Friday, July 30, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.13

NOAA released this past week its long-awaited State of the Climate report, confirming an unequivocal pattern of warming dating back 50 years! Today's NEQ Friday Review takes a glimpse into the report which also proves the past decade was the hottest ever recorded!

State of the Climate report draws on the findings of more than 300 climate scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries who measured 10 key indicators, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. The report states that the relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world and that each decade since the 1980s has been progressively warmer than the last, with an average warming of about one-fifth of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. To draw that conclusion researchers used data collected from over 7,000 diverse sources, such as satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys and field surveys.

I'd have to say that based on these factors global warming is quite undeniable. However, I do think it is important to note that while many believe it is man-made, a majority also believe it is cyclical. Whatever your backing, extreme weather events related to global warming will prevail as long as planet Earth continues on this path. From a future of rising seas to violent storms, and from drought to deluge and frigid to oppressive temperatures, this could be the rule in forecasts to come.

To learn more about the intricacies of the report and its vast importance in our everyday livelihoods and that of our warming planet, visit NOAA's release

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

PREDICT to Investigate Hurricane Origination and Behavior

Hurricane formation and movement is now largely tracked by satellites, but a new project set to launch on August 15 hopes to change that!

The project is called PREDICT and stands for the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with support from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). PREDICT will run for 45 days through September 30 and it is going to study why some tropical thunderstorms grow into the often-deadly hurricanes while many others dissipate.

Flying aboard Gulfstream aircraft, PREDICT researchers will make observations from close proximity, and above, storm systems. In addition to deploying dropsondes
parachute-borne instrument packages, the researchers will use remote sensing and cloud physics instruments to gather data on temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and characteristics of ice particles and their nuclei, which may include African dust.

PREDICT will coordinate its effort with two additional concurrent, but independent, missions in the region
one organized by NASA and one run by NOAA. While all three projects have independent objectives, scientists hope that the collective data will paint a more complete picture of a hurricane's life cycle.

Want to learn more? Check out this great video that explains the PREDICT concept from an experts point of view!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winter 2010 Rewind: El Niño, NAO Convergence

This past winter was for many, absolutely epic! The rarest of events for big east coast cities unfolded between December and March, blanketing locations from Washington, DC to New York with record snowfall in the form of fierce blizzards and historic nor'easters.

As winter 2010 concluded I conducted two interviews with seasoned meteorologists having expertise in not only northeastern United States weather, but with nor'easters such as those that plowed through in months prior. In both my interviews with winter weather authority, Paul Kocin; and chief forecaster for AccuWeather, Elliot Abrams; the anomalies of two unique weather patterns converging was mentioned as the likely cause of that winter's wrath. Those anomalies were El Niño, the cyclic warming of the tropical Pacific, and the strong negative phase in a pressure cycle called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

Well alas... this week a new study appearing in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters, states that these two weather patterns did indeed converge along the east coast and are both responsible for the historic winter that unfolded. The study was conducted by a team of scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who analyzed 60 years of snowfall measurements to conclude that the negative NAO this particular winter made the air colder over the eastern United States, causing more precipitation to fall as snow. El Niño brought even more precipitation to the area, which when interacting with the NAO's presence, led to even more snow.

The last time the NAO experienced a strong negative phase was in the winter of 1995-1996. During that winter the east coast was also hammered with above average snowfall. This winter, the NAO was even more negative – a state that happens less than 1 percent of the time.

It is important to note, however, that while the heavy snow on the east coast dominated headlines this winter, the Great Lakes and western Canada (remember this?) actually saw less snow than usual
typical for an El Niño year. The arctic also experienced warmer weather than usual.

Finally, I'd like to once again showcase this radar rewind, courtesy of You will see 22 major storms that doused the northeast in a four month radar animation from December 1 through March 30. AMAZING!

