From the ABC 7 Weather team

Archive for May 2011

Shuttle Endeavour launch seen from an airplane window (VIDEO)

May 16, 2011 - 02:52 PM
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It took only 9 minutes for the Space Shuttle Endeavour to settle into orbit after blasting off on time this morning at 8:56 a.m. While the views from land were certainly gasp-worthy, the scene from a jetliner at cruising altitude was extra cool for its rarity. YouTube user spiitfir322 captured the video below through a  window while flying JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to New York. Says the amateur videographer: "Watch till the end when the shuttle ignites the other burners."

This is Endeavour's final flight before it is retired, and the second-to-last shuttle flight in the 30-year-old shuttle program. Here are some of the things Endeavor is carrying on this historic mission:

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Bounce house blows away in Arizona; third this year (VIDEO)

May 16, 2011 - 12:47 PM
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The setting: Hossman Park in Tucson, Ariz. The event: an elementary school's graduation party. The time everything went wrong: around 2 p.m.

In another case of an Arizona children's party taken unexpectedly to the skies, an inflatable bounce house/Moon Bounce/bouncy castle (seriously, AP needs to standardize this now) was picked up by high winds on Friday and flung around like a balloon in a wind tunnel, injuring 6 children. The ABC station in Tucson has this account from a gaping onlooker:

"A dust devil came through and started whipping around and came around and then everybody was trying to hold everything down," said Brandi Edwards, "and then all the sudden it came back around and picked up the one jumping castle and wrapped it around that light pole right there.

Amazingly, this is the third time this year that a bounce house has launched in Arizona. One child was hurled 110 feet into the air and dropped on a nearby roof by a renegade Moon Bounce in February. In April, a flying bouncy castle paused above a roadway to vomit out two children trapped inside, injuring them seriously. Thankfully, in this latest incident the injuries were minor.

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Great night for sunset pictures on Sunday

May 16, 2011 - 10:03 AM
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I went outside after the storms moved through Fairfax yesterday and saw some awesome photo opportunities with the sun just about to set. I only took two pictures, but I thought they were both nice enough to share. I took them on my Droid Eris (just about the oldest Droid there is) and they actually came out pretty well. The first one is above, here is the second one. Which do you like better? 

Sunset in Oakton Sunday

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Dueling roof cams - see what we captured this morning

May 16, 2011 - 08:19 AM
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I showed this on Good Morning Washington, but I also wanted to post it online in case you missed it or just want to see it again. As always, I often post stuff like this and more on my Facebook page.

 

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Space Shuttle Endeavour launches 8:56 a.m.; where to watch it

May 16, 2011 - 04:29 AM
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Shuttle Endeavor's final flight is scheduled for Monday, right before 9 a.m. (NASA)

At 8:56 a.m., Space Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to make its final journey into space. On board is a highly developed and expensive dark-matter sensor and the usual complement of highly developed and expensive astronauts. If cloud cover or strong winds don't interfere (and NASA said Sunday night there was a 70 percent chance they won't), this will be the second-to-last launch before the U.S. ends the 30-year-old shuttle program.

What's next for NASA? Well, more cost-saving measures, no doubt. The space agency will henceforth use Russia's rockets to get into orbit as it generates plans for different space vehicles and more cool stuff down the pipeline, like dusting off on an asteroid or finally landing on Mars. The shuttle era officially dies after Atlantis makes its launch in June or July.

Endeavor is set to blast off at 8:56 a.m. but coverage of the event on NASA TV began at 3:30 a.m. (For die-hard Shuttle fans, at 3:56 p.m. you can watch the crew go to sleep.) For a schedule of TV coverage over the 16 days of the mission, check this PDF. For a good description of the onboard Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer – which took 15 years and 16 different countries to develop, cost between $1.5 and $2 billion and could help us understand the mysterious “dark matter” comprising 83 percent of the universe – click here. The Shuttle blog is here.

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New interactive 7-day forecast; see the weather in any U.S. city

May 13, 2011 - 02:56 PM
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You might have noticed something new on our main weather page today. It’s a unique tool we have been developing for many months – an interactive 7-day graphic forecast for your zip code, or any city or zip code in the United States. It’s also loaded with information about humidity, sunrise and moonrise times, the UV index and lots of other weather “goodies” in one spot. (See video below for a demonstration.)

