@TrentMWeather yeah that's why I didn't even try, way too steep.
This morning sunspot 1158 unleashed the strongest Solar Flare in over 4 years. The sun had been amazingly quiet over the past several years. The current solar cycle bottomed out and it looks like this un is about to start becoming active again. This mornings flare was pretty amazing. Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.
Here’s is what was posted this morning on Spaceweather.com. The eruption, which peaked at 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, registered X2 on the Richter scale of solar flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation, circled below:
X-flares are the strongest type of solar flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. In addition to flashing Earth with UV radiation, the explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) in our direction. The expanding cloud may be seen in this movie from NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME arrives 36 to 48 hours hence. Stay tuned for updates.
This stuff while fascinating is also kind of disruptive. Since the sun has been so inactive over the past 4 years or so. We forget what these geomagnetic storms can do. They disrupt radio, satellite, power grids and all sorts of electronic devices. Which now are much more prevalent and relied upon even than they were just 4 years ago. Think of what impact this flare and larger flares could have on cellular networks, GPS and communication satellites. Time will tell what will happen but one awesome side effect are these amazing Aurora Borealis at higher latitudes and even some times at mid and low latitudes.
More Great information can be found at these links.
www.swpc.noaa.gov (Space Weather Prediction Center)
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/main/index.html NASA Sun in 3-D
You got to love the change in the weather pattern from cold to mild that has occurred in the past few days. This warmer than average weather will be sticking around too. The problem is our dry pattern that has been with us all winter hasn’t changed, we need rain bad. Even with some rain we are entering what is typically the beginning of fire season #1 in the Carolinas. There are 2 fire seasons around these parts one in the Spring when the combination of warm & windy weather combines with all the dead brush from the winter combine to create high fire danger. The second fire, the #2 season is in the fall when all the leaves fall off the tress and plants start to die off. This combines with mild and windy weather as well. Making problems worse this fire season is the persistent drought that started last fall and has built over the winter. Almost the entire piedmont of North Carolina is currently under a severe drought. In the past 12 months we have a rainfall deficit of 11.12” and just over the past three month our deficit is 4.23”.
So things are very dry even by late winter standards. If you’re asking yourself how can we be in a drought when we’ve had so much snow and ice? Lots of snow would have helped but we only got 6.1” so far and using the 10:1 liquid to snow ratio means that 6.1” of snow only equals 0.61” of rainfall. Not nearly enough plus one of the side effects of all that arctic air we had this winter is that’s it’s also very dry in nature. Dewpoints many times this winter have been in the single digits and teens.
Today will be kind of a perfect storm for wild fires as temperatures climb into the mid and upper 60s. The difference or spread between the dew point and air temperature will become very high today. Thus reducing the relative humidity to levels well below 25%. Combine that will an approaching dry cold front which will produce southwest winds of 20-30mph at times with higher gusts around 40 mph. You end up with critical fire danger levels.
Our Futurecast model produces what is called the Fire Weather Index this takes into account humidity levels, wind. Most areas are in the 3-6 range on the 0-10 scale.
The Fuel moisture from the Forest service over the Carolinas is in the 5-6% range, very low and it wouldn’t take much to get a fire started.
The net result is not only can fires start very easily today they can spread very fast. This combination has prompted the Red Flag Warning which is just another way to say High Fire Danger Warning. Please be very careful with any ignition sources outside today and if you see smoke or a fire report it immediately.
URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG SC 217 AM EST MON FEB 14 2011 ...CRITICAL FIRE DANGER ACROSS WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA TODAY... .A DRY COLD FRONT WILL CROSS WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA THIS AFTERNOON. RELATIVELY WARM TEMPERATURES...VERY DRY AIR...AND GUSTY WINDS ARE EXPECTED. THESE CONDITIONS WILL COMBINE WITH DRY BRUSH AND OTHER FUELS TO CREATE CRITICAL FIRE DANGER CONDITIONS ACROSS THE AREA. NCZ033-035>037-048>053-056>059-062>065-068>072-082-303-501>510- 150200- /O.UPG.KGSP.FW.A.0001.110214T1500Z-110215T0200Z/ /O.NEW.KGSP.FW.W.0001.110214T1500Z-110215T0200Z/ AVERY-ALEXANDER-IREDELL-DAVIE-MADISON-YANCEY-MITCHELL-SWAIN- HAYWOOD-BUNCOMBE-CATAWBA-ROWAN-GRAHAM-NORTHERN JACKSON-MACON- SOUTHERN JACKSON-TRANSYLVANIA-HENDERSON-CLEVELAND-LINCOLN-GASTON- MECKLENBURG-CABARRUS-UNION NC- NORTH CAROLINA PORTION OF GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK- CALDWELL MOUNTAINS-GREATER CALDWELL-BURKE MOUNTAINS-GREATER BURKE- MCDOWELL MOUNTAINS-EASTERN MCDOWELL-RUTHERFORD MOUNTAINS- GREATER RUTHERFORD-POLK MOUNTAINS-EASTERN POLK- 217 AM EST MON FEB 14 2011 ...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 9 PM EST THIS EVENING... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG HAS ISSUED A RED FLAG WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 9 PM EST THIS EVENING. * LOCATIONS...WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. * TIMING...CONDITIONS WILL BE DRY THROUGHOUT...WITH GUSTY WINDS INCREASING THROUGH THE DAY. THE MOST CRITICAL PERIOD FOR THE THREAT OF SPREADING WILDFIRES WILL BE FROM MID AFTERNOON THROUGH THE EARLY EVENING HOURS. * WINDS...GENERALLY OUT OF THE WEST...15 TO 25 MPH...WITH GUSTS OVER 30 MPH. WINDS COULD GUST TO BETWEEN 40 AND 50 MPH IN AND NEAR THE MOUNTAINS THIS AFTERNOON. * HUMIDITY...15 TO 25 PERCENT. * FUEL MOISTURE...LOW FUEL MOISTURE...WITH 10 HOUR VALUES LESS THAN 10 PERCENT IN MOST AREAS. * IMPACTS...CONDITIONS WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND RAPID SPREAD OF WILDFIRES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
With the deep snowpack over the southern plains and middle Mississippi river valley. You can see the impact this has on the air temperature. First you have to know how the sun actually heats the air indirectly. The air heats up by incoming solar radiation (sunlight) hitting the ground and heating it up. The ground then in turn heats the air right above the ground. When you have a deep snowpack this process is reduced dramatically. There are a few factors that affect this. The first factor is snow, especially fresh snow, has a very high albedo which means it reflects a lot of the incoming sunlight. Snow can reflect up to 88% of the incoming solar radiation which means none of that sunlight goes into heating the ground. Some of the solar radiation that doesn’t get reflected does get absorbed by the snow. Problem is this energy goes into melting and evaporating/sublimating the snow. Which leads to very little of the suns energy left over to actually warm things up thus making the air temperature much cooler.
