Wunderground launches new Local Climate Change section

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:10 PM GMT on April 20, 2012

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In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, wunderground has launched a new Climate Change Center, which gives people resources to understand how the climate is changing both globally and in their local neighborhoods. I am particularly pleased with our Local Climate Change feature, which allows one to see how temperature and precipitation have changed over the past 100+ years at the nearest station with a long period of measurements. Predictions from climate models on what the next 100 years may bring are overlaid for each station. Data for most U.S. stations goes back to 1895; we have data for a few stations in Europe that extend back to the 1700s. Berlin has the longest period of record in this database, with data back to 1702.


Figure 1. Screenshot of the Local Climate Change page for Washington, DC. Measured temperatures since 1820 are shown in grey. By clicking on the "Show post-1900 trend:" box, we see that the trend since 1900 has been for an increase in temperature of 1.5°C (2.7°F) per century. Moving the thin vertical red line over the image using the mouse shows that the warmest year on record in Washington D.C. was 1991. Predictions for a future with low emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide are shown in yellow; the high emissions prediction is shown in red. Separate tabs are available to examine precipitation and snow.

Skeptical?
Also included in the new Climate Change Center is a section addressing the common skeptical arguments made against climate change. We offer three levels of explanation. The "Basic" level is the default, but one can also see more technical in-depth discussions by clicking on the "See All Explanation Levels" link. The material was developed by physicist John Cook for his excellent skepticalscience.com web site, which is widely referenced in the climate science communication community.


Video 1. I'm featured in this video on extreme weather and climate change done by veteran videographer Peter Sinclair for the Yale forum on Climate Change and the Media this month. I'm also featured in Part 1 of this series. Our new Climate Change Center has a section for climate change videos, which includes a twice-monthly feature from GreenTV detailing the world's notable wild weather events of the past two weeks.

Earth: the Operator's Manual airs Sunday night
Penn State climate scientist Dr. Richard Alley hosts parts II and III of Earth: the Operator's Manual on PBS beginning at 7pm Sunday, April 22--Earth Day. Part I of this excellent series aired in April 2011. The series gives an overview of climate change, but primarily focuses on what we can do to help slow down climate change though smart energy choices. Dr. Alley, a registered Republican, geologist, and former oil company employee, is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University, and one of the most respected and widely published world experts on climate change. Dr. Alley has testified before Congress on climate change issues, served as lead author of "Chapter 4: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground" for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is author of more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific articles on Earth's climate. He is also the author of a book I highly recommend--The Two Mile Time Machine, a superb account of Earth's climate history as deduced from the 2-mile long Greenland ice cores. Dr. Alley is an excellent and engaging speaker, and I highly recommend listening to his 45-minute keynote speech, "The Biggest Control Knob: CO2 in Earth's Climate History", given at the 2010 American Geophysical Union meeting, via this very watchable recording showing his slides as he speaks in one corner of the video. If you want to understand why scientists are so certain of the link between CO2 and Earth's climate, this is a must-see lecture.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post. I'd like to thank Wunderground meteorologist, Angela Fritz for spearheading the creating the new Climate Change Center; it's a product I'll be referring to frequently in the future, and one we'll be updating in the coming months with data on local sea level rise, fire risk, and drought.

Jeff Masters

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...and before you go off saying it, the blog is not jumping you, just saying that saying a tornado watch is needed for a line of heavy rainfall is ridiculous.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Quoting Patrap:

Hyping is what some do..it's a personality trait, not a NWS,SPC or others way of doing things.



The problem though is that the SPC has a different way of handling storms that form out over the Gulf, west of Florida and where there are no surface weather stations, than they do those that form over the land mass.

Since much of what they will do with storms in the Gulf (not tropical systems, that is covered well by the HPC) is actually guesswork that is based primarily on satellite images, they always take the most conservative possible approach when analyzing severe weather events in the Gulf which will eventually affect the Florida peninsula.

We're not talking about hype here. We're talking about a fundamental difference in dynamics combined with a lack of resources to deal with that specific type of difference in the dynamics. It is not the fault of the SPC, they just have little to work with in comparison to what they would have to work with for a storm system over the Midwest US for example.
Member Since: October 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 767
SPC has a 5% chance of tornado formation over Southern Fl.
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Quoting reedzone:


Ok I'll state this again.. I know this...

But if this was in the Midwest, the SPC would issue a watch. Not saying it deserves one, just saying how conservative they can be when it comes to Florida.

There are no watches because no watches are deserved. If you think a line of heavy rain deserves a watch, ok then, but you're incorrect.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Quoting reedzone:


Ok I'll state this again.. I know this...

But if this was in the Midwest, the SPC would issue a watch. Not saying it deserves one, just saying how conservative they can be when it comes to Florida.


You don't know that, and this system really isn't impressive at all in regards to severe weather. It's just a heap of heavy rain associated with an ULL.

