Thursday, October 14, 2021

How Unusual is this Unseasonably Warm October?

The entire Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, portions of the upper midwest and Northeast have enjoyed warm temperatures which rank #1 all-time through October 13th!

The above normal warmth extends into much of Canada with below normal temperatures along the west coast

HUGE high pressure ridge responsible for the warmth.  Look at the lows tracking across the deep south.  Keep an eye on this feature later this fall and into the winter (hmmmmm)

High temperatures in northern Ohio have been above normal all month.  Only one other October has had every day through the 15th above normal--2017.

The pattern can't sustain itself like this forever.  Overall pattern is starting to show signs of heading back to "normal". This was my long range outlook hinting at a "cooler" late October issued on October 5th

As of this writing (October 14th) the overall pattern is showing cooler periods with some "bump ups" in temperature; nothing long lasting.

Watch the warmer colors (high pressure) become smaller to be replaces by troughs (blue colors) to finish out the month. Basically temperatures will be averaging out to near average for late October.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

What does EVERY weather watch & warning look like?

Scroll down to the bottom of the graphic and then look left to right. Graphic starts January 1 on the left and ends October 4th 2021. Enjoy! 

Monday, October 04, 2021

The Perfect Weather Day: When Do They Occur Most?

My definition of a perfect weather day is a day with temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees with no rainfall. After analyzing ALL the days (more than 14,000) from 1980 to 2020 and plotting the instances for each day of the year, this is what I found:

Notice the typical increase in late spring, the drop in summer then the big increase in September and early October.  Once the pattern flips in mid October it rarely recovers (blue arrow).  Enjoy these days while you can :)

Monday, September 27, 2021

How Warm Was This Summer? Complete Summer Weather Recap - Part I

Credit:  Nadine Maruszczak, Getty Images

This past summer featured significant warmth across the northern states, New England and western US.  Temperatures were below normal across the deep south.

The next 3 maps below show temperatures vs normal for JUNE, JULY and AUGUST.

When we examine each climate division and rank the OVERALL summer temperatures for each division (out of  129 years) we get this picture below.  The lower the number (out of 129 years) the warmer the period (JJA).

Overall summer temperature trends across the US are increasing

Once we separate the divisional high temperatures from the low temperatures, we can see significant difference.  Divisional high temperature ranks are similar to the overall temperatures. 

Yet the overnight low temperature ranks are far higher in many areas.
The well above normal low temperatures correspond to the well above normal rainfall areas
Summer rainfall vs normal below .  Green and blue areas indicated above normal.  Warmer colors show .well below normal rainfall

The Ohio Valley and upper midwest breakdown for JUNE, JULY and AUGUST on PART II (NEXT POST)

Saturday, September 11, 2021

20 Years Since 9/11: My Memories From The Newsroom That Morning

The power of the images and videos from 9/11 can still be felt. We relive that day each year. It so happens to be my dad's birthday. Back in 2013 I added some observations that I missed in my ten year retrospective. Below is that published retrospective. 

I thought back in 2011, looking ahead to 2021 the day would still bring up the same emotions.  But like other traumatic events of the past like Pearl Harbor, the raw 9/11 memories would gradually fade--though never completely--into the background of our national consciousness. I was wrong. 9/11 is like a cut on your arm that never heals completely. Its taking a lot longer than I would image. Its crazy to think that most people in their mid 20s might not have solid memories of the events of that day in 2001 because they were in early grader school.  All high school and college students have grown up in a post 9/11 world. They know nothing else. 

Below is my post from last year which recounts my 9/11 experience in the newsroom as the events unfolded.  I'll never forget it.


My memory of 9/11 actually begins the night before. My wife and I were--let the cold shivers begin--planning a trip to visit her friend in New York City. We were on the web looking at maps of the city familiarizing ourselves with the locations of the tourist attractions in relation to where my wife's friend lived in Queens. At that time, never having traveled to New York City, the NYC street grid was as foreign to me as a city grid of Moscow.

I distinctly remember pointing to several spots on the map of Manhattan and Long Island that I wanted to check out on our trip. Queens, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Greenwich Village and the World Trade Center. As we studied the map, I made mental snapshots of the region remembering how far Yankee Stadium was from the subway stop, etc. It was getting late that night. I had to get up to go to work at the local NBC affiliate the next day. I was the morning meteorologist at WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia back then so I needed to get up at 3AM.

The morning of 9/11 started out as normal as any other day. Our morning show started at 5AM. The news was fairly typically. No outlandish stories although the "big" story that summer was shark attacks.  I don't know what I remember that.  The weather was quiet. I remember a powerful hurricane off of the New England coast named Erin but that was heading away from land. This monster hurricane would be lost in the events of the day.

