Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Winter That Wasn't...

It’s kind of amazing looking at the nation tonight to see only one state (Maine) having below freezing temperatures.  Oh sure, some parts of the mountainous west are below freezing, but I’m just looking at mainly non-mountain stations.   In addition, the lack of snow cover is remarkable.  So what’s going on?    Quite simply, the lack of a persistent East Coast trough has kept most of the Arctic chill well north allowing for short lived cold spells followed by longer lasting mild periods.  Only the West has seen a difficult Winter with way above normal snowfalls & plenty of rain at lower elevations.  With the troughs mainly over the West Coast, storm after storm keeps slamming into California wiping out a 5 year drought in 3 months.   With a full 6-8 weeks left in their rainy season, they remain on track for the wettest on record.   Does that mean we’re done with the cold?   I don’t think so.  In fact, I expect March to start out colder that January or February.  With the higher sun angle & longer days, we are almost  past the historical hard freeze period.   We still could get a late freeze so be careful about planting any tropical flowers or bushes just yet, unless you have means of protecting them from frost or a light freeze.   With my grapefruit tree blooming already, I picked the last 49 grapefruit (3 left way on top) making for over 300+ this year!  Even eating one a day for 3 months leaves 200+ so I’m been juicing them.  I find that grapefruit juice with either orange or cranberry juice plus vodka makes for a wonderful late afternoon medication!   Retirement allows for many more opportunities to experiment on self-medication, plus there are no doctor’s fees!

 

Saw where one company has already issued their 2017 Hurricane outlook.  Give me a break.  These outlooks have very little practical value but that doesn’t stop the hype.  They are calling for a very active season (16+ named storms) with 6 U.S. land falling hurricanes.  Dr. Gray’s team won’t issue their outlook until April with NOAA’s in May.  The big thing now seems to be coming out with the first.   Until they can tell us where & when, these outlooks are pretty useless.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hard Freezes Over?

Our current cool spell reminds us that we are still very much in Winter.   Sure we had the 3 day freeze back in December, but since than we have been generally way above our long term normals.  However, based on what I’m seeing in the long range models , we are not likely to see any Arctic blasts thru the 1st week in March.   With the longer days & higher sun angles, that means a hard freeze (below 28) is not likely.  Of course with the beginning of the Mardi Gras parades, the focus is more on precipitation.   Friday night’s parades may have to deal with some showers, but Saturday & Sunday parades should have no problems.   So what gives regarding our lack of cold this Winter?  Basically it’s been the lack of any persistent east coast trough with no “polar vortex” to bring the brutal cold to the Gulf coast.    Remember the 5 year California drought was the result of a persistent west coast ridge with an east coast trough.  Not this Winter.  Without the ridge, California rains have erased the 5 year drought with many reservoirs over flowing.  That pattern shows no signs of ending which will bring more rain to California and more mild weather for us.   Basic rule of thumb…do not plant tomatoes until after March 15th UNLESS you have means to protect them against a late freeze or frost.  My bird houses are repainted & up, my feeders full as I’m ready to watch the beginnings of Spring.  So far, this has been a near perfect Winter.  Stay tuned!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Added Value Information...

Watching all the various local weather programs today left me with the following impressions.  Every station presented very well the Storm Prediction Center’s severe threat for Tuesday night.  Every station had the same time line based on the local NWS office.   Every station presented the same risk threats (Winds, hail, iso. tornadoes), however, what I didn’t hear much of was…this is what I think.    One of the things I took great pride in during my broadcast career was giving MY added value to either the SPC or NHC or NWS forecasts.   Did I “buy into” their forecasts?  Or did I think there could be another scenario  that was possible that would lessen the threats to us?   With our next severe threat coming so close to last week’s tornadoes, I would rather see the weathercasters focusing more on why this next threat should not be like last week’s instead of hyping that it will happen again.   Personally I see the upper disturbance over New Mexico weakening as it moves our way with strong storms developing over Texas BUT losing strength as they reach us.   I would make sure I hyped the FOX 8 Weather App so that IF severe weather did develop, the App would alert you well before danger arrives.   I would stress that adult children make sure their parents have downloaded the weather app & even help them down load it.  It really is our first line of defense super ceding NOAA Weather Radio & local Radio & TV alerts.  So watch your favorite weatherperson tonight & tomorrow and see if they add any additional information, like I think, or I believe.   Bruce Katz did that on his programs and David will tell you what he thinks too.  That’s what I want in my weathercaster & so should you.

 

Speaking of added value, the management at FOX 8 (in their infinite wisdom!) has decided to retain me as their Hurricane Consultant for another season.  I will be on call for any named storm that enters the Gulf.   My motto has always been KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE = TRUST.   We at FOX 8 will continue to earn your trust.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Power of the Weather APP

Yesterday I was out fishing at Shell Beach and watched the late night weather programs.  SPC had SE LA  in the lowest risk (marginal) for severe weather for Tuesday.  Capt. Hylton & I decided to stay overnight and fish Tuesday morning before any storms would arrive.   Watching the early morning weathercasts, SPC now placed the North Shore in a higher risk (slight) for severe storms with the South Shore still in the lowest risk.   So off we went at daybreak.   While catching some trout around 7-8 AM, the FOX 8 Weather APP sounded to inform me that we were now under a Tornado Watch.  In years past before cell phones, we would have no clue the severe risk was increasing.  I checked the live radar & felt the early storms would stay to our north & west.  Around 10:15 AM, Tornado Warnings sounded on my cell phone.  Again I checked the radar and determined we were still safe.  BY then the winds at Shell Beach were cranking at 25-40+ and fishing had noticeably slowed.  But on we fished.  Shortly after 11 AM the skies began to darken and another Tornado Warning came across my phone.  It truly is amazing to have this voice come on to warn you of approaching danger.  No longer can dangerous weather sneak up on you.  Capt. Hylton’s wife (Etta) called from Destrehan to make sure we were heading in as it was storming out there.  So In we came back to the dock with about 10 minutes to spare before the skies opened up.   I did not find out about how really bad the tornado damage was until I watched FOX 8 at 4 PM.  From seeing the videos & destruction, I’m convinced the reason no one was killed is because many folks have down loaded weather apps into their phones.   If you haven’t done that yet, please don’t wait any longer.  You can set the app so you only receive the warnings you want.   It is without a doubt a lifesaving technology.    It is not a gimmick.  It has helped me while out golfing with the lightning alert & now with severe storms while fishing.   There is a book called WHEN GOD WINKS.  Don’t know if it was the Creator or the FOX 8 Weather APP…but today someone was winking!

 

The reason SPC was late latching on to today’s severe threat was probably due to the models not picking up on the intensity of the upper air disturbance.  Future models are showing several more southern disturbances coming in the next 7-10 days so expect more severe weather.  In addition, very cold air (below zero) has invaded the northern states and there are signs that a deep East Coast trough will bring that chill down late next week…just in time for the Mardi Gras parades!  Figures!  Been so warm for so long.   Stay tuned!