July, 2012

Some Dings in the Drought Armor, but It Goes On

July 30th, 2012 at 11:23 am by under 4 Warn Weather

Some briefly helpful rainfall in the NE half of the Niagara Frontier last week will do little to offset the longer term moderate drought gripping the Niagara Frontier. Rainfall chances this week look to be sparse in coverage, with limited amounts in the face of only weak triggers. This will end up being a fairly toasty week as well, with temperatures running somewhat above average on all but Wednesday. SPC notes some low possibility of severe storms on Wednesday (5%), but the timing of a weak cool front does not look favorable for our region.

There are hints of a better chance of somewhat more widespread activity by or toward Sunday. A stronger short wave will be digging across the nrn Great Lakes, and might up the ante on convection at that time. In the meantime, the primary ridge will stay west of us, but our heights at 500 mb will be high enough to make an extended period of warmer than average temperatures continue well into next week on most days.

Of minor interest, the Canadian GEM is showing a hurricane developing and moving toward the east coast next week. This model would virtually never be a model of first choice in tropical meteorology. I mention it only because it’s the first sign of any action in the Atlantic hurricane basin in a long time. Even if such a storm did develop, the upper level winds would tend to turn it toward the NE as it approached the east coast, IMO.

Back to Worsening Drought Conditions, with an extra small *

July 18th, 2012 at 9:54 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

With the coverage for convection limited to NE Niagara & northern Orleans counties Tuesday night, it’s back to the drought. The rainfall deficit as of Wednesday is 5.66″ at the airport, which is fairly representative of the Niagara Frontier. Soil moisture is already in trouble, and some people with well water are in serious trouble in parts of our region. A somewhat cooler and less humid weather regime will hold into Saturday, with some Mugginess returning for Sunday and increasing Sunday night into early next week, ahead of a weak cool front. Once again, despite all the humidity at low levels, convection chances look slim north of the hilly terrain, where a few tshwrs might develop Sunday afternoon along the edge of the lake breeze.

The * comes in with an issue known to meteorologists and modelers as “convective feedback”, in which a model or models develop blowups of thunderstorms which are unlikely to develop in reality, focusing on a weak disturbance and overdoing its energy. Unfortunately, the NWS NAM and GFS are showing signs of this feedback Thursday night and Friday–but it’s not quite a lock that it’s “feedback.” Our afternoon run of 4Warn Vividcast also had a spurious flareup on Friday, focusing on the s tier, while Microcast had much more modest weak convection drawing near. However, the European also shows some cells getting into WNY Thur night and Friday –so I’m a bit troubled by this. Hope it happens, but in this persistent pattern I certainly can’t throw my hat in that ring just yet, if ever.

Invention of AC celebrates 110th anniversary and has WNY connections.

July 16th, 2012 at 12:10 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

This summer has not only been dry, but hot.  The high temperature in Buffalo has been above average every day this July.  With the heat, stepping indoors, its only natural to breathe a sigh of relief as you settle into a comfortable air conditioned space.

Tomorrow will be no different, in fact it will be one of the hottest days so far this year.  Appropriately so, it is the 110th anniversary of the invention of the air conditioner.  American engineer and inventor Willis H. Carrier was born and raised right here in Western New York.  His original intention was to control humidity values in a Brooklyn paper factory.

After a few years of fine-tuning his idea, Willis patented his “Apparatus for Treating Air”.  The main goal for the machine was to humidify and dehumidify the air by heating and cooling the air, respectively.  This was a very basic prototype, but through trial and error he came to invent the air conditioner.  Carrier’s “Rationale Psychrometric Formulae” paper linked together the dew point temperature, relative humidity, and absolute humidity to accurately create desired room conditions.  This document came to be known as the Magna Carta of Psychrometrics due to its groundbreaking ability to determine comfortable air conditions.

Chances for Widespread Showers Increasing Tue Night-Wed; then, Back to Drought

July 16th, 2012 at 11:24 am by under 4 Warn Weather

THIS time around, we have a decent chance for more widespread shower activity with the approach of a cold front later Tuesday. And if we miss out THIS time, our drought troubles will worsen. Here’s why I’m a bit more optimistic. This front will be the type (anabatic) in which a good deal of its associated rainfall will occur behind the front. Warm, moist air will be overrunning the cooler air behind the front and afford us an opportunity for showers which can’t be killed off by a stabilizing lake breeze on Wednesday ( at which time sfc winds will be from the N/NE).

