El Nino Rains: Comparing 2015 so far to other beasts of the past

The fever pitch of El Nino headlines and articles isn’t slowing down. In fact, it’s only growing:

El Nino Fever Pitch

It comes mostly with speculation, preparation, and wonder. Some of the headlines are ridiculous (just go back through photos on my Twitter timeline). Most are reasonable. But it’s news. And it’s clearly a high impact weather phenomenon.

So it begs the question: How’s it doing? Is El Nino behaving like it’s supposed to? Specifically with regard to rainfall. Remember, this El Nino event is a strong one. In fact, it’s the strongest since 1997, and in some respects, it may be the strongest on record. So we have a pretty clear set of analogs to look at and see if this year fits the mold.

Judging by the temperature forecast for the next 10-15 days, the pattern seems to be mostly behaving like a strong El Nino should in December. How about rain? Let’s look back at other actual strong El Nino events and see where 2015-16 is falling relative to those events, specifically in terms of rainfall.

A caveat here: Remember, it’s early. Winter is a marathon, not a sprint. Because something looks one way on December 8th, doesn’t mean one month from now we’re going to be in the same boat. But there are a few interesting nuggets to pull out of this, and I think it’s mostly a good idea to give people some perspective on certain story lines.

Just as a note, my definition for “strong” El Nino events was using a blend from Jan Null’s list post-1950 and Klaus Wolter’s list pre-1950, as well as some “artistic liberty.” Not everyone agrees on the perfect definition of what a strong El Nino is, but hopefully I captured the majority. I’m tracking rain from July 1-June 30.

Southern California

When people think of El Nino, many think of SoCal. You know, mudslides in Malibu, etc. I believe the mayhem of 1997-98 and subsequent personification by Chris Farley has set a level of expectations.

Thus far, 2015 is behaving pretty much about where other strong El Nino events have done in Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Rainfall

Every strong El Nino event back to the 1800s has had normal or above normal rainfall in Los Angeles. Thus far, thanks mostly to a freak wet event in early autumn, Los Angeles is indeed above normal. It is worth noting, that 2015-16 wouldn’t be the only strong El Nino year to see a “freak” early autumn rainfall event followed by a prolonged period of dryness into December. So if people are wondering where the rain is, wait a few more weeks. We are entering the ramp up period. If things don’t start picking up by late month, then we can start to worry.

Northern California

Northern California is a conundrum during strong El Nino events. Historically, San Francisco is split between above and below normal rainfall, so it’s tough to say too much at this early stage. That said, it is worth nothing, that as of right now, this El Nino is on the lower end of the envelope in terms of rainfall in strong El Nino events in the Bay Area:

San Francisco Rainfall

Like Los Angeles, it’s still early. The ramp should start soon if we’re going to go above normal, so again, if things don’t perk up by late December, it might be time to plan on a normal or drier than normal winter at best.

Washington/Oregon

This is where it gets interesting. For the most part, the El Nino signal in the Pacific Northwest is somewhat mixed. You get dry years and you get wet years. Usually, however, you don’t have a super wet year when there’s a strong El Nino.

In Portland (where the data is only available back to the 1957-58 El Nino) no strong El Nino has been wetter than normal. Seattle is mixed from slightly above normal to way below normal. So far in Seattle? It’s the wettest strong El Nino to this point on record, and it’s not even close. This autumn has been incredibly wet so far.

Seattle Rainfall

If we keep up at this rate (and the current forecast implies this), this will quickly become one the wettest, if not the wettest strong El Nino event on record in Seattle.

Great Basin/Rockies

In Denver, the bend is toward a wetter than normal outcome in strong El Nino years, but it is mixed. So far, Denver has been mid-pack for strong El Nino events.

Denver Rainfall.png

Salt Lake City is a bit more mixed, split almost evenly between wetter than normal and drier than normal (82-83 was a beast there). So far, we’re doing middle of the pack there also.