* Note: This video is best viewed in Firefox, Chrome, Safari or any web browser other than Explorer (go figure) and it's totally worth launching those browsers if you have one of them, because this is just awesomeness!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Dissecting Sunday's NYC Tornado

For the third time in as many days, a line of severe storms marched their way through the New York City area on Sunday. For some the storms proved to be the worst of the bunch!

After much speculation from straight line winds, a microburst or even tornado, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed on Monday afternoon that it was indeed a tornado that touched down in the Riverdale section of The Bronx on Sunday, July 25 around 3:00 p.m.

After surveying the damage to determine its consistency with a 100 mph EF1 tornado, the NWS storm damage team noted the storms .6-mile path from Palisades Avenue to the intersection of West 254th Street and Riverdale Avenue. The storm moved southeasterly and brought down trees and knocked out power to thousands of customers. While the NWS says seven injuries were reported, there were no deaths.

After blasting through Riverdale, the tornado moved on across Long Island Sound and swept into Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

On The Weather Channel!

Earlier today I published a blog post (see below) which featured a brief tale of the storms that moved through the New York City area last night. Well, it gets even better! This morning I was contacted by The Weather Channel, who after viewing my videos wanted to share them on the air, online at, on weather mobile and possibly on NBC, etc.

I gladly agreed to do on-air interview this morning at around 9:10 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. While these videos are not the greatest quality as they were recorded 'of' the television (not 'on' it), I just had to share!


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Tornado Warning for The Big Apple!

Last night a round of severe weather took aim on the New York City metro area. At around 8:00 p.m. a big-time supercell thunderstorm developed in northwest New Jersey and marched its way southeastward right towards the Big Apple, prompting a string of severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings for the entire city!

As the storms neared, I grabbed my video camera and headed right towards The High Line to watch them roll in – and boy was I glad I did. I caught the storm as it exploded right over the city with intense lightning, strong winds, heavy rain and hail!

A most-definite rare weather event for New York City, check out this progression of videos I filmed!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.12

Severe storms fired up in the northeast U.S. this week, and the furnace kicks back on this weekend!

A string of severe weather wreaked havoc on the northeast United States this week. From isolated to scattered heavy rain and wind, and from hail to even tornadoes and microbursts, this week's NEQ Friday Review looks back at
a somewhat unusual stormy week throughout the northeast.

Isolated storms targeting the region nearly each day this week peaked on Monday and Wednesday as severe thunderstorm watch boxes popped up from Washington, DC to northern Maine. Storms developing within the area prompted severe weather warnings for damaging thunderstorms, some containing tornadoes. By weeks end over 200 reports of severe weather were noted, including unconfirmed tornadoes in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine.

Stormy weather exited the northeast by Thursday morning as the low pressure affecting the region moved offshore. However, isolated storms are possible again today, and in their wake a BIG warm up this weekend so get ready for it! The heat index on Saturday could reach 115 in some mid-Atlantic and northeast cities!

Enjoy your weekend, and stay cool!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Extreme Heat Could Become Summer's Norm

One thing that has definitely been on our minds more than hurricane season this summer is the extreme heat! It seems that not only the United States, but most locations in the northern hemisphere have been enduring unusually hot, sweltering weather.

In the past month a record heat wave in Russia killed five people and prompted the government to call for siestas. High temperatures in the United States killed five seniors in Maryland, four people in Philadelphia, four people in Dallas, and three people in Tennessee. And to boot, recently released data by NASA shows that global temperatures recorded from January through June 2010 were the highest ever!

Well, guess what? It might be time to get used to it and learn how to deal – these conditions could become the norm in years ahead...

A recent study conducted by Stanford University researchers reveals that unbearable and dangerous heat waves like the one we're now experiencing will emerge on a regular basis by 2039. Such heat waves are obviously devastating and have resulted in illness and fatalities, but they have also proved to destroy crops and challenge energy grids.

