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Category: National and World

Heartbreaking News

| 5:20 pm December 23, 2015

Up until today, the United States was on a path that would lead to an all-time record low number of tornado fatalities for the year.

But there are numerous reports from spotters and other sources of at least some fatalities near Holly Springs MS this afternoon from a long track, well forecast and well warned tornado that is still on the ground in southern Tennessee.



This tornado (or family of tornadoes) may have been on the ground for over 130 miles!

Now there is a confirmed tornado on the ground near Oxford MS as well!

The 2015 North Atlantic Hurricane Season

| 8:17 am December 2, 2015


The 2015 North Atlantic Hurricane Season was fairly slow, as had been predicted in most seasonal forecasts. There were eleven named storms, which is very close to the long term average of 11.5. Four of the storms became hurricanes and two went on to become major hurricanes, below the long term averages of 6.1 hurricanes and 2.6 major hurricanes.

The season got started well before the official start date of June 1st, when Tropical Storm Ana formed from a non-tropical low on May 8th. The system had peak winds of 60 mph as it crossed over the Gulf Stream. It would weaken as it moved off the Gulf Stream and go on to make landfall on the northeastern coast of South Carolina with winds of 45 mph.

A named storm forms in the Atlantic in June in just about every other year on average, and Bill did just that, jumping straight to tropical storm status on the first advisory based on aircraft reconnaissance data. The storm was designated Bill on the evening of June 15th with a well defined circulation center some 175 miles east southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. It made landfall later on the 16th on Matagorda Island, with a central pressure of 997 mb and top winds of 60 mph.

The storm remained unusually organized as it made the trek northward across Texas and into Oklahoma, perhaps aided by the “brown island effect” of saturated ground from recent heavy rain over the southern Plains. Newport, Oklahoma picked up a two day rain total of 11.52 inches. I-35 was closed in the Arbuckle Mountains due to a rock slide.

A tropical depression formed about 250 miles east northeast of Cape Hatteras on July 16th. SIx hours later it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Claudette. The storm weakened as it moved northeastward and merged with a frontal boundary, but it still produced adverse weather in Newfoundland, where flights were canceled.

Danny was a Cape Verde storm that became the season’s first major hurricane with top winds of 115 mph. Danny would weaken due to dry air and wind shear and dissipated before reaching the Leeward Islands.

Tropical Storm Erika was another Cape Verde storm like Danny, but never got its act together. The storm formed on August 25th and steamed across the Atlantic, making landfall on Dominica and in Hispaniola. The storm dissipated while dodging Cuba, but brought heavy rains to South Florida.

Hurricane Fred formed from a very strong tropical wave that moved off Africa on August 29th, became a depression on the 30th and quickly became a hurricane on the 31st. It is the furthest east that a hurricane has ever formed in the Atlantic and prompted hurricane warnings for the Cape Verde Islands for the first time in history.

The season entered a boring period, with unremarkable tropical storms named Grace, Henri and Ida forming over the open Atlantic and dissipating before affecting any land areas.

Hurricane Joaquin stole the show during the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Joaquin formed east of the Bahamas on September 28th and became a tropical storm on the following day as it moved in a southwesterly direction toward the Bahamas. It would continue to strengthen and became a major hurricane on the evening of the 30th. Hurricane Joaquin would affect the Bahamas as a category four hurricane, but would weaken as it moved through the islands. Joaquin turned to the northeast and very nearly achieved category five status when its top winds reached 155 mph. It was the most intense Atlantic hurricane since Igor in 2010. Fortunately, Joaquin weakened before it impacted Bermuda with heavy rain and tropical storm force winds.

The official National Hurricane Center forecasts predicted for three days that Joaquin could impact the eastern United States, despite strong indications from the European model that the storm would remain well offshore. This led to considerable angst along the East Coast and a look at how the National Hurricane Center’s Cone of Uncertainty is used in such situations.

