Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yes, I'm Going There: Harvey And Climate Change

Global warming didn't cause Hurricane Harvey. But scientists
are beginning to look at whether climate change might
have influenced this mega-disaster.
As I mentioned yesterday, some people tell me it's unseemly to talk right now about whether Hurricane Harvey was influenced by climate change.  

We're still trying to save lives and help people begin to pick up the pieces, like my friend George Quenzer, a meteorologist who lost his home and belongings in the flood.  Shouldn't we focus on that?

Well,  yes, of course, but Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We can give all the aid we can to people in Texas and Louisiana who need our help.  And we can begin the process of learning from Harvey, and whether any part of the calamity was a result of climate change.

We know Harvey wasn't entirely the fault of climate change, but it might have altered the storm enough to make it worse.

Here's how climatologist Michael Mann puts it in his article this week in The Guardian:

"While we cannot say climate change 'caused' Hurricane Harvey (that is an ill-posed question) we can say that it exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life. Climate change worsened the impact of Hurricane Harvey."

HARVEY STRENGTHENED ODDLY

Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 storm, packing winds of over 120 mph. As you can imagine, these winds were devastating to the area hit by the storm's eye, especially around Rockport and Port Aransas, Texas.

It was stronger than your average hurricane, but it wasn't the strongest ever. This powerful a storm has happened before, with or without global warming. The fact that Harvey was strong is not proof in and of itself of global warming.

Still, it's possible, but not certain, that climate change influenced Harvey's strength. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were a little warmer than average in the path of Harvey. Hurricanes feed on warm water. The warmer the better.

As climatologist Michael Mann pointed out in The Guardian, the Gulf of Mexico is warm down to unusually deep depth, which probably helped fuel Harvey.  Such deep layer warmth in ocean water is a sign of climate change

One of the unusual aspects of Harvey is that it continued to strengthen right up to the time of landfall. Almost all hurricanes level off or even weaken just before hitting shore. An Atlantic article by Robinson Meyer suggested the unusual depth of warm water in the Gulf contributed to Harvey's strengthening trend that continued right up to the moment it hit land.

HARVEY STALLS

What made Harvey such a calamity is the fact that it stalled over Texas, unleashing an unrelenting firehose of downpours on areas from Houston to Beaumont and beyond.
Homes almost entirely submerged by Harvey

Again, hurricanes and tropical storms can and do stall, with or without global warming.

This was a case of incredible bad luck. If a hurricane stalls way out over the ocean, who cares? If it stalls near Houston, America's fourth largest city, it's worse than terrible.

It's unclear whether steering currents are slower in a warmer world. Scientists are debating this, and discussing to what extent slower atmospheric steering currents might be influenced by global warming.

But if steering currents are slowing in the atmosphere, that would increase the number of extreme weather events.

If a wet storm of any sort moves right along in a fast atmospheric flow, it's not a big deal,  becaue the rain won't last all that long. If the same storm stalls over one area, it's a disaster. That's why the science of understanding atmospheric patterns and flows in a warmer world is a priority for climate scientists.

HARVEY'S RAINS SUPER-INTENSE

Rainfall rates during Harvey were incredible.  At the peak of the downpours in Houston, a half inch of rain fell in just three minutes. Never heard of anything like that before.

The 26 inches of rain that drowned Beaumont Texas in one day included an incredible eight inches of rain in just one hour. (For perspective, here in Vermont, it normally takes two months during the summer to accumulate eight inches of rain.)

As Friederike Otto wrote in Climate Change News:

"In a warming world, the vapor capacity of the atmosphere increases and more extreme rainfall, like Texas is witnessing right now, is to be expected as a result. This leads many to conclude that climate change exacerbated the impacts of Hurricane Harvey."

I will add a caveat: The increased capacity of a warming atmosphere to hold more moisture and unleash incredible downpours is not proof that Hurricane Harvey was worse than it otherwise would have been.

It's hard to tease out exactly how climate change affects individual storms. But this is something scientists will study in Harvey.

Land use patterns probably worsened the Texas flooding, too. Houston sprawled out incredibly over the decades, and miles upon miles of land are paved over. This used to be land that could absorb much of the water from downpours, minimizing flooding.

Now, with the concrete and pavement, the water has no place to soak in. So it floods neighborhoods.

Still, Harvey was yet another mega-flood in a new era that seems to bring more and more mega-floods. This was the fourth so-called 100 year flood in Houston in three years.

Even as Houston was drowning this week, the worst flooding in decades was striking parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Another flood in Yemen this week killed at least 15 people.

Other parts of the nation have also had huge, catastrophic floods in recent years. Like Baton Rouge last August. North Carolina with Hurricane Matthew last October. The deluge in South Carolina in 2015. I could go on and on.

Only a handful of climate deniers can't accept the fact that global warming is happening. Scientists understand the concept more than ever and research is continuing at a sonic-boom inducing pace.

However, as Hurricane Harvey demonstrates, we still need to learn a lot more about climate change. Our lives might end up depending on it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvey's Misery Keeps On Spreading, Keeps On Getting Worse

An exhausted woman tries to sleep as floodwaters
rise around her in a Port Arthur evacuation center.
The news about the Harvey flooding in Texas and Louisiana continues to be pretty much all bad, and it's spreading to new areas, and the news is hitting new depths.

The latest cities to fall under the worst of Harvey's viciousness are Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas.

As of early this morning, water had poured into an evacuation center in Port Arthur, and hundreds of people retreated to bleachers above the floor awaiting rescue. And that's going to take awhile.

Nobody can get into Port Arthur to help. They want to take the hundreds of people stranded in the evacuation center to another one that's above water five miles south of town, says the Weather Channel.

However, that second evacuation center has no supplies yet. And it's going to be hard to move people and supplies there until the water goes down.

Overnight, Twitter and Facebook were filled with pleas from Port Arthur residents begging to be rescued from flooded homes. The people crying for help included the elderly, children and pregnant women.

Port Arthur received 26 inches of rain in 24 hours, more than double the old record for the city. The storm total there is up past 42 inches.

The whole city is under water. Several houses are on fire, apparently sparked by electrical shorts in the flooding. Nobody can get to the burning houses, so they will burn down completely to the water line.

The world's largest oil refinery in Port Arthur is at least partially shut down. Many other refineries and chemical plants are also down across the western Gulf of Mexico.

With 12 percent of the nation's refining capacity off line due to Harvey, expect fuel shortages and spiraling gas prices nationwide. 

Between the higher gas prices we're all going to pay, and such a broad area of the nation's economy centered around Houston, I wouldn't be surprised if United States economic growth temporarily stalls due to Harvey.

You can see a time lapse of the flooding in Houston at the bottom of this post.
This is not a storm-tossed lake. It is the middle of Interstate 10
just west of Beaumont, Texas.

The misery is going to keep spreading. Flash flooding from Harvey, now finally inland, could extend as far north as southern Ohio in the coming days. The lower Missisissippi River all the way through western Tennessee is especially under the gun.

Harvey has produced the heaviest rainfall in continental U.S. history.