SLC Rainfall

It will be interesting to follow this as we go through the cold season. I’ll likely be tracking this, as it’s good to establish where this El Nino event falls. For everyone, it will probably be different. But thankfully we have a useful sample in a number of places to utilize.

The Geographical Statistics of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Growing up in New Jersey, I would always be particularly pleased whenever a song mentioned the state or a location in the state. There’s a certain amount of pride you feel when a song you hear references where you are. I’ve always had a certain fascination with geography in general, so when you add music, it becomes more fun. On a trip to a conference in Long Beach back in college, I put together a compilation CD of songs that specifically mentioned “the LBC.” 

All that said, today I was listening to the radio, and heard a Red Hot Chili Peppers song (“Dani California”), after hearing another RHCP song in the eye doctor’s office. After coming home and dwelling on it, I realized that the RHCP sure do love them some geography! So I dug in. I reviewed the song lyrics from each song on each album, as well as most compilations/bonus tracks (all song lyrics were compiled via songmeanings.com, so while I can’t guarantee this is a scientific study, it should be “close enough”). What I found wasn’t terribly surprising, but interesting nonetheless.

The ground rules were that to qualify as a geographic mention, it had to reference a specific geographic place or location on the planet. I did not include mention of ethnic groups (Brazilians, Canadians, etc.). If the place name was mentioned multiple times in a single song, it was counted multiple times — except if it was in a chorus verse (repeated in identical fashion more than once). If it was in the song title, but not in the lyrics, it did not count. In most cases, implied references were counted (ie: LA counted as a mention for “Los Angeles”).

By the numbers.

Through their careers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have produced 10 studio albums and a number of compilations and singles. 

By the rules applied above, I counted 122 individual geographic references in RHCP songs throughout their history.

The most often referenced geographic location? Hollywood, mentioned 21 separate times in their songs. Next most? California, of course, mentioned nine times. 

Interestingly, a mention of “California,” did not appear in a RHCP song until their 1999 album “Californication,” their seventh.

Californication, far and away had the most geographic references of any normal length album, with 27 different ones. Stadium Arcadium had 35 references, but that was spread over two discs (disc one had 22, and disc two had 13).

By the Way had a mere one reference, from the closing song “Venice Queen.”

Some charts. These first two show the breakdown of geographic references tallied from each album. 

Image

 

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How about by place? They’ve mentioned 16 different states, including California. Next most was Michigan at six, followed by Alabama at three. They’ve mentioned eight different US Cities (aside from LA/Hollywood/New Orleans), ten different locations in Europe, and even two bodies of water. Here’s the breakdown of specific mentions:

Image

And the mentions from the “Other” category:

Image

So the next logical question would be: How does their use of geographic references compare to other significant mainstream bands? Something that might be interesting to study. Needless to say, those other bands will have a significant amount of work to do to hit the RHCP threshold.

Complete list of references:

Image

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions About the Earthquake in Japan

First off…now in Jacksonville, FL, and that is where I shall be for awhile, so expect more insights on hurricanes and thunderstorms as the warm season gets going. New job affords me more time to look at weather data, but less free time, so we’ll see what kind of balance I can maintain going forward.

First off, my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone and everyone impacted by this unspeakable tragedy in Japan. It truly is a horrific disaster, and we all can only hope they can recover as quickly as possible. You’ve all seen the videos, read the stories, etc. I’m not going to get too wordy here, but I have heard a few odds and ends here and there that have sort of irked me the last few days. I’m not a geologist, nor am I a seismologist. I am a meteorologist, though we used to joke in TV that we were supposed to know every field of science because we were the only ones in the station with a legitimate science degree. I digress. Let’s discuss a couple points.

Myth: A tsunami can only occur on the West Coast of the U.S.

