Weather

Arctic methane releases becoming better-understood

December 3rd, 2013 at 10:41 am by under Weather

By Brian Kahn (AP):

Underneath the Arctic Ocean sits a large reserve of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Understanding how much of that is making it to the atmosphere is an important but relatively new area of research. The latest findings published on Sunday in Nature indicate that more could be escaping than previously thought, thanks in part to stormy weather.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a shallow swath of land underneath the East Siberian Sea. It stretches for 2 million square miles and contains large deposits of methane hydrates, which are frozen deposits of highly concentrated methane.

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When the hydrates melt, they turn into methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane hydrates are found throughout the world’s oceans but generally under hundreds of feet of water. That means as they melt, there’s more time for the gas to disperse and mix with the surrounding ocean water. But because the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is much shallower, with an average depth of 150 feet, there’s more of a chance for that methane gas to reach the surface. That’s why understanding how much methane is stored in the shelf and if those stores are stable is so important to climate researchers.

Some scientists suggested earlier this year that a massive release of methane from the shelf, referred to as a “methane bomb,” could cause abrupt climate change and cost the global economy $60 trillion. That claim has been met with much skepticism, in part because the amount of methane the shelf is currently releasing and the conditions it’s stored under aren’t fully understood. The remoteness, logistics and inclement weather have impeded scientists’ research access to the region until fairly recently and data has been sparse.

That, however, is beginning to change.

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Record heat then frigid cold expected this week

December 2nd, 2013 at 3:36 pm by under Weather

From record-breaking heat to frigid cold–we’re going to see it all this week. Highs on Monday afternoon climbed to the low 80s, but new temperature records may be established Tuesday, as readings are forecast to reach the middle 80s.

If you’re a fan of warm weather, you better enjoy it while you can.  A strong arctic cold front will plow through Texas Thursday, dropping temperatures below freezing in many areas by Friday morning, followed by high temperatures in the 30s Friday and Saturday.

There will also be a chance of some cold rain with the front through Friday, and in areas mainly north and west of Austin, some freezing rain and sleet will be possible through the weekend.

The National Weather Service offices in Austin, San Angelo and Ft. Worth have already begun issuing Special Weather Statements about this approaching winter storm system:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
517 PM CST MON DEC 2 2013

LLANO-BURNET-WILLIAMSON-VAL VERDE-EDWARDS-REAL-KERR-BANDERA-
GILLESPIE-KENDALL-BLANCO-HAYS-TRAVIS-BASTROP-LEE-KINNEY-UVALDE-
MEDINA-BEXAR-COMAL-GUADALUPE-CALDWELL-FAYETTE-MAVERICK-ZAVALA-
FRIO-ATASCOSA-WILSON-KARNES-GONZALES-DE WITT-LAVACA-DIMMIT-

...ANOTHER BLAST OF COLD WEATHER LATE THIS WEEK...

SUNNY AND WARM CONDITIONS WILL PERSIST THROUGH WEDNESDAY. ON
THURSDAY...A MAJOR BLAST OF ARCTIC AIR WILL ENTER THE REGION WHICH
WILL BRING A PERIOD OF MUCH BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES THROUGH THE
MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK.

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From record highs to freezing rain

December 2nd, 2013 at 11:14 am by under Weather

This week will be a real roller coaster ride weather-wise, with temperatures rising to potentially record levels Tuesday before plummeting later in the week.

12-2 temp trend

Here’s a look at what we can expect from the National Weather Service.

...ANOTHER BLAST OF COLD WEATHER LATE THIS WEEK...

SPRINGLIKE SUNNY AND WARM CONDITIONS WILL OCCUR THROUGH WEDNESDAY...
BUT A MAJOR BLAST OF ARCTIC AIR WILL ENTER THE REGION ON THURSDAY
AND USHER IN A PERIOD OF MUCH BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES THROUGH
MID-MONTH.

