Friday, June 22, 2018

As Expected, A Chilly Vermont Summer Morning, And Those Floods Just Keep Coming

A large rose bush enjoys wall to wall sunshine on the longest day
of the year, the Summer Solstice yesterday in Burlington, Vermont. 
It was great to have a Summer Solstice, as we did Thursday that was wall-to-wall clear skies and sunshine here in Vermont. That's certainly not something that happens every year.

And here's the weirder thing. I was out late working in the yard because visibility stayed great past 9 p.m. I finally went inside, not because it was too dark but because I was getting too cold. Ahh, summer in Vermont.

There were reports of readings of 33 and 34 degrees up in the Northeast Kingdom this morning. Similar readings were reported in northern New Hampshire. It was 30 degrees over in Saranac Lake, New York, so they had another June frost over there. They just had one last week, too.

It will warm up today, and after a showery, coolish weekend, and a somewhat cool start to the week, things will get warmer and more humid by the second half of the upcoming week. There are even some signs we could get a strong heat wave somewhere around the week of July 4.

Elsewhere in the nation, the floods I've been speaking of go on and on. They're never that widespread, but they are intense.

Flooding at the Richmond, Virginia airport
this morning. 
The latest victim was Richmond, Virginia, where more than seven inches of rain came down early this morning. A whopping 4.55 inches of that rain come in just one hour --- that's incredible. The rainfall rate at one point was five inches per hour.

As you might imagine, the flooding in and around Richmond is severe. The Richmond International Airport was closed this morning because swaths of the airfield, the parking lots and the roads leading to the airport were under water. Parts of Interstate 64 were also closed for a time.

Areas further north in Virginia, including Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, also had significant flooding. This is Charlottesville's second nasty flood within a month.

By the way, this will be the second consecutive month in Richmond with over ten inches of rain. That's also completely off the charts.

Meanwhile, coastal Texas is still trying to recover from flooding this week. Port Aransas, devastated by Hurricane Harvey last year, drowned under 15 inches of rain from the tropical downpours this week.

Flood warnings were widespread this morning in southeastern South Dakota, northwestern Iowa and southwestern Minnesota after three to eight inches of rain this week.

Today, further flash flooding is a fairly good bet from the Mid-Atlantic states to the Ohio Valley. The threat spreads back to parts of the Plains over the weekend.

We have more videos:

McAllen, Texas, ground zero for the national crisis over immigrant children separated from parents, is also dealing with very severe flooding:



Earlier this week, there was some destructive flooding in and near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here's the scene in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania:

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Slightly Autumnal Feel To The First Day Of Summer

It's officially astronomical summer, and time to enjoy the great outdoors
This photo was taken during a heat wave a few years ago. But this year,
the first day of summer is actually on the cool side in Vermont.
Today's the first day of astronomical summer, the longest day of the year. It feels, however, just a bit like the autumnal equinox. It is a slightly chilly start to summer here in Vermont.

But don't worry! That doesn't mean the entire summer will be cold.

Actually, this cool first day of summer is quite pleasant from my perspective.

You can do anything outdoors and not melt from the heat. The sun is out, so it's not that cold, but the humidity is low, and there's a breeze. What's not to love?

Highs today will be in the upper 60s to mid 70s, which actually is only a little bit below normal for this time of year and certainly nothing all that unusual.

The coolness will linger off and on into the weekend and early next week. Tonight, temperatures will get down into the 40s across the entire region. So a good night for sleeping. Some of the cold hollows in the Adirondacks and Northeast Kingdom of Vermont could get into the 30s. I wouldn't even be surprised to see a touch of first night of summer frost in places like Saranac Lake, New York.

Temperatures will rebound nicely to normal summer levels Friday, but clouds and eventually showers moving in for Saturday and Sunday will keep temperatures on the cool side. On Sunday, another cold front arrives, which will keep temperatures a bit on the coolish side early next week before it warms up again.

Of course, we're talking about astronomical summer. Meteorological summer is considered to run from June 1 through August 31. For the record, June so far in Vermont has had temperatures averaging pretty close to normal.




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flash Flooding, Other Storms Continue To Plague Nation

Good Samaritans rescue a 70 year old man from a flooded car in
Rockford, Illinois Monday.
Flash flooding is turning into a big problem in many different parts of the nation this week. Other storms have produced big hail and even a couple New Hampshire tornadoes.