I actually heard a nuclear expert say on TV tonight that the East Coast isn’t susceptible to tsunamis. And while the East Coast certainly doesn’t see the frequency of tsunami events that the West Coast sees, history tells us that they have occurred…and they could be substantial. The Capital Weather Gang actually published an entry today with a lot of details on past East Coast events. I won’t recite them all here, but you can click the link and read for yourself. And the NWS in Philly has a really good timeline of past events and details. Landslides off the coast in the Continental Shelf, landslides elsewhere, or a large earthquake in the Caribbean (Lesser Antilles subduction zone) would be the primary culprits for such an event on the East Coast. But they can happen, and you should be aware that they can happen.

Hype: The nuclear power disaster unfolding in Japan could happen here too.

Without getting into the debate of whether nuclear power is good or bad, suffice to say this: Yes, we do have nuclear plants in the Western US in vulnerable areas. However, keep this in mind: The nuclear plants in Japan survived the earthquake. They did as they were supposed to do during the quake, which is not crumble. They did not however survive the tsunami. And that’s where a lot of the focus on the current nuke plants on the West Coast should be made. In California, San Onofre, in between LA and San Diego is a concern, as is Diablo Canyon (Avila Beach). However, both of these plants are equipped with extremely sophisticated technology and able to withstand earthquakes of very powerful magnitude that can occur in those areas.  San Onofre is on the coast and has a wall designed to withstand a 25 foot tsunami. The LA Times had an article today specifically about San Onofre. So with all this in mind, yes this is a serious issue that needs to be revisited, but again, keep in mind that you aren’t going to see a 9.0 earthquake centered in SoCal. In general, northern California is at a much higher risk than SoCal for a tsunami as well.

This is Another Chernobyl

No it is not. Chernobyl had a number of extenuating circumstances that compounded its disaster. All you need to know is here. That being said, that’s not minimizing the magnitude of this disaster or how bad it could get. But these are two completely different scenarios.

Myth: The Japan Earthquake Could Not Happen Here

You probably won’t see anything quite as strong as 9.0 occur on the Mainland of the US, though, yes, we can and will see large earthquakes occur. But an earthquake of the magnitude observed in Japan could occur off the Northwest Coast. The culprit would be the Cascadia Subduction Zone. If you live in the Northwest or have friends/loved ones in the Northwest, make sure they are fully aware that what occurred in Japan WILL one day occur there. It could be tomorrow, or it could be in 200 years. We simply don’t know, but the geology is similar. And we’re not prepared for it. Make sure they/you get prepared as best as you can.

Seattle Times Article

Cascadia Subduction Zone Info

This is just a sampling of the flash points I’ve come up with based on what I’ve read and heard over the last couple days. Hope this helps clear the air a little.

Boxing Day Storm Chances

Apologies for not really blogging much…been a busy time here…and it’s been raining here, a lot. Up to about 6.5″ of rain since Friday and more coming tonight and tomorrow. One of the wettest December storms on record in SoCal. And 15.5′ of snow at the summit of Mammoth Mountain! Ski the West this year!

On to this weekend. The last couple weeks we’ve seen two noteworthy storm threats in the East. The first ended up going across the Midwest and burying Minnesota. The second went wide right and brought some decent snows to southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod (6-12″).

So this is number three. And number three is different than Nos. one and two. The players on the field are much different. But the end result is essentially the same…the East Coast and Northeast are targeted for snow and we’re about 4-5 days out. Let’s do some quick modelology and then discuss more specifics.

Morning Computer Model Forecast for Sunday Morning (from http://raleighwx.americanwx.com), clockwise from top left: GFS, GFS Ensemble Mean, Euro (Mon Morning), Canadian

The GFS has been back and forth on a storm impacting the NE. This morning’s run was substantially more suppressed with the storm, lending to very light, but widespread snow Christmas Night and Boxing Day (Sunday). The Euro has been steadfast on a fairly potent storm. And this morning’s run was absolutely epically biblical, with massive snow for a lot of folks. There’s also a Canadian model that has been flopping back and forth and today is similar to the GFS in terms of impact.

 

Right Click the image to the left and open it in a new window. These are the main model runs from this morning forecasted for Sunday morning. Let me explain. The top left is this morning’s GFS…clearly suppressed a bit and well east, but the one to the right of it is the GFS Ensemble Mean (an average of a bunch of different GFS runs with different parameterizations basically).  This looks to be slightly further suppressed and further east. That’s not uncommon, as it’s an average of about a dozen runs. But, it doesn’t inspire increased confidence.

The bottom left is the Canadian…a little more aggressive than the GFS, but still mostly a swing and a miss. But then we get the Euro at bottom right. I had to fast forward this to Monday morning, as on Sunday, it shows the center of the storm off the GA coast.  This is a massive hit for a lot of folks. Essentially 12-18″, if not 24″ over a large area.

What do I think? Here are some pros and cons…pros being things suggesting snow…cons being things that act against it.

Pros

  • Large storm system hitting much of California (this occurred a lot last year preceding the big ones in the East and has not happened yet this year.
  • European model being steadfast about a large storm.
  • NAO transitioning from strongly negative to neutral (NAO= North Atlantic Oscillation…blocking over Greenland. Often times the biggest storms are the ones that occur when this oscillation transitions from negative to positive).
  • Other factors in the Atlantic in place that would suggest a storm is possible.

Cons

  • Axis of the ridge of high pressure in the Western US is centered over Wyoming (For a major storm to hit, you oftentimes need to see this axis set up around Boise, ID. I would feel FAR more confident in this storm if that ridge axis were to set up about 200 miles further west, which could still happen, but we have a way to go).
  • Models have had a tendency to overdo storms in the East thus far this year (in terms of snow impact).
  • GFS model has not been terrible this year, and the fact that it’s showing and has trended more suppressed is not encouraging.

In a nutshell, we have things supporting this and things working against it. We need to wait until tomorrow night’s runs to REALLY get a grasp on this, as the storm hitting California will finally have come ashore. The models have done a fairly decent job modeling this massive event out West, and while that doesn’t always translate East, that means they are on to something. So if I had to break down the situation:

  • At the least, light snow is likely Saturday night and Sunday in much of the East.
  • The highest odds for significant, plowable snow is south and east of I-95, along the Jersey/Delmarva Shore and southeast New England.
  • The odds for significant, plowable snow significantly diminishes substantially north and west of the Northeast Corridor (essentially a line from Concord, NH-Danbury, CT-Norristown, PA-Frederick, MD).
  • This is a Boxing Day/post-Christmas Storm right now and Christmas Day looks satisfactory (except south of the Mason-Dixon Line, nuisance snow could snarl travel in some areas).
  • This is not a guaranteed, knock out forecast by any means.

Stay tuned on this, as there will be much to discuss in the coming days.

The Wild, Wild West

Map of National Weather Service Watches/Warnings/Advisories, November 22nd.

Lots to hit on tonight. The map to the left is the NWS map of watches, warnings, advisories, etc. Just a royal MESS in the West right now. But this is really a phenomenal storm. I give the West a lot of flack for having relatively boring weather overall, but when things like this happen, it’s pretty darn neat. This is round two of wild western weather. Round one is now in the Midwest (more on that in a minute). Let’s go west to east and look at some of what’s going on.

First up, in Alaska, the Fairbanks area (remember they were recently breaking fair weather records) is getting rocked by an ice storm, which is considered “unprecedented” by local standards. According to The Weather Channel’s Stu Ostro, the precipitable water measured at Fairbanks (which is just essentially a measure of how “juicy” the air mass is…measured in inches) came within 0.01″ of setting a November record for that area. These are things you don’t often see in Alaska this time of year. But I think this speaks to the amount of blocking that’s setting up in North America, which is going to make for a very intriguing couple of weeks across the continent.

Next, down south to Seattle. 2.0″ of new snow fell at Sea-Tac today, which is a record for the date, breaking the old record of 1.5″ in 1977. It’s the snowiest November day in Seattle in 25 years, and marks only the 6th time in November since 1948 that Seattle has accumulated 2″ or more. Snow wreaks absolute havoc on Seattle. Here’s all the latest news from the Emerald City. Closed roads because of ice, including some major ones, a 747 cargo plane slid off the runway at Sea-Tac, and Snoqualmie Pass and I-90 is chains only. Down the road in Portland, not as much snow, but they are also expecting some bitter cold, with temps getting to or below freezing tomorrow and overnight lows dipping into the teens.

National Weather Service Description of Blizzard Impacts in Spokane, WA and Adjacent Idaho

Inland from there, blizzard warnings are flying for much of eastern Washington, including Spokane, as well as northern Idaho. The map to the right is the NWS in Spokane’s description of how events should unfold tonight. The latest on news from Spokane is here. I don’t want to say this whole storm caught people by surprise in the Northwest. Much was known about it coming in, but it did get a little stronger than expected, so the impression of a “surprise” exists. Forecasting in the West is extremely difficult sometimes.

from the weekend were exceedingly impressive. Here’s a recap from the NWS in Reno, NV:

 ...LAKE TAHOE AREA...

 HOMEWOOD...              59 INCHES
 TAHOE CITY...            36 INCHES
 SQUAW VALLEY USA...      48 INCHES
 SQUAW VALLEY (8000 FT)...67 INCHES
 ALPINE MEADOWS...        56 INCHES
 ALPINE MEADOWS(TOP)...   77 INCHES
 TRUCKEE...               36 INCHES
 NORTHSTAR...             61 INCHES
 TAHOE DONNER...          59 INCHES
 GLENBROOK...             18 INCHES
 DAGGETT PASS...          28 INCHES
 SOUTH LAKE TAHOE...      30 INCHES

 ...WESTERN NEVADA...

 CARSON CITY...           6  INCHES
 MINDEN/GARDNERVILLE...   12 INCHES
 FALLON...                3  INCHES
 RENO...                  2  INCHES
 RENO (NORTH HILLS)       4  INCHES
 STEAD...                 4  INCHES

 ...EASTERN SIERRA...

 CEDARVILLE...            16 INCHES
 SUSANVILLE...            4  INCHES
 PORTOLA...               16 INCHES
 DOYLE...                 3  INCHES

 ...MONO COUNTY...

 BRIDGEPORT...            6  INCHES
 LEE VINING...            12 INCHES
 MAMMOTH LAKES...         45 INCHES
 MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN(TOP)... 81 INCHES

So those are some crazy totals (specifically the 81″ atop Mammoth!). So how much new snow? Looks like an additional 1-3 feet above 4,000′ seems likely in the Sierra, and it’s likely places like Mammoth (up around 11,000′) will exceed 100 inches for 5 day totals.

Record low temperatures will build in behind this next front..just brutally cold in the interior. Even the potential for a widespread frost or freeze in the San Joaquin Valley…the agricultural capital of America. Here’s a brief article on how farmers will handle it.

In Salt Lake City, they are preparing for a blizzard as well as this system spreads East into the Rockies. Here’s an NWS briefing on the storm.

Storm Prediction Center Radar, Surface, and Watches Map

As we move into the Midwest, the weekend storm that hammered the West has moved in and is creating some very intriguing severe weather…almost like springtime! So far, seven reports of tornadoes have been received from Illinois and Wisconsin, and with a wide area of watches in effect and a potent late autumn cold front moving through, I think we’ll see a few more isolated reports of tornadoes, but more than likely a lot of reports of damaging winds. The upper level support helping to fuel this mess will gradually diminish as we go into tomorrow, so as the front slides to the south and east, we won’t see quite the active severe weather day tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a radar capture from Chicago, IL earlier today, showing some of the supercells that had formed in that area and had recently produced tornadoes west of the city.

Those storms produced this tornado:

So all in all, extremely active today across the western two thirds of the country.

A couple other quick links…

A summary of the 2010 hurricane season in the Atlantic…but a cool collection of satellite images from all the hurricanes.

