Tuesday, November 17, 2020

WINTER OUTLOOK: 2020-2021

 

I was almost scared to make a prediction in 2020 regarding the winter! We are all preparing for the worst in our minds, but let's take a deep breath and look at some data! First off, this is just an outlook. While I've had many successful winter forecasts, I've also had a couple of BUSTS. Thankfully, I still have a winning record. Regardless, I always like to remind everyone that I do these outlooks for fun and I don't expect anyone to make critical decisions based on this outlook.

As you may have heard, we are transitioning from a weak El Nino pattern to a La Nina pattern. This pattern is determined by the sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean region. As with all of my outlooks, I like to look at global patterns and compare them to the past. While we can't look at the past and get definitive answers, we can get an idea of what we saw in Region 8 when we had similar setups.

After looking over the data, I decided to look at TWO winter seasons to derive an outlook for Region 8 for the 2020-2021 winter season: The winter of 1955-1956 and the winter of 1995-1996. The 1955-1956 climate logs were kept by the Benedictine Sisters of the Holy Angels Convent. For those that don't know, the Holy Angels Convent is located on KAIT road and is only a mile from the TV station. The 1995-1996 climate logs were kept by my predecessor, Terry Wood at KAIT.

First, here are the climate logs from December 1955-February 1956:
As you can see in the above image, December of 1955 had some big swings in temperatures and some flurries. A couple of mornings started in the TEENS, while some days had highs in the 60s and 70s! Big swings like that indicate an amplified pattern. I'm a little surprised we did not have more severe weather.
The above log shows January of 1956. Snow lovers will love this month. We had TWO decent snowfalls. The first was a 5" snowfall on the 18-19th. Not all of the snow had melted when another 1.5" fell on the 23rd-24th. Some sleet was mixed in, as noted in the comments. Once again, we see HUGE swings in temperatures. Notice how it was 17° on the 24th, but 67° a few days later on the 28th! Wow. 

The above image is the log from February of 1956. This was not a good month for snow lovers. While a few flakes flew on February 10th, the comments show that it melted quickly. Temperatures moderated a lot this month. No teens. Not many 20s. And many days were in the 50s, 60s, and 70s! This is something worth noting! Also, we had severe weather, including tornados. Here are the tornadoes that occurred in February of 1956:



So, now let's take a look at the Winter of 1995-1996:

The above image is the climate log from December of 1995 from Terry Wood. The first thing that jumps out at me is the big swings in temperatures again! We had a couple of mornings in the TEENS, including 14° on the 16th. Yet, on Christmas Eve, it was 74°! That's wild!


Let's look at January of 1996:

January of 1996 was WILD. At face value, there was only 2" of snow or less. BUT, let's dig deeper. Take a look at January 18th. The high was 64° and the low was 16°! The next morning is was 8°! In the comments, Terry notes that the wind chill was -30°!, but it's worth noting that the formula to calculate the wind chill changed in 2001. Still... IT WAS COLD!


Those big swings in temperatures also led to some severe weather. There were some tornadoes in January of 1996:



Let's look at February 1996:
More BIG SWINGS in temperatures for February of 1996. On the morning of the 3rd and 4th, we broke record lows with 1° and -1°, respectively. In less than a week, we were back into the 60s and 70s! By the end of the month, we were breaking high temperature records with severe weather. ON the 23rd, we almost hit 80°... IN FEBRUARY.


The Spring of 1996 that followed this winter was a busy one! Here are the tornadoes from March of 1996, which includes the long-track F3 tornado that went through Izard, Sharp, and Lawrence counties:
April of 1996 was also active. We had a few more tornadoes, including a long-track F4 tornado that went through Stone and Izard counties. This tornado killed 7 people:

So, after looking over our current pattern and looking at what this pattern has done in the past, I've come up with 8 thoughts about the 2020-2021 Winter Season:


  • The Winter starts early. Very cold air comes in for December
  • Big swings in temperatures! Some mornings in the teens or single digits. Days later, much milder.
  • We will challenge record lows and record highs.
  • We will see 2-3 severe weather events with tornadoes possible.
  • We will see 2-3 winter weather events.
  • Wintry weather will likely include some sleet and freezing rain (glaze). Nothing like 2009 though.
  • We will have some very windy days!
  • We will see winter end early with a warm February, leading to an above average severe storm season in the Spring.
So there it is! Stay tuned!
Ryan

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Severe Hail Threat: 4/8/2020

I know that I don't blog as much these days with the greater reach being on our app and social media, but I wanted to ease some fears about the severe weather threat for Wednesday night.  Severe weather is going to cause higher anxiety in the months and possibly years to come. We are forecasting a MEDIUM risk of severe weather tomorrow and we are mainly going MEDIUM because of HAIL. We can't ever rule out tornadoes, but our main worry is HAIL.  Bullet points about tomorrow:

  • Small chance of rain during the day.
  • Main threat is after the sun goes down.
  • Some data has the storms hitting as late as midnight. 
  • HAIL is the main threat. Highs winds and lightning are also a threat.
  • While the threat is not zero, the tornado threat is the lowest threat.
Stay weather aware and we will do out best to keep you updated. 

