Monday, January 8, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Winter Storm Grayson

It sounds like a name from a Jane Austen novel: Winter Storm Grayson.

Winter Storm Grayson will undergo bombogenesis off the Eastern Seaboard into Thursday, becoming an intense ocean low producing heavy snow, blizzard conditions, damaging winds and coastal flooding in New England.

Blizzard warnings have been posted for much of the coast from Maine to far northeastern North Carolina, including Boston, Portland, Maine, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Norfolk, Virginia.

Winter storm warnings have been issued to the west of the blizzard warnings, including much of the Interstate 95 Northeast urban corridor from Maine to Delaware. This includes New York City and Philadelphia.

Low pressure well off the Southeast coast will track north-northeast off the Eastern Seaboard and explosively intensify through Thursday, before plowing into Atlantic Canada Thursday night into Friday.

Areas in light blue denote snow. Pink and purple areas denote sleet or freezing rain. Areas in green, yellow, orange or red denote progressively heavier rain.

This explosive development is what meteorologists call bombogenesis, defined by a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure of 24 millibars or more in a period of 24 hours.

In this case, according to NOAA’s ensemble tracks forecast, Grayson’s central pressure could drop roughly 45 millibars in 24 hours ending Thursday evening just off southwestern Nova Scotia.

Not only would this be one of the most rapid rates of bombogenesis associated with an East Coast storm, but its central pressure may bottom out in the 950s millibars, also among the strongest offshore storms you’ll see.

Yeah, this is the subzero equivalent, at least in terms of threats to life and property, of a hurricane.  Take it very seriously.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Stay Warm

This weather pattern — the “bomb cyclone” — is a subzero version of a hurricane.

Unforgiving cold has punished the eastern third of the United States for the past 10 days. But the most severe winter weather yet will assault the area late this week.

First, a monster storm will hammer coastal locations from Georgia to Maine with ice and snow. By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow.

Forecasters are expecting the storm to become a so-called “bomb cyclone” because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening. The storm could rank as the most intense over the waters east of New England in decades at this time of year. While blizzard conditions could paste some coastal areas, the most extreme conditions will remain well out over the ocean.

In the storm’s wake, the mother lode of numbing cold will crash south — likely the last but most bitter in brutal blasts since Christmas Eve.

The responsible storm is forecast to begin taking shape off the coast of Florida Wednesday, unloading hazardous snow and ice in highly unusual locations not accustomed to such weather. The National Weather Service has already posted winter storm watches from Lake City, Fla. to Norfolk

It is then expected to rapidly intensify, buffeting the Mid-Atlantic beaches and eastern New England, where winter storm watches have also been issued.

Even though I live in South Florida, I am not gloating about this storm.  No one gloated about Hurricane Irma, and this weather could be on the same scale, at least in terms of the danger to lives, for the people in the storm’s path.  And since I have been through more severe cold blasts than I care to count during my years in Michigan and Minnesota (I recall a beautiful sunny morning in Minneapolis in January 1977 when it was -17 F), I speak from experience when I tell those of you up north to be very careful and remember your pets; they can’t tolerate the cold unprotected any more than you can.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Planning Ahead

Miami-Dade County is putting together the first big evacuation plan in 12 years ahead of Hurricane Irma.  Via the Miami Herald:

The planned instructions to flee the county’s A and B evacuation zones — A covers coastal areas in southern Dade, Key Biscayne and a pocket north of Miami, while B encompasses Brickell Avenue, more inland areas and Miami Beach and other cities along the ocean — represent the most dramatic example of Miami-Dade’s efforts to clear out in advance of a hurricane that reached Category 5 status on Tuesday. Miami-Dade’s schools chief canceled classes Thursday and Friday, and most governments and colleges announced similar shutdown plans for an already shortened holiday week.

My house is literally on the border between Zones A, B, and C, and depending on the trends of the storm, I have contingency plans to go to a place in Zone D.  Of course I will obey instructions from authorities and I am prepared to go with a few moment’s notice: grab my valuable papers, unplug the computer and the external drive, and go.  (I even had a friend in North Carolina offer me shelter, assuming he doesn’t get hit, too.)

I’ll let you know how it goes and if I go.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Drowning A Long Time Coming

Charles P. Pierce on the ecological disaster that was waiting to happen long before Hurricane Harvey.

The effects of climate change are just an exacerbating bonus. It is now apparent that the city of Houston has managed itself in a way that was not dissimilar to the Monty Python sketch about the apartment building constructed through hypnosis. Stop believing in it, and it all falls to pieces.

The spell, of course, in this case, was cast 30 years ago, when it became political death to increase anybody’s taxes who had any political influence at all. It was cast 30 years ago, when conservative movement politics pitched deregulation as a panacea. It was cast 30 years ago when the fiction of a “business-friendly” environment overcame Republican governors, and more than a few Democrats as well. It was cast 30 years ago when conservative movement politics declared that important decisions on things like the environment and public health were better left to the states, despite the fact that many states, like Texas, were unable or unwilling to pay to do these jobs properly. It was cast 30 years ago when conservative movement politics consciously moved away from empirical research and science, beginning the long march that has ended with a Republican party committed root and branch to all of these fanciful propositions, and to climate denial. It has filtered down through all the levels of politics, from the White House and the Congress, to the state houses and the local zoning boards.

Once, long ago, the conservative activist Grover Norquist famously said that he wanted to shrink “government” to a size at which it could be drowned in the bathtub. Well, people actually are drowning in Houston now, and so is the political philosophy that reached its height when Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural that government wasn’t the solution, but the problem itself. We all moved onto a political flood plain then, and we’re being swept away.

This is what is known as the universal truth best summed up as “karma is a bitch.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Short Takes

Ten missing after oil tanker collides with U.S. Navy ship.

Spain terror cell had 120 gas canisters.

Trump to put forward his “path forward” on Afghanistan.

Drone used to smuggle in 13 pounds of meth from Mexico.

U.S.S. Indianapolis wreck found after 72 years.

Big Ben to be silent until 2021.

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, comedian, philosopher, and civil rights advocate.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Short Takes

13 killed in van attack in Barcelona; police stop a second attack.

Trump defends Confederate statues.

Navy to discipline crew of destroyer damaged in collision with freighter.

White nationalists vow to return to Charlottesville.

South Korea says there will be no war with the North.

Tropical Update: TS Harvey is heading west across the Caribbean.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hot In Seattle

Via the Seattle Times:

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning along with a prediction for temperatures that could climb close to triple digits midweek.

And before any transplants or visitors start mocking Pacific Northwesterners for what could seem to be hyper-heat sensitivity — after all, July and August are typically the hottest months nationwide — please remember that only about 15 percent of Seattle-area homes have central air conditioning.

In fact, only one major metro area has fewer air-conditioned homes than Seattle, and that’s San Francisco, according to The Seattle Times’ FYI Guy, Gene Balk.

“This is definitely not a town that was built on air conditioning, and usually we don’t need it,” said Dana Felton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. “We have only hit 100 or more on three days in 120 years of keeping records, and on average we have only three 90-degree-plus days a year.”

Plus the smoke from wildfires up in British Columbia has made it especially uncomfortable.

By contrast, the high today in Miami is expected to be 90.  And no, I’m not gloating; 90 in Miami with 80% humidity is uncomfortable, too.  But one usually thinks of the Pacific Northwest as being a cool summer place.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer Places

This list ranking states to spend the summer from best to worst — the higher your number, the better it is — is fun to look at but I don’t take it seriously because they rank New Mexico as #9, one notch below Florida at #8.  I’ve spent summers in both and I will tell you that there’s no way a summer in Albuquerque is just a tad better than one in Miami.

New Mexico is a big state with a huge variety of geography ranging from hellish deserts in the south to cool and crisp Rocky Mountains in the north.  The temperatures in Albuquerque get up into the high 90’s in summer, but there’s hardly any humidity, which is what makes all the difference.

Florida is basically one flat piece of land consisting of coral reefs and swamps until you get up north of Orlando where there are a couple of hills to break the spell and thrall of the subtropics, but they have no ocean breeze, so summer in Orlando is worse than down here.  Summers in Miami are cooler temperature-wise, but the humidity is usually above 70%.  (My opinion may be somewhat skewed by the fact that my air conditioning broke down yesterday morning and I’m schvitzing like a racehorse at 4:00 a.m.)

According to the list, the worst place for summer is Mississippi.  No comment.

PS: Yes, I know Washington state comes in at #50.  You win.  So there.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Short Takes

Otto Warmbier, sent home by North Korea after lapsing into a coma, dies.

Police identify London mosque attacker.

Russia not happy that U.S. downed Syrian jet.

Largest ever breach of U.S. voter data reported.

Supreme Court to rule on Wisconsin gerrymandering.

Tropical Update: Two storms form in the Gulf: PTC Three and TS Bret.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Potential Warning

The National Hurricane Center has a new product to help keep an eye on foul weather in the tropics.

The NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued its first-ever Potential Tropical Cyclone advisories Sunday afternoon, highlighting the threat from a strong tropical wave in the central Atlantic that is likely to affect the Windward Islands as a tropical storm. Another system in the northwest Caribbean remains on track to move into the Gulf of Mexico, where it could affect areas from Texas to Florida as a tropical storm later this week.

The new Potential Tropical Cyclone advisories will provide more detailed guidance on systems that are not yet at depression strength but that have a chance of intensifying and bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours. In their announcement of this and other service changes for 2017, NHC said: “Under previous longstanding NWS policy, it has not been permitted to issue a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning until after a tropical cyclone had formed.  Advances in forecasting over the past decade or so, however, now allow the confident prediction of tropical cyclone impacts while these systems are still in the developmental stage.  For these land-threatening ‘potential tropical cyclones’, NHC will now issue the full suite of text, graphical, and watch/warning products that previously has only been issued for ongoing tropical cyclones.”

Potential tropical cyclones will be assigned numbers as part of the same chronological list that includes tropical depressions. Thus, the current system is PTC 2, even though it is the first PTC ever to be classified, because it follows Subtropical Depression 1 (which later became Tropical Storm Arlene). A potential tropical cyclone will retain its PTC number should it intensify to TD strength.

So don’t say we haven’t been warned.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017