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Tropical outlook, NE flooding, and more on air pollution progress and challenges

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 2:45 PM GMT on May 17, 2006

The flooding in the Northeastern U.S. is easing today, with most of the rivers in flood stage expected to drop below flood stage by Thursday afternoon. No new rain is expected across the region today or Thursday, but some light to moderate rains Friday may slow the recovery efforts. A series of modest rain systems should then cross through the region into early next week. By mid-week, the jet stream is forecast to move poleward and being a more summerlike pattern to North America.

Tropical outlook for the next week
With the coming of a more summerlike pattern next week, we will need to start watching the Western Caribbean for some possible tropical development; wind shear values there are starting to fall to levels where tropical development is possible again. Wind shear is quite low (5-10 knots) over the waters just north of Panama today and will stay low the next few days, but at present the clouds there are sparse and disorganized, and I am not expecting anything to develop this week. Next week things may be more favorable, when the remains of a cold front that pushes off the coast could provide enough of an initial disurbance to kick something off--if the front can push far enough south, where wind shear is lower. Again, I am not really expecting anything to develop, wind shear should still be high enough to make tropical development marginal.

Air pollution progress and health effects
Let's continue our dicussion of air pollution this week, focusing on the health effects. Significant progress has been made in recent years in cleaning the nation's air. Between 1970 and 2004, total emissions of the six major air pollutants regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dropped by 54 percent. This is particularly impressive when noting that the gross domestic product increased 187 percent, energy consumption increased 47 percent, and U.S. population grew by 40 percent during the same time--proof that economic growth and environmental protection do go hand in hand. However, air pollution remains a serious threat to public health and the environment. Outdoor air pollution in the U.S. due to particulate pollution alone was estimated by the EPA in 1997 to cause at least 20,000 premature deaths each year. Other estimates place this number at 50,000 to 100,000 deaths per year. A study in Southern California found that living near major roadways increases the risk of childhood asthma. Among those long-term kids studied that had no parental history of asthma who lived within 75 meters of a major road, 59% of asthma was attributable to residential proximity to the road. The annual costs of air pollution per person in the Los Angeles area were estimated at $3000-$4000 per person back in the 1970s. This cost has dropped significantly, and is now estimated at about $1000 per person. This $1000 per person amounts to $3 billion per year just for the Los Angeles area, and further efforts to control air pollution need to be looked at to see if this cost--and the human suffering that accompanies it--can be further reduced. Of course, the costs to businesses will also have to be factored in--for example, emissions control equipment can add over $1000 to the cost of a vehicle.

How to protect yourself when air pollution is high
You're exposed to air contamination any time you breathe polluted air. But when you exercise, work in the yard, or do other strenuous activities that make you breathe harder and faster, you take more polluted air into your lungs. Exposure to ozone and particle pollution is linked with a number of significant health problems. Children, people with lung disease, older adults and people with heart disease tend to be more vulnerable.

You can help protect yourself simply by changing the time or intensity of your exercise, yard work or other strenuous activities. Use the Air Quality Index (AQI) and daily air quality forecasts to help you determine when you need to make changes. These are posted on the Weather Underground web site for most major cities in the U.S., or you can get them from www.airnow.gov.

The AQI is a color-coded scale that tells you who needs to take steps to reduce their exposure to ozone or particle pollution and when. If you have heart disease, for example, pay close attention when particle pollution reaches Code Orange levels. If you have asthma, youll want to pay attention at Code Orange for particle pollution and for ozone.

Ozone pollution tends to be more of a problem in the warm summer months. Levels of this colorless, odorless gas can increase during the day, peaking in the late afternoon to early evening. At elevated levels, ozone is a threat to everyones health, but those who are most susceptible are people with lung diseases such as asthma, children, older adults and healthy people who are active outdoors.

Ozone causes cells in the lungs to swell and get inflamed similar to what happens to your skin cells when you get sunburned. Repeated episodes of this kind of inflammation may cause permanent damage to the lungs. Ozone aggravates asthma and other lung diseases, leading to increased medication use, visits to doctors and emergency rooms, and hospital admissions. Recent studies have also linked ozone exposure with premature death.

Can you tell if ozone is affecting you? You may experience symptoms like coughing, a burning sensation when you breathe, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. If you have asthma, you may find yourself needing to use medicine more frequently, or you may have asthma attacks requiring a doctor's attention.

Particle pollution can occur at any time of year. If you live in an area with high woodstove use, for example, particle pollution may be higher in your community in winter. In many areas of the eastern U.S., particle pollution may also be high in the summertime, often accompanied by high levels of ozone. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered at greater risk from particle pollution than other people, especially when they are physically active.

Particle pollution can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Particle pollution has been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias in people with heart disease, and also to premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

If you or your children are healthy, you're not likely to suffer serious effects from short-term, peak exposures to particle pollution. But when particle pollution is elevated, you may experience irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Reducing your exposure to ozone and particle pollution isn't hard. Just take it a little easier. If pollution is forecast to be high in your area, cut back or change the time of your strenuous activities: go for a for a walk instead of a jog, or reschedule for times when the air quality is expected to be better. If you have asthma, be sure to follow your asthma action plan with air pollution levels are high. And don't exercise near busy roads; particle levels generally are higher in these areas.

