Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 10:01 PM GMT on August 13, 2010
I find myself often asked by many, "Why do you like the weather?" Of course one would think it is a simple question with a simple answer as something like because of "tornadoes and hurricanes." But my passion for the weather is far beyond the instances of severe weather and destruction. I cannot pinpoint a day, time, of year where I developed an interest for the atmosphere, climate, and weather, but since elementary school I have been the go to person for checking the weather. Like many sciences, meteorology is a growing field with a wealth of knowledge yet to be gained and understood. In fact the advent of technology such as the media and internet have brought about radical changes in forecasting just in the past decade. And now in an ever important decade focused on climate change, the weather is a growing and developing topic for many. It is often thought of as a converstation starter and is discussed by everyone. I can remember watching the 2003 President's Day snowstorm interviews on The Weather Channel with Paul Kocin. I can remember the exact snowfall forecast map with 2ft+ progged for central Pennsylvania. And yes I can remember as a mere toddler pulling my sled along the massive snow 'walls' from the snowplow after the January of 96' blizzard. And now as my adventure slings towards college and soon real world job application in my field, I find it ever important to not only understand the basis of the atmosphere, but to apply it to new theories. A scientific field cannot grow without research and development and more theological applications. Meteorology is the understanding of the science and application to using the knowledge to the benefit of the general public's wellfare. I was even asked many times, "Why do you not want to use your intelligence to be a doctor or lawyer?" Most of the times unfortunately, people often equivalent meteorology to the weatherman on TV. But atmospheric sciences is a difficult field that actually benefits society in many ways beyond the simple weatherman/green screen. It is a science based on calculus equations and physics theorys. In the end, I know how fortunate I have been. To be able to reach a lifelong passion at a young age is a often jealous and fortunate attribute. There is certainly no hesistation in "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
A common occurence in the typical Middle Atlantic summer... Two week long dry period then followed by a month's worth of rain in a short period of time. This is the definitive catalyst for flash flooding with the common season being Summer. The common setup... stalled front, increasing PWATs aloft enhanced by tropical moisture, and wave of low pressure along quasi-stationary boundary. Combine these dynamics with surface instability and boom... you have slow moving thunderstorms with an abundance of moisture. FFG remains about normal, with higher numbers in western Pennsylvania.
But despite what FFG shows, 3in of rain in less than an hour is going to cause problems wherever. KCXY reported 3.01in of rain in one hour on August 12, 2010 from a collection of slow moving thunderstorms associated with an MCV. For more information on the flash flood event... Link. The upcoming week will feature a period of unsettled weather across the entire northern Middle Atlantic. High pressure located over the southern Canadian maritimes a weak southeast ridging will create a squeeze play for a slow moving front to stall near and just to the south of the I-81 corridor. Anomalous moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of the remnants of the recent tropical depression will set up the catalyst for an abundance of showers and thunderstorms daily along the quasi-stationary boundary. This puts the southern half of Pennsylvania and all of Maryland and Delaware at risk for unsettled weather from Sunday through Friday. The ECMWF will score high on verification charts, highlighting this threat for nearly a week. In fact in correlation with a few convective feedback errors, at one point ECMWF runs were printing our nearly 3-5in of rain for the upcoming week over eastern portions of the northern Middle Atlantic. While everyday will feature scattered showers and thunderstorms, not all areas will receieve rain. In fact there may be areas that receive little to no rain this week, while others see an additional 3in or so. So the typical forecast will suffice each day this week...
Cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Storms may be produce heavy rain. Highs in the 70s to low 80s.
Any breaks in the clouds should be enough in the thermodyamic field to produce some SBCAPE along with tapping the shearing winds aloft enough to produce a wet microburst or two. Isolated severe weather will be a threat each day with the highest threat on Monday.
Difficult but simple forecast essentially for the following week. At least temperatures will remain normal to below normal extinguishing at least the heat wave threat for now. Alright the rest of the blog will be a bit of a rant I need to get off my chest... Every morning I follow a simple routine, shower then read the newspaper. I am always a bit surprised in the editorial section with articles on climate change. While I find it great people are taking an interest in protecting the unique planet of Earth, it is easier said than done. The May through August time period has been dominated by lag effects from one of the strongest El Ninos on record. ENSO lag effects often occur months later despite shifts in SST anomalies; meaning despite current La Nina characteristics, the boundary layer atmosphere remains having the effects from the El Nino several months ago. A quick basis in the ENSO knowledge data base quickly advects the idea of warmer than normal surface temperatures globally. In fact the 1998 El Nino correlated with some of the warmest temperatures globally on record. Then as the El Nino diminished, so did Earth's temperatures resulting a decade of slightly cooler temperatures 2000-2010. Anti-anthropogenic global warming advocates are quickly to announce cooling, but take away 98' and essentially there has not been much cooling or warming in the past decade. 2010 will be up there in terms of warmest years on record globally, but it is another anomaly. The excuse that the Moscow droughts and heatwaves are correlated with global warming, just does not have enough evidence. It would be the same for me to gesture the anomalous snowfall on the east coast in the United States is evidence global warming does not exist. Short term weather disasters provide very little evidence for either arguement. It is irrelevant to argue the anomalous weather in 2010 is evidence of anything other than a tumultuous habitat of planet Earth that date centuries before.
While yes we can change our lightbulbs to CFLs, or buy a hybrid car, but how much of a difference is that going to make. Lag effects in stratospheric temperatures have been proven to date nearly 50-100 years; meaning whatever effects CO2 levels currently is having on the Earth, we will not see for many years. Yes I think it is important for climatological awareness, but more public knowledge is necessary before blanket statements are juxtaposed.
Regional updating radar...
"Here north of Harrisburg 2010 statistics"
(Severe Weather Stats...)
Severe Thunderstorm Watches- 11
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings- 10
Tornado Watches- 1
Tornado Warnings- 1
Total Thunderstorms- 17
Flood Watches- 3
Flood Warnings- 2
Monthly Precipitation- 3.58inches
Yearly Precipitation- 25.88inches
Heat Advisories- 5
Excessive Heat Watches- 1
Excessive Heat Warnings- 1
90degree days- 31
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.
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