Daweathablog

Charles E. Roop giving his own forecasts, weather discussions, photos and adventures for the Starkville, MS area, Florida, and beyond.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Severe Weather Update: Nothing But a Fizzle?

Things don't look very interesting for severe weather in Mississippi this morning. Current surface analysis shows temps over the state in the low 70s with dewpoints in the 60s (see below).

Source: College of DuPage

It was actually 71 at my apartment this morning...at 6:50...in February. The sun has been out this morning, which is good for heating the surface and helping to destabilize the atmosphere. However, there is one problem and it's indicated on the 12Z sounding from Jackson, MS: The cap.

Source: Storm Prediction Center

There's a decent cap along with very dry air aloft. I wish, wish, wish there are balloon launches in Memphis. Regardless, if there was a sounding launch in Starkville the readings would likely be the same as JAN. The MLCAPE isn't too bad, but the veering winds with height aren't too impressive. The radar is not impressing me, either as there is only a line of what appears to be a "wanna-be squall line." The setup isn't at it's prime right now. At this moment, I'd have to say chances are good that the severe weather threat for the Starkville area appears to be a bust. The best chances of severe weather will be to our northeast today where the SPC has northern Alabama, parts of eastern Kentucky, and northern Georgia under a moderate risk.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

SeCAPS; Slight Risk of Severe Weather for Mississippi

I am back in Starkville from attending the Southeastern Costal and Atmospheric Processes Symposium over the early weekend in Mobile, Alabama. I had a great time seeing speakers and interacting with meteorologist. I even had the chance to meet Dr. Chuck Doswell - a very cool guy and renowned atmospheric scientist. If you are a meteorologist or met student and don't know who Dr. Doswell is...something is wrong with you. We (other MS State met students and I) also had a the chance to tour NWS-Mobile, which is the fifth NWS office I have ever set foot in. Stay tuned for pics from the post-SeCAPS tour. I had a great time.

Now on to what's happening in the weather...

The Storm Prediction Center has placed parts of northwestern Mississippi under a slight risk of severe weather through 12Z Monday (6 am CST) and most of Mississippi under a slight risk after 12Z Monday. Points northwest and then northeast of Mississippi will be under a moderate risk.

Current analysis indicates a surface high off Florida's east coast. A southerly flow is taking place over the gulf states with dewpoints mostly in the 60s. A surface low is also located over the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles (see below). There are very strong winds over Texas with some reports of gusts over 60 mph. Upper air observations at 700, 500 and 300 mb show a trough over the southwestern United States.

Source: College of DuPage

The trough is expected to push towards the east and then northeast along with the low. Through the night and Monday morning, a deep south to south-southwesterly flow at 850 mb and veering with height to be at almost out of the west over northern Mississippi. The shear could be somewhat decent and instability could be a a tad better with the possibility of CAPE being at least 500 J/kg based on the NAM.

I'll have to wait until the morning to see how things pan out. For now, keep an eye on the skies in Starkville Monday morning. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick Update: Severe Weather Threat in Northern MS Today

Good morning, everybody. My schedule is pretty tight today, but I'm going to try to quickly explain what could go down today. The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted parts of Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and Tennessee under a moderate threat of severe weather. This categorical threat isn't issued too often.

Currently at the surface, a strengthening low is centered over northern Texas. Winds are primarily out of the south over Mississippi with dewpoints climbing into the 60s in the southern and western parts of the state. The dewpoint at KGTR is 55 degrees. Aloft, a shortwave trough is located over New Mexico. At 850 mb, a decent south-to-north low-level jet of up to 45 knots is over eastern Texas. This could be a key player in enhancing moisture and warm air advection.

The trough to our west is expected to progress east throughout the day and, along with it, the surface low over Texas and Oklahoma. This will provide uplift for the development for showers and thunderstorms. However, there are other key elements that make this severe threat possible. The shifting of the winds with height could produce enough shear to give way for a tornado risk and some strong winds. The next key ingredient is instability. Will there be enough moisture and warm air over the Golden Triangle area to give way to severe weather? If there are any breaks in the cloudcover to heat things up, I'd say "look out." I am not seeing any signs of that on the visible satellite imagery so far this morning.

Regardless, people need to be tuned into the weather throughout the day. The timing of a possible Starkville impact of this weather seems to be later this evening and tonight. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed (twitter.com/daweathaman) for the latest.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

NOAA Budget Update: House Passes Massive Cuts

I'm back on my news and soap box this morning as I just received news that the U.S. House of Representatives bill to slash domestic program's budgets passed 253-189, according to the New York Times. The vote was pretty much along party lines as Republicans fresh from their November victories wanted to show their strength of fiscal conservativeness. In my opinion, it showed their strength of witlessness.

