From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for May 2011

How weather affects the health of the Chesapeake Bay (photos, video)

April 18, 2012 - 05:27 PM
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Story from 2011: Bill Bradley who is the IT Program Manager of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office emailed me to let me know of a website that has real-time monitoring stations along the Bay. They call it the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS). CBIBS consist of 9 (soon to be 10) buoys located around the Bay. One is located right in the Potomac south of the Wilson Bridge off National Harbor. It had to be redeployed this year to avoid ice damage this past winter.

With such drastic changes in the weather over the past year, including the hottest summer on record, a colder than normal December and January, and a wetter than normal spring, Doug and I got to wondering exactly how the weather affects the Chesapeake Bay. To get this question answered, we headed down to Piney Point, Md, to interview a group of scientists that work for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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Delmarva beach resource guide

July 6, 2011 - 10:33 AM
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Photo: Dough4872/Wikimedia

This should have about every little thing you need to know about the beaches. If it doesn't, comment below and we'll add it for you!

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Overheated ducklings saved by PG County firefighter

May 31, 2011 - 03:47 PM
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Ducklings in D.C. (Courtesy of 'Steve,' Wikimedia)

Perfect for a guy whose last name sort of sounds like "ferret," Prince George’s County firefighter Ryan J. Ferriter has made a second noteworthy animal rescue in a week, further cementing his reputation as a modern-day Noah.

Last Tuesday, the quick-witted rookie, just weeks out of the training academy, rescued a confused snapping turtle from a probable pancaking on the hard streets of Clinton, Md. (Quipped the fire department’s spokesperson: “Now I'm off to call OPRAH and the TODAY SHOW!!!”) And now word arrives that Ferriter has saved an entire family of ducklings that were getting roasted alive in today's 90 degree-plus weather. From county's fire/EMS department:

At around 11:00 am, Tuesday, May 31, 2011, the crew was alerted to a call to assist an Animal Control Officer in the 8700 block of Woodyard Road.

Fire Captain Donald Poole described the scene, “It seems that large family of what appeared to be just hatched ducklings (9 in all) had fallen in to a large open drainage ditch and were unable to exit the ditch. Without the momma duck nor food and water, animal control officers were in fear the ducks would succumb to the extreme heat conditions.”

Fire Fighter Ryan Ferriter, the turtle rescuer, taking all safety precautions into account, was able to successfully pluck all 9 ducklings from the drainage ditch and turned them over to animal control, which has relocated them to a local animal rescue farm in the county. All ducklings appeared to be in relatively good condition.

Way to go, dude. This story ended way better than that other recent one involving a P.G. County firefighter, a dog and “puncture wounds and possible nerve damage.” And to all you haters out there saying that Ryan J. Ferriter keeps a menagerie of wild animals in his house, which he uses to plant in perilous locations to reap the glories of later saving them, get a life.

Here’s a photo of the happy firefighter doing what he does best, saving lives:

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Waterspouts off Avoca Beach, Australia, on Memorial Day (VIDEO)

May 31, 2011 - 02:12 PM
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Australian vacationers on Memorial Day were treated to the spectral sight of multiple waterspouts drifting off of Avoca Beach, located near Sydney. The ghostly sea twisters were associated with a large storm system that spread flash-flooding fears throughout the region. One TV station reported that the funnels stretched 2,000 feet into the sky before disintegrating near land. (Miss the recent twin waterspouts in Hawaii?)

Waterspouts certainly look threatening, and the National Weather Service urges people to take their destructive potential seriously. The Encyclopedia Britannica mentions that intense spouts have sowed death and despair throughout history, without citing any examples (although the hoary tome does say it’s not possible to disperse a spout by firing a cannonball at it). According to Popular Science, a 1921 waterspout over a mountain lake in Colorado, of all places, grabbed a car of tourists, "lifted it like a shingle, and tossed it over a precipice." This video shows a spout in Australia tearing a roof from a building. A kid died recently in a Hawaiian “water spout,” which on closer inspection is technically a blowhole.

Still, it’s hard to find any accounts of spouts doing really eye-popping carnage like their landlocked brethren, tornadoes. Why is that?

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Cooling centers in Prince George's County: Where to find 'em

May 31, 2011 - 11:54 AM
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Somebody named

You’re walking along the hazy sidewalks, the sun beating down like it’s trying to cook burgers on your unhatted head. Tongue feeling like leather, you pull out the Gatorade bottle for a swig. A solitary drop of orange-colored/flavored beverage falls out and turns to steam on the sidewalk. The heat is merciless, unending; everything starts getting fuzzy….

Suddenly! A river of cold air is all around you. It’s venting from an ugly, municipal-looking building, probably built somewhere in the ‘70s and chock-full of asbestos. Still, this is life and death here. Ducking in, you take a seat among scores of catatonic refugees in a blissfully air-conditioned room. Ahh, that’s better. Now if only you had brought a book.

