Friday, May 12, 2023

How Does The Weak Cleveland Guardians Offense Compare to Past Years?

How does this year's offense rank?  How does it compare to each season since 2015 through May 10th?

The fact that they are only 3 games below .500 is a testament to their pitching especially relief pitching. Their ability to score runs has been near or at the bottom of the league across the board. The only season close to this season was 2019.  All data below is through May 10th since 2015.

(RISP = Runners in scoring position)

Cleveland Guardians record as of May 11th:  (thru 37 games)

2023:  17 -20

2022:   17 - 20

2021:   21 -16

2019:   20 - 17

2018:   18 - 19

2017:    20 -17

2016:    20 - 17

2015:    14 - 23

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

When Will This Cool/Unsettled Pattern Change?

It's not uncommon for April to feature stalled low pressure with long stretches of "cool" air across the Great Lakes/New England.  Our long stretch of warmth a few weeks ago makes this cooler/cloudy/rainy pattern that much harder to deal with.  What does the long range (2-3 week outlook) say?

The southern oscillation index went through some significant changes over the last week and a half. The greater these day-to-day changes the stronger the effect across North America, Here is the peer reviewed research:  PAPER HERE

SOI analog forecast show the Great Lakes/Eastern US trough backing off by mid month.  How quickly will the Southeast ridge build back is the big question.

Another element going forward this summer and fall will be the building El Nino. I'm not going to go into the specifics of that here. Perhaps a blog post on this in the weeks and months ahead. But as La Nina decays, the overall effects will be cascading across the Pacific augmenting the jet stream and the weather across North America.

Watch the decaying La Nina as shown through the weekly sea surface temperature anomalies from December 2022 to mid April 2023:  Watch the blue area disappear slowly.

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

The big drivers of the pattern change have been the ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska and the western corners of North America along, the deep low pressure over the Aleutian islands and the stalled ridge over Greenland (negative North Atlantic Oscillation). The position of these high pressure ridges have allowed low pressure to undercut them through the middle of the US. This has significantly suppressed the Bermuda high which brought us the warmth a couple weeks ago locking in below normal temperatures across the eastern 2/3 of the US.

Based upon all of these factors, I don't foresee any long stretches over warmth across the Great lakes and Ohio valley through at least the middle of May.  

The reinforcing front Sunday/Monday of next week could produce rain/snow mix.  Here was my forecast tweet from April 20 on the early May rain/snow mix potential.

As of this writing (April 25) the new EURO and GFS models show the Greenland Ridge & western North America ridge (red areas) holding strong until the second week of May then gradual weakening. This flattens the trough across the central US bringing an end to the unsettled pattern. These solutions were indicated on the SOI analogs more than a week ago.

Temperatures per the GFS also corroborate what the SOI analogs indicated 2 weeks ago.  That is gradual improvement across the central US and Ohio Valley but still no big signs of any long stretches of warmth.

Monday, April 17, 2023

What's Driving The Big Temperature Changes?

We just came off of the warmest seven day period since the middle of last September. 

64, 74, 80, 82, 82, 80, 79

Winning lotto numbers...not bad considering is occurred between April 10 and the 17th.  Look at these temperature ranking during the period. 

We came off of a highly variable March. No long stretches of warmth. A nine day stretch with below normal temps in the middle of the month. 

Why the pattern become consistently warmer?

The answer lies in the MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation). We need to look at the tropical Pacific. 

The MJO (read about it here) moves in varying magnitudes from west to east along the equator.  Here is a nice animation.  Green is more cloud cover. Brown colors are less cloud cover.  Notice how the northern Pacific jet stream fluctuates as the MJO moves through different phases (1 to 8).

Here is cross section of what is occurring.

How does something that is on the other side of the earth impact our weather?

Notice the temperatures in early March when the MJO was in a super-strong phase 8-1, slightly warmer than normal than it moved into a cooler phase (2 & 3) which connects with the cooler than normal mid March.  MJO then spun back around to phase 7-8-1 (lower magnitude) which connected to the 70s and 80s we had last week. The MJO impacts are different depending on the season.  You'll notice the MJO in similar phases (April 17 to 30 forecast but weaker) to early the March phase (stronger).  This looks to connect with a cooler next 7-10 days across the eastern 2/3 of the US.

There are always many drivers at work impacting the weather pattern. The MJO was just one of many influencing our weather with summer like temperatures last week.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Cleveland Baseball Opening Day Weather History

I checked the temperature for every "opening day" since 1871 when the professional baseball team was called the Cleveland Forest Citys.  Listed here are the warmest and coldest at each major ballpark.

