From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for June 2011

Delmarva beach forecast for the 4th of July weekend

July 1, 2011 - 08:00 AM
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Friday Update - No big changes to the forecast

After a beautiful past couple of days, the weekend ahead looks to bring with it warmer temperatures and added humidity. Here is the latest forecast for the beaches this weekend. As always, be sure to check our Delmarva Beach Resource Guide for the latest water temperatures, tide charts, webcams and more. 

Saturday

85/66 - Mostly Sunny, Warm

Saturday should be pleasant at the beaches with highs in the mid 80s under mostly sunny skies. A few clouds may stream in during the afternoon hours, but no storms are expected. Water temperatures are now mild sitting in the mid 70s.

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'Urban stargazing': Artificial constellations appear over London

June 30, 2011 - 03:39 PM
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Upset that London's light pollution was obscurrring the stars, designer Oscar Lhermitte has thrown up 12 fake constellations that riff on the city's legendary and bizarre history.

Visitors to London this summer might notice that there are a few too many stars in the sky. That's due to the guerrilla efforts of French product designer Oscar Lhermitte, whose "Urban Stargazing" team is erecting artificial constellations around the city that have special meanings for Londoners.

Count Lhermitte as an opponent of urban light pollution. In one of his earlier pieces, he conjured up a fake Big Dipper because, he said, living in "big cities such as London has many advantages, but it is unfortunately difficult to see a clear sky. As you know, the city lights, the English weather and the pollution hide the contemplation of this poetic open space."

So using nylon twine, solar-powered LEDs and a "telescopic catapult" to reach the tiptops of trees and other tall structures, Lhermitte's crew has added 12 new constellations to the city sky that, like their real brethren, are only visible at night. These aren't your typical Latinate crabs, seagoats and old men wrestling snakes, but distinctly British creations like the missile-shaped "V-2" constellation – named for the rockets that Germany used to pound England in WWII – and the "Mosquito," inspired by a horrifying subterranean insect that has evolved to survive in the dank atmosphere of the London Tube.

The stargazing team has situated these structures in areas that have special historical significance. The V-2 piece, for instance, is located above the Bethnal Green Tube station, where 173 Londoners seeking shelter from an incoming bombing run in 1943 died of suffocation or crushing. (It turned out to be a false alert caused by a new and loud type of domestic weapon that panicked the crowd.) For more on the significance of the constellations, the blog We Make Money Not Art has a good rundown.

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Spy satellite launches at Va.'s NASA Wallops facility (VIDEO)

June 30, 2011 - 01:20 PM
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Hear a distant roar or see a blazing light in the sky last night? It was probably a rocket that NASA launched from the Wallops Flight Facility and Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia's eastern shore. The launch, which occurred at 11:09 p.m., was bright enough to be seen from New York to North Carolina.

The U.S. Air Force Minotaur 1 was supposed to have taken off from Wallops yesterday, but thunderstorms caused a delay. The rocket was protected from the sniffles by a yellow rocket cozy, perhaps knitted by NASA scientists, that “provides thermal protection for the first and second stage prior to launch,” according to Space.com. The launch was well documented by facility personnel, but NASA's PR office is still waiting for the Air Force to OK the release of photos because of the sensitive military nature of the mission. In the meantime, here's a nice shot over the water taken in Lusby, Md. There's also this video:

In the tip of the rocket is snuggled the first satellite operated by the Department of Defense's Operationally Responsive Space office, a program created in 2007 to enhance the nation's military satellites. Good luck discovering precisely what that means. Apparently the military wants to make them smaller and get them up into space quicker? Anyway, here's what ORS-1 looks like:

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Tropical Storm Arlene, first of the season, mashes Mexico (VIDEO)

June 30, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Could Hurricane Arlene not be far behind Tropical Storm Arlene? The system on Wednesday evening, in infrared. (Servicio Meteorologico Nacional)

The first Atlantic tropical storm of the 2011 hurricane season, a blimpy ogress called Arlene, is menacing the northeast coast of Mexico. (The Pacific has already had its first, Beatriz.) Arlene's expected track takes it through Mexico City on Friday, although NOAA is saying that its size is so grand that "one should not focus on the exact forecast track as impacts will likely be felt over a large portion of northeastern Mexico well away from the center."

