Storm continues to pound California

December 3rd, 2014 at 9:39 pm by under Weather

Over the past several days, San Francisco has recorded more rainfall than they got in all of 2013!

Read more on the impacts California is seeing from a powerful storm system out west in the article below from WeatherBug:

A potent Pacific storm lashing the Golden State will throw more batches of heavy rain and mountain snow across central and northern California through Thursday. Although it will cause some flooding problems, the rain will ultimately begin to replenish the region`s vastly depleted reservoirs and feed thirsty lawns.

The complex storm is pin-wheeling just off the northern California Coast. Thanks to its deep Pacific moisture, the storm is drenching the northern and southern part of the state with heavy rainfall.
Meanwhile, catching up to the storm will be an equally potent upper-level disturbance. It will be this pulse of energy that will team up to allow another 1-to-3 inches of heavy rain to fall in locations. That will mean some of the higher peaks surrounding the San Francisco Bay area, as well as places from Los Angeles to San Diego, could be swamped by nearly 6 inches of total rainfall by the end of this week, with potentially 2-to-3 inches falling in the cities themselves.

Local climate change conference seeks awareness, solutions

December 2nd, 2014 at 8:17 pm by under Weather

Citizens’ Climate Lobby Regional Conference in Austin; Rep. Lamar Smith seen as key for legislative solution

Richard Bradley, 3rd Coast Regional Coordinator with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, will join 50 other climate advocates Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7 in Austin, TX for a weekend of climate advocacy training.

“People can find the science and problem of climate change confusing and overwhelming. We can all agree that the science will never be settled, but we know enough. After all, we never know when we’re going to be in a car crash yet we wear seatbelts. Buckling that seatbelt doesn’t cost you a thing and protects you against possible dramatic consequences.  Well we can take out the same kind of no-cost insurance policy that’s based on free enterprise principles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, as an added benefit we can reduce the need for EPA regulation, create jobs and grow the economy at a faster clip than if we did nothing at all; we just need to convince our elected officials.” said Bradley.

WHAT: Saturday Agenda – Introductory Training Workshop, Keynote Address from atmospheric scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and advanced lobby training session.

WHO: Local members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) — and anyone else who would like to attend!

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 6, 9:00 am – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7, 8:30 am – noon.

WHERE: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX.


Ultra hi-res NASA visualization shows CO2 swirling around the globe

December 1st, 2014 at 6:52 pm by under Weather


The following is a guest post from Paul McDivitt, a second-year master’s student studying journalism and mass communication research at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is taking a course in journalistic blogging from me there. This is his second post at Discover. His first was at Keith Kloor’s Collide-a-Scape blog. Follow Paul on twitter @paulmcdivitt.

In the wake of an historic agreement between the United States and China to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a new visualization from NASA shows just how important these two nations are in combating climate change.

Courtesy of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the visualization — produced by an ultra-high-resolution computer model and spanning May 2005 to June 2007 — shows weather patterns sweeping plumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, major sources of human-caused emissions are concentrated in North America and Asia, especially China, as well as Europe.


Arctic cold front brings back the chill this week

November 30th, 2014 at 7:56 pm by under Weather

Significant changes are coming to our local weather in the next 12 hours.

A powerful cold front that dropped temperatures in Denver by 24 degrees in 49 minutes, and dropped temperatures in Amarillo by 41 degrees in 3 hours, will plow through Central Texas early Monday morning.

We will reach daytime highs in the middle 60s before sunrise Monday, with temperatures tumbling through the rest of the day. Temperatures are forecast to dip into the upper 30s to lower 40s across the area by sunset Monday evening–and with north winds gusting to 30 mph, it will feel even colder.

Be sure to take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your pets from the coming cold snap. Warmer weather will return Thursday and Friday.

Quiet 2014 Atlantic hurricane season ends Sunday

November 29th, 2014 at 9:41 am by under Weather
Hurricane Arthur reached Category 2 strength on July 3 before cutting across North Carolina’s Outer Banks. (NOAA)  A quiet 2014 Atlantic hurricane season ends on Sunday (Nov. 30) after producing only eight named storms, including six hurricanes, of which only two were major, National Weather Service forecasters said.

The season’s tally of storms was also below the average for the years 1981 through 2010, in which seasons averaged 12 named storms per years, including six hurricanes of which three were major hurricanes. Forecasters and climate scientists, however, warned that two quiet years give no indication of what the future may bring.


Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade Saturday

November 28th, 2014 at 3:23 pm by under Weather

One of Austin’s most important holiday events is the Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade in downtown Austin. We are happy to report that the weather will be just fine for this year’s parade, Saturday morning at 11 a.m.  Skies may still be cloudy from the early morning hours, but you will be able to leave the jackets at home, as we are expecting unseasonably mild temperatures.

Chuys parade

A Big “Thank You” On Thanksgiving!

November 27th, 2014 at 9:53 am by under Weather

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!  First and foremost, thank you all for watching, reading, tweeting, and emailing us here in the First Warning Weather Center with your thoughts, pics, and observations throughout the year.  You have no idea how much it helps us, especially during a severe weather event.  So again, we appreciate your input, so keep it coming!!