Particle levels can be elevated indoors too, especially when outdoor particle levels are high, such as during an inversion or when there's a lot of smoke outside (such as from a wildfire). Certain filters and room air cleaners can help reduce indoor particle levels. You can also reduce particle levels indoors by not smoking inside or vacuuming, and by reducing your use of other particle sources such as candles, wood-burning stoves, and fireplaces. Go to http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/index.html for more information.

My next blog will be Thursday.
Jeff Masters
Around Town, Andover Massachusetts
Around Town, Andover Massachusetts
Fireman rescues mail from this collection box in Shawsheen Square.
Ipswitch River
Ipswitch River
Ipswitch River floodong over Route One at the River Gate for the Topsfield Fair Grounds.

Air and Water Pollution Flood

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Thanks Doc.
summer will return by Friday for us in Tallahassee. I think we have gasped the last cool spell for the season!
There's an area of fairly organized convection in the extreme southwest Caribbean. Models say dissipating cold-core low, but it appears to be closed and pretty vigorous. Thoughts?
convection looks pretty decent. SST down there and throughout the western Caribbean are around 81-84 degrees...low shear as well..It bears watching because I think the tropics want to mess around w/us again this yr...
Hi everyone from SW Louisiana where it has felt like October for the past three days.

Question: When I read weather discussions from the NWS, they routinely employ the term "progged". I recognize that it is another word for forecast but for the life of me, I can't figure out what word it is the short form for. I know, I have too much time on my hands but can anyone enlighten me? Their forecasts read like encrypted code but I'm learning.

Thanks in advance.
Progged = Forecasted

Im pretty sure Progged is short for Prognosticated.
That would make sense.

Definition of Prognosticated:

1. To predict according to present indications or signs; foretell.
i know dr jeff said it was the beginning of the rainy season in central america but on the north coast of honduras, including roatan and the bay islands we are in a drought and expect to stay dry until at least august... an occasional rain but not much more. last night the lightning and thunder started and it is still pouring.... we desperatly needed this rain. now that is almost hurricane season again i will be back here reading and watching was is being discussed. as we really dont have a local weather forcaster i depend on all of you to help me know what to expect. thanks dr. masters..
Just a quick point on the air pollution issue. With all the talk of global warming and the rhetoric on both sides of the issue, the one thing that I believe America has been in the forefront on is cutting and lowering air, and pollution in general. I haven't heard too many naysayers saying they want to live amidst pollution and efforts to cut these problems in general have been substantial during my lifetime. Not saying that we don't have a long way to go on this issue, but at least we going. HAGD.
Okay and thanks. That makes sense but why use a 14 letter word(prognosticated - progged) versus the more intuitive 10 letter word(forecasted - fored)? Oh never mind, that was a rhetorical question.

Another related set of questions(I've got hundreds, some probably pretty elementary for the people on here, but I will spread out over time in an effort to maintain your patience):

What is the significance of a "cold core" low? I assume that there must also be "warm core" lows. Is one more favorable for tropical development than the other(again assuming that a warm core must be if these exist)? Finally, can a cold core low become a warm core low once over an area of warm ambient conditions?

Thanks again.
Posted By: roatangardener at 3:32 PM GMT on May 17, 2006.
i know dr jeff said it was the beginning of the rainy season in central america but on the north coast of honduras, including roatan and the bay islands we are in a drought and expect to stay dry until at least august... an occasional rain but not much more. last night the lightning and thunder started and it is still pouring.... we desperatly needed this rain. now that is almost hurricane season again i will be back here reading and watching was is being discussed. as we really dont have a local weather forcaster i depend on all of you to help me know what to expect. thanks dr. masters..Posted By: roatangardener at 3:32 PM GMT on May 17, 2006.
i know dr jeff said it was the beginning of the rainy season in central america but on the north coast of honduras, including roatan and the bay islands we are in a drought and expect to stay dry until at least august... an occasional rain but not much more. last night the lightning and thunder started and it is still pouring.... we desperatly needed this rain. now that is almost hurricane season again i will be back here reading and watching was is being discussed. as we really dont have a local weather forcaster i depend on all of you to help me know what to expect. thanks dr. masters..

Wow, you should be an English teacher. ;)
Flakeman: while the US has lowered emissions of pollutants in general, we have NOT lowered emissions of greenhouse gases. In fact, GHG are the only class of pollutants whose emissions have increased. GHG emissions have increased roughly 20% from 1990 to 2004.

The problem is this: while it is possible to reduce emissions of "conventional" pollutants with scrubbers, it is not possible to do this with CO2. Well, it is possible but not feasible, and you have to find someway to keep the scrubbed CO2 from being re-emitted later.
A cold-core low is non-tropical, a run-of-the-mill storm. Tropical systems are all warm-core systems.

15. WSI
"Wow, you should be an English teacher. ;)"

You must feel really proud to have quoted him twice RL3A0. :)
Dr Masters, thanks for the update and new information. Oh yes, we all know to start watching the tropics more carefully now...Tis the season!!!
I dont know what happened there. I must have hit ctrl+v twice.
a 1005 mb low near 28n78w then across S Florida to a 1006
mb low near Key West
Tropical Storm Advisories
North Atlantic Storm Advisories
Unknown Tropical Storm ...

the A storm is her the A storm is her the A storm is her
I've got a friend who'll be sailing the Carribean next week. I know the jetstream is moving east, and will usher in a more typical summer pattern, which I assume will lower shear and reduce trade winds in the Carribean.

