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Category: National and World

Tonight’s Forecast: Clear With a Good Chance of Showers (Meteor Showers)

| 6:30 am August 12, 2015

Every August, we have the opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower as the earth crosses paths with the Comet Swift-Tuttle.  The Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight (August 12) to tomorrow night (August 13).

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This year’s event promises to be more spectacular than ever!  This year, the showing will happen just before the new moon, making the night skies darker than usual.  “If you see one meteor shower this year, make it August’s Perseids or December’s Geminids,” NASA recommends.  “The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower.”

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, which is where the meteors appear to originate in the sky. These meteors are actually tiny pieces of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle — usually smaller than a piece of sand. As the debris enters the earth’s atmosphere at about 130,000 mph, it disintegrates and creates streaks of light. The Perseid meteor shower “produces more fireballs than any other,” according to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteroid Environment Office. Since 2008, the Perseids have produced brighter and significantly more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower.

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The best time to see this meteor shower is between 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., with optimal viewing in the dark hours before sunrise when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky. The number of visible meteors will increase after midnight through the pre-dawn hours. Observers could see up to 100 shooting meteors per hour! Those in rural areas away from urban lights will have the best viewing experience.

The weather will be absolutely perfect for this year’s event here in Alabama. Nearly completely clear skies, with less haze and lower temperatures (falling into the 60s) and relatively low humidity will delight late night star gazers tonight. Tomorrow night will be nearly as good, with just a few more clouds.

Viewing conditions nationally will be generally good from a weather standpoint. Only the Florida Peninsula, Rocky Mountain Region and areas areas immediately along the West Coast and Gulf Coast will have thicker cloud cover. Thursday night will be socked in across the Pacific Northwest, so viewers in places like Seattle and Portland may not get to see the show that night.

If you are unable to get outdoors to see this magical show in person, you can see it on NASA TV or NASA’s UStream channel, as NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville will broadcast a live program about this year’s Perseid meteor shower from 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 12 to 2 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13. This may be the best year ever to experience this stellar event!

Storms Approaching Northwest Alabama

| 2:29 pm June 19, 2015

The surface low that is the remnant of Tropical Storm Bill is still very well defined this afternoon over southern Missouri, approaching Cape Girardeau. There are distinct “feeder bands” or spokes of vorticity rotating around the system. One thin line of storms is approaching Northwest Alabama at this hour.

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The convection will be into Northwest Alabama in about 90 minutes to 2 hours. The mesoscale models have been predicting that this convection will die out as it approaches the state, but I have a feeling that it will hold together as it continues to plow through moderately unstable air given the fairly strong forcing from the low.

Additional convection develop and/or move into Alabama later this evening and Saturday morning.

Winds have been gusty to the east and southeast of the low center over Arkansas, western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi Winds gusted to 34 mph at Germantown TN near Memphis at 1:30 p.m. and have been consistently gusting above 25 mph in this area. Winds will start to pick up a little this evening over North Alabama, averaging over 10 mph through the overnight hours.

You Know It’s a Bad Day When…

| 8:42 pm June 17, 2015

…You are in Oklahoma and you see Val Castor drive up. I looked up leaving dinner tonight in flooded Ardmore OK and there he was.

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It is the Sooner State equivalent of Jim Cantore showing up.

Should have asked him to be on WeatherBrains!

He was here for this:

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Big Rains From Bill

| 7:47 pm June 17, 2015

Tropical Depression Bill marched up I-35 today bringing a large part of the Gulf of Mexico with it and wringing out some impressive rain totals.

Radars estimated that over five inches of rain has fallen across a wide area today from northwest of Fort Worth into southern Oklahoma around Ardmore. And those estimates are considered to be underdone because of the tropical nature of the airmass.

6.93 inches of rain fell at Burneyville OK just north of the Red River through 7 p.m. with rain continuing. Even more impressively, Nocona TX picked up 9.15 inches of rain. Workers had to be rescued from a flooded fracking site there.

