From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for June 2011

East Coast teems with life in model of ocean-floor biomass (MAP)

June 22, 2011 - 02:54 PM
0 Comments
The predicted weight of carbon per square meter of seafloor, which indicates how much life exists in those areas. (NOAA)

Swimmers who live in fear of slithery things brushing up against them in the ocean will probably be dismayed to know that there’s a veritable animal party going in East Coast waters. Check out the above map of seafloor biomass produced by NOAA – some of the densest accumulations of sea life are only a couple hours’ drive to the east. (Hi-res version.)

The model represents the estimated weight of all the carbon in the ocean – earthly organisms are largely composed of carbon – and includes everything from bacteria to tiny meiofauna that live between sand grains to flounder, lobster and other megafauna we’re more accustomed to seeing (and eating). The difference in mass among all these animals is so great that NOAA decided to go with a logarithmic scale here, with dark-green “10” areas being a power of 10 greater than slightly lighter “9” areas. A value of 10 means that about 11 tons of critter-carbon is situated within that square meter of ocean.

The fact that life is teeming near coastlines and the south and north poles reflects the greater abundance of nutrients there. In the less-dense ocean basins, there's not as much food and the body size of aquatic species tends to be smaller. Gray patches indicate that no sampling data was available.

So did scientists go around in a boat, sticking ladles into the water to see what was swimming in the murk?

Continue Reading

Tags:

Lightning facts and myths for Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 22, 2011 - 02:42 PM
0 Comments

Driving through Tysons yesterday I noticed a thunderstorm approaching from the north with the tell-tale darkening skies on the horizon and even a few rumbles of thunder. Regardless of the approaching storm, many people were still outside jogging, walking and in some cases just hanging out. Driving for a mile along Gallows I counted 13 people outside, away from substantial shelter needed for the approaching storm. At that point I could actually see lightning!

With this being Lightning Safety Awareness Week, I have decided to lay out a few facts and dispel a few myths about lightning.

Continue Reading

Tags:

New NASA moon map shows lunar body in marvelous detail (VIDEO)

June 22, 2011 - 12:19 PM
0 Comments

Colonizing the moon just got a little bit easier. Now, were we to establish a society on the lunar body, we could consult a decent map on how to get our moonbuggies to the planetoidal McDonald’s to pick up some Moonshakes and Moon McMuffins.

The old map, the 2005 Unified Lunar Control Network model, was comparatively blurry and imprecise. It was patched together from thousands of images taken by the Clementine spacecraft, launched in 1994, as well as data from other probes and observations made from earth. It was as good as could be hoped for at the time and would get an intrepid explorer from point A to point B, eventually. But NASA has a new toy to play with, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, and it is taking apart the moon’s veil of secrecy layer by layer with amazing results. (Miss the recent full eclipse of the moon? Watch it here.)

Witness the differences in the 2005 map and this Rand-McNally-worthy slice of cartography produced by the laser altimeter. Blue and green areas represent low altitudes and red shows where the moon mountains are:

Continue Reading

Tags:

Severe cuteness warning: Baby armadillo begs for water (VIDEO)

June 22, 2011 - 05:00 AM
0 Comments

It seems like this is the year that Mother Nature will break all the records. Count them: record flooding of the Mississippi Valley, record wildfires in Arizona, record tornadoes for April, record high temperatures in Washington, D.C. And now Texas gets in on the action with the worst drought in its record books, which stretch back more than a century. (Guess what Al Gore has to say about all this.)

Conditions in Texas are so dry that the weather is doing the unthinkable: Causing the oil-and-gas industry to slow down somewhat. (Turns out you need lots of water to frack.) Nearly 65 percent of the Great Republic is smitten with "exceptional" drought, the most extreme form, and virtually 100 percent of the state is locked into "extreme," "severe" or "moderate" drought stages or is plain old "abnormally dry." Soil has turned to plaster, reservoirs are drying into skate-board parks, the price of beef is forecasted to skyrocket and baby armadillos... well, the baby armadillos are handling this by being disgustingly cute.