The interactive part is where you come in. Type in your zip code, and up comes our familiar 7-day graphic. Now move your mouse over the day and look what you can find: everything from a detailed forecast to the midday humidity and dew point to the time the sun sets. The forecasts are based on data from the National Digital Forecast Database, prepared by our colleagues at National Weather Service offices across the country. There will be times when our ABC7/WJLA 7-day forecast and detailed 24 to 48-hour forecasts, made for the entire general Washington area, will be slightly different than the interactive 7-day’s numbers. Meteorologists can differ a bit on the wording and things like the high temperature and amount of snow in winter. But we’ll be sure to include the reasons why our forecast is different than what you see on the interactive 7-day.

Also remember that this tool is specific to you. That’s why if you’re in Gaithersburg and our forecast is for thunderstorms tomorrow “more likely to the north and west of Washington,” you will see a higher probability of thunderstorms on the interactive 7-day for zip 20878 (Gaithersburg) than zip 20715 (Bowie). Give it a try and have fun. And by all means, tell your friends and let us know what you think in the feedback box at the bottom of our weather page. Stay tuned and stay online for more neat elements yet to come on WJLA.com..

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Mowing the lawn during a hail storm: Stupid, or gutsy? (VIDEO)

May 13, 2011 - 02:08 PM
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This guys deserves an employee-of-the-month award. I just imagine his boss has got some dirt on him – caught him sleeping in the utilities shed again, or trying to steal snacks from the vending machine – to send him out mowing the lawn in a raging hail storm. Pulling his shirt over his head doesn't seem to help minimize the pain. By the end of the video he's still going strong, so let's call this edition of Humanity v. Weather a draw.

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More hurricanes, more landfalls, says new 2011 hurricane outlook

May 13, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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The eyewall of Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 28, 2005, as viewed from a NOAA Hurrican Hunter aircraft.

A new hurricane outlook suggests that the Atlantic Ocean will be stuck in the spin cycle this year, with a high number of hurricanes flying out of warm ocean waters.

Over at Earth Networks, the company that owns WeatherBug, meteorologists are predicting that 13 to 14 named storms will form in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin in 2011. (Full disclosure: ABC7 is a WeatherBug client.) Of those storms, seven to eight will swell into full-fledged hurricanes, say the meteorologists, and about half of those will grow into powerfully dangerous systems with winds topping 111 m.p.h.

Put that estimate next to the numbers for an average hurricane season and you’ll see that this hypothetical season is much more active than we're used to.

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Rain possible during each of the next six days in D.C.

May 13, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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After six days of this:

extended d.c. rain forecast

You might just be feeling like this:

blobfish

(Blobfish )

Starting today, D.C. has a chance for rain that runs for almost an entire week.

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Comet hits the sun; solar flare erupts (VIDEO)

May 12, 2011 - 02:47 PM
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This one-of-a-kind space video, captured yesterday by NASA and the European Space Agency's Solar & Heliospheric Observatory, appears to show a kamikaze comet smashing into the sun to provoke a fiery coronal mass ejection. In reality, though, it's probably coincidence.

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Cold rain and Folklife hell: Your A-to-Z guide to D.C. weather

May 12, 2011 - 01:36 PM
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Adventurers scout in search of precious, life-giving water in the hellish desert that is the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival on the National Mall. (Photo: Associated Press)

Can't get enough of local weather? Then head on over to TBD.com for a thorough investigation of how the months of the year stack up in D.C., meteorologically speaking. Some excerpts:

• June. "This month is annoying, if only because it's when all the wizened locals lecture newcomers about how the real heat is yet to come."

• September. "Even in places that aren't Alexandria, people bundle up in fleece jackets. They walk their dogs in fleece, walk to work in fleece, go to stores in fleece, attend games and events in fleece, and do many other things in fleece."

• November. "The city awaits the year’s first appearance of falling frozen ice crystals as if it was a Chinese nuclear barrage."

• April. Pollen turns "weather-beaten Washingtonians' eyes red, their throats raw, and their noses itchier than Natwar Gandhi during a David Catania hearing."

Why go outside when you can read about what's happening outside from the comfort of your chair? Check out the guide now!

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Is this the best week yet in 2011 D.C. weather? Looks that way

May 12, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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Wednesday's fab temperatures. Today and Friday's will be much the same.

