Friday, June 8, 2012

El Niño Watch Status

The Climate Prediction Center issued its report yesterday stating that "There is a 50% chance that El Niño conditions will develop during the second half of 2012."  Since La Niña ended in April we are now seeing neutral conditions.

NOAA's National Weather Service and their funded institutions, study both the effects of trade winds and ocean temperatures to see how these oscillations affect the state of our climate.

Where and how does El Niño affect us?

In the Tropics, El Niño episodes are associated with increased rainfall across the east-central and eastern Pacific and with drier than normal conditions over northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Elsewhere, wetter than normal conditions tend to be observed 1) during December-February (DJF) along coastal Ecuador, northwestern Peru, southern Brazil, central Argentina, and equatorial eastern Africa, and 2) during June-August (JJA) in the intermountain regions of the United States and over central Chile. Drier than normal conditions generally observed over northern South America, Central America and southern Africa during DJF, and over eastern Australia during JJA. El Niño episodes also contribute to large-scale temperature departures throughout the world, with most of the affected regions experiencing abnormally warm conditions during December-February. Some of the most prominent temperature departures include: 1) warmer than normal conditions during December-February across southeastern Asia, southeastern Africa, Japan, southern Alaska and western/central Canada, southeastern Brazil and southeastern Australia; 2) warmer than normal conditions during June-August along the west coast of South America and across southeastern Brazil; and 3) cooler than normal conditions during December-February along the Gulf coast of the United States.

To see the the ocean temperature change over time, visit here;

As I explained before I have been caught in a tropical storm when I lived in Ecuador in 1998, where I saw intense flooding rains.   Here is a video that gives a good visual explanation of  El Niño.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

NASA's unmanned "Severe Storm Sentinels"

Human pilots have the disadvantage of "being human", it is obvious that the basic necessity of sleep would be both a safety issue and the fact that decreased flight time slows down the progress of much needed scientific data for the study of Hurricanes and severe storms.  Imagine an unmanned plane that can fly 28 hours non stop at an altitude of up to 60,000 feet. This in reality is Nasa's Global Hawk (HS3), which is a  mission that will begin this summer and continue for the next several years.
Image by NASA
What is the HS3 and what will it do ?   "Hurricane intensity can be very hard to predict because of an insufficient understanding of how clouds and wind patterns within a storm interact with the storm’s environment. HS3 seeks to improve our understanding of these processes by taking advantage of the surveillance capabilities of the Global Hawk along with measurements from a suite of advanced instruments," said Scott Braun, HS3 mission principal investigator and research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Here is an outline of HS3 instruments;

  • High-resolution Interferometer Sounder (S-HIS)
  • Advanced Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS) also known as dropsondes
  • Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL)
  • Tropospheric Wind Lidar Technology Experiment (TWiLiTE) (to be added in 2013)
  • High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (HIWRAP)
  • Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD)
  • High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR)

NASA's Science Mission Directorate Global Hawk aircraft will deploy to Wallops Flight Facility from their home base at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California.

For more details, please visit NASA online at;

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Storm Clouds In Montgomery County PA

Today we had a series of thunderstorms moving through Southeast PA, pictures were taken by a fellow Storm Spotter and myself and we wanted to share them.

More storms appear to be moving from west to east, during the evening.

Horsham PA - 6/3/12
Storm Spotter photo by DES
The last pic (above) I believe was taken near the Upper Dublin / Horsham border in PA