From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for August 2012

Summer Heat, Drought Bringing Out Flavor in Produce

August 15, 2012 - 06:42 PM
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Even though the excruciating triple-digit heat and widespread drought has taken a toll on many crops, the sweetness and spiciness of certain produce is a bit zestier.

Farmers across the Central U.S. have been praying for rain to help the corn and soybean crops withering in the heat but have you noticed a change in taste to produce you have served at your dinner table this summer?

drought impact

Corn plants struggle to survive in a drought-stricken farm field near Evansville, Indiana, July 18, 2012. Photo courtesy of John Sommers, Reuters.

Take jalapeño poppers for instance. Normally in mid-summer they are rather tame, not too spicy. However, the warm weather and lack of rain is causing them to have a real kick!

Do you enjoy peppers? Well, this type of produce likes the heat. In dry, hot weather like we’ve seen this summer, peppers produce a high concentration of capsaicin, a specific alkaloid, making them pretty spicy as well. Onions and garlic are the same way; the heat and drought brings out more of a potent taste to them.

In general, the drier the weather during crop season, the more flavorful your favorite fruit and vegetable will be because it’ll be diluted less with water. So, this is the case for corn, beets, cucumbers and other vegetables. The same can be said for melons and cantaloupes that benefit from higher rates of photosynthesis, which cause higher concentration in the fruits’ sugar.

Cantelope

A popular summer fruit, this is a cantaloupe sliced in half.

Now, if the heat wave tames a bit and more rain helps to relieve the ongoing severe drought, then just the opposite will happen. The fruit and vegetables will be able to absorb the moisture and the water content will increase, diluting the flavor a bit. In the long run though, the rain is much needed to keep produce prices from skyrocketing beyond what is already expected from this summer's drought.

What is the drought picture  like in the Washington area? Check out this blog by Meteorologist Alex Liggitt.

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Tornadoes Vs. Waterspouts What’s the difference? (VIDEO)

August 15, 2012 - 02:57 PM
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Last week, Tuesday August 7th, 2012 at approximately 6 P.M. law enforcement reported a tornado over the Patuxent river prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Tornado Warning for Prince Georges, Calvert, and Saint Marys Counties. The Emergency Alert System kicked into action broadcasting the warning across television and radio. However, had you then tuned into NewsChannel 8, ABC 7 or any of the other local television stations, you would have heard that it was in fact a water spout.

So which one was it? A tornado or water spout and what is the difference?

A waterspout as defined by the National Weather Service (NWS) is a violently rotating column of air, usually a pendant to a cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud, over a body of water with its circulation reaching the water. In the summer and spring, these phenomena are usually "tornadoes over water" that have been generated by thunderstorms.

In the fall months, these most often begin as cold air funnels, being generated by a cold air mass passing over much warmer waters. Such waterspouts are generally much less intense than tornadoes and usually dissipate upon approaching shore.

A tornado meanwhile, is defined as a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground and extending from the base of a thunderstorm. A condensation funnel does not need to reach to the ground for a tornado to be present; a debris cloud beneath a thunderstorm is all that is needed to confirm the presence of a tornado, even in the total absence of a condensation funnel.

It nearly always starts as a funnel cloud and may be accompanied by a loud roaring noise. Tornadoes are classified by the amount of damage that they cause. Again defined by the NWS.

Now making the distinction between a waterspout and tornado can get a bit confusing when a waterspout forms over water and then moves ashore or if the opposite occurs. First it’s worth noting that a waterspout forms over water due to warm temperatures in the lower atmosphere along with high humidity they are generally not as dangerous as a tornadic waterspout. These type of non tornadic waterspouts average between 3-100 meters and pack winds less than 45 knots. While rare should a waterspout move inland and somehow sustain itself then it would be classified as a tornado. This is what occurred on Aug. 7.

A tornadic waterspout on the other hand is totally different animal. For a tornadic waterspout to form you would typically start with a super cell thunderstorm, which has large scale rotation. It would originate as a tornado on land and then move onto a large body of water such as the ocean or even lakes. Tornadic waterspouts can be dangerous, destructive and deadly for those on the water or even at the Marina.

In case you are wondering the National Weather Service does not distinguish between tornadic waterspouts and non tornadic waterspouts when they issues warnings. No matter which of these you may encounter it is best be alert and prepare to seek shelter so you and your family can stay safe.

