"But seeing they could not See; hearing they could not Hear"
“The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Weather Service or affiliate/related organizations. Please consult .gov sites for official information”

"From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds." - Job 37:9.

"The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course".

Monday, May 16, 2011

Over 400,000Spectators Disappointed, Severe Weather Forecasters Relieved


TODAY: Why the Title today? The Launch of the second to last Space Shuttle went today with out a hitch, but it could have been MUCH worse...and not have gone at all. In fact the Shuttle could have been damaged irreparably had weather conditions been a bit different between today and tomorrow.  ***See below for more.

 Instead though, due to how the systems through the atmosphere were aligned, they brought on another disaster of very large societal ramifications rather than meteorological. Folks from far and wide, from across the globe who spent vast amounts of money/time/resources just to be there to watch...had hopes dashed 5-10 seconds after lift off. Only those right within the secured area got a good view..the percentage of which is likely 10% of all those who were in the area.
To ADD to the impeccable timing of this "event of disappointing proportions", the clouds had cleared to the crowds delight, only to move back in during the final 3 minutes prior to lift off!! How is that possible?  Crowd control was out en masse too. Lesson learned obviously from the previous launch. 

It is easy to see where the arrow is pointing the contrail produced by the contrail ice crystals (over simplification), but also easier to see is the deck of clouds all around the launch area. In fact, now that I looked closer, you can see the ripples going through the top of the cloud deck indicative of the stronger winds aloft accompanying that patch of moisture!!

How could this  meteorological situation have resulted in severe weather that would damage the Shuttle? Note those two upper level lows. Winds aloft, for this time of year associated with them, are not at all uncommon like those we'd expect to find in January or February. Additionally, upper level disturbances are embedded in this flow that could trigger severe weather. But we are now in May...very very rare situation.

 So where's the storms?  For one, there is not enough moisture for deep convection,  just enough to generate clouds. What ever ample moisture there is for storms is getting stretched to far thin out flat rather than up.  The winds are entirely unidirectional with there is no vertical turning, only horizontal stretching. This adds some lift, but not at the lowest levels.  Instead, the forces combined generates  period of clouds  

There are  no low level boundaries as well, including a mere sea breeze. Only a cold front that moved through near sunset last night..but it too was parallel to the flow, so there was no upward forcing at the lowest levels (aptly termed 'convergence').  Had these winds been associated with a surface front aligned differently with more moisture, this could have ended up being an near epic severe weather outbreak to at least include large, damaging hail (for instance) for this two day period. But as we can see...nothing is happening. 

One thing, we are close to setting record low temperatures across the state in the mornings. Followed by very pleasant a drier afternoons. It is a bit breezy too, but nothing beyond improving kite flying and water related wind sport. Certainly not destructive to build structures.

The first wave of moisture arrived this morning along and ahead of the first surge of stronger winds aloft. This moisture / wind team produced the cloud deck that simultaneously hampered clear sky conditions while dampening the otherwise energized hordes of on-lookers who arrived to Central Florida to view the launch. Even the announcer I heard on the radio while hoping to get some good video was awe inspired, until, that is, I heard her exclaim, " It's is AWESOME..INCREDIBLE...(pause) Oh, it went into the clouds"  ;-(. (a few times).

EARLY THIS EVENING/TUESDAY: The next of disturbed areas will pass across Central Florida near sunset. During that time I'm expecting cloud coverage could again increase. If it were day time it would be more so, and winds would pick up more as well. But it will be perfectly timed to have little impact other than to sustain the winds a bit longer than one would otherwise expect, and bring some more clouds in. This will mostly occur after dark, and won't be noticed. No rain.

WEDNESDAY: The second low will rotate around the first as it lifts north and east. This low will again bring even stronger winds aloft and even more lift. It is also accompanied by a shot of moisture. This one will mostly impact South Florida to the degree that showers could be in their midst at sunrise through early afternoon. Due to timing of this disturbance (early day), and no sea breeze, I do not expect there would be thunderstorms. There is even more moisture associated with this system as well as some accumulating at lower levels, temperatures aloft are expected to instability will be limited especially considering the time of day (early)

But note: We can't really know what the impacts of this disturbance can be since it has not interacted with any other land mass other than well to the north in much cooler air and under an altogether configuration, perhaps that chance of a quick moving storm should not be entirely discounted. However, the chances of such as extremely slim; not entirely negligible. The concern with storms, or even the expected (as of time today) rain showers, would be wind in and near rain showers...perhaps thunderstorms (as noted). For the most part, by current guidance, thunderstorms almost could not occur at all, but if one little thing were to change..

THURSDAY: Big pattern change as the the passive twin lows lift further north and start to open up. This will open the gate for another system on the West Coast of the U.S. to spread rapidly into the Plains.

At this time, it looks like it will be too much, too fast...And ram into the ridge behind the depart "Team Low". Uniformly directed winds could spark some severe weather here or there initially, but it looks a bit like the biggest concern will be more rains to the already flooded Mississippi River Valley Basin. Just one single drop more is not needed there.  It is forecast to get back logged behind the previous one..which makes perfect sense...unless, it completely punches into and through the ridge ahead of it, at which point all meteorological chaos could ensue. Bears watching, but as of now...the trend seems to be set in stone. Will team 'Tornado Hunt" on The Weather Channel get to see good storms. My best guess is that they stop chasing rainbows and head to Texas ..namely Abilene to Del Rio to Dallas south of the Red River. The dam might be jammed, but the back log ends up well to the south at the bottom of the bowl.

WHY ARE ALL THESE SYSTEMS DOING THE SAME THING? It a big huge blocking pattern of Epic proportions. Just like the drought in Texas and other parts of the country (which by the way is expanding). Just like the Epic Flooding in the Mississippi River Valley Basin (and I do not think that has ended yet...there will be a brief reprieve though), and just like the EPIC Tornado Out Break in the Deep South recently. Everything is over-inflated and over blown. I think we can blame  this blocking pattern's team mate as well. IT'S A DOUBLE BLOCKING BLOCK OF ALL BLOCKS. Another stubborn block..over Siberia (of all places).  What will it take to break the pattern.  I've nicknamed the one over Siberia, because of its fixture, "Blockhead". Even though it could be called something more appropriate (perhaps vulgar), being as stubborn as a 'mule'.

My best guess after all is said and done,  having whittled through listening to forecaster  fails, after repeated long range model guess, longer days and the hence, warmer times.  Eventually, something minute as an atom hiccup could disrupt this delicate balance and send the ball rolling which would expand so logarithmically fast it would blow an Atom Bomb's mind.

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