With no oases on the shimmering horizon, the little buggers – known to the Aztecs as "turtle rabbits" – have taken to scavenging water from nontraditional sources. Check out the below video of a fledgling Dasypodidae supping from mankind's stock of fluorinated finest. Says YouTube user bakdraft06: "We haven't had rain here in Texas in months... It is so hot & so dry down here that this baby armadillo bravely came straight over to us for a drink of water out of the hose!!"

But do you think that's the only baby-armadillo-thirstly-lapping-water video that the StormWatch7 blog has at its disposal? WRONG. Read on....

Continue Reading

Tags:

Update: Tornado over Southern Maryland? Most likely wind damage

June 21, 2011 - 03:30 PM
0 Comments

UPDATE 3:30 P.M.: A final tally of storm reports from last Friday are updated through the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), and you can check them for yourself here. Scroll down to the listed wind events and look for the time code of around 2300 UTC (around 7 p.m. EDT), and you'll see a number of reports from in and around Dunkirk, Md.

All signs point to widespread damage which nearly confirms that this was a wide swath of high winds which would not support the notion of a tornado. A nearby buoy in the Chesapeake did record a wind gust of 58 mph, but from my past severe weather experience I can tell you that winds of close to 70 m.p.h. probably occurred, especially in places where the worst damage was recorded.

More severe weather could be possible by the end of the week as a cold front nears on June 23 and 24, so stay tuned to WJLA.com's main weather page and we'll keep you ahead of all the potential severe weather.

ORIGINAL: After a busy night around the DC metro area where severe storms pounded he region with heavy rain and a spectacular lightning show, more storms continue the latest trend of over-the-top weather with reports of a possible tornado around Dunkirk, MD.

Right around 6:45 PM EDT, the National Weather Service office in Sterling, VA issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Southern Prince Georges, Southern Anne Arundel, Northern Calvert, and Northern Charles counties until 7:30 PM EDT.  Meteorologists had detected a severe storm that was capable of producing winds in excess of 60 mph and decided to sound the alarm for a potentially damaging storm.  Initially, this storm looked impressive on our Live Super Doppler 7 radar, but unlike most of the other storms on Friday afternoon this storm didn't weaken but intensified as it moved eastward.

Currently, all signs point to straight-line wind damage instead of a tornado, but more information will need to be looked over for a final conclusion.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Tornadoes go wild in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa on June 20 (VIDEOS)

June 21, 2011 - 03:15 PM
0 Comments
A tornado spawns on June 20 near Elm Creek in the center of Nebraska (Courtesy of Bryce Kintigh)

Tornadoes had a healthy meal of corn, soybeans and train track yesterday during an outbreak of severe weather in the Midwest. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., logged 46 reports of twisters in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and North Dakota, though many of those call-ins were no doubt multiple people viewing the same tornado. In Nebraska, crops were destroyed, irrigation pipes left hanging from power lines and a grain bin was found wrapped around a power pole.

Preliminary weather data indicates that 76 tornadoes have flown down from turbulent skies this June. Expect many more. The average for the month (averaged over the last three years) is 296. In an amazing bit of climate trivia, the preliminary number of tornadoes as of June 15 this year (1,482) is already more than the number of actual tornadoes in 2010 (1,282) and 2009 (1,156). We'll have to wait to see how that number changes when all the facts are known, but still  – it's been a hellacious year.

For evidence, look no further than these videos taken in the midst of Monday's outbreak. I couldn't find footage of the suspected twister in Kossuth, Iowa, that caused this damage, according to the SPC: "HOUSE HAD WALLS BOWED IN AND OUT. PART OF ROOF OFF HOUSE. MOTOR FROM A GRAIN AUGER LAUNCHED INTO ATTIC OF HOUSE." But this dashcam footage from York, Neb., is berserk:

Continue Reading

Tags:

Why is America's confidence in TV weather reporters dropping?

June 21, 2011 - 01:47 PM
7 Comments
Global temperatures in May 2011 were 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century average. But fewer Americans are trusting TV weather reporters to bring them such information about climate change.