Ryan

Monday, February 24, 2020

Severe Weather Possible This Afternoon (2/24/2020)

We have a brief window of opportunity to see severe weather later today. Small hail will be the main threat, but large hail, gusty winds, and even a tornado is possible. Here are my bullet points and main takeaways:

  • Greatest risk is mid-afternoon. 
  • I'm expecting numerous "pea-sized hail" reports from these storms.
  • Gusty winds are possible.
  • 1-2 small, spin-up, fast-forming tornadoes will be possible.
  • School officials need to look at the weather situation before dismissing. Don't panic or change plans right now... just make sure there are no active warnings. 
  • Threat should be gone this evening.
Now let's talk about the details. As I type this, we are in the 40s. Temperatures are expected to warm into the 60s as a warm front continues to move north:
When we get between the warm front and the cold front, we will be in what we call the "warm sector". This is the area of concern where we will get unstable. This map below shows the instability. The parameter is called CAPE or Convective Available Potential Energy. Think of it as the fuel for severe weather. This map is just a snapshot from 3PM, so the threat will be moving west to east. Notice how it increases this afternoon:
When you breakdown more of the parameters, there are some products that try to pinpoint the risks. This map is a supercell index. Notice what it shows at 3PM. It's not crazy high, but worth bringing some concern. It could be much much worse.:
But, what most of you will be looking at is RADAR. This is a model projection of what radar could look like this afternoon. Remember, it is a model. Don't look at particular locations to pinpoint the supercells. Look at the pattern, the timing, the spacing, etc. A model is just giving you "an idea" of what could happen. It's not a prophet:
Stay weather aware this afternoon in case you get a warning at your location. Once again, this is a LOW risk.

Ryan

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Severe Threat This Evening (Tuesday November 26, 2019)

As you can see in the above image, we have a MEDIUM risk of severe weather for this evening. Here are the bullet points, as of right now:
  • TIMING: 5PM-Midnight
  • High wind is the main threat.
  • Isolated tornadoes are possible. They would be quick and fast, if they develop.
  • Might see TWO rounds.
  • Concerned about people traveling and people at basketball games.
  • I am NOT saying to cancel anything. I just want people to stay informed.
  • Ways to stay in formed:
    • Region 8 app: Have notifications ON, Correct Warnings ON, Location services ON.
    • TV: We will have constant updates on the bottom of the screen. We will be on air if any tornado warnings are issued OR damage starts being reported.
    • Weather Radio: Test to make sure it works before the storms.
Let's look at  little bit of data. This is what round 1 could look like. These storms would have decent dynamics and instability to work with. High wind aloft could be transported to the ground within storms:
The next round comes in between 9-12. I initially thought that this round would not have the instability or "energy" to cause problems. The latest data says otherwise. This map below shows the "energy" with the second round. 
A second line of individual cells may develop with a ton of energy and dynamics to work with, so let's not let our guard down after the first round of storms.

Stay informed on the latest information with our app through the day. We'll have you covered.

Ryan

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How Much Rain?: November 21-22

As we have been mentioning for several days, we will see rain on Thursday and Friday. Here are my bullet points on this storm:
  • No severe weather from this storm.
  • 1-2" of rainfall likely.
  • Most of the rain falls Thursday night into Friday morning.
  • Breezy both days, 20-25 mph gusts.
  • Gone by Saturday and Sunday.
So, the main question I have been getting from people is, "how much rain will we get?" Generally, the models have been showing 1-2", but some models have occasionally shown more and some  have shown less. Here's a graph showing a couple of runs on 2 of the models: 
All models are showing a swath of higher rainfall amounts across parts of Region 8 and they are in pretty good agreement on it's location. Take a look at this agreement:



Needless to say, we are confident in the rain. Pinpointing the EXACT location of the heaviest rain is the challenge. Keep an umbrella handy!

Ryan