We had just finished our 8:35AM news cut-in before we sent our morning news to The Today Show. Around 8:40AM, The Today Show interrupted their segment to show one of the The World Trade Center Towers on fire. The in-studio monitors all showed the fire engulfing multiple floors. The fire was big. It captured our attention. We saw the fires a minute or two before they were broadcast on the air because we had an off-air video feed from one the NBS New York tower cameras. At the time, not one of us watching EVER thought this was linked to something bigger, more global and temporally far-reaching.

One of our camera operators and I commented that it looked like someone hit the building with a missile from a nearby rooftop. Our conversation was purely speculative, half contrived for the sake of conversation and at the time not a bit realistic. We went back and forth, as news people do, debating how a missile blast into the 100th floor of a skyscraper could be more of a subplot for a movie than a plausible real-life event. How could someone get a weapon through a building undetected we both said almost simultaneously? In the span of 15 seconds, we quickly dismissed it.

Our eyes were affixed to the monitors at 8:45AM. I was tense, rigid and more alert. So was my co-anchor.  I sat in the weather chair on the right side of the set, he sat to my left. The minutes ticked by with no new information on the fire. Nothing was said but we knew that something was terribly wrong. We all quietly attempted to persuade ourselves that this was an accident. Some electrical fire. Some gas line rupture. Our hapless speculation of just 7 or 8 minutes seemed inappropriate. No one was speculating out loud.  Everyone was speculating to themselves.  The silence was speaking volumes in the tense air of the studio. Keep in mind at this time, we had no official word it was a jet airliner that hit The World Trade Towers.

A few minutes later, Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were scrambling to inform us that a plane just hit the second tower. This was LIVE TV! Eye-witness accounts were all they had. We all said a "few colorful words" filled with anger, frustration and horror. We were all stunned. We just listened. Total silence in the studio. No one said anything. No speculation.  No talk of Iraq. No commentary on military retaliation. No link to Al-Qaeda. No comparisons to Pearl Harbor. No War in Afghanistan. No WMDs.  Nothing prophetic. We sat and stood and watched as the events--whether we wanted them or not--became etched in our permanent memories.  One must remember that the afterglow of the boom years was still fresh in our minds...but fading as Y2K was the big buzzword at that time. In no way did I think these series of events would pervade our collective national consciousness for a YEAR or a decade or longer. At the time, no one did.

In breaking news situations in television, your body language changes from one of relaxation to one that conveys rigidity and alertness. Your adrenaline surges in controlled doses. Your ability to disseminate massive amounts of information increases while simultaneously conveying the basics of a story in an intelligible way on camera as if scripted. Time doesn't go by slow or fast. It becomes frozen. There is no "did I do this right?" or "Will the segment look okay?". You perform in the present ONLY. Your instincts take over. Only in hindsight do you fully grasp the story and its complexity.  Your experience becomes the foundation of your on-air instincts. That morning, all of our collective television experience and instinct served us perfectly. The morning of 9-11 was the same as another other 5AM show. Yet the tone of our broadcasts soon became dreadfully different than anything we had done before.

The newsroom was scrambling to record the national NBC feed along with all other news feeds from other sources that captured the newest video of what was happening. The news alert beeps were non-ending as more video was ready to be recorded. Remember that this was before non-linar computer editing so everything was recorded VCR style. You pushed a new tape in and hit the record button. The clanking of tapes into tape decks was deafening.   No real-time Youtube clips. No cell-phone video. No text messages. No real-time tweets. No Facebook updates. You waited at a tape deck rack for the satellite to "beam" you latest reel. Yet no one said "Al-Qaeda". No one said "Bin Laden". No one said "middle east terrorists".  No one had any opinion on the events unfolding before their eyes. That would change as I went into my boss's office for my 6 month review.

My boss--now a General Manager at another station--sat down with me shortly after 9AM.  We said a few things about my past 6 months work but he was only half paying attention. Ken, my boss--the best multi-tasker I've ever known--was attempting to carry on a meaningful conversation while flipping pages of my file on top of jotting down notes of the coverage on a yellow legal pad balanced on his knee. The ring of his phone every 20 seconds interrupted the chaotic convergence of his tasks. I sat patiently waiting for the whirl of papers above his desk to settle. The phone stopped ringing. His note pad resting on his desk at arm's reach. He paused for a moment, looked out his window into the newsroom then to the bank of TVs on his wall and said, "Its Bin Laden. Its Bin Laden." I said, "Who?". He repeated, "Bin Laden!" In 2001, the name "Osama Bin Laden" for most was unknown. Maybe a few remember him as architect of the USS Cole bombing in 2000. He was certainly not a household name.

My boss had the uncanny ability of having 20/20 hindsight vision...IN THE PRESENT. He could see events happen before they happened then project into the future what the effects the event would cause. This is what made him an innovative news director. Either you accepted his unearthly ability or you let it consume you personally.  After all, who is comfortable with their boss knowing what you would do before you would do it. So you believed in his vision. In the weeks ahead, my boss's prophetic realization became the most pivotal, surreal memory of that morning.