The group studied the hottest temperatures in the United States from 1950-1999, then fed them through multiple forecasting models that can simulate daily temperatures over the next 30 years. The results concluded that we could see an increase in heat waves like the one occurring now or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities and put enormous stress on major crops. The forecasting models were based on the likely occurrence that carbon dioxide could raise temperatures 1.8°C degrees. The findings mean that to avoid severe heat waves, governments must look at the possibility that even a two degree increase is too much.

In related news, the heat continues! is expecting this Saturday, July 24, to feel like the hottest day of the summer so far from New York City south to Raleigh, North Carolina, thanks to not only a massive surge of heat, but also excessive humidity. As if it has not been hot enough already, the heat index on Saturday could reach an excessive and oppressive 115°F!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slow Start to Hurricane Season... Violent Storms Still Expected

It's been a relatively quiet Atlantic hurricane season thus far. Nearly two months in and just one named storm – Hurricane Alex, and a tropical depression – #2, had caught the attention of storm chasers, meteorologists and weather enthusiasts alike.

The slow start has led to the downward revision in named storms this week by Weather Services International (WSI). WSI, a member of The Weather Channel companies, which provides professional on-air weather systems and forecasting tools for television,
is now calling for 19 named storms, down from 20 in its June forecast. WSI is maintaining its outlook for 11 hurricanes and 5 majors, which is well above the 1950-2009 averages of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 majors.
The company says although it cut its forecast, it still sees an active season with water temperatures and wind conditions conducive to violent storms.

Further, WSI's reliable computer models continue to indicate that the area from the Outer Banks of North Carolina northward to Maine is twice as likely as normal to experience a hurricane this year, and the threat to the Northeast coast this season is on a par with that in Florida and the Gulf coastal states.

My thoughts: Although we've had a pretty quiet start to the hurricane season things are going to begin heating up in a hurry! August through October is expected to be a very active period, painting a much different picture than June and July. Remember, this season is not only about the numbers and intensity, which may or may not meet expectations, but impact! See earlier blog post here.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

A Big Apple Hurricane?

What if a major hurricane pummeled New York City?

Last week The Weather Channel broadcast the threat of a hurricane hitting the New York City area, and additional local and national news outlets have since picked up the story – and The Northeast Quadrant is no exception!

It's been over a hundred years since a hurricane directly hit New York City and luck could be running out for a metropolis that never ruminates about such natural disasters. According to The Weather Channel, New York City is the number two most vulnerable U.S. city to be hit by a major hurricane, which would prove absolutely devastating! Factors like population density, amount of property near coastal areas and the length of time since the last major hurricane support the city's vulnerability.

New York City is mostly surrounded by water that could flood critical infrastructures during a lengthy hurricane aftermath, and it is populated by several million people, making evacuation a huge challenge.

The 90° angle-shape of the coastline, where the Atlantic Ocean points ominously at New York City, New Jersey and Long Island, makes the Big Apple especially vulnerable to storm surge. A major hurricane hit the New York City area in 1821 and created a storm surge of up to 13 feet and caused the Hudson and East rivers to meet across lower Manhattan. 117 years later that does not bode well for the MTA New York's transit system which runs the extremely complex subway. Even on a sunny day, nearly 13 million gallons of water are pumped from New York City subways – imagine the submersion of the system if a major hurricane hit! Even a Category 1 or 2 hurricane would require a major evacuation and could cause a lot of damage!

So what about some facts and figures? In early May I blogged about the United States Landfalling Hurricane Probability Project, using New York City as my target area, and I learned that:
  • There is a 23 percent chance the NYC-area will be hit with a tropical storm or hurricane in 2010 (normal value is 15 percent)

  • There is a 7 percent chance the NYC-area will be hit with a major hurricane (category 3 or stronger) in 2010 (normal value is 4 percent)

  • There is a 99.4 percent chance the NYC-area will be hit with a hurricane in the next 50 years

  • There is a 90 percent chance the NYC-area will be hit with a major hurricane (category 3 or stronger) in the next 50 years.
While it is impossible to predict exactly when and where a hurricane will make landfall, every New Yorker should have a plan. But don't take my word for it! Check out this clip...

