Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Valley Station - PRP Storm Story July 26-27 2014

A strong line of storms plowed into the southwest part of Jefferson County early Saturday night and produced one of the most vivid displays of lightning that I have witnessed in a few years. In addition, I estimated wind gusts of at least 50 mph at my location in Valley Station, about 15 minutes southwest of Louisville International airport.

At 9:00 pm, I was tracking a line of strong to severe thunderstorms moving toward the Leavenworth area of Indiana. When nautical twilight had elapsed, I could see some hints of lightning to my west and northwest.

Following the storm using RADAR and a real-time lightning tracker, the southwest-northeast oriented line appeared to be strongest at the southwest end. Forecasting the track at that time would place the strongest part over Breckinridge, Meade, and Hardin counties, just missing the adjacent part of southwest Jefferson County.

However, during the next 30 minutes, cloud to ground lightning strikes began increasing rapidly just to my west in Harrison County, Indiana and to my southwest in Meade County, Kentucky. By this time, my little girl was enthralled by the light show as the real-time lightning tracker was crackling on my computer screen at the same time.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for western Jefferson County along with a handful of adjacent counties until 10:15 pm. Well, I was the easternmost extent of the warned area and by 10:00, just a lot of lightning and no wind to speak of.

Then, another warning was issued for the southern part of Jefferson County. By 10:10, the down draft base was being illuminated by the lightning off to my northwest. I knew then that the winds and rain would be increasing shortly.

I decided to unplug my electronic gadgets because the lightning was very intense. Within a few minutes, the winds began increasing and then the rain began falling heavily.

Peak wind gusts were sustained by about 10:20. The weight of the water collecting on the leaves of tree branches began taking a toll as winds gusted to at least 50 mph twice during a one-minute span.

Finally, I decided to get inside and suggested that we may end up losing power, not so much from the wind but from the lightning, because we had not lost power up until that time. Then, right on cue, the lights blinked, blinked again, tried valiantly to stay on, and then darkness. Well, the power went out. As far as darkness, I don't think so. The lightning was my candle to the candles and push lights, then we just waited out the storm.

The way the lights had flickered, I figured a small limb must have landed on a wire somewhere in the neighborhood and just shorted the transformer. I did not recall hearing any blown transformers, though.

By 10:45, my mother's neighbor calls the house (they live about 2 miles southwest of me). We have no power, so our 900 MHz cordless does not ring. However, the phone in the bedroom was emitting a series of chirps. She informs me that they actually had power but the phone lines in the neighborhood were out.

She informs me that AT&T would be out in their neighborhood the next day. I thanked her for calling. Of course, my mother rarely leaves her cell phone on. That's why nobody could get a hold of them. Since my grandmother who lives with them has a serious medical condition, a phone, or access to a phone is a necessity.

Getting out of the house to drive over there was interesting. Traffic light was blinking red. Four-way stop. I was surprised by the number of people out and about at this time of night. But, everyone did fine.

Actually, many people had power and then again, many people did not. At a stop sign, I looked to my right and there were no porch lights on, just complete darkness. Yet, on the left, people had power on the one side of the street.

Uh oh. Rounding the curve, one of those mobile and adjustable basketball goals was blocking the street. If people would just put sand or gravel inside the base of those things, it could actually withstand the strong winds. I hoisted it upright, thinking that these little patio pavers, three of them, one already broken, was not going to keep this thing standing erect if we get much more wind later.

There were a smattering of twigs and small branches laying in the road, nothing serious. After I informed my father about me losing power, we noticed his neighbors across the street had no power either.

During a weather update, he said at least 11,000 LG&E customers were without power. He was surprised that they had power. Since the whole neighborhood has underground utilities, I was surprised they had lost power.

The following morning, I awoke to more storms pounding the area. An impressive amount of lightning at about 4:30 kept me up for the rest of the day. Despite the amount of lightning at that time, I only saw just a little bit of rain from those cells, while just to my south, they must have been hit hard because the lightning stayed over those areas. I learned later that some areas just to my south had received over 1" in about an hour from storms that kept training over their locations.

However, by 6:30, I got mine. The lightning was not as intense. But another round of very heavy rain moved into the area and more than doubled the amount of rain I had received from the storm earlier that night.

Later that morning, I drove to get batteries for the weather radio and gas for the generator. Some traffic lights were completely out, no blinking red, just nothing. I was appalled that drivers failed to treat the intersections as 4-way stops. Technically, you are required to treat those instances as 4-way stops, even if the lights are not blinking red. But, safety rules the roost. So, I drove defensively, anticipating their unmannerly, perhaps ignorant views of this technicality.