As the next plane hit the Pentagon followed by Flight 93 nose first into the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, my review faded into the chaos of the morning. The rest of the day was a blur.  Normally I take a nap in the afternoon. I don't think I slept for more than 2 hours at a time for a week. National coverage continued as it would for a week uninterrupted even for commercials. The morning show was all 9/11. A few basic weather segments of 45 seconds or so but nothing more  No television shows. No entertainment. The focus was covering the aftermath of 9-11. Somehow at the time, it didn't seem enough.

By noon that day, most of the pieces began to fall into place. The two attacks in New York City at the World Trade Center; the collapse of both Trade Center towers. Another plane attack, this time into the Pentagon and the other foiled attack on The White House resulting in the crash in Shanksville, PA. All were connected.  Everyone knew life would be different from this point forward.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Is Late Summer Heat Becoming More Common?

Many people have said that it seems late summer heat is becoming more common in northern OH. After all, kids are heading back to school weeks earlier nowadays. Current temperatures this year are running warmer than normal with high humidity. So what does temperature history tell us?  

The graph below shows average high temperatures compared to the 20 year average for each period from August 15 to September 15 since 1980 for Cleveland, Ohio.

While we've had some warmer than normal late summers in the early 1990s the overall average high temperature is almost 2 degrees WARMER over the last 2 decades when comparing 2000-2020 to 1980-2000.  So yes, the temperatures over the past 5 years have been well above normal in late August/early September.

The warmest day late summer day in 2019 was 94 degrees on September 11th. How widespread was the heat that day?   Much of the eastern 2/3 of the US was also WELL above normal--lots of 90s.

How about the hottest late summer day(s) in 2018?

How about 1978's late summer heat?

...and 1959?

What about extreme heat...90 degree days in Cleveland?

We've had our fair share of 90s in late summer over the past decade. 2020 had only one, 5 in 2019 and 7 in 2018.  I labeled each year with more than 4 between mid August and mid September. The 1940s had more late summer 90s compared to any decade.

Many people will draw climate change conclusions based on this data. I would refrain on doing so.  It's not that climate change's influence is not present. You shouldn't draw conclusions based on one location's data--in this case Cleveland (with a few years' temperature contour maps for spatial perspective).  You need many other locations' data across a larger area over a longer time frame along with analyses of other variables to derive any climate conclusions. That's way above my paygrade.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Where Does This Summer's Rainfall & Humidity Rank?

No big surprise here.  Even after an almost 2 week rainfall break in late July/early August, this summer still ranks 2nd all-time through August 19!

The individual rainfall events have been significant. Here is the number of 1/2" inch rainfall days.

28 of the 80 total days have had at least 0.1" rainfall. That is far and away the most of any summer.

The volume of rain water that's fallen across northern Ohio this summer is DOUBLE last summer!

For comparison, 6.6 trillion gallons of roughly 5% the volume of Lake Erie!

Our original summer outlook highlighted ABOVE NORMAL rainfall with an active July which has worked out very well.  We were hoping for near storm days and more dry breaks which would have allowed for more 90 degree days.  My initial call was for 10-15 days above 90. We went with slightly above to account for drier periods. As of this August 20th we stand at only 6. 

Number of severe thunderstorm warnings still running BELOW AVERAGE.

Continental upper level pattern has matchup pretty well with our initial outlook. 500mB heights vs normal in the images below show every 15 days starting June1st. Notice the frequent LOW in the central US and high pressure ridges flanking it.

How about the humidity.  Where does this summer rank?  2021 ranks 5th since 1948. Interesting summer of 2018 was more humid overall as was the summer 2010. The most humid summer was 1995

The extreme humidity has come in spurts.  We measure extreme humidity period in hours above a certain level. So far this summer's extreme humidity is lagging behind last year. In fact EVERY summer in the last 5 years has featured MORE EXTREME humidity than summer 2021.  See image below.

Monday, July 26, 2021

How Does This Summer's Rainfall Compare To Recent Years?

It goes without saying that most of Ohio is well above normal rainfall since June 1st this summer (2021) A large portion of northern Ohio has received 10-15" of rain since June 1 with some areas close to 20 inches! Actual rainfall numbers are highest in eastern Huron, southern Lorain and most of Medina Counties. 

Images below show rainfall vs normal. (Note the legend numbers are different for each image. Zero contour is the same for each)

How about last summer 2020?  Most of northern Ohio was well below normal--with the exception of portions of Portage, Geauga, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties. 

Summer of 2019 rainfall departures are comparable to this summer overall. 

Now the summer of 2018:

...and finally the summer of 2017: