Dakota. The hail, with wind, even managed to split a tree in this view of a back yard during the storm:

New Zealand has been hit this past week by a massive winter storm. (Southern Hemisphere, so it's winter there.)

Some areas received up to 10 inches of rain. One of the hard hit cities was Churchchrist, which has had a rough time in recent years. That city had a destructive, deadly earthquake in 2011.

Here's a video from New Zealand:

Farmers have to work in all kinds of weather, and Clinton Monchuk this past week was spraying fungicide on his malt barley fields near Lanigan, Saskachewan, Canada, and was accompanied on  his chores by a tornado:

In Cornwall, England, severe flash flooding hit this week and several people had to be rescued.

Here's a view that includes massive amounts  of flood water flowing into the sea:

Finally, this includes some of the most dramatic footage: Watch a truck and a building fall into rivers amid severe flooding in China in the past few days:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cooler, Wetter Weather Coming To Vermont, But Nice Weekend!

Flowers on my back deck in St. Albans, Vermont enjoy
some evening sunshine after a thundershower earlier
in the day this past Monday. It's gotten less wet in
Vermont for now, but a soaker is coming.
With some local exceptions, where isolated thunderstorms bullseyed some towns this week, Vermont has dried out from that super wet period we had in June and early July.

It's not exactly a drought out there, but I have found myself watering some recently transplanted garden additions quite a bit this past week at my hacienda in St. Albans, Vermont.

Bonus: The mud around the property has dried up, but of course mosquitoes remain a headachy hangover from our very wet June.

Showers and storms have generally detoured around the National Weather Service office in South Burlington, Vermont so far this month. July precipitation there is actually running about an inch below normal.

Still, I definitely don't have to worry too much about any kind of impending dry spell. It's going to turn very wet again.

A few days ago, I promised a sharp cool down by today.  Hasn't happened yet. It will be a bit cooler today and Sunday, but it turns out the real chilly air doesn't hit until Monday. Clouds and rain will contribute to that unseasonable coolness we expect.

There's dynamic but disorganized storminess that is gradually setting up shop over the eastern Great Lakes and the Northeast for a few days. Things are going to get very active in the northeastern quarter of the nation.

It's the type of mid-summer pattern that can lead to a nasty, rather widespread outbreak of severe thunderstorms and flash flooding in the Northeast.

That looks like it will happen over the next few days, but not so much here in Vermont. We'll be in the sweet spot in which we'll get a generous, soaking rain, and maybe some thunder, but nothing super extreme. The severe weather will be in the southern and eastern Great Lakes and in the mid-Atlantic states today through Monday.

As the wetter pattern sets up, a weak cold front is dropping through northern and central New England with very little fanfare today. That'll make it a few degrees cooler than yesterday but still nice.

Yesterday, Burlington, Vermont just missed reaching 90 degrees, topping out at 89. That means it's quite unlikely we will have any 90 degree days this July at all. It's been a number of years since we've had a July that lacked 90-degree weather.

(Still, even with the chilly days coming up Monday and Tuesday, temperatures for July look like they will come out somewhere close to normal. )

Sunday will be a bit cooler yet as sun fades behind increasing clouds, and the chances of rain really ramp up Sunday night and Monday in Vermont.

The rain might come down hard at times, and you might hear a rumble of thunder.

I doubt the rain will be enough to cause any flooding, but it's still worth watching in case the rain turns out even heavier than forecast.

NOAA's Weather Prediction Center has put Vermont in a marginal risk zone for flooding during this upcoming wet episode.

This is kind of a weird summer storm system, with a lot of moving parts. That means there's a good chance that adjustments will have to be made in the forecast over the next three day here in Vermont, and basically everywhere in the eastern third of the country.

When things start to dry out midweek, it'll warm back up to near normal temperatures, but we here in the North Country are still going to avoid getting into the real hot air that's been hanging over the middle of the country.

Once again, we will be in the sweet spot: Not too hot, not too cold.