Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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Leap Day 2012: Tornado Trouble

(Left- Current Tornado Watches; Right - Outlook to 7 AM Thu 3/1)

2:10 PM EST 2/29/12  An extensive set of Tornado Watches have been migrating from the Mid-Mississippi River Valley earlier today to the Ohio Valley into tonight. As Forecaster Kelton noted yesterday, dewpoints were expected to reach the high 50s low 60s before the frontal boundary moves through, giving plenty of fuel for severe storms today. 
  • The primary hazards, including tornadoes, include hail to 1.5 inches in diameter, thunderstorm wind gusts up to 75 mph and dangerous cloud to ground lightning.
OVER A DOZEN  Already, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center has received reports of over 12 tornadoes in the past 18 hours, as shown on the latest storm report graphic. Conditions for much of today will remain favorable for additional development, as evidenced on current NOAA water vapor imagery. Wind speeds at the surface will also be high, in the range of 20-25 knots with gusts higher. Strong winds aloft are mixing down to the surface, removing any capping layers as well as aiding in bringing moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

ARE YOU THERE? If are in the Mid-West, let us know and have recorded photos or videos of this event, have your imagery featured right here for all to see. Our approach to weather is to provide locally-relevant reports generated by actual people in the communities where our readers reside. If you are in the Mid-West, and would like to become the "face of the place" for weather in your state on our us: 
(Photo credit: Forecaster Nic Roberson of High Point, North Carolina, April 27, 2011)

(Forecaster Kelton & Advisor Mr. Foot)
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Stay tuned for "Sun Fade" !?

9:15 AM EST 2/29/12 On this Leap Wednesday, there is another interesting astronomical phenomena that occurs to us Earthlings twice a year, every year. In 2012 it ironically happens to be slated for Leap Day, and it's called a "Sun Fade." Sources and references:

Every Spring and Fall, the Sun's alignment with the orbit of satellites can interfere with the signal received by ground stations. Even if you don't have a satellite (such as Dish or Direct TV), this interference impacts how signals reach local TV stations and cable companies. But, we want you to be well-informed in case your view of "The View" gets interrupted, so we offer some basics. 

NOAA Geostationary (GOES) Satellite 
What's a sun outage? A sun outage is an interruption in satellite signals caused by interference from solar radiation. The interference is caused when the sun is in direct line with a communication satellite and the sun's radiation overwhelms the satellite signal. The programming provider Cablevision has sent out a message to its customers notifying them of potential interference, as reported in this article published earlier this week.

How is TV viewing affected? During this time, you may experience interference with picture quality and sound when watching television. Sun outages do not affect internet or phone service. 

When do outages occur? This year, the Sun Fade or Outage is expected between today, February 29th and March 8th during the times listed in the graphic posted above.

How long does it last? Interruption in TV service due to sun outages can last up to several minutes a day.

However, Facebook and the Internet should be alive and well... so if your TV flickers a bit, post a comment here and let us know if you see evidence of this unique phenomena today! 

(AMS/CBM Meteorologist Justin Berk and CEO/Lead Advisor Rich Foot)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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"A wild wind blowing..."
- Lyrics by Cold Play

11:25 AM EST 2/28/12 (Southeast Forecaster Kelton Halbert*) 
Severe Thunderstorms are expected early Wednesday afternoon and into the evening as a cold front approaches the Southeast from the West. Current indicators are that surface and winds slightly above the surface do not look to be conductive for strong wind shear. Therefore, the tornado risk is currently not as high as in previous events so far this year.

OVERVIEW This event should produce mainly squall lines through the day Wednesday in the Southeast, possibly extending into the southern Ohio Valley. The anticipated hazards and timing from this system:
  • Damaging straight-line winds are the main threat, with some hail possible. Tornadoes are also possible.
  • This system may impact the Southeast early to mid afternoon, starting in Tennessee first early in the afternoon. It will then progress into Mississippi and Alabama, then into the Carolinas in the overnight hours. 

ANALYSIS Right now, weather models and forecasters are in good agreement about the timing of this event. However, the amount of heat and daylight hours will dictate just how severe things get. If the event delays, we could see the risk area shift to the West. If it happens too fast, the risk area would shift to the East. Timing is critical with this one!

Dewpoints are expected to reach the high 50s low 60s before the frontal boundary moves through, giving plenty of fuel for severe storms. This is evidenced on the current NOAA water vapor as shown above. Wind speeds at the surface will also be high, in the range of 20-25 knots with gusts higher. Strong winds aloft will mix down to the surface, aiding in removing any capping layers as well as aiding in bringing moist air from the gulf.

Once this clears out, there is another rumor of severe weather on Friday, and we will keep you posted! As you can see, there'll be a "wild wind blowing."

(*Forecaster Kelton is a high school junior in Nashville, Tennessee, and recently attended the 2012 meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans with our team. Kelton is a 2011 graduate of the NOAA- and NSF-funded Careers Camp program operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Science headquartered at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He attended the July 2011 camp program at Mississippi's Jackson State University and operates a technical analysis forecast website called "Tempest Chasing" )