Below is "dramatic footage filmed from a helicopter by Australia's Channel 7 shows a series of powerful waterspouts near the coastal suburb of Terrigal, on Australia's New South Wales coast. Several powerful columns of swirling air could be seen blasting along the water's surface near the coastline. Channel 7 claimed the spouts reached heights of up to 600 meters (nearly two thousand feet), but dissipated as they neared land. The natural wonders came as strong winds and heavy rain also lashed other parts of the state, causing flash flooding and traffic chaos in Sydney." (Credit: RussiaToday) 

Now in contrast, check out this video from Penang on November 15th 2010. (Credit: sndseen)  If you watch carefully you can actually see the rotation of the entire storm.

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Severe storms possible in the D.C. area this afternoon (Live Blog)

August 14, 2012 - 12:04 PM
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11:28pm Final Update: Classic D.C. split - strong storms moved North and South of D.C. The severe threat is over for the Nation's Capital, but we could see more storms develop tomorrow afternoon.  We'll be sure to monitor the storms and keep you informed, as they develop.

10:07pm Update: Strong storms north and south of D.C.  Baltimore remains under a severe thunderstorm warning until 10:45pm.  Another batch of heavy rain and storms is moving out of Eastern Frederick county and through Carroll county.  Also, strong storms near Orange, VA.  Light showers are still around the D.C. area.

Live Doppler at 10:05pm

9:32pm Update: Flash flood warning now in effect for Baltimore city, Baltimore County, and East Central Howard County until 11:30PM due to extremely heavy rainfall that has fallen over the past hour.

9:30pm Update: Storms are now firing up over Frederick and drifting to the East.  Heavy rain and a lot of lightning associated with these storms.  Few showers around the D.C. metro area, but nothing severe at this time. 

9:15pm Update: Strongest storms over Baltimore.  Tornado warning has expired, but severe thunderstorm warning in effect through 10PM.  A little closer to home, showers continue through Fairfax and Prince William county and stronger storms South of Culpeper.  Not feeling as confident with storm development over D.C.  Maybe a few showers, but severe threat definitely continues over Baltimore. 

Live Doppler at 9:15PM

8:14pm Update: Showers and thunderstorms are now developing over Northern VA - particularly over Northern Fauquier county and drifting to the NE.  Storms also stretch South into Rappahannock and Madison counties.  I think D.C. could get in on some storm action between 10PM and midnight.

7:30pm Update: Storms are slowly moving East.  Right now storms near Culpeper.  These storms could produce some small hail, heavy rain, and a lot of lightning.  The D.C. area remains rain-free.  A few scattered showers have developed in Northern Montgomery county, but nothing widespread or severe.  The bulk of the storms West of D.C. could move into the region in the next few hours.  We'll keep a close eye on it.

Live Doppler at 7:35PM

6:45pm Update: New severe thunderstorm warning for Hardy and Hampshire counties in West Virgina until 7:30PM.  Flash flooding remains a concern over Rockingham county where heavy rain has been falling for the past few hours.  There hasn't beem anymore development of showers and storms around the D.C. metro area, but we still haven't nixed the concern for any showers or storms to pop up within the next few hours. 

5:52pm Update: Still seeing a few showers popping up around the D.C. metro area, but no severe weather in this vicinity.  The strongest storms are still well West of the metro region and in the last few minutes of lost a little intensity - particularly the storm cell over Luray. 

Live Doppler at 5:55PM

5:32pm Update: Small hail under an inch was reported near Luray in Page County, VA in the storm that is severe until 6pm. There is also a small shower that has developed inside the Beltway near Annandale heading into Arlington, VA.

5:15pm Update: Numerous storms are starting to show severe characteristics with large hail and damaging winds. There is even some rotation being noted in some of these storms so it does appear like the threat is beginning for much of the D.C. area. Storms are still located west of D.C. but will continue to push east as we head into the 6 and 7 o'clock hours.

4:22pm Update: Storms continue to move into the western portions of the viewing area and only a few of them have been severe. Closer in to the D.C. Metro, a few showers have tried to develop but really just haven't been able to get going yet. I think that is because of some of this high thin overcast creating a bit of a cap and not allowing for thunderstorm development. The storm threat still looks a little better later this evening into the early overnight hours.

