Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Winter Surprise

A very interesting morning to say the least across parts of East Texas this morning; snow. Yes, in areas that saw the thickest fog we did see a little light snowfall this morning from a rare atmospheric setup we normally do not see around here. So what happened? In the lowest levels of the atmosphere this morning, between 1000’ and 1500’, there was a little lift indicated, a small area of instability causing the air to rise in this level. Now the amount of energy available was not enough to cause widespread precipitation this morning by itself. Just above this layer temperatures were warming to near 50°F and this caused the air above the fog to begin lifting as well. When you combine the two there was just enough lift to cause light precipitation to form. This happens a lot in the warmer months, right before dense fog lifts, when sometimes you will notice a heavy mist beginning to fall. Since temperatures were in the middle 20s, the water vapor in the atmosphere began to crystallize forming snow grains. Now in order to get a true snow flake to form the temperature needs to be around 14°F to get a branching crystal growth, or what we call in the meteorological world dentritic crystal growth. But it was cold enough to have what we call hexagonal crystal growth where small, needle like snow grains form. These snow grains then continue to grow in the moist fog layer until they are heavy enough to fall to the surface. So where the fog was thickest, we saw enough moisture available for this light snow to grow and fall to the surface. Here are a few photos sent to me from the Longview Kilgore area where most of this winter phenomenon occurred.

So a very fun surprise for most across East Texas who were expecting a little ice yesterday and got a light snow today. This happens many times in areas of the world were you see thick fog and cold air together but around here, well I guess there is a first time for everything.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Possible Ice Storm Tonight....

A potential ice storm is moving towards East Texas this evening. Models and surface trends continue to point towards cold air sliding into East Texas this afternoon. Temperatures have already dropped below freezing across the Dallas Forth Worth Metroplex as of 10:00AM and the freezing line should be moving into the Tyler Longview area between 6:00PM – 8:00PM this evening. A 500mb trough will be moving through the Southern Plains this evening pulling warm moist air over the colder air at the surface causing light rain to break out across Central and East Texas this evening.

By midnight temperatures will drop below the 30 degree mark along and north of I – 20.

At the same time the aforementioned trough moves along the Red River Valley producing the best lift needed for precipitation across East Texas.
Right now it looks like precipitation will be light, 0.25” in most places. However, we will likely see some isolated areas with 0.5” of precipitation leading to 0.25” to 0.50” accumulations of ice in a few locations. Travel will be a greater hazard north of I – 20 where temperatures remained in the mid 30s overnight last night and it will not take as long to cool the ground below freezing. Use extreme caution tonight if you must travel but the best advice is to ride this winter weather event out at home.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Weather on it's Way....

The stage is being set for a possible ice storm across parts of East Texas late tomorrow through Wednesday morning. Winter storm watches are in effect for the northwestern part of East Texas through Wednesday morning. New model data has come in even colder this morning so look for some of these watches to be warnings for a mixture of rain and freezing rain and then for a brief period of time, precipitation should mix or change to snow along the I-20 corridor north. Right now it looks as though there is a chance of seeing 0.25” to 0.50” accumulations of ice from Palestine to Tyler to Gilmer and points north. As with all winter weather events in East Texas, conditions can change rapidly and we will be here monitoring the situation closely. If the cold air moves in a few hours earlier, we could be seeing wintry conditions much farther south than anticipated.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Cold Can It Get?

It still looks cold but you can see that today’s temperatures in Prospect Creek, AK are balmy compared to what they were 38 years ago today. That was when the all time record cold temperature for the United States of America was set at a frigid -80°F! That is only one degree off the all time record low for North America which was -81°F on February 3, 1947 in Snag Yukon, Canada. Temperatures earlier this month unofficially dropped to -83°F in Tok, AK during that frigid arctic outbreak but after investigating the equipment used, it was determined the reading was not accurate. Another all time record most likely was broken for the state of Maine with -50°F being reported at Big Black River on the morning of Friday January 16th. Needless to say parts of the country have been extremely cold this winter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Active Weather Pattern Setting Up....

