Thursday, June 30, 2016

Second Day Of Awesome, Photogenic Storm Clouds Over Vermont

Storm clouds over farmland near Starksboro,
Vermont Wedensday afternoon 
Fresh off a Tuesday in Vermont that featured thunderstorms to frighten anyone wary of lightning, wind and flash flooding, another round of storms swept into New England Wednesday.

Like those on Tuesday, some of the storms prompted severe storm warnings, dumped hail, discharged  dangerous cloud to ground lightning and hightened local worries about flash floods.

Also, like Tuesday's storms, Wednesday's round of loud weather was quite photogenic.

The photos in this post are mine. Click on them to make them bigger and easier to see.

One of the stronger storms blew through Addison County, Vermont, especially around the town of Starksboro, dumping hail up to the size of quarters and as you can see in the photos, created some awesome clouds.
Turbulent skies over Hinesburg,
Vermont Wednesday. 

Later in the day, back home in St. Albans in the northwestern corner of Vermont, I used a long lens to capture a cluster of pretty intense looking storms far to my northeast.

There was no haze, so the view of them was crystal clear. They seemed closer than they were because of this.

When I checked the radar at the time, the storms were about 60 miles east, northeast of Montreal, or about 75 miles northwest of where I was standing.

After a sunny, pleasant day today, another strong cold front is going to move into New England Friday.  

I don't think there will be much in the way of severe thunderstorms, but there is a chance of such. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has much of New York State and the western edges of Vermont and Massachusetts in a marginal risk zone for severe storms.

But cloud cover in place before the thunderstorms get going Friday will probably limit the severe weather chances.

Still, there will be pockets of heavy rain with this, and the few places that really got drenched Tuesday and Wednesday could get some local flash flood issues if a particularly heavy rainer gets them again Friday afternoon or evening.
I used a long lens to capture this cluster of
storms visibile from St. Albans, Vermont
far to the north in Quebec 

This is especially true in the northern Adirondacks, the Northeast Kingdome of Vermont, northern New Hampshire and northwestern Maine, but even in these places the flood risk in any particular location is low.  

Friday's setup also doesn't bode well for particularly photogenic storms like Tuesday's and Wednesday's, but I can always hope, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Not Many Severe Storms, But Cool Pictures

Storm clouds over Georgia, Vermont
Tuesday looked tornadic, but there
was no rotatio. This was a shelf cloud
with a scud cloud beneath it.  
The strong storms in Vermont and New York on Tuesday didn't turn out to be too widespread in terms of severity, but at least they were photogenic.  

You can see some of the photos I took of the storms over northwestern Vermont in this post.

Click on them to make them bigger and easier to see.

We expected some strong to severe storms to develop Tuesday and they did, here and there. Most of them were in New York State, with very few if any of the strongest ones making it into Vermont.

There were, as expected, scattered reports of flash flooding, too, especially near Saranac Lake, New York and near Eden, Vermont a little southeast of Jay Peak.

We knew the cold front causing the potentially rough weather would slow down as it approached Vermont.  It actually stalled for a little while over New York, delaying the arrival of what would have been the strongest storms from arriving in Vermont.

By the time a lot of them did, they were weakening as the sun was going down. Sun adds energy to the atmosphere, and makes storms potentially stronger.

During the hottest part of the afternoon, some thunderstorms would turn at least potentially severe and try to run out ahead of the New York State cold front.
Roiling storm clouds over a Fairfield, Vermont
farm house on Tuesday. 

There were a couple severe storm warnings in parts of northwestern Vermont, but these storms weakened a bit as they exited New York State and got to the Green Mountain State.

That's because the storms ran out ahead of the best atmospheric energy and upper level wind fields as they got more and more away from the cold front.

Still, in far northwestern Vermont, in Swanton, I did experience a rather dramatic thunderstorm that featured and awesome shelf cloud, dime sized hail and wind gusts in the 50 to 55 mph range, I'd guess.

That storm did cause a little tree damage in some parts of Swanton.

Dime sized hail was also reported in South Hero, Vermont on Lake Champlain,

Some of the storms really were big rain makers. Around Saranac Lake, New York flash flooding blocked part of Route 86 and had Route 3 down to one lane, the National Weather Service office in South Burlington reported.

Storm clouds approach Swanton, Vermont Tuesday.  
In Eden Mills, Vermont, not far from the Canadian border, a whopping 2.9 inches of rain fell in an hour and 15 minutes, and a storm total of 4.8 inches came there in just three hours. That's as much rain as normally falls in five weeks this time of year.

The storm total came to 5.3 inches in Eden Mills. Woodstock, New Hampshire got 5.92 inches of rain. Wow!

The heavy rain was spotty. Radar estimates of the rainfall perhaps just ten miles away from Eden Falls put the rainfall total and less than a quarter inch.

Radar estimates of the rain show spot totals of over three inches east of Rutland and south of St. Johnsbury, but nearby areas had as little as a tenth of an inch.

By late afternoon at my St. Albans, Vermont house, about a half inch of rain had thankfully soaked my gardens. Meanwhile, just two miles up the road to the east of my house, everything was still dry and dusty.

Storm clouds over Milton, Vermont Tuesday  
It just depended on where the thunderstorms chose to roam, I guess.

Today, there will be more scattered showers and thunderstorms across northern New York and northern New England. There will be little if any severe weather.

However, storms in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, northern New Hampshire and western Maine might have small hail and gusty winds.

More scattered severe storms are possible with another cold front in northern New England Friday afternoon, but at this point I'm not expecting any kind of widespread outbreak of severe weather then.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Severe Weather Threat In Vermont, Surrounding Areas Today

A severe thunderstorm looms over St. Albans Bay,
Vermont a couple summers ago. There's a good
chance of similar scenes today.  

Storms began firing up in northern New York state around noon, right on schedule and as of 1:30 p.m. were expanding and strengthening.

A few were poised to make it into Vermont within the next hour two, all the while getting bigger.

There will probably be only pockets of wind damage from the handful of severe storms that will develop within the oncoming area of occasional thunderstorms.

That's a typical pattern with Northeastern severe outbreaks. A few towns get hit hard, while most just get a regular old noisy thunderstorm.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center issued a discussion of the situation at 1:09 EDT, and said they might or might not issue a severe thunderstorm watch for northern New York and western Vermont.

Wind flows are weak enough so that they're trying to decide whether there will be enough in the way of bad storms to warrant a severe thunderstorm watch.  Severe storms might end up being widely scattered at best. We'll see.

But these few severe ones can happen anywhere so watch out. Plus, the non-severe ones could still have a lot of lightning and gusty winds, so you'll still want to get inside.