Part of the moisture pulled northward by Joaquin would be pulled back into South Carolina by a big upper level low, which resulted in catastrophic flooding in the Palmetto State.

The final named storm was Kate, which became a hurricane on November 11th, making it the latest hurricane since Epsilon in 2005. Kate affected the southeastern Bahamas, but recurved off the East Coast of the U.S. and missing Bermuda.

While the storm counts were slightly below the long term averages, the energy expended by the eleven storms was just 59 percent of normal. The Atlantic basin was dominated by El Nino conditions during the hurricane season. The higher than normal wind shear contributed to the below normal activity.

For the tenth straight year, there has been no landfall of a major hurricane in the United States. It hasn’t happened since Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. In addition, Florida has not bit hit by ANY hurricane of any intensity since Wilma.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

| 2:25 pm November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family on this special holiday. The weather is certainly cooperating for us here in Alabama, although that is not the case all around the country.

Boy, the weather held off just long enough nationally to get everyone to Grandma’s house, and it has gone downhill today across a large area of the West and the Plains.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

A powerful upper level trough across the West is poised to caused a wide array of bad weather over the next several days. The axis of the trough extends from williston ND to Pocatello, Idaho to Fresno, California this afternoon.

Ahead of it, widespread precipitation is occurring, including snow across the Mountains of the Wes, into the Central Plains and Midwest, from Nebraska to Upper Michigan. A wintry mix is occurring from northeastern New Mexico through the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, Central Kansas and into Iowa. Ice storm warnings cover a wide area from eastern New Mexico, northwestern Texas, western Teas and the southern part of Kansas. There is a high probability of a 1/4 inch accumulation of ice from the Texas Panhandle into Iowa. One half inch of ice will accumulate across parts of western Oklahoma.

From the Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus: Given the recent developments, I’m afraid we’re going to have to upgrade the
EMERGENCY BREAD AND MILK DEF-BRAUMS LEVEL to LEVEL ONE across west central through north central Oklahoma.
That’s serious!

Ahead of this shield of wintry precip, rain is occurring from southern New Mexico and Texas all the way into the Great Lakes. A rapidly weakening Hurricane Sandra, over the eastern Pacific, will interject its moisture into the system over the weekend. The system has top winds of 115 mph this afternoon, but will will weaken to a depression before it makes landfall early Saturday in the Mexican state of Durango.

Incredible rainfall amounts will fall over the southern Plains over the next five days (how many times have we said that this year?). 8 to 9 inches is expected across southern and eastern Oklahoma into western Arkansas. Tishomingo in southern Oklahoma has picked up 70.90 inches of rain so far this year. Another 9 inches would be incredible!

Flash flood watches are in effect from Dallas to St. Louis.

Absolutely gorgeous weather for Thanksgiving here in Alabama. Skies are sunny and temperatures are in the lower 70s at every major reporting station across the state. The nearest rain is a few light showers along the Northeast Florida and Georgia coasts. A nice southeasterly wind is making it feel even balmier.

We stay dry through the Black Friday shopping experience. It will be mild for the early morning shoppers, with lows just in the 50s. Iron Bowl Saturday will be dry as well, with temperatures in the 70s for the big game. Rain will not arrive until late in the day on Sunday.

Travel Plans? Here’s the Rain

| 3:04 pm November 23, 2015

Got travel plans for Thanksgiving Day? Here’s a look at the probability of precipitation across the United States for Thanksgiving Day from 6 am to 6 pm. Looks like a large swath of the Central US from Central Texas across eastern Kansas and northeastward into Lake Michigan will see the best chances for precipitation, most of that rain. There is also a bullseye in Wyoming and much of that is likely to be snow.


Whatever your travel plans might be, please be safe in all that you do. Happy Thanksgiving.


Chapala Churning Closer to Land

| 8:17 am November 2, 2015

Typhoon Chapala remained a hurricane this morning and continued to churn across the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden as it gets closer to landfall in Yemen.


