Archive for June, 2012

Enjoy tonight’s “Leap Second”
June 30, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

Everybody gets an extra second to enjoy this evening!  The world’s most precise clocks will add one second at 8 PM EDT to help keep the clock in sync with earth’s actual rotation.

A few factors such as the Earth slowing down a little bit from the pull of the moon, as well as an atomic clock just a touch too fast, means these leap seconds are done every few years to keep the clocks as precise as possible.

For example, the earth’s rotation is about two milliseconds slower than a hundred years ago…so add that up over the course of a century and it will throw off the timing just a bit.  This is the first adjustment to the atomic clocks since January 2009, and the 25th overall conducted by the Earth Orientation Service in Paris.

The clock will tick as such – 7:59:58 PM…7:59:59 PM…7:59:60 PM…8:00:00PM…to add that unusual second.  Daniel Gambis, head of the EOS in Pairs, said modern technology will automatically adjust for these leap seconds.  The next time an adjustment will be needed to re-synchronize the clocks is expected to be in 2015 or 2016.

Travelers Championship
June 23, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

Final round play of at the Travelers Championship in nearby Cromwell, CT will not face any weather problems tomorrow afternoon.  High pressure across the region will keep skies mostly sunny throughout the day (except some patchy fog and low-level clouds first thing in the morning).

Play was suspended due to strong thunderstorms on Friday afternoon, causing a delay in the start of the third round which did not conclude before CBS ended coverage.  With the weather cooperating, the championship should finish up on time Sunday.

90-degree days coming
June 17, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

A pair of 90-degree days are forecasted for Wednesday and Thursday, which will keep us on track for how many times we hit the 90s each year.  So far, we’ve had two…April 16 and May 29.  By the end of June, Bradley International officially averages 5 90-degree days.  By the end of this week we’ll likely be at 4 with one week to go.

The average month-by-month breakdown is as follows:

April: less than 1

May: 1

June: 4

July: 7

August: 5

September: 1

October: less than 1

These are substantially higher than the averages for surrounding cities in southern New England.  The average 90-degree days for various cities are Boston 13, Providence 10, Bridgeport 6, and Worcester 3.

U.S. Open Forecast
June 16, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

This year’s U.S. Open surely has not been the cakewalk that Rory McIroy turned the tournament into last year.  The 2012 Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco has played much harder simply because the course is harder…literally…the ground is much firmer.

Last year at Congressional Country Club in Washington D.C., a soggy week led to a rain-soaked and softer golf course.  This has not been the case at Olympic through the first three rounds and [as seen on the forecast graphic above]will not be the case for the final round on Sunday.   Another dry, sunny afternoon will keep the course firm and [pardon the sports analysis] keep the players hanging on for dear life instead of scoring very low…the champion likely being the last player not to be knocked out by Olympic’s tough, firm conditions…a “last man standing” if you will.

The Olympic Club has also been notorious for its gusty, unpredictable winds.  Taken from a Google satellite image (Olympic Club circled in red), you can see above how the unique landscape can cause some turbulent conditions…a complex blend of ocean, land, and lake can create a small micro-climate centered on the golf course.  What you cannot see on that satellite image is the steep change in elevation that Olympic has…a nearly 190 foot drop from the clubhouse down to the holes near Lake Merced.  This also adds to the complex terrain, which adds to the complex wind variables…sometimes enhancing the winds, but other times blocking the winds a little bit as they flow over the natural mountain side.

The cool weather at Olympic this week, a big change for professional golfers accustomed to the hot summers of Florida, will also keep the ball flight a little shorter.  Combining all this…the dryness, the winds, the temperature and humidity…makes these players needing to tame some of the meteorology components to get an edge on their golfing opponents to take home the championship.

Rip Current Awareness Week
June 9, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

This week is Rip Current Awareness Week by the National Weather Service.  Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from the shore, even in calm weather.  On average, more than one hundred people die each year from being pulled out by a rip current, more than the fatalities from shark attacks.

Just a few tips from the National Weather Service about rip currents:  Observe and obey signs and flags posted to warn about rip currents, never swim near jetties or piers where there are fixed rip currents, don’t swim against a rip current – it will just tire you out, Escape the rip current by swimming parallel to the beach until you are free.

Plenty more information can be found here http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ripcurrents/

Spring 2012 in review: nationally
June 8, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

While dealing with our warmest spring on record in the Pioneer Valley (see yesterday’s post), we were not the only ones across the nation.  According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), this May capped off the warmest meteorological spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period in the lower-48 states since records began in 1895!