Can we really trust TV weather forecasters for accurate information about the science of climate change?

Not really, more and more Americans think. That's according to the recently released results of George Mason University/Yale’s survey of Americans’ attitudes toward climate change, which shows some interesting observations about who is seen as a trusted source of climate information. (Full disclosure: The author is associated with the GMU Center for Climate Change Communication and is a former meteorologist for ABC7.)

In May, 52 percent of U.S. citizens picked for this study reported strongly trusting or somewhat trusting “television weather reporters.” But 48 percent said they distrust them. So currently it is almost a 50/50 split. This level of trust in TV forecasters is down a whole 14 points since another polling in Nov. 2008.

What has happened between then and now to account for this rising suspicion of TV meteorologists?

Continue Reading

Tags:

Survivors of lightning strikes recount their horrible ordeals

June 21, 2011 - 07:00 AM
0 Comments

Lightning during August, 2005 thunderstorms in southern Romania. (Mircea Madau)

Kevin was getting into his car in Texas when something horrible happened.

“Just as I stuck the key in the car door lock, my wife heard a LOUD BOOM!” he says. “After she had a moment to recover from that, she looked the direction I was standing and no longer saw me standing there. She looked farther back, behind the two vehicles and saw me lying there on my back, eyes wide open, hand clinched, and convulsing.”

Kevin’s wife later took off his shoes and noticed that both of his socks had quarter-sized holes burned through them. Since his lightning strike, he reports feeling “headaches, pain, numbness” and, perhaps above all, “anger.”

This week is Lightning Safety Week. Big whoop, you say? Well, maybe the following unnerving accounts from lightning-strike survivors will make you care.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Hurricane Beatriz blasts out of the Pacific (PHOTOS)

June 21, 2011 - 05:00 AM
0 Comments

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.: Yep, it's Hurricane Beatriz now.

ORIGINAL: Yesterday, U.S. reconnaissance planes zoomed out over the Mexican coastline to get a bead on a fierce storm called Beatriz. Instruments sensed that the cyclone was at the highest end of tropical-storm strength, on the cusp of becoming a hurricane. (Watch Hurricane Katrina form in this 3D simulation.)

Beatriz would be the eastern Pacific's second hurricane this year. While the East Coast is predicted to run up against formidable hurricane activity in 2011, NOAA expects fewer hurricanes than average on the Left Coast, in part because of a pattern of stronger wind shear over the ocean since 1995 that hinders the growth of these rabid weather cyclops.

Hurricanes in the eastern Pacific aren't as widely feared as East Coast cyclones because of their tendency to veer away from land. For that reason some wags have dubbed them "fish storms." That's not to say these things shouldn't be taken seriously; their damage potential is immense. On Monday, NASA satellites doing fly-overs of Beatriz detected "powerful thunderstorms bubbling within." Says the space agency:

Infrared imagery on June 19 and 20 from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite showed that cloud tops are cooling, indicating growing and higher thunderstorms. Typically - the higher the thunderstorm, the stronger the storm. Those cloud top temperatures in infrared imagery reached the threshold of strongest storms/coldest cloud tops, for the AIRS data of temperatures as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius).

Those towering, frigid cloud tops are evident in this photo gallery of Beatriz. Have friends in Mexico? Check the status of this storm system at the National Hurricane Center.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Weird 'solargraphs' show entire spring's worth of sun (PHOTO)

June 20, 2011 - 01:01 PM
0 Comments

How do you capture half a year’s worth of sunlight in a container the size of a soda can?

Use a pinhole camera. That’s what the Philippus Lansbergen Observatory in the Netherlands did recently when it urged astronomy lovers to deploy pinhole cameras around the country.

Continue Reading

Tags:

D.C. forecast Monday: Sahara Desert-like heat soon returns

June 20, 2011 - 05:00 AM
5 Comments
A dromedary in the Sahara will be perfectly at home in the District on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Courtest of Flickr user http2007 aka Thierry)

A winter-weather advisory is in effect on Monday for a late-season storm that will bring several inches of heavy, wet snow to elevations above 10,000 feet.