There's a reason Florida isn't known for severe weather.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
looking at that radar, the real low is moving down south in the gulf does'nt it?
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The storms that are popping up over north central florida are an indication that the rain may start before the band even reaches the coast. Things are about to get very interesting in the next hour or two
Member Since: June 7, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 962
Hey Geoff, did you notice you are under a flood watch? Haven't heard the supercell bulls mention that.
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Quoting reedzone:


Ok I'll state this again.. I know this...

But if this was in the Midwest, the SPC would issue a watch. Not saying it deserves one, just saying how conservative they can be when it comes to Florida.



That's a complete load of well, BS.

"Political conservatism" may be what your thinking of, as that's a known causation of idiocy some would agree, esp in Fla.
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Panhandle is going to get whacked soon looks like......
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A preview of what hurricane season will be like on here. Buy stock in Tylenol.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56021
Cool, not-too-windy day in Houston. Bright sun. Good day for skin cancer.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Shear is completely directional with this system, so there is virtually nothing to get excited about except the beneficial rain.

Your not going to see anything outside of gusty winds with bowing segments.


Ok I'll state this again.. I know this...

But if this was in the Midwest, the SPC would issue a watch. Not saying it deserves one, just saying how conservative they can be when it comes to Florida.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
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Link

Good radar image
Member Since: June 7, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 962
Quoting reedzone:
Honestly, put this storm in the Midwest, you would have tornado watches. It's not that we're hyping this.. It is what it is. SPC seems to be very conservative when it comes to Florida.


If that was in the Midwest, we'd have a few watches out.


The reason being is if you put this storm in the midwest there are more conditions lined up to produce strong tornados. Although I believe this will produce a lot of rain, gusty winds and lightning I do not see a large enough tornado threat to precede a watch and actually agree with the SPC on their assessment
Member Since: June 7, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 962
Quoting reedzone:
Honestly, put this storm in the Midwest, you would have tornado watches. It's not that we're hyping this.. It is what it is. SPC seems to be very conservative when it comes to Florida.


If that was in the Midwest, we'd have a few watches out.


Shear is completely directional with this system, so there is virtually nothing to get excited about except the beneficial rain.

Your not going to see anything outside of gusty winds with bowing segments.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I don't know about that... this really isn't that big of a deal... Just a squall line with some damaging winds and maybe a brief spin up tornado... Nothing like the typical big events in the midwest


I know, but they would have watches on this if it was in the Midwest.. Not saying it's as powerful as a Midwestern storm.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
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Quoting reedzone:
Honestly, put this storm in the Midwest, you would have tornado watches. It's not that we're hyping this.. It is what it is. SPC seems to be very conservative when it comes to Florida.


If that was in the Midwest, we'd have a few watches out.

I don't know about that... this really isn't that big of a deal... Just a squall line with some damaging winds and maybe a brief spin up tornado... Nothing like the typical big events in the midwest
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Hyping is what some do..it's a personality trait, not a NWS,SPC or others way of doing things.

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"Storms will be more numerous this afternoon and evening," Bay News 9 meteorologist Diane Kacmarik said. "We will see frequent lightning, very heavy rain and storms reforming over saturated areas. Flooding may be an issue. Strong to severe winds with the storms may also affect the area from the afternoon into the evening."
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Honestly, put this storm in the Midwest, you would have tornado watches. It's not that we're hyping this.. It is what it is. SPC seems to be very conservative when it comes to Florida.


If that was in the Midwest, we'd have a few watches out.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Accoring to GR2Analyst, wind velocities in this line aren't bad at all...not sure if a watch is needed for this line.

I don't think we'll see one, because as you said it isn't a bad line... We'll need to wait for the bigger line later to get a watch
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Quoting bappit:

It seemed to need some emphasis. I agree that there is a bit of hand wringing going on.



There is indeed.


The Rains just went null here,and really creepy quiet. My concern is the high winds as we have a lot of saturated Soils around and some trees may come down with those high winds.
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544. xcool
STREET FLOODING in WESTBANK
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Quoting reedzone:
Great call!!!


Northward Low, northward shift in risk.



is that good news for Tampa in terms of severe weather ?
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Sadly, the Navy Week Blue Angels performance will be cancelled due to the Weather today, and High Winds tomorrow.
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Quoting Patrap:


Maybe tell those who said we did before my post..

As that was for his, er, "we're gonna need a Tornado watch" soon.

Reading the context of a post kinda helps.

It seemed to need some emphasis. I agree that there is a bit of hand wringing going on.
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Accoring to GR2Analyst, wind velocities in this line aren't bad at all...not sure if a watch is needed for this line.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Quoting Patrap:
looks like locals were on the money this morning,first bands should arrive around 3 pm or so
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Hundreds of thousands may lose Internet in July

Can't track hurricanes with no internet..


I lost internet the day Irene became a hurricane last year.