It still looks like some of these storms might repeatedly hit a few areas of the hilly terrain of northeastern New York and most of Vermont, so local flash floods remain a threat throughout the day, despite the dry conditions we've seen this month.


I'd skip the hike or the boating excursion or the golf outing in Vermont today as we have a pretty damn good chance of some strong thunderstorms, which could turn severe in a few spots.

As I write this early Tuesday morning,  the sky is mostly clear over my weather hacienda in northwestern Vermont and the rest of the state.

Don't let that fool you. The sun will actually help create the storms that form today by adding heat and instability to the atmosphere.

A cold front is slowly coming in from the west and is pushing into the warm, humid air over us.

The timing is such that, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, the area with the highest risk of severe storms is all of Vermont, eastern New York, northwestern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

Strong winds and local flash floods are the biggest hazards from these storms in Vermont and surrounding areas.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington sees a scenario in which storms will fire up in the Adirondacks around noon or a little after that, march into the Champlain Valley by mid afternoon, get into central Vermont during the late afternoon or evening and east of the Green Mountains later in the evening or early tonight.

As you can see, this line or area of storms will move pretty slowly. So it's going to be a pretty active day for a lot of us.

Don't go out on the lakes in Vermont today, or you
might find yourself under a scary sky like this. 
As is always the case with this type of situation, not everybody will get a severe storm. In fact most of us won't. But be on the lookout.

You should have a weather radio today with you, or failing that, pay attention to local media who will relay any warnings as to what to do.

Following are the kinds of weather alerts you might hear today, the relative liklihood of them happening and what to do about them.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Pretty damn likely this afternoon.  That means just keep doing what you were going to do anyway, with the following exceptions:

Keep an eye to the sky and listen for upgrades to warnings from the National Weather Service. (Details on what to do in the warnings are coming up a couple paragraphs down.)

This morning is an excellent time to get stuff that can easily blow around, like lawn furniture, toys, garbage bins etc. indoors so they don't become projectiles if storms really get going this afternoon. You don't want your neighbor to be clonked in the head with your beach umbrella or bouncy house, do you?
Todays Storm Prediction Center forecast map.
Areas in yellow have the strongest chance of
severe storms. Note that Vermont is yellow in this map.  

The likely thunderstorm watch also means, as noted, that you should ditch the plans for any major outdoor excursions today.

You don't want to be caught out in the middle of the lake when lightning strikes are slamming down all around you.

And jeez, Camels Hump has been there for a zillion years and will be for a zillion more. Can't you just wait for a nicer day to go on a hike up there?

I'd say there's a 99.99 percent chance of one or several or many gorgeous hiking days later this summer to take advantage of. Go then.

Besides, even if there are no big thunderstorms, do you really want to hike in this humidity, this wind, with haze and clouds ruining the view from the summits? Didn't think so.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Chances are pretty good but not certain you'll get one of these today here in Vermont

If you get a severe thunderstorm warning, get indoors. In a sturdy building.

It's tempting to look out at the storm through the windows, but that can be risky. Tthe biggest threats from today's storms are strong straight line winds that can cause damage, like blow out windows or send tree branches or other debris through them.

A secondary risk is big hail, but that is not as likely as the wind, but it's still something to consider.

Flash Flood Warning: Not all that likely, but possible in a few spots today and this evening.

I know what you're thinking. "Matt, you spent an entire weather blog post on Sunday whining about a drought in Vermont, and now you're telling me there might be a flood? Geez!"

Well, yes, it's been dry.

But here's the deal. As I said, these thunderstorms are going to be moving fairly slowly, because the cold front they're attached to is moving slowly.

This might mean thunderstorms could do something called training. They could line up like boxcars on a train track. Thunderstorm after thunderstorm would go over the same spot like all those boxcars, and each storm would drop heavy downpours.

The dry weather we've had means you'd probably need 1.5 or two inches of rain in an hour, or three inches of rain or more within three hours to set off a flash flood in Vermont today.

A few spots that get hit by one of these thunderstorm trains could get that amount of rain, which would send water gushing off Vermont's hillsides to form a local flash flood.

Any flash flooding would be limited to just a few spot areas. This isn't going to be a Hurricane Irene, which trashed the entire state with huge floods.

If you do get a flash flood warning and you're in a place that's high and doesn't flood, stay put. I know that's boring but read a damn book or something.

If you're driving and encounter a flooded road, for gawd's sake don't drive through it like so many idiots do. It doesn't take much water to at all to sweep a car away. And how do you know the road under the water is still there? It might have been washed away.

If your house is in a flood prone area, have a plan to get out very, very quickly. They call them flash floods for a reason. They happen in an, um, flash.

The weather in Vermont and surrounding areas will settle down tonight. For most of us, the storms today will be good thing, because we need the rain.

And it's fun to get a good old thunder bumper now and again.

Just stay safe.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's Gorgeous In Vermont, But Maybe Too Much Of A Good Thing Is Making Us Too Dry?

Yellow depict abnormally dry, the darker orange shade
is droubht. As you can see there are already
pockets of drought in New England, and most
of the region is abnormally dry.  
The forecast for the rest of this June Sunday in Vermont is for sunny, hot and dry weather, with readings in the 80s to low 90s.

In other words, a perfect summer day for the beach or a picnic.

We've had lots of such days lately. Which generally is a good thing. The tourists like it and spend money. We like it because we get to do stuff outside in our all-too-brief summer.

But these repeated stretches of sunny, dry weather are starting to become too much of a good thing.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says the entire state of Vermont - and most of New England for that matter - is abnormally dry, just one step below being declared within an official drought.

In fact patches of New England are now considered in a drought, though at least it's not extreme like California's.

If this weather pattern goes on for the rest of the summer, though, Vermont and the rest of New England is definitely at risk for crop damage, water shortages in some towns and maybe even a few forest fires.

The dryness has been slowly building all spring. Precipitation has come in fits and starts. We haven't had any near record dry months, but April, May and so far June have been running below normal.

Some particular weather patterns made soils dry out more than you'd expect when precipitation is only somewhat below normal.

Vermont's very scant snow winter snow cover melted early in March. That allowed sun to penetrate into the ground and dry it out.

April and early May were on the cool side, delaying the leaf out in the trees. That kept the sun drying the forest floor more and more, since there were no leaves on the trees to block the sun for weeks on end.

Finally, the warm to hot spells Vermont has experienced in late May and June have tended to feature pretty low humidity. Usually, hot spells have quite a bit of humidity, which slows evaporation. This year, the humidity is tending to stay low, so things dry out faster.

There is some rain in the forecast. Maybe a little Monday afternoon, and then some showers and thunderstorms Tuesday and Tuesday evening. But these showers don't look like they'll be super soakers, and we'll  probably go back to the generally dry weather again for the second half of the week.