Could this be the best week so far of 2011? All signs point to heck yeah. What was initially forecasted to be a three-day stay in the hothouse has now stretched into five days, with the atmosphere expected to smile upon D.C. up until at least Friday evening. It’s time to start seriously assessing the clothes you put on each morning for the awkward tan lines they could brand you with. Watches, flip flops are two of the primary offenders.

A visiting area of high pressure will continue to make D.C. feel like a tropical archipelago Thursday, with highs near 75 degrees. The sound of gentle waves lapping the shore as coastal areas mildly flood adds to the impression of being in Gilligan’s Island. Unlike the sodden states bordering the Mississippi River (satellite view), our flooding isn’t due to massive rain and snowmelt in the region. Rather, the winds are conspiring to push the Bay and rivers up into our business, sort of like how if you blow on a mug of coffee it spills over the far side of the mug. A coastal flood advisory is in effect; see the text of the alert if you’re planning on going swimming with the tumorfish and snakeheads in the Potomac.

Friday will be warm, too, perhaps around 77 degrees as an airborne river of moisture begins to pour into the Mid-Atlantic. The soaked atmosphere will become unstable during the weekend, creating a risk of thunderstorms that looks to run all the way to Tuesday. The National Weather Service is warning that some of them could spurt out hail, heavy rain and damaging wind gusts, so keep the (mouse) dial here for the latest updates.

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Help is still needed in the tornado ravaged South (links)

May 11, 2011 - 04:19 PM
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With April 2011 going down in history as the most active on record for tornadoes, many of the victims are still in major need for even basic necessities. Just look at some of the tweets from ABC 33/40’s James Spann to see all that is needed throughout Alabama’s communities. Donations of not only money, but also clothing, food, and water are still needed. Another important thing to donate is blood. 

Follow the jump for a few great websites with numerous links for fundraising and donating.

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Exploding transformers in Fort Worth light up the night (VIDEO)

May 11, 2011 - 03:32 PM
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This weird scene from Tuesday night is not an alien invasion or a Prince concert. The blue and gold glow-bombs are actually multiple transformers exploding near downtown Fort Worth last night. The chain reaction is being blamed on lightning that struck a substation to the east of the city center. Brian Luenser (and some form of crazed night bird heard chirping throughout in the background) caught the electric system going haywire from his apartment building as it blasted prismatic holes in the night for minutes on end.

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Mississippi River flooding in Memphis, from space (PHOTO)

May 11, 2011 - 02:34 PM
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A flooded residential area in Memphis is seen in this aerial photograph made with a fisheye lens Tuesday, May 10. The Mississippi River crested in Memphis at nearly 48 feet on Tuesday, falling short of its all-time record but still soaking low-lying areas with enough water to require a massive cleanup. (Jeff Roberson) (Photo: Associated Press)

The Mississippi River crested in Memphis yesterday at a fraction of an inch below 48 feet, the highest it’s gotten since it reached 48.7 feet during the Great Flood of 1937. (For the 411 on that historic flood, this article has a man named Bubba who will lay it all out for you.) The levees and pumps seemed to do their duty well, with mostly low-lying areas of the city getting swamped with nasty, mighty Mississip’.

These natural-color images taken by the “Thematic Mapper” on NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite (still going 24 years after its expected mission life) indicate that Memphis is in for a costly cleanup. Whereas the river is relatively constrained in the left shot from April 21, 2010, the right photo from May 10 shows it hanging out in all its flabby sprawl (higher-rez here):

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Sunrise over the monuments and Capitol this morning in D.C.

May 11, 2011 - 12:14 PM
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So I have wanted to go for a run on the Mall and take pictures during sunrise for a long time. I finally got a camera, a small Nikon s3000 that is 12MP and easy to carry. I also had a Camelback Rogue which not only kept me hydrated through the whole process but also acted as a backpack along the way. I was very happy with the outcome.

I started at my garage across the street from my office, headed down to the trail along the Potomac, and crossed the Memorial Bridge into D.C. which leads you directly to the Lincoln Memorial. The whole loop ended up being around 9 and a quarter miles, so if you're not a runner, it may be a good thing to own a bike.

