Friday, October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia: Record Breaking Strength

The strongest hurricane of the 2015 season (by far!) and the most powerful tropical cyclone on record for the western hemisphere is moving towards the Mexican coast Friday afternoon. 

Hurricane Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday morning as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200mph. The estimated minimum central pressure is 880mb, the lowest ever recorded within the National Hurricane Center's Area of Responsibility (which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins).

To compare, here's a list of the top 4 strongest hurricanes in the pacific:

Hurricane Name:YEARDate as a Category 5Hours in Cat. 5 StatusPeak Winds; Sustained
Lowest Pressure
Rick2009October 1824180
Celia2010June 2512160
Marie2014August 246160
Patricia2015October 2312200
In the Atlantic, Hurricane Wilma will now be considered the second most intense:
Hurricane Name:YEARDate as a Category 5Hours in Cat. 5 StatusPeak Winds; Sustained
Lowest Pressure
Wilma2005October 1918185

As of Friday morning, a Hurricane Warning was in effect from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, Mexico.

A hurricane warning means that preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. Hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area. 

Hurricane Patricia approaches the cities of Manzanillo, Sayula, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Durango and Torreon within the next few days. 

Expected to make landfall today, Hurricane Patricia packs sustained winds in excess of 200mph.

Mexico's pacific coast is expected to be leveled with very little left behind after the storm makes landfall Friday evening. Western Mexico's rocky terrain near the coast may help to diminish the storm's relative strength over the next 36 hours, but landfall is expected to be catastrophic

Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center of the storm 30 miles in any direction. 
Tropical Storm force winds extend outward up to 175miles. 

Patricia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches by Saturday evening. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. An extremely dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the center makes landfall.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Autumn Colors

Photo Credit: Kenneth May
Varying online sites will tell you that someone somewhere prefers this season over that when polled. While each season holds a dear place in every meteorologists' heart, out of the four distinct seasons of the year, autumn is my unequivocal favorite.

Even those who aren't a fan of the dwindling summer warmth and looming winter weather would say that the fall foliage is one of the best parts of the season.

While it's not an exact science, predicting the fall colors can be approached from a scientific angle. 

Bright green leaves seen on the trees in summer-time project that classic color from the tree's concentration of chlorophyll. According to ODNR Forester Casey Burdick, chlorophyll helps to produce sugars that feed the trees.

Photo Credit: Kelly Smith Dicks
Into the fall season, as days get shorter and cooler, chlorophyll breaks down and excess sugars get trapped in the leaves. As the feeding process slows, the green color fades.

Once the chlorophyll fades, the orange fall-like hues start to show. Additionally, bright reds and purple colors are actively produced within the leaves during the bright, sunny late-summer months. These Anthocyanins pop a bright display of color as tree draws its nutrients and vital chemicals in to the stems and roots to continue to sustain the plant through winter.

Since this year has been rather mild, the leaves have been able to develop some vibrant fall colors without interruption. On years when the first frost occurs early in the season, the colorful foliage may be stopped dead in its tracks, since freezing conditions can destroy the mechanism within the tree that is responsible for creating anthocyanins.

Drought may also put a strain on the process by causing a build up of excess sugar which may result in the leaves dropping before they've developed full fall color.

Ideal conditions would be characterized by a wet growing season followed by a dry, cool and sunny autumn.

Average Fall Foliage Peak Times

 In mid-October, Northwest Ohio and parts of SE Michigan should be at or near their peak fall-foliage season. According to Marek D. Rzonca of The Foliage Network, we're currently experiencing 'moderate to high color'.

For a slideshow of more fall foliage photos from NW Ohio and SE Michigan, follow the link to WTOL 11:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Planetary Trio!

You won’t want to miss Venus and the early morning planets, especially in late October. Venus, Mars and Jupiter all meet up in the last week of October to present the closest grouping of three planets until January of 2021.  Ever wonder what that bright "star" is before sunrise in the eastern horizon?  Well, that's Venus!  Don't miss Mars and Jupiter (and Mercury too!)

Night Sky on October 17th -- 

Jet Express Cam Screen Capture (5:15 AM)
Mars is nowhere as bright as Venus or Jupiter. As October progresses, Jupiter climbs upward toward Mars. Jupiter will finally meet up with Mars for a close-knit conjunction on October 17th. After that, Jupiter will continue to climb upward, away from Mars, to have a conjunction with Venus on October 26th.

Night Sky on October 26th -- 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Waterspout Watch

Several meteorological factors lead your WTOL 11 Weather Team to believe that today is a prime day for waterspout formation. 

The ICWR, or International Centre for Waterspout Research, has issued this experimental forecast map for Thursday and Friday's possible outbreak:

Waterspout Forecast Map for Great Lakes; Effective Friday Morning
While the map specifically targets Friday morning, based on timing and location, Meteorologist Kimberly Newman predicts waterspouts to begin spinning up as early as Thursday afternoon for folks along the western basin of Lake Erie. Red indicates 'likely'. Yellow indicates a waterspout 'chance'.

What is a Waterspout?
In its simplest explanation, a waterspout is a tornado over water. The funnel cloud of a waterspout is a wrapped, intensely spinning vortex, typically stemming from a fair weather cumulus cloud, and in contact with the water. Many waterspouts originate at the surface of the water and climb up to connect with the cloud as warm water and relatively saturated air lift the surface-based parcel. 

Waterspout image captured by CLG Photography from September 15, 2015 on Lake Erie
On a day, much like today, a waterspout may develop due to the passing of a cold front and the stark contrast in the air and water temperatures. A waterspout may last from 2 to 20 minutes and move at a speed of 10-15mph.

Waterspouts formed on Lake Erie on non-severe weather days are typically small, short-lived and non-threatening to those inland. 

Boaters, fishermen, and anyone along the lake shore need to take this threat seriously, as it does pose a large risk to those in close proximity to a rotating vortex over the water. 

Waterspouts have been observed both during the day and at night. When the waterspout is activated by a lake breeze, timing is often in the morning into early afternoon. Along a passing cold front or any approaching disturbance, waterspout activity can occur into the evening and overnight hours. 

A weather radio broadcast will be issued if there is a threat of damage from today's waterspout threat. 

Goodbye Algae, Hello Fall!

The end of the Algae season has long been upon us.  Here is some visual proof from the MODIS satellite image from October 12th.  Remember the lime green algae from the summer?  The satellite image depicts the current algae, but much like the leaves on the trees which are no longer producing Chlorophyll, it has "died" off and has turned brown. This means the algae is no longer producing chlorophyll or the microcystin toxin that has plagued the drinking water.  As a result, a brown color is evident on satellite where the algae blooms were and still are.  There will be a continued rapid reduction in the algae as daylight grows shorter and the lake water temperature plummets deeper into fall.  

MODIS Satellite 10.12.15

Put this to rest, enjoy the beautiful fall colors and we'll talk Algae again next summer!  

Credit: Norman Fairman
Credit: Norman Fairman

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

First Fall Freeze

Hello Fall! Welcome to the October chill this weekend.  A powerful cold front will arrive Thursday night and into Friday morning.  Cold and crisp Canadian air will drive in with a strong area of high pressure.  Look for highs on Saturday to remain in the 40s with partly sunny skies.  Clear, calm and dry conditions will continue into Sunday morning.  Widespread frost and a likely freeze will happen on Sunday morning.  This will mark the end to the growing season in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. 

Weekend Chill
Here are the average dates of the first Fall Frost and Freeze in Toledo
Toledo, Ohio

Additional Locations in Northwest Ohio 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fog Possible Tuesday Morning


Partly cloudy sky and calm winds overnight will be the perfect set up for areas of fog.  Fog will thicken up by 5:00 AM when visibility may drop below 1/4 mile in your area.

By 8:00 AM the thick of the morning commute - the fog may be quite thick as well.  Visibility less than 100 feet will be possible.

Tuesday will be another beautiful day.  By 10:00 AM the fog will be clearing.  A brighter afternoon can be expected with highs in the low 70s!

Be sure to check in with WTOL 11 first thing in the morning for any delays or closings.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Severe Flooding in South Carolina

A stream of tropical moisture related, but not directly Hurricane Joaquin has created severe flooding across the entire state of South Carolina. In the central part of the state many locations reported between 1 and 2 FEET of rainfall in just over 48 hours.

Compare those weekend rain totals to what Toledo has officially recorded in ALL of 2015:

More heavy rainfall is expected Monday, closer to the shore before the threat for heavy showers in the states recedes early this week.