A weather station near Cedar Bayou, Texas recorded 51.88 inches of rain in the storm beating the old record of 48 inches for the continental United States. I'm still guessing we'll see localized totals topping 50 inches.

The death toll from Harvey is uncertain, as it's still hard to get to flooded areas for inspections. It does  appear that so far at least two dozen people have died, including a Houston Police officer caught in flood waters on his way to work during the emergency.

I'm going to have a lot more to say about Harvey in the coming days, including what people do once the water recedes.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Irma has just formed far out over the eastern Atlantic.  It will will likely turn into another hurricane and is heading west. And there's a chance, just a chance, this would-be hurricane could end up in the Gulf of Mexico in less than two weeks.

I'll also wade into the question of whether climate change had anything to do with Harvey's destruction. Some people are saying we shouldn't talk about that while we are still trying to rescue people and recover from the damage.

But the nation can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can help all those people affected by Harvey, and we can also look at the science of Harvey so we can learn and prepare for the inevitable  next time.  


Monday, August 28, 2017

Iconic Photos Of Catastrophes Like Houston Flood Break Your Heart

A terrified boy inside his flooded Texas
house clings to his toy stuffed monkey
as he awaits rescue. 
Every time there is a huge disaster, like the epic ongoing Hurricane Harvey flood in and around Houston, certain photos, images or videos make you stop in your tracks.

That's when your heart really hurts for the people affected.

I'm sure that's the reaction everybody has. A lot of people were horrified by the elderly people at an assisted care facility who were waist or even neck deep in water because nobody was available to come rescue them.

They were eventually rescued.

The photo that did it for me popped up on my Twitter feed Sunday afternoon. It showed a little boy, maybe three or four years old, sitting on a kitchen counter as water rose to halfway up the cupboards below him.

He clung desperately to a toy stuffed monkey as he looked down, seemingly in horror at the water just below him.

I'm told the boy and his family were rescued and are now safe. I hope he still has his stuffed monkey, which I know must be a comfort to him.

The image of the boy in the flooded house crystallized for me how terrifying this catastrophe must be for thousands upon thousands of people.

And it goes on. The firehose of torrential downpours had moved east of Houston, at least temporarily this morning, so places like Beaumont, Texas and southwestern Louisiana are now living through the disaster.

Or at least I hope they're living through the disaster.

Images from past disasters float back into my mind when I see photos like the boy with the stuffed monkey.

I remember a photo of New Orleans after Katrina in 2005. It showed a woman on a bridge, watching as a dead body floated by. I wonder if the woman who witnessed that horror is OK now. Did someone recover the body, so the person's family at least knows what happened and can properly mourn the loss?

As if there is a proper way to mourn.

Sometimes even static images of disaster without people or even any real apparent emotion stir the soul and make you hurt for the victims.
Even static images without people pull at your heartstrings.
Here's a beautiful 19th-century farmhouse destroyed
in Vermont during Tropical Storm Irene floods in 2011.

After the devastating floods from Irene here in Vermont back in 2011, I and a bunch of other photographers captured an image of a flood-ruined house in Pittsfield, Vermont.

Judging from the architecture, the house was probably built in the 1800s. The flood picked up the house and threw it into a rocky ditch, leaving  it tilted at a crazy angle.

Whoever owned the house before the flood clearly took care of it. There it sat, with a smart green standing seam roof, and other evidence it was well-kept before disaster struck.

I wonder what happened to the people who lived there. Are the OK? Is the pain of that flood experience easing?

The images and videos that tear our hearts apart, like what we're seeing coming out of Houston and much of the rest of Texas, is actually good in one respect.

These horrifying pictures spur us to act. Houston and other parts of Texas are going to need a lot of help from all of us.

The boy stranded in his house with his toy monkey is a call to arms. Will you help in whatever way you can? The boy and his monkey, and millions of people in the Hurricane Harvey disaster zone pray that you do.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Houston's Nightmare: As Bad As Katrina

Overnight, the Houston metro area went beyond the worst case scenario.
Dawn in Houston Sunday revealed a city reeling
from catastrophic, historic flooding. 

We knew catastrophic flooding was coming to eastern Texas due to stalled ex-Hurricane Harvey.

What's happening in Houston now is the beyond description.   

A feeder band of intense rains on the east flank of Harvey has been pushing into the Houston area since late Saturday afternoon and shows no signs of stopping. 

Extreme flooding is happening in and around Houston. 

I'll cherry pick some facts to give you just a partial illustration: 

-- Emergency responders and the National Weather Service office in Houston are warning people not to go into their attics to escape floodwaters. They'll be trapped and drown there, just as many Katrina victims were in 2005 New Orleans. 

People should head for their roofs instead. (Where of course people will be subject to the torrential rain, lightning and possible tornadoes.)

-- Water is entering the second floors of numerous homes in the Houston metro area.

-- 911 is so overwhelmed that people are not getting through to ask for help. Houston police are asking people to call 911 only if their life is in immediate danger.  Anyone trapped in their house but there's only several inches to a foot of of water inside should ride it out and not call 911.

--- There have been well over 1,000 water rescues so far. The number of reported deaths around Houston as of early this morning is either three or five, depending upon who you ask, but that toll will surely rise exponentially.
I-610 in Houston this morning. 

---Since people can't get through to 911, they're taking to Twitter to plead for help. Television station KHOU, which is still on the air despite the fact it is taking on water, reported Tweets like the following: 

"I have 2 children with me and the water is swallowing us up. Please send help. 11115 Sageview, Houston, Tx. 911 is not responding!!!!!"

 (The woman and her children were later rescued.)

Another Tweet:

"@houstonpolice my sister lives on sulphur 77034. She is on her roof with 3 kids please send help!!!!"

Houston police tweeted back to the man that they would tell dispatch about the situation. 

Personnel at KHOU early this morning were moving into a makeshift broadcast studio in a conference room on the second floor of their building since the studio on the main floor was flooding. 

Coast Guard helicopters have been called in to rescue people trapped in flooded urban areas.

The torrential rain in Houston showed no sign of stopping as of 8 a.m. EDT. Forecasts called for the feeder band to continue dumping downpours on Houston all day. 

Several of the storms yesterday also produced tornadoes. Some of Houston's storms today could easily do the same.  

One to two feet of rain fell on the Houston metro area overnight, and they could get another one to two feet during the day today.

Some are already saying this could become the most catastrophic flood in United States history, or at least close to it. 

This is as bad as it can possibly get, folks.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Media Says Worst Of Harvey Is Over. That's So Not True

Devastation in Rockport, Texas from Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, always seeming to be worse than expected, crashed ashore in Texas last night as a Category 4 monster with winds of 130 mph. 

The Associated Press said it was the 18th strongest hurricane to strike the United States since 1851.

Early this afternoon, the mayor of devastated Rockport, Texas confirmed at least eight deaths there.

It's hard to get a bead on how severe  the wind destruction is in the communities just north of Corpus Christi, but early indications are it's bad. Very bad.

As of 7 a.m., Harvey was "downgraded" to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph and will continue weakening today. At least its winds will.

Don't pay attention, though, to any media reports that suggest that things are getting better because winds aren't so strong.