This could turn around and the rest of the summer could be relatively wet, for all I know.  We are DEFINITELY nowhere near any kind of crisis level.

But if I were a farmer or a water manager, I might be starting to get just slightly concerned.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Deadly Floods, Deadly Fire, And A Scary Combination Of The Two

This mobile home washed away and slammed
into trees during West Virginia's deadly
flash flood on Thursday. i 
Terrible weather disasters sometimes sneak up on us and this past week was no exception.

A well-advertised severe weather outbreak got going Wednesday, but didn't cause as much damage as we thought it would.

Just as we were breathing a sigh of relief, the tail end of that severe weather unleashed the most deadly flash flood in the United States in recent memory, this time striking West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the heat and wildfires seemed to be temporarily subsiding a bit out west, when all of a sudden California faced a wildfire that crews battling it said they've never seen the likes of before.

It literally exploded and raced through neighborhoods in an instant, destroying......


At last check Saturday morning, the death toll had risen to 23 in West Virginia after up to 10 inches of rain fell in just a few hours in parrs of the state Thursday afternoon,

Such rains are even more dangerous in mountainous West Virginia than in flatter country because the masses of water rush off the hillsides with incredible force.

Such was the case in West Virginia Thursday, as people had little or no time to get out of the way of the fast rushing water and rocks and debris. Two boys, ages eight and four were swept away even as adults tried valiantly to pull them from the water.

The nation was shown the spectacle of a video, seen at the bottom of this post of a house on fire being swept down a raging river, then slamming into a bridge.

Greenbriar Sporting Club in West Virginia. Bottom
photo si what the golf courses looked like before the flood.
Top photo is during the storm Thursday.  
Some 500 people have been trapped at a shopping mall in West Virginia for two days now since the access road to the place washed away.

Parts of the famed Greenbrier Sporting Club in West Virginia and its golf courses were under many feet of water Thursday as the resort scrambled to get guests out of harm's way.

Greenbrier is supposed to host its annual PGA Tour event beginning on July 7, notes the New York TImes, but with greens washed away and debris everywhere, that idea is in doubt at the moment.

As of Friday, at least 60 roads in West Virginia were washed out and close to 70,000 people had no electricity.

It's going to take a lot of time for West Virginia to recover from this terrible tragedy.


At the very moment the huge flash floods were terrorizing West Virginia Thursday, a wildfire broke out in Kern County, in a drought-wracked area in south central California.

Firefighters said they'd never seen anything like it.

Fed by hot, dry weather and strong winds, the fire went from practically nothing to an enormous inferno is seemingly no time. The fire tore through rough terrain and into neighborhoods so quickly that firefighters couldn't even keep pace with the racing fire.

The fire covered 11 miles in 13 hours - an unheard of pace for a wildfire, says the Los Angeles Times. It has killed at least two people and destroyed up to 100 homes.

As of late Friday, the fire was just 5 percent contained. Hot temperatures, gusty winds as high as 50 mph and humidity as low as 8 percent are forecast in the fire area today.

It's going to be long, hot, dangerous fire season in much of the southwest this year.

Here's the video of the house on fire going down the river:

Somebody got up on the roof of a building in a West Virginia town and gave us this sad video flood tour:

The Kern County California Fire Department shot this video of the destruction during California's wildfire:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Terrible Chinese Tornado Kills Nearly 100 People

A victim of the massive Chinese tornado this week. 
A vicious tornado struck near the city of Yancheng, and its wide destructive path through heavily populated villages and towns took nearly 100 lives and injured close to 800 people, the BBC said.

Chinese state media said it was the worst tornado to strike the nation in at least half a century.

Meanwhile, that well-advertised outbreak of severe weather in the United States Wednesday and Thursday did indeed happen, but it really could have been worse.

More details on that toward the bottom of this post, but first, China's tornado disaster, which really was as bad as it can get, pretty much.


Rescue efforts at the scene of the Chinese tornado were being messed up by heavy rain and the risk of more hailstorms and tornadoes in the area.

Photos and video showed widespread destruction, with man buildings leveled or destroyed, cars tossed around and utilities in ruins.

Based on the photos, I'd guess the tornado was an EF4, the second strongest on the Enhanced Fujita scale, a widely used ranking system that judges the strength of tornadoes.

An EF4 woul have winds of between 166 and 200 mph.

The huge Chinese tornado was obviously just as terrifying as the big ones that sometimes strike the middle and southern parts of the United States in the spring and early summer.

"It was like the end of the world......I heard the gales and ran upstairs to shut the windows. I had hardly reached the top of the stairs when I heard a boom and saw the entire wall with windows on it torn away," local resident Xie Litian told the Chinese state news agency, according to the BBC. 

Yancheng and the surrounding province of Jiangsu is on the central coast of China, well southeast of Beijing.  
More destruction from the tornado in China this week.  

The Chinese tornado proves once again that the United States isn't the only place to get big tornadoes.

This time of year, the Jiangus region in China is especially prone to dangerous storms, notes Bob Henson in a Weather Underground blog post. 

A weather front often sets up and stalls over eastern China as the southwest monsoon begins to push northward in the spring and summer.

Intense thunderstorm complexes very frequently form along this front, causing severe floods, severe thunderstorms, and sometimes, tornadoes.

Storm activity is often worse in a year following an El Nino, which is the case now, Henson notes.


As expected, a big complex of severe storms got going in Illinois Wednesday and raced southeastward all the way to North Carolina by Thursday morning.

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, there were 22 reports of tornadoes, almost all of them in Illinois, with a swath of scattered wind damage through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

Luckily, the tornadoes hit in mostly rural areas, so damage and injuries weren't as bad as they could have been had they hit more populated areas. The Chicago Tribune reported four injuries from the tornadoes in Illinois, but thankfully no deaths.

Severe weather is possible across mostly the northern tier of the United States over the next few days, but no blockbuster outbreaks of dangerous weather are expected.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fire Tornado In California Wildfire

A whirl of flames and ash during a wildfire near
Santa Barbara, California last week.
Photo by David McNew AFP/Getty  
The record heat that's gripping the American southwest is also raising the risk of wildfire, and making the ones that are going even worse.  

Already, some have been burning in recent days in California, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

A wildfire near Santa Barbara, California last wee riggered a very scary looking fire tornado, which you can see in the video below.

The heat in the Southwest has tempered only slightly in the past couple of days, and above normal temperatures with very little precipitation are forecast for at least the next week in that region.

So more wildfire trouble seems inevitable

Watch the fire tornado:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

That Midwest Severe Weather Outbreak Today Looks Really Bad

Areas in red and orange are most likely to experiemce
tornadoes and damaging thunderstorm winds today.  
A broad area around the southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley is bracing today for a very dangerous weather day.