3:45pm Update: Severe thunderstorm warning for Allegany, Hampshire, and Mineral counties in effect until 4:15pm.  These storms are moving to the Northeast at 15mph.  These cells could impact Fort Ashby, Ridgely, Cumberland, and La Vale.

3:05pm Upate: Storms over Shenandoah, Rockingham, and Hardy counties have indicated some rotation, so a TORNADO WARNING remains in effect through 3:15PM.  These cells are moving East at 10mph.  Your best bet is to stay indoors and away from windows until these storms pass.  The rest of the viewing area is relatively quiet at this point.

Live Super Doppler as of 3:05PM

2:44pm Update: Storms will begin to cross into the Shenandoah Valley over the next hour from West Virginia. A few of these storms may be strong with some gusty winds and small hail. Nothing has really developed yet east of the Blue Ridge besides a few storms in Southern Maryland. I'm thinking it will be quiet over the next hour or two and the larger storm threat will be later into the evening hours.

2:13pm Update: Storms have started to develop across the region but none have been severe as of yet. The Storm Prediction Center issued a Mesoscale Discussion over our region saying that a T-Storm Watch appears unlikely even with the developing storms. Storms will still be possible through the afternoon and evening with the potential for a few to be severe, so don't let your guard down just yet.

1:23pm Update: Storms are beginning to initiate over the mountains of West Virginia just west of Petersburg and Romney, WV. We'll be keep an eye on these as they develop and push east into the Shenadoah Valley.

LIVE SUPER DOPPLER RADAR

Original Post: A low pressure system and associated cold front continues to approach the region from the west today and bringing with it strong to possibly severe storms. The highest threat for severe weather will be from 3 p.m. this afternoon through 8 p.m. this evening. Storms will have the capability of producing damaging winds, large hail and possibly even an isolated tornado or two. The Storm Prediction Center has our entire area under a Slight Risk for severe storms.

With rapid clearing after the morning showers, the region should experience destabilization rather quickly and storms should begin to fire out ahead of the front by early this afternoon. All of the ingredients will be in place for strong storms, ample moisture, strong instability from heating, and lift from the front.

Atmospheric shear while not huge across the area still appears strong enough for some rotating updrafts. The best shear profiles are just north and east of D.C., closer to BWI Marshall and points north and east to Philadelphia.

We'll keep you updated on this blog through the afternoon to let you know where storms are developing and heading. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Alexliggitt and stay tuned for the latest updates.

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Severe storms a threat Tuesday & cooler air in time for the weekend

August 14, 2012 - 05:00 AM
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An approaching cold front and area of low pressure will push toward and through the region later today into early Wednesday. The Storm Prediction Center does have the D.C. Metro and most of the listening and viewing area under a slight risk of severe weather. 

 

Credit: NSSL

 

The main threats with the stronger cells will be the potential for damaging winds and hail. Make sure you keep it tuned to ABC 7, NewsChannel 8, and WTOP radio for the latest information.  Exactly how much sunshine we can get in between this mornings rain and this afternoons second batch will determine how stong the storms may be.

Beyond the storms Wednesday and Thursday look pretty quiet.  By Friday our next cold front will being it's approach and will impact the region Friday into Saturday.  I am trying not to get to excited about this just yet however, weather guidance is indicating that we could see daytime highs around 80 degrees by the time the weekend rolls around.  Stay tuned for more details as we progress through the week.

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Fair Weather This Week At the Fairgrounds

August 13, 2012 - 01:00 PM
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It's been a summer staple in my life since I was 4 years old -- a day outing to the Montgomery County fair.  For me, it's always been the last "hoorah" before summer ends and school starts.  Now, I don't have the luxury of a summer vacation anymore, but I still like to get my fair fix of the Montgomery county fair in August. 

I was lucky enough to go to the fairgrounds early Monday morning to get a sneak peak of a few attractions at the fair this week.  I got to see one of the Monster Trucks up close and personal and talk with the driver of the "Razin Kane" truck.  To put the size of these trucks into perspective, I was *almost as tall as the tires on the truck!  Keep in mind I'm about 5'4". 

Razin Kane Monster Truck

I also met a tractor driver that will compete in the tractor pull competition Monday night at 7:30PM.  These competing tractors pull weighted sleds and the farther the tractor goes the resistance progressively gets greater. 

