Natalie Stoll

Triple digit heat Sunday a first for 2014

July 13th, 2014 at 9:32 pm by under Weather

Sunday was Austin’s first 100 degree day of 2014. It arrived just three days past the average first 100 degree day, July 10th. The last time Camp Mabry recorded 100 degrees or higher was September 7, 2013.

With another 100 degree day in the works, it’s a good time to review summer heat safety.

Sunday sunset over Lake Travis. (KXAN)

Sunday sunset over Lake Travis. (KXAN)

Here’s some really great information from NOAA.

If you plan on being out and about in summer, chances are you’ll be exposed to a lot of sun and higher temperatures.

Each year, heat kills at least 650 people on average in the United States — more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning, or any other weather event combined.

“Heat can be a silent killer because it doesn’t topple trees or rip roofs off houses like tornadoes and hurricanes,” says Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services with NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Nevertheless, it’s a dangerous weather condition for which people should prepare.”

How much heat can a person safely endure? It depends.

Certain groups of people should be especially careful during hot weather conditions. For example, city-dwellers and those living in the upper floors of tall buildings or in heat-prone regions are most at-risk for heat-related illness. People who have difficulty getting around or who have health conditions are particularly susceptible. The elderly and the very young also merit special attention during periods of high heat and humidity.

The National Weather Service and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have partnered again this year to increase awareness for outdoor workers and their employers during excessive heat events. As part of this effort, the National Weather Service will incorporate specific outdoor worker safety precautions when heat advisories and warnings are issued.

By taking some precautions, you can stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors this summer:

1. Be informed and stay alert

Pay close attention to heat advisories or warnings that have been issued for your community.

  • NOAA’s National Weather Service continually updates heat-related advisories and warnings online at weather.gov. (Click on “Excessive Heat Warning” and “Heat Advisory” under the U.S. map — if there are no current warnings or advisories in the United States, nothing will appear).
  • NOAA issues excessive heat warnings when weather conditions pose an imminent threat to life and heat advisories when weather conditions are expected to cause significant discomfort or inconvenience or — if caution is not taken — become life threatening.
  • If you do not have Internet access, you can get heat advisory and warning information by watching your local television or radio newscast or by purchasing a NOAA weather radio and tuning into NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards.
  • Use the temperature and humidity to figure out the heat index for your area, a measure that tells us how hot it feels.

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Average ‘dead zone’ expected in the Gulf

June 29th, 2014 at 7:51 pm by under Weather

NOAA, partners predict an average ‘dead zone’ for Gulf of Mexico; slightly above-average hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay

Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and slightly above-average hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay .

NOAA-supported modeling is forecasting this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to cover an area ranging from about 4,633 to 5,708 square miles (12,000 to 14,785 square kilometers) or about the size of the state of Connecticut.

While close to averages since the late 1990s, these hypoxic zones are many times larger than what research has shown them to be prior to the significant human influences that greatly expanded their sizes and effects.

Hypoxic zones are areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies, and as a result are sometimes called “dead zones.” One of the largest dead zones forms in the Gulf of Mexico every spring. Each spring as farmers fertilize their lands preparing for crop season, rain washes fertilizer off the land and into streams and rivers.

Hypoxia Watch data was also acquired by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) aboard the R/V BLAZING 7 during the period from July 8-12, 2013. The LDWF stations provided additional insight into the distribution of bottom dissolved oxygen in the area from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Louisiana Bight.  (Courtesy: NOAA)

Hypoxia Watch data was also acquired by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) aboard the R/V BLAZING 7 during the period from July 8-12, 2013. The LDWF stations provided additional insight into the distribution of bottom dissolved oxygen in the area from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Louisiana Bight.
(Courtesy: NOAA)

The Gulf of Mexico prediction is based on models developed by NOAA-sponsored modeling teams and individual researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Geological Survey, and relies on nutrient loading estimates from the USGS. The models also account for the influence of variable weather and oceanographic conditions, and predict that these can affect the dead zone area by as much as 38 percent.

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June bird forecast

June 6th, 2014 at 10:30 pm by under Weather

What to watch for in June: White-eyed Vireos

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.

White-eyed Vireo photo by Kelly Colgan Azar via Creative Commons

White-eyed Vireo photo by Kelly Colgan Azar via Creative Commons

Listen for the vireos

Here for the summer is the White-eyed Vireo, a small and secretive songbird that usually sticks to the scrub and overgrown fields. It is olive-green on top and yellow on the sides, with a white throat and white rings around its eyes. Look for them on the grounds of Laguna Gloria and in St. Edward’s Park, both in West Austin. You might hear a White-eyed Vireo before you see it, though: It’s known for an explosive sharp song filled with buzzes and chirps. The Audubon website says it might sound like “chip-a-wheeoo-chip” or “quick, give me a rain check!”

