Rain and storms possible through Friday morning

December 18th, 2014 at 8:07 pm by under Weather

Showers are forecast to develop late this evening, becoming widespread in coverage overnight along and east of Interstate 35. Embedded thunderstorms are also possible. The rainfall will gradually end midday Friday. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches will be common east of Interstate 35, with isolated totals up to 3 inches along and east of a Karnes City to La Grange Line. Around 3/4 to 1 inch on average is expected from San Antonio to Austin, and lesser amounts under 1/4 of an inch across western areas. In addition, a few thunderstorms across western areas could produce small hail.
Here’s more information from the National Weather Service about the approaching storm:
 …Rain chances increase overnight into early Friday…1 to 2 inches of rain possible in some locations.
 All of South-Central Texas.
  • Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches east of I-35. Highest totals as you move east and northeast of the I-35 corridor…possibly an isolated 3 inch total east of a line from La Grange to Karnes City. Areas west of I-35 can expect generally less than 1″.
  • Isolated Thunderstorms mainly west of Highway 281. Small hail possible.
  • Minor street flooding, especially in urban areas.
 12am – Noon on Friday. While some shower activity is expected to start increasing late this evening, showers along with an isolated thunderstorm will become more widespread late tonight after midnight. Some activity may also linger after noon on Friday across the far eastern sections of South Central Texas.
Moderate to High.
 An upper level storm system currently moving across Arizona will move east into West Texas early Friday. This will increase rain chances starting late tonight with the possibility of locally heavy rainfall during the overnight hours into Friday morning. Rainfall totals in the 1 to 2 inch range are possible mainly over the eastern half of South Central Texas (east of I-35), with isolated totals as high as 3 inches in an area to the east of a line from La Grange to Karnes City.
Isolated thunderstorms are possible over the western half of the area overnight and could produce some small hail. While the locally heavy rainfall will be the main impact of this weather system, keep in mind that an isolated thunderstorm is not out of the question.
The system will cross the state quickly on Friday with rain ending west to east during the late morning. Over the far eastern sections…some rain activity could linger through the early afternoon hours but rain chances will be significantly lower past the noon hour.

November 2014 global temperature ties for seventh highest on record

December 15th, 2014 at 8:34 pm by under Weather

Global temperature highlights: November

  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces during November tied with 2008 as the seventh highest for the month, at 1.17°F (0.65°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.13°F (0.07°C). This ends a streak of three consecutive months with a record warm monthly global temperature.
November Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Percentiles
November 2014 Blended Land and Sea Surface
Temperature Percentiles
November 2014 Blended Land & Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in °C
  • The global land temperature was the 13th highest on record for November, at 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error is ±0.20°F (0.11°C). Warmer-than-average temperatures were evident over most of the global land surface, except for most of North America, parts of southwest Asia, and a few isolated areas of northern Russia.
  • Some national highlights are included below:
    • The average November maximum temperature for Australia was the highest since records began in 1910, at 3.94°F (2.19°C) above the 1961–1990 average, breaking the previous record set in 2006 and marking the second consecutive month with a record high maximum temperature. The November minimum temperature was third highest on record, contributing to the highest November mean temperature for the country, at 3.38°F (1.88°C) above average and beating the previous record set in 2009.
    • Warm southerly winds persisted during November across much of Europe, contributing to especially warm temperatures for this time of year. November was record warm in Austria and Switzerland, while it was third warmest in Denmark and fifth warmest in the UK. Periods of record vary by country, with each dating back more than a century.
    • Much of North America was colder than average. Parts of northern Ontario were up to 9°F (5°C) colder than average for the month. The United States observed its 16th coldest November on record.
  • For the ocean, the November global sea surface temperature was 1.06°F (0.59°C) above the 20th century average of 60.4°F (15.8°C), the highest on record for November, surpassing the previous record set in 1997 by 0.05°F (0.03°C). The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C). Record warmth was particularly notable across the eastern Pacific Ocean off the western coast of the United States, sections of the equatorial western Pacific, parts of the western North Atlantic, and the eastern north Atlantic near northwestern Europe extending into regions of the Arctic Seas.
  • Neither El Niño nor La Niña was present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during November 2014. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center estimates there is a 65 percent chance that El Niño will be present during the Northern Hemisphere winter and last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.