Cooling centers: Is there no surer sign that summer’s misery is upon us? (Even if it is a day early?) Prince George’s County has opened six of them today, two for seniors and the rest for overheated persons of all ages. Here is where, and when, you can find them:

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D.C. weather Tuesday: It will feel above 100 degrees today

May 31, 2011 - 04:23 AM
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NASA

When it comes to old wives' tales about winter’s severity, America relies on Punxsutawney Phil. But where should our nation go for fur-based forecasts during the warmer months?

A nearby backyard, it turns out. Meet the Rudin WeatherCanine 8000, or "Gus" as it's known for short (note: this product has not been approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):

people love pictures of dogs

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Record high tied at BWI, 98 degrees

May 30, 2011 - 05:20 PM
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The record high temperature was tied on Monday at BWI/Marshall. The standing record, 98 degrees set in 1991 was tied around 3:00 in the afternoon.

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What is a heat advisory?

May 30, 2011 - 11:26 AM
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You hear us talk about the Heat Advisory online and on TV, but you may wonder exactly what it means. Obviously, it implies that it'll be hot and uncomfortable, but if you want to get more specific, according to our local National Weather Service office, a Heat Advisory is issued when the heat and humidity will combine to create heat index values (feels-like temps) of 105 to 109 degrees. According to my calculations, we'll come closer to those conditions Tuesday afternoon opposed to Monday.

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Super Typhoon Songda eats the West Pacific (PHOTO GALLERY)

May 27, 2011 - 01:32 PM
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The year's first major typhoon is spinning in the Philippine Sea, and it's a big'un. The sprawling Super Typhoon Songda (or Chedeng) has sustained winds of about 145 m.p.h. and is causing residents of the Pacific islands to duck and cover. At last check it was east of Taiwan, crawling toward Japan at about 13 m.p.h. There is concern that is may pass over the destroyed Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor, perhaps spreading radiation farther into Japan, although the guys at Tepco aren't really talking about it.

The typhoon is gradually getting weaker. It is still powerful enough to send waves 38 feet tall crashing into anybody unlucky enough to be at sea. Here are recent satellite images of Songda showing its extraordinary extent, wind power, precipitation load, etc. For a pretty Flash video of the storm's measurable moisture content, click here.

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Theo Jansen's wind-powered Strandbeests take to the beach (VIDEO)

May 27, 2011 - 11:58 AM
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Ordis 2007 from Strandbeest on Vimeo.

Imagine you're on the beach for Memorial Day when a 15 foot tall, 30-foot long creature made of garbage pops up over a sand dune and comes lurching your way. This nightmare could actually happen in Holland, thanks to a visionary artist named Theo Jansen.

Jansen, who studied physics at Holland's University of Delft, builds shambling creatures that walk under the power of the wind. They have cream-colored bones made of PVC pipe and sails that undulate like cuttlefish fins, sort of like a cross between half-finished boat hulls and giant prehistoric centipedes. He calls his creations strandbeests, or Anamari, or sometimes “indigenous North Sea arthropods.”

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D.C. weather Memorial Day weekend: Category 5 sweaticane cometh

May 27, 2011 - 04:50 AM
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Type

Thursday was about the closest D.C.-goers could get to experiencing the life of a link of sausage in a hot Natchitoches gumbo. (Unless you've actually been in some boiling gumbo, in which case you'd probably argue the experience is a little different.) Temperatures at Reagan National pinged off the 92-degree mark – 14 degrees hotter than average – and humidity kept an open faucet of perspiration pouring off of area foreheads. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and... wait, no it doesn't. Summer doesn't come until June 1. We're just being prewarmed.

Why even go to work today? Friday presents pretty decent beach weather, and it gets better as the long weekend progresses. (Current forecast, and meteorologist Alex Liggitt's guide to current beach conditions can be found here.) The D.C. region is getting fanned by subtropical air from an area of high pressure in the Atlantic Ocean, establishing a warm, hazy air mass over the city.

Unfortunately, an east-moving front will cut into this mass Friday and spark the possibility of showers and thunderstorms. ABC7's Bob Ryan gives a 50 percent chance of rain during the afternoon or evening. The heat might not be as detrimental to your life force, because a layer of clouds is expected to beat away some of the sunshine. But high temperatures will still be just under 90. They'll climb in the coming days to perhaps reach a peak in the mid to low 90s on Tuesday, a great range for hand print, hat-band and other embarrassing suntans.

The odds of severe weather substantially drop on Saturday through at least Tuesday, which is good, because nobody likes their beach ball getting shredded by lightning. If your dream is to look eerily bronzed like Pauly D, now is the weekend to obtain that goal, naturally.

