Very above normal temperatures dominating US to end November

Much above normal temperatures are dominating much of the United States right now. This is largely a product of a zonal or progressive jet stream moving along the northern tier states and southern Canada locking colder air over interior Canada and the Arctic (although, I note, the Arctic is seeing much above normal temperatures relative to what they should be seeing as well!).

My area…Eastern Nebraska…has been seeing many days of 60s and even mid-70s, including today. The average temperatures this time of year should be in the low to mid-40s for highs and near 20 for lows. Instead it’s been feeling like it’s around birthday time for me. My birthday is in May.

GFS-025deg_NH-SAT1_T2_anom
Global Forecast System model analysis of surface air temperature anomalies for November 27th. The GFS tends to have a minor warm bias from reality, but it is accurate is showing significant above normal temps over the western and central sections of the United States. The baseline normal period is 1979-2000, prior to the significant amplification of climatic warming in the Arctic (occurring because of anthropogenic global warming).
gfs_namer_048_250_wnd_ht
Global Forecast System model forecast depiction of upper-air wave pattern at 250 millibars (~10,200 meters/33,500 ft) valid Wednesday morning. The jet stream will remain largely over the northern tier and southern Canada this week with above normal temps of varying departures over the US.

As we move into the first week of December, trends point to some dip in the jet stream over the Western US early next week causing below normal temperatures. However, this will also amplify the jet stream over the eastern two-thirds, producing significantly above normal temperatures yet again.

One additional thing of note. Snow cover is virtually non-existent in the contiguous US today (Nov. 27th). Only 4% of the CONUS has snow cover today. Going back to 2003, this is lowest snow cover extent for this particular date. The second and third lowest for Nov. 27th were 8.7% (2009) and 10.2% (2011). The snow cover area extents on Nov. 27th in 2010, 2012-2015 were in the range of 20-35%. 2016 was fairly low at 15.4%. The data is available HERE.

nsm_depth_2017112705_National
Snow depth analysis map for the US and southern Canada for November 27, 2017.

I don’t know date prior to 2003, however it is known that climate change is reducing snow cover extent and depth in the US and the Northern Hemisphere beyond natural variability. The aforementioned trough in the West should increase that extent somewhat next week.

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Life Update

I thought now would be a good time to update on my life as some big changes are ahead. My fiance, son and I will be moving to St. Cloud, MN at the beginning of January. I’ve been accepted into the Geographic Information Science master’s program at St. Cloud State University. GISci is the study of the theory and applications of geographic information systems (hardware and software apps) for collecting, storing, and manipulating location data for visualization, analysis and modeling. I will be pursuing a second master’s degree (first is in Geosciences – Applied Meteorology from Mississippi State in 2016).

Our primary reason to move is to be closer to my side of the family. My Mom, grandparents and many cousins all live in the Minneapolis Metro area. St. Cloud is less than a hour away from where many of them live. However, I decided after much thought, to return to school for GIS because I’ve had a lot of interest in the technology and applications of it since I was a meteorology/climatology major at the University of Nebraska and there are many career opportunities for those with expertise in the technology and theory of it in many fields. Meteorology is *much* harder to get into (which I knew going in), and while I certainly am open to meteorology and experience (more on that in a bit), I want to gain much greater knowledge in a highly valued field. I’ve taken a few GIS and cartography courses as an undergrad and required intro course as a graduate student, but there is much left for me to learn which could go a long way toward career prospects. I’m doing the thesis-track option (my first masters was non-thesis), but I’m still formulating details on what I want to research, beyond ideas I briefly discussed in my graduate statement of intent.

On another note, for the 2nd year, I’ll be doing online mountain weather forecasting for the Fire Weather & Avalanche Center, based in northeast Oregon. The FWAC is a non-profit organization which does forecasting (mostly volunteer) for fire weather and snowfall and avalanche hazards, focused on northeast Oregon, although weather is discussed throughout the Pacific Northwest. The focus in particular is on back country recreation and travel. I will begin my weekly Saturday and Sunday 48 hr forecast shifts this weekend through this winter. Again, mostly volunteer, but valuable experience which regularly utilizes my skills as a forecaster. I’m hoping to have involvement in the fire weather operations next year. In the meantime, look for links to my Oregon mountain forecasts for the FWAC posted on my Twitter and Facebook feeds as they are written. The interactive mountain weather forecast page is HERE.