This is the latest satellite view of Chapala. It was getting closer to Yemen after brushing just north of the island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) placed Chapala’s wind at 105 knots this morning with gusts to 130 knots (120 mph with gusts to 150 mph). The forecasters there continued to predict a gradual weakening trend as Chapala makes its was toward landfall just to the west of Mukalla (or Al Mukalla on some maps) around midnight tonight. Once the eye has made landfall, the tropical cyclone should diminish in strength rapidly falling below tropical storm strength about 24 hours after landfall. Here’s the graphic from JTWC.


Here’s another view of Cyclone Chapala.



Rainfall Collection from SC

| 4:02 pm October 4, 2015

Saw this in my rambling around the Internet today, and I thought I would share it with blog readers. Incredible rainfall amounts with 21.04″ in near Huger, SC, 24.23″ near Mount Pleasant, SC, 22.47″ near Shadowmoss, SC, and 20.37″ near Charleston to name some of the highest amounts.

And to make matters worse, there are reports of a dam collapse at Semmes Lake which is at Fort Jackson, SC, near Columbia, SC. No idea of the size of the dam, but that’s just one more thing the DO NOT NEED!!


NOUS42 KCHS 041540

1140 AM EDT SUN OCT 4 2015


********************STORM TOTAL RAINFALL********************

                     RAINFALL           OF
                     /INCHES/   MEASUREMENT


   2 SE ALLENDALE        2.61   600 AM 10/04  COCORAHS

   4 N HILTON HEAD ISLA  5.77   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   4 NNE BEAUFORT        5.47   839 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 N BEAUFORT          5.30   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 NNE BLUFFTON        2.15   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   6 WNW BLUFFTON        2.04   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS

   3 NNE HUGER          21.04   900 AM 10/04  USGS SITE
   1 NNW LIMERICK       19.71   900 AM 10/04  RAWS
   5 NNW HUGER          18.32   429 AM 10/04  STORM TOTAL
   4 E MONCKS CORNER    17.02   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 SSW WANDO          16.90   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 NW BONNEAU         16.71  1030 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 NE MONCKS CORNER   16.17   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 SSW DANIEL ISLAND  15.67   830 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 SSE HANAHAN        15.30   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   7 SW MONCKS CORNER   15.08   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 N HANAHAN          14.39   945 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 NE SUMMERVILLE     13.75   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   4 NE SUMMERVILLE     13.36   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   5 WNW GOOSE CREEK    12.96   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   5 E GOOSE CREEK      12.79   900 AM 10/04  USGS SITE

   6 NE MOUNT PLEASANT  24.23   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 SSW SHADOWMOSS     22.47   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   5 SSE CHARLESTON     20.37   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 S CHARLESTON       17.04   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 NNW GARRIS LANDING 17.03   427 AM 10/04  STORM TOTAL
   3 ENE CHARLESTON     16.88   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 E CHARLESTON       16.84   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   CHARLESTON AIRPORT   16.61   900 AM 10/04  ASOS
   6 NW CHARLESTON      16.52   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   NWS CHARLESTON SC    16.49   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 NE CHARLESTON      16.46   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   4 ESE NORTH CHARLEST 16.32   823 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 ESE MOUNT PLEASANT 16.16   711 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 NE JOHNS ISLAND    15.91   730 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 NE KIAWAH ISLAND   15.69   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   4 N NORTH CHARLESTON 15.33   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 NNE CHARLESTON     15.14   745 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   5 SW AWENDAW         15.02   723 AM 10/04  RAWS
   CHARLESTON           14.74   930 AM 10/04  OFFICIAL NWS OBS
   5 WNW CHARLESTON     14.74   600 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 WSW MOUNT PLEASANT 14.37   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 SW MOUNT PLEASANT  14.26   640 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   CHARLESTON INTERNATI 14.22   756 AM 10/04  ASOS
   2 SSW WADMALAW ISLAN 14.02   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 ESE MCCLELLANVILLE 13.88   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 WSW CHARLESTON     13.88   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 E MOUNT PLEASANT   13.78   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   ESE MCCLELLANVILLE   13.78   630 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 WNW RAVENEL        12.02   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 W MEGGETT          11.77   745 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 S MOUNT PLEASANT   11.70   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS

   3 ENE WALTERBORO      7.87   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 ENE WALTERBORO      7.57   707 AM 10/04  RAWS
   3 NNW WALTERBORO      7.37   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   3 SW LODGE            6.31   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   8 NE YEMASSEE         5.29   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   ESE SMOAKS            5.08   600 AM 10/04  COCORAHS

   3 NW SUMMERVILLE     17.23   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   1 SSW SUMMERVILLE    15.86   800 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 N SUMMERVILLE      15.16   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 W SUMMERVILLE      14.65   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   7 S RIDGEVILLE       13.62   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   SUMMERVILLE 4W       14.75   700 AM 10/04  CO-OP OBSERVER

   1 SW HAMPTON          3.19   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS
   2 SSW BRUNSON         2.16   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS


   11 WSW SAVANNAH       2.40   900 AM 10/04  COCORAHS

   MILLHAVEN             2.22   700 AM 10/04  USGS
   1 SSE NEWINGTON       2.07   700 AM 10/04  COCORAHS


Radar View of Joaquin

| 3:16 pm October 4, 2015

While we are mostly interested in the weather in Central Alabama, it’s always interesting to peek in on other places that are having weather. And let’s be honest, our interest is usually piqued when the weather in those other locations is bad. So today there is a lot of interest in South Carolina with their epic flooding and in Bermuda as Hurricane Joaquin slips by the island just to the west.

So I thought blog viewers might be interested in the radar view of Joaquin from the Doppler radar located at the L.F.Wade International Airport in Bermuda. The radar is an S-Band Meteor 1500S built by AMS Gematronik purchased by the Department of Airport Operation and is operated by the Bermuda Weather Service.

Bermuda radar view of Joaquin

As you might imagine, the weather in Bermuda is horrible. This afternoon, about 90 minutes ago, they reported an ESE wind at 39 mph gusting to 51 mph. Highest gust this afternoon has been 55 mph. The pressure has been falling all afternoon as Joaquin traverses the ocean just west of Bermuda and the latest report was 29.36 inches or 994 millibars.

Looking at the radar image, it appears Joaquin should be due west of Bermuda in about 2 to 3 hours with the eastern most eye wall about 80 km from the radar site.


PS I updated this to include a satellite image of Joaquin with Bermuda marked on the map (small black mark just east of Joaquin) for some perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 3.36.02 PM

South Carolina Flooding

| 11:56 am October 4, 2015

Twitter and Facebook are filled with pictures of the flooding which is going on in South Carolina this morning. Once again the NWS offices in South Carolina have prepared a map of that state from actual rainfall observations received through 7 am today.


The area shown in red up to purple represents rainfall values for the previous 96 hours of 10 inches plus and runs roughly from Columbia southeastward to the coast just northeast of Charleston. And unfortunately the rain continues to fall!


This is the image from the Columbia, SC, NWS radar taken at 11:38 am and rain runs in a wide band from Columbia slightly south of east to Myrtle Beach. Motion of these echoes was toward the west. So the flooding problems for South Carolina are just going to get worse. And keep in mind, while the initial flooding problems are coming from what I would term flash flooding, the problem is going to last for days and days because all of this water has got to go into the larger rivers which will create additional flooding problems for some time to come.


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).

8-11-2015 12-14-02 PM perseid

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.

8-11-2015 12-38-33 PM fireball

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.

19 jun current_anim_ark

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.


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

Should have asked him to be on WeatherBrains!

He was here for this:


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.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.31.35 PM

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.