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Lost? Consult the most complete map of the universe ever made

May 26, 2011 - 03:23 PM
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The 2MASS Redshift Survey created this universe map over the course of 10 years. It shows some 43,000 galaxies within 380 million light years of our planet. The Milky Way runs from left to right in the middle of the map.

Interstellar hitchhikers now have another necessity beside towels to cram into their bindlestiffs. It's this new map of the local universe, presented in Boston during the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The map displays all the visible structures in space up to 380 million light years away from earth, including about 45,000 galaxies. Purple dots are the closest to us, then blue and green dots; orange and red structures are the farthest out. (Unless you believe in the, uh, "Space Mirror" conspiracy, in which case there are no galaxies beyond 150 million kilometers.) The map was created from 10 years of observations by two telescopes monitoring the ether in infrared, which allowed them to penetrate through the dusty "Zone of Avoidance" obscuring parts of the Milky Way. The project behind this effort is the University of Massachusetts' Two-Micron All-Sky Survey Redshift Survey (another link), quite an impressive mouthful.

The Milky Way has an unusual type of motion, caused by an unknown gravitational influence, that researchers hope this projection will help identify. You can read more about the map and its implications over at Space.com.

Curious about what the first good map of the universe looked like?

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The heat is back across the D.C. area

May 26, 2011 - 02:18 PM
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Today, the D.C. area has reached the 90 degree mark through much of the region for the first time this year. This could be the first 90 degree day in D.C. since Sept. 25 of 2010. Think back to last year, with it's the hottest summer on record that featured a record-tying 67 90 degree days in Washington, D.C. I know everyone is hoping something like that won't be witnessed again this summer.

If today is the first 90 degree day in D.C. this year, we are well behind the first 90 degree day in 2010, which occurred on April 6. Here are the three previous years:

09 - April 26

08 - June 7

07 - May 26

Oddly enough, only 4 years ago we hit 90 degrees for the first time in D.C. on the same date!

So by this time last year, Washington already had 3 90 degree days, so we're really not that far behind. With highs approaching the 90 degree mark Sunday through next Wednesday, we may be right up there with last year rather quickly. Our normal high for May 26th is 78 degrees.

Just a quick comparison though, this year hasn't been nearly as hot so far. In May 2010, the average temperature was 69.3 degrees, which was 3.7 degrees above normal. This year, it is 65.6 degrees, which is less than a degree above normal. Both January and March of this year were also below normal.

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Super Typhoon Songda set to lash China, Japan (PHOTOS)

May 26, 2011 - 01:51 PM
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Super Typhoon Songda near the Phillippines on May 26. Some of the deadliest storms in history were Super Typhoons.

A heaving storm system known as Super Typhoon Songda is approaching the southern Chinese coast, scouring the sea with screaming winds and scrunching waves into 38-foot humps. Vessels are scurrying into harbor and nearby governments, including Japan, are prepping for intense rain and punishing wind. Though it's probably not the true meaning of the word, type Songda into Google's translation tool and you get Chinese characters meaning “served” – exactly what this Super Typhoon could do to southeast Asia.

Songda, which has an eye spanning 12 miles, is feeding on abnormally warm ocean-surface temperatures and an absence of strong wind shear to grow in size. So what defines a Super Typhoon?

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Micronesia blames Czech power plant for rising sea-level danger

May 26, 2011 - 04:41 AM
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Emissions from the Czech Republic's biggest power plant are warming the atmosphere and creating higher waves in Micronesia, according to the small Western Pacific country. Pictured: A coal barge near Pittsburgh in the 1970s. (Environmental Protection Agency)

The Federated States of Micronesia, which really needs to spruce up its website, has a new claim to fame aside from sakau, the foul brown glop that Micronesians drink to induce recreational paralysis. It is the first nation to use the court system to try to stop another nation’s fossil-fuel emissions – from halfway around the globe.

Environmental groups talked about this curious story during the Threatened Island Nations Climate Conference in New York this week. Here's the international tussle, in brief:

In January, the teensy island federation in the Western Pacific Ocean asked for a “transboundary environmental impact study” of the Prunerov Power Station, the largest coal plant in the Czech Republic. The lignite-burning plant is Europe’s twelfth dirtiest in terms of CO2 emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s ranking. Most scientists think such emissions are behind the earth's gradually warming climate. Micronesia wanted the Czech government to review its decision to extend the plant's lifespan, arguing that the greenhouse gases it churns out are imperiling the island nation's 111,000 residents.

