Photo of the Week: Katrina Sunset

For this week's Photo of the Week (actually taken by my dad), I went into the archives again and found a picture of a beautiful sunset. But not just any sunset. This was the sunset the night before Hurricane Katrina's historic landfall on the Louisiana coast.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 (when I was a sophomore in high school), bringing catastrophic damage to southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi, and in particular, in the Greater New Orleans area. This photo was taken from Lafayette, Louisiana (my hometown). The effects in Lafayette were actually fairly minimal, but Lafayette would experience moderate impacts from Hurricane Rita about a month later.

I was already interested in weather around this time, but Katrina, along with the rest of the historic 2005 hurricane season, would help solidify my lifelong interest in meteorology.

Photo of the Week: Biscayne Bay Shelf Cloud

For this week's featured photo, I went into the archives and found a photo from my days as a graduate student at University of Miami. This photo was taken along the Rickenbacker Causeway which connects Virginia Key and Key Biscayne to the mainland in Miami. I do not recall much that was specific about this thunderstorm from September 19, 2012, just that it was very photogenic. There were a few "appendages" on the bottom of the shelf cloud, but they were most likely scud clouds and probably not funnel clouds.

Scattered to numerous thunderstorms occur on a near daily basis across South Florida from April through October. While they are rarely severe, they often produce abundant lightning and torrential rainfall. A few more photos of this thunderstorm can be found below.

Photo of the Week: First Tornado

This is sorta a weather blog isn't it? It's about time I share a weather photo. For this week's photo of the week, my first tornado! This tornado was spotted near Groom, TX along Interstate 40 on a storm chase on April 22, 2010. This particular tornado was only on the ground for a few seconds, and was rated EF0 since it basically did not cause any damage.

Meteorology: A large cutoff low was noted on 500 mb analysis, with a surface dryline in place over the Texas Panhandle. The morning SPC convective outlook had a large Slight Risk area over much of the High Plains, including a 10% significant tornado probability over the Texas Panhandle. It should be noted that under today's SPC outlook conventions, this would have been an "Enhanced Risk". The outlook text noted that supercells capable of very large hail were likely to develop along the dryline, with the tornado risk increasing during the early evening hours as a low-level jet developed. At 2:35 p.m. CDT, SPC…

Photo of the Week: Milky Way Over Black Canyon

For this week's installment of "Photo of the Week", I am featuring what is probably to date, my best Milky Way shot. This photo was taken last June from the South Rim Campground at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Montrose County, Colorado. The photo was taken using my Nikon D3300 DSLR equipped with a Tokina 11-18 mm wide-angle lens. I used a wide aperture (f/2.8), short focal length (11 mm), kicked the ISO up to 6400, and did a 20-second exposure. My advice to photographers attempting a similar shot: don't focus overly on what my settings were, or what someone else's were. While those settings may be a good starting point, some trial and error (and I mean, a lot of error) will be required. I think I initially started with a lower ISO, and kicked it up higher to really get the deep space objects in the shot. I should also point out that this photo was minimally post-processed, except for perhaps some slight adjustments to the exposure.

Using Stellariu…

Photo of the Week: Independence Pass

For my inaugural post on this new blog, I will kick off my "Photo of the Week" series with the cover photo to the new website. This photo was taken on the ascent up Independence Pass, Colorado in June 2019. State Highway 82 traverses Independence Pass, and is the second highest paved mountain pass in the U.S., reaching an elevation of 12,095 at the Continental Divide. Only Trail Ridge Road (U.S. Highway 34) in Rocky Mountain National Park is higher. Independence Pass connects Aspen on the west to Twin Lakes on the east. Several prominent high 14ers are visible from the pass including Mount Elbert (the highest point in Colorado at 14,440 feet) and La Plata Peak (14,361 feet). The highway typically opens to traffic the Thursday heading into Memorial Day Weekend, but opened late in 2019 after one of the snowiest winters in recent memory. Even in late June, snow was abundant above the treeline.

Travel Recommendation: Independence Pass is closed during the winter, so you have t…

Hurricane Dorian Tracking Towards Florida

Hurricane Dorian continues to move away from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands this morning. Yesterday, wind gusts to hurricane force were reported on Saint Thomas as Dorian moved through the Virgin Islands. As of the 5:00 a.m. AST (0900 UTC) advisory this morning, Dorian remains a category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and minimum central pressure of 991 mb.
The eye of Dorian has become less pronounced this morning, and NHC did note in their 5 a.m. discussion that some dry air entrainment has occurred. Despite this, wind shear and dry air are forecast to subside in the next day or two, with Dorian then expected to move over very warm ocean waters. This should allow for steady intensification, and Dorian is likely to become a major hurricane (category three or higher). NHC notes that rapid intensification may even be possible.

In terms of the track forecast, Dorian is moving northwest this morning into a weakness in the semi-permanent Azores high, but this…

Barry Moving Ashore: Heavy Rain Still to Come

After briefly attaining hurricane status this morning, Barry has made landfall near Intracoastal City, LA, and has since weakened back to a tropical storm. Wind gusts to tropical storm force are being felt across south-central Louisiana with New Iberia recently reporting a wind gust to 61 mph. Lafayette has also hit tropical storm force, reporting 40 mph during the past couple of hours. Even as far inland as Baton Rouge has had a few tropical storm force wind gusts.

Radar shows that the north and west sides of Barry are largely devoid of convection, but some fairly robust convection exists to the south and southeast of the center. It is hard to get a read on how strong the winds are in this convection as Doppler radar doesn't have a great view of it. As an aside, wind must have a component moving towards or away from the radar for the radar to measure it. In this case, the wind in the region of interest is moving perpendicular to the radar beam, thus, the radar is unable to sample…