Cleveland professional baseball started in 1869 with the first professional game played near the present day E. 38th street in between Scoville and Central Avenues in 1871 at a park called the National Association Grounds which is near the current Ensign Avenue and. E 55th. The team was named the Cleveland Forest Citys after the Forest City Coffee Company. They lost 25-6 to the first professional baseball team the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Location of the Cleveland Forest Citys Park in 1871

Since that year, professional baseball in Cleveland faded in and out of existence as it did in other cities back then. In 1871 and 1872, a Cleveland team also names the Forest Citys was formed but disbanded. Then from 1879 to 1884, the Cleveland Blues played their games at the Kennard Street Park. During that stretch, they won 4 of the 6 opening days. In 1885 and 1886, no professional baseball was played in Cleveland. But in 1887, Cleveland baseball returned again. Named the Spiders, they won 10 of the next 13 opening days through the 1899 season. Cleveland baseball was played at many locations between 1871 and the present. 

Locations of Cleveland baseball parks since 1871

In 1900, no Cleveland baseball existed because of the ineptitude of the 1899 Cleveland team which had a record of 20-132, still the worst record of any baseball franchise in baseball history. The team subsequently folded.

Starting in 1901, the new American Leagued was formed and Cleveland baseball was born again. Since then, Cleveland baseball has been played in 3 stadiums (League Park, Cleveland Stadium and now Progressive Field)

More than 50% of opening days featured temperatures above 60 degrees. Most of these occurred in the early 20th century when the season was shorter and started later (late April/early May).

Picture from Opening Day in 2007.  Game was postponed and moved to Milwaukee due to snow.

Monday, March 20, 2023

If the rain this winter was snow how much would we have?

It's a great question.  

After all actual snowfall this winter versus the 20 or 30 year averages was extremely low.  

Snowfall as of this writing in Cleveland is barely above 20 inches.  Yet the liquid precipitation (rain and snow combined) is north of 12 inches!

Before we attempt to answer this let's recap the winter storm track. After one of the warmest winters on record here in northern Ohio and across a large portion of the Great Lakes and Ohio valley, storm systems coming out of Texas ended up producing more rain on the southern end of the track with heavy snow staying across the northern states. Total precipitation (rain and snow) was well above normal in areas that saw above normal snowfall vs areas that saw more rain than snow.

Total precipitation from November through December was well below normal. January through mid March total precipitation was well above normal.

So how much snow would all of this precipitation give us if we converted ALL of it to snow?  

Converting liquid precipitation to snow using a (15" of snow to 1" liquid ratio) would give us these numbers (orange) vs actual snowfall (blue).  15 to 1 ratio is arbitrary as wetter snow would closer to 10 to 1 and super-dry snow could be as high as 25 to 1.  I took the middle ground.  The higher the orange line, the more total precipitation thus more potential snow (if converted).

Next we need to find the difference between the actual snowfall (blue above) each winter from the total converted liquid to snowfall (orange) to give us the remaining potential snow.  The larger the difference, the more liquid precipitation (converted to snow) that winter. I plotted each year's difference in the bar graph below.  

The top 10 highlighted below with 2022-23 highlighted for reference.

Bottom line is that the winter liquid precipitation (after subtracting the actual snowfall) this winter when converted to potential snow yielded a number just outside the top 10 highest since 1950 (graphic above). This winter had the highest liquid to potential snow since the winter of 2017-18 and a 36% increase comparing this winter to last winter and 65% increase compared to two winters ago. Yet this winter didn't crack the top of the list but its up there. 

1949-50:  227"

1951-52:  202"

2011-12:  198"

2007-08:  197"

1990-91:  193"

2006-07:  192"

1950-51:  191"  

1958-59:  180"

2016-17:  169"

1974-75:  167"

2010-11:  163"

2022-23:  162"

Thursday, February 02, 2023

How Does The Christmas 2022 Blizzard Compared to the January 1978 Blizzard?

Just last week we remembered the Blizzard of 1978 or the White Hurricane as it would be known as after the fact. Ohio turnpike was shutdown gate to gate.  Twenty foot high snowdrifts. Wind gusts above 80 mph in spots across Ohio and beyond.  If you lived during the storm, the memories will live forever.

A blizzard is defined as three hours of sustained winds of 35+ mph, 1/4 mi or lower visibility due to blowing and/or falling snow.  The last condition is key as you don't need falling snow for a blizzard to occur.  Recently the Blizzard of Christmas 2022 created conditions that in some respects rival the '78 blizzard.  Below is a comparison between the initial 12 hour period for each blizzard. The data includes precipitation type, temperature, wind chill, wind direction, speed and gusts followed by air pressure from Cleveland Hopkins Airport:

A few elements stand out here.  You'll notice the wind chill values of the 1978 storm are greatly reduced compared to what many publications sited years ago. The wind chill calculation changed in 2001 to reflect new science on the subject of heat loss on the body.  Earlier estimates put the wind chill at under -60° but in reality, the chills probably bottomed out at -30°,  maybe -40° with the higher gusts with the new formula.  Other notable findings from the observations above:

* The temperature drop during the December 2022 storm was greater (42° to 0° in 8 hours).  The 1978 storm had a sharper drop. 43° to 9° in 5 hours.