An unusually strong weather  disturbance for this time of year is interacting with very hot, very humid air to create the risk for tornadoes, a few of which might be strong, very damaging winds, flash flooding and maybe even a derecho.

Derecho are relative rare, and are often more dangerous than tornadoes or individual severe thunderstorms because they cover such a wide area.

Most areas in the eastern two thirds of the United States experience a derecho once a year at most. Almost all areas get them less often than that, maybe one or two every four years.

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, a derecho is defined as a swath of wind damage that extends for more than 250 miles, which includes quite a few locations within the derecho's path of gettings gusts of at least 58 mph,  and also several well-separated 75 mph or greater gusts.

Sometimes winds in a couple spots along a derecho's path can get ridiculous. One derecho in May, 1998 created a wind gust of 128 mph in southern Wisconsin.

Derechos move forward fast - often between 50 and 70 mph -  so they come on you suddenly. They're particularly dangerous in urban areas, since they toss down lots of trees and power lines that hit houses and cars and cause long-lasting power outages.

Whether or not a derecho gets going with this outbreak or not, things will get dicey in the southern Great Lakes and other parts of the Midwest.

They already are dicey, in fact. Heavy thunderstorms over eastern Iowa with this storm system early this morning have caused some flash floods.

But the real dangerous stuff starts this afternoon. Initially, some supercell thunderstorms, with the potential for a couple strong tornadoes, will get going in eastern Iowa or northwestern Illinois.

The storms will then evolve into a line of bad storms barreling east to southeast across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. That might be the derecho we're talking about. Even it it ultimately does not meet the definition of a derecho, many communities along the path of the storms will get strong damaging winds, sometimes in excess of 70 mph.

There will be a tornado threat in this area as it comes through later today, too,  especially in eastern Iowa, parts of Illinois including in the southern half of the Chicago metro area, and maybe on toward South Bend and Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio, says the Storm Prediction Center

The complex of storms will plow through the central Appalachians tonight and possible into the mid-Atlantic states, where severe storms and a couple tornadoes caused damage yesterday.

Here's a video taken in 2011 that shows you don't need a tornado to make a storm like today's expected outbreak dangerous. These are straight line winds from a thunderstorm


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Extreme Heat, Wildfires, Dangerous Storms Continue To Rattle Nation

Wildfires burned Monday near Los Angeles amid a
record heat wave. Photo from the Associated Press.  
That well-advertised heat wave in the southwestern United States peaked as expected Sunday and Monday, with temperatures in some areas definitely over 120 degrees.

Way too hot for this pup!

Yuma, Arizona reached 120 degrees Sunday, it's fourth hottest day on record and earliest in the season it's been so hot. Tucson, at 115, tied for its third hottest day on record. Piedra, Arizona reached 127 degrees (ouch!)

It made to 122 degrees in Palm Springs, California.

Across the border, Altar, Mexico reached 119 degrees, it's hottest temperature on record there for any date.

At least four people in Arizona succumb to the heat. They were hikers who died in the hot temperatures, says CNN.

The heat wave is unsurprisingly worsening wildfires in California, Arizona and other southwestern states.  Two wildfires northeast of Los Angeles have forced evacuations and might merge, forming one big conflagration

The heat wave is also straining power grids in the Southwest, leading to power blackouts in the Los Angeles area, the Los Angeles Times says.

The heat will subside a tiny bit out there the rest of the week, but not by much. It'll still be a hotter than normal in what is already a hot part of the country.

With that heat ridge in place across the south for the forseeable future, weather disturbances continue to zip around the northern periphery of the hot zone in the United States, as I noted the other day.

One such disturbance yesterday caused severe weather in parts of Indiana, Ohio and New York. Even here in Vermont where I'm at, we got into the act a little bit last night with a 61 mph thunderstorm gust around Bennington and a quick 108 mph blast atop Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak.

Thunderstorm winds also knocked down trees in Johnson and Craftsbury, Vermont. 

As I write this early this afternoon, severe storms are threatening the area around Washington DC and Baltimore.

Tomorrow, a particularly strong weather system buzzing just north of the heat ridge threatens a much more substantial risk of severe weather and tornadoes.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has a moderate risk of tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds in the southern Great Lakes. That's a pretty high level of concern, as usually they stick to a somewhat lower level of slight or enhanced risk.

There's a good chance the severe weather will extend into the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic States tomorrow night and Thursday.

For what it's worth, long range forecasts, which are often iffy to be honest, indicate a warmer than normal summer, with plenty of heat waves for most of the nation through July, August and into September.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Possible Strong Or Severe Storms New York, NW Vermont Tonight, Then Heat Breaks

Severe thunderstorms are possible in the yellow areas until'
around midnight tonight. There's a very slight chance
of continued severe weather in the areas in
dark green shading 
Yesterday in northern Minnesota, severe thunderstorms dropped at least one tornado and some gigantic hailstones, some the size of softballs.

The cold front that caused the storms is marching eastward and another round of severe storms was starting to get going near the eastern Great Lakes as of mid afternoon.

They'll probably reach their peak once they get east of Michigan and over that part of Canada near Toronto that juts south between Michigan and New York state toward Lake Erie.

From there, some of the storms will stay pretty strong to severe over northwestern New York toward the St. Lawrence Valley this evening, There, the biggest storm threat is from strong, damaging winds. Maybe there will be a place or two with large hail.

Tornadoes are very unlikely.

This area of storms will then march toward Vermont later this evening. However, the sun's heat will be gone. Hot weather tends to energize storms, and the 90 degree heat of the day will be waning by the time the storms head toward the Green Mountain State.

The upshot is the storms will be weakening pretty rapidly as they come toward Vermont. There might still be some strong, damaging winds with the overnight storms over northwestern Vermont, especially around the Lake Champlain Islands and around and north of St. Albans.

If you live in that section of Vermont, you might want to secure loose objects outside so they don't blow around in those thundery gusts. And be ready to run around and close windows later tonight, say around 11 p.m. or midnight or so  so the rain doesn't get in.

The storms will continue to weaken fast as they move south and east across Vermont into the rest of New England.

The cold front will erase the 90 degree heat and the air quality problems in Vermont we've had today.

The rest of the week will be cool, with highs in the 70s, except some 60s showing up for highs on Wednesday.

Not a whole lot of rain is coming with tonight's showers and storms, which is too bad, as soil conditions are getting pretty dry. Some areas in southern and eastern Vermont won't get any rain at all out of this.

Vermont isn't yet officially in any kind of drought, but some parts of the state are regarded as "abnormally dry" according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index.

