Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter weather and New Years could be a bad mix!

As the year 2012 finally draws to a close, it looks as though Mother Nature is going to throw the Forsyth Missouri area one last slush ball!

I find it equally, both amusing and concerning, that whenever those giant weather computers can’t agree on a model forecast. Some areas of the country are naturally more difficult for them than others due to climatic and geographic peculiarities. Forsyth, Branson and even Springfield Missouri just happen to be one of those areas! That said, the challenge for New Years will be to figure out who gets snow, who gets only wet and who gets a little ice!

As of this posting on Sunday morning, the best thinking out of the National Weather Service in Springfield will be for ‘slush’ south of the I44 corridor and snow to the north. And, there may not be much of either as the plume of moisture streaming in from the Pacific will be traveling over some high elevations before making its way into our region. And when it does get here, the lower levels of the atmosphere will be quite dry. It will take some time for that body of air to become saturated enough to produce much of anything in the way of precipitation. In addition, yet another plume of moisture that they were watching come out of the Gulf also looks to be pretty much ‘scoured out’.

The bottom line for Tuesday will be all about timing as a cold front sliding in from the north begins to mix it up with the incoming Pacific moisture. The weather service is still sticking with the idea that much of the county wide area will see some snow overnight tonight (Sunday) which will change over to drizzle during the daytime hours on Tuesday and then become problematic after nightfall. The main concern in all of this forecast will be the chance for slick bridges and a few spots in low lying areas. So be on your toes if you’re traveling at those times.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weather for New Years Eve termed problematic!

Due to the complexity of the thermal profiles as seen by the weather computers, the model predictions are all having a hard time with the type of moisture that will fall from the heavens on New Years Eve, be it snow or rain or both! All the models are in agreement that we will get a ‘slug of pacific moisture’ across the countywide area beginning sometime around midnight Sunday and that it should persist on through the early morning hours on Monday. (This system may even be supplemented with a shot of low level moisture from the Gulf just to spice things up a bit)!

At any rate, it mat be touch and go as to who gets the frozen stuff and who does not. The most likely scenario for the Forsyth area will be for us to see an all snow event during the nighttime hours of early Tuesday with a change over to rain or mist sometime after 6AM. This mess will persist on through the day and into Tuesday night with a light snow redeveloping after dark on Tuesday evening. Accumulations, assuming the rain doesn't melt everything, could be from 1 to 3 inches.

The real fly in this ointment will be the possibility of slick conditions forming in some low lying areas and bridges on a night when many people will be out celebrating the New Year. Travelers would be encourage to stay updated during this period of time and to plan accordingly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We ducked a bullet this time!

While I was sad that all the kids in Forsyth missed out on a white Christmas (by geographical inches as it turned out), it’s worth noting that this particular storm caused (is causing) a lot of grief all up and down the eastern portions of this country. Three people died and scores have watched as their plane rides home from the Holidays were canceled. Areas like the Connecticut seaboard are going to be lashed even as that state is still digging out from the effect of Sandy. Gosh! Tornadoes, ice and blizzards! All of which is perfectly normal in December. What?

What interests me as a resident of southwest Missouri, however has bee the rather rapid change from near normal weather conditions to…something else. Even the Weather Service will admit that computer models are ‘all over the board’ as they try to deal with the next system coming in from the West Coast. This winter just might yet be one for the books!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Weather trends for SW Mo. for January 2013

With the El Nino Southern Oscillation looking to stay more or less normal at least through mid 2013, I don’t think that configuration will be much of a factor for the month of January 2013. However, what is of interest is the swing of the Arctic Oscillation from a slightly positive posture to one that is looking more negative! Could this change be tied in some way to the historic rate at which the arctic sea ice is melting as some scientists think? I’m not sure, but what is sure will be an increased chance for the jet stream to allow really cold air to invade the North American continent as we move into January and February. Add that to the slightly improving chances for precipitation across the Central Midwest and my thinking is that there is a somewhat increased likelihood that southwest Missouri will see periods of extreme cold along with some form of wintery precipitation. Well, only time will tell!

Disclaimer: The author is not credentialed as any form of a scientist, climatic or otherwise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Does less arctic sea ice mean warmer winters?

With arctic sea ice at record low levels this year, you’d think that might imply warmer winters are on the way for continents in the northern hemisphere!

Well, think again. According to some climatic scientists like Charles Greene of Cornell University, just the opposite may occur. Less ice means more radiational cooling and that, in turn, leads to changes in the course of the jet stream.

