Well, January is almost over now. Surely the worst of the winter is behind us…right?!?! Well, Mr. Mundt predicted the last half of winter would be worst and he’s going to be right. We’ll start by looking at the extended forecast. Check out this map for next Friday. The most important thing to point out are the colors…those deep reds over South Dakota…see those?? Well, if that happens, highs will be near zero and lows could really drop…depending on the wind and the cloud cover. It’s possible we could see the coldest air of the season. It looks like this pattern will continue for the first few days of February. Typically, this type of pattern does not give us major snow, but light snow is possible from time to time with fast-moving waves of energy on the jet stream from the northwest.Stay warm!
Archive for January 2007
Out of all the questions we could raise about global warming, here are 3 of the most common ones I hear about and a few insights into what’s happening.
Question number one: Are the polar icecaps really melting and how fast?
We’ve seen the pictures on the news of the polar ice caps breaking apart…like this one…the The Larsen Ice sheet break up in 2002. However, NASA reports that the antarctic ice as a whole on the continent has been increasing since 1979.
Also, greenland is seeing similar trends. Ice is breaking off the edges, but increasing in depth in the center the ice sheet.
Question number two: Could the sun be responsible for some of the warming?
The sun has a direct impact on the earth’s temperature. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Over the past few decades, you can see how solar output has affected temperatures in the United States. There is a link, but how much is still being studied.
Question number three: Are the mild winters we’ve been having in KELOLAND because of global warming?
One of the major reasons for our milder winters in recent years is a phenomena called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. It’s a big cycle of temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The cycle began changing in the late 1970s…scientists called this the Great Pacific Climate Shift. Ever since, the words "el nino" and "warm winters" have become a part of our vocabulary. As long as the cycle follows historical trends, it will eventually shift back toward the negative pattern seen through 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Global Warming…it’s not a new subject, but the heat on this issue isn’t going away. I thought with so much talk about global warming, this blog might be a good place to let some of you "vent" about the hot topic and get to some of the core questions that I have and many of you, our viewers, have. I’m not interested in the politics of the issue…so I’ll stay out that. Meteorology and climatology and areas of science I have always been interested in…and this subject tests our knowledge of the science in many ways.The global warming debate stems from the influence of increasing man-made greenhouse gases on the warming temperature of the planet…most notably in the past 30 years. This chart from NASA sums up the trend.The last 20 years are certainly the most concerning. So how did NASA come up with a chart like this? Well, thousands of weather stations all over the planet collect the information used to generate these charts. But if you look at the history of these stations, you’ll be surprised to find a few trends.This graph comes was constructed by Ross McKitrick, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Guelph. It shows how the raw number of the weather stations world-wide has fallen from 6000 to nearly 2000 over the past 50 years (blue line). You’ll also note how that affected the average temperature shown in red…with the spike noted around 1990. Is that causing a bias in the data on the NASA chart? This data is filtered and biases are removed as the scientists see fit, but this trend is still noteworthy. Obvisously, you have to weight the data correctly or else it will bias toward places like the U.S., where we have a great network of observing stations. You can see where the stations are dropping out by looking at this animation.World-Wide Weather Station AnimationWhen you look at that, you can see much of the data loss is in Asia. It’s interesting. This is just a sample of some of the data that can be looked at. I’ll post more on our blog coming up.
Those of us who attended this week’s American Meteorological Society meeting in San Antonio got to experience some very unusual weather for South Texas – five days without seeing the sun. It was interesting to see the locals driven to wearing wool caps and scarves due to temperatures hovering in the low 30s. And then there was the rain…
Television stations here were on the air all hours of the day due to the persistent freezing precipitation that forced the closure of schools and businesses. At one point, all of the major interstates were shut down, and more than a thousand accidents were reported. The airport was closed, causing big problems for the thousands of meteorologists coming here for the annual meeting. Some of the speakers simply turned around and went come when they found their flight connections cancelled.
One guy who did make it in was my friend and colleague Tomas Molina. He is a TV weatherman from Barcelona, Spain. I was talking with him at the convention center when he excitedly pointed out the window. For the first time in his life, he saw freezing rain. Although he has traveled all over the road, he had never been anywhere when it occurred.
That night at dinner, I snapped a photo of Tomas standing next to a palm tree with its fronts drooping near the ground due to a coating of ice. Tomas speaks excellent English, but he had never heard the new word I taught him: icicle.
I was beginning to think we had lost it…but, oh yes, winter will make a major return to KELOLAND by Thursday.Now, I don’t really enjoy bitterly cold air…but if we have to go through a cold spell…we might as well get it out of the way. It seems that many times, if we don’t get cold in January…we often times have to sit through a cool Spring. Here’s what the first cold wave looks like. This will likely be the coldest air of the season. Those temperatures you see are in celsius…but they are still very cold and illustrate the kind of air on the way. And it’s going to with us for awhile as the coldest air crosses the north pole and heads south over eastern Canada next week.
One of the most frequent emails we receive involves the question, "Where’s my temperature?" Those queries come from people who live in towns with one of our Weathernet stations, and they find that their town and its temperature have stopped appearing on KELOLAND.com, or at the bottom of our screen during daily newscasts, or on the side of the screen on KELOLAND WeatherNow. In each case, the explanation is the same.Our WeatherNets consist of thermometers and other sensors we have provided to schools around the area. They are installed in schools for two reasons: they make good educational tools, and because schools are generally located near the center of towns. The temperatures collected officially come mostly from thermometers located at airports, and very few people live at airports (our joke). We think temperatures at the schools are a little more representative of the temperatures people feel in their local residential neighborhoods, and we also share that information with the National Weather Service in case they wish to use it.The sensors collect the temperatures and they are fed into computers at the school, and then across the internet to KELOLAND TV. If the weather data stream is interrupted, those temperatures automatically drop off our screens and weather pages; we don’t want to broadcast incorrect data. Most of the time, we have stopped receiving data from the schools because someone has turned off the computer, or the program that sends the data to use has been accidentally shut down. The "fix" is just to reboot the machine, and our data collection service does sent messages to the schools to ask them to check on this.Most of the time, our dedicated contact people at the school are very helpful, and they quickly find out what is wrong and fix it. But sometimes, mostly due to school vacations or other reasons, the computer doesn’t get rebooted, and the data feed to KELOLAND TV does not get restored. That’s when we get the emails asking, "Where’s my temperature?"The quickest and best way to get your town’s temperature back on KELOLAND.com or back on TV is to call your local school and ask them to reboot the computer that sends the data to KELO. Everyone likes to know what the weather is like where they live, and ensuring that the school’s computer is sending the data to us is the best way of making sure we get it and can share it with the rest of KELOLAND.