Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weather for the 2nd half of September 2011!

I thought I’d throw together a report as we near the end of September for 2011. This was a month that was very nice when compared to the searing heat we had in July and August. As you can see on the graph, the black trend line is definitely heading south. This cooling effect was enhanced by cloudy and rainy conditions that took hold after the 13th of the month. All in all, no complaints from the perspective of either temperatures or rainfall. Speaking of which, we did hit our average of about four and a quarter inches which is a great thing. So, the month has been very typical in both departments!

I three in a weather loop of the US for the morning of the twenty fifth.  These systems have been working their way from west to east with regularity over the past two weeks. as is usual, you can click on either of these radar maps for animation.

Finally, I thought to record the larger picture of weather patterns for the 25th. Now, while I'm about a far from a weather professional as a jack rabbit is from a wolf, I do have the feeling that the cool down will persist in a pretty normal was as we get to the remainder of the month and beyond.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nature deals the Midwest a break!

As the month of September begins to wind down, a series of frontal systems swept through and brought some much needed rain to a wide area around my home. It was quite nice this past weekend, waking to the sounds of thunder and the soft patter of rain outside. I recorded three and a third inches of total rainfall fro the two day period. That bring the month to close to normal (3.5 inches versus an average rainfall of 4).

It would appear that gone too is the heat of summer and to that I say good riddance. The seemingly endless parade of high ninety and one hundred degree days got old pretty fast! Now it looks as though the weather patterns will moderate down into the seventies and low eighties for day time highs. A pattern that should carry us through the balance of the month.

In my younger days, I was definitely a summer kind of guy. No day was too hot for me! Now, as I aqe, I'm tending to like the fall the best. Pleasant days followed by cool nights are part of a pattern I could get used to fast! Also, the pollen counts now begin to wind down and I'm thankful for that. Allergies, which were never a problem when I was young, have added to what is now the misery of summer. Still, I would guess that each season holds some good things in store for everyone. I even know a couple who think that winter is cool (pun intended).

So, now with another month almost in the record book, it will be interesting to see how well the predictions of a cold winter turn out. But, first we will get to enjoy the next couple of months!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Will the next Ice Age arrive a bit early?

According to the best evidence available coming in the form of ice cores and sea sediments, climate change over the last half million years or so has been a very slow, but steady process.

Ice cores, in particular, have proven to be a gold mine of information for scientists ever since the first one was drilled in 1956 in Greenland. Because the ice has trapped isotopes, air and dust as it formed over the hundreds of thousands of year in areas like Greenland and Antarctica, it has left a concise record that scientists have been able to read almost like a book. In particular, they have constructed a record of CO2 and temperature levels like the one here:

This ice core taken from Vostok, Antarctica shows clearly that much of earth’s history has been spent in icy conditions; what are known as 'glacial periods' that occur about every 150 thousand years (symbol A). The warm periods between these ‘ice ages’ are known as 'interglacial periods' and we happen to be in one of those right now.

The question that interests climate scientists is understanding what factors come into play that trigger the beginning of each period of glaciation. A period of time when both CO2 and temperature levels drop over much of the planet. They want to understand this because its possible that the triggering mechanism might be due, in part, to the effects of elevated CO2. It is troubling to some that while it normally took the earth a period of ten thousand year to build up the CO2 levels by 100 ppm in the past before mankind, it has only taken 52 years to get there with man (see symbol B for level at 2002). In 2011 they have now hit 390 parts per million. The highest ever recorded in over 400,000 years!

One popular theory cites the fact that high levels of this gas in our atmosphere will help to heat up the earths atmosphere (the so-called greenhouse effect). Just look back to our past summer for an example of how hot it felt. This heating causes the poles to melt which, in fact, they are doing as we speak (see Arctic Ice Hits Near-Record Low)! All that fresh water melt off is being dumped into the North Sea and could disrupt the Thermohaline circulation that helps to keep geographic areas of the planet like Europe warmer than they would be otherwise. Once the flow stops, the theory goes, a cycle of ever colder winters will set in that eventually could trigger another ice age. A cycle is set up with more and more continental snow cover that alters the albedo or refractive index allowing more and more solar energy to be reflected back into space. This scenario fits in well with the graph of the ice cores as you can clearly see how both CO2 and temperature profiles rapidly increase before suddenly dropping.

The big question that now arises is will the glacial onset, should it occur, happen slowly (over thousands of years) or might it perhaps be accelerated by the anthropogenic effect of mankind. Only time will tell.