A few more rain showers might pop up on Wednesday, but they won't amount to much. After that, we get another stretch of dry weather with low humidity into next weekend. Temperatures will warm back up to the low 80s by next weekend.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Yet ANOTHER Early Tropical Storm Might Form

That patch of clouds in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico
on Sunday could become Tropical Storm Danielle 
UPDATE Mon. Morning:

This disturbance did indeed strengthen to Tropical Storm Danielle early this morning.

As I noted Sunday, this is the earliest the fourth tropical storm of the year has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Danielle remains weak and disorganized. Top sustained winds are 40 mph, making it barely tropical storm strength.

It'll move inland today and then dissipate, causing some flash flooding in parts of Mexico in the process.


There's an area of disturbed weather in the Bay of Campeche, off Mexico's east coast that could become a tropical storm by Monday.

If it does become a tropical storm, it will easily be the earliest on record the fourth tropical storm of the year formed in the Atlantic Basin. If it becomes a tropical storm, they'll name it Danielle.

The would-be tropical storm was an area of showers and thunderstorms in the far western Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon.

The storms were slowly becoming more organized, and the National Hurricane Center gave it an 80 percent chance of becoming at least a tropical depression.

A tropical depression is a weak version of a tropical storm, and are not given names. If sustained winds with this thing go up to 39 mph or more, it'll become Tropical Storm Danielle.

Wannabe Danielle doesn't have much time to strengthen before it makes landfall in Mexico Monday. Once it comes ashore, it'll dissipate, but not before dropping heavy rains that could lead to flash floods.

The chances of wannabe Danielle reaching hurricane strength -75 mph winds - is almost nil.  This storm will also not affect weather in the United States to any great extent.

Just because the start of the Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season has been very busy doesn't necessarily mean this will be a blockbuster year for such storms.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting an average year for hurricanes and tropical storms. El Nino, which tends to suppress Atlantic tropical storm activity is dead, and probably will be replaced by La Nina.

La Nina is a cool patch of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean that influences weather patterns and can make Atlantic Ocean tropical storms and hurricanes more likely. But again, we're not looking at an extreme year.

Still, it only takes one powerhouse of a hurricane hitting the United States to cause an epic disaster.

We've gone a record number of years without a major hurricane striking the U.S. coast, so we're way overdue.

A major hurricane is one with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

Plus, it doesn't take a major hurricane to cause epic damage.  Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was transitioning into a non-tropical storm, but caused an immense disaster along the East Coast.

In 2011, Hurricane Irene became a tropical storm with winds dropping below 75 mph soon after landfall on the East Coast, but still caused record flooding and lots of deaths in New York and Vermont.

Danielle won't be much of a threat to the United States, but we still need to keep an eye out for dangerous tropical storms and hurricanes, especially as the hurricane season ramps up in August and September.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Surprise Rogue Thunderstorm Surprised Vermont's Champlain Valley Friday Night

Web cam at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont
captured lightning from a surprise thunderstorm
over Lake Champlain Friday evening.  
The weather was gorgeous in Vermont's Champlain Valley yesterday, with sunny skies, a few puffy clouds, a breeze and low humidity.

It continued a stretch of pleasant, sunny, warm weather that began Tuesday and is expected to last through the weekend.

Forecasts issued Friday afternoon did not mention any chances of rain in the evening.

Then where the hell did that evening thunderstorm come from?

The lone storm developed north of Montreal in the late afternoon and headed due south. It put on an evening light show of lightning as it moved south over Lake Champlain, passing to the west of St. Albans, and on into the Burlington area and points south.

The storm grew strong enough that the National Weather Service office in South Burlington issued a special weather statement, saying the storm would produce dangerous lightning, and wind gusts to 40 mph.

It's odd that most meteorologists didn't predict a chance of storms, but in this case, subtle atmospherics were at work to make it happen.

Remember the icky weather Sunday and Monday. Those clouds, unseasonably chilly north winds, cold rain showers and even a couple mountaintop snowflakes?

A strong storm near Nova Scotia brought on those cold north winds.

That Nova Scotia storm kept moving northeastward, away from New England, and the sunny weather moved in from the west.

But that ocean storm is still out there. That's why we've had that nice north breeze in Vermont the past couple days.

That ocean storm had just barely enough influence yesterday to add a little lift to the air. And it helped bring  a little pocket of cold air to the upper atmosphere. That created those nice puffy clouds dotting Friday afternoon's blue sky.

One of those puffy clouds grew big enough to create that shower that formed north of Montreal. The shape of Champlain Valley caused winds to converge near that shower as it headed south. Converging winds add more lift to the atmosphere, so the shower/thunderstorm grew.

On top of that, all that wonderful Friday sunshine also added energy to the atmosphere. All this combined to create that rogue Friday evening thunderstorm that disrupted a June evening on Lake Champlain.

Hat tip to WPTZ-TV meteorologist John Hickey for the help with this explanation.

That ocean storm still heading further, so it shouldn't bother us anymore. Plus, high pressure is gaining strength over us. That causes sinking air, which strongly discourages thunderstorms. So I'm pretty sure we're safe from any more atmospheric surprises in Vermont for the rest of the weekend.

Then again, you never know. There are always those subtle weather disturbances that can surprise........

Friday, June 17, 2016

Greenland Heats Up Again, So Do Global Temperatures

Areas in red show where ice was
melting in Greenland on June 10.
That's an unusually big area
of Greenland to see ice melt,
especially so early in the summer.  
Seems like every time I turn around, there's more heat news to report from the Arctic.

This time, it's Greenland again. The community of Nuuk, on Greenland's southwest coast, reached 76 degrees last Friday, the hottest temperature on record for Greenland in June. That broke the previous record high of 75 set just the day before. 

True, the southwest coast of Greenland is normally the warmest part of the mostly ice-capped large island, but still, this was something.

Warmth extended well inland, so, ominously, the seasonal melting of the Greenland ice cap, which already got off to an early start, is more intense than usual, at least for now.

Greenland melting is worse than the ice melting in the Arctic ocean. Greenland's ice is on a land surface, so if more than the usual amount melts in the summer, that contributes to sea level rises.

If the ice is already floating in the ocean, by contrast, sea levels wouldn't really rise if that ice melts.

Still, melting sea ice is bad because it increases the amount of solar heat that goes into the Arctic Ocean, which in turn could help make Greenland warmer and encourage even more melting.

The increasing amounts of ice loss in the Arctic Ocean could also be influencing the arrangement of the jet stream, causing something known as the Arctic amplification.

This would also increase temperatures in Greenland, causing more melting, notes the Christian Science Monitor.

Says the Monitor:

"If loss of sea ice is driving changes in the jet stream, the jet stream is changing Greenland, and this, in turn, has an inpact on the Arctic systm as well as the climate. It's a system. It is strongly interconnected and we have to approach it as such," Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory professor and lead study author Marco Todesco said in a Columbia University release."

Meanwhile, yesterday, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, their monthly global analysis, said May, 2016 was Earth's hottest May on record.

If that statement sounds like a broken record, it should. Incredibly, each of the past 13 months have now been record hottest.

The effects of the world-warming El Nino are fading, now that the periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean is kaput.

May wasn't as far above normal temperature wise around the world as recent months, which might reflect a bit of a "cooling" trend because of El Nino's waning influence.

Still, 2016 looks to be a shoo-in for the hottest year on record for Earth, which would beat the previous record set in 2015. But 2017 will probably be a bit cooler, because El Nino is gone.

We shouldn't take much comfort in that. El Nino explains only part of the wildly warm 13 months we just had. Global warming explains the rest. And that's not going away. It will keep intensifying.

So 2017 will surely be warmer for the Earth than it has in the past, and it will probably be only a few years before the record for hottest year will be eclipsed yet again.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heat Causes Highways To Buckle, Cars To Go Airborne

A buckled section of Interstate 90 in Minnesota last
week. This isn't the same buckle as in the video in thi
post, but you can see how hazardous they are.  
Last week when I was visiting South Dakota, a big heat wave settled into the state, sending temperatures up to near 100 degrees under blazing, unrelenting sunshine.

When such heat strikes in that part of the country, there's a really big hazard on the roads.

Highways buckle in spots, creating these big angular ridges on the roadway, which of course is a huge problem for any vehicles going over them.

In Sioux Falls, an hour and a half north from where I was staying last week, at least four roads buckled.  

I have to tell you I was nervous on the 80-mile trip from Yankton, South Dakota to the Sioux Falls airport for my trip back to Vermont last Saturday. It was in the upper 90s and really torrid. Luckily, no problems for me.

The same was NOT true along a Minnesota highway at the same time I was in the car headed to Sioux Falls.

A viral video, that you can see below, is a traffic surveillance camera along Highway 36 in Minnesota that buckled.

Some cars went airborne. Other motorists saw the buckle and slammed on the brakes, and cars behind those braking vehicles almost caused several rear-end collisions.

A lot of the roads in the upper Midwest are made of concrete sections, connected together by expansion joints.

This is supposed to allow the concrete to contract when its cold, and expand when it's hot, without causing major problemson the roads.

Sometimes, though, the concrete expands so much in hot temperatures that there's no room for the concrete to grow more at the expansion  joint. So the concrete buckles upward.

The buckling can happen incredibly abruptly, without warning. So traffic often gets caught in these buckles before highway crews can close lanes.

I guess every place has its weather problems on roads. Here in Vermont, most of the roads are asphalt. There's usually not too many problems in the summer, but in the winter, water gets under the asphalt and expands, causing frost heaves and pot holes.

You can't win.

Here's the traffic cam video of the buckled highway in Minnesota:

"Ring Of Fire" Severe Storms Harassing Various Parts Of The Nation

This map is from last summer and not this week,
but it depicts the series of disturbances
riding above a heat ridge in the middle of the
United States. These disturbances cause
a series of severe storm outbreaks and is known
as a "ring of fire" around the top of the heat ridge.  
In the summer, a common, and sometimes scary weather set up forms, and it's happening now.

It's called the Ring of Fire.

Here's what it is:

A big, very hot area of high pressure sets up somewhere around the middle of the country.

That has happened now, and is responsible for a terrible heat wave in Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Heat indexes are as high as 110 degrees.

(The heat ridge is also over the Desert Southwest, setting that area up for the record heat wave I talked about yesterday.)

Very hot, very humid air always has a lot of potential to feed thunderstorms, and they can grow explosively in this type of air mass. But under the ridge, the air is sinking, which squelches thunderstorms most of the time.

However, along the northern edges of the heat ridge, little disturbances and cold fronts zip basically west to east over the top of the ridge. Often in the eastern United States, the disturbances head southeastward down the front side of the heat ridge over the middle of the country.

These disturbances brush up against the super hot, wet air, and provide the rising air needed to produce big thunderstorms.  All that hot, wet air feeds the fire and storms get cranking.

Yesterday, a broad area from Wisconsin to Kentucky, on the front side of the heat ridge, got lots of severe weather. Nationwide, there were 314 reports of damaging winds and 64 reports of large hail, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

Today, forecasters are watching the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states. A pretty strong little storm system  is riding southeastward on the front side of the heat ridge again, and a severe weather outbreak is likely today in these areas.

The combination of the strength of the storm system, and the heat and humidity feeding into it from the south and west means there's a good possibility of very strong winds with some of the thunderstorms

With all that humidity around, the rain with the storms could be heavy, and there is a flash flood watch out for parts of the Middle Atlantic states, including Washington DC and Baltimore.

In fact, the biggest threat today might be the flash flooding. Several inches of rain could fall in just a very few hours with some of the storms in parts of Pennsylvania.

It looks like there might be more severe weather along the northern edge of the heat ridge in Montana and North Dakota Saturday, and over the Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes Sunday and/or Monday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Record Heat To Turn Hot Desert Southwest Into Something Worse Than An Oven

Heat alerts are up for large sections of the southern
United States, (dark red in Southwest, orange in the Plains)  
It seems like it's shaping up to be one of those summers with pretty intense heat waves for the United States.

We here in New England had some record highs in the low 90s back in late May. The Pacific Northwest had record heat earlier this month. Last week, the central and northern Plains roasted amid 100 degree heat.

Now it's the Desert Southwest's turn.

Oh, I know, I know, it's always hot there in June. But even by their torrid standards, the upcoming heat wave could be historic, in the words of the National Weather Service office in Phoenix, Arizona.

All time record highs could be challenged in many cities in the region. Readings Sunday and Monday could come close to the hottest temperatures on record in cities like Palm Springs, California, where the all time high is 123 degrees, Phoenix (122 degrees), Tucson, (117 degrees) and Las Vegas, (117 degrees.)

This kind of heat is very dangerous, especially since overnight lows in some areas won't drop below 90 degrees. If you're homeless, or must do hard physical work outside, or just don't have access to air conditioning, which is the case for some people in the desert, believe it or not, this could be deadly.

The extreme heat is likely to last into the early part of next week at least in the Southwest. The longer a heat wave goes on, the more dangerous it becomes.

Up in the mountains in the southwestern United States, the extreme heat and even more extreme dryness is seriously increasing the chances of destructive wildfires.

The heat is extending into the central and southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley, with a widespread area under a heat advisory for today, tomorrow and probably Saturday. Highs there will be in the 95 to 100 degree range, cooler than the Desert Southwest.

