Showing posts from 2019

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…

Barry Just Off the Louisiana Coast

Tropical Storm Barry is about 75 miles south of Morgan City, LA per the 10 p.m. NHC advisory. Barry continues to track very slowly towards the west-northwest, but a turn towards the northwest, then north is expected during the next 12-24 hours. On satellite, Barry is looking a little better organized this evening. Earlier today, the center of circulation was largely exposed with little in the way of deep convection around it. Now, the convection is trying to wrap around the center, and infrared satellite indicates that cloud tops are cooling -- a sign that the convection is getting more intense.

Despite the northern side being almost totally devoid of convection, gusty winds have made their way onto the Louisiana coast. New Orleans, Houma (Terrebonne Parish), and Patterson (St. Mary Parish) have all reported tropical storm force wind gusts in the past hour. Even Lafayette has been gusting over 30 mph during the past hour. Expect winds to ramp up slowly through the night and into Satur…

Tropical Storm Barry Strengthening over Northern Gulf of Mexico

As of the 10 a.m. CDT advisory, Tropical Storm Barry has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and minimum pressure of 998 mb. This represents an increase in winds of 15 mph, and a drop in pressure of 7 mb since this time yesterday.

The forecast has not changed that dramatically during the last 24 hours. The official forecast track continues to bring the center of Barry near the Louisiana coast in the vicinity of Morgan City on Saturday morning as a category one hurricane. After landfall, the center should track roughly along the U.S. 90 corridor, bringing it near or just east of Lafayette, then into Central Louisiana. Barry should weaken after making landfall.

The main concern with Barry continues to be rainfall. The slow-moving nature of Barry, combined with already wet soil conditions and high rivers in South Louisiana will result in a very significant threat for life-threatening inland flooding. 10-20 inches of rainfall will be likely near and to the east of where the center ultimatel…

Potential Tropical Cyclone #2

NHC this morning initiated advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone #2 (PTC #2). As of the 10 p.m. CDT advisory, this area of low pressure is not yet a tropical depression, though NHC notes that it is quite close. Indeed, the minimum pressure is now down to 1,009 mb, and winds have ticked up slightly to 30 mph.

As for the forecast, there remains a bit of uncertainty, stemming largely from the fact that we do not yet have a well-defined low-level center of circulation. Nevertheless, the majority of model guidance brings PTC #2 towards the Louisiana coast by Saturday afternoon. In their 10 p.m. discussion, NHC noted that their forecast lies on the west side of the guidance envelope, so it is possible we see an eastward shift in the forecast with time, but one should not count on that, as there has been considerable run-to-run discrepancy with the models (i.e. each run of the same model has looked, sometimes markedly, different than the previous run).

As for the intensity, this is one pl…

Invest 92L Developing Over Northeastern Gulf of Mexico

Over the last few days, we have been tracking Invest 92L. The weak area of low pressure was initially over Georgia, but has now moved out over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Conditions are favorable for development, and NHC is forecasting a high chance for tropical cyclone formation during the next 24-48 hours. The Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to fly into the area of low pressure on Wednesday to determine whether a tropical depression (or tropical storm) has formed.

I'm just getting this blog and website up and running again, and I hope to keep some tropical stuff (and other things) going throughout the season, so stay tuned!