Wait, that's the forecast for Aspen. In D.C., it will be the opposite – quite hot, and possibly thunderous.

An amorphous blob of low pressure sticking around from last night is expected to produce scattered showers around D.C. early in the morning. The rain will taper off when the low eventually lollygags away. But in the afternoon, the umbrellas could come out again as a southwest-moving front pushes a load of warm air into the region, upsetting the atmosphere and creating the threat of thunderstorms. Check the ABC7 forecast for the latest on the storm odds.

Not happy about the wet weather? Well, soon the mid-Atlantic will be praying for precious, cooling rain. With excellent timing, nature is unleashing a bodacious cavalcade of hot-weather bugaboos as soon as Tuesday, the beginning of astronomical summer. A warm front traveling across the city late today will prime the air for record-challenging heat as well as suicidal ideation-inducing humidity. It'll be a fine time to plant a cactus garden or groom a dromedary.

“We're saying the mid-90s at least,” says ABC7 meteorologist Steve Rudin, whose weather-sensitive dog will no doubt be skulking by the air conditioner. Wednesday will be the hotter of the two days, with the mercury creeping up toward the record high at Reagan of 101 degrees.

The record will be tough to beat, but “you never know, we hit 102 this year already,” says Rudin.

Continue Reading

Tags:

New climate normals to be released next month

June 18, 2011 - 08:18 AM
0 Comments

When you see the average high or low temperature or average snowfall and rainfall, do you know how that number gets derived? Did you realize it gets updated every so often, too?

These numbers are called climate normals and they are updated every 10 years. Each set of normals are calculated based on 30 years of weather data. For instance, the current temperature averages are based on 30 year averages from 1971 to 2000. The previous climate normals included all years from 1961 to 1990, etc. 

Climate normals first came into existence in 1956 after the numbers were crunched from the 1921-1950 period. Every 10 years these numbers get updated. On July 1, NOAA will release the new averages, which are based on the next set of 30 year averages....1981 to 2010.

Statewide averages of annual normals of high and low temperatures show that the 1981-2010 normals are warmer than the 1971-2000 for all lower 48 states. In addition, low and high temperatures are warmer for each month of the year in the lower 48, especially January. Preliminary results show average high temperatures in July are 1 to 1.5 degrees warmer in the Mid-Atlantic with the new set of climate normals compared to the current numbers.

Specifically, for Reagan National, Dulles International and BWI Airports, the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., plans to release the new climate normals for these stations next month as well. A specific date has not yet been set.

In order for a weather station's data to be considered in the calculation of climate normals, it must have 2 years of complete weather data with no erroneous data and must have reported at least one value in 2010. 

Have a great weekend!

Continue Reading

Tags:

Season's first black bears spotted in Fairfax County

June 17, 2011 - 03:54 PM
2 Comments
This black bear in Idaho's Yellowstone Bear World has really let itself go. (Courtesy of David Ba?ina)

Virginia’s hidden horde of bears is beginning to emerge from its wintertime slumber. And no, that’s not a reference to hometown hero Bob Mould.

Last week, phones at Fairfax County Police HQ began jangling as residents reported the season’s first bear sightings. One medium-sized Ursus americanus was spotted at dawn on June 9 shambling across the road near Holly Briar Lane in Great Falls. Three more reports rolled in the next day for bears on patrol near Bennington Woods Road, Stowe Road and a walking trail close to Autumn Wood Drive.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Puyehue volcano pounds landscape with smoking debris (VIDEO)

June 17, 2011 - 01:35 PM
0 Comments

While it seems to have settled down somewhat  – check out the webcam – Chile's Puyehue volcano is leaving behind a grand performance that won't be forgotten by locals anytime soon.