THE UPCOMING WEEKEND WILL BE COLD AND WET AS AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH
PASSES OVER THE COLD AIR NEAR THE GROUND. THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE OF
RAIN MIXED WITH FREEZING RAIN IN THE HILL COUNTRY AND NORTHERN
EDWARDS PLATEAU FRIDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY SATURDAY...AND AGAIN
SATURDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY. HOWEVER...PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS
APPEAR TO BE LIGHT ENOUGH THAT THE IMPACTS OF ICING SHOULD BE
MINIMAL...MAINLY LIMITED TO TRAVEL ON BRIDGES AND OTHER ELEVATED
SURFACES. THERE COULD BE REPORTS OF LIGHT FREEZING RAIN ALONG THE
I-35 COUNTIES FROM WILLIAMSON TO COMAL...ESPECIALLY AT HIGHER
ELEVATIONS SUCH AS THE WESTERN HILLS OF METRO AUSTIN. THERE IS NO
INDICATION OF FREEZING RAIN FOR BEXAR COUNTY AND METRO SAN ANTONIO
AT THIS TIME.

EVEN WITHOUT THE RAIN...IT WILL BE COLD AND BLUSTERY AT TIMES WITH
WIND CHILL READINGS IN THE 20S AND 30S MUCH OF THE WEEKEND.
ANOTHER PUSH OF COLD AIR WILL ARRIVE EARLY NEXT WEEK...MAINTAINING
THE COLD CONDITIONS THROUGH MID-MONTH.

COLD WEATHER SAFETY REVOLVES AROUND THE FOUR P(S)...
PEOPLE...PETS...PLANTS...PIPES. IN SHORT...PEOPLE AND PETS SHOULD
STAY INDOORS OR BE DRESSED APPROPRIATELY WHEN OUTSIDE. FROSTBITE
AND HYPOTHERMIA CAN RESULT FROM EXTENDED EXPOSURE TO THE ELEMENTS...
BOTH OF WHICH ARE SERIOUS AND REQUIRE IMMEDIATE WARMING AND
MEDICAL ATTENTION. PLANTS SHOULD BE BROUGHT INDOORS OR COVERED.
WHILE THE COLD OUTBREAK WILL BE OF LONG DURATION...IT DOES NOT APPEAR
SEVERE ENOUGH TO CAUSE PIPE BURST PROBLEMS. BUT THE WARM PERIOD
OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO REMOVE WATER FROM
HOSES AND IRRIGATION SYSTEMS.

Zilker Tree Lighting forecast

November 30th, 2013 at 9:44 pm by under Weather

The Zilker Holiday Tree lighting ceremony will kick off the holiday season in Zilker Park Sunday night. It starts at 6 p.m. and I imagine you’ll want to get there early to find parking.

Plan for pretty nice weather. Afternoon highs Sunday will hit the low 70s and will still be in the upper 60s for the start of the ceremony with mostly cloudy skies. By 8 p.m., you can expect them to drop to the low 60s.

Zilker Tree

The City of Austin says the Zilker Tree stands 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers, each holding 81 multicolored, 25-watt bulbs – totaling 3,309 lights. At the top of the tree, a double star measures 10 feet from point to point. The double star displays 150 frosted bulbs. This unique spiral pattern of lights was created by City of Austin electricians. At its circumference, the tree measures 380 feet. The diameter is 120 feet. The base of the tree is made up of 19 utility poles, each 14 feet tall, arranged in a circle around the Moonlight Tower.

On December 10, 1967, the first tree was lighted by Mayor Pro Tem Mrs. Emma Long. In subsequent years this honor has been awarded to the young winner of a city-wide tree coloring contest.

The Trail of Lights lights up Zilker Park starting December 8th.


Unusually quiet Atlantic hurricane season ends

November 29th, 2013 at 5:34 pm by under Weather

From Jeff Masters, Weather Underground:

The end of the unusually quiet Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 is at hand. The final tally of thirteen named storms was above the average of eleven for a season, but the two hurricanes (Ingrid and Humberto) and zero major hurricanes were well below the average from 1950 – 2012 of six and three, respectively. The 2013 season ranked as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes (ACE index), which was just 33% of the 1981 – 2012 average. The 2013 hurricane season was the first time since 1994 no major hurricanes formed, and was only the third below-normal season since the high-activity period for Atlantic hurricanes began in 1995. NOAA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve flew 45 hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic basin this season, totaling 435 hours–the fewest number of flight hours since at least 1966, said NOAA in a press release summarizing the 2013 hurricane season.

Worst storm of the season: Ingrid
Mexico took a severe beating in 2013, with eight landfalling storms: one hurricane (Ingrid) and two tropical storms (Barry and Fernand) from the Atlantic side, and two hurricanes (Manuel and Barbara), and three tropical storms from the Pacific side. The deadliest and most expensive Atlantic storm of 2013 was Hurricane Ingrid, which weakened to a tropical storm with 65 mph winds before hitting Mexico about 200 miles south of the Texas border on September 16, 2013. Ingrid’s heavy rains triggered flooding that killed 23 and did $1.5 billion in damage, making the storm the 7th costliest tropical cyclone in Mexican history. Barry and Fernand, which both hit the Mexican coast in the Gulf of Mexico between Tampico and Veracruz, dumped torrential rains and triggered floods that killed five and fourteen people, respectively. The first storm of the season, Tropical Storm Andrea, was the only named storm to make landfall in the United States this year. Andrea brought tornadoes, heavy rain, and minor flooding to portions of Florida, eastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina, causing one fatality and damage less than $25 million. No other deaths were recorded from Atlantic named storms in 2013. Tropical Storm Chantal did minor damage on Dominica and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles, and Tropical Storm Gabrielle did minor damage on Bermuda.


Figure 1. The strongest Atlantic hurricane of 2013, Category 1 Hurricane Ingrid, lays siege to Mexico on September 15, 2013. Ingrid killed 23 and did $1.5 billion in damage to Mexico. On the Pacific side, we see Tropical Storm Manuel, which killed 169 people and did $4.2 billion in damage to Mexico. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

A preseason forecast bust

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Onion Creek benefit barbecue Friday

November 28th, 2013 at 5:07 pm by under Weather

Watch this space for information about fundraising events for Onion Creek flood victims. We invite friends, families, and organizations to let us know about these benefits, and we’ll be happy to help you publicize them.
ONION CREEK FUNDRAISER

Details of the benefit:
Friday Nov. 29th 2013. 9am-6pm
Callahan’s General Store
501 U.S. 183, Austin, TX 78741


Freeze expected early Wednesday, Thursday mornings

November 26th, 2013 at 3:33 pm by under Weather

Skies will clear tonight with the northwest winds subsiding to 5 to 10 mph after sunset. Temperatures will drop to freezing most areas overnight with lows in the low to mid 30s most areas…except upper 20s to near 30 degrees Hill Country. A freeze warning is in effect for much of South Central Texas…including the San Antonio Metropolitan area from midnight to 9 am.

Snow flurries possible early Tuesday

November 25th, 2013 at 8:39 pm by under Weather

Another cold and wet night is in store across most of south central Texas. Periods of mainly light rain are expected overnight as an upper level low moves into south Texas. The exception will be across the eastern Hill Country and I-35 corridor north of San Antonio, where a mixture of rain and snow is possible after midnight. Precipitation amounts will remain light and ice accumulations are not expected. Otherwise, expect lows in the 30s to near 40. North winds will slowly increase through the overnight hours.
————————————
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
825 PM CST MON NOV 25 2013

LLANO-BURNET-KERR-BANDERA-GILLESPIE-KENDALL-BLANCO-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...LLANO...BURNET...KERRVILLE...BANDERA...
FREDERICKSBURG...BOERNE...BLANCO
825 PM CST MON NOV 25 2013

...SNOW FLURRIES POSSIBLE TONIGHT ACROSS THE HILL COUNTRY...

AN UPPER LEVEL LOW WILL MOVE ACROSS TEXAS TONIGHT AND TUESDAY. THIS
LOW WILL BRING SCATTERED LIGHT RAIN THROUGH THE OVERNIGHT HOURS.
TEMPERATURES WILL FALL TO NEAR FREEZING...WHICH COULD ALLOW SNOW
FLURRIES TO MIX IN WITH THE COLD RAIN. GROUND TEMPERATURES SHOULD
BE WARM ENOUGH TO MELT THE FALLING FLURRIES ON CONTACT...SO NO
SNOW ACCUMULATION IS EXPECTED.

Widespread icing event narrowly avoided

November 25th, 2013 at 1:23 pm by under Weather

As temperatures dipped to – or within several degrees of – the freezing mark early Monday and wetting rains fell across the area, what could have been a widespread icing event was largely avoided.

11-25 dma lows

Temperatures did briefly touch the freezing mark in most Hill Country communities, but reports of icing on roadways were few and far between, as most of the precipitation that fell across the area overnight remained in liquid form.

Low temperatures in the Austin Metro were generally in the mid-30s.

11-25 24hr totals

Radar-estimated 24-hour rainfall totals were generally between one-half inch and three-quarters of an inch as of early Monday afternoon.

Although the rain has been steady, it has had little effect on our Highland Lakes as Lake Travis and Buchanan are only up 1-2 inches over the past 24 hours.


Latest winter weather advisories and warnings

November 24th, 2013 at 9:52 am by under Weather

Here is the latest from the National Weather Service regarding the coming winter storm:

ewx

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR CENTRAL/EASTERN HILL COUNTRY, AND I-35 COMMUNITIES INCLUDING METRO AUSTIN:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
922 AM CST SUN NOV 24 2013

...A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM TUESDAY
MORNING ACROSS THE SOUTHERN EDWARDS PLATEAU...HILL COUNTRY...AND
NORTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF THE I-35 CORRIDOR...

.UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCES MOVING ACROSS THE REGION WILL LEAD TO
GOOD CHANCES FOR PRECIPITATION TODAY THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY. LIGHT
SLEET WILL MIX-IN WITH THE COLD RAIN TODAY THROUGH MONDAY EVENING
ACROSS NORTHERN AND NORTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF THE REGION. AT THIS
TIME...ONLY MINIMAL ICE ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED TODAY THROUGH
MONDAY. HOWEVER...THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR LIGHT ACCUMULATIONS
ON BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES THROUGHOUT THE HILL COUNTRY AND OVER
PORTIONS OF THE I-35 CORRIDOR.

BY MONDAY NIGHT...A STRONG UPPER LOW WILL MOVE ACROSS OUR AREA.
THIS WILL ALLOW TEMPERATURES JUST ABOVE THE SURFACE TO BECOME COLD
ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF SNOW. SNOW FLURRIES ARE POSSIBLE
LATE MONDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY MORNING ACROSS THE SOUTHERN EDWARDS
PLATEAU...HILL COUNTRY...AND NORTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF THE I-35
CORRIDOR.

TXZ173-191-192-206-242330-
/O.EXB.KEWX.WW.Y.0004.000000T0000Z-131126T1500Z/
WILLIAMSON-HAYS-TRAVIS-COMAL-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...GEORGETOWN...SAN MARCOS...AUSTIN...
NEW BRAUNFELS
922 AM CST SUN NOV 24 2013

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST TUESDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR LIGHT SLEET AND SNOW FLURRIES...WHICH
IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST TUESDAY.

* TIMING...LIGHT SLEET WILL MIX-IN WITH THE COLD RAIN TODAY
  THROUGH MONDAY EVENING. SNOW FLURRIES ARE POSSIBLE MONDAY NIGHT
  THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY.

* MAIN IMPACT...PATCHY ICE MAY DEVELOP ON BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES
  TODAY THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING.

* OTHER IMPACTS...SENSITIVE PLANTS SHOULD BE COVERED AND PETS
  BROUGHT INDOORS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

WINTER STORM WARNING FOR MASON/SAN SABA/LAMPASAS COUNTIES:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN ANGELO TX
536 AM CST SUN NOV 24 2013

...A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR WEST CENTRAL TEXAS
THROUGH EARLY MONDAY...
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