Quick Saturday Update

Watching the Rutgers/Pitt game and trying to accomplish a bit before the Phillies tonight, so just some items of interest from the last couple days.

Tropics

The tropics are quite active globally as of late. Cyclone Giri absolutely unloaded yesterday on Burma (Myanmar) the same nation that was ravaged by Cyclone Nargis back in 2008.  Giri is a bit of a scary situation as well, as it exploded right before landfall, which caught a lot of forecasters offguard, and it may have led to considerably less warning time for residents of that region. We’ll have to wait and see how bad the impacts of wind and rain are on that region.

Super Typhoon Megi, downgraded to a category one Typhoon Megi, hit China opposite of Taiwan today. So far it looks like its impacts on China will be minimal, but mudslides and the damage in the Philippines has taken close to 50 lives and caused substantial damage to parts of those countries.

NOAA satellite image of Tropical Storm Richard near the Honduras coast this afternoon

Lastly, and of more direct interest to people here, Tropical Storm Richard continues to churn in the Caribbean. Maximum sustained winds are at 65 mph now, and it’s likely, as Richard gradually eases away from the close pass to the coast, that it will become Hurricane Richard tonight or tomorrow. A tricky forecast, as the current movement (just north of west) and the proximity to the Central American coast means any little wobble or shift in direction will have a major impact on how strong Richard becomes and exactly where it will strike. The guarantee is that a lot of rain and strong winds will be impacting Honduras, Belize and the southern Yucatan over the next few days. Beyond that, it’s likely what is left of Richard will make it into the Gulf, but truthfully, the pattern when it gets there appears awfully hostile for any sort of development. So at this point, this is not a major concern to the US, but we’ll keep an eye on it in Mexico and Central America.

Stormy US

The pattern across the US is turning decidedly stormy, thanks in part to a raging jet stream crashing into the West Coast. Those are 150-175 kt winds slamming into Oregon. We’re seeing additional storminess in the Plains and the potential for some pretty decent severe weather provided by the departing system from earlier this week that hit California. This morning it’s the Dallas/Fort Worth area getting it worst (probably a good thing the Rangers/Yankees series didn’t go to game seven). Later today, areas further north should get it.

The storms in the Northwest and Northern California look extremely powerful, enhanced by tropical moisture that can be traced across the globe to where Typhoon Megi was! Here are some links to follow the powerful snow, wind, and rain that will impact some parts of the Northwest:

NWS Portland’s weather story

NWS Seattle with information on Winter Storm Watches in the Cascades

NWS Medford, OR’s weather story for today.

NWS Sacramento video briefing on the storm

Some other interesting links today

Texas universities will begin studying what exactly is blowing apart the universe.

Discovery Online discusses whether or not tornadoes are increasing in the US. I did a similar analysis of hail reports in the Northeast US when I worked there, and I found that in the last 10-15 years there had been an explosion of hail being reported, whereas some of the reports from the Plains had actually begun to diminish or hold steady. But I really think this primarily has to do with the increasing connectivity of the world and the National Weather Service presence online that makes storm reporting easy for almost anyone. The NWS to their credit has also done a good job in fostering and improving their relationships in the communities they serve, which allows them to get reports a lot more easily. I imagine the tornado report increase is likely due to the fact that storm chasing has exploded in the last 10-15 years, and it’s now rare for any storm that produces a tornado in that part of the country to go unnoticed. I can’t really see much else being at work with this. Reports are easier to make and the NWS has become more proactive, and the combination has led to a much better net to capture reports.

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