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, this bill also contained drastic cuts to the NOAA, in which the National Weather Service falls under. The bill requested that NOAA's budget be cut nearly 30 percent according to the National Weather Service Employees Organization. The effects of this bill, if enacted, could include closing some weather forecasting offices (WFOs), layoffs, disrupt or even eliminate Hurricane Hunter aircraft missions that supply important data, and reduced accuracy and amount of weather data that's crucial for accurate weather forecasting.

The bill has passed the House, but it still has to go through the Senate and be signed by President Obama. The good news is that the cuts might have a harder time passing through the Senate because of the 51 seats held by Democrats, but the Republicans have filibuster power. In other words, it's not over. There's still a fighting chance. That's why I encourage you to write your local congressional delegates and senators and tell them to stop the madness.

By the way, here are roll-call votes from the House bill (via the NYT): http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/house/1/147.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Slight Chances of Rain Starting Early Next Week

It's been chamber of commerce weather for most of the southeastern U.S. for nearly the last week. Temperatures have been running near or even above normal in some instances. Most of the upper-level features that have been feeding us gifts from Old Man Winter have remained to the north or back in the western U.S.

Things will change at the beginning of next week, but not too much. The GFS shows a large trough over the western U.S. during the early weekend and moves it to the west. The trough begins to demagnify Monday morning and become a shortwave. The GFS shows the wave remaining just to the north of Mississippi Monday night and Tuesday morning. The model indicates a surface low and cold front with most of the precip to the north and east of the low. The European model shows a surface low to the north, but Monday morning.

I don't get the impression of this system brining in much rain. Things should clear out by the end of Tuesday. There should be some nice weather for the short term. The GFS hints at another system moving in around next weekend. The NWS in Jackson also points out this system in their latest AFD. However, it's a week out and it's a guidance model; therefore, I don't feel confident in saying much about this system.

For now, most of the weekend looks very nice. Enjoy it!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Proposed House Budget for NOAA: Disaster

Today's blog post has a little more of a different tone, but it's on a topic that deeply concerns me and should concern all of us. I usually don't like to get very political on social media because of how sensitive people can be these days, but the latest news I've read is making me speak out.

In today's atmosphere (no pun intended), the need to cut budgets due to less revenue has been a hot topic. Not just a local and state level, but also the national level. The last few years, the federal budget has been dipping heavily into the red. In my mind, both political parties are to blame. Regardless, both parties are sensing the frustration of us taxpayers and desire to get spending under control. However, each group has it's own way of doing it - one is to make smaller cuts, the other make drastic cuts.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives seems to be taking more of the drastic approach. In their proposed budget, the House would like to cut programs and scale back others to save at least $35 billion according to the Associated Press.

According to material presented by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the cuts would stretch across a vast range of domestic programs, from the EPA to housing, the weather service, food safety and inspection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding for municipalities, would also be cut.

Yep - they said the National Weather Service. The agency that provides forecasts, life-saving watches and warnings, and provide weather data that is fed into forecast models could suffer massive cuts. The National Weather Service Employees Organization released a press release that spells out disaster for the agency if these cuts go through...

Congress's move will necessitate work furloughs and force rolling closures of Weather Warning Offices across the country. The effects will be felt in every aspect of daily life, including emergency management, television weather, and information used by our nation's citizens for transportation, commerce and agriculture.

The National Hurricane Center, the Storm Prediction Center, the Aviation Weather Center, the Tsunami Warning Centers, River Forecast Centers and local Weather Forecast Offices located in communities across the nation are all victims of Congress's budget cut.

[...]

Reduced funding will mean upper air observations currently made twice a day might be reduced to every other day. Buoy and surface weather observations, the backbone of most of the weather and warning systems, may be temporarily or permanently discontinued. Delays in replacement satellites run the risk of losing key weather data that can be obtained no other way. "This information is vital for weather modeling and essential for accurate tornado watches and warnings," said Sobien.

The National Hurricane Center is not immune to these cuts as furloughs and staffing cuts will add strain to the program. The Hurricane Hunter Jet, which provides lifesaving data and helps determine a hurricane's path, could also be eliminated.

This view is pretty scary. It would also impact many of my friends, including me, who desire to work for NOAA once they get their meteorology degree.