Driving around the various communities during the next few hours, I noticed several broken tree limbs. In fact, at one time, one road was blocked due to a falling limb. And those beautifully shaped Bradford Pear trees really took a beating. I saw at least 7 trees that had a portion of its top ripped out, thereby making the entire tree useless to look at anymore.

Overall, it was an impressive series of storms. As a storm spotter, I was unable to report anything because technically, I did not have winds that reached severe criteria. But, I should have alerted the NWS office of the high winds and power outages. Furthermore, I seemed to stress the importance of being prepared for a severe weather episode. And I was totally unprepared even though I knew that a line of strong storms was bearing down on the area. No fresh batteries in the weather radio, no candles or push lights. Also, when my gutters were clogged with debris from earlier storms, I failed to climb my ladder to the roof and clean those downspouts when there was a brief lull. Oh well.


Cleanup in Aisle 9: Kentucky - Broken Records

Almost one year ago we were in the midst of a potent cool spell, at least by July's standards, that peaked out from the 27th through the 29th and set records across a large part of the Midwest. But, this one has been a more remarkable run of cooler than normal conditions for the month.

This morning, Louisville set a record low along with Frankfort and Lexington. Some temperatures dipped into the upper 40's here in the rural parts of counties bordering Jefferson County.

At my house, I saw 52 degrees in Valley Station.

While records were being smashed this morning, many of us are probably still cleaning up after the weekend storms. I'll be one of them today. Lots of generally small limbs for me, though.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Louisville Included in Moderate Risk for Severe Weather


Latest update from SPC...Moderate risk has been dropped due to lack of confidence in the development of MCS. ..Like I said before, always a tough thing to forecast several hours ahead of time. However, most of the same areas are still running with a high-end slight risk with damaging wind the primary threat. The atmosphere is juiced and the radar is already lighting up .

UPDATE 12:40pm
Latest update from SPC...Moderate risk backed off for a few more locations. However, models are continuing to diverge on expected solutions. Many factors still unclear. Again, these types of storm systems are always tough to forecast ahead of time. We really will not know how to forecast this thing until after the cap erodes later this evening and the actual complex begins to form.

UPDATE 11:45am
Warm front pushing through Louisville shortly. Dew points in low 70's in western KY. We'll feel it as soon as southwest winds kick in....

UPDATE 11:30am
Louisville out of moderate risk for now from SPC...However, uncertainty continues as to timing, formation, and location of well-advertised MCS. Since atmospheric conditions will become ripe for severe weather development, I think it's a good idea that the entire region is alerted to the very real possibility of severe storms, especially in areas that may be impacted overnight.

Another update from SPC due soon....

From the SPC, confidence is high that a significant severe weather event will be realized. Primarily, areas just north of the Ohio River across southern and central Indiana stand the best chance of seeing rough weather.

However, Louisville is included in a 45 percent hatched area for wind damage albeit barely.

It will be interesting to see how the numbers for severe weather will play out later this evening. We haven't seen too many overnight severe episodes in quite a while for Louisville.

Keep in mind, these MCS type storms are always very tricky to forecast ahead of time. So far, these are just computer-modeled forecasts. We really will not know how bad it could get until AFTER the complex begins materializing.

If the storms do in fact form, a significant wind event will be quite likely as winds could easily exceed severe criteria of 58 mph in many areas. Isolated spin-ups within the complex and along a bowing segment are possible as well.

More updates due later this morning.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Severe Chances Going Up

The Storm Prediction Center continues to advertise a possible widespread damaging wind event for Saturday. At this time, the highest chance for severe weather appears to lie across central Indiana and Illinois.

Will these storms maintain their strength as they approach Kentucky? Still, a lot of variables to look at, but Kentucky does appear to be within the area of instability to support at least a chance for damaging winds.

Stay tuned....


El Nino Off to a Late Start???

It's been advertised as possibly the biggest one yet. However, just like a well-hyped meteor shower, the initial sizzle of the upcoming strong El Nino is now looking more like a fizzle.

According to the latest news reports, El Nino has been slow to develop and is now forecast to be weaker than the prior forecast.

California generally benefits from El Nino's presence every 2-7 years during the late fall and winter periods. Often, excessive rains alleviate long-term drought as a parade of storms impact the west coast.

At other times, a Pineapple Express' moisture fetch benefits California as the Polar Jet becomes split upon encountering a blocking High near Alaska. The southern part of the split combines with the subtropical jet stream and is driven from the region near Hawaii (thus Pineapple) all to way to the western U.S coastline. The Madden-Julian Oscillation is an important parameter with this event.