What's the prognostication for surface lows and tropical waves there next week? Any guesses on the chance of tropical storm development?
Look at this link Bob. I am worried. See the 1010 low and the wave approaching it? Also the development probability map shows the entire area is favorable.
It seems that the disturbance in the south western Caribbean is going to get dragged, by the tailend of the cold front that just past through, out to the East...
rwdobson is correct.

There are processes(correct again, rather unfeasible to implement on the scale that we need) that can remove CO2 from any gas or liquid(we remove CO2 everyday from natural gas and NGL streams), but all of these processes have the end result in the removed CO2 being vented to the atmosphere in an effort to regenerate the CO2 removal fluid.

The other unpalatable issue is that as we demand cleaner combustion by-product emissions, the price of our fuel will increase in an effort to pay for the technology and associated processes, equipment, and controls. We, as Americans especially, tend to not react favorably to increasing energy costs.

Bottom line is that we are stuck in a vicious circle and must make some pretty hard choices to break out of the rotation. Either we are willing to give more of our paycheck to pay for our energy demand and enjoy cleaner air or we hold our money and hope that mother nature can calmly handle our wastes or just sit around and pray that someone that is more clever than the mainstream figures out a way to feed us cake and let us eat it too. I'm not holding my breath on option 3.

Sorry for the length of the post/editorial.

0.2 - 0.4 % chance of development is still pretty low....
Well that is true rwdobson but that is the highest we have seen in the Caribbean so far. Also that post belongs in another blog sorry about that. I was talking to weatherguy03, which is why I said the name "Bob" in the post.
There are a lot of things coming together in the western Caribbean right now. A pre-existing low north of Panama, a cold front moving in from the west, and a tropical wave approaching from the east. Doesn't sound good.
levi, no problem posting that in this blog, it's right on topic...

i still say no development until june, or at least after memorial day.
You are probably right, but the area still bares watching with the shear lowering and all.
Rwdobson, look at the WU Tropical Page. Someone pointed out the Un-named tropical storm link there. Probably just an error but interesting all the same.
Good afternoon everyone!

Well I might have to start my tropical update blog pretty soon because this low near Panama is the best threat so far this year for Alberto formation. It is struggling to maintain itself at the moment but the shear is very very low in the area, so if it can sucessfully survive this cold front passage we might be talking TD 1. Most of the other genesis variables look good: a fair amount of upper divergence, plenty of upper and mid level spin, abundant moisture aloft, warm SST's around 28 degrees Celcius, and some very deep convection. I would say its 50:50 right now, because as we all know the step between tropical low and tropical depression is the least well known and the hardest to accomplish for any system.

Hope everyone has a great day,

the link doesn't go anywhere...so it must be a mistake...or maybe WU is doing a test run for when there really is a storm?
Gotta be just testing look at the where the link goes


usual links are at - Alantic + the year + storm number aka


at - Alantic
2005 - last year
11 - storm 11 aka the K storm
the low near Panama is starting to showing the circulation characteristics of the cold front passing through, so I doubt it will be able to dodge it.
Yeah thats why I mentioned "if it can survive the passage of the front". Its 50:50 right now, but it does look elongated and it might be picked up or absorbed.
Well Rich the front is supposed to stall and then slowly exit the picture in 5 days. Therefore I don't expect the disturbed area to move north with the front. The cold front is just enhancing convection right now. That low north of Panama will stay in that area. There has always been a weak low sitting on South America there. This is the first time it has been over water. It hasn't moved north with other fronts. The only question is how will the convection be affected when the front moves out?
Yeah, the URL for that would be for the first storm of the 2010 season.
Maybe this is what Dr. Masters is referring to...

356 AM CDT WED MAY 17 2006

So, who has a guess for when the first storm of 2010 will be? I say June 5...b/c it's my sister's birthday.
June 2nd LOL
Sorry, were testing some new software for hurricane season that generated the bogus storm for the year 2010...

Jeff Masters
The front may not drag the low along with it, but the question is will it disrupt the convection that is already taking place...also check out the Eastern Pacific, its really blowing up!
Randyman thanks that is very interesting. I think it is strange that an area forecast discussion would mention a tropical wave forecasted by the GFS 2 weeks away!
Thank you Dr. Masters. That clears that issue up.
JugheadFL here is a comment I posted in my blog a few minutes ago:

"...look at this map. Notice the upper high moving off Venezuela? It is trying to build over the Caribbean. Once the trough fizzles out, then the high will have a chance to build over the disturbance. Then we would be talking favorable conditions for development! The disturbance already has cyclonic circulation aloft due to the high."

Hello all, im new here. Looks like hurricane season is going to be picking up here pretty quick.
The "trough" should be the "front".
Hello bamaweatherwatcher welcome to Wunderground! Yes it looks like the season is about to crank up fast.
Hey bamawww, welcome to Wunderground! Hope you are having a great day!
yep, I definatley see the high trying to build. It all depends how the disturbance reacts to the trough in the next 24hrs. Even if it doesn't survive, there definatley will be some activity within the next week!
likewise, trough=front...lol
Lol Jughead.

