Monday, October 31, 2011

Historic October Nor'easter

This weekend shattered daily and monthly snowfall records from the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  Analysis shows that 86% of the Northeast is covered by snow with the average depth of 4.4"  This wet, heavy snow coupled with much of the leaves on the trees resulted in downed limbs and branches knocking out power to 2 to 3 million people. 
Snowcover 10/31/11
Check out the listing of impressive snowfall totals here


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rina: Losing Strength

As the most recent tropical activity tapers off, a second round of circulation has begun to stir. The mass behind Rina only has a 30% chance of 48-hour formation, but the potential is there, which just goes to show -- this active season isn't over yet.

Track the very latest with our very own Hurricane Tracker:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Aurora Borealis

The northern lights were visible across southern Michigan and Northwest Ohio on Monday night.  If you saw them, it was quite the early Halloween treat! 

A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth on Oct. 24th at approximately 1800 UT (2:00 pm EDT). The impact strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field, directly exposing geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma, and sparked an intense geomagnetic storm. As night fell over North America, auroras spilled across the Canadian border into the contiguous United States

Here is one picture from Adrian, Michigan:

[caption id="attachment_2411" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Adrian, MI"][/caption]

You must check out additional photos that have been compliled from




CLICK HERE for the full gallery!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rina becomes a Hurricane

It didn't take this storm long to organize and become a hurricane. All of about 2 and a half days in fact. At 2pm the National Hurricane Center  upgraded the Tropical Storm to Hurricane status. Maximum sustained winds were found to be 75mph by hurricane hunter aircraft.

[caption id="attachment_2403" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Infared satellite image of Rina"][/caption]

The storm still lacks an eye as of early Monday afternoon, a sign that while the storm is strengthening, it has the potential to become even stronger. Forecasts by the National Hurricane Center, keep the storm off the US coast and closer to Mexico and Cuba over the next few days.
National Hurricane Center 5 day Forecast
Several weather forecasting models suggest that the southern coast of Florida is not out of the woods just yet with this storm. While a hit to the U.S. coast is not a high probability at this point, all hurricanes in the Caribbean need to be watched closely.

Forecast model solutions for Rina's path
Either way, Rina will be another checkmark on what has been a very active tropical year so far. Rina is the 6th Hurricane of the 2011 season. Track the very latest with our very own Hurricane Tracker:


Friday, October 21, 2011

Winter Outlook 2011

 A story to begin...

It was October and the Indians on a remote reservation asked their new Chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a Chief in a modern society he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again. "Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?"

"Yes," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "it's going to be a very cold winter."

The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later the Chief called the National Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Absolutely," the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

"How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.

The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy."

Winter weather forecasting is not so easy.  This is a topic that always gets quite the buzz this time of year.  What will this winter be like?  Will there be lots of cold and snow?  The easy answer is Yes.  But remember that's winter in Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan!  It is also easy for some to say this to generate hype, and offer no explanation for the reasoning.  I hope you enjoy reading my outlook and explanation, which is based on scientific analysis, forecasting knowledge of our local area and important pattern recognition for weather that impacts our area. 

The Outlook for Precipitation:


 The Outlook for Temperatures:


 Forecast Discussion:

This forecast is based on probability and is not an exact representation of daily weather.  Rather it is a likelihood or chance that the winter may be above or below average based on temperatures and precipitation for given areas.

 The reoccurrence of the ocean and atmospheric phenomena termed La Nina factored greatly into this forecast for the winter.  La Nina occurs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean waters, but can impact global atmospheric flow world-wide.  Last winter was classified as a moderate to strong La Nina, this winter will have a repeat of La Nina.  Typically what occurs is a northerly shift to the Polar jet stream focusing an onshore flow into the Pacific Northwest part of the United States.  This results in an abundance of Pacific moisture with heavy mountain snows across the northern Rockies and into the Northern Plains.   Typically, most of this Pacific moisture is lost over the Rocky Mountains and does not directly impact our area.  However, this pattern does promote a more “active” storm track into the Great Lakes Region.  The more active jet stream is associated with a higher frequency of storms that impact our area.  These storms typically regenerate over the central and northern plains, drawing up additional gulf moisture to the Great Lakes and Northeast.  The atmospheric trend during La Nina years has been consistent to this fact and has been noted to focus heavier precipitation over the Ohio River Valley. 

