Saturday, September 20, 2014

National Weather Service Open House

Today I attended the the Open House at the local National Weather Service office which serves most of the forecast area for eastern PA and NJ.  The event allowed the public to meet the staff and meteorologists that help us by issuing the weather warnings, that help keep us safe 24 hours a day.  I met the two Meteorologists there that taught the two Skywarn classes that I attended in the past.  I made sure I thanked them since I know they do not receive enough credit for their intensive and dedicated work that they do.  Ahead of me was a mother and son taking to Joe Miketta (one of the Meteorologists) and the question asked was; "what do you do to study and become a Meteorologist to work here?"  Joe's answer was interesting. He stated that he did not want to give an unrealistic picture of the job working at the NWS.  He stated that the meteorologists that work there do not make that much and at the same time did not want to discourage a young person to pursue a career however he was just being honest.  There appears to not be that many available jobs in the field which would mean that should be competition on open positions.  He also mentioned an internship program and made a few suggestions about sources for information for study.

I looked around the forecast office and saw multiple computer screens across a wide workstation area with large screens on the wall to help monitor live TV, radar and satellite images.  This was certainly the place I have wanted to visit.  Everyone I spoke to was eager to share information about their work which was a good educational experience. I hope they continue to offer these events in the future so that I can take my children since they have a presentation which shows the basics on forecasting the weather and how they monitor and issue watches an warnings for the forecast area that they are specifically responsible for.  If you want an educational family event to do next year, please keep this in mind.

Mt Holly WFO 9/20/14
 Here is the original website for the "Open House" where you can see more information and photos of past events:

A big "Thank you" to The National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly NJ for hosting this event.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Are you Ready? Hurricane Season 2014

Hurricane Season starts June 1st and since we are just one day away you may have questions 
especially if you had witnessed and or had damage from Lee, Irene and Sandy, etc.   

What do the experts say about this season?  How many Hurricanes are being predicted for this year? 
I keep hearing about "El Niño", is that going to affect us and how? I learned last year that a storm does not have to be "Hurricane Force" to be dangerous. I don't live near the Ocean, therefore I have nothing to worry about.    What can I do to be prepared?

One of my early sources of weather information is Weather Underground ( and even though I normally refer to NOAA/NW/NHC, I like the way the blogs are written on this website.
Here is a basic summary from Dr. Jeff Master who regularly writes for

"All of the major seasonal hurricane forecasts are calling for a below-average to near-average season, with 9 - 12 named storms, 3 - 6 hurricanes, and 1 - 2 major hurricanes. 

How will the steering current pattern evolve? El Niño years tend to feature more storms that recurve out to sea and miss land; will this be the case in 2014?"

When I took my Meteorology Class last year, my professor stated that weather forecasts are not reliable beyond 5 or 6 days because of the mathematical computer models being used. . This to me makes sense however do not forget that Hurricane Sandy was predicted in advance.  The sad thing is that many people do not pay attention to the forecasts made by the experts. (for example the National Hurricane Center)

Just because a forecast is not perfect does not mean we should ignore it and have our guard down.
Try to watch your local news on a regular basis.  If you are not able to watch TV, read a newspaper or have a list of websites that you can check on a regular basis.  

Be prepared - Do not wait for the last minute. There were many stories of people in NJ and NY that could not find gasoline not just for their car, they needed it for their generator since many folks were without power for an extended period of time just after Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast. 

This is what President Obama said during Hurricane Sandy;
“In times like this, one of the things that Americans do is we pull together and we help out one another. And so, there may be elderly populations in your area. Check on your neighbor, check on your friend. Make sure that they are prepared. If we do, then we’re going to get through this storm just fine. But we’re going to have to make sure that we are vigilant for a couple of days.” 

FEMA started a volunteer group to pass on much needed educational material for being prepared.  Here is some information that may help you.

Real Solutions
Where do you stand when it comes to preparedness? Research shows that people are more prepared for
 a disaster if they:

  • Are aware of community alerts and warning systems;
  • Talk about their preparedness plan with family and others;
  • Attend trainings and meetings; and
  • Participate in a drill or exercise.