If the front doesn't pick it up then the situation for the disturbance is perfect. The front comes along to aid in the convection, then it moves out so the high can build over the top of it.
could someone direct me to a web page with the water temps?
Hi all, hi levi, tnxs for the site you gave me, I learned from it!
bama, the main tropical page on WU has a map at the top w/sea temps. And then there are links for more detailed maps further down the page.
Pt100 good I am glad that link helped you.

I am leaving now for a while great talking with you all! I hope to see you all later today!
thanks rw
levi levi the blob wont develop in the caribbean you can bank on that to many negative factors out there so dont get all excited and worried...gee you have at least 10 days before you can think about some serious development....the tropics remain clear and the sheer is still high over the gulf an caribbean...there is nothing to worry about for now but im watching and i will break in if need be...this has been a bulletin by stormtops hurricane warning office...
Hi stormtop, Frank here, thanks for the relieve!!
You are referring to to many negative factors and you mention only one, high shear. What are the oter ones?
Another set of questions folks. Thanks for being patient.

My understanding is that a high pressure ridge results in descending air which compresses and makes life miserably hot. We also see dry conditions because the atmsophere is effectviely capped and clouds can not rise to form thunderstorms. Additionally, winds around a high rotate clockwise. Okay so far?

If this is the case, then how would a high developing over an area in the tropics be favorable for storm development as per Levi's post below? I'm not arguing by any means with his statement, I just don't understand the difference in high's I guess.

Finally, if the wind around the high is rotating clockwise, how does the wind associated with the storm rotate counterclockwise?

Dazed and confused. Thanks for any help.
hi atmosweather what you think of my new id?

hi evere one how we all doing today
Do you have your own blog?
This has been a questionBulletin from the K8eCane Weather Curiosity Office

a tropical storm, which is a low-level low pressure system, requires high pressure in the upper levels because this makes the winds relatively calm in the upper levels, which prevents wind shear. when you have low pressure in the upper levels, the storms get sheared apart.

over land, an upper high usually does result in dry hot weather. but over warm water, the lift from the warm water being evaporated is enough to let the clouds rise and break through the cap.

i'm probably over-simplifying and may be flat out wrong on some of this, but i think this is the jist of it....

64. IKE
STORMTOP didn't have time to respond again. He had to get back to his office....god how silly.
66. Alec
Posted By: STORMTOP at 5:46 PM GMT on May 17, 2006.
levi levi the blob wont develop in the caribbean you can bank on that to many negative factors out there so dont get all excited and worried...gee you have at least 10 days before you can think about some serious development....the tropics remain clear and the sheer is still high over the gulf an caribbean...there is nothing to worry about for now but im watching and i will break in if need be...this has been a bulletin by stormtops hurricane warning office...
Report As: Obscene | Spam | Copyright
Posted By: pt100 at 06:00 PM GMT op 17 Mei, 2006.
Hi stormtop, Frank here, thanks for the relieve!!
You are referring to to many negative factors and you mention only one, high shear. What are the oter ones?

Last yr STORMTOP did this to me. I asked him a question and he ran off...

atmosweather what you think of my new id?

hi evere one how we all doing today

dos any one no how to say hi to me
RW, wind goes from high to low pressure, aerodynamically spoken. If you have high P above low, won't the low be filled up from the top?
Or is it RELATIVELY high you are talking about?
thanks rw - That makes intuitive sense regarding the shear issue and the two levels of activity(i.e. upper level high over a lower level low).

Still puzzled though. How do you have "lift", even over an area of warm water, when the net flow of air is in a descending direction?

Is it because the cap is higher over water than it is over land? In other words, is the cap high enough in the atmosphere that thunderstorms can still form due to higher moisture levels at a given altitude versus over land?
there was a discussion about ST here yesterday and the conclusion was to use his knowledge and forget all the other things because that will never change...
71. Alec
hope this helps:
I've been watching and learning a bit here for a year, but I too would like to see a "hurricanes 101" section, where the rational behind the "obvious" statements can be explained.

It's hard to gain an intuitive feel for the patterns and picking up on the unusual without understanding the basics.

So, please keep asking questions!
SW, Someone who knows more about this will jump in, I hope...

but let me take a stab: caps, which are mid to upper level features, can be broken, over land or over sea, if the lift at the lower levels is great enough. I think that the intense lift caused by warm water and hot sunshine breaks through the cap to form the storms. I think that might be what's happening during monsoon season over the desert; the extra moisture creates enough lift to break through the cap caused by the upper ridge. The upper ridge only causes sinking air in the upper levels....
74. Alec
rwdobson, cold fronts and other features such as seabreeze collisions can also break the caps by forcing the air upwards..
Alec, tnx for the picture.
Am i right if i state that a high will never reach hurriane force because in the core there is a downflow which is opposite of the rising air from the groung/water? Where in a low they work together going up?
76. Alec
I also advise anyone who would like to have a bunch of their questions answered about hurricanes go here: link
Levi gave me this Linka couple of days ago which gave me the basis
basics* lol
79. Alec
pt100, upper level highs help hurricanes spread out their convection at the top(helps hurricanes "breathe") and hurricanes(areas of low pressure) will always go around surface highs(areas of high pressure)...they take the path of least resistance which is higher to lower pressure...In a hurricane's eye the air sinks but immediately surrounding the eye huge updrafts support a hurricane......well i gotta get going, questions always welcomed!:)
rw - LOL. I swear I didn't wake up this morning and pick you to throw a million questions at. You are the only poor soul who elected to engage.

If the descending air is only occurring in the upper levels, then I'm at a loss to rationalize the compression effect. My understanding, obviously limited, is that when the descending air from the upper levels approaches the ground, it effectively is squeezed and compressed. It doesn't take much compression of air to get significant increases in temperature.

This is where my disconnect probably exists. This air must reach the ground or sea unless there is a counter-influence(i.e. your mention of the low level low). Maybe that's what you meant. Under these conditions, you have rising air from the surface counter-acting descending air from above.

Am I on track? or just beating it to death
81. Alec
I leave you with this diagram:

Thanks. This look like a good starting point for me and I will take a look.
i'm learning a lot today this is great
For all of you who haven't seen this article...

Storm chaser Jim Cantore is 'THE WEATHER MAN'
Herald Staff Writer

He's been battered by winds, soaked by rain and nearly stopped in his tracks by the storm surge of a category five hurricane.

But, he's still standing.

It's a good thing Jim Cantore is an outdoors lover.

"I can't sit down," he said. "I can't stand to be indoors. I love to be outside."

The Weather Channel's Cantore, 42, one of the most recognizable faces in weather forecasting, spends a lot of time outdoors - especially during hurricane season, standing in front of a camera, palm trees blowing behind him, rain pelting his face and wind stinging his eyes.

But, the man admits he was born to do the job.

"If you see me on a beach between June and November, I'm probably not there on vacation," he quipped during a telephone interview from his home in suburban Atlanta, where The Weather Channel has its headquarters.

Cantore is the special guest at the May 20 Hurricane Bash fundraiser for the Southwest Florida Chapter of the American Red Cross at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota.

He has been asked to keep his remarks "lighthearted," but the Weather Channel's on-camera meteorologist and resident storm chaser, is as serious about the weather in person as he is when you see him reporting, with passion, intensity and purpose, live from the scene of an impending hurricane, flood or blizzard.

When he's in the field for The Weather Channel, he's usually standing on a beach somewhere, baseball cap on his head,

wearing a T-shirt or a Weather Channel issue windbreaker and holding a microphone.

He speaks clearly, quickly and precisely about a storm as he points out the thrashing waves of a tumultuous ocean and ominous, grey clouds simmering on the horizon.

"When Cantore is on, whether from a weather event or in the studio, his passion just raises the energy level of everybody near him," said The Weather Channel's senior vice president and general manager Terry Connelly in a statement provided by The Weather Channel.

Above all, Cantore has the utmost respect for the weather.

And, it's hard for him to tell funny stories, given the destruction, devastation and human despair he's witnessed in the aftermath of severe weather events, especially Hurricane Katrina.

During the Hurricane Bash, he said he'll stick to the festive spirit of the program, but he will warn Bradenton and Sarasota area residents to be vigilant. The Tampa Bay area, he said, is a prime target for a late hurricane season storm coming off the Gulf of Mexico.

"The worst case scenario would be a storm brewing over the Gulf and a trough of waves pushing through with all that water," Cantore said. "Tampa is one of the most vulnerable areas on the Gulf."

Baptism by snow

The Vermont native's passion for the weather started when he was 14 when the now-infamous "blizzard of 1978" blanketed much of New England with nearly four feet of snow. His hometown of White River Junction, Vt., was hit pretty hard and he and his father and brother were outside shoveling snow.

"We were jumping off the roof into a pile of snow and my brother buried himself in it," he said. "I jumped in and dug him out. You could say the blizzard of '78 was my coming out, weather-wise."

His father encouraged him to pursue his interest and he graduated from Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vt., with a degree in meteorology. He did an internship with Channel 7 in Boston in 1985 and, in 1986, he landed his dream job at The Weather Channel, which was still a fledgling network. The 24-hour channel went on the air in 1982 and now reaches 90 million households.

"The Weather Channel was my first job out of college," Cantore said.

With his aggressive field reporting from major storms, his hosting of the award-winning "Storm Stories," and his coverage of the weather at high-profile events such as "FOX/NFL Sunday" and the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, Cantore has earned the nickname, "the Mike Wallace of meteorology."

While Cantore is a weather celebrity, working for The Weather Channel is far from fun and games.

"It is a true test of stamina," Cantore said. "We're are like the little engine that could going up against the big networks, which are behemoths. It's incredibly challenging work."

Cantore and The Weather Channel's storm expert Dr. Steve Lyons take their jobs seriously, using their knowledge to dissect a storm and "get people out of harm's way," Cantore said.

Sometimes, as with last season's crushing Hurricane Katrina, that doesn't happen.

Of all the hurricanes he's covered in the field, Katrina, which devastated much of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, "was in a class by herself," Cantore said.