One way to think about this is if you were trying to boil water on your stove. If you put 2 pots on the high setting and filled one with warm water and one with ice & cold water. The one with warm water would boil first because you stoves heat has less work to so. The ice water would take longer because the stove has to use much more energy to melt the ice then boil that water. This is true when it comes to the sun warming the air, the less work it has to do melting, evaporating etc…. the faster it can warm things up.
Below is a great example of this process from the middle of the country. Notice the cold spots where there is snow on the ground. The skies are clear here so all that white is the snowpack reflecting the sunlight ( That Albedo thing again).
Here’s a good comparison with just the snow cover:
Compared to the temperatures, see how the snow and cold line up.
Almost no accumulation at all overnight, most areas picked up a dusting to around a half inch. For Charlotte it snowed for 3 hours with exactly .10” of snow. All of which melting on contact with the ground. The main issue for why we didn’t see more snow really had nothing to do with the storm, but more to do with the air temperatures taking so long to get down to 32°. So now that the storm is pulling away expect a cold day with sunshine and highs only near 40°. Much warmer weather is on the way for the weekend into next week. Get ready for an extended sneak peak of spring starting Sunday.
Lastly here is a funny commercial about how people react to snow and I know this will make you laugh living here in the Carolinas. LOL
The snow is still on the way but this is going to be a very light snowfall. I’m actually trending down with my snowfall forecast for the Charlotte area. I see about .5-1” of snow at most for the area. The model trends have also gone down with the amount of snow. Here’s the latest Futurecast for the storm through tomorrow afternoon. This paints 0-1” over Charlotte and points east & south, not very impressive at all.
Even though the storm looks really strong right now it appears the storm will be weakening when it moves over the Carolinas. This will be due to the shift in energy, lift and moisture to the coast. Then the coastal storm will take over. That’s why there may be a heavier burst out towards the coast of North Carolina. This is where a winter storm warning is currently in place.
This storm has a long history of producing heavy snow over the middle of the country and the amounts have been very impressive so far. There have been isolated amounts of 12” over Oklahoma and even more in Kansas.
The small issue that may make this a bit tricky in the morning will be the timing. the ground temps are still pretty cold and the overnight lows I except to be down around 29° tomorrow morning. That combination of a cold ground and cold air combined with the morning commute could make roads slick for a few hours early Thursday morning.
Not expecting a big deal or a major snow here, just remember it’s suppose to snow in the winter time in Charlotte we ado average 5.7” of snow per winter after all. So this little bit of snow is pretty normal. Just the same take it easy in the morning because roads will be slippery until around 10am when temperatures warm-up above 32°. Then look forward to warmer air this weekend that just might be the beginning of an early start to Spring. Though if history is any indication we’re sure to have one more blast of winter before it’s all said and done.
Not much change, just minor shift in the the 2-4” totals and refined the 1-2” area. the heaviest totals with this one will be to our west and south this go around.
Latest data keeps pouring in and really my thinking has changed little since late last week. We are going to see some snow Thursday morning, just not a large amount. There is one thing that will make this a tough forecast as there will be a whole bunch of snow to our west today and tomorrow as the storm approaches. The Carolinas will be playing chicken with this storm as it barrels towards us. I’m counting on a shift or jump in the main energy of the storm from the Gulf of Mexico low pressure center to a Carolina coastal low. This will should keep our snow totals down as the best lift and moisture “jumps” over the piedmont to the coast. Here’s why I think that and how much snow we might see. This is still a big if.
The NAM model clearly has a shift in energy but still brings a swath of 1-2” of snow to areas south and east of Charlotte. Notice the 2 lows, #1 in the Gulf of Mexico & #2 off the Carolina coast.
The model soundings all point to solid snow with a 14:1 liquid to snow ratio.
Our in house model the Furtutrecast(RPM) seems to be over doing the amounts due to some mesoscale banding. While I haven’t put a lot of credence in this solution it’s something to watch for and this might illustrate the high end of what could happen. There’s always two ways to blow a snowfall forecast. Most people only think of nothing happened being a blown snowfall forecast but getting more snow than forecasted has equal chances of happening too.
Here’s what I am actually going with; 1-2” of a fluffy light snow mainly falling Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Plus with low temperatures down into the upper 20s Wednesday night. We we could see some slick roads for the Thursday morning commute. Right now expect a Winter Weather Advisory issued for the entire region. There could be a few areas put under a Winter Storm Watch but that criteria is 3” in 12 hours. Remember you can check what the different winter weather watches and warnings mean from a previous post.
Stay tuned starting today at 4,5,5:30 & 6pm on