I mentioned the Houghton, Michigan flood the other day. Other hard hit areas include Rockford, Illinois.

Many homes and businesses, including a hospital, were flooded there, and motorist were rescued from stranded cars. Three to five inches of rain fell in Rockford in just a few hours.

Parts of Texas, such as Port Arthur, hit so hard by Hurricane Harvey flooding last year, went under water again.

Snow plows clear heavy accumulations of hail from a highway
in Colorado this week. 
Today, the greatest risk of additional flooding includes coastal Texas and Louisiana, and an area around southeastern South Dakota and Iowa. (I hope the sump pumps are working great in my mother-in-law's house in Yankton, South Dakota!)

Meanwhile, the problem in Colorado was hail, especially in Greeley, Boulder and the Denver suburb of Aurora.

Some of the hailstones were the size of tennis balls, so you can imagine how many cars and roofs were damaged in these heavily populated areas.

Finally, we talked yesterday about those tornado warnings Monday in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.  

It turns out two tornadoes were confirmed in New Hampshire. A hiker in the White Mountains took a photo of a weak tornado skipping across the hills and forests around Lincoln, New Hampshire. Another tornado, and EFO with 75 mph winds, took a nine mile path near Bath, New Hampshire.

Here's some videos:

First,  a rescue from a flooded car in Rockford, Illinois:



Here water in Rockford gushes into a hospital:



Here's an intense hail storm in Greeley, Colorado:



In Greeley, hail washed into a low spot in one neighborhood and ended up being two to three feet deep, as this news clip shows:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New England's Newly Tornadic Reputation Got Another Boost Monday

A storm near Barre, Vermont Monday. Photo via Twitter, Geoff Marion
The other day, I mentioned in this blog thingy that the Northeastern United States is having an unusually tornadic year, even if the nation as the whole is relatively quiet on the twister front.

New England's tornadic reputation was burnished Monday when more tornado warnings were issued in central Massachusetts, and in of all places, the rugged White Mountains region of northern New Hampshire.

It remains to be seen as to whether any of the rapidly rotating storms detected on radar Monday actually produced tornadoes that touched down. But they might have. I imagine National Weather Service meteorologists might be looking for evidence of that today.

But certainly, funnel clouds were sighted in northern New Hampshire, and what appeared to be a rapidly rotating wall cloud was filmed over Granby, Massachusetts.

Certainly, there was plenty of wind damage to trees and power lines and such across much of New England. That includes here in Vermont, though there were no tornado warnings and no obvious signs of  twisters in the Green Mountain State.

Some of highlights of the Vermont damage included a damaged barn and numerous snapped off trees in Waitsfield, trees down on Interstate 89 near Waterbury and Interstate 91 in Orange County. Part of Route 7A near Shaftsbury were closed by downed trees and power lines.
Possible funnel cloud in Durham, New Hampshire Monday. Photo
 by Julie Smith

At least we got some needed rain. In some cases lots of it. In a few cases, almost too much. Burlington, got 2.29 inches of rain Monday, a record high precipitation level for the date.

I have to check but I think Monday was Burlington's wettest day in at least a year, if not more.

Flash flooding was reported in northwestern New York. And I'm sure there were some washed out or eroded road edges and driveways in parts of the Champlain Valley and down the Winooski River Valley in central Vermont as big rains fell in short periods of time.

Jericho reported 1.44 inches of rain from just one thunderstorm. The same initial thunderstorm Monday afternoon dumped 1.81 inches of rain on Middlesex. We did need the rain. It was super dry around my house in St. Albans before Monday.

Then, a pair of downpours blustered through in the afternoon, and then we had several hours in the evening in which it rained constantly, sometimes fairly heavily.

The rest of the week looks nice, with plenty of sun and comfortable temperatures and humidity levels. It looks like it will rain again this coming weekend. At this point, it doesn't look like we're in line for any severe thunderstorms, but there might be locally heavy rain again.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Heat, Strong Storms, Local Flash Floods. It's Summer

Some thunderstorms today in Vermont could have torrenetial rains,
and might cause local flooding like this storm did last
August in Burlington
After a night that proved increasingly muggy, we've got a classic Vermont summer day coming up today. Not classic as in beautiful, like, say Friday afternoon and Saturday were.

I'm talking oppressively hot, with lots of afternoon showers and thunderstorms around. Forecasters still think some of the storms might be strong to severe, and there is a risk of one or two towns getting a flash flood today.