According the professor Greene, “Everyone thinks of Arctic climate change as this remote phenomenon that has little effect on our everyday lives, but what goes on in the Arctic remotely forces our weather patterns here." He went on to state that, “What's happening now is that we are changing the climate system, especially in the Arctic, and that's increasing the odds for the negative AO (Arctic Oscillation) conditions that favor cold air invasions and severe winter weather outbreaks."

If what Mr. Greene say is true, then we may well be in for so interesting weather conditions here in Forsyth on this the first full day of winter!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recap: December 2012, the first half!

Wow! Talk about your global climate change! Or, perhaps is what’s going on is really only ‘normal’. Here's a recap for the first half of December 2012 for the southwest Missouri area.

For the days numbered 1 through 14, I looked at both my data recorded where I live in Forsyth Missouri and the next closest city where the National Weather Service has a station, which is West Plains Missouri. I also included Springfield Missouri which is about forty five miles to the north of my location also. Here’s the results:

Click on to enlarge
 To say that it was warm would be a real understatement! With an average temperature that was just a bit over nine degrees above average was startling to me. On the other hand, the lack of rain, should it persist could be very damaging in the long term sense to our area farmers. The drought, which is intensifying across the Midwest, is coming at a very bad time when America is still struggling to climb out of an economic barrel.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 2012 Week One Recap!

Let me see now... are there two b's in the term Global Warming. Guess not. For a month that averages somewhere around 34°F. Down here in southwest Missouri, the first week's average of 53 degrees was beyond belief! During this first week of meteorological winter, four out of the seven days saw temperatures of in excess of seventy degrees. The big question in my mind one of climatic payback or averaging as it were. History dictates that whenever something swings too far in one direction, you can bet you'll experience some event that will balance it out in the future. For instance, in order for the month to end up somewhere near the normal average of 35°F, that means that the balance of the month (the next three weeks) would have to average somewhere in the high teens to make the whole month average out to 'normal'. Think about that for a second. We're talking daytime temps somewhere around 30°F with lows that would be dropping into the single digits. (Think January with an edge), Now, in all likelihood, that happening is not very likely. What is likely will be that this December will come and go as perhaps a bit warmer than average and hopefully the temperatures will settle down into a more normal pattern. That's what's likely at any rate.

On a more promising note, the rainfall, which has amounted to about an inch so far (normal for the month is about 4 inches) , looks a heck of a lot better than the disaster that was November.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November 2012 weather summery for the Forsyth Mo. area!

As the month of November 2012 has now come to a close, I thought it a good point in time to make a few observations concerning this year's weather.


For anyone out there who might still be living in a 'bubble of ignorance', I thought to touch on our continuing/worsening drought situation first. They say that pictures tell a thousand words and this one I took of a local creek says a lot. I've been living in the area for decades and, in that time, I cannot remember Swan Creek being this dry!
According to NOAA, the weather service and others, the drought in the Midwest is not expected to improve anytime soon as this graphic  would seem to indicate. Here in southwest Missouri, we find ourselves in what they describe as a 'moderate' drought situation. From what I can ascertain, 'moderate' means that while it's dry out there, no crops or drinking water supplies will be adversely affected. (A situation that might become worse with time as more and more farming districts have begun switching over to irrigation as a primary way to water their crops).

This month, I've recorded only 1.0 inches of rainfall, month to date, versus an average year that should have seen four and a half inches.

Fire Weather

On the heels of any prolonged drought, come the conditions that can result in more widespread wild fires. Dry vegetation in association the occasional with brisk winds can set the stage for fires that burn off large areas of land. And, as damaging as the destruction can be from these fires, there is the side effect on everyone's health that's caused by all that particulate matter being thrown into the air. Studies have shown that some of the constituents of the smoke from burning vegetation contain carcinogens which can endanger ones health....

“Biomass Burning is a problem of long standing. Huge amounts of air pollution are produced worldwide by the annual burning of 3 billion metric tons of biomass such as wood, leaves, trees, grass and trash (Abelson). Biomass burning represents the largest source of air pollution in many rural areas of the developed and developing world. Biomass burning is used create heat, to clear forests, to dispose of leaves, crop stubble, trash and wood. Globally, biomass burning is estimated to produce 40 percent of the carbon dioxide, 32 percent of the carbon monoxide, 20 percent of the particulates, and 50 percent of the highly carcinogenic poly-aromatic hydrocarbons produced by all sources (Levine).” [Luke Curtis, MS, CIH- from Human Ecologist- Fall Issue 2002 Burning Issues Special Edition Nov. 11, 2002]


For many of us, I'm guessing that this November was a month where heating bills played a somewhat bigger role in impacting the family budget. This would be especially true considering the cooler than average temperatures that November brought (2 degree lower mean than average). It's understood that millions of Americans have recently found themselves either under-employed or perhaps not working at all; this happening at a time when every penny counts. Unfortunately, the drop of average or mean temperatures in November will cause a small spike in everyone's bill when they receive theirs next month.

