Weather

LCRA seeks to suspend lake releases for fourth straight year

November 19th, 2014 at 2:43 pm by under Weather

Historic Action Prompted by Record-Setting Drought

With parts of Texas in the midst of a persistent, severe drought, the Lower Colorado River Authority will seek permission from the state to curtail releases of interruptible stored water from the Highland Lakes for downstream irrigation for the fourth year in a row.

LCRA also will ask permission to reduce the amount of water required to be released in spring 2015 to support the habitat of the blue sucker, a threatened fish that lives in the river downstream of Austin.

“This was not an easy decision, but we must protect the region’s water supply,” said LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson. “More than a million people depend on water from the Highland Lakes, and right now, there is just not enough water for everyone to have all they want.

“This is a significant drought. At times, it’s been even more intense than the worst recorded drought in this region’s history, and we don’t know when it’s going to end,’’ Wilson said. “This action will help us manage our limited water supply to meet the essential needs of the region’s communities and industries.”

On Wednesday, the LCRA Board of Directors voted 11-2 to ask permission from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to curtail releases from the lakes in 2015.

LCRA is requesting drought relief identical to the relief approved by TCEQ for 2014, which cut off releases of interruptible water supplies for most downstream irrigation.

The Board said it also would continue limiting outdoor watering by LCRA firm customers and their customers to a maximum of one day a week. Firm customers include cities in Central Texas that depend on water from the Highland Lakes.

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October 2014–yet another warmest month on record

November 19th, 2014 at 1:17 pm by under Weather

(Climate Central)

For the third month in a row, global temperatures reached record territory according to newly available data from NASA. And if one global temperature record isn’t enough, the Japanese Meteorological Agency also provided new data on Friday that showed the warmest October on record.

Global temperature anomalies for the month of October compared to 1951-1980 average.
Credit: NASA GISS

Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) show this October was 1.4°F above the 1951-1980 average they use as their baseline. That didn’t set a monthly mark, as did August and September, but rather tied 2005 as the warmest October since 1880. That keeps 2014 on track to be the hottest year on record.

While individual hot years or months don’t necessarily stand out, it’s notable that all 10 of the warmest years on record have all come since 1998, one of the clearest signs that the climate is warming due in large part to greenhouse gas emissions.

RELATED 2014 on Track to be Hottest Year on Record
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NASA data reveal that far eastern Siberia was an eye-popping 10°F above normal for October, but western Europe, northern Africa and western North America also saw temperatures up to 7°F hotter than average. The data also comes a day after the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) released its October numbers for the U.S. that showed the lower 48 had its fourth-warmest October on record.

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Lake Effect Snow Machine

November 19th, 2014 at 11:54 am by under Weather

Ok so by now most of us have heard about the absolutely incredible amount of snow areas around Buffalo, in Western upstate New York has received.  If you haven’t, let’s just say, in the last 72 hours 5 feet has come down in spots with more expected today, tonight, and tomorrow.  Where the heaviest bands of snow reside, neighborhoods may accumulate as much as two additional feet of snow.  

**For the whole story and a MINI verbal explanation of what Lake Effect Snow is and how it works….   CLICK HERE!**

The "wall" of snow that is barrelling toward Buffalo.  Picture taken from well above the storm.

The “wall” of snow that is barrelling toward Buffalo. Picture taken from well above the storm.

 

Here is a brief written explanation of how it forms with a bit more science to it  from the folks at the National Weather Service based out of Buffalo:

The Recipe for Lake-Effect Storms

Lake-effect snow forms in the winter when cold air masses move over warmer lake waters.  As the warm lake water heats the bottom layer of air, lake moisture evaporates into the cold air. Since warm air is lighter and less dense than cold air, it rises and begins to cool. The moisture that evaporates into the air condenses and forms clouds, and snow begins falling.

LE Exp 1

Snow clouds most often form in narrow bands where the size and orientation are determined by the shape of the body of water and the prevailing wind direction. In the most extreme cases, the heaviest bands of snowfall may be 20 to 30 miles wide and extend over 100 miles inland from the lake.

Within the band, snowfall rates may exceed 5 inches an hour and be accompanied by lightning and thunder, a phenomenon known as thundersnow. A band of snow can hover over one location for several hours, dropping several feet of snow; however, 10 to 15 miles on either side of that narrow band skies may be sunny with no snow at all.

LE Exp 2

Lake-effect snows are not confined to the Great Lakes region, although they are most common and heaviest there. Any large body of water can generate lake-effect snow downwind if it remains free of ice. The Great Salt Lake in Utah produces significant lake-effect snow. There’s also bay-effect snow that forms in the same manner as lake-effect snow, only over the ocean. Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts and Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and Virginia will occasionally produce bay-effect snow.

Additional details from Buffalo….

1.  Here is the LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING write-up from the National Weather Service as to what residents in Buffalo can expect:

...LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 11 PM THIS
EVENING TO 1 AM EST FRIDAY...

* LOCATIONS...ERIE COUNTY INCLUDING THE BUFFALO METRO AREA.

* TIMING...LATE THIS EVENING THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT.

* ACCUMULATIONS...ADDITIONAL ACCUMULATIONS OF AROUND 2 FEET IN THE
  MOST PERSISTENT SNOWS. THE HEAVIEST AMOUNTS MAY AGAIN FOCUS ON
  AREAS FROM SOUTH BUFFALO TO THE NEARBY SOUTHERN AND EASTERN
  SUBURBS.

* WINDS...SOUTHWEST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 40 MPH PRODUCING
  SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW.

* VISIBILITIES...NEAR ZERO AT TIMES.

* IMPACTS...HEAVY LAKE EFFECT SNOW WILL RESULT IN VERY DIFFICULT
  OR NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TRAVEL AT TIMES IN THE HEAVIEST PORTION OF
  THE BAND. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL DURING THE LAKE EFFECT SNOW...
  EXPECT SEVERE WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS WITH VERY LOW VISIBILITY
  AND DEEP SNOW COVER ON ROADS. SOME ROADS THAT HAVE BEEN CLEARED
  MAY BECOME IMPASSABLE AGAIN. SNOW LOADS ON BUILDINGS MAY REACH
  CRITICAL LEVELS AND RESULT IN STRUCTURAL FAILURE.

 LE 1 Door

Extras:

What Is “Fetch”:  The distance that an airmass travels over a body of water is called fetch. Because most lakes are irregular in shape, different angular degrees of travel will yield different distances; typically a fetch of at least 100 km (62 mi) is required to produce lake effect precipitation. Generally, the larger the fetch the more precipitation that will be produced. Larger fetches provide the boundary layer with more time to become saturated with water vapor and for heat energy to move from the water to the air. As the air mass reaches the other side of the lake, the engine of rising and cooling water vapor pans itself out in the form of condensation and falls as snow, usually within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the lake but sometimes up to about 100 miles.

WHY WAS THIS STORM SO POWERFUL:  

1.AS WE FOUND OUT HERE IN CENTRAL TEXAS BY TYING OR BREAKING 4 RECORD LOWS IN THE MATTER OF 8 DAYS, THIS WAS ONE COLLLLLLD ARCTIC AIRMASS.

2. IT’S ONLY NOVEMBER!!!!  -  THIS MEANS THE LAKE TEMPERATURE HASN’T FALLEN VERY MUCH JUST YET, MAKING THE DIFFERENCE IN TEMPERATURE BETWEEN THE AIR PASSING OVER THE LAKE AND THE TEMPERATURE OF THE SURFACE WATER VERY GREAT.  THIS LEADS TO ADDED INSTABILITY.

3.  THE WIND WAS BLOWING IN SUCH A DIRECTION THAT THE FETCH WAS MAXIMIZED.  IT AIR PICKED UP AS MUCH MOISTURE AS IT POSSIBLY COULD BEFORE DUMPING IT ON UPSTATE NEW YORK.  THE AMAZING PART IS…. IT HAS BEEN RELENTLESS.

sat 1

mound 1


November bird forecast

November 18th, 2014 at 6:00 am by under Weather

What to watch for in November: Species on the move

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.

Welcome, winter Texans

Certain species will continue arriving in Texas over the coming weeks to spend the winter here. North winds make their journeys less energy-intensive. Texas provides critical habitat for these “winter Texans.”

Songbirds arriving include the Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow and American Pipit. Ducks are also winging south. Watch the duck populations swell on area lakes and ponds. Look for Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Gadwall, Redhead and Canvasback.

 Hermit Thrush photo by John Benson via Creative Commons


Hermit Thrush photo by John Benson via Creative Commons

 

The Hermit Thrush can be found in thick undergrowth, rooting through leaf litter — a good reason to keep parts of our parks wild. You’re not likely to see it at a feeder but you might spot it on the ground along trails and in openings in wooded areas. It is related to the American Robin and has the same pot-bellied look. The Hermit Thrush is smaller than an American Robin, though, and it has a rich brown upper body, smudged dark spots on the breast, and a reddish tail, according to All About Birds. It’s the only member of the thrush family that stays in the U.S. for the winter.

 

Ring-necked Duck photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service--Midwest Region

Ring-necked Duck photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–Midwest Region


The Ring-necked Duck is oddly named since the ring is not around the collar but around the bill. The males of these diving ducks have jet-black heads. The females are more tan and gray, but both have gray bills with white ring near the black tips. Both also have sloped foreheads and flattened crowns, which gives them a pointy-headed look. Look for them on smaller ponds, not large bodies of water.

Monthly Meeting — Photography as a Conservation Tool in Texas
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20
Speaker: Jeff Parker
Location: Hyde Park Christian Church, 610 E 45th St., Austin, TX 78751
Come prepared to enjoy some great wildlife photos as photographer Jeff Parker talks about the value of wildlife photography and photo contests in increasing awareness of our natural heritage. Parker, an award-winning naturalist photographer and certified wildlife guide, will talk about how wildlife photography has opened the eyes of some landowners to other wildlife on their property, giving them an incentive to protect the native wildlife of our state.


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

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

Indiangrass Wildlife Sanctuary with Robert Reeves and Rene’ Barrera
Saturday, November 8, 8 to 11 a.m.

Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend
Saturday, November 8, 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Balcones Canyonlands NWR
Sunday, November 9, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Super Tuesday at Northeast Metropolitan Park, led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, November 11, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, November 15, 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Super Tuesday at Pedernales Falls State Park, led by Terry Banks
Tuesday, November 18, 6:30 a.m. to noon

Balcones Canyonlands/Water Quality Preserves-Part 3
Friday, November 21, 8 to 11 a.m.

Laguna Gloria with Dennis Palafox and Jane Tillman
Saturday, November 22, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Super Tuesday at Tejas Camp, led by Ray and Ginny Steelman
Tuesday, November 25, 6:45 a.m. to noon

Commons Ford Monthly Walk
Sunday, November 30, 7:30 to 11:00 a.m.


Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez


Leonid meteor shower peaks early Tuesday morning

November 17th, 2014 at 2:15 pm by under Weather

The annual Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak in the early morning hours Tuesday, Nov. 18.  Everything you need to know is below, courtesy Deborah Byrd and EarthSky.org:

Leonids via NASA
Leonids via NASA

Leonid meteors, viewed from space in 1997. Image via NASA

The image at right shows Leonid meteors striking Earth’s atmosphere and creating shooting stars in Earth’s night sky. The Leonid meteor shower takes place every November, as our world moves through space, crossing the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, the parent comet of the Leonid meteor shower. In 2014, the peak night of the shower is expected from late evening November 17 to the morning of November 18. Fortunately, the rather unobtrusive waning crescent moon won’t really dampen the view on the shower’s peak night. The days before and after the peak might feature meteors as well, as we pass through the Leonid meteor stream in space.

How many Leonid meteors will you see in 2014? The answer of course depends on when you watch, the clarity and darkness of your night sky, and on whether or not you can avoid the moon. This shower has been known to produce meteor storms, but no Leonid storm is expected this year. The Leonids are usually a modest shower, with typical rates of about 10 to 15 meteors per hour at the peak, in the darkness before dawn.

A meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid meteor shower. Photo via Navicore via Wikimedia Commons.

When should you watch for Leonid meteors in 2014? Knowing what time to watch is easy. As with most meteor showers, the best time to watch the Leonids is usually between the hours of midnight and dawn. The expected peak night is November 17-18, and fortunately, the waning light of the lunar crescent moon won’t seriously jeopardize the view of this year’s production in the morning hours.

Where should you watch the meteor shower? We hear lots of reports from people who see meteors from yards, decks, streets and especially highways in and around cities. But the best place to watch a meteor shower is always in the country. Just go far enough from town that glittering stars, the same stars drowned by city lights, begin to pop into view.

City, state and national parks are often great places to watch meteor showers. Try googling the name of your state or city with the words city park, state park or national park. Then, be sure to go to the park early in the day and find a wide open area with a good view of the sky in all directions.

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Climate change will mean wet areas get wetter, dry areas get drier

November 17th, 2014 at 1:46 pm by under Weather

The twenty-first century may bring the United States more of the weather it’s already got, whether wet or dry. The U.S. National Climate Assessment, issued in May 2014, examined multiple model projections of seasonal precipitation over the rest of this century. In general, precipitation is projected to increase in the northernmost parts of the country, and decrease in the southwestern United States.

These maps show projected seasonal precipitation changes for the final decades of this century (2071-2099) compared to the end of the last century (1970-1999) depending on two possible scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions. One scenario assumes that greenhouse gas emissions peak sometime between 2010 and 2020 and rapidly decline afterwards. The other scenario assumes that greenhouse gas emissions continue increasing throughout the 21st century.

Climate change and precip

Precipitation increases appear in shades of blue-green, and decreases appear in shades of brown. The darker the color, the greater the departure from 1970-1999 precipitation levels. White areas mean that any porjected changes are not larger than the existing range of natural variability. Not surprisingly, continually increasing greenhouse gas emissions are projected to produce greater changes (positive and negative) in seasonal precipitation.

With either rapid emissions reductions or continued emissions increases, changes in projected precipitation vary by season and especially by location. Although the effects are milder under a rapid-reduction scenario, all the projections show more precipitation in the North. In most cases, precipitation in the southwestern United States decreases. A notable exception to this general pattern is the summer seasonal projection for increasing emissions; in this scenario, precipitation also decreases in the Pacific Northwest.

The contiguous United States spans the transition zone between the relatively dry sub-tropics and the wetter high latitudes. Although models agree on wetter conditions in the north and drier conditions in the southwest, pinpointing the exact boundary where more or less precipitation will dominate is tricky for some parts of the country. In general, though, the National Climate Assessment authors warn, “The contrast between wet and dry areas will increase both in the U.S. and globally—in other words, the wet areas will get wetter ,and the dry areas will get drier.”

Source: Climate.gov

Reference

Walsh, J., D. Wuebbles, K. Hayhoe, J. Kossin, K. Kunkel, G. Stephens, P. Thorne, R. Vose, M. Wehner, J. Willis, D. Anderson, S. Doney, R. Feely, P. Hennon, V. Kharin, T. Knutson, F. Landerer, T. Lenton, J. Kennedy, and R. Somerville, 2014: Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, J. M. Melillo, Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and G. W. Yohe, Eds., U.S. Global Change Research Program, 19-67. doi:10.7930/J0KW5CXT.