"I did whatever I thought I would never do - get caught in the storm," he added.

Cantore and his camera crew were about a quarter of a mile from the beach in Gulfport, Miss., when Katrina hit.

"It was an historic surge," he said. "I've never seen anything like it. There was a lot of sadness out there, a lot of people were shocked. I was shocked. There were boats sitting on top of casinos and casino barges 300 feet inland. The smell of death was intertwined with all that. But, you saw occasional spurts of the human spirit."

The surge forced his crew's truck into a ditch, but they were able to broadcast live from the scene later that night. In terms of evacuation and coordinating rescue efforts, he believes that governments and volunteer agencies have over the past year become far better prepared in a post-Katrina world.

"I saw failures at every level, from the homeowner all the way up to the president," he said. "We can do better. We know that."

His wife, Tamra, 48, a former behind-the-scenes Weather Channel employee, said she usually isn't concerned about her husband's welfare when he's in the field. But, she was scared when he called from the scene of Katrina.

"He said, 'It is bad. People are going to die in this storm and they just aren't listening,' " she said.

In terms of total destruction, Katrina surpassed Hurricane Charley. But, Charley, which hit Punta Gorda in 2004, packed a punch wind-wise, Cantore said. Charley was the worst hurricane of 2004 because its wind velocity didn't slow much after it made landfall.

"It's the kiss of death when you're still getting 75-to-90 mile-per-hour wind gusts after a hurricane has made landfall," he said. "We fared pretty well in Fort Myers (where he was stationed). When you got up to Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, it was brutal."

Above-average season

Weather forecasters are predicting an above-average hurricane season in 2006, but the number of hurricanes and their forcefulness can't be foreseen, Cantore said. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Periods of frequent and strong hurricanes tend to run in cycles, he added. The 2004 and 2005 seasons were devastating because they were preceded by an era of below-average hurricane activity, coupled with intensive residential and commercial development in Gulf Coast states like Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

"We are in a phase of above-average activity with the caveat of possible global warming," he said. "A hurricane gets its energy from warmer water and it will be stronger. You don't need to do a science project to know that. Right now, we're just very vulnerable."

When a hurricane is brewing, the nitty-gritty of covering a storm isn't completed in an eight-hour shift.

"You get up at 6 a.m. and get to the site and you get 'bites' - people saying stuff like, 'I'm sick of hurricanes,' " Cantore said.

All weather, if it is adverse and affects people's lives, "is a bad thing," he said.

Viewers, Cantore added, turn to The Weather Channel before a storm because of the network's reputation for trustworthiness and sincerity.

"People expect me to be there and take them through the storm," he said. "Severe weather outbreaks are our Super Bowls and our Daytona 500s. We have to be there."

'Welcome to the game'

There are some "good road stories" from the field that Cantore will never tell, but he recounted a humorous incident from hurricane season 2004.

During Hurricane Jeanne, he and his camera man were riding on an amphibious vehicle of a private motorist in Palm City. A shiny sport utility vehicle came up from behind and started to pass them.

"We were getting soaked with wind and spray and we see this gold Explorer driving closer and closer and we realized it was news guys and it goes by us and I go, 'That's Brian Williams' (from NBC News) and he waves. It was like, 'Welcome to the game.' "
i'm not sure the air at the surface is compressed by an upper high. i think the reason it is warm under an upper high is that it usually prevents clouds from forming and allows the sun to warm things up.

there are sometimes "thermal lows" in the desert, beneath an upper high, where the air at the surface has become so warm that the surface pressure drops...you know, warm air is less dense than cool air.

high pressure at the surface is usually associated with cool weather for this reason.

i may be confusing you more...i think i am confusing myself.
does this make it clearer, or less so? i think you are right, some of the heating is compressional, but some is not. nifty graphics at least....

Okay. I'll stop here with this line of questions and, rw, you are a good sport.

As a newcomer, I guess it's okay to ask weather related questions apart from analyzing a given storm? If not, someone please tell me so that I don't tick off or bore an entire web site of people.


Appears to be excellent. I will look at it in more detail later. Thanks very much.
SWL, There are No Such Thing As Dumb (Weather) Question.
Everyone's here To Learn Or Help.
No questions, it distracts us from the ad hominem attacks and ego puffing....lol
Well, FlCG,
They're here to help or learn except for those who
- are here because they want company
- need to save the "sheeple" from their own ignorance to gain some self-importance
- like to hear themselves talk
- enjoy picking on-line fights to feel bigger than they are in real life
- want to show off their knowledge
- need to know the absolute latest on weather developments

or who, like me, just like to post musings of questionable value.
Saw this on a motivational (?) poster:
There are no dumb questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.
OMG stormtop is back!!! Where's the other Leftty half???
New invest in the Indian Ocean.
i'm the one who wants to know the absolute latest on weather developments and i'll be honest...i learn the most here
and it's sort of easy to tell who speaks as an idiot and who speaks with knowledge..( although i don't like the word idiot)
is there a link to the new invest in indian ocean
K8eCane, here's a good site to keep updated about tropical weather. Maybe you already know about it... Navy Research Lab
Makani still turning towards Hawaii...