Days marked in blue saw temps below 30°F
The question remains, is this lowering of the thermometer a trend? Last year, overnight temperatures got down into the twenties on just three occasions (see chart). This year we dropped below 30°F no less than 13 times and believe you me, it's the overnight lows that really affect home heating performance in a significant manner! (I hope I've made it clear in a previous post that temperature readings below 35°F really drive up heating costs, especially for those of us who use heat pumps)!

So, next comes December and wow what a change! This first week of that month looks like it just might break a lot of records all over the place as seventy degree days were more the norm for my area than not. Time will tell, as the that month progresses...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 2012 mid-month update!

In over 20 years I've never seen this area creek so low!

 Say what you will, but the first two weeks of November (concerning the weather and otherwise) was anything but boring. Let me recap….

I spent a lot of time on this map!
Week One: Hurricane Sandy hits the east coast in what has been billed as the storm of the century! President Obama kept his office is what has been billed as the cover-up of all time and yes, there was a minor blizzard also courtesy of Sandy in the Appalachians.

Week Two: The mercury had begun to make somewhat of a habit of dropping down into the twenties overnight. The drought (see picture) that is slowly strangling the Midwest tightened its hold. CIA Director Petraeus was caught with his knickers down and yes, his testimony concerning Libya might just prove to be damning to the Administration.

So, what does it all mean? Well, one could say that, if that was Act One, I can hardly wait to see what the next two weeks brings our way.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The winds of weather change comeith!

November the 11th dawned warm, overcast and a tad windy! All three elements would make even the most simple person perhaps a little bit uneasy, even if they didn’t know why. At 6Am it was 65 degrees outside and since it was November, I found that to be somewhat ‘agrunusual, (agreeable, but unusual at the same time).

Arising from my bed with a bound, a quick check on my computer disclosed the reason. My home, here in southwest Missouri, was in a good and strong flow of warm air arriving from the south! And actually, this was a situation that had been going on for a couple of days now as it had brought warm days and mild night as a result. However, as in any good weather novel, there was a despoiler waiting in the wings to mess with an otherwise angelic plot.

Enter stage left, a nasty old cold front that is seeking to restore the season post haste. This is Old Man Winter (in disguise of course, as it’s much too early for him to reveal his true self). Instead, he is taking on the appearance of plain Jane cold air that is; rushing, scuttling, sliding (take your pick) down my way just in time to spoil a planned walk in the woods. Alas, and coming with him is Ms. Showers, a lady who likes to cry all the time and soak everything with tears. Between the two of them they can make even the biggest nature lover run to cover. Ah well, its back to hunkering down next to a warm hearth for me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Early November 2012 Wx Update

Jet stream pattern highly non-zonal
The North American continent looks to be in schedule for an early winter as a number of factors seem to be in play to encourage the odds in that favor.

Two early events; hurricane Sandy (which hit right at the start of November) and the Nor’easter storm that occurred towards the end of the first week are indicators, to me, of a global shift in the long waves personified by the jet stream that had already become persistent starting in late October.

Two other global factors including the shifting ENSO towards a positive El Nino and a solar max that has been anything will also possibly encourage more dramatic inflows of arctic air early on. This general pattern will lead to more and more dramatic cold fronts, especially across the east coastal regions as we get into the latter part of the month.

Other more minor indicators of a shift will snow that might develop towards this coming weekend in parts of central Missouri. Nothing in the way of accumulation, but would be fun to see.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nor'easter set to slam East Coast on Election Day?

This Nor'easter caused the blizzard of 2006!

While millions struggle to get over the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Mother Nature may be setting the stage for yet another storm set to impact the northeast coast sometime around Election Day 2012! Could it be that God is trying to tell these folks something?

This far out in time (3 days), it's hard to know for sure what the track of this storm will take. Most computer models have it moving south to north pretty far off shore. And, while it will be no where near as strong as the recent hurricane, any inclement weather that impacts the storm ravaged coast will be sorely felt.