Tractor Pull

One of my personal favorites is the pig races.  You can bet on little piglets that race around a short track!   Winners get a blue ribbon that says "My Pig Won At Hogway Speedway".  As a side note, the CDC is warning fairgoers across the country to not touch pigs because of a five-fold increase in new cases of swine flue.  So look... don't touch. 

Pig Races

Click here for a full schedule of this weeks events.  There are a number of events and activities to participate in for all ages!  So what can you expect at this outdoor event in Gaithersburg, Maryland?

 

 

7 Day Forecast for August 13th - August 19th

The weather for the rest of the week is pretty typical of August weather in Maryland.  Monday starts off sunny, but hot; although, the humidity won't be too oppressive.  Strong to even some severe storms are possible late Tuesday with a few lingering showers on Wednesday.  Highs will be in the upper 80s to around 90 degrees.  Thursday will be dry, but yet another chance for strong to severe storms is possible Friday, as the next weather front approaches.  Keep an eye to the sky for any dark or ominous looking clouds.  Also, I suggest downloading the StormWatch7 FREE weather app where you can see the updated forecast and check the local radar.

The fair is open from 10am until midnight each night through Friday, August, 18th.  Hope you can go and make some summer fun memories for yourself! 

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Severe weather expected to affect the D.C. area again today

August 10, 2012 - 11:33 AM
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Take a look at some of the rainfall totals from this morning across the D.C. area. Many locations received three-quarters to an inch of rainfall which puts a good bite into the deficit which is now up to 7 and 8 inches below normal for the year at the major D.C. airports.

 Related: Drought Conditions Persist for the D.C. Area

Huntingtown, MD: 1.23"      Warrenton, VA: 1.08"

Olney, MD: 0.93"      Washington, D.C.: 0.81"

Skies are now beginning to clear some across the region, which will be very important to what will occur later this afternoon and evening.

Visible satellite image from 11:15am

Above is the satellite image from 11:15 a.m. today, still showing an abundance of cloud cover but some clearing west of the city, mainly around the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. As the cold front is still located over the Ohio Valley as of noon, this will allow for more sunshine and lead to warmer temperatures and thus greater levels of instability later today.

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2012 Perseid Meteor Shower display this weekend

August 10, 2012 - 10:38 AM
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The Perseid Meteor Shower will light up the sky this weekend as a result of the Earth’s orbit through a debris cloud left by the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun once every 133 years.

According to NASA, the best views will be in the Northern Hemisphere. The shower can be seen any time after 10 to 11 p.m., however, the best time to view will be during the darkest hours just before dawn.

Unfortunately, for those who live in the city, the lights will interfere with viewing the display. That'll cause the faint meteors to get lost in the urban glare. Perhaps you could try to get a hold of a friend in the suburbs and make a night of it.

In addition to the meteor display, Jupiter, Venus, and the crescent Moon are nearing each other at the same time this year. This alignment will take place in the eastern sky before sunrise during the peak of the meteor shower.

If you know your constellations, locate Perseus, which is the constellation that the shower is named after, because it appears that all the meteors appear to originate from there. However, you do not have to look right at Perseus to see the meteors. You can look almost anywhere else and still see the shower.

The peak of the peak, for us, will occur Saturday night into Sunday morning, but there may be one small issue - the weather. Right now, I am forecasting for a decent amount of clouds early in the overnight that should gradually clear. Don’t worry though; the forecast for Sunday night is looking much better, featuring mainly clear skies, making the display impressive.

If you are going to count how many meteors you or your family observe, NASA would like you to pass that information on to them. Meteor counts by skywatchers will be used by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office to study and model the Perseid debris stream.

How do you pass the information on? There's an app for that. It's called the “Meteor Counter”. I never said the guys at NASA were too creative with names. Anyway, the app is available for both Android and iPhone.

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Mid-Atlantic Beach and Boating Weekend Forecast

August 9, 2012 - 06:06 PM
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 ATLANTIC CITY, NJ / REHOBOTH BEACH, DE / OCEAN CITY, MD

On Saturday, you may need to bring along the umbrella and poncho. There is a 60% chance of thunderstorms with heavy downpours throughout the day and into the evening. Temperatures will reach the low to mid-80s, and will drop down into the low-70s for the night.