It was a perfect morning for a run with temperatures in the 50s but it was a touch humid with dew points in the 50s, explaining the couple of sprinkles I saw while driving in at 5 a.m. I was a little worried about the amount of cloud cover there was, but there was enough clearing to the east for an ideal sunrise as it reflected off the clouds just about perfectly.

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Children play inside a 'tornado' (VIDEO)

May 11, 2011 - 04:39 AM
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Want to see a whole lot of nothing? Take a look at the weather-alert map for Washington, D.C. It is clear skies and warm sailing once again as this stretch of fair May weather lolls into its third day. And tomorrow looks like another sunny wonder. Keep an eye on all the nothing with our latest ABC7 forecast, radar and extended outlook.

This super-nice weather is creating a bit of a news crisis over at StormWatch blog headquarters. But you know the good thing about weather, journalistically speaking? It happens everywhere. Please enjoy this video of children playing in a dust devil.

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Mississippi EF-5 tornado dug up ground, debarked trees (VIDEO)

May 10, 2011 - 03:11 PM
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Of the two EF-5 tornadoes that carved up Mississippi on April 27, the one that hit Smithville has received the most media attention. That’s understandable – the twister killed more than a dozen people and leveled two-thirds of the town. (Photo gallery.)

These weren’t rickety old shacks that were blown away. The homes were for the large part built in the last 10 years and bolted to their foundations. Another example of how vicious this tornado was: A 1965 Chevy pickup parked outside one of those houses was picked up by wind during the storm, and emergency teams could find no trace of it afterward. (Try Alabama?)

But its twin, an EF-5 that blasted a 29 mile-long path through the counties of Neshoba, Kemper, Winston and Noxubee, was impressive in its own way. It killed three people, relatively few compared to Smithville, but the method by which it did so was horrifying: The twister ripped a doublewide mobile home from the straps holding it to the ground, then threw it 900 feet into a treeline, according to the National Weather Service, which adds, “There was no indication of ground impacts between the original site of the mobile home and where it ended up to indicate that the mobile home bounced extensively as it traveled.”

The power of this tornado was evident in the destruction it inflicted on the country landscape.

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Snow on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, May 7 (PHOTO)

May 10, 2011 - 12:21 PM
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If you wanted to pack a snowball and ambush some sucker with it in the dead of spring, most folks would not think of immediately hopping on a plane to Hawaii to gather the base materials. More like Alaska. But you could indeed go south: Today there is a winter-weather advisory out for Hawaii's Big Island summits, including Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa above 8,000 feet*. According to the National Weather Service, they're getting just about everything up there: "Freezing rain and snow along with areas of freezing fog will continue over the summits...creating hazardous road conditions."

The wintry scene above was taken Saturday at the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope on Mauna Kea. Those are probably gobs of frozen snow on the lens, rather than floating space amoebas attacking the observatory. (Hat tip to the great site Pacific Island Parks for the photo.) The snow gets thick enough on the peak that people can snowboard on it. Check it out:

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Now it's four straight days of fine weather in Washington D.C.

May 10, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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D.C.'s weather is fair to middlin'.

Day Two of D.C.'s Fair Weather Reckoning has arrived. The morning breaks in a puff of warm air and perhaps some fuzzy, light fog near the mountains. An uneasy silence reigns in Metro cars and store lines as people find themselves with weather complaints ripped from their mouths. Unoppressed by rain, pollen swarms drift into the nostrils of the allergic and clog them like wine corks. A cacophony of dog howls arising from runs and parks puts the chill on the city's catlife.

Today's weather is a virtual repeat of Monday's, with dry skies and a projected high of 74 degrees. That's about average for this time of year. Keeping the skies fair is a blob of Hudson Bay high pressure metastasizing southward, as well as a storm off New England that's funneling dry air down to D.C. Here is that storm on Monday night (and see it as a movie here):

new england storm

Just look at all that empty space above the Mid-Atlantic. The most exciting news for today, meteorologically speaking, is the chance for a few showers in the southern suburbs toward the evening. A low-pressure zone northeast of D.C. has also pushed up the tide levels, creating the potential for minor coastal flooding in places just asking for it, like Old Town.

But that junior-league weather stuff is hardly going to mar this stretch of nice weather, which now looks like it could last until Thursday evening. That's the expected deadline for a storm to arrive in D.C. from the Midwest with two fistfuls of thunder and lightning.

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