El Nino Discussion


Friday, July 18, 2014

Forecasting Hurricane Intensity...A New Tool

A better understanding of hurricane development and intensity has been a primary focus for atmospheric scientists and engineers over the last several years. In Miami, home of the National Hurricane Center, operational facilities at Florida International University and the University of Miami are making 'waves' by means of state-of-the-art simulations both to help engineers build more water and wind resistant structures and weather forecasters understand how hurricane intensity forecasts can be more accurate.

For example, at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, numerical simulations are being developed and analyzed to show that changes in the physical stress at the ocean surface, such as sea spray and foam and their evaporation,  may help explain the rapid intensification of some tropical storms.

In June 2012, ground breaking on a new Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex began that promised to give scientists a new tool in simulating hurricanes within a controlled laboratory.

The large aquarium measures about 65 feet in length and 20 feet in width and 6.5 feet in height.

The simulator, called SUSTAIN, or SUrge-STructure-Atmosphere INteraction laboratory is the only facility capable of creating category- 5 level hurricanes in a controlled, seawater laboratory.

Also, Florida International University's Wall of Water (WOW) simulator cranks winds up to 157 miles per hour that helps test hurricane resiliency of varying structures from private homes to light poles. This simulator uses twelve 700-horsepower fans and  has been operational since 2012, in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew that devastated much of south Florida.





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Special...Polar Vortex in the Summer? Why?


The July 15 weather map is located above. A blast of very cool air of Canadian origin invaded a large part of the United States early this morning, setting record lows in its wake. So far, I've counted at least 29 locations that tied or set record lows this morning, some as far south as Greenwood, MS. Joplin, MO set an all-time July record low of 50 degrees. Why, even the ice box capital of the U.S., International Falls MN, set a record this morning of 39 degrees.
This cool air looks to stick around for a few more days. For the past week, meteorologists have been advertising a Polar Vortex (where have we heard that before? Hmm) that would bring a refreshing respite from the summer heat. That's great and all. I am all for cooler weather in the middle of summer.
However, does the term 'Polar Vortex' really need to be used, especially in July? I recall not less than a few July's in my lifetime where we had a period of cooler, refreshing weather, and it was never called a Polar Vortex. Meteorologists would just draw attention to the fact that the air mass was of Canadian origin and enjoy it while it lasts.
For example, it seems many have forgotten that temperatures for the last eight days of July 2013 were well below average for many locations. Look at this map from July 28, perhaps the peak of the coolest air.
In my opinion, this map looks very similar to the one earlier. However, the core of the coolest air  does make it farther south than the one from last July. Greenwood MS, Fayetteville AR, and McAlester OK were a few of the ones from this year that were cooler than last year.
Of the 29 locations that either tied or set record lows this morning, I checked on how cool these locations were during last year's cool down. Over half reported cooler readings than this year's Polar Vortex. In addition, over 900 record lows were either set or tied during this 8-day stretch, peaking on July 28 when over two dozen locations reported all-time record lows for the entire month of July.
Yet, there was no mention of any Polar Vortex that caused this significant stretch of below-average temperatures. Why? Could it be that meteorologists were content with just reporting that the cooler weather was of Canadian origin and just left it at that?
Now, fast-forward to this year. February 2014 saw a rather impressive anomaly that produced a chunk of cold air from the Arctic regions. While it's true that temperatures were at times bitterly cold, there were not too many record cold readings that would label this event as historic. Nevertheless, the term 'Polar Vortex' instilled as much anxiety in people as Darth Vader to the Rebels. So, why not use it again, this time in the middle of summer?
I think it worked. The sexy term garnered a great deal of attention. But you know what? Big deal. Now, if I would have had snow flurries this morning when I awoke, then, yeah, that would be a big deal.
The term Polar Vortex definitely does not belong in the summertime vernacular. I think it's just a media sensationalism stunt aimed at attracting viewership. And it's a shame that some meteorologists got caught up in it as well. A blip in the polar jet stream is normal. Perhaps mentioning an anomaly in the polar jet stream is all that would be needed, or the all-familiar "of Canadian origin" would suffice. But, give the Polar Vortex thing a rest already.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Severe Thunderstorm WATCHES On the Rise Today

Just issued...A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been posted for a part of Tennessee. A line of Watches also exist to our west and northwest.

If conditions continue to destabilize around our region, I would not be surprised to see these Watches extend into west KY and southern Indiana at the very least.

Right now, I have been looking at the SPC's instability numbers. The rains from earlier are still hampering instability in Louisville and points just east. However, the numbers in western KY and west-central Indiana are beginning to show favorable signs for supporting strong to severe weather.

Closely monitor the time. If conditions do not begin showing rapid destabilization by 4-5 pm, chances for severe weather may begin to wane. But, I would not rule out isolated warnings for the Louisville County Warning Area as at the very least, a broken line of strong thunderstorms will progress southeastward and affect the region.