Note: This post did not touch on methane levels, which have also risen to an all time high and which may pose an even greater risk than CO2 in the ability to trap heat. Please see 'The Methane Time Bomb.

September 17 rain event!

September the 17th was a morning where I arose to the sound of gentle thunder. When I looked out, it was raining; a wonderful event to be sure. Prior to this rain, only 0.16 of an inch had fallen for the month. So, to get up and see it raining like this was very refreshing. As you might be able to see in the picture, the grass had been turning brown due to the lack of water.

POLLEN BE GONE: Another issue the last couple of weeks for many people was the exceptionally high levels of allergens like ragweed. I was suffering along with many of my friends and associates This rain will knock the levels back down to medium or even low and with any luck, they won’t get back up very high for the balance of the season.

(click on picture to animate)


The days are now also noticeably shorter to be sure. Since June the 21st, when the length of the day was about 14 hours, we are now down to 12 hours 21 minutes of daylight per day (by mid December this figure will get down to 10 hours). This loss of solar input is another reason why it tends to get cooler as the fall months go by.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September weather graphics for 2009 and 2010

Click to enlarge

Weather Log for September 2001

Here is a copy of a weather log I was keeping back a decade ago in 2001. Interesting to see what it was like back then. I’ve also included a picture of the weather map for September 11, 2001. That was an absolutely beautiful Tuesday. I remember I was at work at the time and rushed home to watch the horror of that day unfold. Please click on the log below to enlarge:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is the sun is getting ready to take a nap!

Yes, it is! And, it's an event that's expected to last at least three decades! Scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) released a statement in June of this year that was news to me. According to the statement, apparently the sun is heading for a rest period, this according to both the NSO and to the Air Force Laboratory (AFRL).

According to Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, “This is highly unusual and unexpected. But,” he continued, “the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”

The technical data that Hill and other scientists presented are pointing to a possible Maunder-like minimum that could last for the next three decades or more. This may be of concern as the Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle — and coldest part — of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. Whether there is a causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters has not been proven; however, lower earth temperatures have been observed during low sunspot activity.

Dr. Hill emphasizes that he is not predicting a mini-ice age at this time. He stated that his team is concerned with sun spots and nothing else. Click here for a pretty video on the sun and sunspots.

Special Report: Extreme Weather in the world affecting food proces!

Flooding rains in the spring that saw record rainfall amounts in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Tornadoes where tornadoes have been only rarely seen. Raking hurricanes like Irene which dropped trillions of gallons of water all up and the Atlantic Coast. All this going on while the State of Texas has been quietly suffering the worst drought in its history.

 “October 2010 to July 2011 was the driest of any 10-month period on
record for Texas.”
(The previous record was June 1917 to March 1918.)

The desert like conditions in that state have resulted in wild fires destroying millions of acres, a staggering 3,582,000 so far this year that have destroyed countless homes and businesses. And the year isn’t over quite yet! Yes, the weather has been acting a little bit weird as of late and it hasn’t just been in the United States. Much of Asia was also hit this year, an event that will very likely see the continuance of high food prices world-wide. 

All of which has some people guessing as to the driving force behind these wild swings. Could this year be the heralding the start of even crazier times to come?

September 2011: Mid Month Summary

Year to Date Wx Summary:

(data from DanO's Place KMOFORSY1- click graph to enlarge)


September the 14th and 15th marked, what I think, could turn out to be a semi-permanent change in the weather pattern that persisted for much of the summer months! It had been Hot! Hot! Hot! Yes, if you like your thermometer to read in the hundreds, then you would have liked Forsyth Missouri this past July and August.

Of some concern, is the lack of any significant rainfall. So far this month, I've registered 0.16 of an inch. We have some ways to go to his the 4 inch average that has been compiled over the past thirty years. 

After the first frontal passage, on Wednesday the 14th, it was; cool, overcast and just down right pleasant. The little rain that has been recorded fell that day.

Check out the national weather map below. It shows both fronts quite well.

 (click on map to set it into motion)

That graphic gives me a good feeling that some extended cooler weather may be on the way. The lower cold front which passed in the morning hours is expected to stall just south of the Arkansas border. The second one, however is expected to crash on through later today and tonight. It will bring a significantly cooler regime (and maybe rain) that should extend into the beginning of the second half of the month.

Hemispheric Loop:

 (click on map to set it into motion)