 Last year, a La Nina year resulted in 49.7” of snow in Toledo which was +12.3” above normal.  I expect snowfall will again be above normal this winter.  The months of December and January look particularly favorable for higher amounts of snowfall. 

 This active, more northerly flow of the jet stream has consequence to the southern tier of the United States.  With the favored storm track to the north, much of the nation’s southern periphery regions from Texas through the gulf coast and into Florida will be below normal.  This is dire news for locations across the Southern Plains including Texas and Oklahoma that are dealing with one of the worst droughts in decades. 

 Temperature trends tend to mirror that of the precipitation.  Cooler than average temperatures are expected across the northern half of the country while warmer than average temperatures are expected across the southern third of the country.  It is my belief that the La Nina phenomena will have these consistent characteristics for much of the country.  However the East Coast and Great Lakes region has a far greater relationship with other factors that influence our temperatures to a greater degree. 

 The Arctic Oscillation (AO) is an atmospheric teleconnection with greater interseasonal variation on the order of one to two weeks.  It has much to do with the strength and weakness of high and low pressure system over the Arctic.  The fluctuation of this indicator to a negative state typically means that a flush of colder air is headed into the Great Lakes and Northeast.   It is my expectation that our winter will be near normal with respect to overall temperatures, but will experience multiple, shorter duration cold snaps which will be better predicted a few weeks in advance by this Arctic Oscillation. 

 The North American Oscillation (NAO) is a similar measurement that impacts the position of the jet stream and storm tracks of developing and travelling mid-latitude cyclones, particularly over the eastern third of the country.  It is another measurement of semi-permanent pressure areas over the Atlantic Ocean. A strong NAO through the winter of 2009-2010 resulted in all time record breaking annual snows up the East Coast.  Here are a few snow totals:

Baltimore: 77.0”

Washington, D.C: 73.2”

 Philadelphia: 71.6”

 Interestingly enough, during this winter the negative NAO phase was present during January of 2009 which resulted in the 2nd snowiest January on Record for Toledo with 30.7” of snow.    

Final Assessment:

 I expect this winter to be above average with snowfall and near normal with temperatures.  However, I believe there will be greater impact from short term indications will need to be monitored more so than La Nina.  These shorter term changes in the atmosphere better measured by the Arctic Oscillation and the North American Oscillation will have my attention on a regular basis over the course of the winter.   It was my goal was to introduce to you and stress the importance of understanding there are many other factors in play here besides La Nina. 






Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wettest Year on Record

Saying the weather has been wet is a bit of an understatement this year in northern Ohio.  Only briefly did we catch a dry streak in June (0.51") to start summer, otherwise this year saw the second wettest April (6.33") on record and new spots in the top 10 wettest months for May (5.88") and September (6.51"). 

Just to the east, Cleveland has topped an impressive feat.  Recent heavy rains have now made this the all time wettest year in Cleveland (54.59" as of October 19th)  That's right, it's only October and the record has already been broken!  This leaves the better part of 2 month to continue to run that total up.

The yearly precipitation for Toledo is quite impressive, but still well shy of threatening any records.  We stand at 37.34" for the year.  Here is a list of the top 5 wettest years in Toledo's recorded history:

1. 47.84 1950
2. 45.91 1881
3. 45.71 2006
4. 42.72 1929
5. 42.14 1913

 Click Here for a list of several locations across northern Ohio.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just How Much?

On average, our area (meaning the Toledo Express Airport) receives one inch or more of precipitation 13 times within a 24-hour day in any given calendar year. So where do we stack up so far this year? I did some research to find out!

To keep it current, I compiled the data from January 2011- October 2011.