Below is footage shot during the volcano's height of pique. A brawny smoke snake extends from the caldron high into the air, thrashing around and graying the skies all the way into New Zealand, where flights just resumed after a week-long hiatus. (Photo gallery.) In neighboring Argentina, the fusty precipitation has caused a state of emergency and produced ultra-sad cows covered in ash. Footage toward the end of the video shows clods of solid volcanic debris pummeling the land after being hurled far into the atmosphere.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Weather training sites, reference books and online courses

June 17, 2011 - 09:26 AM
0 Comments

Are you interested in learning about the weather? You can find countless places online with weather information for people of all ages, but I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite sites. These are good for people with a background in meteorology, to the amateur meteorologist, to a person who just loves weather and follows it as their hobby. Even for kids with an interest in weather, at least one of these sites would be good for you to look at. I’ve also listed a few reference books that can be purchased on the cheap and are great for everyone and even some online courses where you can obtain a certificate or degree.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Delmarva beach forecast this weekend; June 18-19

June 17, 2011 - 08:51 AM
0 Comments

Saturday

Mostly Sunny, Warm and Pleasant

High: 83

Low: 70

Saturday appears like it will be the better beach day with mostly sunny skies, warm temperatures and a comfortable westerly breeze. Highs should reach the lower 80s by the afternoon hours.

Continue Reading

Tags:

More than 1M at risk of hurricane storm surge in Virginia: Report

June 17, 2011 - 04:38 AM
6 Comments
This map of Norfolk, Va., shows areas vulnerable to storm surges produced by minor to major hurricanes. (Hampton Roads Planning District Commission)

More than a million people in southeastern Virginia could suffer grievously if a major hurricane swept into town, a new report warns.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Lunar eclipse turns the Moon into a bloodshot red eye (VIDEO)

June 16, 2011 - 02:07 PM
0 Comments

The moon switched from gentle, cheese-filled giant on June 15 into a bloodshot red eye that stared down the world (except North America) for a full hour and a half. It was the longest lunar eclipse in more than a decade, and quite a sight for those lucky enough to be under cloudless skies.

Spaceweather has posted a wonderful photo gallery of the stunning event. Below, you can see two videos of the eclipse as well. The first was taken by retired I.T. consultant "vernsutoob" from his pad in Mauritius. Follow the jump for the second, a time lapse taken in an unknown location.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Arizona's biggest-ever wildfire blackens the skies (PHOTOS)

June 16, 2011 - 01:38 PM
0 Comments

The Wallow Fire in Arizona is creeping up on a dreadful milestone of 500,000 acres (760 square miles) burned. That's larger than any other fire in state history. Firefighters are swarming into the state from all points east, west, and north to try to stop the blaze from spreading far into New Mexico. Investigators say the fire is human caused, although the exact catalyst is yet unknown.

The massive extent of this historic fire is coldly detailed in images that NASA and NOAA satellites have been sending down to earth. The CALIPSO lidar probe shows that smoke has drifted 3 miles into the atmosphere, while the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite reveals a giant brown burn scar where vegetation used to thrive. Meanwhile, photographers wander over the eye-stinging Arizona hellscape to capture the terrifying sight of a national forest being vaporized. The blaze as of June 16 was only 29 percent contained.

Visit the photo gallery after the jump, or here, for incendiary images from the Wallow Fire and elsewhere. And don't be fooled by this video of a fire tornado spinning in Arizona; it's a fake.

Continue Reading

Tags:

Airplanes nearly crash trying to land in crosswinds (VIDEO)

June 16, 2011 - 05:00 AM
0 Comments
That doesn't seem right.

Warning: Just watching the video below might trigger a vomit reflex. Purportedly recorded at Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden (where children can ride on a field mouse and pick giant blueberries), this stomach-somersaulting compilation shows airplanes trying to land while being brutally manhandled by nasty crosswinds. They look like those cheap models used in B-movies that jitterbug on strings from a puppeteer's unsteady hand, except this is real.

Stockholm's gusty Arlanda has inspired a small genre of footage depicting jet passengers in peril: see here and here for airplanes rearing away from the runway like dogs getting a whiff of some cayenne pepper. The airport's website states that the "combination of weather that Stockholm Arlanda finds it most difficult to handle is strong side winds, slippery conditions plus poor visibility." However, it has never closed due to snow, an accomplishment the icy country can lord over Dulles.

Continue Reading

Tags: