No El Niño yet; the long wait continues

July 10th, 2014 at 3:33 pm by under Weather

(Climate Central)  The months-long wait for El Niño continues: The latest update from the Climate Prediction Center, issued Thursday, finds that conditions still aren’t quite in place to declare a full-blown El Niño, though forecasters still expect one to emerge by the fall. If and when it does, it is expected to impact weather and climate across the world and could push 2014 or 2015 to be the hottest year on record.  Click here to see KXAN First Warning Weather’s special report on how El Niño patterns affect our local weather.

Animation of subsurface temperature anomalies in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Credit: NOAA.

While the atmospheric characteristics that indicate an El Niño have been evident intermittently, they have yet to firmly take hold. Ocean surface temperatures have also fluctuated, though there is still considerable heat below the surface to fuel an El Niño, said Michelle L’Heureux, a CPC meteorologist who helps put together the monthly outlooks.

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El Niño update Thursday

July 9th, 2014 at 11:04 pm by under Weather

El Nino gif

The Climate Prediction Center will issue it’s monthly El Niño Diagnostic Discussion Thursday morning, and will either leave in place the current La Niña Watch, or issue an El Niño Advisory, meaning the pattern has fully developed. Click here after 8 a.m. Thursday to read the discussion.

Click here to see our First Warning Weather report on the developing El Niño, and how the warm Pacific Ocean pattern has influenced our weather in the past.


El Niño or La Niña Watch: Issued when conditions are favorable for the development of El Niño or La Niña conditions within the next six months.

El Niño or La Niña Advisory: Issued when El Niño or La Niña conditions are observed and expected to continue.

Final El Niño or La Niña Advisory: Issued after El Niño or La Niña conditions have ended.

NA: ENSO Alert System is not active.

The Climate Prediction Center defines. . .

“El Niño conditions” as existing when:

A one-month positive sea surface temperature anomaly of 0.5C or greater is observed in the Niño-3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (5ºN-5ºS, 120ºW-170ºW) and an expectation that the 3-month Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) threshold will be met AND

An atmospheric response typically associated with El Niño is observed over the equatorial Pacific Ocean (see The ENSO Cycle).

“La Niña conditions” as existing when:

A one-month negative sea surface temperature anomaly of -0.5C or less is observed in the Niño-3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (5ºN-5ºS, 120ºW-170ºW) and an expectation that the 3-month Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) threshold will be met AND

An atmospheric response typically associated with La Niña is observed over the equatorial Pacific Ocean (see The ENSO Cycle).

July bird forecast

July 8th, 2014 at 1:44 pm by under Weather

What to watch for in July: Small shorebirds and swirls of martins

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 or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at

Spotted Sandpiper photo by Kat+sam via Creative Commons

Spotted Sandpiper photo by Kat+sam via Creative Commons

Lakeside visitor

One of the most common shorebirds in North America is the Spotted Sandpiper, but you don’t have to go to the coast to find one. It likes freshwater shores as well. It’s fairly easy to find if you are walking around Lady Bird Lake; look for a small bird with a stiff-winged flight fairly low over the water. It’s a medium-sized shorebird that is brown on top and white with spots below. It has an orange bill that is slightly shorter than its head, a rounded breast and a body that tapers to a longish tail, according to All About Birds. It has a white stripe above its eye. If you see one walking, it may look as though it’s leaning forward.
Purple Martin party time
Travis Audubon will be hosting its free Purple Martin parties Fridays and Saturdays in July near the Austin Community College Highland Campus. Purple Martins begin roosting together by the thousands in late summer, as soon as their chicks leave the nest, in preparation for migration to South America for the winter. After dining on insects but before settling down for the night, hundreds of thousands of martins put on a spectacular aerial acrobatics show filled with chattering chirps. Binoculars are optional, but lawn chairs, cameras, and hats or umbrellas are highly recommended! Please note that the location may change as the birds have moved from their traditional roost site. For up-to-date information, please visit the Travis Audubon website.
Where: The parking lot behind the Jack in the Box at Airport and Highland Mall Boulevards. The roost is in trees just north of the restaurant.
What: Travis Audubon Purple Martin parties
When: 7:45 to 9 p.m., every Friday and Saturday in July, beginning July 5
Field Trips — Beginners welcome. Check the Travis Audubon website for details.

Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend
Saturday, July 12, 7 a.m. & 4 p.m.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife RefugeSunday, July 13

James River Bat Cave, led by Craig Rasmussen
Friday, July 18, to Saturday, July 19

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird WalkSaturday, July 19, 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Commons Ford Monthly Walk
Sunday, July 20, 6:30 to 11 a.m

Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez

Austin NOAA weather radio offline briefly next weekend

July 8th, 2014 at 11:40 am by under Weather

A heads-up to NOAA weather radio users: although we do not expect any severe weather next weekend, the Austin NOAA weather radio broadcast will be offline temporarily early Sunday.

Details below:

NOUS44 KEWX 081634

1130 AM CDT TUE JUL 8 2014




Summer heat can be deadly for pets or children in hot cars

July 7th, 2014 at 11:26 am by under Weather

car heat

The American Red Cross offers these helpful steps to keep the family pets safe and healthy:

NEVER LEAVE PETS IN THE CAR. Pet owners should not leave their animal in the car, even for a few minutes, when the hot weather arrives. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Pet owners are urged to refrain from leaving animals in the car, even with the windows cracked open.

HEAT STROKE is a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are prone to heat stroke. This is also true for any obese pet, a pet with an extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea.

Some signs your pet may be developing heat stroke include heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down. Their gum color may be brick red, their pulse rate may be fast, or they may not be able to get up. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

PLANTS CAN BE HAZARDOUS. Pet owners also need to be aware that animals may try to get out a window or door, which are more likely to be open as the weather warms. And some plants in your garden can be hazardous to animals. For instance, many lilies are very poisonous to cats.  Visit the ASPCA Poison Controlweb site to find out which plants and flowers are poisonous to animals.

Your pet is part of the family. And just like any other family member, pets deserve to be cared for and protected. Follow these important steps to help keep your pet at their best:

  • Give your pet plenty of exercise.  Regular exercise will help your pet feel better and live longer.
  • Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, cool water.
  • Get to know a veterinarian and make sure your pet has yearly checkups.
  • Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines, especially rabies.
  • Get your pet spayed or neutered.
  • Keep dogs on leashes outside – another animal may be too much temptation.
  • Know how to perform CPR and provide basic first aid until veterinary care is available.

Animals can’t tell you when they aren’t feeling well. Many hide signs of illness until a problem is very advanced. Knowing what is normal for your pet and being able to recognize changes early, can make a huge difference in treatment success. The first step is to know what is normal for your pet – their gum color, heart/pulse rate, body temperature and breathing rate – so you can recognize when something is wrong.

Additional tips are located on our Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist. Pet First Aid courses are offered at many Red Cross chapters throughout the country. The Red Cross has also developed Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid, comprehensive guides with DVDs to help your keep pets healthy and safe. From basic responsibilities, like spaying/neutering and giving medications, to performing CPR and preparing for disasters, these guides offer information pet owners can trust. Contact your local chapter to see when classes are available or to purchase guide books. Products can also be purchased online at the Red Cross Store.

The Latest On Super Typhoon Neoguri

July 7th, 2014 at 8:54 am by under Weather

Courtesy of Visit for the very latest updates on Super Typhoon Neoguri.

Okinawa is a small, isolated island to the southwest of the southern tip of the Japanese mainland.  Because of its’ small size and the fact it is surrounded by water, Okinawa is a vulnerable target for strong storms.   What is now Super Typhoon Neoguri is churning through the Western Pacific Ocean and at latest check has sustained winds of 150mph (just 2mph shy of what would be considered a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic).  Even though current forecasts have it weakening slightly before it gets there, the storm is forecast to brush close to the island and could potentially cause catastrophic damage.  Neoguri could be the most powerful storm to hit the small island in 15 years.

Here is the latest discussion (scientific) on the Super Typhoon:

6 hour summary and analysis.
   Super Typhoon (STY) 08w (neoguri), located approximately 295 nm 
south of Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan, has tracked northwestward at 15 
knots over the past six hours. A 070600z SSMI microwave image 
reveals sty neoguri is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. 
Additionally, animated multispectral satellite imagery (msi) depicts 
a nearly annular eyewall has continued to expand under the influence 
of a very favorable environment. The current position is based on 
the msi animation and the microwave image with high confidence. The 
initial intensity of 135 knots is based on the current structure and 
assessment from Dvorak current intensity estimates from all 
reporting agencies. Upper-level analysis indicates the system is 
located in an area of low (05 to 10 knot) vertical wind shear and 
robust radial outflow, as evident in the water vapor imagery. Sty 
08w continues to track along the southwest extension of a deep-
layered subtropical ridge (str) to the north.
3. Forecast reasoning.
   A. There is no change to the forecast philosophy since the 
previous prognostic reasoning message.
   B. Sty 08w will continue to track northwestward over the next 12 
hours before turning northward as the str recedes with the approach 
of a mid-latitude trough from the northwest. By tau 24, sty neoguri 
will crest the ridge and recurve northeastward as a secondary trough 
further weakens the steering str. Due to very favorable 
environmental conditions, further intensification is expected over 
the next 24 hours with a peak of 145 knots. Beyond tau 36, cooling 
sea surface temperatures (sst), increasing vws ahead of the mid-
latitude westerlies, and landfall into Kyushu, Japan, will slowly 
erode the system.
   C. After tau 72, sty neoguri will commence extra-tropical 
transition and accelerate northeastward into the cold baroclinic 
zone. The increased mid-latitude interaction, decreasing SST, and 
land interaction will cause its rapid deterioration for the 
remainder of the forecast period. The available dynamic model 
guidance remains in tight agreement, lending high confidence to the 
jtwc track forecast which is positioned close to the multi-model 

Storm Track Statistics

Date Time Lat Lon Wind (mph) Pressure Storm Type
Jul 03 00 GMT 8.9 146.8 30 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 06 GMT 9.7 144.7 35 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 12 GMT 10.8 143.9 35 -999 Tropical Depression
Jul 03 18 GMT 11.5 143.3 40 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 00 GMT 12.5 142.2 50 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 06 GMT 13.1 141.4 65 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 12 GMT 13.7 140.4 70 -999 Tropical Storm
Jul 04 18 GMT 14.6 139.1 75 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 00 GMT 15.3 138.2 105 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 06 GMT 16.0 137.0 135 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 12 GMT 16.7 135.8 135 -999 Typhoon
Jul 05 18 GMT 17.4 134.5 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 00 GMT 18.0 132.9 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 06 GMT 18.5 131.4 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 12 GMT 18.9 130.3 140 -999 Typhoon
Jul 06 18 GMT 19.7 129.1 150 -999 Super Typhoon
Jul 07 00 GMT 20.4 128.2 155 -999 Super Typhoon
Jul 07 06 GMT 21.6 127.3 155 -999 Super Typhoon


Latest sustained winds from STY Neogury: 155mph.

Here are details from the Saffir-Simpson scale.   The storm’s category, and associated winds are compared to the damage that occurs during storms of this strength.

130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h




Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Forecast map for Super Typhoon Neoguri courtesy of


Massive dust storm overtakes Phoenix

July 5th, 2014 at 9:25 am by under Weather

Courtesy: Phoenix National Weather Service Office

July 3 2014: Dust Storm across the Phoenix area
Widespread gusty winds and blowing dustUpdated: 8 pm MST 4 July 2014

Dust Storm

Dust storm as seen from NWS Phoenix office. Credit: Charlotte Dewey

The first major event of the 2014 Monsoon took place during the afternoon and evening hours of 3 July 2014. Following a gradual increase in moisture across the region, storms developed in the mountains north/east/south of the Phoenix metro area around mid afternoon. Most of the storms dissipated as they descended from the mountains (due to a marginally stable layer of air over the deserts in the lowest 10000ft of the atmosphere), but two outflow boundaries pushed out into the lower deserts. The first boundary originated from Payson to Globe and brought isolated blowing dust and ~30mph winds to Gold Canyon and Apache Junction. The second, stronger boundary, originated in southern Pinal County and was responsble for the dust storm to affect the Phoenix area. There were numerous reports of near zero visibility within the dust storm along with winds around 50 mph.


Click each image for a larger version 

KIWA Radar 0116Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 615 PM MST. Note the appearance of a large outflow boundary stretching from north of Fountain Hills to Florence, with a secondary boundary near Casa Grande and Eloy. The boundaries originated from separate clusters of thunderstorms, but were both traveling toward the Phoenix metro area.
KIWA Radar 0200Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 700 PM MST. Outflow winds had moved through portions of the East Valley as well as Scottsdale and Fountain Hills by 7pm, however visibilities remained around 10 miles or greater. Meanwhile the boundary to the south was becoming more evident on radar. Note the area of strong winds indicated around 40+ kts southwest of Queen Creek. These winds were located around 3000ft above the surface.
KIWA Radar 0233Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 730 PM MST. At this point the leading edge of the wall of dust stretched from Apache Junction to Chandler and Ahwatukee. The observation at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport from 722pm MST indicated visibilities had dropped to ZERO, along with sustained winds around 30 mph/gusts to 50 mph.
KIWA Radar 0300Z Base velocity imagery from KIWA radar at approximately 800 PM MST. By 8pm, the dust storm was located over downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport. The dust had also moved into Scottsdale. Sky Harbor reported visibilities around 1 mile along with a gust to 56 mph.
KIWA Velocity loop Loop of Base Velocity images from 6pm – 9pm MST showing the progression of the dust storm through the Phoenix metro area. Note: Animated GIF is ~11mb.
KIWA Reflectivity loop Loop of Base Reflectivity images from 6pm – 9pm MST showing the progression of the dust storm through the Phoenix metro area. Showers and thunderstorms developed over the west valley as the dust storm collided with a southbound outflow boundary stretching from Cave Creek to Surprise. Note: Animated GIF is ~13mb.

While they do not occur every day, dust storms are fairly common across the lower deserts during the Monsoon. Nonetheless, they do make for an impressive display especially around sunset. Below are selected images from around the Phoenix area Thursday evening.

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Kaxan’s Fourth of July pet safety tips

July 4th, 2014 at 3:32 pm by under Weather

Kaxan 4th of july outfitkaxan 4th of july safety

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
  • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
  • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
  • Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.
  • Courtesy ASPCA
  • Texas Humane Legislation Network

Hurricane Arthur steals NOAA buoy

July 3rd, 2014 at 5:54 pm by under Weather

June inflows to Highland Lakes highest in four years

July 3rd, 2014 at 5:46 pm by under Weather

Severe drought continues as summer heat returns

View the May 2014 drought update
View the July 2014
drought update

Rain sent more water into the Highland Lakes last month than in the previous three Junes combined, but was still far short of what’s needed to break the severe drought across the lower Colorado River basin.

June inflows (the amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes from rivers and streams) were almost 24,000 acre-feet. That is only about 15 percent of the historical June average.

A June 12 rain increased the combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan by about 14,000 acre-feet. That storm came on the heels of widespread Memorial Day weekend rain that raised levels in Lake Travis by about 4.5 feet and in Lake Buchanan by about 3.3 feet, and added about 80,000 acre-feet to the combined storage of the two lakes.

Inflows in June were the highest for any June since 2010, which had 33,517 acre-feet, and were the second-highest June totals since 719,000 acre-feet of inflows in 2007, when the Marble Falls “rain bomb” dumped 19 inches of rain in one night. The runoff from that storm continued into July and totaled about 1 million acre-feet.

The heavy rains and resulting inflows since May were welcome; however, lakes Travis and Buchanan on July 2 were still only at 39 percent of capacity as the region heads into what is forecast to be a hot and dry rest of the summer. Recent inflows, though modest, have delayed the projected earliest possible declaration of a Drought Worse Than the Drought of Record (DWDR) until early fall.

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