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Ardmore had picked up 4.22 inches since midnight through 7 p.m. with heavy rain redeveloping. Their 5 day total stood at an amazing 10.16 inches. And over the past 60 days, they have picked up a jaw dropping 34.6 inches of rain, just about their annual average. And to think they were in horrible drought two months ago.

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ON THE BACK SIDE: Heavy tropical downpours developed over South Texas in the tropical airmass left behind by Bill. Alice, TX picked up an amazing 7.65 inches of rain in 2 hours and 45 minutes through 7 p.m. A flash flood emergency was declared with water flowing in to homes and numerous water rescues from vehicles trapped on flooded roads.

DANCING WITH THE STATS: San Antonio picked up 2.43 inches of rain in one hour between 6 and 7 p.m. as powerful thunderstorms exploded over the northeast part of Bexar County around 5pm. They quickly reached and shot through the equilibrium level of 50,000 feet. By 7 p.m., the daily total stood at 2.64 inches, which established a new record for the date. Numerous roads were underwater in San Antonio.

A Great Day To Be Bill

| 2:59 pm June 17, 2015

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One of my favorite weather days is when I get to experience a dying tropical system well inland. It goes back to September 1971, when the remnants of Hurricane Edith tracked right across Central Alabama as a tropical depression after making landfall over southwestern Louisiana. It meant a day playing hookie for a fourth grader from McElwain Elementary, who was enamored with weather.

I have watched systems like 1979’s Hurricane Frederic, 1985’s Danny, 1995’s Opal and 2004’s Ivan as they dealt us fits across Central Alabama. But storms like Edith, Barry in 2001, Fay in 2008 and Lee in 2011 just led to gray, windy, rainy days.

My namesake tropical storms have been fairly tame. 2003’s Bill brought lots of rain to Alabama, especially southern sections. Little did I know that the 2015 iteration of my namesake would come right to me. But not in Alabama. Business serendipitously carried me to southern Oklahoma this week, ending up at the National Weather Association Mid Year Council Meeting in Norman Friday and Saturday.

Of course, I had been tracking the prospects of something developing over the Gulf for nearly ten days. As fate would have it, the eventual storm made landfall on the Central Texas Coast yesterday and turned northward. The extensive shield of rain arrived here in Ardmore this morning. Winds have been averaging 10-20 mph with gusts as high as 26 mph over the past three hours. The center is near Fort Worth this afternoon and is expected to move right up I-35, perhaps passing directly over us later.

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All day long, I have heard people talking about Bill. “Bill is going to give us a soaking,” someone said at breakfast. “Have you heard the latest on Bill,” was overheard in the lobby of the hotel. The commentators on The Weather Channel playing in the fitness center said they were “tracking Bill”.

Instead of driving this morning, I walked across the street to my appointment in order to enjoy the weather, letting the rain pelt my raincoat and blow my trusty umbrella. I braved the wind and rain in my rental car to grab a Braum’s hamburger for lunch, driving through the flooded right lane and running the windshield wipers on high. When I ordered, the restaurant team member mentioned that she had “had about enough of Bill”.

I just smiled. It is a great day to be Bill, especially if you are in Oklahoma.

Who You Gonna Call? Drought Busters!

| 7:00 pm May 24, 2015

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We have of course been following with great interest the breaking of the drought in Oklahoma.

Three months ago, 22.8% of the Sooner State was in Extreme or Exceptional Drought, the worst two categories. This week, that number had dropped to ZERO. One year ago, 81% of the state was in full out drought. Last week, that number dropped to 42% and another 5-10 inches of rain fell across much of western Oklahoma this week, which will really help.

As of midnight, Oklahoma City had recorded 18.19 inches of rain in May, their wettest MONTH ever, not just wettest May. And another 0.50” has fallen today as they streak further into the record books. In fact, there is an outside chance they will get to 20 inches for the month!