But wait a sec: Arlene? Yes, Ar-freakin’-lene. This year’s list of storm names is rife with entries that sound like they just stumbled out of a 1950s greasy spoon, breath reeking of instant coffee and apple pie draped with slices of processed cheese. According to this site, the name Arlene had its peak popularity 90 years ago.

Roll call! Don? Here. Franklin? Here. Tammy? Present. Gert? Where is Gert? Oh, there you are, over in the corner getting Hertz Doughnuts from all the other storms.

Nevertheless, let’s try to take Tormenta Tropical “Arlene” seriously. (And apologies to any actual Arlenes who are reading. It's a beautiful name.)

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New Mexico wildfire creeps up to Los Alamos nuke lab (PHOTOS)

June 29, 2011 - 02:21 PM
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The view of the Las Conchas wildfire from the International Space Station on Monday. The radioactive waste-holding Los Alamos National Laboratory is at center right. (NASA)

The staff of Los Alamos National Laboratory doesn't have to go into work today or tomorrow to do... whatever it is they do there. Says the website of the lab, the birthplace of the atomic bomb:

"Los Alamos National Laboratory tonight announced it will remain closed through Thursday, June 30 because of risks presented by the Las Conchas Fire and the mandatory evacuation of Los Alamos town site. Laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site."

Fire crews today staged controlled burns to remove possible fuel sources that the wildfire could use to advance on the nuclear waste-holding facility. Lab brass have been assuring people that the site is well protected with safeguards (tree thinning, those controlled burns) put in place after the immense Cerro Grande Fire destroyed more than 100 lab structures in 2000. A plane is flying above to make sure there's no release of radioactive smoke, and even if the fires gets a finger or two inside the perimeter, there are contingency plans. Here's how the Associated Press put it:

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Unidentified flying object puzzles onlookers in Italy (VIDEO)

June 29, 2011 - 01:00 PM
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A glowing forked object that appeared in the sky over Italy yesterday is provoking a healthy and completely rational discussion over its true identity. (Follow the jump for the video and the thoughts of ABC7's Bob Ryan.) Some of the comments:

Cruising passenger plane reflecting light of evening sun. As simple as that.

It's a meteorite.. seen one before myself. awesome to see in real life! :)

Uh, it was probably the asteroid that recently nearly missed earth.

It's a contrail reflecting off the sun. My god people are stupid.

This is an Iranian Satelite that was recently Supposedly put to orbit.

Black Operations or UFO, that's the question.

AAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH its Armageddon!!!

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NASA's new 'Curiosity' rover to explore Mars for life (VIDEO)

June 29, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Here is a fascinating story, told without words, of how the world's premiere space agency plans to test Mars for bacterial life this year using a new robot that looks like it could kick WALL-E's sorry butt.

It begins in the hollow of space with a lonesome "pop" as a cigar-shaped mother capsule releases a probe that makes a beeline for the Red Planet. Several months later, the craft is burning a hole in the Martian atmosphere until it deploys a parachute and stabilizing rockets that recall the space-Marine personnel vehicle from Aliens. The ship then disgorges a six-wheeled RTV/mobile lab known as "Curiosity," which is lowered the remaining distance to the ground. Then things start to really get cool.

Curiosity is scheduled to exit Earth this winter and land on our neighboring planet in August 2012. It's outfitted with a laser, a robotic arm, a weather station, a drill to test Martian rocks for signs of life and more than 10 pounds of plutonium dioxide for heating and power purposes. No need to be worried about that: Althought there is a 3.3 percent chance of a launch accident, NASA notes that the "type of plutonium used in a radioisotope power system is different from the material used in weapons, and cannot explode like a bomb." (There are details about the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator in this PDF.)

If all goes well, the insectoid-looking laboratory will scoot around Mars for nearly 2 years, collecting and analyzing samples. Read more about the nifty robot on Curiosity's mission page. The space agency has even set up a webcam that shows "bunny suit"-wearing engineers (not what you'd think) building it in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

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Airplane contrails are warming the planet, says new study

June 28, 2011 - 03:08 PM
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Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre et al.

