Jim Spencer

Your help urgently requested to keep seniors cool

July 30th, 2014 at 4:39 pm by under Weather

I received an e-mail from Family Eldercare that I wanted to share with you.  Please make an online donation right now if you can:summerfandrive.org. Or, you can get two free tickets to Friday night’s Round Rock Express game by bringing a brand new box fan with you. Details here.


From: Becca McPherson [BMcPherson@familyeldercare.org]
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 11:20 AM
To: Jim Spencer
Subject: RE: Question

…..Also, we have officially run out of fans and have a waiting list. I believe that it’s been because of the cooler summer, which is deceptive, but doesn’t mean that families need fewer fans. We keep getting people who send us messages like, “I usually give $100, but since it’s been a cool summer we’re only donating $30 this year.” We’re making a big push through our social media and eblasts to see if we can’t get some more fans or funds, but wanted to see if you could also mention it on the air? Our warehouse is literally empty except for five desk fans! We are going to try to run over to Home Depot to get what they have on the shelves, but we’d like to be able to place a large order to be able to get through one of the hottest months, August. Thank you!

Late July chill setting record lows – cold front headed here

July 30th, 2014 at 2:34 pm by under Weather

We are not expecting record lows here in Central Texas, but we will get a taste of the unusually nice summer temperatures being reported in the East today. The cold front bringing record lows there will arrive here Thursday.

(Climate Central) Folks across the eastern U.S. could be forgiven for thinking they’d pulled a Rip van Winkle and woken up in October on Wednesday morning. Temperatures dipped down overnight into the 60s, 50s and even 40s, setting record lows left and right.

Temperatures across the U.S. at 8 a.m. ET on July 30. An incursion of cold, Canadian air sent low temperatures to record levels in some areas of the East.
Credit: NOAA

The chill in the air comes courtesy of yet another bout of cool Canadian air that dipped down over the area east of the Rockies earlier this week, creating decidedly un-summerlike temperatures at what is normally the hottest time of the year for many locations and spurring some severe weather, including a rare Boston-area tornado.

“We’re in the heart of that hottest normal time of the year and it’s anything but that,” Bruce Terry, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service, told Climate Central on Monday.

The cool conditions in the East contrasted, as they have nearly all year, with baking conditions in the West, which have exacerbated the effects of California’s epic drought and helped fuel wildfires. This temperature pattern is occurring over a background warming fueled by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere that are making record lows overall less likely and record highs more common. The pattern the U.S. has seen is also one scientists say could be more common in a warming world.

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Numerous National Weather Service offices and other local meteorologists took to Twitter and other media to note the astonishing thermometer readings across the East: Nashville tied its record low for July 30 of 58°F (originally set in 1965), according to the local NWS office. Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. dropped to an incredible 48°F, shattering the record low of 51°F set in 1981, while Baltimore’s airport hit 55°F, just beating the record of 56°F set in 1997, the Capital Weather Gang reported.

Other July 30 records included: 59°F at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, beating the previous record of 61°F set in 1936; 59°F in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala.; and 51°F in Pittsburgh, where the previous record of 52°F was set in 1982.

In contrast, cities on the West Coast have been sweltering. San Francisco is set to see its warmest July on record and even hit an uncharacteristic 90°F on July 25, a full 12°F above normal, Dennis Mersereau at The Vane wrote. Portland, Ore., hit an even more sizzling 99°F this month and is on track for its sixth warmest July.

The pattern behind this stark temperature divide is one in which large waves in the jet stream send a deep trough, or area of low pressure in the atmosphere, diving down over the East, while a ridge, or high pressure area, parks itself over the West. The same pattern was in play earlier in July and during much of the winter months and into spring.

While the winter and spring events were linked to an incursion of the polar vortex — an upper-level atmospheric feature of cold, low-pressure air surrounded by strong winds that circle the pole ­— southward, the National Weather Service has been reluctant to link the summer cold spells to the same cause. Other meteorologists, however, have said that the events do indeed have a polar component.

Why the country keeps seeing this particular pattern this year, forecasters can’t say.

“I don’t know why we keep seeing it, but we do keep seeing it,” Terry said.

