Sunday, July 31, 2016

Very Scary Flash Flood In Ellicott City, Maryland Last Night

Devastating flash flood in Ellicott City, Maryland last night
A flash flood sent a wall of water through downtown Ellicott City, Maryland, last night

The flood killed at least two people and sent dozens of cars floating away. Gushes of water roared through shops and apartment, destroying them.

The floods hit as restaurants and nightspots were filled with people out on a Saturday evening in the historic city, so a lot of people were trapped in cars and buildings.

As in most flash floods, the water arrived instantly, and later at night, it just as instantly retreated, leaving people wandering around the devastated downtown until officials evacuated the area.

In the video below, taken from inside an Ellicott City restaurant, the view out the window escalates as water rises. By the middle of the video, horrified people in the restaurant watch cars sweep away in the torrent, some with people desperately clinging to them.



Here's another view of the flood:

 

Here's a dramatic rescue of a woman from a car in the raging torrent.



Here's the aftermath, and you can see the damage to ground floor shops and restaurants and art galleries is massive:

 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Is New England In For Some BADLY Needed Rain?

Rain clouds over Lake Champlain, Vermont a
few summers ago. We're hoping that a possible
soaking rain actually materializes Sunday afternoon
through Monday night. We'll see. 
The other day I riffed about increasing drought conditions in many parts of the Northeast. Since then a little rain has fallen in spots, but not enough to really make a difference.

And now, chances are looking up for the at least the possibility of a soaking rain, though it will in no way, shape or form erase the dryness. But definitely could help.

A sluggish, weak but wet little storm system is coming out of the Ohio Valley and heading into the Northeast.

It's still a little unclear exactly how much rain will fall in a given area.

It's also a little questionable as to where the heaviest rain will fall between tonight and Monday night.  My best guess at the moment is an inch or two over much of the eastern half of New York and the northwestern half of New England.

The good thing about this area of unsettled weather is it's going to take its time moving through the Northeast, giving it plenty of time to at least drop some rain.

 Like many wet weather spells in the summer, I imagine it will be kind of spotty. Some small areas could get a couple inches, other areas a couple or three dozen miles away much less.

Again, this won't solve the Northeast drought, but if admittably iffy forecasts of a fairly decent rain over the next couple of days turn out to be true, it's all good.

Bloomberg News Really Bombed With It's "Rain Bomb" Headline

This dramatic photo of a microburst in Phoenix earlier
this month probably inspired a wildly misleading'
clickbait article in Bloomberg News 
If you want to be terrorized by Mother Nature, or at least a caricature of her, you would do well to go to Bloomberg.com today. 

The screaming headline on one of their articles is "Forget Tornadoes: Rain Bombs are Coming For Your Town."

The subhead is "Climate Change is Weaponizing the Atmosphere."

EEEEK!!!!

Before you panic and build a steel-plated armor-resistant umbrella to fend off these attacks, relax.

The Bloomberg headlines are just clickbait.

The article is about microbursts, and the piece tried to tie them to the real phenomenon of an increasing trend of more and heavier extreme rain events. That trend is thought to be related to global warming.

But let's not go overboard like Bloomberg did, Jeesh!

Microbursts are gushes of rain and wind that drop dramatically from thunderstorms. The drag of falling rain and hail push air downward toward the Earth's surface. Evaporating water within the thunderstorm also cools the air and makes it more dense, accelerating it toward the ground

This results in a potentially dangerous blast of wind and torrential rain for people who happen to be right where the rapidly sinking air hits the ground.

I think the Bloomberg article was inspired by a viral photo of a microburst in Phoenix earlier this month that everybody and their brother highlighted. ("Everybody" includes me, who was also fascinated by the photo and featured it.)

The excellent photo really looks like a hydrogen bomb exploding, but it really is a great gush or rain and wind slamming downward from an ominous looking thunderstorm over Phoenix.

This is the first time I've heard of a microburst referred to as a "rain bomb". I'm not alone. Capital Weather Gang, for one, was mystified by the term. But I guess "rain bomb" is an effective way of getting people's interest.

But not a good way.

This weird terminology confuses people and falsely alarms people by suggesting climate change is so bad that the atmosphere has declared war on us.

Climate change is without a doubt a bad, scary problem. But, unlike what the headlines suggest, microbursts are not some Great New Menace.  Like 'em or not, microbursts have always been around.

The Bloomberg article also says this about thunderstorms and microbursts in the news lately:

"The past two months have seen some doozies in the U.S. The Empire State Building was struck by lightning twice on Monday during a storm that brought an inch of rain down in what felt like a single sheet."

Actually, the storm that hit New York wasn't all that unsual. The Empire State Building is often struck by lightning, as these bolts are very often attracted to the tallest object around, and we all know the Empire State Building is pretty damn  tall.

An inch of rain in a such a short period of time is somewhat unusual in New York, but it happens from time to time.

The article describes microbursts as "rare" but they're pretty common, actually. Almost any place on Earth that can get thunderstorms can also get microbursts.  If you're almost anywhere in the United States, I'm sure you've been in at least one, or perhaps several in your lifetime.

Once you get into the meat of the Bloomberg article and settles down into something resembling accuracy. Of course, by then, they've lost a lot of readers, who are just going to live in constant fear of those roving "rain bombs" roving around trying to kill them like so many ISIS terrorists.

Still, Bloomberg does accurately note that extreme precipitation events are increasing, even if they aren't necessarily microbursts.

In fact, most of what Bloomberg cites as examples were not microbursts. For instance, there probably was some embedded microbursts in the storms that caused record flash flooding in West Virginia in June that killed 23 people.

But most of the storms were just scarily heavy downpours.

As the Earth's atmosphere gets hotter, it hold more moisture, because the warmer the air, the more water can hang suspended up there.

When a storm comes along, under the right conditions, the system can take advantage of all this extra water in the air to create extreme downpours.

So yeah, climate change might be causing some more weather drama. But rain bombs? Let's just say the Department of Defense is not exactly working on building anti-rain bomb defense shields.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Atlantic Hurricane Season Ramping Up

The National Hurricane Center is watching
two disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean that could
become tropical storms. The X's are where they were
Friday morning, and the yellow and orange shaded
areas indicate possible forecast paths for the disturbances.A
There's a couple areas of bad weather way out over the eastern Atlantic Ocean that have some potential to turn into tropical storms or hurricanes.

They may or may not, and even if they do, chances - so far anyway - indicate they won't hit the United States.

But the fact there are suddenly two areas out in that part of Atlantic that the National Hurricane Center is watching means we are now getting into the meat of the hurricane season.

Tropical storms can form almost anywhere in the Atlantic where the water temperature is warm enough. (These storms need very warm water to survive)

Once you get into August and September, though, potentially the most dangerous storms form.

During this time of year, weather disturbances move westward and emerge off the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic.

Some of these disturbances make a long journey westward, and a few of those take advantage of warm water and favorable atmospherics to become hurricanes. Since these storms are out over water for so long, they have plenty of time to develop.

These storms are called Cape Verde hurricanes because they originate near that area. If the Cape Verde hurricanes can hang together, and not get ripped apart by high winds in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, or curve northward as many do, the can cause real trouble for the United States.

Many of the worst hurricanes in American history were Cape Verde hurricanes. This includes a Florida hurricane in 1928 that killed more than 1,800 people, and the Great Long Island/New England hurricane of 1938 that killed more than 600 people.

Cape Verde hurricanes can strike the United States anywhere along the Atlantic Coast between Brownsville, Texas and Eastport, Maine.

If you live anywhere along the coast, now is the time to see if you've got the supplies or readiness to prepare your property for a hurricane. You don't want to start that if and when such a storm is already heading your way.

By the way, much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean is toasty warm - warmer than normal. That is one factor that could make this year's Cape Verde hurricanes this year perhaps more frequent and stronger than they otherwise would be.

Plus, it's been a decade since a major hurricane has made landfall in the United States, so we're overdue. It's the roll of the dice.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Drought Deepening In Northeastern United States

Areas in brownish or orange colors are in drought
Yellow areas are abnormally dry, or
on the cusp of a drought.  
California gets all the attention when it comes to drought news, but parts of the Northeast this summer are getting into trouble with exceptionally dry conditions, too.

Says the Weather Channel:

"Soil moisture anomalies are well below average, as of July 26, in parts of central and western New York, northern and western Pennsylvania and southern New England. In parts of western New York and northern Pennsylvania, these values are in the lowest 1 percent of all historical values for the date."

Connecticut and New Jersey are both under voluntary water restrictions. People shouldn't water their lawns, let leaks slide or constantly let water run in the house.  

In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, farmers are having to choose which crops to water as irrigation ponds dry up. They're abandoning some crops to the dry weather in favor of ones that require more TLC.

Massachusetts residents have been warned several times in recent weeks of high fire dangers, and have been told to be careful with camp fires, smoking material and the like.

In Vermont, the level of Lake Champlain was down to 94.72 feet above sea level as of Wednesday. The lake level normally continues to fall through the first half of autumn, and could flirt with record low levels if this weather pattern continues into September.

Some river and streams in central New England are at near record low levels now.

In much of New York and the southern half of New England, rainfall is running five or six inches below normal so far this year. It's also been a relatively hot late spring and summer, with plenty of days with sunshine and lower than average humidity.

If that won't dry things out, nothing will.

There's a good chance some beneficial rains will hit southern New England Friday, but it won't be nearly enough to make things better.

In fact, it some ways it might be too much of a good thing in places like Connecticut and Rhode Island. The rain could be torrential Friday, which could cause local flash flooding. But such rains run right off. You need a slow, steady rain to ease a drought.

The dryness isn't as bad in northern New England, because there has been some rain in the past couple weeks up there.

Still, the forecast for places like northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire is pretty dry, aside from some showers today that won't be all that extreme.

The showers and thunderstorms that have been coming through every once in awhile are not enough to solve the drought.

Worse, the weather pattern supporting the dry weather is expected to last into October, so things could easily get worse.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

California Is Burning And It's Only Going To Get Worse

Smoke from wildfires looms over downtown
Los Angeles. Photo by Yang Lei/Xinhua  
Fires are raging in California, as you might have seen on the news, and there's no sign the fires will stop destroying things out there for the next several months.

Yes, I said months.

At last check one wild fire north of Los Angeles has burned 37,000 acres and another around Big Sur has taken out another 23,000 or more acres.

No surprise that California has a state of emergency in effect in the fire zones as they keep burning through the drought stricken, torridly hot landscape.

We know of at least one death caused by the fires, and about 40 homes destroyed between those two biggest fires in California. At some points this week, 10,000 people or more have been evacuated.

There's always been a fire season in California, of course. In the summer and autumn, it rarely rains in much of the state, so things dry out, brush and timberland burn.

Now, there seems to be a new normal out there.

As noted in the Desert Sun:

"'Technically, in the state of California, there is no wildland fire season anymore,' said Battalion Chief Mark Lamont of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District. 'We are in a perpetual state of fire season 365 days a year. Now, the heightened portion of that season begins June 1, can start as early as mid-May and runs into October."

The obvious problem here is that California's drought is still grinding on. Sure, there was some beneficial rains last winter, but it wasn't enought.

Those rains might have actually made things worse, in that there were enough to grow small things like grasses and weeds, but not enough to make the trees and bigger things take a big drink.

Now the grass and weeds have dried out, and can catch fire easily.  From there, we go on to big gigantic forest fires.

The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains disappeared earlier than usual, too. Snow actually accumulated to a decent level in the high elevations last winter, but a very hot spring and early summer made the snow melt earlier than usual.

An earlier snow melt means things dried up in the mountains earlier than it normally does, intensifying the dryness and increasing the potential for more fires.

Meanwhile, 26 million  trees in the Sierra Nevada range have died since October due to a combination of heat, drought and bark beetles, says the Los Angeles Times. That brings the total number of dead trees to 66 million since 2010.

As you may well know, dead trees are terrible fire hazards and go up like crazy.

Bottom line: Expect a lot more people to lose their houses to wildfires over the next few months in California.

Very, very sad.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Watch These Wild Lightning Strikes

There were quite a few big thunderstorms around eastern half of the United States over the past couple days.

Here's one taken by a dash camner of a utility pole being blown apart by a lightning strike in Chicago. Stick around in this video for the slow mo version in the last half:



Another lightning strike during the same Chicago storm set off a wild electrical chain reaction at a subway station that ultimately partly collapsed it. Watch the video of that big moment:



Monday, in New York City, the Empire State Building got hit. Interesting that it hit the side, not the top of the skyscraper. I bet the people in the office where lightning struck just outside got a startle:


Monday, July 25, 2016

Another Round Of Vefmont Storms. Boaters Off The Lakes This Time, Please

A severe thunderstorm approaches St. Albans Bay
on Lake Champlain in July, 2013. If the sky looks like
this, you should have gotten off the lake well before now. 
More thunderstorms are likely this afternoon and evening in Vermont, and most of the rest of the Northeast for that matter.

The zone that's got the highest chance of severe weather is amid the torrid heat wave in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Washington DC area.