An interesting article from the NY Times that explains how South Dakota has had a pretty terrible year weatherwise (you may need to login or register to read).

The blog will be heading on to Thanksgiving break like most of the rest of you. Heading back to visit family in the East. So have a wonderful holiday!

Sierra Snow Doesn’t Disappoint…More on the Way!

Squaw Valley webcam from Sunday afternoon. 2-4 feet reported on average at most Sierra Ski Resorts!

Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week!
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever.
Heavenly reporting 35″
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well.
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″.
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters!

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:
2009
2010

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here.

Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week! http://www.mammothmountain.com/MyMammoth/?section=weather
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″ http://www.mtrose.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=26
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″ http://www.skialpine.com/mountain/snow-report
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever. http://www.squaw.com/winter/snoreport.html
Heavenly reporting 35″ http://www.skiheavenly.com/the-mountain/snow-report/snow-report.aspx
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″ http://www.sugarbowl.com/4305
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″ http://www.northstarattahoe.com/snowreport.asp
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″ http://www.bearvalley.com/the-mountain/conditions/snow-report/
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/DOR
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″ http://prance.us/iprance/DodgeRidge/snowreport.php
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well. http://www.skihomewood.com/mountain/snow-report
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″. http://www.kirkwood.com/pages/themountain/snowreport.asp
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″ http://www.sierraattahoe.com/winter/snow-report.asp
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″ http://www.skichinapeak.com/conditions.aspx

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy http://www.mtbaldy.com/snow-report.htm. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

http://www.rgj.com/article/20101108/NEWS15/11080342 The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters! http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/views-of-earth-from-space.html

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:

2009: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/22090/
2010: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/2010-severe-weather-events/

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101119/sc_space/thereallystrangestorybehindsundaysbluemoon Some fantastic snow totals showing up in the Sierra now. Like we said, 2-4 feet or so expected overall. Some areas did even better. Just a sampling of some of the ski resort totals…

Mammoth: 3-5 feet, and they’ll be opening this week! http://www.mammothmountain.com/MyMammoth/?section=weather
Mt. Rose near Reno: 29-33″ http://www.mtrose.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=26
Alpine Meadows: 43-59″ http://www.skialpine.com/mountain/snow-report
Squaw Valley: 24-42″on average. Calling it their biggest November ever. http://www.squaw.com/winter/snoreport.html
Heavenly reporting 35″ http://www.skiheavenly.com/the-mountain/snow-report/snow-report.aspx
Sugar Bowl coming in with 36-40″ http://www.sugarbowl.com/4305
Northstar at Tahoe: 38-48″ http://www.northstarattahoe.com/snowreport.asp
Bear Valley looks to be well over 30″ http://www.bearvalley.com/the-mountain/conditions/snow-report/
Boreal Mountain: 48-60″ http://www.rideboreal.com/winter/DOR
Dodge Ridge picked up about 39″ http://prance.us/iprance/DodgeRidge/snowreport.php
Homewood reporting 43-59″ as well. http://www.skihomewood.com/mountain/snow-report
Kirkwood calling it 60-66″. http://www.kirkwood.com/pages/themountain/snowreport.asp
Sierra at Tahoe has 48-58″ http://www.sierraattahoe.com/winter/snow-report.asp
China Peak/Sierra Summit with 26-36″ http://www.skichinapeak.com/conditions.aspx

In SoCal… so far about 3-4″ on Mt. Baldy http://www.mtbaldy.com/snow-report.htm. Similar totals reported out at Big Bear.

http://www.rgj.com/article/20101108/NEWS15/11080342 The latest on the snow dump in the Sierra here.

And guess what? We’re not done. One more wave is going to slide down through California and Nevada late Monday night and Tuesday. This has to potential to dump another 1-3 feet of snow in these areas. Truly an awesome early season blast of winter for the Sierra.

A couple cool links for you to round things out.