Jake Crouch, a climatologist with the National Climatic Data Center who helps conduct monthly investigations of major climate events in the U.S., said in an email that his team will likely do a detailed analysis of the July event to be released with next month’s update.

The pattern has affected the overall average temperatures of the U.S. in 2014, with the first four months of the year ranking as the coldest since 1993, according to the most recent State of the Climate update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the warmth in the West — where California has recorded its hottest first six months to a year ever — has balanced out the cold, putting the year as a whole in the middle of the pack for temperature records going back a little more than a century.

And the situation in the U.S. is only one part of the globe, which just experienced its hottest May and June on record. The year to-date for the planet ranks as the fifth warmest.

As the world heats up because of the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by humans, the building warmth actually stacks the deck for record highs and against record lows, meaning the record lows seen across the East this week will be increasingly less likely to occur.

Super-close views of Mercury

July 29th, 2014 at 2:44 pm by under Weather

Courtesy: EarthSky.org

The MESSENGER spacecraft is now dropping closer to Mercury, and long anticipated, super-close views of the planet are beginning to come in.

Image via NASA / JHU / APL MESSENGER spacecraft

Close image of Mercury acquired by the MESSENGER spacecraft on June 11, 2014. 69.84 degrees North & 48.47 degrees East. Resolution 2.9 meters. Image via NASA / JHU / APL MESSENGER spacecraft

The image above is one of the highest resolution images ever returned of Mercury. MESSENGER acquired it on June 11, 2014. Last Friday – July 25, 2014 – MESSENGER’s periherm (closest point to Mercury) dropped below 100 kilometers / 62 miles. MESSSENGER is the first manmade object ever to come this close to Mercury.

On June 17 – around the time the image above was taken – the periherm had dropped to 113.80 kilometers / 70.80 miles. The image has absolutely incredible 2.90-meter resolution, showing a cluster of tiny secondary craters within the northern intercrater lava plains in a 3.00 kilometer / 1.86 mile wide area within Mercury’s North Polar Borealis Quadrangle.

The craters seen here are a few hundred meters at most in width, many much smaller. These are secondary craters from an impact out of this frame, where impact ejecta fell back on ballistic trajectories forming smaller craters. Many can be hundreds of kilometers away from the primary impact if the impact was large enough.

There are a handful of much smaller craters in the area too.

All of these craters in this image are of the simple bowl shaped type.

The image is a little ‘noisy’ due to the very short exposure required to prevent blurring of the image as MESSENGER was lower and faster than usual above the surface of Mercury.

On August 19, 2014, periherm will drop below 50 kilometers / 31 miles. On September 12, 2014, periherm will have lowered to 25 kilometers / 15.52 miles.

The number of such high resolution and even higher resolution images will increase as periherm continues to lower.

The fuel on board MESSENGER is expected to be depleted on January 21, 2015. MESSENGER is expected to impact Mercury during the last weekend of March, 2015.

Heat Advisory issued

July 23rd, 2014 at 5:05 pm by under Weather
(This HEAT ADVISORY includes Milam County in the KXAN viewing area)

234 PM CDT WED JUL 23 2014




Checkup says earth is running a temperature

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:54 pm by under Weather


(Climate Central) Looking at the state of the climate, you can see heat everywhere. From the top of the globe to the depths of the oceans and everywhere in between, the climate is warming and changing in ways humans have never experienced.

Last year was between the globe’s third- and sixth-warmest year on record, including record heat in Australia. The frequency of hot days in 2013 was also among the top 10 years while cold nights were among the bottom 10 years. And heat content in the upper ocean reached record highs as did sea levels.

A map showing global surface temperature anomalies averaged over 2013 compared to 1981-2010 average.
Credit: climate.gov

Those changes and more are chronicled in a new report published on Thursday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. This is the 24th straight year of the report, which amounts to a global health checkup. Except in this case, instead of one doctor doing the exam, it was 425 scientists from 57 countries around the globe contributing to the nearly 260-page report.

It’s a massive undertaking to synthesize global climate data, which is why the report takes so long to put together and release.

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“The take-home message here is that the planet — its state of the climate — is changing more rapidly in today’s world than at any time in modern civilization,” said Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, in a call with reporters.