While weather specialists are telling everyone that this event should be minimal in power and effect, they are also expressing some concern and are watching developments closely.

Friday, November 2, 2012

October 2012 Weather Summery

A few of my observations concerning the month of October 2012:

  1. The month was much cooler than normal across much of the Ozarks while being only a couple of degrees cooler here in the Forsyth area. Also, it's interesting to note that while the days were cooler, the nights average one degree warmer than normal.
  2. There were two significant cold fronts that affected the southwest Missouri area; one in the first week of the month and one towards the end of the month. I used both the occasions to perform experiments designed to save heating costs; reference experiments #10712 and #102712.
  3. Precipitation across the area was slightly above normal even though a long term drought persists.
  4. Parts of central Missouri experienced a brief interlude of frozen precipitation.
  5. The latest ENSO cycle report is ticking now towards a positive direction.
  6. Solar radiation continues to be weaker than in years past.
  7. The Arctic Oscillation is trending negative indicating a non-zonal jet stream pattern for the North American continent as a whole.

Conclusions and Trends

I'm inclined to continue with a trend towards a colder and wetter (?) than normal winter pattern combined with non-zonal jet streams persisting through January of 2013. Look for sharply colder weather towards the end of November with an increased likelihood of ice accumulations in December.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Is a rough winter in store for the Midwest in 2012-13?

Hold onto your hats everyone! Things just may be cranking up for one hell of a rough winter! How can I possibly know that when it's only October? Read on...

Mid October is now showing two clear trends (at least to me); copious precipitation across parts of the Midwest along with cooler than normal temperatures. Both these events lend support to global circulative observations that point to a strengthening ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation which had been neutral), and an AO (Arctic Oscillation) index that looks to be headed negative* big time. (Two important influences that could produce a clashing of very cold northern arctic air with moisture laden gulf winds right over the middle of the country as we head into December and January). Down here in southwestern Missouri, that translates as ice! (See earlier post on the Long Range Forecast).

Things to look for......

Early and increasingly frequent incursions of cold fronts as we get into November which clash with warmer than normal air coming up from the gulf states. In other words, look for some pretty dicey storms over states like Oklahoma, Kansas ans Missouri. These 'storms' will carry right on into December and January where some truly strange stuff may ensue.

How good is this prediction of mine, really?

Not very, as I have absolutely no credentials in the area of climate prediction or meteorology for that matter. Still, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. I'm either an idiot savant or just a plain idiot.

*Positive and negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation:
"The degree to which Arctic air penetrates into middle latitudes is related to the AO index, which is defined by surface atmospheric pressure patterns. When the AO index is positive, surface pressure is low in the polar region. This helps the middle latitude jet stream to blow strongly and consistently from west to east, thus keeping cold Arctic air locked in the polar region. When the AO index is negative, there tends to be high pressure in the polar region, weaker zonal winds, and greater movement of frigid polar air into middle latitudes." [A quote by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen].
Other factors that may come into play:

ENSO             Currently neutral (Oct) but heading towards positive state.
AO                  Headed towards negative – more Arctic incursions into Midwest
Solar               Solar insolation is currently declining, may be entering a Maunder Minimum.
Pollution         At record levels across Asia. (This has a cooling effect).
Volcanoes       Sixty five are currently erupting worldwide. (Normal).
Greenland       Melting at many times the normal rate. Could shut down deep hyaline conveyer belt.

Disclaimer: All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I want this last August back!

After suffering a brutal (and I mean God awful brutal July), August came prancing into my life with life giving of rain and a change from hellish heat to blessed coolness. After many weeks stuck inside my home watching the electric meter buzz like an angry insect, I was able to shut off the AC, open my windows and re-emerge from the prison that was my home. All of a sudden, just as if some deity flipped a switch; off were the hundred plus degree days and on was the kind of weather that everyone loves to waddle about in! For once I was outside and not sweltering! For once I was able to go ride a bike and not end up drenched in sweat! Wow…good stuff that.

As a fitting cap to the month, an old hurricane by the name of Isaac motored through the area and gave us a whole day of light drizzle and while it didn’t amount to much in the way of precipitation (0.86), it was a good way to exit the month with over 5 inches of rain all told.

Now, we have all bid a fond adieu to that wonderful month and turn warily to face the uncertainty that is September and beyond. My thoughts are a jumble. ‘Will the good times continue? Will future rains fall and drench the soil under my feet?’ I ask these questions of myself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isaac poised to do its thing!