A New York City hurricane evacuation map can be downloaded
[.pdf] here.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.11

NYC 2010 (so far) – ‘Extreme’ly Record Setting

If 2010 is any indication of the diversity of seasons the northeast United States experiences, I don’t know what is! But wait, maybe 2010 isn’t a good example – it’s been a year of weather extremes and records, especially for cities like New York. But nonetheless, it’s made for an interesting first seven months of the year and this week’s NEQ Friday Review, takes a look back at the Big Apple’s weather (since that is where I’m blogging from) from January through July – through my eyes, as a storm watcher, blogger and photographer.

After a record-breaking blizzard in late December, New York kicked off the year with a significant snowstorm along Long Island, which I dubbed the “
Palindrome Nor’easter,” having occurred on 01-02-2010 (which backwards is configured the same).

After a downright cold, nasty start to January, the polar jet retreated back into Canada, thus allowing a nice mid-January thaw, embraced by many New Yorkers as depicted in
this video blog post.

The thaw wouldn’t last long as February approached. The month was literally snow and blizzard extreme! Cities from Washington, DC to New York, including Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington, all saw record-breaking snowfall.

By Wednesday, February 3
snowstorm extravaganza was upon us and the next several weeks looked ominous. As the first week of the month progressed it became more evident a blizzard was to take shape and surely it did just that. But it didn’t stop there! As we moved into the second week of the month another blizzard took shape, smacking the Big Apple with heavy snow and wind, and the storm was epic! However, only a couple weeks would go by before the big daddy “Snowicane” would for nearly three days straight deliver a historical blow to the NYC-metro! Keep reading…

It all came to fruition on February 24 as
computer models defined a tricky forecast ahead. A complex storm was developing and NYC sat on the edge of what could be a heavy rain or a crippling blizzard event. Well, by just a few miles (yes, literally only a few) we were in the snow... and boy did it snow! While the city was enduring a raging snowstorm, Nassau County, Long Island was experiencing a heavy, windswept rain spiraling in from the Atlantic – the Snowicane had begun, and just 12 hours into the storm the expected snowfall totals were upped by the hour. The next day the snow continued and with 17” of snow on the ground in 24 hours, we were only half way into the storm, but records were already starting to break! By the end of the storm it proved historic, and as we rounded out the month, it was among the top four greatest snowfalls NYC ever recorded!

March was no quieter as it came in like a lion when NASA’s Terra satellite captured this
image of early spring snow cover in the northeast! The first of somewhat warmer-core nor’easters moved onshore near NYC on March 11, which I dubbed the “Daylight Savings Nor'easter.” The storm was so fierce that the constant easterly fetch off the Atlantic brought the ocean onshore and raised wave heights to near 20 feet, while coastal communities experienced damaging hurricane force winds knocking down power and flooding many. And to add to the misery, another major coastal deluge took shape towards the end of the month as the March lion still roared.

Record-heat surged northward in early April, forcing the mercury into the 90s for cities from Washington, DC to New York. The mini heat wave was even responsible for
pushing DC’s cherry blossoms into early peak. By the end of the month it was recorded as the warmest April ever!

May and June were relatively calm months, storm-wise... and boy did we deserve it. But by the time the period closed out, more record warmth was recorded and the entire year had thus far been classified as the hottest in history!

July began on a hot note too – a very, very, very hot note! Beginning 4th of July weekend and continuing through the first full week of the month, a massive and oppressive heat wave literally began
choking the mid-Atlantic and northeast. By Tuesday, July 6, high temperatures of up to 103 degrees in the New York City area broke or tied ALL records set back in 1999 at ALL National Weather Service climate reporting sites. The Big Apple was literally baking, sizzling and frying, and by Thursday, July 8 the heat wave began winding down, and in its wake shattering over 300 daily weather records across the northeast.

