Archive for March 7th, 2013

Delightful Weekend Ahead

| March 7, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video today… I am in Tuscaloosa at Academy Sports on Skyland Blvd programming NOAA Weather Radios**

This afternoon’s discussion courtesy J.B. Elliott….

A FAIRLY NICE STRETCH OF GOOD WEATHER: Nothing really, really bad in the Alabama weather picture for the next several days. Let’s jump ahead and describe the one day that our weather will not be so good. That is next Monday. By that time, another cold front will be approaching with a low-pressure area passing just to our north. This will set off showers and thunderstorms on Monday. Some showers could reach our area Sunday night, but the best chance of showers and thunderstorms will be during the day Monday and continuing Monday night. At this time we do not foresee a severe weather threat. In fact, none of Alabama is under even a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for the next seven days despite the fact that we are getting deeper into our primary severe weather season. Let’s be thankful for that.

CHECKING THE OLE THERMOMETER: Not bad at all. We are forecasting our lowest temperature almost a week from today with 34 next Wednesday. We will also have low temperatures almost that cold tomorrow morning. But for most of the week our lows will be in the 40s and even some 50s. Mild is the word for most afternoons. We expect highs between 71 and 73 from the weekend through next Monday. Not bad.

USA NOTES: I believe that much of the Northeast can breathe a sigh of relief today. The latest winter storm, while causing lots of problems and thousands of power outages, did not last as long as previously expected. I suppose that folks in the Big Apple this afternoon are celebrating. This afternoon the temperature was 38 in New York’s Central Park. There was light rain at JFK Airport and Newark. Winds were less than 30 mph. It was a mile 44 in Atlantic City. National radar this afternoon in the winter setting shows snow continuing from Eastern New York State and Connecticut northward to New Hampshire. When will the next winter storm show up? We don’t know but there sure has been a fast string of those in the last several months. Elsewhere around the good old USA, the warmest temperature yesterday was 85 at Octotilla, California. Coldest this morning was 13 below at Cook, Minnesota and Big Fork, Minnesota. The coldest in Alaska was 24 below at Birch Creek. Valdez still has 51 inches of snow.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

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I had a great time today visiting the pre-schoolers at Christ Harbor Methodist Church in Northport… they will be on the Pepsi KIDCAM tomorrow on ABC 33/40 News at 5:00. Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

Using Facebook, Researchers Analyze Debris After Tornadoes

| March 7, 2013 @ 10:30 am


Athens, Ga. – After tornadoes touched down in the Southeast on April 27, 2011, many people in the storm’s path did the most logical thing they could—they posted images of the aftermath on Facebook.

The University of Georgia’s John Knox and his student researchers went one step further. They used the social media site to create and analyze a database of the debris, turning photos and comments into the most comprehensive study, to date, of debris trajectories from a tornado outbreak.

The project started when Alabama resident Patty Bullion compiled a Facebook page on “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes.” Using the images and information there as a starting point, the UGA team compiled a scientific database and used geographic information system mapping software and high-resolution numerical trajectory modeling techniques to pinpoint the takeoff and landing points of 934 found and returned objects.

“Even 10 years ago, the items of debris left behind by a tornado outbreak—in our study, everything from metal signs to quilts and photographs—probably would have been thrown away, and that would have been the end of it,” said Knox, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of geography and a faculty member in the atmospheric sciences program.

“But with the wide reach of Facebook, Patty Bullion was able to reunite owners with items they lost from their homes, especially family pictures that traveled hundreds of miles in some cases. And we, in turn, were able to use the information Patty gathered to analyze that information scientifically. Our study highlights the still mostly untapped potential of social media databases in scientific research.”

The research team determined that objects traveled nearly 220 miles (353 kilometers), exceeding the previous record for the longest documented trajectory of debris from a tornado.

The study recently was published online by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The study coauthors were two graduate students—current doctoral student Alan Black and former doctoral student Vittorio Gensini, now an assistant professor at the College of DuPage in Illinois—and nine undergraduate students—Jared Rackley, Michael Butler, Corey Dunn, Taylor Gallo, Melyssa Hunter, Lauren Lindsey, Minh Phan, Robert Scroggs and Synne Brustad, who is now at the University of Oslo, Norway.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to participate in research like this as an undergrad, especially when the study has real-world applications,” said Rackley, a UGA senior in geography and atmospheric sciences from Forsyth who is second author on the study. “Having research experiences now will certainly give me a head start when I begin graduate school in the fall.”

The researchers established, in a finding not previously documented, that the farthes ttraveling debris objects took a somewhat different path than the rest of the debris. “The winds turn clockwise as you go up in a severe weather situation, with southerly winds at the surface and very strong westerly winds at the tops of thunderstorms,” Knox explained. “Based on our analysis of the tornado debris data, we hypothesize that the longest-traveled objects went up the highest, where they encountered winds that blew the debris downwind and slightly to the right of the tornadoes’ paths.

“This could be of importance in the future if tornadoes loft toxic or radioactive debris. In such cases, it’ll be critically important for public safety to know where the debris will go, and our study is the most comprehensive work to date documenting where debris traveled during a real-life tornado outbreak.”

The tornadoes touched close to home for Knox, who emphasized the social and ethical aspects of research during the project. “This tornado outbreak was centered on my hometown of Birmingham, Ala.,” he said. “I repeatedly reminded the students of our obligation to respect the privacy of the owners of the debris objects and to honor the memories of those who died in the tornadoes.”

Full version of the study.

Turning Warmer This Afternoon

| March 7, 2013 @ 5:45 am

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

COLD START: Still doesn’t feel like March; temperatures are in the 25-32 degree range in most places with a clear sky. We will enjoy a sunny sky today, and the dry air will heat effectively with a high generally in the mid 50s this afternoon.

WARMING TREND: While tomorrow morning will be cold again with a low near freezing, we warm into the mid 60s tomorrow, and upper 60s Saturday. The air stays dry and the sky will remain sunny.

We note to the west SPC has outlooked parts of Central Texas for severe weather Saturday, but those storms will remain far to the west of Alabama.

Sunday will be dry and very mild; a good chance we reach the low 70s by afternoon. Scattered clouds will show up along with a good south breeze ahead of the storm system to the west.

RAIN RETURNS MONDAY: We will forecast a good chance of showers and thunderstorms Monday; with only limited instability severe weather doesn’t look likely at this point; rain amounts of one-half to one inch can be expected.

The sky clears Tuesday, and the rest of next week looks dry with temperatures about where they should be for mid-March in Alabama. See the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and details.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

Google Plus

I will be doing a weather program this morning for the kids at the Christ Harbor pre-school in Northport… and later we will be at Academy Sports in Tuscaloosa programming NOAA Weather Radio receivers from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. Need help? Come see us. I won’t be able to post an afternoon Weather Xtreme video today due to travel, but I will have new forecast notes here by 4:00. Enjoy the day…