Birds behaving like children

There are many newly fledged birds out and about now, from large awkward grackles to squatty screech owls to tiny titmice. If you see or hear a birdy commotion in your yard, it might be a family of titmice, chickadees or wrens. The young trail the parents around, fluttering their wings and begging for food. Mom and Dad play “follow the leader” with their offspring, flying from branch to branch and getting the youngsters to follow. They may not always stick the landings, but practice makes perfect.

Field Trips — Beginners welcome. Check the Travis Audubon website for details.

http://travisaudubon.org/get-outdoors/field-trips

Beginner’s Bird Walk — Zilker Botanical Gardens

Saturday, June 7, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend

Saturday, June 14, 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk

Saturday, June 21, 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez

 

 


The D-Day weather story

June 6th, 2014 at 2:58 pm by under Weather

I stumbled across an interesting bit of weather history today. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has its own library (which has its own Facebook page). They posted about the D-Day weather story and it’s fascinating.

Philip M. Flammer, an historian for the U.S. Air Force, Air Weather Service, wrote “Weather Support of the Normandy Invasion” in 1953. NOAA posted a digital copy online.

 

dday weather

Here’s an excerpt quoted on the NOAA Libraries Facebook page:

“To the seasick troops and the crews of the swamped landing craft, it hardly seemed like the ideal day for the invasion. But the weather was operational and it could have been worse. Although it would been hard to convince them of it at the time, they could actually be grateful that it was no better.”


Drought improves temporarily

June 5th, 2014 at 4:33 pm by under Weather

The U.S. Drought Monitor for June 5 shows extreme drought (in red) in the Hill Country dropping to severe drought (in orange). Abnormally dry conditions (in yellow) spread across the metro areas as well. The improvement comes after taking into account last week’s rainfall. Currently more than 90-percent of Texas is in some kind of drought.

20140603_tx_none

Here’s an update from the NWS:

DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
1225 PM CDT THU JUN 5 2014

...LATE MAY RAINFALL RALLY HELPED TO TEMPORARILY IMPROVE DROUGHT
CONDITIONS ACROSS MOST OF SOUTH  CENTRAL TEXAS...

SYNOPSIS...

AFTER A VERY DRY START TO MAY...THE SECOND WEEK AND FINAL WEEK OF
MAY SAW SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL EVENTS THAT PRODUCED WIDESPREAD
RAINFALL. THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND EVENT PRODUCED RAINFALL
AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES WITH A FEW LOCATIONS RECEIVING AS MUCH AS
8 INCHES. THERE WERE EVEN UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF 10 INCHES IN A
FEW SPOTS. THE WESTERN AREAS ALONG THE RIO GRANDE DID NOT FARE AS
WELL AND GENERALLY SAW LESS THAN ONE INCH OF RAINFALL. SOME
LOCATIONS HAD NOT SEEN THIS TYPE OF RAINFALL FOR NEARLY A YEAR.
THE RAINFALL EVENT DURING THE LAST WEEK IN MAY FINALLY PRODUCED
RUNOFF IN AREA CREEKS AND RIVERS AND THIS RESULTED IN RISES ON
MANY LAKES. RISES WERE GENERALLY IN THE 3 TO 7 FOOT RANGE. MEDINA
LAKE SAW A RISE OF 7 FEET. WITHOUT CONTINUED RAINFALL MUCH OF
THESE GAINS WILL QUICKLY EVAPORATE AND LEVELS WILL FALL QUICKLY
WITH THE INCREASED EVAPORATION RATES OF SUMMER. THE RECENT
RAINFALL EVENT DID PUSH MOST LOCATIONS TO ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL
FOR THE MONTH. RAINFALL DEFICITS FOR THE YEAR ALSO GREATLY
IMPROVED. LOCATIONS ACROSS THE WEST HAVE SEEN 25 PERCENT OR LESS
OF THEIR YEARLY RAINFALL TO DATE. THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS WILL SEE
TEMPERATURES NEAR EARLY JUNE AVERAGES AND AT LEAST AN ISOLATED
CHANCE FOR SOME MORE RAINFALL DURING THE WEEK OF JUNE 12TH. SHORT
TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS HAVE IMPROVED DUE TO THE RECENT RAINFALL.
CURRENTLY THE MAIN SHORT TERM IMPACTS ARE MANY LOCATIONS HAVE
WATER RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE. RANCHERS ARE REPORTING STOCK TANKS
DID SHOW INCREASES FOLLOWING THE MAY RAINFALL EVENTS. FIRE WEATHER
CONCERNS HAVE DECREASED WITH THE WETTING RAINFALL. IN AREAS THAT
DID NOT SEE RAINFALL FIRE DANGERS CONTINUE AT ELEVATED LEVELS.
LONG TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS CONTINUE SINCE WE HAVE BEEN IN A
MULTIPLE YEAR DROUGHT. RIVERS...LAKES...RESERVOIRS AND AQUIFERS
ARE VERY LOW AND WILL REMAIN THAT WAY UNLESS WE CONTINUE TO SEE
FREQUENT RAINFALL EVENTS.

THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC) IS FORECASTING THE ENSO (EL
NINO SOUTHERN OSCILLATION) NEUTRAL PATTERN TO CONTINUE INTO
SUMMER 2014. THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED AN EL NINO
WATCH...SAYING THERE IS AT LEAST A 65 PERCENT CHANCE AN EL NINO
EVENT WILL DEVELOP IN THE SUMMER OR EARLY FALL. EVEN THOUGH LA
NINA AND EL NINO EVENTS HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS ACROSS THE
REGION...OTHER CIRCULATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE HELP DRIVE WEATHER
PATTERNS TOO... SO WE SHOULD NOT JUST BE LOOKING AT ONE
PATTERN...BUT OTHERS AS WELL TO POTENTIALLY PROVIDE RAINFALL FOR
THE REGION.
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Holiday weekend rain chances

May 24th, 2014 at 8:36 am by under Weather

A slow-moving upper level low pressure approaches Texas this holiday weekend. As it does, our rain chances pick up by Memorial Day.

Isolated to scattered showers and storms are possible both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The chance is small but keep an eye on radar if you have outdoor plans. If you hear thunder or see lightning, head indoors until the storm passes.

image4

 

 

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Near-normal or below-normal 2014 hurricane season

May 22nd, 2014 at 11:47 am by under Weather

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season may not bring the soaking tropical rains Texas needs. NOAA is forecasting a near-normal to below-normal season as a developing  El Nino suppresses tropical development.

Here’s the release from NOAA:

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

2014 Atlantic hurricane outlook summary. (Credit: NOAA)

2014 Atlantic hurricane outlook summary. (Credit: NOAA)

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

“Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA’s network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster.”

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Storms with heavy rain possible by early Tuesday

May 11th, 2014 at 9:54 pm by under Weather

An upper level system moving across the Rockies is gearing up to bring some decent rain chances to Central Texas. It will pull a cold front into the area by late Monday and push it toward the coast by Tuesday morning.

cold front

Ahead of the front, a few strong to severe storms are possible as the Storm Prediction Center has included the Hill Country and metro counties in a slight risk area for severe storms. Large hail and damaging winds are the primary threats.

day2otlk_1730

Along the front overnight into Tuesday morning the threat shifts to thunderstorms with heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding. (more…)


Signs El Nino is brewing

May 3rd, 2014 at 9:14 pm by under Weather

From NOAA:

The El Niño / La Niña climate pattern that alternately warms and cools the eastern tropical Pacific is the 800-pound gorilla of Earth’s climate system. On a global scale, no other single phenomenon has a greater influence on whether a year will be warmer, cooler, wetter, or drier than average. Naturally, then, the ears of seasonal forecasters and natural resource managers around the world perked up back in early March when NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued an “El Niño Watch.”

The “watch” means that oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean are favorable for the development of El Niño within the next six months. These maps reveal one of the most significant of those favorable signs: a deep pool of warm water sliding eastward along the equator since late January.

Pacific_SubTempAnom_Feb2014_lrg

 

Pacific_SubTempAnom_Mar2014_lrg

Pacific_SubTempAnom_Apr2014_lrg

The maps show a cross-sectional view of five-day-average temperature in the top 300 meters* of the Pacific Ocean in mid-February, mid-March, and mid-April 2014 compared to the long-term average (1981-2010). Warmer than average waters are red; cooler than average waters are blue. Each map represents a 5-day average centered on the date shown.

The pool of warm water was lurking in the western Pacific in mid-February, but it shifted progressively eastward in the subsequent two months. By mid-April, the unusually warm water was close to breaching the surface in the eastern Pacific off South America. NOAA declares El Niño underway when the monthly average temperature in the eastern Pacific is 0.5° Celsius or more above average.

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Viewer photos of Sunday’s severe storm

April 27th, 2014 at 9:45 pm by under Weather

A single severe storm developed over Bastrop county and moved across Lee county Sunday evening. Very hot temperatures late in the day helped destabilize the atmosphere as a dryline pushed in to help the storm take off.

1″ to 2.75″ (quarter to baseball sized) hail was reported with it. The storm moved east of Central Texas before 9 p.m.

KXAN viewers tweeted us (@KXAN_Weather) and emailed us great pictures of the storm. It was hard to miss it if you looked east Sunday evening. Hail reports also filtered in as the storm moved from Bastrop past Giddings.

Storm cloud from Cedar Creek (Beverly)

Storm cloud from Cedar Creek (Beverly)

Hail in Paige, TX (Jaree)

Hail in Paige, TX (Jaree)

Thunderstorm from Buda (Jessica Hernandez)

Thunderstorm from Buda (Jessica Hernandez)

Hail in Paige, TX (Lindsey Marx)

Hail in Paige, TX (Lindsey Marx)

Looking south from Jarrell (Shay)

Looking south from Jarrell (Shay)

If you have a picture you’d like to share, you can email us at ReportIt@kxan.com.