OK, so it looks like we are going to take a hit somewhere around New Orleans with what may turn out to be a Category 2 hurricane! While that would be a very sad thing, there is still one positive. Old Isaac will be bringing a boat-load of water with him after he moves ashore later this week! This will be manna from heaven for a ton of farmers, and personally, I hope the track moves a bit more to the west and then motors on through east Texas and southwest Missouri (see graphic). While not a drought buster, a foot or so of rain could turn out to be just the game changer we’ve been looking for!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Long range forecast for the winter of 2012-13!

The long range forecasts for the coming winter of 2012-13 are now beginning to trickle in with some climatologists forecasting a 'wild mix' all across the continental United States. As the map from AccuWeather above shows, the mixed bag of ice and snow over the Midwest could prove a challenge for many of us residing in southwest Missouri.

One of the major climate players that will dictate what type of winter we will experience will be the continued development (or not) of  El Nina, or warming waters off the west coast of South America. Right now (August 2012) the predictions are running about 70% in favor of a shift from neutral to a more enhanced ENSO (El Nina Southern Oscillation). That factor in conjunction with future trends for the Arctic Oscillation (AO), increased volcanism (increased atmospheric ash) and or reduce solar output could radically affect the coming cold season for many either in a positive or negative manner.

Also, see my latest update written in October. 

More to come as we get closer to December…

Disclaimer: All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August Nirvana!

My few friends have asked me what the heck is going on with the weather as of late? What had been a brutal onslaught of dry heat in July transitioned abruptly into a much wetter and cooler month that has now seen days that were actually BELOW NORMAL! Can you believe it?

As of the morning of August the 13th, and thanks to an early morning spot shower, My location has now almost reached and surpassed the average monthly rainfall (3.03” versus an average of 3.15”). The vegetation (and somewhat sadly my lawn) has responded very well to the change by putting out new growth. The trees have stopped dropping their leaves and my little garden plants are growing once again.

The trend to take us into the middle of the month looks to be more of the same with temperatures averaging somewhere in the mid seventies and another good shot at rain long about August the 16th.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mini forecast for balance of August 2012!

Just as if someone flipped a switch sometime around the first of August, climate conditions here in southwest Missouri have changed dramatically! What was a hot and dry regime turned rather abruptly to a wetter and cooler climate beginning around the third of the month. Credit for the change can be partly attributable to the movement of the dome of high pressure off to the southwest over the past couple of weeks! This movement has allowed the jet stream to dig further south and as it did so, it brought cooler temperatures that interacted with all the moisture still lingering in the area.

As of August the 11th, my location had received 2.88 inches of rain against a ‘normal’ average of 3.15 inches (West Plains data). In addition, the high temperatures went from the low one hundreds right on down to the eighties. This change (especially the increase in rainfall) was not felt uniformly across the region, sad to say. However, in my area located close to Forsyth Missouri, the additional moisture coupled with the moderation of heat has had a good effect on garden crops that had been withering.  The question in my mind, at this time, is will this trend continue?

There are some indications that, yes, this change may be more the norm for the balance of the month and here’s why; 1) every day we are not getting less and less insolation from the sun as it drifts lower in the southern sky, 2) INSO readings are now trending away from a neutral profile to a more active El NiƱo pattern that should see a return to wetter conditions across much of the southwest and 3) even though were are now approaching a solar max in 2013, the intensity has been pretty wimpy and some scientists think that could be the trend for some time to come. All these factors bode well for a rather pleasant (and hopefully wet) fall.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finally! Some relief in early August!

Overnight, on August the 5th, a cold front sweep through the area bringing with it a line of showers that swept across the area in a west to east fashion. This ‘training’ movement brought waves of rain showers that measured 1.84 inches when all was said and done. That was the case in Forsyth Missouri where I live. Other areas from southeastern Kansas across much of southern Missouri also got rainfall that helped, a little bit, to break the drought stranglehold we’ve all been living under.

Even more interestingly, the Weather Service is seeing changes in the overall jet stream patterns that may allow for continued relief as we progress into the month. Most importantly, they are forecasting a continued movement of the high pressure dome to the west along with reinforcing cold frontal invasions from the north over the next week or so. This should bring with it more normal temperatures and the chance for more rain from time to time!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So long July of 2012! And good riddance to ya!

"When someone asks me about summer and fall, and which I like the most…I just stare at that person and say ‘duh’!"

