November, 2012

Dry, No Snow and Severe Storms

November 30th, 2012 at 5:24 pm by under Weather

2nd Driest November for Fort Wayne

Now that December is just about here and I am not expecting rain tonight, this November will go in the book officially as the 2nd driest November in Fort Wayne history.  Click here to link to the NWS story.

Today is the 270th day in a row without snow in South Bend

I also thought this was interesting:  Today is the 270th day in a row without snow in South Bend.  In another 2 days, South Bend will tie the old record and on Monday, they will break it.  Complete story is here.

Even though we are far removed from the severe weather season right now, check out the latest blog post from the Tornado Titans.  This is a group of storm chasers that are phenomenal photographers, yet very modest.  If you play the first video, you can see how the severe weather season migrates across the United States, peaking in Oklahoma in May.

Want see the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season in less than 5 minutes? just click here.


Could another Dust Bowl period happen?

November 30th, 2012 at 9:04 am by under Weather

Dust clouds rising over Texas Panhandle March 1936. Image Credit: Library of Congress. Arthur Rothstein, photographer.

In my blog post yesterday about the continued dry conditions across our region, I mentioned the extreme and exceptional drought going on to our west in the central U.S.

To those history buffs reading the blog, this terrible drought may sound reminiscent of the Dust Bowl period of the 1930s.  Many of you were likely tuned in to the recent Ken Burns documentary on the subject that aired on PBS.

When seeing a case of such a drought currently occurring, you may wonder could an event, where the winds blow across the dry land sending dust everywhere and affecting the lives and agricultural livelihoods of so many, happen again?

I came across an interesting article from Smithsonian.com that tackles the subject in great detail.  The ultimate answer is that, yes, Mother Nature is a powerful force and such a scenario could, indeed, happen again.  However, humans have made a number of agricultural improvements that help reduce this potential.   Advances like underground irrigation, the planting of shelterbelts (groups of trees and shrubs strategically planted to prevent land erosion due to wind and storms), the no-till farming method and the fact that some farmers are paid to not plant on some portions of their land, allowing for natural grasses and other vegetation to grow there, are all items that prevent land degradation and help to hold soil in place.


2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season: How is it measuring up?

November 29th, 2012 at 9:58 pm by under Weather

2012 Hurricane Tracks, courtesy theweatherunderground.com

Since there is only one more month left to the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, I thought I would see how the official forecast has verified.

Here is the forecast for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season from the Climate Prediction Center:

Original May Outlook:

  • 9-15 Named Storms,
  • 4-8 Hurricanes
  • 1-3 Major Hurricanes

August Outlook:

  • 12-17 Named Storms, (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 5-8 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 2-3 are expected to become Major Hurricanes (Cat. 3-5, wind speeds at least 111 mph).

2012 as of today:

  • 19 Named Storms
  • 6 Hurricanes
  • Only one Major Category 3 Hurricane (Michael), six Category 1 Hurricanes, three Category 2 Hurricanes

Click here to see the archive from Unisys Weather.

Now, here is a very interesting point:  Even though Sandy was not a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger), she sure did some damage.  So much damage that NJ Governor Chris Christie is seeking #37 Billion in federal relief.  But here is a question I have:  Won’t insurance companies pay to repair homes and buildings that were damaged?   If that is the case, does the state of NJ really need 37 Billion to repair it’s government owned property and infrastructure?  Let’s really put this in perspective:   How tall is $37 billion in $100 bills?   $1 Billion in $100 bills is 3583 feet tall.  Times that by 37 is 132,571 feet tall.   Folks, that’s 25 miles!   Yes, you would need a stack of $100 bills 25 miles tall to fix the damage from Sandy, just for New Jersey.

 


Drought rolls on, far worse to our west

November 29th, 2012 at 9:25 am by under Weather

While our drought conditions here in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio have greatly improved since they were at their worst this summer, we continue to experience drier than typical conditions.  Most of the area north of Fort Wayne is still in a moderate drought or is classified as being “abnormally dry”, which is an improvement over the moderate drought category.

I just received some interesting statistics from our local National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Syracuse, IN about the dry November we’ve been experiencing.  According to the NWS and its number-crunching, if no rain falls between now and the end of the month,  Fort Wayne would have the second driest November on record with only 0.60″ of rain.  The driest November was 0.23″ set in 1917 and our Fort Wayne records date back to 1912.  And, it should be noted, there is a slight chance for some rain around the region tomorrow, the last day of the month.

I also have these additional eye-opening stats for you: year-to-date, through yesterday, 2012 ranks as the 9th driest year ever in Fort Wayne and  we are down 2.28″ of rain for the month and 8.98″ for the year.

 


November Full Moon and Jupiter

November 28th, 2012 at 5:57 pm by under Weather

Wednesday Night Sky Map courtesy spaceweather.com

If you look to the eastern sky this evening for the rising of our full moon this month, you will see the planet Jupiter right above the full moon.  Yes, it is not a star, but a planet!

Also, this moon is called the full “Beaver” moon because it is this time of the year that the beavers prepare for the onset of winter.  The Native Americans also call this full moon, the full “Frosty” moon.


Huge December Warm Up Coming

November 28th, 2012 at 11:10 am by under Weather

Big Warm Up In Sight

A huge warm up is on tap for the area. It was the other way around last week as we had Thanksgiving temperatures in the 60′s falling into the 30′s by Friday afternoon. This time the temperatures are going the other way with a giant temperature swing between Wednesday and Sunday. In fact, these kind of swings don’t normally happen this time of year. We will see a 34 degree increase by Sunday afternoon. The good news is that this warm up will last a while. Warm high temperatures are on tap through Tuesday of next week.