There will be a slight chance for severe tstorms ahead of the front, in which case the primary threat would be damaging straightline winds and hail. But the best rainfall potential, again, lies behind the front. After this “opportunity”, not much is showing for days to come…so let’s hope it’s not a missed opportunity!

As for the overall pattern, conditions will become much more comfortable for Thursday-Friday, with some modest (by this summer’s standards) heating resuming over the weekend. It appears the cooler trough over the NE for Thur-Fri will lift out and allow the warm ridge to build east again for a few days. However, most extended range guidance suggests the trough will reestablish its presence over the NE by next Tue-Wed. There is a chance we’ll have a more extended period of seasonable temperatures at that time. Precipitation chances are highly uncertain so far in advance. We may get lucky with some convection moving through from time to time on a NW flow aloft in that pattern, but nothing widespread would be likely in that NW flow.

Rainfall Deficit Will Worsen

July 9th, 2012 at 1:29 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

As I post this on a sparkling Monday afternoon, there is a disturbance sinking SSE from the northern Great Lakes which has a small–even remote–chance of bringing isolated convection to the Niagara Frontier early tonight. And that’ll do it for the work week. We’ll keep the comfortable conditions through midweek, with a gradual increase in temperatures later this week. The enormous east-west 500 mb ridge will  try to reestablish itself late this week, but since late last week models and ensembles tend to show a split in the ridge, with one center over the Atlantic and anther over the west. The weakness between the ridges will allow a gradually warmer & more humid SW flow to develop. Heights will not get to where they were on Friday, but after early this week they will run above average for some time to come. There may be enough moisture and instability for some poorly organized convection to begin to show up by Sunday, especially over the hills (the “least dry” part of our region). The operational Euro shows heights continuing to rise early next week, getting us back up to where we were late last week, but that is an extreme time range (240hr) for an operational model. And for those who dabble in the GFS and precip portrayal, I remind you of an apparent problem it has since its new version went on line in May. It continues to raise dewpoints too high, and develops spurious precipitation based on that elevated moisture. NCEP’s modelers are working on how best to deal with this, but it will take a few weeks to have an adequate dataset.

Having looked at the NWS Storm Total Rainfall Saturday night, I’d guesstimate that only around 10, possibly 12% of WNY got any meaningful rainfall Saturday. We continue to be in rainfall trouble during the peak growth period for corn and some other crops. This does not qualify as a  true drought (drought is usually thought of over a term of months and years, not weeks), but it’s getting fairly serious. To some commercial growers, I’m sure it qualifies as a drought for their livelihoods.


Rainfall Potential Questionable; Muggy Warmup Enroute; 4th Weather; and a Different Kind of Heat Record

July 2nd, 2012 at 1:35 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

A different kind of heat record of note tabulated by the Buffalo NWS: In terms of Heating Degree Days, which run from July 1-June 3oth on a yearly basis, this past 2011-2012 has been the warmest year in Buffalo history (fewest heating degree days).

Another warmup arrives on Tuesday and, with minor variations, will last into Saturday morning. A shortwave should help to trigger some scattered convection Tuesday afternoon, mainly later, and during the evening. While precipitable water will be rising considerably, once this short waves passes Tuesday evening, the triggers necessary for widespread coverage will be dissipating. So, I’m not convinced these tshowers & storms will do the trick in restoring the soil moisture deficiency we have for the majority of the viewing area. As for the 4th itself, some scattered convection is again likely but–again–the trigger mechanisms don’t appear to be there to tap the high precipitable water efficiently. In any case, whatever we get on the 4th looks likely to die out in time for the fireworks that evening. It does look, though, like the day of the 4th will be Very Muggy, with dewpoints approaching 70. A little less humidity will make Thursday marginally more comfortable, but some Heat will be building on Friday as the ridge temporarily builds to the east and heights rise. Some locations will flirt with the 90 degree mark again.

A cold front will slowly sag across WNY during Saturday, with some limited opportunity for convection. By Sunday, a more NWly flow at mid-levels will bring the onset of a more comfortable pattern which should persist well into next week.