Neat photos from space sent to the Twitters! http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/views-of-earth-from-space.html

WLFI in Lafayette, IN has put together a nice collection of Indiana severe weather events from the last couple years:

2009: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/22090/
2010: http://blogs.wlfi.com/2010/11/19/2010-severe-weather-events/

Lastly: Our first full moon of the month will occur tonight. But it will be referred to as a “blue moon,” a name a lot of people typically associate with the second full moon in one month. Ah, but there’s an interesting history that I had no idea about referring to the term “blue moon.” Read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20101119/sc_space/thereallystrangestorybehindsundaysbluemoon

A Sierra Special!

Map of NWS Watches/Warnings/Advisories as of 5 PM Pacific, 11/19/10

Wanted to discuss what’s about to unfold in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains of California over the next couple of days. Now, the Sierra get rocked every winter…and sometimes they get mind boggling snow amounts. But for some reason, every time it happens, I’m always floored by the numbers and the forecast. The map at the left shows the mess in the West…winter storm warnings for the entire Sierra Crest, mountains around Los Angeles, as well as northern California, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Reno. I’d classify this storm as “fun.” Let’s discuss how some of this will unfold.

Here’s one of the best forecasts ever…for the High Sierra (~ 12,000′) , just northwest of Mammoth. That’s 64-88″ of snow. The NAM model has been especially aggressive with this system, bringing extremely high amounts of precip to the Sierra Crest during this event. Here are a few maps..

Saturday Morning

Sunday Morning

Monday Morning

The first wave/cold front pushes through tonight and Saturday morning, dropping a fairly heavy amount of precip (liquid) on the Sierra. The second wave/front swings through Sunday morning, with probably an equal or greater punch. Wave #3 moves through Monday morning and should just be the “insult to injury” system. You have to remember how California is geographically set up. You basically have an 11-13,000′ wall sitting in the middle of the state and this soaks up any moisture on  a westerly wind component, which just allows them to wring everything out in those mountains.

The NAM model is admittedly ridiculously aggressive with QPF totals over 6″ on the northern crest by Monday evening. Using a standard 10:1 ratio of liquid to snow, that’s 60″ or 5 feet. But you would assume the ratios would be much higher so…yeah, you do the math. The GFS is a little more tepid, spitting out 4″ at max over the northern crest and “only” about 2.5-3.5″ liquid in the rest of the Sierra. That still comes out to close to 60″ when you factor in higher ratios. So the Sierra, Tahoe, etc. will get pummeled in this one, with 2-4 feet of snow on average above 8,000′ or so and lesser amounts in the lower high terrain.

We’re not quite done yet, as that Monday storm may be a sneaky one for the Northwest and deliver snow to Seattle or the area around it…and with cold air locked it, snow levels will get awfully low! Then that storm will move into the Rockies and places like Salt Lake City may get pummeled on Tuesday. An interesting start to holiday travel week!

Hitting the Links

Today is the one year anniversary of the debacle known as “Climategate.” Dr. Judith Curry examines if the climate science community has learned anything from it. There are a few good links to some other articles on the issue. Andy Revkin of the New York Times has a recap of what the last year has been like. While I don’t necessarily agree with how this was done, I think Climategate has done more good than bad for the long-term state of the science. It’s put things in perspective and helped curb the “science is settled” crowd to allow us to look at this with a wider focus before making economically destructive decisions. It’s re-opened a two sided debate and brought skeptics to the table. And that’s important for science.

Related: A departing Republican congressman from South Carolina fires a warning shot about dismissing climate change.

Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that messed up travel this summer, is the focus of a new paper in Nature that examines more about what was known about the volcano and what happened.

Today’s edition of the CIMSS Satellite blog shows ice and cold around Hudson Bay.

The Capital Weather Gang examines if the flood control plan being developed for a Flood Wall in Washington, DC is enough to do its job.

And from the photography side, time lapser Tom Lowe is putting together some truly beautiful and amazing scenes from the Southwest into a movie. Check out the site and some previews here. It really is some incredibly beautiful work.