Thanks RL !!
101. RL3AO
desertdisaster, you do know that Makani is a test storm?
i have updated my blog
Desert, Makani doesn't exist, it's a CPAC advisory test.
I just got a brief thunderstorm. It was not severe, but based on the gusty winds from this garden variety thunderstorm, I would say that tonight could be very interesting for me. Especially if the sun comes out again for a little bit.

I am in the 30% risk area for large hail,

and the 15% risk area for strong winds.
LOL Zaphod & RWD...
"Two Heads Are Better Than One!"

Come for the Weather, Lurk for The Laughs.
I'm going to be doing the daily wave analysis on the AHC, today's is the first.
Hi everyone, just a quick check in to see what is going on here. Take care and have a great evening!
Quick basics of hurricane structure:

Warm air comes spiraling in at the center, eventually spiraling into a tight column at the center (the eyewall). The air cools, and the water vapor in it condenses, on its way up. The heat and vapor remain to fuel the hurricane, while the 'used' air is blown outward above the clouds (outflow).
Yeah that's pretty much it. In the eye region you have sinking air in response to the low pressure, which supresses clouds, and around it the air rises in strong up-drafts leading to very high and cold cloud tops.
Shear forecast for later in the week 144hrs from now.
Colby & RL3A

Sorry! I tought Makani was some kind of forgoten lost at sea storm that some people should have been warned about !!!

From a quick Google on Makani: The boy's name Makani is pronounced mah-KAH-nee. It is of Hawaiian origin, and its meaning is "wind."

What wonderfully pointless information..woooo!
from the weather Channel
s of early Wednesday afternoon eastern time Typhoon Chanchu was flirting with the coast of China. The typhoon's winds have steadily weakened over the past 24 hours, but should weaken more rapidly once the system is inland tonight. The biggest threat from Chanchu immediately away from the coast is heavy, flooding rainfall.

A weak area of low pressure has formed between Panama and Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. It is moving toward the west and is expected to merge with a cold front near the Nicaragua coast. Development is not likely with this system.

The remainder of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Basins are quiet.

It is unsual for the weather channel this time of year.
That's my forte, Colby!

Question: What is the current state of the art in hardware (computational equipment) to run weather model simulations?

Do models run on server clusters, super-computers, dedicated weather computers, or what?
Well, here is a descrpition of what FSU's MM5 model runs on.
i'm not sure the air at the surface is compressed by an upper high. i think the reason it is warm under an upper high is that it usually prevents clouds from forming and allows the sun to warm things up.

there are sometimes "thermal lows" in the desert, beneath an upper high, where the air at the surface has become so warm that the surface pressure drops...you know, warm air is less dense than cool air.

high pressure at the surface is usually associated with cool weather for this reason.

i may be confusing you more...i think i am confusing myself.

Warm air is always associated with low barometric pressure. The reason: as air warms, it expands and becomes less dense. This has to do with the most recognizable of the gas laws: PV=NRT (pressure X volume = number of molecules X gas constant X temperature), which implies that (basically) PV=T. This means pressure, volume, and temperature are directly related--as temperature increases, volume increases also. This is the reason for thermal lows in the desert: very hot air at the surface produces low air density and thus a shallow layer of low barometric pressure. In Phoenix, when the temperature approaches 120 degrees, small aircraft have difficulty getting off of the ground as a result of the very low air density. During the winter, the coldest nights are usually associated with surface high pressure: skies clear as a result of subsidence (sinking air), radiational cooling is particularly effective, and air molecules congregate near the surface (density is high). The low pressure we normally associate with bad weather--cold and precipitation--is almost always aloft...and relatively high pressure is actually present at the surface. I don't want to delve too deeply into midlatitude cyclone formation theory, but upper-level and surface lows are generally not vertically stacked (the higher one trails behind the surface one to the west). Any other questions? :)
Gotta love that Commodore 64 at the bottom!

I wonder if weather models could be run as massively parallel distributed projects, like SETI@home? Google now has a similar capability as part of their toolbar, and weather modeling would seem to fit:

"In the future Google may work with other research teams on similarly complex problems, or use the network to help improve Google and its services. The third party projects we choose to help out will be carefully selected non-profit projects, with the guiding principle being to help humanity and advance scientific knowledge. Users will be clearly notified of any such projects when they are introduced, and will maintain at all times the ability to disable or uninstall Google Compute for any reason."

If it would work (and it may not due to data transport needs) this would seem to solve chronic resource issues at university labs.

There's a lot of unused cycles out there for sure. Trouble might be, too, in meeting the deadlines weather forecasters are under. Free cycles would have to be really plentiful, but yeah, I think data transport would be the worst problem. Very cool link.


Posted By: Zaphod at 12:54 AM GMT on May 18, 2006.

Question: What is the current state of the art in hardware (computational equipment) to run weather model simulations?

Do models run on server clusters, super-computers, dedicated weather computers, or what?

ANSWER: Etch-A-Sketch

I always wondered how those things worked.
The SW Carib area looks pretty disorganized. I don't think it will have time to pull together before it runs in to shear. Still the most interesting feature so far and worth checking out in the morning.

Alright Ya'll I am off to bed. Added some new links to the site and modified the page size a little. Let me know what ya'll think in my blog.

StormJunkie.com Tropical Links & More

Etch-A-Scetch!!! Awsome!! I love those!!!!
Nice Califonia. lmao.
125. mobal
any one her no one to talk to
127. RL3AO
I know, it's kinda slow tonight.
Funny how an Etch-a-Sketch is actually of universal interest!

SETI@home and other distributed projects run at about 200 TFLOPS (trillion floating point operations per second). A single Pentium PC is probably a few gigaflops. So theoretically a distributed weather model would be about 1000 times more powerful than the FSU cluster.

I think it says a lot about our society that we'll dedicate 1000 times more CPU power to looking for alien intelligence than plotting the course of hurricanes.........

NWS computer models forecasting sunshine:

I am awe-struck.

It is truly amazing what spare time and sufficient motivation, however misguided, will produce.

132. Alec
Califonia, did you intentionally spell your handle the way you did? Always been wondering if you meant "California"....lol
133. RL3AO
I think he meant it. That's how Arnold says it I think.
134. Alec
I guess he likes the "accent" of it....lol Just curious....
Heck, they've got all kinds of info.


The etch-a-skitch is a cooler link.


That is hilarious. You have way too much time on your hands.

You wouldn't happen to have a picture of the NWS forecasting rain, or snow would you?
137. RL3AO
Another sign that summer is near is that the Twin Cities will hit 90 for the first time this year next week.

Posted By: louastu at 3:16 AM GMT on May 18, 2006.

That is hilarious. You have way too much time on your hands.

You wouldn't happen to have a picture of the NWS forecasting rain, or snow would you?

Well, if you go back and look closely, you'll see that their model for sunshine looks exactly like their model for a hurricane - they can't tell the difference.

It kind of explains some of their weather forecasts.

There is a new invest in the Indian Ocean. It doesn't look that impressive to me.

Hey All,

I love the etch-a-scetch...:0) I do remember that stuff and if I knew that it would have helped me track storms I would have a better job.... LOL

142. Inyo
hey guys,

speaking of summerlike weather patterns, we had our first 'summer' monsoon day in the southern california mountains. There wasn't much rain, mostly wind and some lightning, havent heard yet if any fires started or not. However, it felt and looked just like August... i don't recall having seen this pattern this early in the year before.

I hope it is a sign of an active monsoon season to come beacuse we need the rain, especially in Arizona.
Looks like the SW carib low fizzled out due to the front, like I thought it would, this morning....
I think they want to test the CATS system on Hawaii with this Makani fake Hurrcan wich is now increasing in strenght...?

Hurricane and Storm Surge Damage Analysis
The CATS system estimates in real-time the population and civil resources at risk from threatening hurricanes and associated storm surge; its primary application is to assist preparation and recovery efforts in emergency planning, readiness actions, and the prepositioning of relief supplies and personnel.
The module automatically parses advisory messages to extract current and forecast hurricane characteristics. Messages are usually disseminated every six hours, and contain observation and forecast data provided by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, FL, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) in Honolulu, HI, or the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Guam. The National Weather Services Family of Services, the NOAA Weather Wire, University Internet servers, or commercial vendors of meteorological data provide access to these messages.

Hurricane data collected from the messages includes the current and forecast positions of the storm, its maximum wind speed, and the spatial distribution of winds around the storm center. At each quadrant of the storm, and for its current and forecast positions, radial profiles of dynamic pressure and wind speed are analyzed. Color-coded damage bands are then generated which display results of structural response modeling, which correlates hurricane wind gust velocity and dynamic pressure to damage to various structure types. Figure 3 presents estimates of wind damage to mobile homes calculated by CATS for Hurricane Fran (September 1996). The green area represents light damage, yellow moderate damage, and red severe damage.

The Arc/Info GIS intersects the damage bands with numerous databases created by the Census Bureau, U.S. departments and agencies, and commercial vendors, to estimate the amount of relief support required. Graphical consequence analyses are rapidly constructed by overlaying thematic data layers on the map of areas at risk. Tabular reports are automatically generated that provide estimates of numbers of meals, bottles of water, tents, cots, blankets, etc. required for effective response and recovery. Therefore, the projected exposure and risk of damage to assets and population can be anticipated; moreover, sources of assistance and logistics for prepositioning of proper resources can be identified.

The CATS Hurricane Damage Analysis Module has been used to provide accurate guidance to FEMAs targeted disaster response since the beginning of the 1993 Atlantic hurricane season. The system was used during Hurricane Emily (August 1993) and functioned to provide estimates of damage to residences based on the appropriate meteorological forecasts. Local officials used this information to establish projections of relief supplies and to brief the population at risk. Since Emily made a grazing landfall, only a modest relief effort was required. Further discussions of the performance of the Hurricane Module are included in the PROVEN APPLICATIONS section

They did it in 2004 also

Speaking of the SW Caribbean low, this model forecasts another low to form in 12 hours and last for 114 hours. However, it indicates that it spends half the time over land (the model seems confused; notice how the path zigzags back and forth).
yea, I would say its definatley confused...I don't even think that would be possible!
I had an Etch-A-Sketch when I was a kid...those things are way cool. They are right about the fine aluminum powder...it acts like powdered graphite, which means it sticks to everything, and is damn near impossible to remove from any porous surface, like paper. Fun stuff!