Tag Archives: hail

5 April 2012 – It’s Florida’s turn!

Over the past few days we have watched as severe stormy weather developed over the southern and southeastern USA, from Texas to Virginia. Tornado destruction in Texas was widely on display on TV’s evening news.

Atmospheric conditions that generated such violent weather have continued on a southeasterly progression  as a strong mainly westerly wind flow have pushed these storm cells toward the east. In this process Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia have been affected while states further to the east, in the coastal mid-Atlantic USA, await their turns.

This morning, Thursday 5 April 2012,  extreme South Florida woke-up to cloudy stormy skies, some rain and wind especially in the coastal regions, as a large blob of disturbed weather slowly pushed from west to east reaching from lake Okeechobee to the Florida straits.

Satellite image in the early morning of 5 April 2012 showing a large cell of stormy weather slowly moving over South Florida

As this day has progressed conditions for severe weather reaching South Florida have coalesced thanks to a strong southwesterly wind flow over the Gulf, which is pushing storm cells over Louisiana and Mississippi toward Florida, while the the system that generated morning rain over South Florida slowly moves away over the Atlantic. The fact that temperatures are reaching toward the high 80s to low 90s over the region, while sea surface temperatures in the southern Gulf and Florida straits continue to climb, will contribute to the probability of severe weather developing over vast regions of Florida including South Florida later on today and tomorrow.

Satellite image taken seven hours later on 5 April 2012 showing the large cell of disturbed weather rapidly moving over the north-central Gulf while the system over South Florida slowly moves toward the east over the Atlantic

The satellite image above, courtesy of NOAA, shows the large cell of severe weather over coastal Louisiana and the northern Gulf of Mexico, an offshoot of the severe weather that impacted Texas and neighboring states earlier this week, as it is pushed by strong westerly winds toward the Gulf and Florida beyond. Gulf waters and atmospheric conditions over the region are such that there is a high probability of sever weather developing near the west coast of Florida later on today and over most of Florida by tonight and tomorrow.

Also of interest in the same satellite image is the large region of rain and thunderstorms over most of Central America, mainly El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and northern South America, which is similar to a persistent pattern that has prevailed over the same region for several months during the last 2 – 3  years.

It would appear we might be seeing conditions that are similar to those a year ago both over the southern USA, the Gulf and Florida and also over Central America and northern South America including the neighboring waters of the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean. In this regard it is also important to note that we are also seeing some significant changes over the larger region relative to what prevailed in 2011, we are talking of the much cooler surface waters and larger reach of the Mid Atlantic Oscillation and the disappearance of La Nina off the Pacific coast of Peru, which is being replaced by much warmer waters suggesting the genesis of El Nino might be possible. All of these now prevailing conditions are factors that in one way or another are capable of affecting tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic basin. In consequence, it behooves all of us in the periphery of the basin to pay close attention as to how these conditions evolves in the near term as they might be good indicators of how the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season might eventually evolve over the next few months. In this regard it is interesting to note that the Colorado State University team has finally issued a forecast for a “below average” 2012 season in the Atlantic basin.

Regardless of what the forecasts from various teams say about he 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, I believe is important to take a look at the consequences of recent severe weather events mentioned above, and those that might be  in store for Florida in the next day or so, to be reminded of the power of wind and water for causing tremendous structural and physical damage and, above all, death, injury and human suffering. After all, wind and water are the main damage components of hurricanes, and it only takes one hit for us to witness yet again how powerful and damaging Nature can be when humankind and human activity interact with its hazards.

Satellite image of 5 April 2012 in the late morning showing the prevailing wind flow that is pushing stormy weather toward Florida

NOAA is already warning about rain, hail, thunderstorms and severe lightning, rip currents along both Gulf and Atlantic coast even a slight chance of tornadoes, and wind gusts in excess of 55 to 60 mph that are capable of causing quite a bit of damage to property and the natural environment, for South Florida. From the looks of the weather patterns that are interacting over the larger southeastern USA – Gulf- Florida region, there is a possibility that other regions in the state beyond South Florida could be in for even worse impacts later on tonight and tomorrow.

Behind this approaching foul weather there is a ‘cold front’ that should start to arrive over South Florida by Saturday bringing more pleasant weather by Sunday with temperatures in the mid to high 70s over the area. After the storm there is the calm!

There is also calm before the storm, so be prepared! Pay attention!! MITIGATE!!!

April 2011: Extreme Weather Events

In the spring and early summer of 1998 I researched various sources to write a paper titled  The Need for Action to Confront Potential Consequences of Global Climate Change on a Regional Basis, to set the topics of discussion for one of the regional conferences taking place nationally as part of a National Assessment of Consequences of Global Climate Change in the United States [ or just National Assessment or NA for short] mandated by the U.S. Congress. The specific region for this conference included the U.S. South Atlantic coastal regions of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In writing this paper and conducting my research I was striken by the complexity and interaction of natural processes governing the behavior of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, and the byproducts that become hazards with the potential for causing damage to life, all aspects of human activity and the environment in their paths.

Also significant to me was the realization that: (a) Our Earth’s climate is driven or affected by so many factors acting on time scales that vary from hours or days to millennia, and which in many cases conform to repetitive cycles; (b) While climate may be changing so slowly, almost imperceptebly, in response to a natural cycle lasting thousands of years such as changes in the orbital mechanics of Earth around the Sun and the galactic center, it also has the capacity for being puntuacted by localized extremes such as temperature or atmospheric pressure that lead to weather events that last from hours to days; (c) This contrast between extremely slow change and the turmoil of hourly or daily events requires Nature to constantly activate other components of the ocean-atmosphere complex seeking to restore equilibrium; (d) There is an inherent fragility in this struggle between extremes as climate is actually happening in that thin wispy vail of gases, the atmosphere, surrounding Earth where less than 3/100 of 1% of the component gases contribute to the conditions allowing multicellular – human – life to exist. It is simple to deduct how even minor changes may alter the equilibrium that Nature tries so hard to maintain, leading to potentially dire consequences and change perhaps even for life as we know it.

These findings influenced me not only in my writing of the white paper for the conference, but in naming the upcoming event the Climate Change and Extreme Events Workshop”. In retrospect, since this took place in 1998, I have to say the extreme event characterization was right on target as numerous weather events over the past 13 years have reinforced my ideas and findings expressed in the white paper mentioned above [which you can view by clicking here WHITEPAPERDraft1].

The above thoughts and reference serve as preamble to comments and illustrations I want to share relative to extreme weather events taking place in the United States over just a few passing days this April of 2011. You will find my comments on a brief paper under the title April 2011: Extreme Weather Events, which you can read by clicking of the following link:  April2011ExtremeWeatherEvents