Well, there you have it! An ‘extreme’ly record setting 2010 for not only NYC, but for the entire northeast and mid-Atlantic. What does the rest of the year hold? Time will tell but you can bet more extremes are in store for someone, someplace!

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

NEQ Spotlight: Hurricane Alex

NASA released this week a satellite imagery movie showing the life cycle of Hurricane Alex, the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season, and the only storm to form during the month of June. The movie was put together by a compilation of GOES-13 captures over the course of two weeks, and is a definitive example of one of the tropical-storm-in-ten which bloom into a hurricane, therefore honoring Hurricane Alex as today’s NEQ Spotlight!

After struggling across hurricane alley as Invest 93L during the last two weeks of June, Tropical Depression # 1, which formed on June 25, managed to strengthen into Tropical Storm Alex on June 26 before making landfall along the coast of Belize. Being downgraded back to a tropical depression before reaching the calm of the Gulf of Mexico, Alex quickly spun back up into a tropical storm and further strengthened into a hurricane on June 29 before making a final landfall in northeast Mexico on July 1.

Hurricane Alex's heavy rainfall flooded towns, created mudslides, caused waterways to overflow and broke records. Sadly, it also proved fatal to at least 30 people.

Here's the amazing GOES-13 video – Enjoy!

You can also downland the movie here.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forget the Numbers, Brace for Impact

Nearly a month and a half into what is expected to be an epic hurricane season, and all we have seen so far is one named storm, Hurricane Alex, and a poorly organized tropical depression. There is barely a thunderstorm to be had in the Atlantic basin this week and a vast layer on dry Saharan dust has limited the hope for activity in the very near term. Despite the slow start and bleak outlook for a storm right now, expectations remain for an active hurricane season.

On average in July, we typically do not see all that many storms. What I think is making this hurricane season seem to fall short of expectations is the need for comparison to 2005, where the month of July was record-breaking – in numbers of storms and storm intensity.

One thing we must note this season is not only the numbers and intensity, which may or may not meet expectations, but impact! The pattern that is set up now very much favors tropical cyclone activity to reach U.S. coastlines from the Gulf to the northeast. In fact, the probability of a storm getting into the Gulf is about 44 percent this year, and normally it's about 30 percent. Additionally, yet another month of record warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Basin was recorded in June – a trend that is likely to continue as we press on towards the peak part of hurricane season, which runs from mid-August through mid-October. Combine these factors with an expected decrease in Saharan dust and low wind shears, trouble could be brewing on the horizon.

Regarding impact as the bigger threat as opposed to high numbers of storms expected this season, check out this perspective from past seasons where the numbers of storms were quite low, but impact was quite high: In 1965, there were only seven named storms, one of which was Betsy, the first billion-dollar hurricane. Another example is Hurricane Andrew in 1992. There were only seven named storms that year as well, but Andrew was the costliest in history until Katrina came along in 2005.

Again, there are no imminent threat areas to discuss in the tropical Atlantic today, and none of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical cyclone development over the next seven days. Beyond that, things could get more interesting! Remember, according to NOAA there is still a 70 percent chance of 14 to 23 named storms to develop this season, of which 8 to 14 could be hurricanes, and 3 to 7 becoming majors. With a month and a half behind us and only one named storm, that prediction could allow for a busy few months ahead where we’ll be tracking several storms at the same time!

For now, please stay tuned and be hurricane ready – I think August and September (maybe October too) will have some tricks up its sleeves!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

NASA's GRIP Mission to Study Hurricane Behavior

NASA is hopping on the hurricane bandwagon and will soon kick off a new mission aimed at getting a better grip on how tropical storms form and develop into [major] hurricanes. The mission is called GRIP and stands for Genesis and Rapid Intensification Process, and it will fly aircraft and unmanned air vehicles (for up to 20 hours straight) into the storms this summer. Grip is expected to provide a sustained, continuous look at hurricane behavior at critical times during their formation and evolution, i.e. how they strengthen, weaken and die.