As I and countless meteorologists have been telling us for days, the real disaster is only just beginning right now.

You think the wind damage in Texas is bad? That's the least of their problems. The flooding is going to be absolutely catastrophic.

Harvey is still expected to sit over eastern Texas for the next five days or so. Winds will continue to diminish, but Harvey's proximity to the coast means it won't fade away and it will continue to draw incredible amounts of moisture in and dump it on Texas, and probably southwestern Louisiana.

Already, rainfall totals in some spots are past 15 inches.  Forecasters are now saying that 40 inches or more of rain will fall on some areas.

(Here in Vermont, it normally takes about 12 to 15 months to accumulate 40 inches of rain. Texas is going to do it in a week.)

This Texas flood will be unprecedented I think. Worse, the very heavy rain is spreading north into Houston, the nation's fourth largest city.

Already  this morning, a training line of torrential rain on Harvey's east flank was entering Houston, and it looks like that heavy rain will continue there all day, at least. At one point late this morning, the Houston Intercontinental Airport got 1.9 inches of rain in just one hour.

They're going to have trouble getting aid in to wind blasted and flooded areas. The region that will be flooded is so immense that people, rescue vehicles and such won't be able to get near victims for days.

This will even disrupt the national economy somewhat.  As I noted yesterday, the extensive flooding will be centered on the prime oil and gas refining region of the nation.

Plus, paralyzing a region as populous and busy as the Houston metro area will have ripple effects around the United States.

There's nowhere for the water to go. Expect continued water surging toward the coast from the persistent onshore winds from Harvey. That storm surge will prevent flood waters from inland from escaping to the sea.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Three FEET Of Rain?!?

Devastation from Hurricane Ike in Texas, 2008. We're likely
to see similar scenes along the coast of Texas with Harvey,
plus they'll have extreme inland flooding.
There's no other way to say this. A good chunk of Texas is totally screwed.

Hurricane Harvey continues to strengthen, and some forecasters think it will achieve major hurricane status by the time in makes landfall along the central Texas coast late tonight or early Saturday. 

A major hurricane has sustained winds of at least 111 mph. Harvey was close this morning with 110 mph sustained winds. There's no reason why Harvey can't strengthen before landfall, as it's over very warm Gulf of Mexico water to feed it. Upper level winds are light above Harvey, so it won't get ripped apart that way.

As horrible as the wind and expected storm surge with Harvey will be, the real story is the incredible flooding that now seems inevitable.

As noted yesterday, Harvey will be caught between two high pressure systems and meander along the Texas coast for days. The wind will gradually die down, but the rain won't.

The strongest winds will hit only a small area near and north of Corpus Christi. But the extreme flooding rains will cover an enormous area.

Horrific amounts of rain are forecast, with up to three feet of rain in some areas of eastern Texas over the next few days.  A huge area of the Texas coast, possibly into southwestern Louisiana, can expect one to two feet of rain.

For perspective,  here in Vermont it usually takes an entire year to accumulate three feet of precipitation.

Lots of people are wisely bailing out of Corpus Christi, Texas and surrounding communities, as that's about where Harvey will make landfall.
Store shelves around Houston are already cleared of
bottled water as people get ready for Hurricane Harvey.

Although Corpus Christi isn't under a mandatory evacuation order, people right along the Gulf Coast are, since a storm surge of ten feet or so is expected.

Anyone who stays put along the coast will probably die. Unfortunately, I'm sure there will be a few stubborn holdouts. 

This is going to be a problem in Texas for many days, as Harvey will not move much. One unlikely but possible scenario is even worse. Some computer models push the center of Harvey back out into the Gulf of Mexico a couple days after landfall.

There, it could strengthen into a strong hurricane again and make landfall a second time, up the coast closer to Houston. Again, the overall path of Harvey is highly uncertain after its initial landfall, so we don't know for sure exactly where Harvey will go. We're only certain that it will be a terrible disaster.

Since this won't be a typical "hit and run" hurricane, and instead will cause problems for at least a week, this will affect you, too, even if you're thousands of miles away from the disaster zone.

The area under the gun from Harvey represents about a third of the nation's gas and oil capacity. That's going to be disrupted for definitely more than a week. Expect to pay more at the pump, whether you live in Houston or hurricane-free Vermont.

I also wonder what the federal response to this disaster will be. I don't know if the Trump administration is prepared.
The Weather Channel. like virtually all forecasters, is
predicting incredible amounts of rain from Harvey.

However, on the bright side, Trump's FEMA director, Brock Long, is regarded as a non-ideological professional, so that will help. Long's response might actually be based in reality.

It was already raining along the Texas coast early this morning as Harvey's outer rainbands move onshore. Conditions will deteriorate all day today.

I hope people will have gotten out of the way by the time the crap really hits the fan in Texas.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Soon-To-Be Hurricane Harvey Will Trash Texas Within A Couple Days

Tropical Storm Harvey showing signs of
strengthening fast southeast of Texas this morning.
Texas is bracing for catastrophic flooding and storm surges as Tropical Storm Harvey rapidly strengthens as it heads for the central Texas coast.

Harvey is a particularly dangerous storm. For one, it has the potentially to strengthen explosively before landfall because conditions are right for that kind of thing to happen.

Even worse, Harvey is forecast to slow down or even stall somewhere near the coast of Texas, setting up a prolonged downpour that could bring incredible flooding. Already, some forecasts call for 15 to 20 inches of rain.

If this happens, it could easily turn into a major disaster. Think Baton Rouge last August.

Tropical Storm Harvey briefly formed in the Caribbean last week and promptly died out. Its remnants found favorable conditions for redevelopment in the western Gulf of Mexico and now you have the situation we've got here.

Harvey is expected to make landfall somewhere along the central Texas coast kind of near Corpus Christi Friday night or Saturday morning.

The Texas coast is flat and low lying, so the storm surge that will accompany Harvey will probably be terribly destructive.

Once Harvey gets to the coast, or just inland, it could get trapped between two ridges of high pressure. So there it would sit, all the while dumping heavy rain. The torrential rain could spread inland to Austin or San Antonio, and also northeastward to Louisiana.

Stay tuned on this one. It's going to be a wild one


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Storm Recap: No Tornadoes, But Definitely Scattered Vermont Damage

Flooding after a torrential thunderstorm in
Burlington, Vermont on Tuesday. 
As expected, several lines of storms swept through Vermont, New York and the rest of the Northeast on Tuesday.  

Seems like the hardest hit places were the western Adirondacks, Addison County, Vermont, northeastern Vermont and the far southern counties of the state.

There had been a tornado watch for northwestern Vermont and much of New York state.

I'm not aware of any twisters in Vermont, but meteorologists will inspect damage in central and western New York to determine if any tornadoes touched down.

There were quite a few reports of wind damage. Most of it involved trees and wires down, but in a couple places things got even more extreme.

In Vergennes, a barn roof blew off and other outbuildings were damaged. Green Mountain Power reported about 1,200 customers without power.

In Burlington, the wind wasn't too bad. It got windy and there were some small branches down. Winds at the National Weather Service office in South Burlington gusted to 47 mph, which is pretty decent for a summer storm.