As shown on this map, 31 states recorded their warmest spring in 118 years, with 11 other states cracking their top-10.  Temperatures were 5.2 degrees above average throughout the spring…very comparable to the Pioneer Valley’s 5.4 degrees above average.  Also like the Pioneer Valley, a great contribution to the warm spring nationally was the record-warm March, but also aided by the third warmest April and second warmest May across the lower-48.

Precipitation was fairly evenly spread this spring.  As you can see, there was a mix of states above normal, below normal, and near normal for precipitation totals.  Technically speaking, Spring 2012 came in 0.36 inches below normal for the lower-48.

Another highlight of note from Spring 2012: the formation of tropical storms Alberto and Beryl became just the third time that two tropical storms formed before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.

Spring 2012 in review
June 7, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

For meteorologists, the spring season is defined as the months of March, April, and May.  This differs from our traditional start of summer marked by the astronomical summer solstice on June 20.  That being said, here is the recap for our spring numbers at Bradley International, the official climate station of the Pioneer Valley:

– This summer tied the all-time warmest spring (2010), with high temperatures averaging 5.3 degrees above normal and low temperatures averaging 5.5 degrees above normal.

– The substantial player in this was the month of March…when high temperatures were an astonishing 10.0 degrees above average…the warmest March on record.  5 record high temperatures were set that month.

– Precipitation was 3.88 inches below normal, with springtime snowfall about 6 inches below normal as well (average springtime snow is 7.8 inches)

While this spring tied the warmest on record, that doesn’t necessarily mean a warm summer as well.  For the top-10 warmest springs on record, it has been a dead split for the following summer…6 summers above average and 6 summers at or below average.

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES (48.9 FOR SPRING)...
TOP TEN WARMEST SPRINGS      FOLLOWING SUMMERS
1.  54.3 2010 (+5.4)         73.8 (+2.4)
2.  53.2 1991 (+4.3)         72.4 (+1.0)
3.  52.8 1921 (+3.9)         70.8 (-0.6)
4.  52.5 1977 (+3.6)         71.8 (+1.6)
5.  51.7 1945 (+2.8)         70.0 (-1.4)
6.  51.4 1979 (+2.5)         71.4 (NULL)
7.  51.1 1942 (+2.2)         70.2 (-1.2)
8.  51.0 1998 (+2.1)         71.2 (-0.2)
         1910                69.7 (-1.7)
9.  50.6 1976 (+1.7)         72.0 (+0.6)
         1973                74.4 (+3.0)
10. 50.5 1981 (+1.6)         71.7 (+0.3)

Stuck with a showery week
June 3, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

This week features scattered showers in the forecast for the next several days.  So why is this the case?  Sure there are scattered showers floating around the Northeast U.S. tonight, but why will they be popping up in similar fashion to today for the next several days?  The answer is in the upper-levels of the atmosphere.

An upper-level trough will be stuck over the region through Friday.  The following series of 5 maps represents the next 5 mornings (Monday to Friday) at about 18,000 feet.  You will notice a well-defined low sitting off the Canadian Maritimes through Wednesday.  By Thursday and Friday the “L” has been pulled off the map and fewer purple lines define the trough.

The 558-line (outlined in red on all of the maps) is also flattening out and lifting northward towards the end of the week…another good sign that the trough will lose its strength.  The 558 line represents the height of the 500 millibar surface (about half of the total atmosphere) is at a distance of 5.58 kilometers above mean sea level.  Generally, better weather exists when these heights climb higher…which you can see those height values over New England are slowly rising over the course of the week.

Still, a general trough exists…a dip in those contours are still defined across the Northeast on the last map on Friday.  Until we can get the entire trough to exit, we will still be under the threat of clouds and scattered rain showers.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

Rainfall Totals
June 2, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

Futurecast was nearly dead-on with today’s rainfall…the Pioneer Valley seeing right around an inch and a half of rain.  The heaviest bands pushed through right before sunrise (rainfall rates of about a third of an inch per hour), with light to moderate rain persisting into the early afternoon.

 

The 24-hour estimated rainfall from our Pinpoint Doppler radar shows that heavy batch of rain (represented by dark green and yellow) that came up from New York City, through New Haven and right up the I-91 corridor in western Massachusetts before pushing further north into New Hampshire.