In January, the most precipitable water we received was the first of the month at a value of 0.88'', but in four separate events over the course of the month we saw over an inch of snow. The greatest amount fell on January 11th -- an amount of 4.2''. These don't count, so it brings our tally to 0/13.

In February, 6 snow events brought us over 1'' of snow, but once again we didn't see the equivalent of 1'' or more of precipitation this month, so the tally remains at 0/13.

In March, commonly known as a rainier month, only one day provided the area with more than 1'' of rain. March 5th the Toledo Express Airport recorded 1.15''. Tally: 1/13.

In April, 22 days out of the month saw rain (that's 73.3% of the month!), but none of those showers brought more than 1'' of precipitation. Tally stands at 1/13.

In May, the wet weather finally found its footing and dropped significant precipitation over the region. 23/31 days of the month saw rain showers with two of those events (or in fact, one single event over the course of 48 hours) bringing more than 1'' of rain. Tally: 3/13.

In June, dry weather plagued the area. We only saw .51'' of rain the whole month! Clearly not adding to the tally. 3/13.

In July, one rain event late in the month brought an impressive 1.26'' to the region. Otherwise the month was also pretty dry. Tally: 4/13.

In August, steady showers returned to the region. Once this month we saw over 1'' of rain with another impressive event. 1.86'' of rain fell on August 24th bringing the running tally up to 5/13.

In September, we saw extremely wet weather. 20/30 days of the month recoreded at least some precipitation. 2 days within the month brough over 1'' of rain. The tally jumps to 7/13.

So far this October, we've seen very dry weather. Today's event has already brought us over an inch of rain, but otherwise, the tally stays put...

The final tally so far this year is 8/13 days with an inch or more of precipitation with just November and December remaining. If anything, there is one good lesson to learn from this small group of data. Any event that showers us with more than 1'' of precipitation is the exception to the rule. Stay Dry!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blustery Day!

The winds gusting through the region yesterday tossed shopping cards, downed tree limbs and scattered all those neatly raked piles of leaves... but just how fast were they?

As you can see:

In Findlay, a wind gust of 51 mph was recorded just after 3pm.
At the Toledo Express Airport, a wind gust of 47 mph was recorded around 1:30pm.
At the Toledo Executive Airpirt, a wind gust of 46 mph was recorded at 3:30pm.

... To give you an idea of how fast that is, a tropical storm is considered a hurricane when winds reach up to 74+ mph, and a tornado may be considered an EF0 with winds greater than 40mph!

I'd say that's a windy day for NW Ohio :)

Additional reports include:

York Elementary, Clyde: 43mph
St. Wendelin, Fostoria: 33mph
St. Joseph School, Sylvania; 40mph
Tiffin Middle School: 32mph
Waters Elementary, Oak Harbor: 38mph

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Freezing Temperatures?

So far high temperatures this month have been well above average, but, there are increasing signs that this will change significantly next week.

Q: How cold will it get?

Right now most indications show we will be flirting with the 32 degree mark sometime in the WED to THUR timeframe, overnight. Highs will still likely reach the 40s or 50s.

Q: Will it snow?

It is not out of the question in some lake effect prone areas to the east of Cleveland or against eastern shore of Lake Michigan to see some of the first wet flakes of the year.

[caption id="attachment_2363" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="No need to panic about THIS type of snow just yet."][/caption]

Q: Why are we expecting a cool down?

An area of low pressure will develop somewhere in the eastern Great Lakes, into the Northeast. This alone will drive colder, canadian air south into our area. In addition, the winds further north look to line up straight from the arctic circle as well. This would create the perfect scenario, (spring, winter, or fall) for much cooler temperatures.


[caption id="attachment_2358" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Cold Air diving south next week (via the ECMWF european model)Surface weather chart for the middle of next week. High pressure west and low pressure each will funnel cold air south."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_2359" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Surface weather chart for the middle of next week. High pressure west and low pressure each will funnel cold air south."][/caption]

Q: So do I need get out my winter coats, boots, hats, and gloves!?

The winter coat, probably. But right now it appears highs should still rise into the 40s or even 50s during the day. So no polar bears will be roaming the streets. Yet.

[caption id="attachment_2357" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Polar Bears Crystal, Marty and Nan at the Toledo Zoo will enjoy this weather!"][/caption]

Q: Why not just make a 14 day forecast if you can tell it will cool down so far ahead?

Typically, when such a large air mass is forecasted by the models to move south. (Or vis versa with a large warm-up) We can pick up on the large scale details quickly. However, when we make a forecast beyond 7-day extended forecasts we must keep in mind that even minor changes over the next few days can have big impacts 8,9 or 10 days down the road. That's why right now we are keeping an eye on the very real possibility for below freezing temperatures next week but it is certainly not a slam dunk at this point. What we can say with more certainty is our time for back-to-back 80 degree days has passed for 2011.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Texan Drought Remedy

Folks in Texas are sighing with relief. After a VERY dry summer, showers are passing over the region, bringing inches upon inches of rain.

The soaking across the state, and many part of Oklahoma is breaking records. In San Angelo, before this event, rainfall totals for the year were 12.11'' below average -- a severe defecit. Yesterday alone, 2.56'' fell, breaking the record of 1.06'' set back in 1957 by more than half! Not only that, but over the course of the summer, Texans only saw 2.43'' of rain, TOTAL! So this one event lapsed the entire summer's rainfall amounts.

While flooding is still a concern (higher rates of rain over dry land are perfect ingredidents for floods), drought conditions would have been a bigger concern had these showers not arrived.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Night Football!

Great night for football!  Clear, calm and turning cooler after sunset this evening.  Enjoy the beautiful fall evening!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Upcoming Winter: Taken with a grain of salt

Accuweather has released their seasonal outlooks for this upcoming winter and it doesn't look good. After a brief discussion with a few colleagues, I've found that typical winter weather for our region (SE Michigan/NW Ohio) can have a very wide range -- spanning from snow showers in Hillsdale/Lenawee counties, to mixed precip. anywhere between Adrian and Perrysburg, and rain for folks south of Findlay. Of course this isn't true for every winter weather event, but keeping that in mind, we can look at these images with a bit of speculation and local knowledge.

According to Accuweather, areas of lower Michigan, the entire Great Lakes, and especially in Chicago can expect to see a particularly harsh winter. Lucky for us, we fall within a region that is only occasionally touched by heavy lake effect events (notice the areas of light blue), however, while we may dodge some heavier snow, I don't believe we can escape the cold.

Long range meteorologists are calling this an 'exceptional' winter, suggesting that some residents may pick up and move after the fact! All jokes aside, there is a certain amount of truth we can take from this forecast, while still being reasonable.

The presence of a La Niña weather pattern may also enhance the chance for some added severe weather. Earlier in the year, La Niña contributed to extreme weather around the globe, and more locally, the weather pattern helped provide extra snowfall during winter and springtime flooding. Now that La Niña has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean, it is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter, enhancing the chance for some similar events.

A wider view of the map shows the Dakotas and the Great Lakes region under the 'Worst of winter cold & snow'. Yikes! The National Weather Service will release their seasonal outlook in mid-October.

Weekend Fall Forecast

It's my favorite time of the year.  Honeycrisp apples, apple cider, pumpkin doughnuts, applebutter are just a few of my favorite things.  It's also a great time to visit many of our local communities with fall festivals.  Here are a few going on this weekend:

Appleumpkin Fest --Tecumseh, MI

Oktoberfest -- Put-In-Bay, OH

Applebutter Fest-- Grand Rapids, OH

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Peak Fall Colors

With dry and sunny weather all week, be prepared for the fall color to sprout out!  Our peak colors will arrive in the middle of October.


Monday, October 3, 2011

September Rainfall

Septermber of 2011 tied for the 5th wettest September on record.  Enough with the rain already, right?  Looks like early October will trend toward a much warmer and drier pattern.