It will be a busy couple of months, but the changes should be very positive!

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–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

 

My view of the August 21, 2017 Total Eclipse.

 

What an amazing event! The moon’s shadow gave a big show across America today and at 1:02 pm CDT it rushed over Lincoln, NE at over 1500 mph. Day turned to night, the temperature dropped and a 360 degree twilight ruled the midday.

First…my video!

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Screen capture from video during totality in Lincoln, NE. Shows the “eclipse twilight” surrounding the city. Photo by me (Nick Humphrey).

The temperature in Lincoln dropped from 81 degrees around noon to 77 degrees after 1 pm and totality. Many locations along the eclipse path experienced temperature falls of 3-5 degrees as a result of the passage of the Moon’s shadow. Meteorologists also observed (both on the ground and with satellite imagery) the collapse of convective cumulus clouds dependent upon surface heating to “bubble”, which was lost during the advanced partial and total eclipses.

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Cumulus cloud field impacted by the eclipse. Cloud field (12:42 pm CDT) dissipates by 2:32 pm CDT as totality approaches. Photo courtesy of AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky DePodwin. Lowering of temperature weakens upward convection currents likely limiting maintenance of cumulus clouds and leading to their dissipation in the absence of other lifting mechanisms.

You can watch the progression of the Moon’s shadow across North America below (video is only four seconds long so you’ll have to replay to see it more than once at a time):

All I can say is that this was one of most spectacular events of nature I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve witnessed multiple total lunar eclipses and while they are spooky (especially in the middle of the night), nothing can beat the powerful changes which a total solar eclipse can bring to the landscape.

The clouds, which were the most problematic for eclipse viewing in Nebraska ended up breaking enough to see totality itself, but also provided a canvas for the incredible glow of midday twilight. It was quite magical.

The next total solar eclipse in the Lower 48 is April 8, 2024. Totality in parts of Texas (which will include Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth Metro) could last nearly 4 1/2 min compared to the 2 min 40 sec max with today’s eclipse. If time and finances align, I definitely want travel for that one if I don’t live near it by then.

Anyone have any eclipse experiences they want to share? I’ll be checking out WordPress posts too! 🙂

PS-A view from a Omaha news station of the twilight colors with clouds HERE (video) within totality near Beatrice, NE, south of Lincoln.

National Weather Service Sky Cover Forecast for Eclipse

Consider this the final forecast and here on out its whatever Mother Nature decides. Overall looks great for the West (0-30% cloud coverage), deteriorates significantly over the Plains/Midwest (50-70%), improves back to low coverage over southern IL and TN (where totality will be at or near max possible), and deteriorates again over South Carolina. 

Hoping for the best in Lincoln, Nebraska with 50-60% cloud coverage most likely transparent high clouds, however scattered opaque mid-level clouds are also possible which would diminish any serious solar viewing. My fiancé Cassie and I will head off to South Lincoln with our 1yr old and position ourselves at a location in view of the sun and the western sky (where the shadow will advance into town at 1500 mph). Whether we see the sun or on, it will turn to night at 1:02 pm CDT and last nearly 1 min 45 sec at our chosen location. We intend to have photos and I’ll also take video with my GoPro.

For 2017 Eclipse Coverage please follow me on Facebook or Twitter (see feeds on my main page for direct links). I will post on the progress of the eclipse on both platforms after the umbra’ landfall in Oregon at 10:16 PDT thru it’s exit from South Carolina after 2:50 pm EDT. Yes it’s only taking about a hour and a half for the umbra to blast across the US! 

I will do a post-eclipse photo/video post hopefully by this evening or tomorrow for WordPress 😊

Incoming shortwave radiation with eclipse effects as depicted by the experimental High Resolution Rapid Refresh Model (HRRRx) for 12:45 pm CDT Monday. Note the solar radiation “hole” which includes the umbra and “eclipse twilight”. (NOAA)

JPL 2017 Eclipse Simulator

Anyone want to know what the 2017 Eclipse will look like at your location with nice graphics and all? Check out this excellent simulator put together by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. You’ll be able to animate the eclipse for any given location in the US from beginning to end and find out what to expect. I made a collection of some of the locations which will experience partial eclipses (all at their time of maximum eclipse). All these location were in areas of 75% or greater obscuration of the solar disk. Optical and atmospheric effects begin to take hold with 75% obscuration as incoming shortwave radiation from the sun is significantly reduced. Read more about that in my previous July post HERE if you haven’t already. Remember, however, that even with 99% obscuration, the sun will still be too bright and therefore too dangerous too look at directly without certified eclipse glasses. Direct viewing of the sun for multiple minutes can blind you, any amount can cause eye injury!