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Storm Surge Watches & Warnings Next Year

December 15th, 2014 at 8:59 am by under Weather

Over the past few years, members of the First Warning Weather Team have been attending the National Tropical Weather Conference on South Padre Island.   Three days of hearing from the best tropical weather scientists the country has to offer is extremely intriguing, and educational.  Topics range from how information learned from past hurricanes can pertain to today’s systems and their tendencies, to the latest developments the National Hurricane Center is working on.  The NHC is always trying to develop new products to keep you and I as informed as possible when a tropical system is on the way.  It’s all about research, and saving lives.

Two years ago there were rumblings that a few NHC scientists were working on a new product that can help predict storm surge (how far and deep water will rush inland from the coast).  At the time it was in it’s infant stages.  Last year, those rumblings turned into test runs and beta graphics.  Now, about 6 months later, we have word from the NHC, this product will be available to the public starting in 2015!  Here is the press release:











National  Hurricane  Center  To  Issue  Storm  Surge
Watch  And  Warning  Graphic

Beginning with the 2015 hurricane season, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will offer an
experimental storm surge watch/warning graphic to highlight those areas along the Gulf and
Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by
storm surge from a tropical cyclone.

The new graphic is designed to introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm
surge hazard. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone,
and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. In
addition, while most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical
cyclone’s winds, evacuations are generally needed to keep people safe from storm surge. Having
separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and
the general public better guidance on the hazards they face when tropical cyclones threaten.
Here is an example of the new graphic, which will be available on the NHC website

Storm Surge


NHC and NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Offices will determine the area most
at risk from life-threatening surge through a collaborative process. In addition to the graphic, the
highlighted areas will be mentioned in Hurricane Local Statements issued by NWS Forecast
Offices in the affected areas and in the Hazards section of the NHC Public Advisory.

Here is a sample surge statement from the Hazards section of a Public Advisory: 

STORM SURGE…The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally
dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. There
is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the North Carolina coast
from Cape Fear to Duck…including the Outer Banks, the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and
along adjacent rivers and estuaries. For a depiction of areas at risk, see the new National
Weather Service experimental Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic. This is a life-threatening
situation. Persons located within the warning areas should take all necessary actions to protect
life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly
follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.


The graphic will be experimental for at least two years, during which time comments from users
will be solicited and considered. Only the graphic itself will be available during the experimental
period; the underlying raw data, including shape-files, will not be disseminated.
The new watch/warning graphic complements the experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding
Map, which debuted during 2014’s Hurricane Arthur. The Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map
shows the geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and how high
above ground the water could potentially reach in those areas, based on the latest official NHC
forecast and its likely errors.

As part of a phased implementation, NHC plans to consolidate the dissemination of wind and
surge watches and warnings in 2016. This new process will merge inland and coastal warning
information for both threats into a single message. After incorporating both user and partner input,
the new storm surge warning system is expected to become fully operational in 2017.


Additional information:
-NHC Storm Surge resources website   http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/resources.php




Groundwater drought continues

December 13th, 2014 at 6:38 pm by under Weather

(Courtesy: Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District)


Stage II Alarm Drought
Lovelady monitor well: 471.7 elevation ft-msl
Barton Springs: 62 cfs 10-day average
– — – — – — –
The trend of rollercoaster-like rise and falls in groundwater levels this year continues as big rains in November generated enough surface runoff to cause many of the creeks over the recharge zone of the Barton Springs Segment of the Edwards aquifer to flow for a few days. Barton Creek has been flowing continuously, albeit at a decreasing rate, since November 21st and 22nd over which period some areas received upwards of 5 inches of rain (4.25 inches at District offices). As a result, both Barton Springs and Lovelady monitor well (district drought trigger sites) experienced sudden rises in their hydrographs. Currently, Barton Springs discharge has started falling after reaching a maximum 10-day average of 65cfs; Water level in Lovelady monitor well continues to rise. According to District rules, both drought triggers sites must be above their respective drought thresholds for a drought declaration to be lifted. It is unlikely that the Lovelady well water level will rise above the 478.4 ft-msl Stage II Alarm Drought threshold before peaking, but that remains to be seen. The season’s cool temperatures and cloudy weather improve the odds that any rain we do get will have a better chance of generating considerable amounts of recharge. The Climate Prediction Center has increased the likelihood it places on the development of ENSO conditions for this winter to 65% and expect it to last into spring 2015.See the District’s latest official Drought Chart here:http://www.bseacd.org/aquifer-science/drought-status/