Scientists have suspected for a while that contrails, the frozen-vapor tubes created by airplane engines that nutsos call "chemtrails," play some role in anthropogenic global warming. The theory is that jets are basically birthing new cirrus clouds, and clouds have a known effect on weather: They hold in heat during the night and thin out the sunlight that hits the earth's surface during the day.

Now there's new data to back up the contrail connection.

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Speeding train causes mini-tsunami in Buenos Aires (VIDEO)

June 28, 2011 - 01:41 PM
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Winners and losers are hard to discern in this edition of Humanity v. Weather. The train conductor's ballsiness in slamming full-speed into that pooled water is clearly a win for humankind. The shop work needed to repair all-but-certain electronic damage to the train's undercarriage is a big lose. The unlucky drivers on that overpass get a face full of lose. Unless they were headed to the car wash, in which case they get a money-saving win. Complicated. (The video was purportedly taken in Palermo, Buenos Aires.)

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A ‘most amazing supercell’ descends on Nebraska (PHOTOS)

June 28, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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The small community of McCook, Neb., is seemingly a mild-mannered place: The local rag yesterday was running with stories about grain-elevator erection, a softball game and an exhibition about the town's historical settlers.

Oh, then there was this one: “Back to the basement -- Tornado sirens sound in McCook for second night in a row.”

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Low-flying planes buzz Maryland in July for DISCOVER-AQ project

June 27, 2011 - 03:37 PM
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This behemoth will be cruising as low as 1,000 feet over I-95 in Maryland as part of a NASA project to monitor air quality. (NASA)

In the coming weeks, a giant swath of Maryland will look and sound like Gravelly Point Park, with airplanes buzzing the ground as low as 1,000 feet.

The planes are part of a month-long NASA project to monitor air quality around Washington, D.C., formally known as Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality (DISCOVER -- AQ mission page). For you flight geeks out there, the aircraft that will be used are a 117-foot P-3B NASA research plane, a four-engine turboprop, originally designed to detect submarines; a two-engine UC-12; and a Cessna operated by the University of Maryland. The first flight is on Friday. (Flight schedule.)

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Polish revelers let fly 8,000 floating lanterns (VIDEO)

June 27, 2011 - 12:40 PM
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On June 21, revelers celebrating the shortest night of the year gathered in Poznan, Poland, to release 8,000 floating lanterns into the night sky. The multitude of glowing bags looked like a colony of bioluminescent jellyfish or the collective headgear of a chef's convention blown into the summer wind; that is to say, it looked beautiful.

Nevertheless, proving that the Internet will find something wrong with anything, a vocal crowd of commenters has taken to decrying to festival of lights, which broke the previous Polish record for lantern-flying. Turns out there's a safety issue at play. Witness this pickled selection from the Daily Mail's piece on the event:

• One of these lanterns released at our London (UK) street party blew straight towards the open loft window of a neighbours house. Miraculously it bounced off the frame and did not go in . Horrible dangerous polluting things.
- LesJo, London, 26/6/2011 15:14

• 'twinkle, twinkle little chinese lanterns' .....to be followed by 'roar, roar of really big fire'..!
- gregg, Leamington Spa, 26/6/2011 10:43

• They have been banned in my country because the lanterns blew into airplanes' flight paths.
- Cookie, Far, far away, 26/6/2011 09:21

• I totally agree we have had loads of fires in Suffolk because of these - ban them.
- Davidfountain, Steamers, 26/6/2011 09:44

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D.C. Monday forecast: Expect rain. Or not. Or maybe so

June 27, 2011 - 04:54 AM
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Is the real estate in your purse or bag precious enough to require a
daily inventory-resorting process depending on the weather? Subtract the coin purse and notebook, add an umbrella?

Then today and Tuesday will be particularly vexing. It could rain on both days. But then again, it might not.

A protective sheath of high pressure is taking its act to the ocean, leaving D.C. exposed to an incoming barrage of atmospheric disturbances. On Monday, the tailspin from that departing high pressure will kick up a bunch of humid southern air, driving temperatures into the upper 80s/lower 90s and creating an outbreak of sweaty underarms.

“It’s going to be more muggy and humid,” says ABC7 meteorologist Steve
Rudin
. “Although it probably won’t be worthy of any type of weather
advisory, even though the temperatures will be above average.”

Showers are possible this afternoon and night, particularly to the south and west of the District where a wavering warm front is poking up from the Carolinas. Any rain would be scattered throughout the region; Rudin gives a 30 percent chance D.C.-goers will get wet. That means there is a 70 percent chance you will be annoyed tomorrow if you made the crucial choice to carry an umbrella.

On Tuesday, the odds of a thunderstorm increase to about 50 percent as a cold front enters the region in the late afternoon or evening. Some model runs have shown tremendous amounts of moisture developing in the hours before the front arrives, creating the risk of flash flooding. Keep aware of this possible deluge with the latest ABC7 forecast.

If it doesn't pour, it will just be a steamy, unpleasant Tuesday afternoon, with highs likely topping out in the 90s. “It’ll be a nice day to hang out in the shade,” says Rudin. Or to deploy your bone-dry umbrella as a sun shield. Or use it to fight off packs of thirsty black-bear cubs.

This frustrating weather pattern looks to stick around for a while. Here’s what the local National Weather Service had to say about it in the agency’s Sunday weather discussion: “Next weekend we are back in the tricky unsettled pattern we have been in recently… in which it could rain at almost any time… but will not actually rain most of the time.”

The solution is pretty obvious: Get an umbrella hat.

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Friday weather news roundup: Al Gore loves pro wrestling edition

June 24, 2011 - 02:30 PM
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• The nation's former VP and global-warming prophet Al Gore dives deep into his fascination with pro wrestling as a kid in a new article in Rolling Stone. He likens the mainstream media involved in the climate debate to an ineffective referee in the WWF: "The referee -- in this analogy, the news media -- seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business." Read the full story here.

• Flood waters from the Missouri River are lapping at the doorstep of two Nebraska nuclear plants, the Cooper Nuclear Station and Omaha Public Power District's Fort Calhoun power plant. Eh, it's probably nothing to worry about.

• Just another science-backed report saying that pollution, climate change and overfishing are "pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unprecedented in tens of millions of years." Pass the tuna sashimi!

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Tour the flooded wonderland that used to be North Dakota (VIDEO)

June 24, 2011 - 12:51 PM
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Please, join our tour guide Bismarckman as he explores by boat the small community of Hoge Island, about 10 miles north of Bismarck, N.D. Gliding peacefully over what used to be front lawns and fences, the boatsmen oversee a town that is completely empty save for a few holdouts trying to defend their property from seasonal floodwaters. Unfortunately, one of those stalwart Dakotans recently lost the battle after a "'scour hole' developed between two segments of riprap" on the Missouri and collapsed the house. (Check the Weather Channel for the sad video.)

The floodlake is not a sedentary thing; under its surface strong currents move. The water is fast and furious and is already setting records, according to the National Weather Service. Says the local NWS office:

WATER IS MOVING ABOUT TWICE AS FAST THROUGH THE SYSTEM AS PAST FLOOD EVENT. FOR EXAMPLE...IN 1969 IT TOOK ABOUT 5 DAYS FOR THE WATER TO ROUTE FROM ESTEVAN TO SHERWOOD... BUT THIS YEAR IT IS TAKING ABOUT 2.5 DAYS. AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE INDICATES THAT FROM ESTEVAN TO MINOT THE VALLEY IS FULL OF WATER FROM BLUFF TO BLUFF ENABLING THE FLOOD WAVE TO MOVE MORE QUICKLY AS IT BYPASSES THE NORMAL CHANNEL....

THIS FLOOD IS OVER TWICE AS LARGE IN TERMS OF PEAK FLOW THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORDS ALL ALONG THE SOURIS RIVER... AND THIS CREATES UNCERTAINTY WITH EVENTUAL PEAK VALUES.