... it was a dark day indeed.
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Great call!!!


Northward Low, northward shift in risk.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
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Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop

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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

1630 outlook will be out any minute

Already is. They moved the Slight risk farther north.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Quoting LargoFl:
funny thing right now, the lower rain clouds right on the coast are moving quickly to the north. hugging the coastline,while the REAL High cloud formation out in the gulf looks almost stationary,but we know its coming in..would this be some sort of light circulation?
I'm going to venture a guess and say that is wind shear and the tops of the storms blowing off this way.
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Quoting reedzone:
Wake up SPC, we need a watch here soon, lets start working!

1630 outlook will be out any minute
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Wake up SPC, we need a watch here soon, lets start working!
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
funny thing right now, the lower rain clouds right on the coast are moving quickly to the north. hugging the coastline,while the REAL High cloud formation out in the gulf looks almost stationary,but we know its coming in..would this be some sort of light circulation?
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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Quoting bappit:

"No Mesoscale Discussions in Effect"


Maybe tell those who said we did before my post..

As that was for his, er, "we're gonna need a Tornado watch" soon.

Reading the context of a post kinda helps.
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Quoting Patrap:

Current Mesoscale Discussions
Updated: Sat Apr 21 15:35:03 UTC 2012

"No Mesoscale Discussions in Effect"
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Dew points and temps are increasing here, should be an interesting day...
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
Quoting FLWaterFront:
This is a dynamic situation and I am afraid that the SPC is just not ideally structured to handle a weather dynamic precisely like this one.

Here is the problem. Everything that is important about this potential severe weather event is happening over the broad and open expanse of the Gulf of Mexico.
The main low pressure area is north of where forecast, as Reedzone has correctly stated. That presents a bit of a problem in determining just where the most potent activity will likely take place. The computer models were all clearly forecasting a more southerly position and movement for this storm system.

But the upper level low (ULL) is further south and barreling generally to the ESE at present. This will likely bottom out and then begin heading due east. This will be the mechanism which will really fire up severe storms later today and especially tonight. But because the main low pressure system has been forecast to be south of where it actually is, there may be a wide divergence in the placement and the very nature of this severe weather event from what all of the forecasts are currently suggesting. The best example of this will be the possibility that we could see a lot of development of super cells somewhere over Florida during the next 12-16 hours or so but it would be very hard to determine just where, at this point.

What is ironic about this particular situation is that the HPC might be better equipped to analyze this and possibly get a handle on just how potentially dangerous the circumstance is, but their expertise is in tracking and analyzing tropical systems, NOT springtime cyclonic storms systems such as this one.

If this same storm were located maybe 300 or more miles to the north of where it is, I suspect you would not see the SPC remaining so conservative in their thinking about this storm nor would they be so restrained in their language. But their weakest link is in getting a firm grip on storm systems which are rapidly coming together far out over the Gulf of Mexico as opposed to over the CONUS, where they have far more resources to access, such as surface weather stations and the like.

By the time the SPC finally issues their inevitable tornado watches and the like, a lot of Floridians may be asleep at the wheel. Furthermore, Floridians in general, outside of the weather geek population that is, are just not mentally prepared for the approach of severe weather systems as powerful and dynamic as this one appears to be.

This type of setup begs for further development in meteorological tools and skills to be able to get an adequate handle on the situation, in my opinion.


I've been posting stuff on facebook today cause I know 90% of the people I come in contact with just think it's going to rain this weekend, and it may just do that. However in the event that we do actually get a severe event most of the people I know wouldn't be prepared for it. Sad but true. Sometimes it takes going through something to not be so complacent about the weather.
Member Since: December 18, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 2687
Its gonna rain, the wind will blow, and the Winds behind it will stay strong for a good 18-20 hour period.

To diss the good folks at the HPC,SPC, NWS,and other is well, at best,

..ridiculous.
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New research by Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University and Steve Vavrus of the University of Wisconsin suggests that warming in the Arctic is causing weather patterns in mid-latitudes to become more persistent. This persistence can lead to conditions like heat waves, cold spells, drought, flooding, and heavy snows. The researchers found that as temperatures in the Arctic warm and become closer to temperatures in lower latitudes, the waves of the jet stream tend to spread out, and west-to-east winds slow down in the upper level of the atmosphere (where storm tracks form). Both of these effects tend to slow the progression of weather patterns, which means that a weather pattern, whether hot or cold, is more likely to stick around.

Link

Image:
High altitude winds and September sea ice area and jet stream movement.
Figure. The top image shows a decline in upper-atmosphere winds (solid line) over the last 30 years that mirrors the decline in sea ice over the same time period (dashed line). The bottom image shows the expected change in trajectory of the jet stream (dotted line) compared to the current jet stream trajectory (solid line).
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The NAM has a current lifted index/precipitable water of -10 directly at the location of the ULL.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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