But up here in Vermont and the rest of the North Country, quite a few of the storms might be strong, and a couple might turn severe.

Let's not have a repeat of the chaos we had Saturday, when many boaters were caught out on lakes and got into trouble

. Lake Champlain was a mess, as the Coast Guard and other public safety agencies were swamped with distress calls from boaters caught in the storm.

Down in Rutland County, a number of boaters got caught out on Lake Bomoseen.

As of early this morning, about 1,700 homes and buildings in Vermont still had no electricity from Saturday's storms.

There's a couple neat videos of Saturday's storms at the bottom of this post.

Today's storms could come through any given area anytime, though chances are slight this morning.

Things will ramp up in the early afternoon, with the highest chances of storms in eastern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire between about 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The storms will be moving west to east, so New York will probably see the rough weather earliest.

As is usually the case, only a few towns will get hit by severe weather. I don't think today's storms will cause as widespread an issue as Saturday, but then again you never know. Keep an eye to the sky again, please.

For boaters and anyone planning on being outside today, remember these tips so we don't have another mess like Saturday.

--- You know already first thing this morning there's a possibility of storms today. Why not call off your excursion until, say, tomorrow  when it's supposed to be a pleasantly warm and sunny summer day, free of storms?

--- If you insist on go out, remember, you probably have less time than you think to get out of the way of the storms. Be ready to get to a safe harbor and/or a safe building quickly.

----I think people were surprised Saturday by the speed and the direction by which the storms approached.  The storms' forward speed was 50 mph, which is awfully fast, and they came down from the north.

We're used to storms coming from the west, as that is the most frequent direction from which these things come. But they can come from any direction, and even if the are coming from the west, like I think they will today, new storm cells can pop up unexpectedly nearby and surprise you.

If you see a storm off to the north, or south, or east, don't think you're safe. The storm might not miss after all.

--- Always listen to the National Weather Service, via a weather radio, smart phone app or anything else you can get your hands on. Listen to the details of these warnings or weather statements They'll tell you from what direction the stuff is coming, when it will get to you, and what to expect.

But remember, results may vary. The storms highlighted by the National Weather Service could weaken, strengthen or change direction.

---- Avoid complacency. You're saying, "Oh, right. We've had three severe thunderstorm warnings in the past month at my house and nothing bad happend." But bad things happened maybe two miles from your house.

Severe storms are weird. There will be pockets of damage, and a  mile down the road, everything's fine.   The next bad storm could hit you, and hit you hard. You never know.

Here's a time lapse of the storm coming in Saturday along the Lake Champlain shore in Georgia, Vermont:



Here's a video of quarter-sized  hail in Shelburne, Vermont Saturday:


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Worst Severe Storm Outbreak Of Summer Trashed Vermont Saturday

Hours after a line of deadly and destructive
thunderstorms tore though New York, Vermont and
New Hampshire, this isolated,. pretty storm
formed at sunset over northern New York.
This is a view from St. Albans, Vermont.  
OK, those thunderstorms Saturday afternoon were bad. Very bad.

I'm trying to get the details, but the storms might have caused two deaths across the state.

A death was reported amid falling trees in Hubbardton, and another person died of cardiac arrest at an event called Raftapalooza in Colchester.  

Raftapalooza, in which boaters and rafters gather for a day of partying in Malletts Bay, turned into chaos as rafts overturned, boats collided and tents blew away when the severe storm hit, says the Burlington Free Press.

Raftapalooza participants were warned of the approaching storm and were trying to get off the lake, with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and local police. But there were just so many people and so much chaos with the storm, it was hard.

A 56 year old man was in cardiac arrest by 3:30 p.m. during the storms. It's unclear what happened to him during the storm.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other rescue outfits were swamped by many, many reports of boaters in distress on Lake Champlain as the storms packing wind gusts of at least 60 mph hit. I don't know why all those boaters were out there, as we knew there was a chance of severe storms hours before they actually hit.

Green Mountain Power said the storms cut electricity to more than 20,000 Vermont homes and businesses and 10,000 of them still had no electricity Sunday morning.

Motorists along Interstate 89 in central and eastern Vermont reported miles and miles of broken or uprooted trees along the sides of the major highway.

Trees and power lines came down in dozens and dozens of towns in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The Valley News reported a tree fell through the roof of a South Royalton, Vermont home and pierced the ceiiing in a room where a 26 year old man was trying to sleep. Luckily, it turns out the guy didn't get hurt, but he got a face full of insulation and quite a scare.

Cleanup shouldn't be a problem weatherwise today as it will be warm, sunny, and storm-free.

There's a chance of more storms - some possible strong, here we go again - Monday afternoon.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Quite A Lightning Light Show Over Vermont Friday Evening; More Noisy Storms Today

The first storm of what proved to be a loud,
lightning filled evening in northern Vermont is seen
blossoming over Lake Champlain west of St. Albans.  
UPDATE 1:45 p.m Saturday.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has upped the chances of severe storms across northeastern New York and most of Vermont and New Hampshire today.

There's now giving it a slight risk, which is level two of five risk levels, with five being the highest risk.

Earlier today, the Storm Prediction Center was giving us Level 1, or marginal risk for isolated severe storms.

The atmosphere is more unstable than first thought, there was plenty of sun this morning to activate the atmosphere, and it's still fairly humid, so the chances of damaging winds and hail have increased.

There's a good chance they'll issue a severe thunderstorm watch for the rest of the afternoon in the North Country. That watch could  come at any minute now.

As always, not everybody will get a severe or damaging storm. But some towns will see more trees and power lines topple, much like last night. And some gardens and crops here and there might be damaged by hail.

As of 1:45 p.m. Saturday, weather radar was lit up like a Christmas tree with lots of showers and storms, some strong, over southern Quebec, ahead of an approaching cold front

The storms were heading toward the southeast, and would start to cross the International Border by 2:30 p.m,. or even possibly sooner.

The storms will move southeastward and be out of our hair in northern New England by tonight

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

As expected, a bunch of thunderstorms, a few strong to severe, got going over southern Quebec, northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine Friday evening.

I don't know if any of you saw it, but it was quite the light show. I don't think I've seen that much nighttime lightning in ages.

This was a weird outbreak of storms.

Friday turned out to be the hottest day of the summer, reaching 94 degrees in Burlington. That certainly added a lot of energy to atmosphere, priming it for storms.

As noted yesterday, all we needed was a trigger, and that came in the form of a pool of cooler air aloft and a weak cold front sagging down from Quebec in the evening.

As always with photos in this blog thingy, click on the photos to make them bigger and easier to see.