Sunday, however, will be beautiful.  Partly cloudy skies all day and night, with temperatures reaching the mid 80s. In the evening, temperatures will cool to the low-70s.

Beach Forecast for August 11th and 12th

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA

Saturday will not be the best day for any beach and boating activities. All Saturday and night, there is a 60% chance of thunderstorms with heavy downpours possible. High temperatures will be in the mid-80s, and it will drop down into the low-70s in the evening.

 Sunday does have a 20% chance of thunderstorms, so bring the umbrella and rain jacket just in case. Temperatures will reach the mid to upper-80s. In the evening, though, there will be partly cloudy skies accompanying temperatures in the low-70s.

HATTERAS, NC

Showers on Saturday are likely; 70% chance of thunderstorms throughout the day and evening. There will be a high in the mid to upper-80s, while the evening will only be in the mid to upper-70s.

On Sunday there is a slightly less chance of rain--50% chance of thunderstorms during the day, with temperatures in the low to mid-80s. However, those storms will taper off in the evening, bringing partly cloudy skies and temperatures only in the mid to upper-70s.

Chesapeake Beach and Bay Forecast for August 11th and 12th

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Atlantic hurricane forecast 2012: NOAA increases expectations for big storms

August 9, 2012 - 12:43 PM
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After an early start to the Atlantic hurricane season, we currently have six named storms in the rear view mirror. However, according to the National Hurricane Center, the second half of the season may get rather busy.

To be honest, that is not too much of a reach given that the peak of hurricane season has yet to come. However, given that El Nino is expected to develop during the peak does make this a bit more impressive.

That's because El Nino causes vertical wind shear to increase over the Atlantic. Hurricanes and wind shear do not get along and in most cases would suppress the development of anything tropical because it cannot build vertically without being torn apart, so to speak, by the wind shear.

“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic," Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center, said.

Warmer waters act as fuel to feed these tropical systems. According to Bell, “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”

In May, the National Hurricane Center  issued their initial outlook for the 2012 hurricane season calling for 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes. A normal Atlantic hurricane season, which is based on a 30-year average, produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

The updated forecast still calls for a 50 percent chance of a near-normal season however, it increases the chance of an above-normal season to 35 percent while decreasing the chance of a below normal season to 15 percent from May’s forecast outlook.

The updated forecast does include the six named storms so far this season to date. The new forecast calls for 12-17 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher) including 5-8 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which 2-3 could be major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater with minimum max winds of 111 mph).

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July 2012 Hottest Month in U.S. & 2nd Hottest for D.C.

August 9, 2012 - 05:00 AM
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The numbers are in!  This July goes in the record books as the hottest month on record in the U.S., since weather records began in 1871.  Not only was it a record breaking month for the country, but also the second hottest month right here in the Nations Capital.  Take a look at the ranks below from NOAA.  Virginia had its warmest July on record with a statewide temperature 4.0° above average.  A total of 32 states had July temperatures among the ten warmest.  Seven states had their second warmest July on record.

NOAA

D.C. ended the month with an average temperature of 84°.  That's only a half degree below last July, which is still the warmest month on record.  Even though July 2012 takes the silver medal for overall temperature, it wins the gold for a few other records.  This July had the most 100° days or higher than any other month (lucky us!).   Seven days got to 100° or higher, which beats July 1930, which had six days at or above 100°.   

Reagan National July 2012

D.C. also wins the gold medal with two daily maximum temperature records and one daily high minimum record.  July 7th got to 105°.  That is the second highest temperature at Reagan National (106° remains the hottest from Aug. 6, 1918 and July 20, 1930).  As for low temperatures, well, they didn't go that low.  In fact, the lowest temperature was 67° during the entire month!  The only other month when the temperature did not drop below 67° was in 2011. 

Now even though July 2012 goes in the weather record book as the second hottest month on record, there is one record outlier that we can't leave out.  How about a daily low maximum temperature?  Yep!  The high on July 21st was 71°.  The high temperature was only 4° above the lowest temperature (67°) for the entire month!  That was the coolest daily maximum temperature in July since July 26, 2002.

Aside from the outlier, there's no argument it was a hot month in D.C. and across the United States.  Here are some other significant events that occurred in July 2012 across the country courtesy of NOAA.  Read NOAA's full climate report here.