Two freezing nights on the way

November 16th, 2014 at 9:40 am by under Weather

A powerful Arctic cold front is blowing through Central Texas today, bringing the return of very cold temperatures.

Mon lowsTues lows

Forecast lows Monday and Tuesday mornings indicate some patchy freezing temperatures tonight, then a widespread hard freeze Monday night.

Be sure to protect petspipesplants and people (check on the elderly and those without reliable heating systems).

High temperatures will finally warm to above-average readings in the 70s by the end of the coming work week. Stay warm out there!


205,000 families still homeless one year after Super Typhoon Haiyan

November 15th, 2014 at 10:11 am by under Weather

tacloban tent city

 

(Straits Times, Asia): Defending his government against criticism that it is moving too slowly in rebuilding communities ravaged by a super typhoon exactly one year ago, President Benigno Aquino appealed for patience, saying reconstruction takes time.

“I am impatient like everyone else, but I have to stress that we can’t rebuild haphazardly,” Mr Aquino said in a speech yesterday during a stop in the hard-hit town of Guiuan in Leyte province, where Haiyan first made landfall.

“Curse me, criticise me, but I believe I must do the right thing.”

Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to make landfall in recorded history, left a trail of destruction and some 6,300 deaths across central Philippines.

Mr Aquino has come under fire for having very little to show since Haiyan devastated communities in 171 cities and towns.

By his government’s own estimate, 205,128 families are still living in bunkhouses, tents and shanties in “unsafe areas”.

However, only 1,252 houses have been built for them.

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News of Obama Climate Pledge Caps Epic Week

November 14th, 2014 at 7:14 pm by under Weather

Climate CentralBy

If you blinked, it would have been easy to have missed a lot of big news on efforts to tackle global warming this week.

President Obama.
Credit: White House/flickr

It’s being reported that President Obama will announce that the U.S. will pledge $2.5 billion to $3 billion over four years to the Green Climate Fund. The news on Friday comes hot on the heels of an earlier agreement struck between China and the U.S. to curb the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that each country pumps into the air in the coming decades.

“What a week!” said Jake Schmidt, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s international program director, when we reached him by phone on Friday.

The rapid-fire news comes just weeks before negotiators representing nearly 200 countries sit down in Lima for major talks before a global post-Kyoto Protocol treaty is finalized in Paris next December.

Here’s the lowdown for everybody who blinks.

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Annual Austin Duck Derby Is Saturday

November 14th, 2014 at 12:47 pm by under Weather
2014 Austin Duck Derby
Benefiting the Austin Boys & Girls Club Foundation
 
Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:00 am.
Downtown Austin – Ann Richards Bridge (South Congress Bridge)

 

 1BLANK

 

The ducks are coming to Austin! The Austin Duck Derby will feature 10,000 yellow adopted rubber ducks launched into the Lady Bird Lake which will race to the finish line winning prizes for their adopters. Proceeds from every duck adopted benefit the Austin Boys and Girls Club Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports and provides valuable assistance to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area which operate 22 clubs. We help over 12,000 kids each year (and over 1,700 each day) grow into healthy, responsible, caring young adults.

Our mission: The Austin Boys and Girls Club Foundation’s purpose is to create an endowment, which will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Proceeds from the endowment are used to award scholarships to worthy Club members. which in turn ensure the long-term sustainability of our community.

Your duck adoption is an investment in our most vital natural resources: our children.

Prizes include:  A 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, One week stay in Colorado, Gift Certificates, Hotel stays, and more!!

How much:   Attending the event is 100% free!

 

Duck Prices:  

1 duck = $5

6 ducks (quack pack) = $25

12 ducks (quackers dozen) = $50

25 ducks (flock of ducks) = $100

 

Link to the website:  Duck Derby