But the highlight was the torrential rain. Given the high humidity in the air, the downpour was absolutely wild. Some streets were flooded and I saw at least one car stall out when the motorist foolishly tried to drive through deep water on Lakeside Avenue.

I made a rough cut video of the torrential Burlington rain and flooding. I didn't bother with nice production values, so excuse the amateur nature of the video, which you can see at the bottom of this post.

One interesting phenomenon I saw with these lines of storms was they'd be very powerful and severe as the got most of the way through Adirondacks of New York as they rumbled eastbound.

On the eastern slopes of the Adirondacks, the storms would all weaken incredibly rapidly to just broad areas of moderate to briefly heavy rain.
Taking some street flooding in Burlington, Vermont too
fast after a torrential thunderstorm Tuesday/ 

The storms would then start to quickly regenerate over Lake Champlain, and become locally severe again as they headed toward the western slopes of Vermont's Green Mountains and beyond.

I asked a National Weather Service meteorologist in South Burlington, who said when there's an overall southwesterly airflow, as there was Tuesday, thunderstorms will often weaken in the eastern Adirondacks.

As air flows over the mountains, in descends on the east slopes. Descending air is killer for storms as they need strong updrafts to survive.

Once the remnants of the storms got over Lake Champlain, the air was once again unstable and rising, so the storms could begin to form again.

The storms are obviously over, so we don't have to worry about more severe weather. We've now launched into an extended period of dry, cool weather. Basically a fall preview.

Temperatures will be near normal today, but several towns won't even break 70 degrees Thursday, Friday and maybe Saturday.

Humidity will be low, and nights will be noticeably chilly. Look for lots of 40s at night, with some upper 30s in the cold spots over the next few nights.

Autumn is on the way.

Here's the storm video from Burlington Tuesday:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tornado Watch Issued For Parts Of Vermont, Much Of New York

Severe thunderstorms, like this one over St. Albans Bay,
Vermont in 2013, are definitely possible today.
UPDATE:12:30 p.m. TUESDAY

As of 12:30 p.m. a tornado watch has been issued for the Champlain Valley of Vermont and the northwestern two thirds of New York State until 9 p.m. this evening.

Conditions are favorable for both lines of storms with dangerously strong winds, and a few discrete supercells that could drop a tornado or two.

Get ready for a noisy, and in a few places, a potentially dangerous afternoon and evening in much of the Northeast, including Vermont.

As of 12:30, there were already strong thunderstorms in western New York. There was a tornado-warned storm south of Buffalo, and a severe thunderstorm warning around Rochester.

The storms in western New York, southeastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec early this afternoon will continue to expand in coverage and grow in intensity as they head eastbound this afternoon.

While many places in Vermont will not get a severe storm and there might or might not be a tornado later today, this is a more dangerous severe weather threat than the isolated events we've had so far this summer.

A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes. That means keep an eye on the sky and listen for further updates and warnings.

If you get one storm, don't think it's necessarily over. There could be two or more waves of big storms in some locations.

Most places in Vermont won't get a tornado, of course. But it's still wise to review what to do in these situations, just in case.

In the somewhat unlikely but real chance you get a tornado warning, that means a twister has been sighted or indicated on radar. That's when you take action.

If a tornado warning is issued for your location, head for the basement. Take your pets with you. And a weather radio for updates. Don't come upstairs until the tornado warning expires.

Even if tornado does not score a direct hit on your house, straight line winds and something called a rear flank downdraft can still cause very, very damaging winds. (A rear flank downdraft is a gigantic gush of wind just behind a tornado or behind an almost tornado)

If you live in  mobile home you might want to call somebody now who's really nearby who can take you in if there's a tornado warning. You don't want to be in a mobile home in a tornado. They become too mobile.

Also, for gawd's sake don't park beneath an overpass if caught on a highway in a severe thunderstorm or tornado-warned storm. The underpass will funnel winds and make them stronger. And you'll block traffic, making everybody in their cars sitting ducks if the wind gets really out of hand.

So just be careful out there, troops

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION

A strong cold front is over the Great Lakes and heading east.

Out ahead of it, it's quite humid. Upper level winds are strong, and to an extent they veer with height. Some sun during the first half of the day especially will make the air even more unstable.

This is a perfect recipe for at least scattered severe storms. There's no guarantees of course, but this is the most favorable setup for severe weather in our area I've seen all summer.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has much of the Northeast in at least a slight risk zone for severe weather. The greatest concentration of severe storms looks like it might be through northern Pennyslvania, much of New York and western Vermont.

The greatest threat from today's storms is strong, damaging winds with the thunderstorms, which will probably primarily organize into lines.

If you watch weather radar as the storms approach, look out for what we call "bowing segments." That's when part of a line of thunderstorms curves outward ahead of the main line of storms. Where the storms curve outward is where you can expect the most damaging winds.

If discrete storms form ahead of the main lines of storms, there's even the slight risk of a couple tornadoes in the Hudson Valley of New York and in southwestern Vermont, especially Rutland and Bennington counties.

The storms could hit any time between noon and 10 p.m. Simulated radar forecasts suggest a line of storms will get going in western and central New York by 2 p.m. get into the Adirondacks by 4 p.m. and start to threaten western Vermont by 5 p.m., and into central Vermont by around 7 p.m. or so.

Again, discrete, possibly severe storms could also form ahead of this expected main line of storms. All the storms will be moving along at a pretty good clip, so there might not be a lot of time to get ready between the time you start seeing dark clouds and when the storm hits.

And by the way, don't expect things to work out exactly like the forecast I outlined above. It's just to give you a general idea. Things are always slightly different when the actual storms hit. The timing and location of the worst storms could always change.

The usual advice applies. Take that hike or trip out onto the lake another day, not today. Although you might or might not end up getting damaging winds at your house today, just to be on the safe side I'd take things like lawn furniture and deck umbrellas indoors this morning.

That way, there will be no need for a panicked rescue of your stuff if a storm does pop up.
Keep a weather radio near you so you can get warnings. Or at least have a reliable local weather source near you in case there's a need for a head's up.

It would also be an excellent idea to stay indoors and away from windows if a severe storm happens to hit your area today.

The severe weather threat isn't limited to our area. A zone from central and southern Quebec - including Montreal, down to Kentucky is under the gun today.

At the tail end of this front, a disaster was unfolding in the Kansas City Metro area this morning. 

Up to nine inches of rain fell in that region overnight, prompting flash flood warnings from the National Weather Service with phrases like "particularly dangerous situation" and "flash flood emergency."

You only get that kind of wording in National Weather Service warnings if things are really out of hand in the weather department.

The Kansas City Area was hit by record flash flooding on July 27 and early reports are today's flooding is hitting the same creeks and rivers as in July, only this time it's even worse. 

Numerous water rescues have been reported, a lot of highways are closed and a lot of buildings are flooded, some for the second time in a month.

