Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 7:56 PM GMT on July 20, 2010
There are many whom are quick to comment on the state of modern education. Unfortunately many of those are politicians with little experience in modern education outside of personal anecdotes. As a current student, I experience the differences in education on a nearly daily bases. While people are quick to assume teenagers have little to say other than complaints about school, constructive critiscm often occurs in many of my honors classes. For instance in my Calculus class this past year, we often recognized the changing math program for younger students learning the simple multiplication and division tables. There are new methods to solving for instance 24*36= instead of the old fashioned method. One method even makes fancy boxes in a latice method, which takes much longer, but is simpler. The problem is in higher mathematics, you need to be able to solve problems like this in a quick manner while understanding the process. Also even in division, long division is non-existant. Another method is used, again simpler, but defeats the purposing of understanding how division works. When these students reaching PreCalculus and Calculus, they will suffer many setbacks in solving problems and doing simple things like finding the derivative or antiderivative in Calculus. But I am not here to dwell on the math program... I think another issue is statistics. It is no longer considered important to remember dates. Example A: Few modern students would be able to tell you the year of the moon landing, 1969. Dates and extraneous facts are considered unimportant. This poses problems not only in understanding the foundation of world cultures, but also using science. Every day, I use a many statistics to create forecasts and new theories on the evolution of climate. Records and statistics are critical to the success of understanding and applying meteorology, but also just general science. Science is simply a subject to explain how the world revolves therefore having applications in all subjects. 2010 is an important year for records as the following will note, and unfortunately the application of statistics, records, and dates is a declining cause in modern education.
2010 has been a remarkable year weatherwise on a global perspective. Recovering from one of the strongest El Ninos since 1998, average temperatures worldwide have been starkly mild, even hot! There will be many quick to point to anthropogenic global warming, but a quick rebuttal will surmise in response. As supposed to be in all instances, climate is measured over a long period of time while the term weather designates the short term. The official American Meteorological Society defines climate as...
The slowly varying aspects of the atmosphere–hydrosphere–land surface system. It is typically characterized in terms of suitable averages of the climate system over periods of a month or more, taking into consideration the variability in time of these averaged quantities. Climatic classifications include the spatial variation of these time-averaged variables. Beginning with the view of local climate as little more than the annual course of long-term averages of surface temperature and precipitation, the concept of climate has broadened and evolved in recent decades in response to the increased understanding of the underlying processes that determine climate and its variability.
2010 has proven its share of records including eight extreme global high temperatures with a recent one occuring for the new hottest temperature ever recorded in Russia (111F). Also impressive upper level 850mb thermals have proven record values with several days this year ranking as some of the hottest average temperatures on a global perspective ever recorded. From record heatwaves in July in Africa to record high temperatures across Canada during January-March, this year has proven to be very mild. The following are global sea and surface temperatures during the last three months...
As noted, primary concentrations exceed normal values across the globe both and on land and sea. But it is important to note as with 1998, that El Nino plays an important role is this above normal warmth. Typically El Nino years provide warmer than normal temperatures on a widespread level to many locations. Now many in the Northeast are quick to point to the record snowy year for many major metropolitan regions. This is the same time where the El Nino reached its max anomalies in the equitorial Pacific which rate in the strong category...
Nino 4 ~(+1.5C)
Nino 3.4 ~(+2.0C)
Nino 3 ~(+1.6F)
Nino 1+2 ~(+1.2C)
While yes this wintry proved to serve extraordinary snow values for many locales, actual surface temperatures were not cold. A well thought idea in forecasting winters is cold=dry and mild=snowy and/or rainy.
If it had not been for a record negative NAO and Ao, this past winter would have been a rainy disaster for the entire Northeast. I am certain the upstream blocking in combination with the split jet from El Nino allowed for the record snowstorms. It takes all parts to make a puzzle, therefore with upstream blocking and no split jet, it would have been dry and cold. But if we no upstream blocking with a split jet, then it would have been rainy and very mild, which is typical of that of El Ninos. As the El Nino peaked in February or so, downstream global effects are usually felt several weeks later. Therefore while positive anomalies are peaking, effects globally will not occur for a bit of time. This explains the very mild March globally. Since March the northern Middle Atlantic has featured above normal temperatures and near record values at that. Again this all pinpoints to the reasoning for very mild temperatures worldwide, which are also evident during the strong El Nino of 1998. But rapid changes in the southern oscillation are allowing for a growing La Nina. Yes SST anomalies have already dipped into the La Nina region, but it will not be designated as a La Nina until those values hold for three months. Using a few extropolation methods, a moderate La Nina is very well possible by meteorological Fall...