You can see where the disparity in temperatures are coming from with the colder jet stream north and the mild air south

The warm up is clearly visible with the upper air pattern which be set up by this weekend. A strong southwest flow will be allowed to bring mild air into the region because higher pressure from the south is pushing the jet stream north.

To the north on the map you can see the cold air bottled in across northern and southern Canada, all the way up to the Arctic Circle. The danger here is that this air could be dislodged soon which would make for bitter cold temperatures sometime in December.


El Niño is No Niño

November 27th, 2012 at 4:32 pm by under Weather

Sea Surface Temperatures courtesy NASA

Even this is may not be new news to me, it may be to you: “ENSO-neutral is favored for winter 2012-13.”

That is the latest report about El Niño from the Climate Prediction center and in summary, a strong or moderate El Niño is not expected for us this winter.   So, what does that mean for the winter forecast here in Fort Wayne?  In a nutshell, confidence is running low on what kind of winter we will have.  If you believe the oak trees and the squirrels in my back yard, this is likely going to be the worst winter in a long time.  Actually, during neutral ENSO (El Niño), Fort Wayne actually has a bias for below average temperatures and slightly higher snow amounts.

That being said, the next week looks warm with some rain, but that is only one week out of the entire winter season.


Warm Start To December

November 27th, 2012 at 12:03 pm by under Weather

Climate Prediction Center 6 to 10 day forecast from December 2nd to December 6th.

Warmer Weekend Coming

The new 6 to 10 day forecast for December 2nd through December 6th has warmer than normal temperatures forecast through early next week. There is greater than a 50% chance on this particular graphical forecast.

European Forecast “Model” 7 pm Saturday

This forecast model shows the warm up to confirm the temperatures shown on the Climate Prediction Center’s graphical forecast for warmer than normal temperatures. You can see the flow is coming in from the southwest and the 500 millibar thickness lines (dotted lines) are being pushed toward the north. That tells me that it will be very warm with a flow coming in from the southwest.

Colder Air Returns

Colder air returns by Wednesday of next week

This is the European forecast model for next Tuesday. You can see the cold air is starting to build in the west as the ’540′ line is pushed south. This is the freezing line and we should see a dramatic change in temperatures by the middle of next week.


Flooding Simulator

November 27th, 2012 at 10:08 am by under Weather

Now, I don’t want to start a big climate change debate here, but check out this very interesting flood simulator of what could happen to major seaboard cities if the ocean level climbed 25 feet!.

It goes without saying that New Orleans and Miami would both be 100% flood as they were built either at or below sea level.    Notice that Galveston is completely under water at 25 sea level rise, but Houston is only 5% underwater.

Now, is this possible in the immediate future?   Scientists believe that it would take centuries for this to happen as the ice sheets respond slowly to global warming.


Is northeast Indiana catching up in wages?

November 26th, 2012 at 9:13 pm by under Politics

For at least a decade and a half, northeast Indiana was in the unfortunate situation of falling behind the rest of the country in terms of personal income. New data just out Monday, however, suggests that is turning around.

According to numbers from 2011 released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, northeast Indiana’s per capita personal income was 79.9 percent on the dollar compared to the rest of the country. Basically, we’re making 80 percent of what people in the country make on average. That doesn’t sound good -and it’s not- but it’s better than the 79.4 percent on the dollar northeast Indiana was taking in back in 2010.

The main group responsible for marketing our region, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, saw it as such a positive development that it sent out a news release with a headline that trumpeted: “New Data Shows Northeast Indiana Has Stopped Decline in Per Capita Income.”

The release also featured a quote from John Stafford, who heads up the Community Research Institute at IPFW: “We now have three years of data that indicate that we have arrested the decline in per capita personal income… We now have reason to believe that we have turned the corner. We must stop the decline before we can begin the trek upward, and that is what this new data shows us is happening.”  

I hope that’s true. Millions of dollars have been spent over the past few years on efforts to coordinate the economic development efforts of northeast Indiana’s ten counties. The overarching goal of it all has been to get the area’s per capita income back in line with the national average. A closely-related goal has been to bring down unemployment in our area.

I covered this effort extensively in a special report a year and a half ago. At the time, northeast Indiana business and political leaders said whether the turnaround effort is successful would depend on a couple factors:

1) Attitude. Will leaders of counties, cities, and schools in our area stop viewing one another with suspicion, and start collaborating to win jobs instead of competing with one another for them? The main goal of the Partnership is to bring this about.

2) Mindset. Will the rank and file in northeast Indiana be okay with new types of jobs fueling growth in our region? That means transitioning from being anchored by traditional manufacturing to building a knowledge-based economy; nurturing key industries like defense, advanced manufacturing, transportation, and logistics.

There’s evidence these shifts in attitude and mindset are beginning to take hold. For example, here in Fort Wayne, there’s a lot of talk going on behind closed doors about better integrating the efforts of groups like the Downtown Improvement District, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance, and the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. There should be a plan in place for weaning these groups from some of their territorialism soon. Back in September, Mayor Tom Henry said to expect an update by the end of the year.

Just remember that this is a long-term effort that could take a decade or more to accomplish. Changing attitudes and long-held ways of thinking will require time, and it will be an uneven process. There will be setbacks and instances of failure. It appears most leaders in our area know all of this and are prepared for a long slog, as long as the overall trend line appears to be going up. The data that just came out should be an encouragement for them to keep plugging away.

The bottom line is that Monday’s numbers appear to be cause for hope along the pathway to progress, but we’re still a long way from having cause for celebration.