Back up here in Vermont, after we get through today, things will become quiet in the weather department, Generally dry, coolish weather is expected through the weekend.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Great Eclipse Viewing Today Followed By A Hot And Stormy Tuesday

Stormy skies last summer over Starksboro, Vermont.
Could be like this in parts of Vermont Tuesday.
Here in Vermont, we're only getting a partial eclipse of the sun today because we're well northeast of the path of totality. That, I suppose is the "bad" news.  

The good news is the partial eclipse is going to be quite visible as the skies will be mostly clear.

If it's cloudy and foggy early this morning at your house, don't worry, it will clear up.

During the eclipse this afternoon, there will only be a couple widely scattered clouds, and some haze high up above because of smoke billowing from Canadian wildfires.

That's why Sunday was so hazy on what was otherwise a lovely day.

Remember that sunglasses and camera lenses and the like won't protect your eyes from the sun, so don't look directly at the sun at all. Today or ever.

After the excitement of the eclipse dies down later today, we have some weather excitement for you on Tuesday.

You'll notice that as the day wears on today, it will slowly get more and more humid. Tonight will become rather oppressive, especially west of the Green Mountains. That will set the stage for some scattered incidents of big storms.

Some of the fuel for the fire will come from the heat and humidity that will surge into Vermont and the rest of the Northeast Tuesday. Here in Vermont, dew points, a measure of how humid it is, will get to near or above 70.

That's really humid, and only happens a few times a summer. Meanwhile, some peeks of sun will bring temperatures well into the 80s, possibly flirting with 90 in a few spots.

Meanwhile, a strengthening storm over the Great Lakes will develop a strengthening cold front that will be approaching from the west.

All this brings together the ingredients for possibly severe thunderstorms.

At this point, the biggest threats from this appear to be strong, gusty winds and very torrential downpours, given the humidity.

Also at this point, the best chance for severe thunderstorms are over northern New York, which will be closest to the strongest instability.  But I'm sure Vermont will have some patches of rough weather, too.

The storms will probably reach their peak between 2 and 8 p.m. Tuesday. As always, it'll be hit and miss, with some areas getting blasted, and others wondering what all the fuss is about.

I'm sure there will be refinements and adjustments to this forecast of stormy weather, so check back with me on this tomorrow morning.

After this, it looks like we're in for an extended period of mostly dry weather, with a fair amount of sun, low humidity and cool-ish temperatures Wednesday through the weekend.

Yeah, fall is on its way, huh?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Still Waiting In Vain For That Temporary Global Cool Down

Once again, July, 2017 featured near record high
global temperatures
Every month this year, I keep expecting global temperatures to fall short of the record and near record high levels we keep seeing over and over again.

As I've said several times, the combination of global warming and El Nino from late 2014 into the first half of 2016 boosted temperatures across the world to heights never seen in modern times.

This year was supposed to be a bit cooler from the start. Still abnormally warm, yes, but not ridiculous.

But month after month comes in within the top three hottest on record.

July, 2017 ended up coming in the hottest or second hottest on record for the world, depending on who you ask and who's measuring.

I usually go by NOAA, who declared July the second hottest global July on record. That's especially remarkable because the global heat hasn't waned at all even though El Nino ended a long time ago.

It's still possible we might cool off slightly during the rest of the year, but so far, 2017 is the second warmest year on record. Only 2016 was hotter.

It's been at least 32 years since the world has had a normal to cooler than normal year. This was the 41st July in a row that was warmer than normal.

Usually, the Arctic skews the warm data a little bit. The Arctic has been warming faster than elsewhere on the planet, and that factors into the high global temperatures, month after month.

But this July, the Arctic managed to be a tad cooler than it's been in recent years and decades, and we still squeaked out a near-record July. Notably, Summit, Greenland had the coldest July temperature on record for the Northern Hemisphere when they got down to 27 below. Brrrr!

There were plenty of pockets with extreme heat in July, however. Shanghai, China, with 24 million people, had an all time record high of 105 degrees in July.  Another city in China, Erbaoxiang (I've never heard of it, either)  had that country's all time hottest temperature for a populated area. It got up to 123 degrees.

Spain had its all time hottest temperature on record, too, when Montoro got up to 117 degrees.

In the United States, places as far apart as Death Valley and Barrow, on the northern tip of Alaska, had their hottest Julys on record. (As noted previously, here in Vermont, July was sort of coolish.)

We'll see if August cools off. I'm not counting on it, though.

Friday, August 18, 2017

As Predicted, The Tropics Are Very Active With Storms

A disorganized Tropical Storm Harvey in the Windward Islands
Friday. It is expected to get better organized and strengthen
The tropical Atlantic Ocean, as expected, is bubbling with lots of tropical activity - a tropical storm, a hurricane that just died, and other disturbances that could form into nasty storms.  

Hurricane Gert died its expected death over the cold North Atlantic waters yesterday -- hurricanes can't maintain themselves over cold water. When they go too far north they turn into regular storms are just disappear off the face of the earth.

Gert was replaced Thursday with Tropical Storm Harvey. It was in the Windward Islands this morning, making a beeline almost due west. It could strengthen into a hurricane, and will probably hit somewhere around Belize or Hondurias or southern Mexico somewhere around Tuesday or Wednesday.

We're ahead of schedule with tropical storms in the Atlantic, though fortunately most have either been weak or hit relatively unpopulated areas. Tropical storms and hurricanes are named in alphabetical order. We normally don't get up to "H" until late September.

The race through the hurricane alphabe might be poised to continue.

Not far to the northeast of Harvey is another area of disturbed weather that forecasters think has a good chance of becoming a tropical storm. If that happens, they'll name it Irma.

If Irma forms, it's possible it could threaten Cuba, the Bahamas or Florida later next week, though we're certainly not sure of that yet.

Forecasters are also watching another patch of thunderstorms way out over the eastern Atlantic because that would could potentially develop into Tropical Storm Jose. We'll see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Predict Your Eclipse Experience Here

Vox has a cool interactive map that shows you the timing and the extent of the upcoming solar eclipse Monday.

Just type in your zip code and you will see what time the eclipse peaks in your area and to what extent the sun is covered by the moon.

For example, when I entered my St. Albans, Vermont zip code, I learned that at its 2:40 p.m. peak, 59.5 percent of the sun would be covered. I also learned I would have to travel 829 miles to the southwest if I wanted to see the total eclipse.

Click on this link to see it.

At this point, the weather forecast looks good for solar eclipse viewing in Vermont on Monday. The current National Weather Service forecast for Monday predicts mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 80s.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

No Severe Vermont Storms. Cool Videos From Elsewhere, Though

A non-severe storm over Milton, Vermont last evening
I'm not aware of any of Tuesday's thunderstorms becoming severe in Vermont yesterday, so that was kind of a fortunate bust.

There were locally heavy downpours and some wind gusts, but nothing extreme.

That's not to say there wasn't action elsewhere, though. I've got a couple of videos to show you:

This week, Stormlapse recorded a gorgeous, menacing supercell thunderstorm over the Badlands of South Dakota.

Quite an impressive storm, watch:


I'm not sure when the next video was taken, but it's an illustration of what happens when a thunderstorm rolls into Atlanta's Hartsfield airport, the world's busiest.