Now, finally with the month of July relegated to the trash bin of history, we can all look forward to August; a month that is one step closer to the cooling and refreshing days of fall! But first, a look back at the hell that was July 2012…
Click on to enlarge

As you can see by the graphic at right, July was all about hitting the century mark and then staying there day after day! It was about staying inside and watching your electric bill climb ever higher even as the AC struggled to keep up. It was about trying to stay optimistic as I watched my lawn dry to a crisp. Yeah, it was all those things and more! [Side note: On one blessed day, July the 14th, the high temperature got only 76F! A very cool day in both senses of the word! That day was strange in that the systems that brought the clouds and rain, seemed to collide from both the northwest and southeast! Here’s a graphic of the temperatures on that day (below left). I might just frame it!]

July 14 was one fine day!
Across the Midwest, farmers watched as crops withered on the vine. By mid July over 1,300 counties spanning 29 states were reporting record losses in corn and other feed grains and had filed for disaster relief. (A situation that will more than likely make itself felt for the rest of us, later this year and early next, at grocery stores as everyone will struggle even harder to make ends meet).

"In 2013, as a result of this drought, we are looking at above-normal food price inflation. ... Consumers are certainly going to feel it!" USDA economist Richard Volpe.

Exacerbating the stress caused by high temperatures was the lack of evenly spaced rainfall. While my location just south and east of the City of Forsyth Missouri was only half an inch down from the monthly average, other locations around me did not benefit at all. Missing entirely was a good old all day soaker rain. (The kind of rainy days which were more often seen in bygone days). Statewide, the drought monitor went from moderate and severe to exceptional in some states including Missouri.

If there was a good side to this month, it was that I hardly ever needed to cut the grass. (I think I was forced to only once)! The gas and energy savings were much appreciated.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hoping for rain to ease the drought? Sorry Charlie!

Let's all say a prayer that this system brings meaningful rain!
Increasing numbers of residents (and not just farmers) across the Midwest are looking upwards to the skies these days. Along with the thoughtful gazes are going increasing numbers of prayers as the mid section of the nation is now entering into an increasingly severe drought!

On 18 July, nearly 1,300 counties across 29 states were declared “natural disaster areas” by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a result of crop damage and loss caused by the drought and heat. Even this current frontal system (see graphic) looks somewhat paltry and ineffectual. What is really needed is a dramatic change in the jet stream to a more southerly position; something that is not very likely to happen between now and September.

So, the bottom line for the time being is to ‘just get used to it’! (BTW rainfall month to date, for the area around Forsyth Missouri, has been only 1.34 inches versus and average figure of 3.15 inches)! But Wait!..............

 "And in the afternoon, God saw how parched the landscape was and He opened the heavens and brought forth blessed rain!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day after hot and miserable day!

Hot and miserable and DRY could easily be used to describe the summer of 2012 for much of the Midwest! Lost crops, dropping water tables and ruined gardens are just a few of the effects that the weather has wrought this year. And, the trouble is, there is no end in sight! While the summer of 2011 was one that broke many records for heat, this summer has already smashed those to pieces! With more than 155 all-time high temperatures recorded in just the first 15 days of July, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls it the warmest summer since record-keeping began in 1880. Blame it on a series of stubborn and persistent areas of high pressure smack dab over the Central (US. Normally, the jet stream helps to move these areas of high pressure along post haste bring cooling winds and rain with them. However, this year the stream has be way too far to the north to be effective). Now, climatologists and weather watchers are waiting to see when and if the jet stream begins to follow a more southerly track. When it finally does, look for immediate relief. Otherwise, just hope your AV unit keeps on chugging!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heat Wave #2 continues!

I sure hope everybody got a few sprinkles of rain yesterday as that will be it for the foreseeable future. That old pesky ridge of high pressure is once more situated right over the Midwest and you can expect some sizzling temperatures as a result. The only ‘good’ aspect will be the fact that the humidity should be pretty low which will help the nighttime temperatures to drop into the sixties. That said, you can also start figuring on record crop losses due to the drought. Some experts are now predicting food cost increases of anywhere from 5 to 10% across the board by early next year.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is another heat wave in the offing for the Midwest?

With close to a third of the country’s crops at imminent risk, yet another heat wave may be on the way! The National Weather Service stresses, however, that this one may not be as prolonged as a ‘backdoor cold front’ may make its way into the are by late in the week (perhaps July 21 or 22). They admonish that even should the front arrive, it may not make much of a difference as temperatures are expected to soar well above the century mark as early as Wednesday, July the 18th. In addition, they are warning that the overall National drought is worsening!