Another fantastic afternoon across East Texas as temperatures soared into the middle to upper 70s with plenty of sunshine. We will see another warm afternoon tomorrow as temperatures warm into the low to middle 70s area wide. You will notice an increase in moisture as clouds begin to increase tomorrow and we could even see a few isolated showers in the afternoon. Overnight Friday night into Saturday morning a cold front will move through the area keeping the rain chances with us followed by some much cooler weather for the weekend. Behind the front winds at the surface will be out of the northeast bringing in much cooler air. Just above the surface winds will be out of the southwest bringing moisture off the Pacific Ocean, thanks to a developing area of low pressure aloft off the California Coast. This will keep clouds around all day Saturday and a slight chance of rain. Highs will be reached early Saturday in the middle to upper 40s but by the afternoon we will see the mercury hanging around the lower 40s with scattered light rain. A slight chance of rain will continue Saturday night as temperatures drop into the 30s. We are not anticipating and wintry weather at this time as temperatures should remain a few degrees above freezing. The cold front will move back to the north as a warm front Sunday night. How far north will the front move? Right now it appears the front will stall just to our south thanks to the aforementioned upper level low closing off west of California.

If the developing upper low to our west does not close off, the warm front will move north of the Red River Valley allowing temperatures reach the low to mid 60s with a few thunderstorms possible. But the current forecast keeps a northeast wind at the surface and a southwest wind aloft, bringing cool and wet conditions for East Texas Through Tuesday. On Wednesday the closed low will open up sending very warm air back into East Texas.

Temperatures could once again reach the low 70s by Wednesday afternoon. This could also set the stage for some thunderstorms as we head into Friday afternoon, allowing plenty of Gulf moisture to move back across the area before another cold front moves into East Texas. Stay tuned as computer models have flip-flopped over the past few days on how to handle the upper low developing off the California coast.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weight Loss Update............

Well I know it has been a very long time since I wrote an update on my weight loss goal. I was doing very well, as I hope many of you could tell, and then the holidays struck. The holiday season is one of the hardest times to get through while dieting. The week before Thanksgiving I weighed in at 186 pounds, down 40 pounds from my start weight and down 43 pounds from my highest weight. However, during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I strayed away from my low carb diet and started to indulge in the normal holiday fair, cookies, sweets, party mix, etc. Well, some of my weight came back and by the time the New Year arrived, I was back to 195 pounds. As of today, five of those additional pounds are now gone and I am back to 190. I still have 15 pounds to go until I reach my goal of 175 pounds and would eventually like to get down to 170. Of course the last ten pounds are always the hardest to lose so I will keep you up to date on what I do and what I eat to try and shed these last few pounds.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cold Blast!

Some of the coldest air in years invaded parts of the United States over the past few days. Temperatures have dipped down to near -50°F in some parts of the Plains and Upper Midwest. Even in the extreme south, temperatures dropped to near zero in parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee this morning. Thankfully for us here in East Texas, the air mass took a south easterly path sending the bitterly cold air a few hundred miles to our east. It would be a much different story around here if this air mass would have plunged south. We would have easily seen the coldest air since December of 1989 when a massive arctic air mass moved across the South Central Plains into the Southeast. During that outbreak of arctic air, Tyler saw low temperatures down to 0°F and highs in the upper teens for a couple of days. But as we have seen all season long, these air masses have been riding the northern edge of the jetstream, a river of air which separates the cold air north from the warm air south. This is what has caused our weather to be so variable over the past few weeks. The jetstream has been set up just to our northeast all winter so we just see a glancing blow, cooling us down for a day or two and then rapidly warming us up on the back side of these arctic highs. This same set up will take shape again starting tonight as we start to see a return flow around the western edge of the cold high pressure bringing Gulf warmth into East Texas this weekend. So say good bye to cold weather and hello to some late winter warmth for the next seven days. It could have been MUCH worse. Take a look at some lows over the past few days across the country.