NOAA

 

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Lightning kills 1 and injures 9 at Pocono Raceway

August 8, 2012 - 01:08 PM
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Last Sunday, August 5th at Pocono Raceway, after a rain-shortened race around 5 p.m., multiple lightning strikes killed one man and injured nine others.

Northern Pennsylvania resident Brian Zimmerman, 41, was killed was as stood near his car at the Pocono Raceway parking lot. Another race fan was transported to the hospital in critical condition but was later upgraded to stable. The other eight people were treated at the hospital for minor to moderate injuries and then were released.

Pocono race officials commented a day later that they warned the estimated 85,000 race fans to take cover several times as the weather took a turn for the worse. They also posted messages to on their Twitter account toward the end of the race telling fans to “seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area.” Race fans also took to social media, via Facebook and twitter, complained that the warnings to seek shelter came too late and after worst the storm was already hitting the track.

The severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the area at 4:12 p.m. and NASCAR called the race 42 minutes later at 4:54 p.m.

NASCAR is reviewing the information as well as their logs to determine the exact details of their announcements to seek shelter and how the track carried out its emergency procedures.

It should be noted that NASCAR races differ greatly from other major sporting events in two ways. First, unlike NFL or MLB stadiums, racetracks do not have concourses where fans can go during severe weather to be safe. Second, due to the noise from the racecars it can be very difficult and in certain places at the race tracks impossible to hear announcements.

While, there may not an easy fix to relaying emergency information to such a large number of people at such an event. However, I have no doubt that NASCAR will closely take a look their procedures and make the changes needed to keep fans as safe as possible.

With that said, there are some tips that everyone can follow to be proactive and help to protect themselves. Here are six great tips to keep you and your family safe from the National Lightning Safety Institute.

1. PLAN in advance your evacuation and safety measures. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go to a building or a vehicle. Lightning often precedes rain, so don't wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.

2. IF OUTDOORS...Avoid water. Avoid the high ground. Avoid open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should: 
A. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimize hearing damage from thunder.
B. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 ft.) to other people.

3. IF INDOORS... Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the telephone. Take off head sets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools, & TV sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.

4. SUSPEND ACTIVITIES for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5. INJURED PERSONS do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call 911 or send for help immediately.

6. KNOW YOUR EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS.

Teach this safety slogan:
"If you can see it, flee it; if you can hear it, clear it."

Nationally this year, so far, there have been 19 lightning fatalities, which is about average according to a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

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Hurricane Ernesto: And What Else To Watch In The Atlantic

August 7, 2012 - 05:00 AM
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If you're like me, you may be thinking this hurricane season has been pretty quiet, so far.  Well, not quite.  Especially when you rewind to mid May when we had our first named storm of the season - Alberto.  Keep in mind, the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1st.  Not only did we have Alberto develop before the standard start to hurricane season, but also Beryl.  Both tropical storms developed off the Southeast U.S. coast (Alberto formed off the coast of South Carolina and Beryl, in the Gulf, West of Florida).  Here's a neat graphic that shows the track of the 2012 named storms, to date.

NHC

Hurricane Ernesto is the fifth named storm and the second hurricane of the season.  Ernesto developed in the Tropical Atlantic August 1st East of the Windward islands.  Ernesto stayed at tropical storm strength, with winds between 35 and 65 mph from August 1st through early August 7th.  Late in the day, Tuesday, August 7th, Ernesto became more organized and wind speeds made it to 80 mph categorizing the storm as a Category 1 hurricane.  Take a look at a satellite image of Hurricane Ernesto, as it approached the Yucatan peninsula.  This is courtesy of NASA's Terra satellite taken August 7, 2012 at 10:25am EDT.  *Ernesto was still a Tropical Storm at this point, so that's why you can't pick out a distinct eye wall.

NASA Terra Satellite

So now that it's early August we're starting to see more developing in the tropics.  Take a look at the latest graphical outlook from the National Hurricane Center.  The only named storm is Ernesto, but the NHC is watching two other waves in the Atlantic that have the potential of strengthening and becoming more organized.  

NHC

Peak Atlantic hurricane season, which you can see in the graph below, is anywhere from mid August through mid October.  Early to mid September is the prime time for tropical storms and hurricanes to develop since sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic are the warmest.  We're now in to early August and starting to see the tropics become more active. 