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Dramatic before and after pictures of Joplin

May 25, 2011 - 05:12 PM
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After devastating storms such as Katrina, the Tuscaloosa tornado and the recent tragic tornado in Joplin, Mo., NOAA does an aerial survey of the damage. Here is the Joplin hospital area before the tornado:

ZZZZZ

Look at the same area after the tornado with winds over 200 m.p.h. swept through the same hospital area:

ZZZZZ

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Follow the latest tornado outbreak through the Midwest

May 25, 2011 - 04:23 PM
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Another major tornado outbreak is expected today. As a meteorologist, I'll be watching this event unfold around the clock. I wanted to let you know exactly what I look at and what sites I go to to check on the latest watches and warnings, Doppler radars, TV stations and even storm chasers to keep an eye on the storms.

As far as watches and warnings are concerned, there are currently six tornado watches, with two of them being tornado watches with "Particularly Dangerous Situation" statements on them. Those two areas from St. Louis to Memphis are in a very dangerous spot. Strong long-tracked tornadoes are possible in these areas today.

I always try to watch TV stations across the country, and with storms already beginning to bear down on some major city centers, you should check these sites for live streaming video.

St. Louis - KMOV (Storms moving through the area this afternoon)

St. Louis - KSDK (Storms moving through the area this afternoon)

St. Louis webcams

Indianapolis - WISHTV (Storms moving through the area this afternoon)

Indianapolis Live Cams

Paducah - KFVS

Memphis - WREG (Later this afternoon and evening)

Evansville - WFIE (Later this afternoon and evening)

Another awesome perspective is the Chaser Cams that are in chasers dashboards as they pursue the storms and possible tornadoes. Very cool to ride along with them.

Also be sure to follow as many meteorologists as possible on Twitter for the latest on watches, warnings, video and pictures coming in from across the country. Follow me at @alexliggitt and follow the jump for more links and video.

Latest Warnings from Thundercall

Latest Storm Reports

Latest Mesoscale Discussions

Midwest Mesoanalysis Page

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Oklahoma City tornado aftermath

May 25, 2011 - 01:17 PM
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Ever notice how in the wake of bad tornado hits the media is full of stories comparing the damage to a bomb going off? Well, that would be because the damage from an EF-4 or EF-5 is similar to the effects of a 15,000-pound Daisy Cutter. For evidence, look no farther than the below video showing the aftermath of a tornado in El Reno, Okla., yesterday.

Or maybe “tornadoes” – crews are currently surveying the damage from at least six twisters that sprouted up in Oklahoma during the afternoon and evening. (Photos.) Bone-crushing hail up to three inches in diameter was noted by the National Weather Service (that would be “tea cup”-sized hail, according to the government’s accepted definition). At least fifteen people died in the Midwest, bumping up this year’s tornado death toll to more than 500. It has been the deadliest tornado season since 519 people perished in 1953.

The scene Tuesday in El Reno, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City: A car smashed into the side of a tree and left hanging off the ground. Other trees whittled into leafless nubs. A house folded into a taco. A dazed trucker next to his slayed vehicle. And that poor limping cow – it looks like it was about to topple over before the camera pulled away. Get ready to see more of this stuff today; the risk of severe weather in the Midwest is high, and at least one tornado has already been sighted. Live-chase videos are available here.

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Tornadoes rock the Plains, more severe weather possible today

May 25, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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A vigorous area of low pressure moved into the Plains yesterday helping to spawn a tornado outbreak which caused numerous injures and more deaths in an already record-breaking year. The reports continue to climb with winds over 100 m.p.h. and hailstones to the size of softballs. The big events were the tornadoes though. Doug, Bob and I were monitoring this one throughout our 5pm and 6pm shows, and it was on the ground the entire time in Oklahoma just northwest of Oklahoma City.

 

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The air over Japan heated up before the 9.0 earthquake: Study

May 25, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Tectonic plate boundaries are red lines, major faults brown ones and the Tohoku earthquake is the black stars. The red circles show the location of radiation anomalies in the atmoshere.

It sounds like a plotline from The X-Files: Shortly before the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami tore into Japan this March, the air high above the country began to heat up.

An anomaly was first noted on March 3 by low-orbit satellites, which recorded an increase in electron density in the ionosphere, the atmosphere’s highest sector. The numbers of electrons multiplied until they came to a crest on March 8, three days before the quake. Then a spike in infrared radiation developed, creating a hot patch in the ionosphere right above the quake’s epicenter on March 11. After the shaking subsided, the air settled down again to its normal state.

This might sound like something you’d suffer through from a guy in a Roswell, N.M., bar wearing a tinfoil turban. But scientists have been on the case of so-called “pre-earthquake atmospheric transient phenomena” for the past two decades. Disturbances in electron densities and temperature fluctuations above earth were observed by the DEMETER microsatellite before earthquakes in Haiti in 2010, in Chile the same year, in Samoa and Italy in 2009 and in China in 2008. While finding a satisfactory explanation for these events has been difficult, the theories are fascinating – and a new one might be the most mind-screwing concept yet.

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