At this time, rainfall has been sporadic at best and farmers are praying for a change in the current regime. Hardest hit are corn, soybean and cereal crops. "To see something on this continental scale, where we're seeing such a large portion of the country in drought, you have to go back to 1988," said Brad Rippey, a USDA agricultural meteorologist. A fact that will surely not bode well for wholesale prices later in the season.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Someone wake me! We got rain in Forsyth!

Mid July and most of the media out there is lamenting over the worsening drought picture for the Central US. To hear them talk, we’d be luck to see ANY rainfall before Christmas (OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit).

Not true, at least for my little spot on planet earth near Forsyth Missouri! We had a nice steady rain this morning (July 14) that measured .44 inches. The combined with the previous rainfall comes to 1.28 inches or about half of the normal 3.15 inches that falls during a ‘normal’ July.  Now, while this will by no means break the drought, it’s still better than nothing. Only downside in my mind will be the need now to cut the grass. Something I haven’t had to do since late June!

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 2012: the first week!

After literally baking in 100 plus heat for all of the first week of July, we got some rain on the eight. Now, the new regime appears it could be both high heat coupled with high humidity! Sometimes it seems you just can’t win.

Currently, the total rainfall stands at .84 of an inch (the average is 3.15 for the month) with only a hope of more to come in the form of popup showers. Other than a very weak frontal boundary that barely moves, there has been nothing in the way of an organized front to get the atmosphere percolating once again. 

Thankfully, the water that did deign to fall (.04 on Saturday the 7th and .80 on the 8th), has done a lot to perk up both the lawns and the trees in my area. While it may be hard to see so early on, these three pictures show a marked improvement in the color of the grass which had been almost all brown.

One thing that appears to be for sure; the temperatures are trending upwards possibly in response to climate change. A change that may be accelerating. Each day of the first week averaged out to 104F. Even more disturbing was how warm the overnight periods were averaging at just under the 70 degree mark. The normal average has been 65 over the past thirty years! This trend, should it stick, will bode poorly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8th – It was a popup shower kind of day!

A great sight to see after weeks with no rain!

Every so often all four ‘atmospheric players’ show up on the field to play their stormy games. Let me introduce each one to you:

Da Sun, da Sun! – A good storm needs lots of heat and that’s just what Old Sol provides in July. Today it was no problem to see it heat up to 100 in short order.

High Relative Humidity – This measure of the amount of moisture in the air really begins to count for something when it hits the 70 percentile range. That’s just what we had in store today as winds aloft brought in a good dose of moisture from the Gulf.

A weakening upper ridge – A strong ridge of high pressure overhead pretty much squashes any chance for a storm to develop. However, when it weakens, hot air can really rise up and bust through this invisible cap. When that happens, you’ll often see the rapid formation of cumulus nimbus clouds that can quickly punch up through the 30,000 foot mark. This action can start a tremendously powerful updraft that can suck an awesome amount of heated moisture high into the atmosphere where temperatures are far below zero. The end result – a snowstorm way up overhead. Eventually, all this refreshing coldness in the form of chilled water then descends onto the ground below. Blessed relief for all.

An approaching cool front – All frontal systems have one prominent feature, they like to stir up the atmosphere. And, when you do that, things can start happening in a much more organized way as the cool air slides underneath and then, in effect, pushes up the hot air from below. The end result, even more convection!

So, that is pretty much the setup for this date. This day (a Sunday), started out in the low seventies under clear blue skies. However, if you were to look out over a valley, you’d see a lot of haze – (that’d be all that moisture I was talking about). And, those clear skies were not to last very long, as moist and heated air packets began to rise ever higher into the atmosphere. Once they got up to about a mile high, the colder air at that level began to condense them into cumulus and other cloud formations. Things were becoming more and more unstable!

By 3:30 PM, the heat outside had built up to the 100 degree mark (this is becoming normal) and there were cumulus nimbus clouds all around Forsyth Missouri. Unfortunately, not a single rain producer was overhead. In the distance, I could occasionally hear thunder. Outside, the street by my house was becoming increasingly littered with dead leaves as water stressed trees shed their leaves. A kind of early fall was going on.

When the showers finally came at 6:30 PM it was the perfect deal. A long three hour fall that dropped .80 inches onto a parched and burned earth. And, while this day did not break the drought, at least it signaled a change. Now, let's see what tomorrow brings...

Got Drought?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rains finally come back to Forsyth Mo. on July the 7th!