Also, a big thank you to everyone who works hard everyday at the NWS Austin/San Antonio office to keep the latest weather information coming.  They are a vital part of our community and have helped save numerous lives in severe weather situations.  Oh, and they do it 24/7/365…. weather never sleeps!


Lastly, we can’t say enough about the folks at the LCRA.  They keep the data flowing just like we want to keep the water doing the same.  Thanks guys!


And to everyone else who assists in getting weather information to the public.  Thank you!



Global warming = more extreme cold events?

November 26th, 2014 at 8:38 am by under Weather

Visualization of a very wavy northern hemisphere jet stream. Credit: NASA

It may be the timeliest — and most troubling — idea in climate science.

Back in 2012, two researchers with a particular interest in the Arctic, Rutgers’ Jennifer Francis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’sStephen Vavrus, published a paper called “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes.” In it, they suggested that the fact that the Arctic is warming so rapidly is leading to an unexpected but profound effect on the weather where the vast majority of us live — a change that, if their theory is correct, may have something to do with the extreme winter weather the U.S. has seen lately.


Moon and Mars appear close tonight

November 25th, 2014 at 4:12 pm by under Weather

Tonight – November 25, 2014 – the waxing crescent moon and the red planet Mars appear in the southwest sky at nightfall. Be sure to check out these worlds at early evening because they’ll follow the sun beneath the horizon by mid-evening.

While our Earth has one large ball-shaped moon, Mars has two tiny potato-shaped moons. Our moon lies at a mean distance of 384,400 kilometers (238,855 miles), but Mars’ two moons reside very close to the surface of the red planet. Deimos, the smaller of Mars’ two moons, is 23,460 kilometers (14,577 miles) from Mars.

This illustration compares the relative sizes of Mars' moons, as seen from the surface of Mars, with the size of our moon, as seen from the Earth's surface. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.

This illustration compares the relative sizes of Mars’ moons as seen from the surface of Mars, with the size of our moon as seen from Earth. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.

Phobos, the larger, lies only 9,270 kilometers (5,670 miles) away. These distances are from the center of Mars. These moons lodge closer yet to Mars’ surface.

The closer a moon’s orbit, the faster the moon goes in its orbit around its parent planet. Deimos’ orbital period is 30 hours and 12 minutes. But the orbital period of Phobos, the closer moon, is only 7 hours and 39 minutes. Phobos is one of the very few moons in the solar system to orbit a planet in less time than its parent planet’s rotational period. Mars rotates full circle in 24 hours and 39 minutes, so one day on Mars is only slightly longer than one Earth day.

The synchronous orbit of two artificial satellites, whereby we're looking downward at the Earth's north pole, and the satellites are orbiting above the Earth's equator. At a distance of 35,786 kilometers above the Earth's surface (42,164 kilometers from the Earth's center), the satellites' orbital periods equal Earth's rotational period. Image credit: Wikipedia

The synchronous orbit of two artificial satellites. In this image, we’re looking downward at the Earth’s north pole, and the satellites are orbiting above the Earth’s equator. At a distance of 35,786 kilometers above the Earth’s surface (42,164 kilometers from the Earth’s center), the satellites’ orbital periods equal Earth’s rotational period. Image via Wikipedia

The distance at which a moon’s (or an artificial satellite’s) orbital period equals the planet’s rotational period is called the synchronous orbit radius. On Mars, this distance is 17,031 kilometers (10,583 miles) above Mars’ surface, or 20,427 kilometers (12,693 miles) from the center of Mars. Farther away than the synchronous orbit, the moon’s orbital period is longer than the planet’s rotational period. Below the synchronous orbit, the moon’s orbital period is shorter than the planet’s rotation.

Because Phobos circles Mars below the synchronous orbit distance, the orbit of this moon is decaying, with Phobos moving closer to Mars at the rate of about 1.8 meters (6 feet) per century. Astronomers believe Phobos is doomed to crash into Mars or to break up into a ring of rubble in about 50 million years.

At a distance of 60 Earth-radii (384,400 kilometers), our moon resides at roughly 9 times the Earth’s synchronous orbit radius of 6.6 Earth-radii (42,000 kilometers from the Earth’s center). At present, the moon is retreating from Earth at the rate of about 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) per century.

What do Phobos and Deimos look like from Mars?

Bottom line: On the evening of November 25, 2014, as darkness falls, watch for the picturesque pairing of the waxing crescent moon with the red planet Mars.

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Earth records warmest October on record

November 25th, 2014 at 11:27 am by under Weather
toasty blog
(Japan Meteorological Agency)

Capital Weather Gang/Washington Post — Multiple datasets have confirmed it was the warmest October on record for the globe, keeping the planet on a course towards its toastiest year.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, NASA, and the University of Alabama’s temperature records all showed October temperatures at the top of charts.

  • The Japan dataset reveals the October temperature was 0.61 F above the 1981-2010 average, well (0.18F) above the next warmest year, 2003 (in records dating back to 1891).
  • NASA’s temperature record indicates this October tied with October 2005 as the warmest (in records dating back to 1880), 1.37 F above the 1951-1980 average (its base period).
  • The University of Alabama (which dates back to 1979) showed October 2014 tied October 2012 as warmest in its record, 0.67 F above the 30-year average for October.