You see the planes trying to fly around the storms, go in circles, and just kinda hope this thing passes quick. I'm sure there were quite a few flight delays on this day:


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Smattering Of Strong Storms In Vermont Today

A storm bubbles up over northwestern Vermont on Saturday.
Today looks similar to Saturday as partly sunny skies
get interrupted by scattered storms, some strong. 
It looks like today in Vermont is going to be a bit like Saturday was:

In other words, we'll be dodging some thunderstorms, and some will be strong.

It's only moderately warm and humid out there today. And there's a weak cold front approaching.

That doesn't sound like the perfect setup for severe storms, and it's not. But the atmosphere has more instability than you'd expect from my description, so some of the storms this afternoon will get strong to marginally severe.

It will totally be hit and miss, like Saturday was. Most of us won't have any big deal weather, while a few pockets will.

The best chances of severe weather, if any develops, would be northeastern New York, all of Vermont, especially north of a Middlebury to Thetford line, and western New Hampshire.

As far as timing goes, it looks like the 2 to 8 p.m. slot looks best for the storms.

So the usual applies: Keep an eye on the sky. Head indoors if things look threatening. And be prepared, in just a few spots, for strong gusty winds, some hail, dangerous lightning and brief, heavy downpours.

You know, the usual summer drill.

Wednesday, we go back to partly sunny skies with temperatures down a bit again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Watch The Atlantic Ocean For Maybe Lots Of Tropical Storms Soon

Tropical Storm Gert, pictured here Monday morning,
is expected to strengthen far out in the Atlantic
Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1 through November 30.

Tropical systems can develop at any time during this period, sometimes even before or after this "official" season begins.

However, if you really want to see tropical storms and hurricanes, start now.

The heart of the season, when we get the most storms, and usually the strongest, runs from now until early October.

The bottom line is you'll see lots of news about tropical storms and hurricanes starting now.

As of this morning, Tropical Storm Gert was spinning far to the east of Florida. The bad news is Gert is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.

But the very good news is the storm will stay far off the East Coast, and accelerate toward the northeast, where it will eventually die in the cold North Atlantic waters.

The only effects in the United States from Gert will be the potential for dangerous rip currents at the beaches.

However, there are more areas of disturbed weather far out in the Atlantic or even over Africa that might develop into tropical storms and/or hurricanes. It's possible they could threaten the United States.

These systems haven't even formed yet, so it's impossible to tell now what, if anything they will do.

It's still worth keeping a lookout for this stuff over the next several weeks, though.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Real Oddball Storms Saturday in Vermont, In My Opinion At Least

Thunderstorm near Franklin, Vermont Saturday afternoon.
Spates of strong to severe thunderstorms never go exactly as forecast, and Saturday's scattered activitiy in Vermont was a case in point.

A lot of us thought things would be a bit more organized than they were.

Sure, there would be storms scattered seemingly randomly, but some of us thought a broken, somewhat organized line of thunderstorms would cross through in the late afternoon and evening.

True, the time between 4 and 7 p.m. seemed to be the peak of the scattered rough weather, as expected, but there was a randomness to the storms that was odd

I was also stunned by how fast strong thunderstorms would randomly develop over a spot, then seemingly within minutes, wither away just as fast. That was unusual to see, at least from my perspective. Also fascinating. Glad I had a chance to watch this cloud performance.

The storms would go from a sprinkle, and within 10 minutes be spitting out lightning, dropping torrential downpours and pushing out gusty winds. Then, in some cases, not all - poof! They're gone.

The thunderstorms, especially before 5 p.m. or so, struggled with a layer of air just a few thousand feet up that inhibited storm development, so they were few and far between. Later on in the evening, they became somewhat more numerous, but still hit and miss.

For instance, at my house in St. Albans, Vermont, I didn't get any rain. Just two miles north of my house, however, streets were briefly flooded by a torrential late afternoon downpour.

There were scattered reports of damage from the storms across Vermont, especially after 6 p.m. One storm caused wind damage in Addison County around 6 p.m. Another bad storm very quickly popped up in eastern Chittenden County around 6:20 p.m., knocking down trees and powerlines in towns like Williston and Jericho.

Another severe storm caused damaged in parts of north central and northeastern Vermont after 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

It's all over now. There were a few light showers around northern Vermont this Sunday morning, but they were quickly drying up.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some Strong Storms Likely In And Around Vermont Today

BOL on the risk of strong storms
this afternoon in Vermont. 
It's looking like it might be a noisy afternoon here in Vermont and surrounding areas this afternoon.

Humid, unstable air, made more unstable by glimpses of sunshine, combined with a weak weather front approaching from the west, will trigger some pretty strong thunderstorms this afternoon and evening.

As usual, who gets what depends upon the luck of the draw. A few places will get a lame shower, maybe a rumble of thunder.

Other spots will get some gusty winds, heavy downpours and lightning, maybe even some small hail.

And a few places- not many, but a few- could get into some severe thunderstorms, with damaging winds and hail big enough to ding your garden at least.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center  has us in a marginal to slight risk area for severe storms, which means they're thinking there will be a couple bad storms, but they will be relatively few and far between.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington is timing things out such that the storms erupt in the Adirondacks at around 2 p.m and start marching east. They'd be in the Champlain Valley roughly between 4 and 7 p.m., and from the Green Mountains east from 5 to 8 p.m.

By 8 p.m., the storms will be heading into New Hampshire while weakening.

Just how widespread the storms get this afternoon depends on how things play out this morning. Early on, there was an area of showers and embedded storms in northern New York, maybe clipping northwestern Vermont.

If they don't clear out quickly, these early storms may limit how unstable the air gets this afternoon. However, the just-past-dawn storms in New York State seemed to be moving along pretty fast, so they'll probably be out of our hair by late morning.

Which would open the door for this afternoon's storms. We'll see how that plays out.

Sunday, expect a cooler, less humid day, with partly sunny skies and just a slight chance of a shower. Definitely will be the nicer of the two weekend days.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wildfires In Greenland? Yeah, Weird, But Not As Weird As You'd Think

Believe it or not, there have always beem a few wildfires
in Greenland, but this year's spate of fires up
there appears to be a doozy.
August is one principal month in Earth's Northern Hemisphere when you'd expect wildfires.

The summer sun has been beating down on this half of the world, and some forests in Asia, North America and Europe have burst into flames.  

(The problem is especially bad in British Columbia, Canada this year.)

Wildfires have also broken out this summer in a place you wouldn't expect: Greenland.

Yes, Greenland. 

Greenland is mostly covered by an immense ice cap, so you'd think wildfires wouldn't be a problem up there.

But low lying coastal areas are outside of the ice cap, and summer does hit up there.

True, it's not exactly 90 degree beach weather in coastal Greenland, and there's certainly no tinder dry forests anywhere up there, but the snow and ice does briefly disappear along Greenland's shorelines in the summer.

Wildfires can burn through the grasslands, stunted willows, peat and other low vegetation in Greenland, and that's what's going on now. And they do sometimes occur in "summer" weather in coastal Greenland, when temperatures "soar" into the lower 50s.

Kind of like grassfire season here in Vermont during April.