It was really nice to hear thunder again and those rain drops were heaven sent, I think. This change in the guard occurred on the afternoon of July the 7th when I spied rain falling, abet sporadically, outside my window at about 1:30 in the afternoon. The cells were coming in from the northeast and while no one shower offered up that much, it was still nice to see. It’s been quite some time (back in mid June) since we’ve had any measurable water falling from the sky. And, while I don’t expect this day to put any sort of dent into what’s become a worsening drought, it was better than a sharp stick in the eye!

The question now is what will happen next. Are we going to see a return to a ‘normal’ July or will this pattern of heat with little to no rain persist?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Early July 2012 heat wave!

Another few days of one hundred degree plus days to go, That’s according to the National Weather Service that is calling for a cool front to invade the mid west sometime during the weekend of July the 7th.  This chart shows the trend over the past week or so:

 Outside, just about every living plant or tree is now showing signs if both heat stress combined with a lack of adequate moisture. Rainfall, across this region has been all but non existent. Lawns everywhere have gone dormant and even local gardens that are being watered on a regular basis are looking sickly. Currently to only survivors in my raised beds have been a few tomatoes and peppers. Everything else is pretty much gone!

Monday, July 2, 2012

June 2012 versus 2000

In looking way back to June at the turn of the millennium, it’s instructive to note the differences in temperature. Here is a copy of the original temperatures I recorded for June 2000.

Note that the average for the month was about 71F. Next, take a look at June 2012. Wow, a full seven degrees warmer, on average. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One hundred plus ville awaits!

Welcome to my town and sorry, its real name is actually Forsyth, Missouri. That thing about one hundred plus refers to the daily high temperatures that have become so much a part of life around these parts.

Starting around the 23rd of June, a system known as a high pressure ridge set up shop over the Midwest. And, in of itself, that would not be very unusual, excepting the fact that this ridge remained in place for a long long time! Over a week now, with no end in sight.

Under that dome, we all sit, sweltering through hot and dry days broken only late in the evening when the exceptionally dry air undergoes 'radiational cooling' overnight. A monotonous pattern of existence that forces many to get their outdoor activities done before eleven in the morning when the temperature is already in the nineties. Then, it's time to hang out indoors, close to the air conditioner until the next morning's cool if only but brief reprieve.

Around this invisible dome, violent storms swirl almost daily. Close to a million lost power this date due to power outages that hit states to my north and east. Washington alone had 800,000 siting in the dark for a period of time. But, I consider them lucky as out to my west over four hundred have watched from afar while their homes burned to the ground. Wildfires, sweltering heat and increasingly violent weather seems to be the new haute culture courtesy of climate change.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Well, my summer started right on schedule! Time for some AC action!

For me the beginning of summer is anytime I finally have to crank up the AC. That occurred, for the first time on June the 23rd which was pretty close to the official start of summer on June the 21st.With temperatures forecast to approach 100 Fahrenheit (Fahrenheit assumed for all temperature readings) over the next few days, I thought it prudent to try and keep my home at around 80, if at all possible.

Earlier that morning I was out riding my bike at 8AM and could tell, or more accurately feel that the day was going to end on a warm note. Overnight the temperature had dropped down to a cool 63, but by early morning with a bright sun and light south easterly winds, the temperature had hit 82 by 10AM and was climbing fast!  After getting home and as I turned on the AC, I reflected on the fact that my average power consumption had been running at about 14 kilowatt hours for most of the spring, but that now I would be lucky to keep it in the low to middle twenties. This increase would be reflected in a much higher electric bill if I didn’t figure out something real soon. After the AC had run for about an hour and the inside temp was down to 78.6, the unit finally turned off. In order to get the house down from 80.2 to 78.6 had required about 4.5 kilowatt hours of power (roughly equal for half a buck of electricity). Now the game will be to see how well the house can maintain that level (and at what cost) as the outside gets pretty toasty. (One side note; it generally costs a lot less to cool a house than it does to heat one).

As the day wore on, it became evident that we might, in fact, see 100 as the temperature at 1PM was already at 94! Traditionally, the hottest part of the day occurs sometime around 3PM. In addition, I had already surpassed the 14 kWh mark for power so I’m now figuring the day will end up with something like 28 kWh by midnight. That’s something like $3 in electricity for just one day and doesn’t bode well for this early in the hot season. I might just have to execute my backup plan which would be to relocate into the basement for the summer. That would be a hassle, but it would be doable.

The high for this date was 98, which was plenty hot enough. Even hotter weather looks to be in store for Sunday, June the 24th.