Kaxan says “bring a pet home for the holidays”

December 12th, 2014 at 1:31 pm by under Weather

Our mascot Kaxan wants everyone to know about Austin Animal Center’s Home for the Holidays special on adoptions. You can save a lot of money now through early January, and rescue an animal at the same time. It’s easy to see how rescuing a dog can change their life–just look at Kaxan!

Kaxan’s before and after rescue pictures

Kaxan before after

The Austin Animal Center will celebrate the holidays by offering specials on pet adoptions through Jan. 4, 2014.  Pet adoptions for all ready-to-go dogs and cats will be $25.

All pets adopted will include spay or neuter surgery, a microchip and vaccinations – a package valued at more than $200. The usual adoption fee is $75.

The shelter will have a “Home for the Holidays” kick-off event from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec.13  that will include games, prizes, treats and pictures with Santa.
The Austin Animal Center will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27 and on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Additionally, the Austin Animal Center will be launching a donation drive for items needed for the pets such as toys, treats, jackets for large dogs, and dog houses. Items can be dropped off at the Austin Animal Center daily.

City shelter pet adoptions are available at the Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop, and the City’s dog overflow kennels at Town Lake Animal Center, 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St. The centers are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  For more information check www.austinanimalcenter.org or call 3-1-1 or check Facebook for daily pet updates, www.facebook.com/austinanimalservices .

About the Austin Animal Services Office
Austin Animal Center, the largest municipal animal shelter in Central Texas, provides shelter to more than 20,000 animals annually and services to Austin/Travis County. This facility accepts stray and owned animals regardless of age, health, species or breed.
The goal is to place all adoptable animals in forever homes through adoptions, foster care or rescue partner groups. Since 2011, the City’s animal shelter is the largest municipal shelter to sustain its no-kill city status—saving 90 percent or more of the homeless pets that enter the shelter.
Animal Services has numerous programs and partnerships designed to help pets in the shelter, in the community and in your home.

Torrential rains dent Califonia’s worst drought in at least 1,200 years

December 11th, 2014 at 4:18 pm by under Weather

Courtesy: Dr. Jeff Masters/Weather Underground

Torrential rains are falling across much of drought-scarred California, thanks to the wettest storm to affect the U.S. West Coast since at least October 2009. The heavy rains will put a noticeable dent in the state’s three-year drought, which was the worst 3-year drought drought period in at least the past 1,200 years. This startling figure comes from a study of tree rings by researchers Daniel Griffin and Kevin Anchukaitis, How unusual is the 2012-2014 California drought?, published in December 2014 in Geophysical Research Letters (press release and supplemental photos available here.) The scientists used tree ring data from blue oak trees in southern and central California to infer soil moisture levels, and thus drought. Blue oak tree ring widths are particularly sensitive to moisture changes. According to the authors, these tree rings show that 2014 was California’s worst single year for drought in at least 1,200 years. Interestingly, they found that the amount of precipitation during 2012 – 2014 was not the lowest on record–more extreme three-year low precipitation periods occurred in 1898 – 1900, and in 1527 – 1529. But because the period 2012 – 2014 was by far the warmest 3-year period in California history, these record warm temperatures “could have exacerbated the 2014 drought by approximately 36%,” they said. This bodes ill for the future, since global warming will bring an increase in the odds of record warm temperatures, and California has shown it can naturally have less precipitation than they had the past three years.

More detailed blog posts made this week on the research attempting to quantify the potential human contribution to California’s drought are available from Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian’s “Climate Consensus – the 97% blog, and from Dr. Michael Mann at Huffington Post.