First, the heat. Temperatures won't be too extraordinary, but hot enough. The humidity is what's going to make today nasty. There is a heat advisory up for the Champlain Valley and southeastern Vermont. Afternoon readings before the storms will get up to near 90 degrees, but the humidity will make it fell like it's in the upper 90s.

Today is not the day you want to move that big rock pile or run a marathon. Save it for another day, bub.

There is a cold front coming in from the northwest, which means this heat and humidity is here just for today. It'll be gone tomorrow. Of course, we have to get through lots of showers and thunderstorms ahead of the cold front this afternoon and evening.

Most of us will just get garden variety storms, except many of the storms will have some torrential rain.

Early this morning, there were already some showers and storms in the Northeast Kingdom, and also just north of the Canadian border above Highgate, Vermont.

The storms will increase in coverage and intensity this afternoon. Some storms will contain microbursts, which, as I described yesterday, are intense blasts of wind and rain coming down from a collapsing thunderstorm. Microbursts cover only a small area, but the wind in these things is dangerous, and can cause a lot of damage.

We could use the rain, as it has been dry. Yet, forecasters still say one or two towns could get a flash flood out of today's weather pattern.

Most of the storms will be moving right along, so they won't sit over any particular area for a long time. That means they won't have time to dump enough rain to cause much more than some minor street flooding and a bit of erosion on your hilly driveway.

However. There's always a however. A few places might get what are known as training thunderstorms. The storms will be lined up like boxcars on a railroad track. Which means one storm after another would hit a particular place. That would be enough to cause flash flooding in the spots where the training thunderstorms hit.

The weird thing about training is one town might have some damaging flash floods while communities just a couple miles away, outside the storms, are just fine. You don't know much in advance where this will hit.

So, the best thing to do today is take it easy. Stay in the AC if you can. Listen for severe thunderstorm  and/or flash flood warnings today, and if you're area is covered by one of these alerts, get inside a nice sturdy building. Unless the nice sturdy building is in a flood prone area. Then go up to higher ground.

At least the storminess we're getting today is not nearly as bad as it was in places like Wisconsin and Michigan. There, the flash flooding was pretty extreme. As an example, here are some scenes from hilly Houghton, in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan:



Another dramatic video from Michigan:

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cape Town, South Africa Rejoices In Flash Floods; U.S., Not So Much

Reservoirs near Cape Town, South Africa are beginning to refill with
recent heavy rains, meaning a water crisis is at least temporarily averted.
For the third time this month, a major cold front smasing  into the area around Cape Town, South Africa, promising heavy rain and gusty winds.

Sounds miserable, especially after a rather wet and gloomy May, but a lot of people in and around Cape Town are delighted with the stormy weather.

CAPE TOWN RELIEF

When last we left Cape Town in this here blog thingy, the major city in South Africa was about to run out of water.

Sometime this spring, (which is autumn in the southern hemisphere, where Cape Town is) the city of about 3.7 million would run out of water due to a long, punishing drought. The plan was to haul in water from elsewhere, and give everyone a measly 25 liters per person every day at distribution sites, which is logistically very tricky. And 25 liters isn't really much water for a person's needs.

Thank goodness the rains came. Cape Town is by no means out of the woods, but reservoirs have partly refilled with the recent rains. And more precipitation is forecast this week. Again, it won't solve all the problems there, but it's a good start. Disaster has been averted for now.

Some of the storms have been heavy enough to produce some flash flooding in and are Cape Town this month. But given the apocalyptic warnings of no water this year, it seems people there are accepting the local bouts of high water on city streets.

UNITED STATES FLASH FLOODS

As usual back here in the United States, summer storms have created some pretty nasty flash floods in the past couple of days. Ground zero so far seems to be northern Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin and pieces of northwestern Michigan.

Two to 12 inches of rain fell in much of northern Wisconsin since yesterday, and flash flooding was widespread. Major highways in the region are washed out, says Minnesota Public Radio, and flash flood emergencies were in effect this morning.
Highway 23 in Minnesota was washed away by flash flooding last night. 

Thing are still ominous out there today. As of early afternoon, the flash flood region in Minnesota and Wisconsin was under a tornado watch. The storms that could cause those tornadoes will also likely unleash more heavy rain, so more flooding is still a big risk.

VERMONT STORMS?

Monday could be an interesting day in parts of Vermont with the risk of strong storms, and despite the recent very dry conditions, the slight possibility of flash floods exists around here, too.

You might have noticed this Sunday afternoon it's gotten pretty damn hot, with temperatures well into the 80s in many spots in Vermont by 1 p.m. The humidity isn't too bad -- yet.

But the humidity will dramatically increase later today and tonight, and as I mentioned yesterday, water in the atmosphere will be at near record highs across Vermont Monday.

Meanwhile, a cold front is sagging south from Canada. Before it arrives, Monday will become a miserable day, with afternoon temperatures approaching 90. That'll be combined with unbearable humidity levels.

The humidity and the approaching cold front will trigger plenty of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. A few could be severe. The biggest threat is from local microbursts. Individual microbursts rarely affect an area more than a couple miles in circumference, but they are very dangerous. 

They come when strong updrafts in a thunderstorm keep lots and lots of rain and hail suspended in the atmosphere. Then the thunderstorm loses the updraft and all that rain and hail comes crashing down to Earth in a giant gust of wind, blinding rain and hail. Microbursts can cause lots of damage, because the winds are so strong and the incredible amount of rain that can accompany them sometimes create flash floods.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma currently has all of Vermont in a slight risk zone for severe storms on Monday.

Forecasters also have us in a slight risk zone for flash flooding. As noted, it has been dry, so it would take lots of rain to cause a flash flood. There's no chance that there will be widespread flooding in Vermont with the expected downpours on Monday. There is a big however, however.

If a few torrential storms go over the same area, a couple local towns could get some dangerous flash floods along small streams, creeks, ditches and what not.

As a result, NOAA has northern New England and northern New York, including all of Vermont in a slight risk zone for flash flooding on Monday. 

We'll have updates to this on Monday morning.

Friday, June 15, 2018

After A Chilly Thursday, A Shot Of Steamy Summer Heat Coming. Storms Too?

Well, Thursday was kind of a bleak one in northern Vermont wasn't it? Overcast, patches of drizzle, temperatures in the low 60s.   
The cool weather over the past couple of days has let my peonies hang
on in my St. Albans, Vermont gardens, but a spell of hot, humid
weather will likely make them go past their prime this weekend. 

It was even worse in northern Maine. Up in Caribou, the high temperature Thursday got all the way up to 50 degrees. Yeah, chilly. It set a record for the date for the lowest high temperature on record. 

The cool, clammy air hung on into this morning, with patches of light rain here and there.

At least if you don't like hot weather, you were happy, right?

If so, you won't be. We haven't had too much in the way of oppressive humidity so far this late spring and summer, but a spell of sticky, rather hot air is coming in for Sunday and Monday.

Temperatures could get up to 90 degrees in a few Vermont spots Sunday afternoon, with most places well up into the 80s. The humidity, which is low today and won't be so bad Saturday, will get increasingly awful Sunday afternoon.

Sunday night will be a terribly oppressive night for quote, unquote sleeping, and Monday will be a miserably sticky day, too. This won't last long, but as temperatures and humidity will settle back down. 

To give you an idea of how humid it will be, precipitable water levels in the air over Vermont - one measure of moisture - will be at near record high levels late Sunday through Monday.

That sets the stage for some potentially torrential rain with some thunderstorms through that period. The first batch of storms could cross the border from Canada as soon as late Sunday afternoon or evening, but most of the activity will probably hold off until Sunday night and Monday. 

Terrific. In addition to all that humidity Sunday night, the potential is for it be quite loud out there. Don't plan on much sleep then. 

On one hand, we could use the rain. The cold front that came through Wednesday night didn't really produce a lot of heavy thunderstorms. The rain that came yesterday through this morning was quite light, so it's still pretty dry out there. 

On the other hand, it's possible the storms Sunday night and Monday might be a too much of a good thing. It's too soon to tell for sure, but despite the dry soils and the very low river levels currently across Vermont, there's still a chance of local flash flooding. Not a huge chance at this point, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Here's why: With such high precipitable water levels in the atmosphere, thunderstorm rains could really be extremely heavy. And there are some signs there could be "training" thunderstorms, which means a line of storms each going over the same spot, like boxcars traveling down a set of train tracks 

Training storms are a great way to produce a flash flood. 

Again, no reason to panic now.  At this point anyway, if any flash flooding occurs, and that's a HUGE if, it would be pretty localized.

Most of us will just end up with wetter gardens, which right now is a good thing.