I understand that budgets need to be cut in order get the country out of the red, but common sense needs to be applied when deciding what to slash. Then again, common sense has not been applied much in congress in the last few years. Extreme partisan politics has taken priority over the needs of the country.

If the House's proposed budget cuts go through, many lives would be in danger from lack of adequate equipment maintenance, staffing, and lack of constant and accurate weather data. This would lead to lack of accurate forecasts and timely warnings. Simply put: People could die.

There are many other essential programs that the House GOP would like to cut or eliminate which include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, education (then again, that's typical), the EPA, and food inspection. Even cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers are on the table. Despite the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, some politicians think that cutting funding to the Corps is still a great idea.

I highly encourage you to write to your senators and representatives and tell them to use common sense in cutting budgets. They need to think about what they are doing and find other sensible ways to save money.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Snow to Warmth

Good afternoon, everybody. After dealing with cold - and even some snow here in Starkville - the warm up is on its way. By the way, you can check out some of my snow photos on my photo blog.

HPC/NOAA

Currently, a 1035-mb high is centered near the Texas coast according to HPC surface analysis. This high will help bring very nice weather to the south today and tomorrow. Both the NAM and the GFS show a upper trough over the Great Lakes region on Monday morning. A frontal system is expected to be associated with the trough, but a lot of the energy will be way to the north and not affect the southeast very much. In fact, NWS-JAN still has clear skies in the forecast Monday and Tuesday. Highs on Wednesday could even push towards the 70-degree mark.

Wait - what?

Warm weather?

Score!

But why? After the crazy winter weather pattern we've had this winter, why the change? Well, things are starting to become more zonal in the upper-air patterns, at least for the eastern United States. Teleconnections can also play a part in the shift. For instance, the Arctic Oscillation (what is the AO?) is generally going towards more of a positive phase (see graph below).

Climate Prediction Center/NOAA

This can mean stronger westerlies in the Arctic region to be stronger and keep colder air to the north. The North Atlantic Oscillation is expected be close to normal. A negative NAO phase would help bring colder air to the eastern United States. Therefore, the more neutral phase should keep conditions near average.

In a nutshell, the weather looks to be nice and warmer in the southeast, including Starkville, for at least the next five days. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Severe Weather Update

The latest weather data is indicating not so fresh of a severe weather threat for Starkville. The dynamics don't seem to be building as much as it could have.


Currently, the line of thunderstorms is over southern Louisiana and extreme southwestern Mississippi. The line looked very potent a few hours ago, but it's not so impressive now. There are a few embedded cells that are spawning severe thunderstorm warnings, but again, not as impressive as it was earlier.

Dewpoints (colored) across the SE. (Via NOAA. Thanks to @Cuevman81 for sending this).

The 60F dewpoints that I mentioned on the earlier are still south of the Starkville area. I'm not seeing much of a indication of northward advancement. With the lack of good moisture and WAA, and no breaks in the clouds to destabilize things will keep the risk of severe weather north of I-20 minimal. I won't rule out a squall line with a somewhat decent punch, but it's looking less likely for severe weather here. The best chance of severe weather looks to be south of I-20 where most of the 60F+ dewpoints will be. However, there are no breaks showing up on the visible satellite imagery to give way to further destabilization.

More updates when needed...

Severe Weather Threat Today in the South

Today looks to be rather a record-breaking, if not crazy, day in the weather world. At least a half-dozen states look to see a massive blizzard that will paralyze areas of the Midwest. This storm will also bring a risk of severe weather to the southern states, including Mississippi.


The Storm Prediction Center is calling for the severe weather threat today over far-eastern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, most of Alabama, and western Florida.

The upper-level trough over the plains and a powerful cold front and surface low continues to move east. As this system progresses, the southerly low-level flow should continue to enhance some warm air advection. The models show the best moisture later this afternoon over central and southern Mississippi with dewpoints at or above 60F. However, the Helicity values are in excess of 500 m^2/s^2 over the Starkville area this afternoon. Still, for the Golden Triangle to receive the best chance of severe weather there needs to be more moisture and warm air advection. Any breaks in cloudcover today could also further destabilize the atmosphere.

The primary threats from this storm seem to be hail, strong winds and an isolated tornado. There is already a tornado watch in effect for parts of LA and MS until 3 PM CST. Stay tuned to TV, radio, Internet, and/or NOAA Weather Radio throughout the day. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed (twitter.com/daweathaman) for the latest info.