Recent scorecard still points warmer for west/east US temperature split

March 28th, 2015 at 10:46 am by under Weather

The folks at Climate Central have released an update on spring temperatures in the U.S., which they call the “spring swing.” In the ongoing divide between west/warmer and east/colder, it’s interesting to take a look at their facts and figures:



Temperatures this weekend are a reminder that spring is a season of transitions, and those transitions are often dramatic.

  • Temperatures Saturday will be 10 to 20° below normal in most locations east of the Mississippi River, while from the Rockies and westward, temperatures will be 10 to 20° above normal.
  • The heat extremes have been more recently pronounced along the immediate West Coast, as Record Highs were set from Seattle to Los Angeles on Thursday.
  • Los Angeles recorded its fifth day at or above 90° this March. The previous record was three days (set in 1934, 1988, 1997).
  • Most of the Northeast, Appalachians, and Great Lakes will have a difficult time getting out of the 30s on Saturday, while 80s will be common along the Front Range of the Rockies.

Despite the cold spell in the eastern U.S., the overall scorecard still tilts warm for the nation as a whole. With the data that are in through March 24:



  • Record highs are outpacing record lows 3 to 2.
  • When also considering the Record High Minimums and Record Low Maximums, the ratio is a little less dramatic, but the warm records are outpacing the cold records 5 to 4.
  • And even though there have been several individual snowfall records established, like this year in Boston (110.3”), there have been no new snow depth records this calendar year.

  Climate Central:



  • From just a year ago. Cold stretches in perspective:



Further Resources:



Central Texas drought update

March 27th, 2015 at 7:13 am by under Weather

3-27 omni drought


This week’s update courtesy of the US Drought Monitor shows that nearly all communities along and east of I-35 have been removed from soil moisture drought conditions due to recent rainfall. While this is welcome news, areas of Gillespie County in the Hill Country remain in the most severe level of drought — “exceptional”.

Only 50% of Texas is currently under some severity of soil drought. At this time last year, that number was 85%.

Storms should not catch you by surprise

March 25th, 2015 at 11:11 pm by under Weather

Some of the victims of Wednesday evening’s tornado in Moore, Oklahoma (yes, another tornado in Moore, and in the same location as the May 20, 2013 EF-5 storm that killed 24 people) said they had no idea a tornado was approaching.

The area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch at the time, and local television stations were broadcasting live images of the approaching storm. To be truly safe during severe storm season, it is important to stay aware the weather situation every day. One easy way to do that is to download the KXAN Weather App, which can alert you when severe weather warnings are issued. Details are below.

Once you know severe weather is threatening, you then need to take very specific actions depending on where you are. Click here to download our Severe Weather Guide, which will provide detailed instructions for any situation.

KXAN First Warning Weather App

Weather App Home Screen

Apple App Store Download Link

Never let the weather catch you by surprise again. The trusted weather experts of the KXAN First Warning Weather team deliver Austin and central Texas’ most accurate hour-by-hour forecast for the next day and for the week ahead. Unlike other weather apps, you’ll get a local forecast that is customized for you.

Download the KXAN Weather app for fast, accurate local and national weather at your fingertips. With its personal alert notifications, you’ll know when significant weather is heading your way and when to take cover. And when you are traveling, use KXAN Weather to get real-time weather forecasts, interactive radar and current conditions for anywhere in the U.S.

The KXAN Weather app utilizes the most advanced radar maps, weather and digital technology available. With its easy to use interactive radar, you can take control and see where the storm is now and where it is tracking. Then, set customized alerts to keep you and your family informed and safe.

Download: iPhone/iPad
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Tonight’s Severe Weather Chances & SPC’s New Classification System

March 25th, 2015 at 3:26 pm by under Weather

The new models are out, and they are beginning to hint at lower severe weather probabilities for this evening.  We still may see a thunderstorm or two, but the chances of any local storm reaching severe criteria is small.  So, what makes a storm a severe storm?  Well, for the title to be achieved, two of the these three criteria must be met:

1.  Winds 58mph or better

2.  Hail the size of a quarter or bigger (greater than or equal to 1″ in diameter)

3.  Any tornadic activity (funnel cloud/tornado)


The Storm Prediction Center

image 1

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC), located in Norman, Oklahoma, is tasked with forecasting the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across the United States. The agency issues convective outlooks, mesoscale discussions, and watches as a part of this process.

This year, the convective outlook product has taken on a new look, as the SPC decided to expand upon their prediction classification system.  In the past, the threat for severe weather was either labeled slight, moderate, or high.  This severe weather season, you will notice two more classifications;  ENHANCED and MARGINAL.

So, if you see, for example, an enhanced risk area over your community, what does it mean??  Well, here is a breakdown:

image 1

1.  Marginal/dark green risk area –  Includes severe storms of either limited organization and longevity, or very low coverage and marginal intensity.

2.  Slight/yellow risk area – Implies organized severe thunderstorms are expected, but usually in low coverage with varying levels of intensity.

3.  Enhanced/orange risk area – Depicts a greater concentration of organized severe thunderstorms with varying levels of intensity.

4.  Moderate/red risk area - Indicates potential for widespread severe weather with several tornadoes and/or numerous severe thunderstorms, some of which may be intense.

5.  High/magenta risk area - Suggests a severe weather outbreak is expected from either numerous intense and long-track tornadoes, or a long-lived derecho system with hurricane-force wind gusts producing widespread damage.

**The light green area above is labeled “TSTM” for “Thunderstorm.”  This area indicates a 10% or higher probability of thunderstorms forecast during the valid period.**


Now that the Spring season is upon us, don’t forget to download our KXAN Severe Weather Guide!!  It’s a great refresher in case you and your family get caught in a severe weather situation.


El Nino to blame for slow start to severe weather season?

March 25th, 2015 at 7:21 am by under Weather

(Capital Weather Gang) – Not that we’re complaining, but it’s been a really slow start to this year’s severe weather season in the United States. More than really slow — record slow. Slow enough for the Storm Prediction Center to call it “uncharted territory.”

But just four years ago, in 2011, we were dealing with uncharted territory on the other end of the spectrum. “The 2011 tornado season wasn’t supposed to happen, not in our modern era of advanced technology and storm warnings,” said Climate Central’s Andrea Thompson. “But the 1,691 tornadoes in 2011 — the second most for any season going back to the 1950s — included outbreaks that killed hundreds, something not seen since the 1970s.”


Solar eclipse stalls Germany’s solar power production

March 24th, 2015 at 7:42 am by under Weather


(New Scientist) – The sun went out, but the lights stayed on. Last week’s partial solar eclipse in Europe provided an ideal stress test for the world’s most solar-powered country, Germany, and so for the future of solar power itself. It passed.


Happy World Meteorological Day!

March 23rd, 2015 at 5:35 pm by under Weather
Each year on March 23, the World Meteorological Organization, along with its 191 members–including the National Weather Service–and the worldwide meteorological community, celebrates World Meteorological Day, commemorating the formation of the WMO. This year’s theme is “Climate knowledge for climate action” highlighting both recent advances in climate science and the need for decisive measures to limit climate change. Click here to read more.

How Central Texas’ recent storm will help drought

March 22nd, 2015 at 9:23 am by under Weather

Thanks to the storm that brought rain on Friday, March 20 (the first day of spring 2015) and Saturday, March 21, beneficial rain flowed into area gauges. Here’s a look at storm totals, as calculated by the Lower Colorado River Authority (highest total highlighted in green):

Eastern counties, including Caldwell, Lee, Bastrop and Fayette:

3-22 T1


Metro counties, including Williamson, Travis and Hays:

3-22 T2


Hill Country, including San Saba, Lampasas, Mason, Llano, Burnet, Gillespie and Blanco counties:

3-22 T3


Here’s a look at storm totals for Camp Mabry and Austin Bergstrom International Airport in the city of Austin:

3-22 RA


The NEW weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update will roll out on Thursday, March 26th, but as it currently stands, there have been big improvements in the drought for Travis, Bastrop, Lee, Milam, Williamson and Fayette counties. In fact, the “dominant impacts” line across the U.S. has crawled westward in previous weeks thanks to a wet January and wet first half of March, including only the Hill Country in Central Texas now. Unfortunately, Gillepsie County still registers “Exceptional” drought, the most severe type. It’s followed closely by southern halves of Mason and Llano counties, with “Extreme” drought characteristics.




The Hill Country has been excluded from many recent Central Texas rains, due to its increased elevation, which can shift weather patterns. Rain totals from this recent storm system were high enough that small portions of the Hill Country’s drought will likely be chipped away, especially if this wet March pattern continues. The first areas to see improvement will likely be the eastern edge of the Hill Country, in Lampasas, Burnet and Blanco counties. The KXAN First Warning Weather Team will continue to monitor this progress.


Lake Travis at lowest pre-summer level during current drought

March 21st, 2015 at 7:57 pm by under Weather

lake analysis


Recent rains of up to 2.5″ in the Highland Lake inflow region are not having a significant impact on lake levels, and the level of Lake Travis as we head into summer is currently lower than it was during previous years of the ongoing drought.

Lake Travis may see continued (only minor) rises through the next two days as inflows from creeks and rivers continue.

Where the lake levels go from here of course depends on rainfall frequency, amount, and geographical distribution. Here are the latest projections from LCRA hydrologists for the various scenarios:

lcra projected levels

Parts of Central Texas in NOAA’s 2015 spring flood risk

March 21st, 2015 at 11:23 am by under Weather

On the official last day of winter, March 19, 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its spring 2015 flood outlook, which includes far eastern portions of Central Texas, such as Bastrop, Lee, Caldwell and Fayette counties. Here’s what NOAA had to say:

Risk of moderate flooding for parts of central and
eastern United States

No drought relief in sight for California, Nevada or Oregon this spring

March 19, 2015


U.S. Spring Flood Risk Map for 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

According to NOAA’s Spring Outlook released today, rivers in western New York and eastern New England have the greatest risk of spring flooding in part because of heavy snowpack coupled with possible spring rain. Meanwhile, widespread drought conditions are expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon this spring as the dry season begins.

“Periods of record warmth in the West and not enough precipitation during the rainy season cut short drought-relief in California this winter and prospects for above average temperatures this spring may make the situation worse,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch,NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA’s Spring Outlook identifies areas at risk of spring flooding and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought from April through June. The Spring Outlook provides emergency managers, water managers, state and local officials, and the public with valuable information so they will be prepared to take action to protect life and property.

Spring Outlook 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

Spring Flood Risk

Record snowfall and unusually cold temperatures in February through early March retained a significant snowpack across eastern New England and western New York raising flood concerns. Significant river ice across northern New York and northern New England increase the risk of flooding related to ice jams and ice jam breakups. Rivers in these areas are expected to exceed moderate flood levels this spring if there is quick warm up with heavy rainfall.

There is a 50 percent chance of exceeding moderate flood levels in small streams and rivers in the lower Missouri River basin in Missouri and eastern Kansas which typically experience minor to moderate flooding during the spring. This flood potential will be driven by rain and thunderstorms.

Moderate flooding has occurred in portions of the Ohio River basin, including the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers from melting snow and recent heavy rains. This has primed soils and streams for flooding to persist in Kentucky, southern Illinois, and southwest Indiana with the typical heavy spring rains seen in this area.

Minor river flooding is possible from the Gulf Coast through the Ohio River Valley and into the Southeast from Texas eastward and up the coast to Virginia. The upper Midwest eastward to Michigan has a low risk of flooding thanks to below normal snowfall this winter. Though, heavy rainfall at any time can lead to flooding, even in areas where overall risk is considered low.

Drought Outlook

El Niño finally arrived in February, but forecasters say it’s too weak and too late in the rainy season to provide much relief for California which will soon reach its fourth year in drought.

Drought is expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon through June with the onset of the dry season in April. Drought is also forecast to develop in remaining areas of Oregon and western Washington. Drought is also likely to continue in parts of the southern Plains.

Forecasters say drought improvement or removal is favored for some areas in the Southwest, southern Rockies, southern Plains, and Gulf Coast while drought development is more likely in parts of the northern Plains, upper Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes where recent dryness and an outlook of favored below average precipitation exist.

Current water supply forecasts and outlooks in the western U.S. range from near normal in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, and Upper Colorado, to, much below normal in California, the southern Rockies, and portions of the Great Basin.

If the drought persists as predicted in the Far West, it will likely result in an active wildfire season, continued stress on crops due to low reservoir levels, and an expansion of water conservation measures. More information about drought can be found at

Temperature and Precipitation Outlook

Above-average temperatures are favored this spring across the Far West, northern Rockies, and northern Plains eastward to include parts of the western Great Lakes, and for all of Alaska. Below normal temperatures are most likely this spring for Texas and nearby areas of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

For precipitation, odds favor drier than average conditions for parts of the northern Plains, upper Mississippi Valley, western Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest. Above average precipitation is most likely for parts of the Southwest, southern and central Rockies, Texas, Southeast, and east central Alaska. Hawaii is favored to be warmer than average with eastern areas most likely wetter than average this spring.

Now is the time to become weather-ready during NOAA’s Spring Weather Safety Campaign which runs from March to June and offers information on hazardous spring weather — tornadoes, floods, thunderstorm winds, hail, lightning, heat, wildfires, and rip currents — and tips on how to stay safe.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.