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Delmarva Beach Forecast June 25 to 26

June 24, 2011 - 09:24 AM
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As always, if you are heading to the beaches this weekend, this is the first place you should look for your forecast. This is updated each Thursday and Friday during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you want more on the beaches such as tides, fishing reports, webcams and more, check our Delmarva Beaches Resource Guide for more information.

Saturday

Mostly Sunny, Warm and Less Humid

Highs: Low 80s

A cold front is expected to pass through the area tomorrow and into tomorrow night. This will mark the last chance for showers and storms over the next couple of days, and humidity levels will begin to fall as the front moves eastward. Saturday should be a great beach day with highs in the lower 80s under mostly sunny skies. Winds will be westerly around 10 m.p.h.

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Earth's cities at night, as seen from the Space Station (PHOTOS)

June 24, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Looking down upon the face of the earth at night reveals an alien landscape of luminescence that is rarely seen by humans (at least those who aren't flying 200 miles above the planet). Explore the grandeur of civilization's nocturnal societies in these photos taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station and by U.S. satellites. (LINK TO PHOTO GALLERY.)

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Massive flooding strikes China; 175 dead, 1.6M displaced (PHOTO)

June 23, 2011 - 03:29 PM
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Tourists gawk at the torrents gushing out from the Xiaolangdi Reservoir on the Yellow River, at the reservoir's viewing platform, in Jiyuan, central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua, Miao Qiunao) (Photo: Associated Press)

The unreal photo above is not the result of the horrible, fatal, pigs-in-a-boat-inducing floods occurring right now in China, although it is related. Each year, heavy rains wash so much sediment into the Yellow River that it begins to grow in height; on average, the river rises by about 4 inches annually on its ever-expanding bed of silt. As a result, the water exerts extra pressure on riverbanks and dams and creates a threat of sudden floods in nearby cities.

So what the Chinese do is open the floodgates at reservoirs and allow the resulting barrage of water to sweep away the sediment downstream. That’s what’s happening in the photo, taken Tuesday at Xiaolangdi Reservoir in the country’s central Henan Province. For locals, it’s probably much better than anything on TV. View it in glorious full size here.

Meanwhile, the country is struggling to swim out of a sinkhole created by weeks of heavy rain. Sodden houses are collapsing upon their owners and roaming mudslides are sweeping people away. Chinese authorities report at least 175 people killed, 86 missing and 1.6 million more displaced by the deluge. In Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, about three feet of water built up in the town center after a storm on Tuesday.

China’s landscape is primed for flooding because a recent enduring drought has hardened the earth, allowing flash floods to coalesce easily. You can see the drought and flood conditions in the below model from NOAA (hi-res). At left, yellow and brown patches indicate areas that are particularly arid, while at right the total rainfall from June 3 to June 15 is depicted in blue:

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Tom Hanks awkwardly dances the weather on Spanish TV (VIDEO)

June 23, 2011 - 01:32 PM
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Recently, Tom Hanks appeared on the Spanish-language Univision network to pump his new movie, Larry Crowne (bland-as-paste Universal Pictures tagline: "when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live"). Unfortunately, Hanks doesn't appear to speak a lick of Spanish and was at the utter mercy of his hosts, all of whom seemed to turn out for his public humiliation. Here are a few of the confused sentences he manages to get out (sorry if I got some wrong, the audio is horrible):

“Hey, you’re sweating me.” (Maybe?)

“How appropriate.” (What is?)

“Over there!” (Again, what is?)

Depending on how big a fan of awesomely bad dancing you are, the actor made either the best or the worst of the situation by getting up in front of the weather board with Chiquinquira Delgado, a weather model who apparently has telekenetic powers, and boogieing his butt off. After you're done watching the video, hop to the jump to compare Hanks' moves with our own in-house b-boy, Brian van de Graaff.

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Geomagnetic storms expected Thursday after solar flare (VIDEO)

June 23, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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The Sun blurped again.

First came a minor but long-lasting C-class solar flare on Tuesday, and now a punch of magnetically charged solar particles is flying toward earth. Unlike the impressive “dirt clod” coronal mass ejection of June 7, this Summer Solstice eruption could actually cause auroras to whorl in the high latitudes. Said NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center yesterday afternoon:

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