Tok, AK -63°F
Babbitt, MN -48°F
Pollock, SD -47°F
Moline, IL -27°F (New all time January low)
Dubuque, IA -30°F (New all time January low)
Cedar Rapids, IA -28°F (New all time record low)
Huntsville, AL 9°F
Monte Sano, AL 2°F
Eidson, TN -5°F

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's Warm Now But.....................

The past few days have brought us an early taste of spring but January is about to make a comeback, and in a big way. After highs today in the 70s across East Texas a front will usurer in cooler air by tomorrow morning. Highs over the weekend will much closer to normal in the low 50s tomorrow and mid to upper 50s Sunday. Temperatures Sunday morning will start of chilly in the upper 20s but that may seem mild compared to what could be moving into East Texas late next week. On Wednesday an arctic front will slide across the eastern half of the nation bringing some of the coldest air the United States has seen in four years. Cold air has been pooling across Northwestern Canada and East Central Alaska where high temperatures have remained below -50° over the past week. It is this air mass that will sink southeast across the country and bring extreme cold to the Midwest and Southeast. Subzero high temperatures will move into Iowa and Illinois on Thursday of next week. If this air mass were to take a more southerly track, East Texas could see some of the coldest air in over 20 years. At this time I still feel like we will just receive a glancing blow but it will still be very cold. The map below shows that temperatures are forecast to be between 30 and 35 degrees Thursday afternoon across East Texas.

The next map shows the area of high pressure settling over East Texas allowing light winds and clear skies Thursday night into Friday morning. Temperatures are forecast to be between 15 and 20 degrees across East Texas by Friday morning of next week.

However, with the high centered over East Texas that originated in Northwest Canada, area wide middle teens could occur. We will be following this system very closely over the next few days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Bad Day For Chickens.................

On Tuesday January 5, 1988, an area of low pressure was moving through the Rocky Mountain States and over the next 48 hours become one of the largest winter storms to affect the Southern United States.
By the Wednesday morning, January 6th, a strong area of arctic high pressure was pumping cold air across North Texas through Northern Georgia. At the same time the area of low pressure moving through the Rockies forced warm moist air from the Pacific Ocean over the cold air at the surface. This caused precipitation to break out and a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow began to fall across Central and East Texas. The snowfall map shows a 4” bull’s-eye near Tyler and Longview. During the day Wednesday heavy snow fell across North Central Texas into Arkansas where 16” fell in Heber Springs.

It was this heavy snow storm that caused the death over 5 million chickens across Texas and Arkansas. 1.75 million chickens were killed in North Central Texas and 3.5 million chickens were killed in Arkansas. This storm continued Wednesday Night into Thursday the 7th across the Northern Gulf of Mexico causing widespread 8 to 10 inches of snow across Northern Alabama where an additional 2 million chickens were killed.

So in all, 7.25 million chickens were killed by one of the strongest Southern winter storms on record. Because of this the 6th of January 1988 will always be known as “A Bad Day for Chickens.”

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Seasons......................

Well, I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I am finally on my regular so let’s get back to blogging. Over the past weekend there was an extreme range of temperatures across North America. While we were basking in warm temperatures, in the low 80s, parts of the Yukon Valley in East Central Alaska and Northwest Canada had temperatures drop to -60°F.

On the other side of the continent, some areas in South Texas near the Rio Grande hit 90°F. That is a difference of 150 degrees!!!

This cold air in northern North America will eventually make its way down across the lower 48 states but the question is, where? Right now over the next 10 days it appears that this air mass will stay across the Northeastern United States with temperatures approaching -30°F in upstate New York and New England towards the middle of next week. It has been a long time since we have seen a true “Blue Northern” across Texas but, it is this type of air mass that can give us record breaking cold. We will be watching this air mass closely as any shift in the forecast path of this arctic air mass could drastically change our forecast.