Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two words for the wise: El Nino


6:30 AM 4/12 - "So you are predicting a rough winter coming up, but aren't sure about MONDAY? Meteorologists just crack me up." 

Many of our long time readers will notice if they examine our reports on this site, and in our local Facebook forecast pages, that the our team hardly ever delves into the "climate change" arena. Is this because we don't have a stance on the subject, are afraid of it, (or maybe we are part of the global cover-up, and just don't realize it...?)

No, in reality we elect to maintain a "forecast local, think global" approach. We choose to focus on relatively short term, observable and verifiable data in climate science, while keeping an eye on the underlying long term trends. For our readers and clients, we believe that your immediate need are more likely to be "what's the deal with next week?" or "give me a sense of next winter" than "how much time left before I have to put the house up on stilts?

We closely examine climate data and known trends to identify what types of long range patterns are most probable in the near future. We believe if you have a general idea of what's coming the next 3 to 6 months, you can more effectively plan your life or business needs going forward. When rough times do hit, such as a repeat of winter 2013-14, or an Isabel-like event, we hope the foreknowledge of what's possible aids in your resiliency and recovery. 

Here's a look at the indications we see from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, with a brief explanation below the summary. True long range watchers, oceanographers and climate scientists already know why this graph gets us going, and should be a message to purchasing agents who want to be ahead of the game by next winter.

It is month-by-month measure of changes in sea surface temperature (in degrees Celsius) across different regions of the Tropical Pacific. The most important of the 4 regions shown below is "3.4"  as noted in the center of the chart. 

  • Region 3.4 is the universally identified "indicator" chart that NOAA and the Climate Science community hang their hat on when gauging status of Pacific warming (El Nino) or cooling (La Nina). 

  • Red indicates sea temperatures are above normal, blue is below normal -- relative to the time of year. It is plain to see that 3 of the 4 measured regions in the Pacific are showing a fairly rapid warming that commenced in February 2014 and has continued well into April.

  • Long term historical climate records of El Nino events going back 50+ years show that moderate episodes of warming in Region 3.4 -- (influential factors in recent winters such as 2009-10 and 2002-03) -- got underway in April, and never looked back. 

    • Once warming in the crucial El Nino Region 3.4 starts, it usaully becomes a major  driving factor in weather patterns for the 6-12 months ahead.
    • Influence on the southern jet stream and Atlantic wind patterns can disrupt hurricane formation, hence the recent outlooks for a less active tropical cyclone season.
    • Reduced tropical cyclone activity in the Gulf and East coast allows sea surface temperatures to be less disturbed, and in turn can enter the winter season WARMER than normal. THIS becomes a key fuel source for major winter storms that develop along the coast, and was a strong factor in the Winter 2009-2010 blizzards.

    The important take-away for emergency managers, municipal operators and school district officials is that El Nino has signaled it's intent to return this winter. We suggest you begin planning ahead now so you are ready, if 50 years of known climate trends are of value in your long term risk management planning. 

    If your company or organization is interesting in making our weather intelligence services a part of your planning process for the seasons to come, we welcome your inquiry: 

    By Rich Foot, CEO & Senior Advisor - Foot's Forecast LLC

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Collaboration is the New Chivalry
    Part II of our 10th anniversary series

    After the town of Joplin, Missouri was utterly leveled by an EF-5 tornado in May 2011, many distant families and friends could not reach their loved ones amidst the total destruction.

    With the local power grid devastated, and cell service jammed, communication for some was difficult to impossible. One Maryland resident had been trying desperately to learn the whereabouts of her family, and left a comment on our central Maryland Facebook page about her plight.  

    Then Forecaster Greg Jackson, a soon-to-graduate high school senior from Carroll County, Maryland, noticed her plea and reached out. Within just 30 minutes, after quick collaboration across members of the team, Greg connected the reader to a Red Cross resource working in the vicinity of her family. Shortly thereafter, the reader's family had been found - alive. Here's a link to our Facebook transcript from May 23, 2011.

    Greg was 18. He was busy preparing for graduation to unfold in just a few days. He didn't have to make that connection, nor did he boast about it afterwards. But he did selflessly demonstrate a set of values inherent across our team to this day. It could be considered a mission of honor not unlike early Medieval codes of chivalry as originally developed in the 12th century. Later, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, branded into society's mind the image of the knight in his famed 1387-1400 collection of stories known as The Canterbury Tales. Yet, many knights never lived up to the ideals opined by Chaucer, and history was forever changed. This begs the question: 

    What relevance do thousand-year-old ideals have in a technology-charged, app-driven culture? 

    Our team has learned the past decade these seemingly forgotten virtues of true chivalry remain as important now as when early monastic knights took a solemn vow to protect pilgrims on simple journeys to the Holy Land. Today, we seek to embody the practical truths of this knightly mission: Maintain a foundation of ethical conduct in our service to civil society, by living a life that puts others' needs ahead of one's own. For our team, it is the course of using sound, collaborative science to inform and educate the public, and doing our part to help save lives and protect property. 

    Forecaster Greg and that concerned reader searching for family will probably never meet. Yet, their lives, and ours, are forever changed, because a Squire put down his sword, and extended his hand to someone in need.

    If you, your family, company or organization would like to learn about what our forecasters could do to help in the dark hours, and the bright ones, our Advisors welcome your inquiry:

    Authentic Weather for a Civil Society

    Monday, March 31, 2014

    Welcome to Opening Week... 
    and the Birdland Zone!

    "Sunshine, Blue Skies... Play Ball!" Gear up Birdland, it's that time again! This will be our fourth season forecasting in the speciality zone just for O's fans who are FF reader: The Birdland Zone on Facebook. This year we are pumped as ever to meetup with readers at the ole' ball game! Our first Birdland Day at Camden Yards in Baltimore is scheduled for the Saturday April 26 game at 7:05 PM against the KC Royals.

    More details on the 4/26 meet up will be coming this week at the zone in Facebook:

    THE SEASON OPENER In today's 3:05 PM match against the Boston Red Sox, conditions will be even better than the epic pic from Maryland reader Gloria Bethke. 

    • Starting temperatures will be hovering right around 60 degrees. These conditions will remain relatively constant throughout the game. 
    • Expect a strong NW wind between 15-20 mph that will gradually weaken as the game progresses. 
    We hope you will enjoy this long awaited taste of Spring today, what great timing to start another journey to a successful season for sports teams everywhere!

    (Lead Forecaster Tyler J, Forecaster Andy and the Birdland Team)