The hurricane research fleet for GRIP is made up of one Global Hawk UAV, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 and a Martin WB-57F Canberra. The six-week program, which begins on August 15, is NASA's first major US-based hurricane field campaign since 2001.

The aircraft will carry a total of 15 instruments, ranging from an advanced microwave sounder to dropsondes that take measurements as they fall through the atmosphere to the ocean surface. In order to determine how a tropical cyclone will behave, the instruments will analyze many factors, including cloud droplet and aerosol concentrations, air temperature, wind speed and direction in storms and on the ocean's surface, air pressure, humidity, lightning, aerosols, and water vapor. The data also will validate the observations from space.

The CloudSat spacecraft will provide cloud profiles of storms, which include altitude, temperatures and rainfall intensity.

Several instruments on board NASA's Aqua satellite will provide infrared, visible and microwave data that reveal such factors as temperature, air pressure, precipitation, cloud ice content, convection and sea surface temperatures.

For more information about GRIP, visit:

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Study Questions Hurricane Intensity Forecasts

According to recently published research by the Mathematics Research Centre (CRM) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, there is a definite mathematical relation between the number of hurricanes produced in certain parts of the world and the amount of energy they release. The research is now published in the Nature Physics online journal and suggests that the evolution of hurricane intensity will be very difficult to predict and that such forecasts could never be feasible.

The research was concluded from a comprehensive set of data in which the two arms analyzed tropical cyclones that have occurred across the globe between 1945 and 2007.
The first conclusion states that a hurricane's dynamics can be the result of a critical process, therefore making it impossible to predict its intensity. The second conclusion is related to the effects of global warming on the behavior of tropical cyclones, stating that the recent increase in activity cannot be explained 'solely' on the basis of climate change.

The final discovery supports the fact that hurricanes follow a precise mathematical formula known as a power-law.
The number of hurricanes is inversely proportional to the energy released, except for the highest values of energy, where the relation is suddenly interrupted. In other words, the cut-off point where the power-law does not represent the behavior of hurricanes is influenced by factors such as average sea surface temperature and the El Niño phenomenon.

Pretty interesting stuff! Learn more about the study here.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.10

You didn't think this week's NEQ Friday Review would be about anything other than this past week's heatwave... did you?!

As pretty much the entire world is aware by now, a massive heatwave engulfed the northeast and mid-Atlantic United States this past week.
The heatwave generally kicked off on Sunday, July 4 and it was not until yesterday, Thursday, July 8 that it began winding down. In its wake the heatwave shattered and tied an enormous amount of daily temperature records, including 33 on Monday, 131 on Tuesday and as many as 151 on Wednesday.

Sure heatwaves have plagued the region in years past, and even in 2010 alone some U.S. cities have already experienced similar waves, but this one was pretty special, and dare I say, could actually be repeated again before the summer is over. Why so special? Just check out these readings...

New York
(Central Park)

(EWR Airport)

(PHL Airport)

(BWI Airport)

Washington, DC
(DCA Airport)






What a week it was! A cool down is in store this weekend but temperatures are still expected to be hot by many standards. Expect lots of upper 80s and lower 90s... but hey, I guess it'll feel better than it did this past week.
And remember, with such a hot, dry air mass in place, the next big concern for the remainder of the summer could be drought.

2010 is definitely shaping up to be record-breaking and memorable by many weather extremes!

Enjoy your weekend, and stay cool!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Inexact Science of Tropical Forecasting

A recently published article in the Brownsville (Texas) Herald yielded evidence to the inexact science of tropical weather forecasting. The article caught my attention because tropical forecasts are often times frustrating for many as they are probably one of the most erratic predictions meteorologists deal with, and because the story comes from a news outlet in a region that recently dealt with the aberrant forecasts of Hurricane Alex.