Highest chances for severe weather should remain just west and north of Louisville but would not be surprised to see parts of the region including Louisville placed in a Watch box.

Updates perhaps later...


Drought Levels Ease in Some Areas of Metro Louisville

Last night's storm and early morning rainfall produced impressive amounts around the Louisville area for most locations. Of course, that means some areas received only minor amounts.. my house included.

Here's a look at some amounts as collected by area rain gauges of the Metropolitan Sewer District thru 8:05 this morning...

Valley Station (my home rain gauge) 0.33"
PRP  0.79"
Shively  1.16"
Fairdale  1.34"
Jeffersontown  1.43"
Jefferson Mall Area 1.65"
Fern Creek FD  1.91"

At the Cedar Creek WQTC about 1-1.5 miles south of the SR 841 and US 31-E ramp, a mini-deluge of 2.55" was recorded so far.

Louisville Int'l official total thru 08:00am was 1.49".

Other areas that were part of the less fortunate group like myself include far southwest Jefferson county (4 miles southwest from my house as the crow flies) where amounts measured about 0.1".

For the most part, the dreaded DROME (dry dome) is still very much intact across my part of the county, just like it was during most of the winter, at least in comparison with other locations surrounding me.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Can A Typhoon in Japan Affect Our Weather in Kentucky UPDATE?

Well, I've actually had to give this thing a few days to get moving. No longer a tropical entity, the 'disturbance' that was once a super typhoon as it slammed into Okinawa, is just now getting caught up in the flow above the Kamchatka Peninsula and will next begin circling around the Aleutian Low.

I've learned that with this process, typhoons that cross Japan do not necessarily affect our weather within 7 to as much as 10 days as some have theorized. It can happen though.

However, an unusual dip in the polar jet will alter our summertime weather pattern for a few days next week, preventing any precipitation or additional fronts to affect the region after the main front passes early during the week.

As a side note, did you the know that Japan used 'balloon bombs' during World War II? Attaching explosives and relying on the prevailing wind currents of the jet stream, several of these balloons were able to cross the Pacific within a few days and actually caused some destruction and isolated casualties. Some of the balloons even made it as far east as the Midwest.

Here is a current look at the Pacific Satellite from The Weather Channel....



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Can a Typhoon in Japan Affect Weather in Kentucky?

It sounds hard to believe. A typhoon has just slammed Japan. Yet, our weather may become significantly impacted by what's left of this storm system in a few days.

To test this. I'm going to show the current satellite picture of the storm and update its progress each day.

The theory says that if a typhoon treks across Japan and moves northeast toward the Aleutian islands coming close to Alaska, the upper level winds will continue to steer the storm system toward the U.S. mainland within a few days. Then, our weather will be impacted a few days after this (if it hits the west coast).

Of course, it will not be a tropical system of any sort. However, a low pressure system nonetheless, will impact our part of the world generally within 7 days after the most recent assault on Japan.

Pay attention to the date and time in the lower right quadrant each day.
In the picture, you see the eye of the typhoon (or hurricane). Southwest of that is the little island of Taiwan. In the clearing just north-northeast of the eye is South Korea, while Japan is mostly enshrouded in clouds. The far top right of the image are the Kuril islands. I expect those to come in better focus by this time tomorrow.

Follow the storm's progress here. I'll have an update tomorrow.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Drought Conditions on the Rise in Kentucky

The last time I posted, my garden was looking for ways to quench its unending thirst. While the garden has matured and is now producing for me, my rainwater storage continues to remain very low, about 40 percent of full capacity and well below the 66.7 percent threshold for the months of July and August.

For the month of June, I received a total of 1.25" in the rain gauge. Lexington received over 5.50 inches. In fact, Lexington exceeded its average by 1.15"; therefore, when compared to my total for the month, their above average number of 1.15" just about beat that.

However, I was not the only one who experienced unusually dry conditions for the month. In my last post, I commented about the drought monitor index and how I would not be surprised to see it expand to include more areas of Kentucky, especially my area.

Well, it now does include my area.... Take a look.

As far as percentages, here are the most recent figures.... The table below actually shows slight improvement over its last weekly report. There should be another update maybe as early as tomorrow.

Last Week6/24/201447.0452.961.690.000.000.00
3 Months Ago4/1/2014100.
Start of Calendar Year12/31/2013100.
Start of Water Year10/1/2013100.
One Year Ago7/2/2013100.


MikJournal Monday 02/25/2019...Drying Out

What a wet pattern we have been enduring. Will we finally dry out? Welcome to another installment of MikJournal Monday, the 25th of February...