Past history of wildfires in Greenland is vague, but we know they've always occured there. But some evidence suggests that this summer's wildfires are worse than usual. Perhaps worse than ever, but we don't know that for sure.

Satellite data, cited by Scientific American, suggest that this year's wildfires in Greenland are far above what has been experienced in recent years and decades. This does suggest climate change could be playing a role, but we have no proof of that. At least not yet.

Wildfires are almost always bad, and Greenland's are no exception. But there's a unique reason why Greenland wildfires are bad.

Soot from the wildfires can deposit soot on parts of Greeland's vast ice sheet if the wind is right.

If the ice is very clean, it tends to deflect the sun's heat away, and summer melting is slower.

If you add soot or other dark debris and deposit it on the ice, it will draw the sun's heat onto the ice, accelerating melting.

You don't want Greenland's ice to melt, because the added water can raise global sea levels.

On the bright side, an odd weather pattern brought unusual snow and cold to parts of the Greenland ice cap earlier this summer, so overall melting there has not been insanely above normal.

As of early July, the melt season in Greenland was the slowest since 2009, although it's pretty fast by historical standards.

I'm not sure where the 2017 Greenland melt season will end up, but it's aways good to hope the melting stayed slow throughout this summer, despite the odd wildfires.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Death Valley Just Had The World's Hottest Month

Death Valley, California just set the record for the
hottest month reliably measured on Earth
If you just love hot summer weather, you should have spent July in Death Valley, California.

According to meteorologist and climate stats expert Christopher Burt, the average temperature in Death Valley this July was 107.4 degrees.  

For comparison's sake, the average temperature in July, 2017 in Burlington,  Vermont - close to me - was 70.6 degrees, which is normal for the month.

Some media outlets said the Death Valley figures from this July made it only the second hottest month recorded on Earth.

However, Burt says the King Kalid, Saudi Arabia military base, which has claimed the world's hottest month has unreliable data. The data from Death Valley is more accurate, he says.

Three nights in Death Valley during July never fell below 100 degrees. The hottest afternoon there this July reached 127 degrees.

By the way, the "coldest" night at Death Valley in July, 2017 plunged all the way down to 89 degrees. Again, for comparison's sake, the hottest day in Burlington, Vermont this July was 89 degrees.

I'm not sure what August will bring for Death Valley but it sure is hot this week. Afternoon temperatures there for the rest of this week will generally be in the 115 to 120 degree range. (Here in Vermont, expect 70s to low 80s.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Weird Maryland Tornado And Tropical Storm Franklin Still Threatens Mexico

Flipped cars Monday after a tornado in Salisbury,
Maryland. Photo by Liz Holland/Delmarvanow.com
If you think you've read the headline in today's post before you're kind of right.

Yesterday, I reported news from Sunday on "Weird Tulsa Tornado and Tropical Storm Franklin Threatens Mexico."

Monday was sort of rinse and repeat kind of day.

In Salisbury, in eastern Maryland, a rather unexpected tornado touched down, flipping cars and causing other damage. You can see a security camera video at the bottom of this post of a car blowing out into a street.

Maryland certainly gets tornadoes from time to time, but not all that often. Eastern Maryland has been getting slammed this summer, though. A destructive tornado hit Queen Anne's County, Maryland last month and now this.

Like the Tulsa tornado early Sunday, Monday's twister spun up abruptly. The National Weather Service had warned of a severe thunderstorm, but the storm suddenly began rotating significantly, and the tornado touched down near Salisbury College.

Luckily, there haven't been serious injuries reported.

TROPICAL STORM FRANKLIN

As expected, Tropical Storm Franklin hit Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula last night with sustained wincs of 60 mph.

It's crossing the penninsula now, and weakening since it's over land. Still, it's fairly well organized and should survive the trip over the Yucatan and emerge into the warm waters of the Bay of Campeche tonight.

On the one hand, the waters in the bay are extremely warm, which favors Franklin. It could intensify into a hurricane before it hits the central east coast of Mexico. On the other hand, strong upper level winds and an intrusion of dry air could limit its intensification.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Franklin still poses little or no threat to the United States.

Here's that security cam footage from the Maryland tornado:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Weird Tulsa Tornado, And Tropical Storm Franklin Threatens Mexico

A TGI Fridays in Tulsa, Oklahoma was torn apart
by a rare August tornado Sunday morning. Photo
by Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World
Over the weekend, a tornado struck Tulsa, Oklahoma, causing somewhere between 13 and 26 injuries - depending on who you talk to - and causing extensive damage to a business district. Even a 20 story building suffered serious damage.

When we think of Oklahoma, we think of tornadoes, so at first glance, news of a twister in the Sooner State doesn't seem that out of the ordinary.

This tornado was an oddball, though. Tornadoes are common in and around Oklahoma in the spring, say March through May, as atmospheric conditions favor such storms that time of year.

Those proper conditions are usually missing by August. Oh sure, a tornado can happen pretty much anywhere and any time of day in August, including in Oklahoma, but this was rare. It was the first Tulsa area tornado to strike in August since 1958. 

The time of day it struck was weird, too. Again, tornadoes can happen at any  hour of the day, but they are far more likely to strike in the afternoon and early evening, when the sun's heat adds instability to the atmosphere. That instability can make tornadoes more likely.

The Tulsa tornado, however, swept through at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The early morning tornado mostly hit a business district, and most of the stores and restaurants in that area were closed and empty at the time of the tornado.

(Although some people inside a TGI Fridays were hurt when the tornado partly collapsed the building.)

Had the tornado focused on a dense residential district, it might have actually been worse, because people are sleeping at 1:30 in the morning and aren't awake to hear tornado warnings. And Oklahomans generally let their guard down a little after the spring tornado season ends.

And had that tornado struck during the day, when the business district was very busy, it would have been a much worse situation.

The tornado spun up extremely suddenly, catching forecasters a bit off guard. No tornado sirens in Tulsa sounded because by the twister appeared, it was already heading out of town and into the neighboring community of Broken Bow, which did receive warnings.

TROPICAL STORM FRANKLIN

The latest tropical storm to form came to life last night in the northwestern Caribbean Sea.

Its name is Franklin. Top sustained winds this morning were 45 mph, which isn't too big a deal, but forecasters think Franklin could strengthen. The government of Mexico has issued a hurricane watch for the Yucatan peninsula, as the storm is expected to hit there.

It'll weaken briefly while over the Yucatan, but could strengthen again once it gets over the warm waters of the Bay of Campeche on Mexico's easrt coast.

Franklin does not appear to be much of a threat to the United States at the moment.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Some Severe Weather Today; Atlantic Tropics Bubbling

Brief funnel cloud over Potsdam, New York Friday during
a severe thunderstorm. Via Richard O'Hanlon on Twitter.
The theme of today's post is "As Expected."
Up here in New England, a cold front is coming in today, as expected. 

And, as expected, there is a chance of some severe thunderstorms, though I don't think they will be widespread.

There were scattered severe thunderstorms in New York State yesterday, but nothing major in Vermont. That was also pretty much as expected.