June 1 tornado: a look back
June 1, 2012

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

The following is a detailed assessment from the National Weather Service shortly after last year’s devestating tornadoes.  Their experts retraced the path of these storms, determining the tornadoes statistics including width and wind speed.  Here is their complete report:

*** ef3 tornado confirmed from westfield to charlton ***
location: westfield to charlton in hampden and worcester counties
date: june 1 2011
estimated time: 417 pm to 527 pm edt
maximum ef-scale rating: ef3
estimated maximum wind speed: 160 mph
maximum path width: one half mile
path length: 39.0 miles
beginning lat/lon: 42.10n / 72.75w
ending lat/lon: 42.10n / 71.99w
fatalities: 3 as confirmed by massachusetts ema
injuries: 72 as confirmed by massachusetts ema

reflectivity radar image at 4:36 pm (approximate crossing of connecticut river):

doppler radar image at 4:36 pm (approximate crossing of connecticut river):

summary:
the national weather service in taunton massachusetts has
confirmed an ef3 tornado from westfield to charlton massachusetts
on june 1 2011.

a supercell thunderstorm developed over western massachusetts
wednesday afternoon. this storm strengthened and produced a long-
lived…very significant tornado…that did extensive damage across
southwest and south-central massachusetts.

this storm will be noted not only for its intensity…but also for
the length of the continuous damage path…approximately 39 miles.
the tornado was also very wide at some points…reaching a maximum
width of one-half mile.

the tornado first touched down in the munger hill section of
westfield with damage mainly limited to trees…many uprooted and
snapped. the roof of munger hill elementary school was also
damaged. the tornado rapidly intensified as it moved into west
springfield. the tornado caused extensive damage to industrial
buildings and homes. several buildings had their roofs removed by
the tornado…a few structures collapsed…and several multi-
story buildings lost their upper stories.

the tornado then crossed the connecticut river at the memorial
avenue bridge and into the city of springfield. here the tornado
produced extensive damage to the south side of the downtown area
with many homes destroyed. in addition commercial brick buildings
sustained major damage. roofs were removed from many of these
large commercial structures. the tornado also produced severe
structural damage to town homes and apartments near springfield
college. the tornado continued moving east into the island pond
section of springfield…where cathedral high school sustained
significant damage…and many homes in this part the city were
completely destroyed.

the tornado continued to move east through wilbraham near the
wilbraham-hampden town line producing nearly complete
deforestation and significant damage to nearby structures.

the tornado then continued directly through the middle of the
town of monson. in monson widespread damage occurred to commercial
and residential buildings…with many homes completely destroyed.
the roof of monson high school was destroyed. forested parts of
town experienced nearly complete deforestation and in some
locations tree bark was stripped from remaining trunks.

reflectivity radar image at 4:55 pm (approximate time in monson):

doppler radar image at 4:55 pm (approximate time in monson):

the tornado moved across the brimfield state forest where it
reached it maximum width of approximately one-half mile. additional
significant damage occurred both to structures and forested areas
for many miles before the tornado reached the southbridge airport.
here numerous aircraft were lifted off the ground and into the
woods east of the airport.

the tornado then moved east before lifting in the southwest part
of charlton.

*** ef1 tornado confirmed in wilbraham ***
location: wilbraham in hampden county
date: june 1 2011
estimated time: 632 pm to 640 pm edt
maximum ef-scale rating: ef1
estimated maximum wind speed: 90 mph
maximum path width: 200 yards
path length: 3.6 miles
beginning lat/lon: 42.14n / 72.48w
ending lat/lon: 42.15n / 72.40w
fatalities: 0
injuries: 0

summary
the national weather service in taunton massachusetts has
confirmed an ef1 tornado in wilbraham on june 1 2011.

a national weather service survey team confirmed that an ef1 tornado
touched down in the northwest corner of wilbraham. the tornado
continued east crossing main street and mountain road: but remained
south of route 20. most of the damage was to trees with large limbs
snapped off: as well as numerous trees downed. several were
uprooted.

*** ef1 tornado confirmed in north brimfield ***
location: north brimfield in hampden county
date: june 1 2011
estimated time: 654 pm to 657 pm edt
maximum ef-scale rating: ef1
estimated maximum wind speed: 90 mph
maximum path width: 100 yards
path length: 1.3 miles
beginning lat/lon: 42.14n / 72.23w
ending lat/lon: 42.15n / 72.20w
fatalities: 0
injuries: 0

summary
the national weather service in taunton massachusetts has
confirmed an ef1 tornado in north brimfield on june 1 2011.

a national weather service survey team confirmed that a second ef1
tornado touched down north of brimfield west of route 19. this
tornado crossed route 19 and lifted near tower hill road. the
damage was surveyed on the ground and by aircraft. the damage
consisted of trees with large limbs snapped off: as well as
numerous trees downed: a few of which were uprooted. this tornado
is from the same parent thunderstorm that produced the tornado in
north wilbraham.