Despite the fact that tropical forecasting has not changed much in the last 20 years, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is improving its ability to forecast storm intensity and tracks through its Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP). The Project aims to reduce the average errors of hurricane track and intensity forecasts by 20 percent within five years and 50 percent in 10 years with a forecast period out to seven days. The NHC will do so through the development of advanced hurricane models, data assimilation systems and through the optimal use of real observations.

Using regional data in the Brownsville area, the NHC is now studying six tropical cyclones — Tropical Storm Beryl in 2000, Tropical Storm Bertha in 2002, Hurricane Erika in 2003, Hurricane Emily in 2005, Hurricane Dolly in 2008 and last week’s Hurricane Alex.

Speaking of difficult forecasting, what better time than now to call attention to one of my most valued tropical forecasting and analysis resources – a blog called Eye of the Storm, written by meteorologist and storm chaser, Greg Nordstrom. I've been learning quite a bit from Greg and he said it best himself in his post,
Tropics = TOUGH!, regarding system 96L (now Tropical Depression #2):

"This was one complex situation, and makes forecasting such a challenge... 96L has completely split, as the low-level center heads toward central Texas, and the mid-level center heads toward northern Mexico! This is a prime example why forecasting the tropics is extremely difficult!"

I encourage you all to follow Greg's blog at, and be sure to keep close tabs on both The Northeast Quadrant and Eye of the Storm as I join Greg this hurricane season for the ultimate hurricane chase! You won't want to miss the footage!

And if you have not done so already, check out AccuWeather's exclusive video, Social Media's Influence on Storm Chasing, featuring both Greg and me as AccuWeather looks in-depth at how the ease of today's communication impacts your every day weather and news broadcasts.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Big Apple Baking, Sizzling, Frying...

The mid-Atlantic and northeast United States is well into the fourth day of a historic heatwave and yesterday, Tuesday, July 6, high temperatures of up to 103 degrees in the New York City area broke or tied ALL records set back in 1999 at ALL National Weather Service (NWS) climate reporting sites: JFK (JFK Airport - Queens), LGA (La Guardia Airport - Queens), EWR (Newark Airport - Newark, New Jersey), Central Park (Manhattan), Islip (Long Island) and Bridgeport (Connecticut).

For many in the New York metro region, the day was marked as the hottest since August 9, 2001. Ironically, the day was also the anniversary of the hottest temperature ever recorded, which was 106 back in 1936.

Last night I took to the streets and snapped these photos of the hot, summer sun baking, sizzling and frying the Big Apple; and recorded the video blog post below, which further describes the massive heatwave and its far-reaching effects.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heat Wave to Continue Choking mid-Atlantic, Northeast U.S.

The mid-Atlantic and northeast United States is well into the third day of a historic heatwave that is now rivaling and could end up breaking records set in the two memorable heat waves during the summer of 2006. That summer in New York City alone, 46 people died when the furnace went on full blast in late July and early August.

So far during July 2010 in the Big Apple, the first six days have averaged six degrees hotter than the same period last year. The conditions have prompted the National Weather Service to issue heat advisories and excessive heat warnings, as well as air quality alerts for not only the megalopolis, but cities from the Ohio Valley to North Carolina, and northward to southern New England and upstate New York. And guess what? The heat is expected to last all week, with highs reaching the mid-90s to 100+ through Friday. For some cities that would mark one full week with 90+ degree heat.

So what is causing the extreme heat wave? A heat wave occurs when an immense dome of high pressure builds over an area, causing air in the upper levels of the 'dome' (or atmosphere) to be pulled toward the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature as it expands. This high concentration of pressure makes it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area, which is why a heat wave can last for several days or weeks, such as we are seeing right now. The longer the system stays in an area, the hotter the area becomes, and because t
he high-pressure system also prevents clouds from entering the region, sunlight can become punishing, heating up the system even more. And what makes it even worse – the pressure causes winds to become faint to nonexistent, further suppressing any relief from the heat.