Figure 1. Kevin Anchukaitis (left) and Daniel Griffin (right) used tree-rings from centuries-old blue oak like the one pictured to provide long-term context for the ongoing California drought. 2014 image by Megan Lundin.

Figure 2. Super Soaker: A massive drought-denting extratropical storm soaks the U.S. West Coast as seen in this 4 pm PST December 10, 2014 satellite image. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Yosemite Park waterfalls resume flowing
Yosemite National Park’s big waterfalls–Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Cascade Fall–resumed flowing again on December 3 after two days of significant rainfall in California’s Yosemite area. “To see Yosemite Falls coming to life this morning is truly exhilarating,” stated Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent on December 3. “This is a wonderful time to visit Yosemite National Park and the waterfalls just add to the magnificence of the park.” The falls slowed to a trickle in mid-July and were completely dry for most of August, September, October, and November due to California’s exceptional drought. You can view the falls on the Yosemite Falls webcam. Today’s rains are sure to make the waterfall roar big-time!

Figure 3. Yosemite Falls on December 4, 2014 after a round of heavy rains got them flowing again (top) and what the falls looked like on December 1, 2014 during the peak of California’s record drought (bottom.) Image credit: Yosemite Conservancy.


December 8th, 2014 at 8:23 am by under Weather

PLEASE be careful on the roads in our Hill Country neighborhoods.   Fog has been reported to drop visibilities to near zero.  Leave early and take your time on your drive.  Low lying and rural locations will be or big problem spots.  Here is the latest from the National Weather Service:





December bird forecast

December 7th, 2014 at 6:29 pm by under Weather
House Finch photo by John Benson via Creative Commons
Purple Finch photo by Fyn Kynd via Creative Commons
Pine Siskin photo by Rodney Campbell via Creative Commons

What to watch for in December: You’re a cute one, Mr. Finch

Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at travisaudubon.org or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon.

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Study finds that El Nino events are intensifying

December 5th, 2014 at 8:27 pm by under Weather

University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Photo: Sea surface temperature data set

Using state-of-the-art computer models maintained at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, researchers determined that El Niño has intensified over the last 6,000 years. This pier and cafe are in Ocean Beach, California.

Photo: Jon Sullivan

It was fishermen off the coast of Peru who first recognized the anomaly, hundreds of years ago. Every so often, their usually cold, nutrient-rich water would turn warm and the fish they depended on would disappear. Then there was the ceaseless rain.

They called it “El Niño” — The Boy, or Christmas Boy — because of its timing near the holiday each time it returned, every three to seven years.

El Niño is not a contemporary phenomenon; it’s long been the Earth’s dominant source of year-to-year climate fluctuation. But as the climate warms and the feedbacks that drive the cycle change, researchers want to know how El Niño will respond. A team of researchers led by the University of Wisconsin’s Zhengyu Liu will publish the latest findings in this quest Nov. 27 in Nature.

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Super Typhoon Hagupit takes aim at Haiyan-ravaged Philippines

December 4th, 2014 at 8:39 pm by under Weather

(Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground)

Super Typhoon Hagupit has exploded into mighty Category 5 storm with 175 mph winds and a central pressure of 905 mb, and is threatening the same portion of the Philippine Islands devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. The spiral bands of the massive storm are already bringing gusty winds and heavy rain showers to Samar and Leyte Islands, which bore the brunt of Haiyan’s massive storm surge and incredible winds–rated at 190 mph at landfall on November 7, 2013 by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Haiyan killed over 7,000 people in the Philippines, with Tacloban (population 200,000) suffering the greatest casualties, thanks to a 20+’ storm surge. Thousands of people still live in tents in Tacloban in the wake of Haiyan, and mass evacuations have begun to get these vulnerable people to safety.

Figure 1. An infrared VIIRS image of Super Typhoon Hagupit from the Suomi satellite at 15:55 UTC December 3, 2014, revealed a structure very similar to that of the standard hurricane symbol (lower right.) At the time, Hagupit was an intensifying Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Image credit: Dan Lindsey, NOAA/NESDIS/CIRA/Colorado State.

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