However the humidity in the southern Plains is very high, and heat indexes will be in the 100 to 110 degree range. Again, very dangerous.

The entire northern tier of the United States will probably have a few warm to hot days over the next week or two, but frequent cold fronts will limit the heat, so things won't be so bad up there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Summer, Northern New England

A double rainbow over St. Albans, Vermont Monday
evening was as good a signal as any that the
weahter would - finally - dramaticlaly
improve during this week. 
It's been a rough 10 days or so for summer weather lovers in northern New England.

You all know how chilly, cloudy, damp and awful it has been.  

Last night, for example, the top of Mount Washington got another 1.4 inches of snow, bringing the total for this month to 6.9 inches. It's the third snowiest June on record atop New England's highest peak.

Down in the valleys, warm weather crops are pretty stalled and it's next to impossible to get the hay in. Not when it's drizzly with temperatures in the 50s.

The good news is, we're in the next weather pattern change, and summer is returning.

Today is a bit of a transition day. There will still be some clouds around, mixed with the sunshine. Though it will be definitely warmer in Vermont and surrounding areas than in recent days, it's still a bit cooler than normal.

It'll keep warming up day by day through the weekend under generally sunny June skies. By Friday, many areas will be up around 80, and in the 80s Saturday and Sunday.

Bonus: The humidity will stay pretty low through Saturday at least. It might begin to creep upward Sunday and especially Monday.

The only real complication to this sunny forecast is the possibility of some type of upper level storminess off the East Coast, which could throw clouds, cool air and dampness into parts of New England. The more south and east you go this weekend, the greater the chance of getting that cloudy, cool air.

Otherwise, break out the sun screen, put that winter fleece away and enjoy northern New England's green, comfortably warm landscape.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Scary Proposal To Hand National Weather Service Work To Private Companies

A Congressional proposal threatens the National Weather Service
and its system of weather warnings. Will people die
from confusing or inaccurate or unavailable
weather warnings for the sake of corporate profit?  
Republican lawmakers have resurrected an old proposal to hand over a lot of what the National Weather Service does to private forecasting companies, and that is literally a life-threatening idea.

Imagine, as the Washington Post does, instead of getting one tornado warning during severe weather from an authoritative source like the National Weather Service, you get a mishmash of conflicting statements from a variety of sources.

One says the tornado is heading right toward you, the other says it's going to miss, a third says there's no tornado. What do you do?

Or, in a more evil scenario, good warnings only go out to people who can afford to pay for good weather alert services, instead of the warnings that go out to everybody like under the current National Weather Service arrangement.

Like so much in America these days, life saving services would only go to people who can pay for the services, and not everybody.

The National Weather Service proposal before Congress by Rep. Jim Bridestine, R-OK is part of Republicans relentless march to privatize everything.

Says the Washington Post: 

"Bridenstine's proposal would prohibit the National Weather Service from creating any new services if it is something that the private weather industry already does or could potentially do.

That's a broad statement in itself, but it alwo would require the Weather Service to 'incorporate commercial solutions' into programs that already exist, meaning they would need to contract out some of the services they already provide to private companies."

I agree with the Washington Post that there is a definite role for private weather companies. They do some cutting edge work with forecasts, computer forecast modeling and such.

Many private weather companies help investors by analyzing how upcoming weather patterns will affect commodities and commerce.

But the National Weather Service serves a central purpose, one that's extremely important to the public

Says the Washington Post:

"......if the point is to reduce the tax burden on the American public, this is the wrong way to go about it. The National Weather Service's mission is to protect lives and property. Period. Private sector weather companies might have similar goals, but they exist to be profitable.

"The proposal doesn't suggest the Weather Service shouldn't exist - just that it should hand over everything but the creation and management of key data to the private sector

So in this new, super-privatized world, taxpayers would continue to fund the National Weather Service, but would then have to pay private companies for forecasts and warnings.

In other words, the public would be paying twice."

There is a big craze it seems to privatize all government functions.  Sometimes government and private partnerships work. The National Weather Service should work with private companies to improve forecasting and create better warnings for the public.

But letting private companies compete to warn the public of dangerous weather is in itself dangerous. People should not die in the name of increasing corporate profits.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Update: Vermont Severe Threat Low, But Nasty Weekend Anyway

The risk of any severe weather, in yellow and
dark green, will largely stay south of Vermont.
Big chill returns Sunday, though.  
It might have been a little alarming to see some severe thunderstorm warnings in central New York this morning.

After all, doesn't most of Vermont's weather come from the west and don't thunderstorms usually intensify during the afternoon and evening?

Well, yes, but this time, Vermont is largely safe. The storms are heading to the southeast and will miss Vermont. There might be rumbles of thunder for the rest of the morning, but nothing severe.

This afternoon, we'll get a break in the rain that' came down in the morning, but the weather will remain kind of cloudy and cool-ish.

We're still expecting a powerhouse cold front to come in early Sunday morning, but the timing of it means we won't have severe weather when it comes through, despite the unusually dynamic atmosphere over the Northeast and eastern Canada.

The cold front will bring in some gusty showers early Sunday, and then that second blast of cold air will come in.

It still looks nasty Sunday, with clouds, very chilly air for June and frequent showers.

Highs will barely hold in the 50s, which is 20 degrees below normal. Winds will gust to 30 mph. The rain will not come down particularly hard, but the showers will be frequent, especially in the mountains.

Not nice.

I also think it's going to snow atop Mount Washington again. Boy, they're having a snowy June, huh?

I'm still expecting the weather to slowly improve during the upcoming week. We'll just have to get through the weekend.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wild-ish Weather Saturday, THen "Junuary" Set To Make Return Visit To New England Sunday

A snowy, stormy scene atop Mount Washington
Thursday. It'll probably snow up there again
on Sunday as "Junuary" continues.  
I'm sweltering in a heat advisory during my  visit to South Dakota late this week as temperatures here flirt with 100 degrees, but it's sure not like that in New England.

That's quite a contrast to New England, which shivered through a very chilly June day Thursday. And that nasty weather will be coming back by Sunday.

I saw the New England weather Thursday referred to as "Junuary" and that seems pretty accurate.

There was quite a bit of snow and ice atop Mount Washington amid temperatures in the mid 20s and wind gusts to 100 mph.

In lower elevations a few places in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, northern New Hampshire and Maine, and New York's Adirondacks never out of the 40s Thursday.

Temperatures are moderating today and Saturday, at least somewhat, but "Junuary" is set for a return Sunday.

Before the renewed cold hits, some severe thunderstorms are likely, but most of those will hit from New York and southwestern New England and on toward the Great Lakes all the way to Illinois.   In those areas, there's a chance of very big hail, damaging winds, or even a tornado or two.

Some strong storms might hit northern New England later Saturday or Saturday night, but the chances of that are relatively low.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has just a marginal risk of severe storms in most of New England, but a somewhat higher chance further south and west Saturday and Saturday night.

The reason for the risk of any severe weather is because the disturbance that will cause a return to Junuary is very potent. It's diving down from northern Quebec and will set up what will basically be a fairly strong, slow moving nor'easter somewhere near Nova Scotia on Sunday.

It's going to be a really raw day Sunday with showers and rain, gusty north winds, and low temperatures. A lot of places won't get out of the 50s Sunday, at a time of year when temperatures should be in the 70s in mid-June.

It'll probably snow atop Mount Washington again, and maybe some of other higher mountain tops of northern New England.

That Nova Scotia nor'easter will only grudgingly totter away toward the northeast and putting more distance between it and New England during next week. That means the weather will very slowly improve during the week.

By the end of the week, it will be back to June, with normal daytime temperatures well up into the 70s.

So hang in there.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New England's Worst Tornado On Record Struck On This Date In 1953

Worcester, County, Massachusett tornado, Jume 9, 1953  
Let's face it.

New England isn't exactly tornado alley.

Oh, sure we get tornadoes. Quite a few of them, in fact. On average, there's a handful every year.

Almost all of them are brief and small, and only cause relatively minor damage.

On this date in 1953 though, New England had a major and tragic exception to our relative lack of deadly tornadoes.

The Worcester County tornado killed 94 people, injured 1,000 or so people and damaged or destroyed a good 4,000 buildings.

It was a classic Midwestern style wedge shaped tornado, wide and powerful. It was as much as a mile wide and left scenes of destruction familiar to people now used to news video of entire neighborhoods leveled by this type of storm.

It estimated that under current tornado classifications, the Worcester County Tornado would have been a strong EF4 twister which would have packed winds of close to 200 mph.  

Debris from the Worcester Tornado was found as far east as Cape Cod and adjoining waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Wrecked house in Worcester, Massachusetts after
New England's deadliest tornado on record, June 9, 1953  

The Worcester County tornado came a day after an even worse tornado in and near Flint, Michigan.  That tornado, which would have been an EF5 with winds of at least 250 mph, killed 116 people.

Another devastating tornado hit Waco, Texas earlier in 1953, smashing through the city's downtown during the afteroon rush hour and killing 114 people.

Interestingly, arguably New England's second worst tornado on record hit the Springfield, Monson and Brimfield areas of Massachusetts on June 1, 2011.

The year 2011 was also among the worst tornado years in American history. That was the year that mega-tornadoes destroyed large swaths of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, among many other cities.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Temperature Extremes: 100 In Plains, Still Expecting Snow New England

The Weather Channel is forecasting these hot temperatures
in the Plains over the next few days.  
This week, I'm at my temporary weather center in Yankton, South Dakota, having a nice visit with relatives.

Another bonus of this visit: I'm missing the chill and mountaintop snow in my native Vermont that's expected over the next couple of days.

The drawback: I might be experiencing torrid 100 degree temperatures here in South Dakota later this week.  

We've gotten into one of those stuck weather patterns that features extreme warmth in one part of the country, with deep chill in others.

A heat ridge that caused record high temperatures in recent days over the western United States is moving into the central Plains. A broad area of the central U.S. will be between 95 and 100 degrees Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

More record highs will fall.

Anyone in New England hoping for a taste of this summer weather is out of luck. When there's a big bump northward in the jet stream, like there is in the Plains to cause the heat, there's usuially a dip further east.

And so it is now. The ridge in the Plains is bigger than normal, which makes the dip in the east bigger than  normal too. That explains the extremes. Heat in South Dakota, snow in northern New England.

Usually, by June northward bulges and southward dips in the jet stream aren't this wild, but I guess this year, that's what we're getting.

The weather patterns are gummed up, too, so it won't change much through next week.

It will become less extreme next week, which is nice. Hot, but not 100 next week in the Plains. Cooler than normal, but no mountain snow next week in New England.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Snow In Vermont In June? Could Be Wednesday Night

Chances are snow will fall on Vermont Wednesday night. In June. 
OK, it probably won't look like this in Burlington, Vermont
Thursday morning, but the tip top of Mount Mansfield
could be white with snow. This photo is from a large
snowstorm in March, 2011. on

Don't worry, this won't be an 1816 Year Without A Summer general snowfall across most of the state.

But the highest mountain peaks could be white come Thursday morning.   

If Mount Mansfield gets snow, it will only be the fourth time that happened in June there since they started keeping records up there in 1954.

The culprit is a big shot of cold air, very unusually cold for this time of year coming in from Canada and setting up as a deep pool of low pressure in the upper atmosphere. 

Basically it's a big storm that's high above the Earth's surface, but not down here.

This whole thing is a redux of that spring pattern we had in April when we had bouts of unusual chill parking over New England.

The cold will be introduced today in the form of a strong cold front and possibly some strong or even a few scattered severe thunderstorms in New England, including Vermont.

 The temperature in the air high above is already crashing. Meanwhile, it's not cold yet down here. Plus the sun is as strong as it gets this time of year.

That means that as the cold front comes in, it'll set off some thunderstorms. The contrast between the warmth surface and the chilly air aloft will help some of the thunderstorms to billow up into strong ones.

That means a few places will get small hail and gusty winds. A couple places in Vermont, especially the eastern half of the state will get a severe thunderstorm, which could bring damaging wind gusts of 60 mph.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk of severe thunderstorms across pretty much all of New England and a slightly higher risk of severe weather in central New England.

Then the cold air plunges in. High temperatures across much of Vermont and the rest of northern New England will only get into the 50s Wednesday, Thursday and probably Friday.

On the bright side, it will be too cloudy for frost at night in most places, though there could be some frost and freezes in the cold hollows of northern Vermont Friday night. 

It should be in the mid-70s this time of year. High temperatures in the 50s are normal for April. 

It will be pretty cloudy as well. That strong June sunshine will heat the ground feebly, causing rising air. That means lots of clouds, many scattered light showers and that risk of snow showers on the mountain peaks.

This cold wave is going to last a long time for early June. Three days in the 50s will probably hurt your tomato and pepper plants. Those veggies crave sunshine and warmth, which we won't get for awhile. (They'll probably bounce back later in the month, when and if it gets warmer.)

This weekend, it will turn a tad warmer, but still be quite a bit cooler than normal, with highs only in the 60s to near 70.

This cold wave is probably payback for May. Each of the last nine days in May had high temperatures of 80 or more, the longest such streak on record for that month. 

The heat continued into early June, as four of the first six days got to 80. 

It won't be 80 degrees again for quite awhile. Enjoy autumn in June, I guess.