So how will you beat the heat? Here's some tips to help you try!
  • Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and be sure to dress for the weather
  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours
  • Cut down on exercise during the day, and if you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat – an accessory which should also keep you cooler
These tips are wise and just a few ways to keep comfortable during this rather oppressive time. But get used to it – it's only the first week of July. We have the rest of the month and all of August ahead of us. Climatologically speaking, the hottest time of the year typically runs from July 20 through August 10.

Stay cool!

Friday, July 2, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.9

Here we are into the second month of hurricane season, and well into what is expected to be comparable to the epic season of 2005, which featured the most storms to ever form in the month of July. Among the five storms that formed in July 2005 were two back-to-back category 4 (and 5) storms: Dennis and Emily. Today's NEQ Friday Review looks back at these two monstrous cyclones that five years ago wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Dennis was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2005 season. In July, the hurricane set several records for early season activity, becoming both the earliest formation of a fourth tropical cyclone and the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever to form before August, though it only held that title for about six days until Hurricane Emily (mentioned below) stole its thunder! Dennis hit Cuba twice as a category 4 storm, and made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 3. Dennis caused at least 89 deaths in the United States and Caribbean (primarily Cuba) and caused $2.23 billion in damages to both areas equally and respectively.

Hurricane Emily

Hurricane Emily was the fifth named storm, third hurricane, second major hurricane, and first category 5 of the 2005 season.
Emily was the strongest hurricane ever to form before August, and also the earliest category 5 ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, and the only category 5 hurricane ever recorded before August. Emily passed through the Windward Islands, where it caused heavy damage in Grenada and then made a second landfall landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula as a category 4 storm, first on the island of Cozumel and then just north of Tulum on the mainland of Quintana Roo. After crossing the Bay of Campeche, Emily made a final landfall along the north Mexico coast. Across the Caribbean and Mexico, Emily was responsible for about 14 deaths and $810 million in damages.

Well, there you have it... two very intense hurricanes, in one active month, during one very intense hurricane season. In fact, did you know that 2005 was the only season to ever have two hurricanes reach at least category 4 before the end of July? Just something to think about as we look towards the next few weeks...

Enjoy your weekend, and for those stateside... Happy 4th of July!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Disaster Model Assesses Oil Slick vs. Hurricane

A recent report by Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a company with expertise in the quantification and management of catastrophe risks, further indicates the high potential for a tropical storm or hurricane to pass over and through the gulf oil spill. Wonderful news, right? Ugh, keep reading...

RMS' disaster model is predicting a 13 percent chance that a hurricane will pass over the oil slick and a 7 percent chance that a Category 3 or higher storm hits the slick, which is higher than in an average storm season, when there would be a 4 percent chance of a major hurricane directly hitting the region. A tropical cyclone moving through the slick would bring with it the potential for storm surge to carry tar deposits far inland.

RMS also believes there is about a 15 percent chance
that a hurricane or tropical storm comes within 100 miles of the slick by the end of this month (July), and about a 40 percent chance that one does so by the end of August. A storm passing that close to the slick has the potential to bring high waves that break protective booms and allow the oil to be displaced into coastal salt marshes and beaches above the tide line.

Among many of RMS' key niches is providing disaster assessment to insurance companies, and it says the still-growing oil spill will cost insurers between $1 and $3 billion dollars.

It is important to note that residue deposited from oil spill on privately owned property or land as a result of a major hurricane would not be covered by homeowners insurance. Consequently, costs for land-based clean up could be picked up by British Petroleum (BP).

RMS expects the oil spill will have a significant and long-lasting impact on offshore energy insurance availability, rates, and coverages.

Finally, the RMS report concludes that costs for deepwater drilling in the waters off the United States' coastlines will be significantly increased as a result of the inevitable creation of a new offshore regulatory agency.

Time will tell how this all shapes up, but most importantly, be hurricane AND oil ready!