Seattle
Seattle, WA. My home city! 92% Obscuration.
Portland
Portland, OR. 99% Obscuration. So close to totality, yet so far!
San Francisco
San Francisco, CA. 75.5% Obscuration.
Denver
Denver, CO. 92% Obscuration.
Brookings
Brookings, SD. The location of my undergraduate alma mater South Dakota State University. 89% Obscuration.
Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN. My Mom and much of my extended family lives here. They’ll take in the show. 83% Obscuration.
Dallas
Dallas, TX. 75% Obscuration.
Atlanta
Atlanta, GA. 97% Obscuration.
DC
Washington, DC. 81% Obscuration.
Jacksonville
Jacksonville, FL. 90.5% Obscuration.

Additional eclipse info for this post (such as max eclipse time) is courtesy of Xavier Jubier’s 2017 Total Eclipse Interactive Map.

Sky Conditions for August 21, 2017 Eclipse

The Great North American Eclipse is almost here! On Monday, the Moon’s inner shadow or umbra will touchdown over the open Pacific Ocean and rush toward a landfall in Oregon after 10:15 am PDT and exit the South Carolina Coast after 2:50 pm EDT. The shadow will be advancing across at around 1500-2000 mph. An incredible speed.

For an overview of the atmospheric phenomena to expect during the eclipse, see my previous late-July article on the August 21, 2017 Eclipse.

With the eclipse on Monday, the biggest concern is the weather…specifically sky conditions. The National Service, out of national interest in the eclipse (which will ONLY be seen in the United States) now has forecasts available, with special interest in sky condition forecasts.

Map
US National Weather Service Sky Condition Map (% sky cloud covered) valid 2 pm EDT Monday August 21st. Moon’s umbra will be over Nebraska at this time. 
Much of the eclipse path is *decent* (50% or less sky coverage forecast), although clear skies are extremely ideal. The best skies for totality are expected to be over the Northwest sector of the US, with greater cloud coverage (near 50% over the Central Plains/Missouri). There will be some improvement over Tennessee, but possible afternoon showers and thunderstorms may cloud up skies more significantly over extreme northeast Georgia and into South Carolina.

With that said…just remember…1) There’s more to the eclipse but totality! Regardless of whether you’re in the path or not, dealing with scattered clouds or not, enjoy the eclipse! Watch the crescents form in the shadows of trees, make a pinhole viewer (like this or this for example…I’m planning on making one!), if you have certified eclipse glasses or shades…safely observe the sun directly, and if you’re in a very deep partial (75%+) enjoy the effects of the weakening sun on temperature, sky and the animals. Also…2) For those in totality, all you need is that precious 1 or 2+ mins to be clear around the eclipsed sun. Hopefully, with that 50% or less sky coverage, that will be easier to achieve.


My Plans-

As you all may know, I live in Lincoln, NE…in the path of totality. As the city is literally on the northern edge of the shadow, there is a tight gradient for the length of totality; anywhere from tens of seconds on the north end of town, to 1 min 45 seconds on the south end of town. My house will see around 1 min 15 seconds. We had planned on going to Grand Island, NE about a hour and a half west of here to visit a relative of hers and see the eclipse at 2 min 35 sec (near max possible duration)…but our car has an issue which makes it not reliable for traveling on the highway! 😦 Literally found this out today! Extremely disappointed as there isn’t enough time for us to get the car fixed.  But considering we’re still IN totality vs. not, I can’t completely complain. So instead, we’ll be heading to the south end for the maximum length in Lincoln. I’ll have my GoPro set up on a mini-tripod to capture very high-res video of the last minutes before totality and during it. My fiance and I will also take lots of photographs. I will have updates on my Twitter and FB pages as the partial eclipse advances toward totality (feeds also can be seen from the website…but please follow me directly! 🙂 ).

It should be an exciting day! Everyone have safe viewing and have fun!