The global average temperature, which is a broad baseline used to measure the climate, was about 0.4°F above average according to four datasets most commonly used by scientists. That was high enough to rank 2013 as up to the third-warmest year since 1880. All 10 of the warmest years have come since, with 2010 topping the charts.

Global hot spots for 2013 included parts of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as Australia and Northern Africa. One of the only land areas with cooler-than-normal temperatures was the eastern half of North America.

The frequency of hot days is another indicator of the world’s continued warm streak. Last year was also in top 10 territory, driven in part by the extremes in Australia and Europe. In contrast, cool nights were in shorter supply, with 2013 ranking in the bottom 10 years.

A map showing ocean heat content anomalies averaged over 2013 compared to 1993-2013 average.
Credit: climate.gov

Ocean surface temperatures in 2013 were also among the top 10 warmest. But more notable is the amount of heat stashed in the upper half mile of the ocean, which has increased steadily and reached a record high in 2013.

“Warming in the upper (up to 700 meters) oceans accounts for about 63 percent of the total increase in energy storage in the climate system from 1971 to 2010,” the report said.

Scientists have posited that the apparent “pause” in global warming is being driven by increased heat storage in this layer of the ocean. Ocean warming coupled with melting ice has contributed to sea level rise, which also reached record highs in 2013.

Arctic sea ice extent, glaciers and late spring snow cover all felt the heat last year as well. Each continued a trend in line with the impacts of climate change.

The other notable record, and one which connects the dots between a number of the trends outlined in the report, is atmospheric carbon dioxide. Levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that are helping drive climate change were at record highs in 2013. CO2 crossed a notable milestone, hitting 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. Of course, 2014 is on track to smash the records set in 2013, with CO2 levels spending 3 months above the 400 ppm threshold.

Beyond global trends, the year was marked by regional extremes. Australia had its hottest year on record and parts of China experienced record summer warmth. However, the biggest single weather event of the year was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 and left 2 million homeless.

At its peak, sustained winds from the storm reached 196 mph, which is 15 mph faster than the previous record according to James Renwick, a climate scientist at the New Zealand Climate Change Center (Renwick also edited one of the chapters of the new report). Haiyan’s storm surge did most of the damage. Scientists are still assessing just how high it rose but estimates put it in the  range of 24 feet.

While the connection between the rapid intensification and strength of Haiyan with climate change is still being studied, sea level rise represents a more direct climate change link. The Philippines have seen as much as 7 inches of sea level rise since 1970. To put that in perspective, the planet as a whole has seen 8 inches of sea level rise since 1900.

“Sea level rise is much higher than the global average in this part of the world, so the sea’s are already a little higher. If you put a storm surge on top of higher sea level, it amounts to a greater extent of coastal inundation.” Renwick said.

With 2014 halfway over, there are no signs that the globe’s hot streak is ending. Data through May shows that this has been the planet’s fifth-warmest start to the year on record. Jessica Blunden, a scientist who works with NCDC, said that preliminary data show that June’s ocean temperatures were the hottest on record, a sign that 2014 is  on track to be one of the hottest years recorded. Another factor tipping the scales in that direction is the impending El Niño, a climate phenomenon that usually boosts global temperatures. Other indicators like greenhouse gas emissions, Arctic sea ice and deep ocean heat are also likely to keep following suit.

Forecasters to test experimental lightning data

July 21st, 2014 at 1:39 pm by under Weather

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 10.48.39 AM

(NSSL)  NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters will test how lightning data impacts the warning process during convective events in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed from July 21-August 29. The project is a collaboration between NSSL and Earth Networks, Inc., a private weather company.

Earth Networks has indicated the potential for its continental scale total lightning network (ENTLN) data and associated “Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts” (DTAs) to increase forecaster situational awareness and lead times. Prior limited studies have shown the use of total lightning detections and associated derivative products could have positive impacts on the warning process.

During the tests, Earth Networks lightning data and its DTA products will be implemented into NWS operational software (AWIPS2) in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed. Forecasters will complete a series of weather-warning scenarios in displaced real time, ranging from marginally severe to high-impact tornadic events for a variety of geographic locations.