* 2022 storm created wind gusts nearing 50 mph at Hopkins with some reports above 60 mph once the temperatures dropped into the single digits.  These wind gusts (50+ mph) took roughly 5-7 hours to reach after peak temperatures. The 1978 storm had gusts reaching 70+ within 3 hours of peak temperatures

* Official wind chill values were LOWER during the 2002 storm.

* 1978 storm was far deeper with lowest air pressure at 958 mB vs 993.0 mB with the 2022 storm.

* Snow depth was much deeper in 1978.  16" before the storm versus no snow on the ground at the start of the 2022 storm.

What about the conditions after the initial 12 hours?  Here are the hourly observations for each storm over the next 48 hours. 2022 storm on left.  1978 storm on right. Color coding is identical to the image above.

Here are some notable findings in these 48 hours

2022 storm:

* Temperatures remained below zero for another 12 hours and under 10 degrees for another 19 hours.

* Sustained wind speeds stayed at 30 mph for 12 hours with gusts near 40 mph for 24 hours.

* Wind chills remained at under -20° for 24 another hours.

The progression of the arctic cold was fast and widespread. After 7 days the extreme cold had faded.

7 day temperatures vs normal during and following blizzard

1978 storm:

* Temperatures never dropped below zero; remained below 10 degrees for only 9 hours

* Sustained winds were similar to the 2022 storm (30 mph for 12 hours) with 40+ gusts 

Wind chills stayed between -5° and -15° as temps stayed between 5° and 15° degrees

The cold following the '78 blizzard was just as harsh and quick but it lingered much longer.

7 day temperatures vs normal during and following Blizzard

The surface features with both storms look very similar.

January 1978 Blizzard

December 2022 Blizzard

Psychology tells us that our experiences especially during extreme events tend to leave a stronger mark in our mind more than more benign events.  The January 2022 blizzard was one of those events.  The blizzard around Christmas 2022 was also a memorable one--certainly not the worst in northern Ohio history but it's on the list (maybe top 5)--and should be remembered in the same breath as the '78 storm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Lake Erie Ice Cover Update

High resolution image of Lake Erie, January 16,2023

I finally updated the daily Lake Erie ice coverage charts for each season since 1972. I separated this into month periods starting with November and ending with May.  This is all color coded. 

  • Light blue blocks indicates ice coverage under 1%
  • Bright blue is 2% to 10%
  • Dark Blue is 11% to 25%
  • Purple is 26% to 50%
  • Pink is 51% to 74%
  • White indicates at least 75% coverage

You'll notice several things here:
  1. Significant ice typically doesn't develop until late December.
  2. Mid/late 1970s AND the early 2000s stand out as the most significant ice coverage period in  January and early Februar
  3. First half of February is typically the peak for ice coverage
  4. November 23, 2014 was the earliest ice cover
  5. May 17, 1982 was the latest ice cover 

Back in 2021 and 2022, I did some research on the conditions needed for rapid ice development.  Links are  HERE  and  HERE







Number of days with ice coverage 90% or higher:

Number of days with ice coverage 10% or higher (since 2010-11)

All Lake Erie ice data from THIS SITE BACK TO 1972

Graph comparing this year (2022-23) to years past

Canadian ice service for more historical perspective

Max ice coverage each winter

Friday, January 13, 2023

Above/Normal Winter Temperatures in Cleveland: Is there a Trend?

How often have we heard the saying "Perception is Reality"?  

No other phrase describes the weather better than this one. We look at past winters through our own personal lens molded by our own experiences in that weather. Maybe we were on our way to a Christmas party in a snow storm similar to this past Christmas blizzard. Perhaps it was a really warm Christmas like 2019 or 1982.  Maybe it was a severe thunderstorm that caused damage to your house.  Events like this leave an indelible mark in our minds placing more weight on these weather events versus others. Psychology tells us that we typically remember these extremes more than the averages.  Perception is indeed reality. 

Below are the total number of days where the average temperature was above normal and below normal for Cleveland, Ohio (NWS station at Hopkins Airport).  I looked at every winter since 1960-61 (December through February) using the SC ACIS site.  All normals are calculated using the period 1991-2020.


DJF Days Above Normal

DJF Days Below Normal

If we just plot the higher end above normal days (at least +10 degrees above normal) this is what we find:

DJF Days at least 10 degrees ABOVE NORMAL

Now the lower end below normal days (at least -10 degrees below normal):