Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Coming Heat Wave

Updated at 7:40 p.m.: The high temperature for Thursday was 100 degrees F in Columbia, 4 degrees above the forecast.  New information indicates that the high for Friday would most likely be 106 degrees.  Our internal computer model is projecting 107 for Friday and 108 for Saturday.  Therefore, it is possible that the all-time record high could be broken on either of those days.  It will be an interesting weekend.
Forecast on Wednesday, June 27.  Image Credit: WLTX.
The last two summers have each been the hottest on record.  This year is not shaping up to be hotter than the previous two, but it may still make the record book.  The computer models all week have been projecting that the heat wave in the central part of the country would expand east and would be focused over the Carolinas by Friday.  Much of eastern Colorado and western Kansas have seen record high temperatures.  In fact, Las Animas, CO tied the all-time record high for Colorado with 114 degrees.

Surprisingly the heat wave will shift rapidly to the east.  The high temperature in Columbia on Wednesday was 89 degrees with a forecast of 102 degrees by Friday.  However, the speed with which the hot air is moving east combined with subsidence of the air may produce even hotter temperatures.  There is a chance of reaching the all-time record high either Friday or Saturday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drought Relief For Some Areas

Conditions were looking bleak at the beginning of May.  Only four months of above normal rainfall had occurred in the previous 28 months.  The details can be found in a previous blog post (here).  Much of the state was in a drought and the situation was getting worse.

Two events happened to change the course of the drought.  First, Tropical Depression Beryl brought much needed rain to parts of the drought-stricken Midlands.  However, there were still areas that received little rain.  This was soon followed by an upper-level pattern that brought copious amounts of rain to the Southeast, especially along parts of the central Gulf coast.  It eventually made its way to South Carolina bringing an abundance of rain.  More than 8 inches of rain fell in just four weeks in the Columbia area.  The result has been flooding of some of the creeks in the area.

Flooding of the Rocky Branch Creek closed the intersection of Main St. and Whaley St. on Monday, June 11.  Click on any of the images for a larger view.  Image Credit: USGS.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Extreme Rain Hits Pensacola

After unending rains since June 7, 2012, many areas along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast are submerged in flood waters. The NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center estimates that Pensacola received up to 27" of rain since Thursday. Similar rain amounts were also recorded in Mobile. This image sums all of the rainfall data from June 7-11, 2012 from NOAA's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

Observed rainfall for June 7-11.  Click on image for a larger version.  Image Credit: NOAA\AHPS.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cherrypicking & Misleading

I am frequently disappointed when I read articles or editorials claiming that human-caused warming of the planet is not happening or that climate science is wrong.  Such disappointment occurred recently as I read an editorial from Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).

The national newspaper covers international business, finance, and the global economy.  Its editorials are by its own admission conservative.  I use the paper for the detailed information on companies and have used it for over two decades.  It is a good source for financial information, but a poor source for science information.

An online editorial entitled “Facts Get In The Way-Again-Of A Good Global Warming Story” can be viewed here.  The editorial is meant to criticize a recent trip by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The editorial begins “Hillary Clinton made a well-publicized trip last week to the Arctic to see for herself the impact of global warming. Less well known, however, are two reports that contradict the climate-change alarmists.”

Image Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio.
“First, polar ice is now the heaviest "in more than a decade," reports the Los Angeles Times.” Later it refers to another report “Second, photos taken in the 1930s by Danish explorers "show glaciers in Greenland retreating faster than they are today, according to researchers," tech publication The Register reported.

I long ago learned to be highly skeptical of any claim by IBD.  The first red flag is that they are quoting other media sources and not the science research itself.  Fortunately I was able to track down both reports.  It turns out that the information is cherrypicked and misleading.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The 2012 Hurricane Outlook

The Atlantic Basin has the most variable hurricane activity in the world and thus has become a challenge for meteorologists.  There seems to be a fascination with knowing what the season will be like, even if you can’t forecast where they may strike.

The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University has been making forecasts of the Atlantic hurricane seasons for the past 29 years.  It explains the need to forecast hurricane seasons this way:
“We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem. There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season. One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons. This is not always true for individual seasons. It is also important that the reader appreciate that these seasonal forecasts are based on statistical schemes which, owing to their intrinsically probabilistic nature, will fail in some years. Moreover, these forecasts do not specifically predict where within the Atlantic basin these storms will strike. The probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low and reflects the fact that, in any one season, most U.S. coastal areas will not feel the effects of a hurricane no matter how active the individual season is.”

Image Credit: SCMED Operations Center.
Every year South Carolina gears up for the expectation of hurricanes.  The state has a state-of-the-art facility to monitor hurricanes and emergency events.  Plans are reviewed and renewed.  Everyone is encouraged to become aware of their local situation and if need be know what routes are to be used for evacuations.  It is important to have hurricane kits and to update them each year.  This is also important for land-lovers since the effects of hurricanes can extend far inland.