These tests will evaluate the feasibility of using this data in warning operations, as well as the impact on warnings issued by NWS forecasters. The final outcome of this project is to make recommendations on possible product improvements, and determine whether Earth Networks products should become part of the operational product suites available to NWS offices nationally.

More rainfall expected this week

July 15th, 2014 at 10:43 pm by under Weather

Many areas enjoyed beneficial rainfall Tuesday, and we are expecting more this week. We will likely see a bit of a lull Wednesday, but an upper level disturbance will bring another good chance of showers and thunderstorms by Thursday, into Friday.

Click here to see Tuesday’s rainfall totals.

Locally heavy rain of 1 to 2 inches in a short period of time may occur with storms on Thursday and Friday. This may result in localized minor flooding. As always, do not drive where water covers the road. Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

Kaxan reminds you to protect your pet from summer heat

July 14th, 2014 at 3:50 pm by under Weather

Kaxan found this great video online from Discovery News he wants to share with everyone. It is about keeping your pets cool in the summer. Click here to check it out!

car heat

Please read this important information from the Humane Society of the United States:

The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It’s difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity, but things really get tough in areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes with tragic results.

We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on (and even if the power isn’t).

Practice basic summer safety

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car »

Print our hot car flyer [PDF] and spread the life-saving word »

Watch the humidity

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions for treating heat stroke.

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Don’t rely on a fan

Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out

Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if she enjoys a cooling soak.

Watch for signs of heatstroke

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Prepare for power outages

Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.

First of three “supermoons” this weekend

July 11th, 2014 at 3:19 pm by under Weather

In June of last year, a full Moon made headlines.  The news media called it a “supermoon” because it was 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2013.   Around the world, people went outside to marvel at its luminosity.

If you thought one supermoon was bright, how about three….? The full Moons of summer 2014—July 12th, August 10th, and Sept. 9th–will all be supermoons.

A new ScienceCast video counts the supermoons of summer 2014. Play it

The scientific term for the phenomenon is “perigee moon.” Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side (“perigee”) about 50,000 km closer than the other (“apogee”).  Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon’s orbit seem extra big and bright.

This coincidence happens three times in 2014.  On July 12th and Sept 9th the Moon becomes full on the same day as perigee.  On August 10th it becomes full during the same hour as perigee—arguably making it an extra-super Moon.”


For the first time, CO2 tops 400 ppm for three straight months

July 11th, 2014 at 2:49 pm by under Weather
Greenhouse gases top 400 ppm for three months in a row at Mauna Loa

(NOAA)  For the first time since carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been measured, the levels of this greenhouse gas at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, have been above 400 parts per million every single day for three straight months.

“We’ve reached another benchmark, reminding us that carbon dioxide concentrations continue to increase every year as carbon dioxide emissions continue,” said Pieter Tans, who leads NOAA’s measurement program. “Humans have caused carbon dioxide concentrations to rise 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times, with half of that since the early 1980s. Half of all emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel burning have taken place since 1986.”

In 2013, carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa, the oldest continuous measurement station operating since the 1950s, reached 400 ppm for several days for the first time during May, but did not stay at this level for an entire month.

Rising greenhouse gases

Rising greenhouse gases

This spring’s readings at Mauna Loa have set a new record for carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

This year, the 400 ppm mark was reached two months earlier in March and the average surpassed 400 ppm for the months of April, May and June. You can track greenhouse gas concentrations online at NOAA’s website.

The global average has not yet reached 400 ppm. The global average for May, according to the most recent data, was 398.83 ppm. The average for June is also not expected to reach 400 ppm.

Carbon dioxide concentrations at Mauna Loa begin to decline in June every year as seasonal plant growth drives the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This trend is expected to continue until the end of summer in late September as part of the natural seasonal swing.

Other measurement sites

Arctic sites all reached 400 ppm in May of 2012, about a year before Mauna Loa.  Southern hemispheric sites are expected to follow with the South Pole expected to reach 400 ppm in late 2016.

“To reverse this trend of rising greenhouse gases, nations would need to quickly eliminate about half of fossil fuel emissions globally, and gradually continue further reductions until zero net emissions have been reached,” Tans said.