NOAA

So far the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season has had two hurricanes: Chris and Ernesto and four tropical storms: Alberto, Beryl, Debby, and Florence. Tropical storm Florence was short lived, but that means the next named storm will be Gordon.  The names are used alphabetically and alternate between male and female names.  Here's the full list of tropical storm names for the next six years.  If the names look familiar, it's because the list is recycled every six years, but sometimes names are "retired" if they cause considerable damage or casualties.  Wondering how this compares to NOAA's initial seasonal outlook?  Find out in Meteorologist Chris Naile's blog from the end of May.

The StormWatch7 Weather team will monitor the tropics closely, especially since we're moving into the statistical most active part of the tropical season. 

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Moderate to severe drought conditions continue for the D.C. area

August 6, 2012 - 11:20 AM
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A drought is affecting the D.C. area. © 2012 by Cranestation, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license: http://bit.ly/ItuRo

Vast portions of the United States are in an extreme to exceptional drought. States such as Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa are all seeing terrible drought conditions with little relief in sight. Even in the D.C. area, counties such as Calvert and St. Mary's in Southern Maryland are in a severe drought as well as the majority of the Eastern Shore.

Current Drought Monitor for the U.S.

Check out some of the numbers across the D.C. metro as far as precipitation is concerned. Reagan National and BWI Thurgood Marshall are down over 8 inches of precipitation for the year, which Dulles is down over 7 inches. Compare that with the Midwest, and many of those numbers are comparable as far as deficits, but the difference is the Midwest has seen little rain in the past few months, with many locations down 5, 6 and 7 inches just since June 1st. The D.C. area is only down around 2 inches since June 1st.

Is there any relief in sight? It appears the D.C. Metro will have it's chances for rain as we continue to push into August. Just this week there will be the typical chance for afternoon storms, then Friday an area of low pressure will push through creating an even better chance for soaking rains. Storms look possible for the Midwest, but nothing substantial enough to make a big difference. Looking ahead, more of the same seems to be expected. 

5-Day Precipitation Forecast Outlook from HPC

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The Bright Sun Rises (TIMELAPSE)

August 3, 2012 - 07:21 AM
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As repetitive as the morning may seem, every sunrise is unique. Each day, the time of the sunrise changes, the Sun's brightness changes ever so slightly, and the foreground varies between being clear and cloudy.

As you watch this sunrise, think about this:

EVERY day has its own unique challenges, excitements, heartaches, circumstances, and opportunities. There will never be another August 3, 2012. Seize the day! Lastly, do not grow weary of giving your best effort in all you do. Other people take notice of that and of your character as you face each day. You might teach them something.

 

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Beach & Boating: From Atlantic City To The Outer Banks

August 2, 2012 - 06:15 PM
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It was a scorching July - in fact, the second hottest month in weather records.  The beaches and bay are always great options to help cool off in the summer.  If you're thinking of making a trip to the water for the first weekend of August, it will certainly will be refreshing with the summer heat and humidity. 

High temperatures for all the Atlantic beaches will be in the upper 80s to around 90 degrees both Saturday and Sunday.  Water temperatures are comfortable in the upper 70s near Atlantic City and Ocean City and even into the low 80s farther South near the Carolina's. 

August 4 & 5th Beach Forecast

Saturday a few pop up late day showers and thunderstorms aren't out of the question, but overall a great beach day. I think Sunday will be very much the same, but maybe a slightly greater risk for late day storms with the next weather front approaching from the West. The surf should be relatively calm Saturday, but a bit more choppy Sunday.

If your travels take you to the Chesapeake Bay, it will be hot, but on the water -- should be smooth sailing.  Daytime highs will reach the low 90s.  The greatest risk of storms will be late Sunday, but keep an eye to the sky both Saturday and Sunday for ominous looking clouds and keep your ears alert to thunder.  "When thunder roars, head indoors". 

Chesapeake Bay August 4 & 5th Forecast

Enjoy the first weekend of August - have fun and be safe!

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Moonset, fog and sun all in one (TIMELAPSE)

August 2, 2012 - 07:58 AM
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This fantastic timelapse of the weather in Ijamsville, MD this morning captures the moon setting, fog rolling in and sunshine all in one.  Enjoy!

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