Skies grew ominous over Georgia,
Vermont at sunset Friday.  
Things got off to a late start. A few rogue showers and storms started firing in the North Country around 4 p.m. but they would pop up and peter out without amounting to much.

Then, shortly before sunset, the influence of that system from Canada began nudging in. The initial storms I noticed were weird: Tall, skinny things that didn't look like much from a distance, but were pretty intense once you got inside them.

One of the first storms of the night fired up in far southern Quebec and moved into my area, St. Albans, Vermont shortly before sunset. As you can see in the first photo in this post, it was a thing of beauty over Lake Champlain.

Soon, other tall, skinny storms formed near this one. There were pockets of hail and strong winds as they passed through.

One of the storms, which downed some branches in the southern end of St. Albans, seemed to have a small, slowly rotating wall cloud-like structure on the storm's back side as it moved east of town.

I doubt this storm was anything near tornadic (I'm guessing the rotation was probably just different updrafts and downdrafts and outflows influencing the shape of this particular cloud) but it was certainly interesting to watch the clouds grow and rotate a bit

This storm, shortly after I saw that, triggered the first severe thunderstorm warning of the evening in central Vermont.

Soon larger clusters of storms formed near Ottawa and crossed into northern New York and Vermont

This small wall-cloud like cloud structure slowly
rotated on the tail end of a thunderstorm
Friday evening southeast of St Albans.
I want to be careful and note this wasn't a tornadic
type storm, but the cloud feature was i
interesting nontheless.   
Later, at one point, all of Vermont north of a Rutland to White River Junction line was under a severe thunderstorm warning.

 I don't know the last time I saw such an extensive area of Vermont  under a storm warning.

Damage reports were spotty, with trees and wires down in places like North and South Hero, on Lake Champlain, near Hardwick, Cambridge and Middlesex.

Some of the storms produced torrential downpours, too. Radar estimates show spot totals in excess of 1.5 inches north of Route 2 in Vermont.

The lightning, as noted, was something else, too!  

A second, more intense cluster of severe thunderstorms moved west to east across most of Massachusetts and much of Connecticut as we in northern Vermont had our light show.

There was tree and wire damage, and some other destruction in the Bay State from Interstate 91 in the west all the way to Cape Cod.

We're not done with the storms yet. Another cold front will trigger more thunderstorms across the North Country today.

A few of the storms, once again, will become strong to severe, but there will be only isolated spots that have any more damage. Many of us will get some thunderstorm drama today but nothing totally destructive

Today's round of storms will come through much earlier than Friday's By noon, they will be firing up and generally heading southeastward across New York and Vermont.

The storms should rapidly wind down by evening, and we will have a much quieter night in Vermont than last night.

Sunday looks gorgeous with sun, seasonably warm temperatures and fairly low humidity, but more storms are possible Monday. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Severe Weather Threat To Increase In Vermont, Rest Of New England This Afternoon

Gawd, it was hot and humid outside in Vermont when I stepped out for lunch at noontime.

As previously advertised, that heat and humidity is keeping us on track for another potential bout of severe thunderstorms later today. 

Under lots of sunshine, temperatures will top out at or above 90 in most lower elevations of Vermont this afternoon.
If severe storms develop in the Northeast today,
the most likely areas are shaded in yellow.
Not everyone will get a severe storm, but
a few towns might.

That sun, heat and humidity will make the air less stable, and all we'll need is a trigger to prompt storms to form and possibly to become severe. 

The question is will that trigger materialize. There is a disturbance and weak cold front sinking south from Ontario and Quebec and that might set things off later.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont is not 100 percent sure the storms will get going, but the meteorologists there think they probably will. 

Computer models are not handling predictions of what might go on in the atmosphere over us later today and this evening, and that adds some uncertainty to the forecast.

It might be a bust and we get nothing, or things could get really bad in spots this evening. Best to keep an eye to the sky, just in case.

If storms do form,  they'll develop fast. So be prepared if you see some dark clouds or towering, billowing clouds starting to form later this afternoon.

That's because the way the atmosphere is set up today, some of the thunderstorm that form will likely go from  small shower nothing burgers to dangerous blast of damaging winds, torrential downpours, a lot of lightning and possibly big hail.

A few rogue storms could get going any time from now on today. (I'm writing this at 12:30 p.m.) But the most likely time for storms will start at roughly 4 p.m. and go into the late evening, say 10 p.m. or so.

Northern New York and the northern portions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are the most likely targets if any severe storms develop. There's a lesser but still real chance if you go further south.

There's still a threat of some severe storms scattered about Saturday afternoon as well

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Ring Of Fire" Storms To Harass Vermont, Other Parts Of Northeast

Storm damage in Minnesota today. Severe weather is
possible in parts of the Northeast starting before
dawn on Friday.  
UPDATED EARLY FRIDAY MORNING

Starting early this morning Vermont and other parts of the Northeast is getting a side effect of that torrid heat wave in the middle of the country.

I saw this coming days ago. 

A strong ridge of high pressure is anchored over the middle of the country. The sinking air and the warm influence of the midsummer sun is creating a terrible heat wave underneath this massive area of high pressure.

This type of thing often happens at least once or twice a summer. When it does, something called the "Ring of Fire" forms along the outer edges of this heat dome, which is basically another way of describing this hot zone of high pressure.

Little disturbances ride along the northern edges of this heat dome. The disturbances - mostly weak cold fronts or pockets of chilly air high in the atmosphere, interact with the heat just to the south to create fast moving zones of severe thunderstorms.

That the air to the south is so hot makes the severe storms all the worse.

Wednesday night, one of those storm packets zipped across parts of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some of these storms packed winds of 70 mph or more. Some unofficials reports indicates winds of up to 100 mph.

It got so bad early this morning in Duluth, Minnesota that they basically banned travel for awhile this morning because of all the fallen trees around the city.

At least two people died in the Minnesota storms.

We here in Vermont and much of the rest of northern New York and New England are now about to enter this "Ring of Fire" as that heat wave lurks just to our southwest.

It's turning more humid here, and will stay muggy through the weekend. The air will stay quite warm, with daily highs in the 80s, so that's what the weather disturbances will feed on to create a severe storm risk for the next few days around here.

The storms will come in waves, and forecasting these things are tricky. The timing of the weather disturbances and cold fronts is key, and it's hard to predict those more than 12 hours in advance in this type of weather pattern.

The forecast will change, but here's how it looks like it will play out at this point:

THIS MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON

I had wondered if the band of storms that trashed Duluth and other parts of the upper Midwest would become severe here this morning.

It turned out they didn't, which is a good thing.   A band of showers and thunderstorms did cross through Vermont in the early morning hours, but I have no reports of anything wild.

It didn't rain all that much either, but we'll take what we can get. It's still pretty dry out there.

In the wake of this early Friday morning's band of showers, a zone of higher pressure - sinking air - has come in. We'll get a fair amount of sun, so we'll have no trouble getting temperatures well into the 80s this afternoon.

It's gotten more humid, too, so it'll be kind of uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, higher up in the atmosphere, a layer of dry air is moving in. For the first half of the day that will reinforce the sun, and make showers and thunderstorms unlikely into the early afternoon.

But that dry air aloft will be a factor that could turn this Friday late afternoon and evening into a bumpy one for northern New York and much of New England, including Vermont.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING

A weather disturbance and weak cold front will be approach us from the northwest later today.  It's part of that "Ring of Fire" weather pattern I described above.  That will cool the atmosphere off way up there overhead.

That will set off another round of thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening, and some of those could get severe. Strong winds and hail are the biggest threats.

What will happen is those billowing tall thunderstorm clouds will poke upward into that layer of dry air I told you is hanging around aloft.

The dry air would evaporate some of the moisture bumping up into it from the clouds rising up into it. Evaporation cools the atmosphere, making it more dense. So, the newly cooled air will start to zoom downward toward us, gaining momentum from the rain falling in the thunderstorms.

This dropping air will also grab onto some stronger winds blowing aloft and bring that down to the surface, too. When that happens, you get a great gush of damaging winds - a thunderstorm microburst. There's your severe weather today.

By the way, these gushes of wind coming down from aloft can also some pack some big, damaging hail in some instances.

Now, this won't happen everywhere.  A lot of places will get showers and storms across Vermont and the rest of the Northeast toward evening. But only a few thunderstorms will able to fully work the magic with the dry, windy air aloft.

So  like all the severe weather outbreaks we've gotten this summer - and most severe weather outbreaks in general, only some towns will get damaging winds and hail. Just scattered instances of blown down trees and power lines.

 Still, keep an eye to the sky and heed warnings. And just like on Monday, no boating or  hiking, please on Friday. Too dangerous and these storms can whip up awfully fast.

The storms will wane later Friday night, and things should be fairly quiet after midnight and Saturday morning.

SATURDAY

Another disturbance is likely to ride the Ring of Fire into the Northeast Saturday afternoon, smashing into air that will remain humid by that point.

Many more showers and storms will develop. Some might be strong to severe but it's hard to pull apart the details of what will happen just yet.  I don't think there will be as many severe thunderstorms as there will be today. (and remember there will just be pockets of severe weather here and there today.)

I do think Saturday's showers and storms will get going earlier than today's round will. There could be rain any time Saturday, but the most likely time you'll get a storm is during the afternoon and early evening.

The storms will die out by midnight Saturday.

SUNDAY 

A break. There will be few if any showers and storms, and humidity will go down somewhat as we're between systems in Vermont and most of the rest of the Northeast. There will quite a bit of sun, too. A nice day. The day you should go out and enjoy this weekend without worrying much about storms.

MONDAY: Another round of strong storms is possible as yet another Ring of Fire disturbance comes in. It's too early to say for sure what exactly will go on then. It all depends on when the disturbance comes through.

If it arrives in the afternoon, it could kick off some scattered strong storms. If it comes through later at night, I imagine we'll just get garden variety thundershowers overnight Monday into very early Tuesday morning. Stay tuned.

TUESDAY-THURSDAY: The heat ridge might get suppresed further to the south and west, lessening the chances of more storms during that time frame. Temperatures will be near or just a little above normal, too. Expect quite a bit of sun, too, so early indications are the middle of the week will bring us a nice stretch of summer weather.


Wild Phoenix Microburst Caught On Film

Microburst in Phoenix earlier this week. Photo credit
Jerry Ferguson/Bruce Haffner/Andrew Park.  
It's monsoon season in the Desert Southwest, that time of year when moisture from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean off of Mexico is able to sneak into that normally dry part of the nation.

The result is thunderstorms, which erupt during the afternoons and evenings in the desert heat.

These storms can be whoppers, setting off blinding haboobs, which are waves of dense blowing dust, or microburst, which send great gushes of wind and rain to the ground.

There was a doozy of one in Phoenix the other day. (Video of it at the bottom of this post. The first of is what it looked like from outside it, the next, what it looked like right inside it.)

Photos of it look like the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb, but rather than the force of the explosion rocketing upward, it was a great gush of rain and wind slamming to the ground.

As the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang notes, microbursts are created by the drag that's caused by falling rain and hail, along with evaporation.

When water evaporates, it cools the air, which makes it more dense and accelerates its travel toward the ground within a thunderstorm.

Microbursts can be as dangerous as tornadoes.  When they hit the ground, the wind spreads out from the point of impact. Near that point of impact, microbursts have been known to create wind gusts as high as 150 mph.

There were microbursts in New England and southern Quebec Monday that brought winds estimated up to 80 mph. One of these blew roofs off houses in southern Quebec. 

Microbursts are particularly dangerous for planes, and pilots steer clear. You can imagine what a big gush of air blasting downward could do with a plane. There have been incidents of nasty crashes because of these. Most of the time, airports and pilots see microbursts coming and either avoid them or don't try to land or take off near them.

The first video below was taken near or at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Note if you can the fact that some planes continue to taxi, but none take off once the microburst gets  close to the tarmacs.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hot Times In The Nation Now; Hot Times In The World Past 14 Months

All those reddish hues in a huge area in the
middle of the nation represent the heart
of the big heat wave today and tomorrow.
The heat will spread east over the rest of the week
and weekend, but will largely miss New England 
The heat wave in the middle of the nation is here, and it's a nasty one.

Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories cover a huge area in the middle of the country from the Canadian border in Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana.  

On a larger scale, NOAA released its monthly global climate report for June, and it's another one for the record books. More on that below after I get into the more immediate news of the nation's biggest, nastiest heat wave of 2016.

NATIONAL HEAT

According to the Weather Channel, something like 42 million people are in the bullseye for the heat. In northern locations  like Des Moines, Minneapolis and Omaha on Thursday, the combination of the heat and the expected high humidity will make it feel like it's about 110 degrees outside.

Those locations always get hot in July, but not usually that hot. Since not everybody up north has air conditioning, and temperatures at night will stay in the stifling upper 70s during the heat wave, healh officials are understandably worried about an uptick in deaths.

Heat waves are often the deadliest weather disaster, though we don't hear about that kind of thing in the media as much in part because hot spells aren't photogenic, like tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.

Most of the people who die in heat waves are elderly and people with pre-existing health problems.

A heat wave in 1995 killed around 700 people in the Chicago area, for instance. By the way, Chicago is in the heart of this week's heat wave, so they're taking precautions to get people into air conditioned buildings, says the Chicago Tribune. 

Already, four people have died from heat related illnesses in the El Paso, Texas area after 16 consecutive days of 100 degree weather, says the El Paso Times.

Special shout -out to my relatives and friends in Yankton, South Dakota: You're in for BIG heat, especially today and Thursday. Stay in the air conditioning, and if you don't have it, do something like take a long, lingering shopping trip to the frozen food section at Hy-Vee.

This will probably be the nastiest heat wave in the nation since probably 2012 or 2013, or even longer in some areas.

The heat will spead to the East Coast by the weekend, with readings flirting with 100 degrees in the Mid-Atlantic states.

The exception will be where I am  in northern New England, I'll largely miss out on the torrid heat wave. It will be very warm and humid occasionally over the next week, but not anywhere near any scary record highs.

The price we'll pay here is that since the heat wave will be just south and west of us, weather disturbances zipping along the northern edge of the hot zone will feed on that heat, and will contribute to outbreaks of thunderstorms, some maybe severe.

Friday afternoon, for instance, has all of New England under threat of severe storms.

The cold fronts with these disturbances will keep the heat largely at bay, though.

JUNE GLOBAL HEAT

Yesterday, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information released their June global analysis  and said that month was the 14th consecutive month the world set a record high temperature for a month.

Fourteen consecutive months is just incredible. The year 2016 is almost surely going to go down as the world's hottest year on record. That will beat 2015 as the Number One hot year, which beat 2014 as Number One.

Yep, the climate is a-changin'

Of course, the now-faded El Nino gave a boost to global temperatures in 2015 and 2016.  I noticed the May and June temperatures didn't break records by quite as large a margin as earlier month, which probably reflects the fact El Nino is gone.

I'm also sure because of the passing of El Nino a month very soon won't be a record high for the globe. That could even be July, for all I know, despite the big heat wave hitting now in the middle of the nation.

But climate change's fingerprints are all over the climate data from the past year. The world would have certainly had a warm spell with El Nino, but climate change, combined with El Nino, almost certainly made for these world records.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Well, Monday Was A Stormy Day, Wasn't It?

Sorm rolling into Georgia Vermont Monday evening. 
As expected, Monday was a stormy day across the Northeast.

Here in Vermont, it was probably the biggest severe weather outbreak of the year so far.

I counted at least 32 storm reports in Vermont and northeastern New York logged by the National Weather Service in South Burlington.

As usual, I tried to take a few photos of the storms. Click on them in this post to make them bigger and easier to see.

I was working inside most of the day, so these photos are of the final storms of the day in northwestern Vermont.

Menacing clouds over Georgia, Vermont Monday evening.  
The day got off to an early start. What basically became a supercell formed in northern New York,  then skirted the entire Vermont/Quebec border, downing trees on either side of the boundary, then went into far northern New Hampshire and western Maine.

There, a couple of tornado warnings were issued, and one twister actually touched down in far northern Maine, of all places. (I don't think that brief tornado was part of this supercell)

Overall the Storm Prediction Center logged at least 281 reports of damaging winds, mostly in the Northeast.

Other clusters of storms kept forming all day and into the evening in New York State, then moved across Vermont. Bradford, near the New Hampshire border, got some hailstones that were 2 inches in diameter, which is bigger than a golf ball.

The storm ending in St. Albans, Vermont Monday evening.  
Another storm dumped some large trees on police cruisers at the Burlington Police Department, damaging some of them.

Three people had to be rescued when their boat capsized during a storm on Lake Champlain near Shelburne, Vermont.

The storms are long gone now, and it's cooler and less humid and refreshing behind a cold front.

The rest of today will be gorgeous, with partly cloudy skies. Wednesday is going to be the winner of the week.

More warmth and humidity, and maybe some more thunderstorms, are due in Vermont and much of the rest of New England by the end of the week.

Pretty ski over Fairfield Swamp,
Vermont after Monday evening's storms.  





Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Cold Front, Another Severe Threat In Northeast, Including Vermont

Storm over Georgia, Vermont on June 28.
Similar scenes are possible in
Vermont and other areas of the
Northeast today.  
 Sunday afternoon turned out to be a lovely summer day in Vermont after some early rains and rumbles of thunder in central and soutnern sections.

It's back to the storms today for a broad area of the Northeast, including Vermont. A few could be severe. Here we go again.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has the target areas for today mainly through the northwestern half to two thirds of New England, most of New York and Pennsylvania and some of the eastern Ohio valley.

There, they're calling it a slight risk of severe weather, which is the second of five alert levels.

This means this outbreak of severe weather in Vermont and surrounding areas will be similar to the past few, including the one that blew through last Thursday.

Most of us will probably get a thunderstorm and some downpours today, but a handful of towns in NOAA's slight risk area, will have it worse, with damaging winds that will knock down trees and power lines.

There were already some strong storms coming off of Lake Erie in far western New York early this morning, so we know the risk is there.

As noted, the biggest threat from today's storms is damaging straight line winds, but large hail could come down in a few spots. There's even a very remote chance of a brief tornado anywhere in the yellow shaded area of the United States map in this post.

Anyone living in the yellow area of this map, including
all of Vermont, has a slight, but real chance of severe
thunderstorms today.  
The timing of the weather front coming in from the west is right. We'll be near the maximum heating of the day, which will add instability to the air this afternoon. There's strong winds aloft and a cold front approaching.

So yeah, a few towns in the Northeast, including Vermont, will get a good damaging blast today.

Much of the rest of us can expect at least some noise and dramatic clouds a good gush of rain. Although, as always, a few areas will miss out on the storms completely.

The Storm Prediction Center says the greatest threat of wind damage is in western New England and New York.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont, in their forecast discussion notes the entire state of Vermont and eastern New York is under threat this afternoon.

 But a fine reading of the computer models suggests that within this region, the highest chances of a a few powerful, severe thunderstorms are in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York, and a strip not far from the Canadian border in the far north of New York and Vermont.

Another stronger risk area, the guess goes, is in the Hudson Valley of New York and the southern third of Vermont.

A simulated, computer generated guestimate of what
 the radar will look at aroudn 2p .m. today. Notice
all the thunderstorms heading into Vermont.Add caption
This suggests central Vermont could miss out slightly on the severest storms. But that's uncertain, I will emphasis. Everyone in the region should be aware of threatening weather and listen for severe thunderstorm warnings.

If you get such a warning or see a storm coming, get inside. It can get dangerous out there.

And as in the last chance of severe weather last week, don't even bother going out on the lake or up in the mountains for a hike today. Wait until tomorrow, when it will be cooler, less humid, and storm-free.

For the record, Wednesday will be sunnier, and slightly warmer than Tuesday, with no threat of rain

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Awesome Time Lapse Of Big Storm Engulfing Manhattan

Severe thunderstorms hit parts of the Northeast Thursday.

I found this awesome time lapse of one of the strong storms engulfing Manhattan, then just as quickly zipping on out of town:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Pretty Pink Arctic Snow Also Means Trouble

The algae in this Arctic snow turns the ice into a pretty
 watermelon pink, but it's actually more bad news in terms
of global warming. 
Some snow and ice in the Arctic has turned a very pretty watermelon pink color.

Very photogenic, but it also spells potential trouble.

The pink is caused by a green algae that turns red.  The pink color obviously means the snow is no longer white.

White is the best color you can get if you want to reflect the sun's heat back to outer space and that's what Arctic snow and ice does.  It's an air conditioner for the world.

If the snow is off color - in this case pink -- it will absorb more sun and heat. And therefore melt faster. Which is bad news because the Arctic has already been melting too fast lately.

Now, this pigmentation from algae has always happened in the Arctic. But now it's happening earlier in the season, That means the melt starts sooner on the snow and ice. It's a case of warmer temperatures creating a positive feedback that results in even more warming.

It seems like every time we turn around we get more bad news about Arctic melting. Just this week, the temperature reached 85 degrees in Deadhorse, Alaska, just 10 miles from the Arctic Circle. That's the hottest on record it's been in Alaska for locations within 50 miles of the Arctic Circle.

Meanwhile, a lot of climate watchers have been monitoring the sea ice extent in the Arctic this summer as it melts fast.

It's still going at a near record pace, so far pretty much tied with 2012 with the most extensive melt on record. As I've said earlier, whether this year sets a new record depends upon weather conditions in the Arctic the rest of the summer.


We'll see if things somehow turn around.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Another Severe Weather Threat Today Vermont, Rest Of Northeast

A severe thunderstorm looms
over Starksboro, Vermont last month.
More severe weather is a a good
bet in parts of the Green Mountain State
today. 
Another sunny, humid dawn greeted us in Vermont this morning, setting the stage for some more severe thunderstorms today.

Yesterday, we had a bit of a warmup. A few areas in the North Country managed to pick up a thunderstorm. None were severe, but some were strong with gusts to 40 mph and brief, torrential downpours.  

I noticed the National Weather Service at South Burlington, Vermont picked up a quick quarter inch of rain or so with a thunderstorm. Here at my weather hacienda in St. Albans, Vermont, just 25 miles north of Burlington, we got just, like, three raindrops.

Today will be much more active than Wednesday, as I expect most people in Vermont and surrounding areas will get a thunderstorm.

Some storms will be severe.  The area NOAA's Storm Prediction center is targeted today is northeastern Pennsylvania, most of New York, all of Vermont, most of New Hampshire and the western portions of Massachucetts, Connecticut  and Maine.

The biggest threats from any of today's storms are strong, damaging winds and torrential downpours.  Even though it has been dry, the air is so humid that the thunderstorms will take full advantage of the available moisture.

That means it will rain so, so hard in some storms, raising the risk of local flash floods.

Often, an approaching cold front bumping into humid air touches off severe thunderstorms. But the nearest cold front is way west over the Great Lakes.

Today's it's a combination of an upper level disturbance in the atmosphere, lots of humidity, instability encouraged by strong morning sun today and some relatively strong winds aloft that are creating the chances of bad storms.

As with most episodes of severe storms in the Northeast, most people won't get damaging winds or flash floods. It'll just be a random smattering of locations.

Areas in yellow have the best chance of severe
thunderstorms today, but the severe ones
will be hit and miss.  
Most of the time, you can't tell much more than several minutes ahead of time who will get the severe weather, so keep your weather radio handy and take shelter if you get a severe storm warning, or go to high ground if you get a flash flood warning.

Most of the rest of us still have to be careful. There will probably be a lot of lightning around during the storms, which of course you don't want to be outside in the middle of.

So, cancel your hiking trip, your fishing trip and your boating trip today, and probably your picnic,too.

Better weather will be coming.

Although not tomorrow. I expect more thunderstorms scattered around the region Friday, though few, if any will be severe. Friday's storms will be touched off by that cold front I told you about that's over the Great Lakes today. It'll finally get here on Friday.

There might be a lesser coverage of widely scattered storms Saturday, but no big deal.

Sunday at this point looks gorgeous

 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wisconsin, Minnesota Slammed By Floods, Storms; More Coming

Highway 11 washed out in Wisconsin after torrential
rains this week. Photo by Jeff Peters/AP
As expected, severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours have been roaming the edges of a nasty heat wave in the middle and southern parts of the country.

Some of the storms are even extending southward into the heat zone, producing some nasty storm this afternoon in Missouri and surrounding areas.

By far the worst storms so far this week have been in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A few tornadoes touched down in Minnesota Monday. Worse, thunderstorms formed a "train" going right after another in a series over north central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.

The storms dumped up to 11 inches of rain, so as you can imagine, there was some terrible flash flooding.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a disaster in eight counties. One person drowned in the flooding, and many roads have been washed away.

Some rivers in northern Wisconsin rose to record levels. Two rivers flow into Saxon Harbor at the edge of Lake Superior. The huge rush of water from the creeks flushed boats away, damaging and destroying 85 of them, says USA Today.

The flash floods in Wisconsin and Minnesota are part of a widespread pattern across the United States and much of the world of increased extreme precipitation events.

There's no way I can conclusively tie this week's Wisconsin disaster to climate change, as a lot of factors were at work to produce the storms.

But the Wisconsin and Minnesota floods fit the pattern of ever more torrential rain storms that keep cropping up.

That makes sense. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor. If climate change is under way, there can be more water in the air. Under the right conditions, this added moisture is released in sometimes unprecedented downpours.

In many areas, says the EPA, a greater percentage of precipitation is coming in blockbuster one day events like the one in Wisconsin this week. This is occuring even in areas where overall precipitation is showing a decreasing trend, like in the American Southwest.

For the rest of today the target areas for severe storms are in a broad area in the Midwest and southern Great Lakes, from Wisonsin to Missouri and from Iowa to Ohio.

Some areas in this zone will be hit with strong gusty winds, maybe some hail, dangerous lightning, and of course those scary local flash floods.

Thursday, the severe risk shifts to a wide band stretching from almost all of  New England southwestward all the way to Oklahoma and Texas. (Where I am in Vermont is included in this zone of possible severe storms)

Again, the risk in most of Wednesday's alert zones are locally strong gusty winds with storms and also local flash floods.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Torrid Weather About To Torch Much Of The Nation

Looks like most of the nation over the next week
or two is going to be even hotter than the
normal July heat. The exception is an expected
cool Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska.  
For most, but not all of the nation, mid-July is traditionally the most likely time of year to get the nastiest heat wave of the year.

Cue the hot spell!

A big, huge subtropical ridge of high pressure is setting itself up in the middle of the country, and that promises to engulf much of the nation in very, very hot weather.

Most of the heat will cover the southern Rocky Mountains, most of Plains States and most of the nation east of the Mississippi River.

Except in the Southwest, the heat will be accompanied by terrible humidity. The heat will largely miss the Pacific Northwest.

The heat ridge will tend to wax and wane a little bit periodically, but it's probably going to generally stay put for close to two weeks at least.

It'll be centered in the middle of the nation, so that's the spot that should experience the worst and most persistent heat for much of the rest of July.

The northern tier of states and the Northeast, especially New England, will be on the outer edges of this Heat Ridge From Hell.

The good news is that there will probably be occasional cold fronts, so the heat will come and go. You know the pattern: Hot 'n humid for a couple days, then refreshing, then back to the steam bath.

The bad news is being on the edges of the Heat Ridge From Hell ups the chances of severe weather outbreaks.

This is especially true if you happen to be on the northeast side of his big hot bubble. (which is most likely in this pattern in New England.

The air aloft will be coming from the northwest, the heat will be trying to invade from the southwest, and this combination can create lines of bad storms or even, in rare cases, dangerous derechos.

There's no guarantee any of those severe storms would happen, and it's really impossible to tell more than a day ahead of time if there will be any severe weather.

But the potential is there across the northern tier, especially the Northeast, much of the rest of the month.

Another caveat is forecasts can get iffy beyond a few days, so the intensity and location of the worst heat might be a bit different from what I'm laying out here.

Meanwhile, try to stay cool!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hate The Heat? Go To Montana. Or Oregon

A web cam showed snow atop Lone Peak
in Montana last July. Similar scenes are
possible later today and Monday  
Today is hot and dry, or hot and terribly humid in most of the United States, depending on where you are.

If you want some relief, you should either be in New England, where it is (temporarily) cool, but not ridiculously so.

Or if you want to really get nice and chilled head to the Pacific Northwest or northern Rockies. Especially if you like frost and snow.

Yes. In July.

Parts of central Oregon are under a frost advisory tonight as an unseasonably chilly air mass sweeps through.

Web cams this morning showed snow along the rim of Crater Lake, Oregon, which is at about 6,800 feet above sea level.

The chilly air is spreading into the northern Rockies, where snow is forecast in the high spots in Montana, including Glacier National Park.

Park officials are warning visitors to watch out for hypothermia because of the cold and snow at elevations above 6,500 feet, and a cold, sometimes heavy rain at lower elevations.

It's somewhat unusual to have this level of cold in this part of the country in July, but it's most certainly not unheard of. It snowed in many of the same areas last July, for instance.

The cold weather in the Northern Rockies is being brought on by an unusually strong storm over southwestern Canada.  Low pressure systems tend to be weak in July, but not this one.

It's strong winds are propelling cold air from way  north in Canada to make it into the Pacific Northwest.

The strong storm with its wind is teaming up with hot air to the south to cause a wide variety of other weather troubles in the Rockies and Plains states.

Much of the southern and central Rockies and parts of the High Plains are under a fire weather alert today as strong winds, hot temperatures and very low humidities (caused mainly by the contrast between the cold storm in Canada and the hot ridge of high pressure to the south) will make any spark turn into a conflagration.

If you're a careless smoker, stay out of these areas as temperatures reach the 90s, the relative humidty drops below 10 percent and winds gust to 55 mph in parts of the Rockies.

The storm system is also threatening to cause a severe weather outbreak later this Sunday in extreme eastern Montana, most of the Dakotas and western Minnesota today.  These areas might get huge hail, strong winds and maybe a few tornadoes.

For all you summer lovers, it will warm up to near normal in the northern Rockies during the week. The heat that's gripping most of the nation will continue. The brief cool spell in New England will be replaced by heat and humidity later this week.

It is July, after all.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Bit of Needed Rain In New England, With More To Come: Storm Photos, Too

I snapped this photo of an approaching thunderstorm
over a farm in Georgia, Vermont Thursday afternoon. n
As expected, scattered thunderstorms broke out in the humid air over northern New England Thursday.

Also as expected, a few of them became severe, with scattered reports of damage in northern Vermont, mostly trees down on roads, snapped power lines, that sort of thing.

As usual, I was out snapping photos of the clouds asssociated with the Vermont storms. There's a couple in this post. Click on them to make them bigger and easier to read.

It was part of a trend this week that I brought up yesterday of lots of severe weather ongoing in the nation this week.

The toll continued across the nation, with 12 reports of tornadoes, mostly in North Dakota and Kansas and a concentration of wind damage in Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

Storm clouds over Georgia,
Vermont Thursday. 
Up here in Vermont, the storms generally did more good than harm, as most places across the northern  half of the state got some rain out of this.

We needed the rain. Where the storms hit hardest, the rain was torrential, given the humid air over the region.

Stil, a couple storms got too rambunctious.

One storm I was in was strong enough to drop a tree across a highway in Georgia, Vermont. Another storm, probably the strongest of the bunch, knocked over a bunch of trees in and near Underhill, Vermont.

The dryness in New England has been getting worse, at least until yesterday in some areas, or until this weekend in others (more on that in a moment).

The U.S. Drought Monitor updated this week shows continued abnormally dry conditions over most of New England, except northern Maine. (Plus northern Maine received, after the latest drought report came out, a lot more rain on Thursday.)

There are pockets of drought in southern New England, with an area of severe drought in central and northeastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire.

I encountered this fallen tree blocking one lane of Route
7 in Georgia, Vermont as the storm in the above
photos began to depart.  
The good news is the region will get a good shot of rain this weekend.

Unfortunately, the area that will probably receive the lightest rain in New England is the area under severe drought. Still, they'll get some rain, which is good.

New England will get a brief break from the recent heat, too. Burlington, Vermont hit 90 again Thursday before the storms hit, making it seven days with 90 degrees or above so far this summer.

Normal for an entire summer is six such days.

It'll get cool during and just after the rain Saturday and Sunday, but it looks hot again by the middle of next week.