The CFS is already predicting a strong La Nina by winter. Rapid swings from strong El Ninos to strong La Ninas occur less than 20% of the time, so this would be a rare instance. But climate forecast models typically overestimate SST values, so likely a modified prediction would be a better forecast. Essentially in laymen's terms, this means the above normal global surface temperatures will be declining during the next few months. In fact cooler temperatures than normal are likely to develop over the Pacific northwest as the PDO drops back to well into negative values again. Also Europe can expect a rapid decline in temperatures in the coming months. Also with this recent Nina development, the 2010 hurricane season will likely be a bit more benign than originally expected. Unfortunately it only takes one hurricane to make a season (1992-Andrew).
Closer to home in the northern Middle Atlantic, above normal conditions will be persisting through at least the next two to three weeks. Early indications from the ECMWF were showing a cool down by the end of July. But recent prognostics indicate a growing abnormal >588mb ridge stretched from the east to west coasts of the US during the end of the July time period...
The defining difference in the coming warmth, will be that the bubble of heat will be displaced to the south of the Middle Atlantic. This positions the Maryland/Pennsylvania/Delaware region in the ring of fire. Essentially this means series of warm fronts and decaying cold fronts will move through the region with a series of MCS and/or convective events. While precipitation will be spotty, diurnal chances of thunderstorms will be on the increase. 7/20/10 12utc GFS even prints 2.8in of QPF for KMDT during the next sixteen days. Drought conditions will be waning regionwide fortunately.
Now in the shorter term... A cold front will slowly slide south over Pennsylvania during Tuesday night and Wednesday. But little cooler air is expected with H85 heights remaining near 20C. This front will meander over the northern Middle Atlantic through the entire week creating almost a daily threat of showers and thunderstorms. But several days will have high probabilities than others. Wednesday will feature mild temperatures with dewpoints creeping into the low to mid 70s as far north as interstate 80. Increasing precipitate waters near 2.2in will allow for a steady stream of thunderstorms during the day Wednesday as a weakening MCV moves into western Pennsylvania during the early morning hours. This complex will allow for several outflow boundaries to form across the central Alleghanies creating a catalyst for afternoon convection. With a close proximity to the right front entrance of the low level jet, shear values near 40-50 knots 0-6km aloft will create the threat of damaging winds. Several hundred helicity values will also create the potential for a bit of rotating winds aloft. Therefore the threat of supercells is highly possible during the day. GFS instability thermodynamics indicate CAPE values of 2000-2500j/kg to form in an instability axis from central Maryland up through the eastern half of Pennsylvania. Morning debris clouds may limit instability for areas farther west. The cold front will slowly sink south, so therefore severe convection will likely be in the morning and early to mid afternoon with a high threat towards evening over Maryland and Delaware. Thunderstorms will form in small broken line segments and/or supercells. Damaging winds is the primary threat. A few higher echo tops may tap into the freezing level creating large hail, but the potential remains slightly low.
By Thursday the cold front will sink southward giving way to partly cloudy skies for Pennsylvania with the more humid conditions over southern Maryland and southern Delaware with the threat of diurnal convection in those southern areas. But the front will begin to lift northward by Thursday night and Friday as a growing heat ridge of thermals greater than a 588mb thickness develop over the central Plains. The chance of thunderstorms will begin to increase after 10pm over northern areas as a few nocturnal thunderstorms develop along the now warm front. With a close proximity quasi-stationary front, thunderstorms will be possible Friday through Saturday. Towards Sunday a rapid moving cold front through the Great Lakes will promote more convection Sunday afternoon with another threat of severe weather with steep lapse rates and high shear values. Details though will be sorted out closer to the date.
In quick summary...
Wednesday- Widespread highs in the upper 80s with high humidity and partly to mostly cloudy skies. Thunderstorms will be possible with some severe weather likely with damaging winds as the primary threat.
Thursday- Partly cloudy skies with a chance of isolated thunderstorms over southern areas in Maryland and Delaware with clear skies over Pennsylvania. Highs will be in the lower 90s.
Friday- Partly to mostly cloudy skies with increasing humidity and higher dewpoints. Heat indices will approach 105-110F for major metropolitan regions with surface temperatures in the low to mid 90s for lower elevations. A chance of thunderstorms will also exist along the stalled front over the northern Middle Atlantic.
Saturday- Partly cloudy skies with a chance of thunderstorms all day as highs approach 90F for many areas.
Sunday- An approaching cold front will bring afternoon thunderstorms and a threat of severe weather. Highs will be in the upper 80s to lower 90s.
Regional updating radar...
"Here north of Harrisburg 2010 statistics"
(Severe Weather Stats...)
Severe Thunderstorm Watches- 9
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings- 9
Tornado Watches- 1
Tornado Warnings- 1
Total Thunderstorms- 14
Flood Watches- 3
Flood Warnings- 1
Monthly Precipitation- 5.19inches
Yearly Precipitation- 22.29inches
Heat Advisories- 3
Excessive Heat Watches- 1
Excessive Heat Warnings- 1
90degree days- 25
Highest Temperature 101F (x2)
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.