The timing of the cold front is such that the best chance of strong to locally severe thunderstorms this afternoon is from the Green Mountains east, and in southern New England. This is in line with what forecasters were thinking yesterday. So yes, as expected.

By the way, this won't be a mega-outbreak of severe weather. There will probably be just a few reports. Most of you who actually get a thunderstorm won't get anything too traumatic. And I'm sure several places won't get thunder at all.

We'll clear up tonight, and Sunday is going to be largely sunny and cool-ish.

Meanwhile, hurricane enthusiasts are watching the tropical Atlantic Ocean, as things seem to be coming to life there. It's August, and tropical storm chances usually ramp up about now. So yeah, say it with me: As expected.

They're watching two areas: One in the central Caribbean, the other way out over the eastern Atlantic.

Nobody is really sure if either of these two systems will develop into a tropical storm or hurricane. If they do, nobody is sure whether they will hit land anywhere. That - ugh, is to be expected. You usually can't tell what a wannabe tropical storm will do before it develops.

So ignore those people on line who take one of dozens of forecasting models, an outlier, that shows one of these things developing into a monster hurricane hitting the U.S.  That's just clickbait. People trying to get attention and possibly money.

Don't worry about either wannabe tropical system unless and until the National Hurricane Center gets a handle on how they will develop and where they will go. They'll issue warnings and alerts if need be.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Storm Threat Continues Today, Saturday For Some Of Us

Stormy skies over Lake Champlain last month. Similar
 scenes are possible today and Saturday.
As expected, scattered thunderstorms kept bubbling up, dying and bubbling back up on Thursday, thanks to an ample supply of humidity and instability in the atmosphere.

I don't have much in the way of severe weather reports, but there were a few flash flood warnings issued amid the slow moving storms, especially in the Adirondacks and southern Vermont.

No widespread damage was reported, but I'm sure people in a few spots are dealing with eroded driveways and such.

It's rinse and repeat today.

The forecast philosphy hasn't changed. Most of today across Vermont will pretty much be a carbon copy of Thursday, except it might be a little breezier and the storms might - might be a little more widespread than yesterday's.

Again, they'll start to develop in the mountains around noon and continue to bubble and die and be reborn all afternoon and into the evening.

Once again, the vast majority of us won't get any severe weather or flooding, and some of us will get no rain at all. But a few pockets across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire will get local damaging wind gusts and flash flooding.

A stronger batch of storms will start to enter New York's St. Lawrence Valley this evening, and some of those will be accompanied by damaging winds. But the storms will weaken as the sun sets. By the time the line reaches Vermont later tonight, there might be some gusty winds and heavy downpours, but that's about it.

On Saturday, the timing of the cold front is still thought to be such that the best chances of damaging storms would from central Vermont eastward

As the cold front comes across New York state in the morning, the National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont is thinking thunderstorms could get going in the eastern Adirondacks in the late morning and then head east.

By the time these thunderstorms march east into the Champlain Valley and especially into central Vermont just ahead of the cold front, some will get strong, with a risk of gusty winds and hail once again. This stuff will then head off into New Hampshire and Maine toward evening, and we'll be done with this relatively active weather.

Expect a coolish and nice Sunday, by the way.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Storm Threat In Vermont, Rest Of Northeast Through Thursday

Screen grab from a WCVB report on Wednesday's
 flooding in Boston. Scattered severe storms and pockets
of flash flooding could occur again anywhere in New
England today through Saturday. 
Wednesday was a gorgeous summer day in Vermont and other parts of New England - unless it wasn't.  

We entered a weather pattern on Monday in which the weather is generally good, but some areas get some big thunderstorms.

One town gets drenched and blasted by a big thunderstorm. Meanwhile, two towns over, it's wall-to-wall sunshine. It's definitely hit and miss season.

This pattern intensified Wednesday, and will continue to do so today and Friday and Saturday, too.  Which means some of us will get a very nasty thunderstorm or two, and other areas will stay dry.

It will eventually rain everywhere during this period, but some of us will only get a little rain, while others will be at risk of flash flooding. You can't tell much more than an hour or two in advance who gets what.

But at least we can give you the general scenario.

Wednesday, the worst of the storms were concentrated in southern New England, the Hudson Valley of New York below Albany and to a lesser extent, the western Adirondacks.

In this weather pattern, storms develop, intensify super fast, then die out. They're also slow movers, so you get torrential downpours and flash flooding. All of these storms also have the potential for damaging winds and large hail.

The storms Wednesday, and the ones expected today and tomorrow, also tend to contain a LOT of dangerous cloud to ground lightning.

One such storm lingered over the Boston, Massachusetts area Wednesday afternoon, causing all kinds of problems with flash flooding, downed trees, lightning strikes and fires.

The Logan Airport arrival tunnel had two feet of water in it, with cars stuck. Other roads in and around Boston had as much as three feet of water on them. The Boston Globe said the Dorchester section of Boston was particularly hard hit, with about 3.5 inches of rain pouring down there in a very short time.

Now there's today, and the weather situation is almost identical to Wednesday.  Chances are thaaat different spots will be hardest hit than those that got it Wednesday. That's just the randomness of where the storms get going.

My guess is the thunderstorms are most likely over the Adirondacks, and probably over the Green Mountains. But a gusher could pop up anywhere, at anytime between noon and sunset today.

By noon, we in Vermont and elsewhere in New England will see those towering clouds that are the hallmark of developing storms. Just like yesterday, some of these storms will grow tall and strong, and move very slowly.

Whoever gets under any one of these storms will see quite a bit of weather drama, while maybe three miles up the road, they might hear a low rumble of thunder and that's it. Again, it's the hit and miss nature of the season.

Keep an eye to the sky, and seek shelter if it looks like a storm is looming. I'm pretty sure a few isolated pockets of Vermont, and most of the rest of the Northeast for that matter, will have some thunderstorm wind damage, and some local flash flooding. Most of us will escape that. A few will not.

Just like last night, the storms will die down tonight after sunset. The heat of the sun is a large part of the fuel for these storms, so when the heat source goes away, so do the storms.

Friday, it's rinse and repeat, with maybe a few changes. It'll still be very warm and humid, and by early afternoon, scattered storms will again erupt. They'll again hit some areas, and avoid others.

However, by late afternoon and evening, a weather front will be approaching northwestern New York, which could organize storms into strong lines containing severe winds and hail.

However, that'll come in toward sunset, and some of the storms' power will ease as they approach Vermont. Showers and storms could come through any time Friday night, but they are unlikely to be severe.

Saturday, the cold front finally comes in. What kinds of storms we get all depends on the timing of that front.

If the cold front comes through in the morning, before the peak heating of the day, there will just be some showers, a few downpours, and a couple rumbles of thunder.

If the cold front holds off until later, we could get some interesting severe thunderstorms Saturday afternoon.

The cold front is coming from the west. Since tit will go through later the more east you go, at this point I think the best chance of severe storms Saturday will be in eastern Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and eastern Massachusetts.

Again, the big caveat: If the cold front speeds up or slows down, that forecast will definitely change.

Bottom line: Just be prepared to take shelter from a potentially strong thunderstorm anytime between now and Saturday evening.