Increase Your Family ’s Protection
Based on the 2012 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Survey, 54 percent of the
U.S. population does not believe their community will experience a natural disaster. Only 39 percent have
a plan they have discussed with their family members, and almost 50 percent do not have supplies set
aside in their home for use in a disaster. Unfortunately, a disaster will likely impact you at some point in
your life and when it does, you may only have seconds to respond. Your family, friends and community
are depending on you if a disaster happens. Are you ready to act?

Home Depot has Free workshops (one was today) Not happy about being in the dark during a storm?
Here is my story from last year on how Home Depot can help you be prepared with equipment and supplies
Home Depot Hurricane Workshop - How to be prepared

Do you, friends or your family think because you do not live near the Ocean that you are safe from a Hurricane.  You are absolutely wrong !  
Here is a great Hurricane Preparedness guide by FEMA (please ready this!)

Here is a good source for Hurricane Forecast Information:  wunderground hurricanes

The National Hurricane Center:
(The official Source)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Return of El Niño

    I was there when it happened in 1998.  I was living in  Ecuador at the time and I was witness to a significant flood that was directly influenced by this weather event called "El Niño". Much of Ecuador's coastal areas and its port city of Guayaquil will be affected again.

Here is a new video from NASA with their explanation of the potential impact this will have this year.

video by Science at NASA

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Gravity of Writing

Back in November I wrote a story that was called "Cloud Streets".

  After posting a link to this story in various social network pages I was told by a Meteorology Instructor that the phenomenon that was captured in these pictures were not Horizontal Convective Rolls (Cloud Streets)  but where in fact (Atmospheric) Gravity Waves.  At first I was a bit disappointed, however I have used this opportunity to learn from this experience.  The instructor that found my error, works for a terrific online Meteorology institution called COMET and he patiently answered my questions regarding Gravity Waves.  I thanked the Instructor for pointing out my error and I wanted to post an update to the original story.

 Not only did I learn from this social/ educational networking experience, I found that the original story was not really the hook that brought in readers.  It was really the pictures themselves that brought in most of the attention.  I am a member of a local photography group and as I mentioned originally my buddy Mike helped by taking several pictures that were used for that story.  That trip was when our photography group hiked in a local park in Southeastern PA and because of a strong weather pattern we were able to get an unusual display of clouds in the sky.  At first there were the undulating clouds but as the sun started to set the horizon had a red and amber fiery hue through these complex structured clouds.

Months later we are now in April and in the middle of spring and once again we find these unusual looking clouds.  My girlfriend calls me the other day and while she is driving back to PA she is not able to take video but she sees these clouds.

Photo by Kari P.
 So of course I get this great tip and I run to get some pictures myself and here they are.

Gravity Waves from Horsham, PA

Atmospheric Gravity Waves

 I found out NASA has been studying Gravity Waves and determined that gravity waves  can compress a rotating thunderstorm and cause it to spin faster.  This effect can create tornadoes.  If you wish to read on about this, please click here :

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter 2014 - Sorry, It ain't over yet..

 Our last storm to hit SE PA cause thousands of residents to loose power for days and travel via every means was difficult. Just a few days later I hear online chatter about the next storm.  Mind you that I hate to jump on first bit of hype so I wait and try to read as much as I can before considering the myriad of online forecasts  for fact.  Now we face a large storm and The National Weather Service has stated that this storm will develop as a "Nor'easter."  I am sure everyone has heard of this term and to help I have found a formal definition.

    A strong low pressure system that affects the Mid Atlantic and New England States. It can form over land or over the coastal waters. It usually produces heavy snows, flooding rains, strong northeast winds, coastal flooding, and beach erosion.  (source NOAA/NWS)

If in fact this is a Nor'easter then reading the definition I have presented earlier should give everyone an idea of what our area could face, however it is important to add more to the story.

Salt We are going to need a bigger boat.  Sorry for the quote from the movie Jaws.  We may have a big problem coming up.  6ABC news reported today that Pendot should be OK for this storm however they would not be able to lend salt to local areas in in need.  They mentioned some townships that are out of salt to treat roads.  I looked on the PENDOT website and there was no mention of this.

Here is the video from 6ABC that was from the PENDOT interview:


Remember that this storm will bring heavy snow and a possible mix of freezing rain from Wednesday and all of Thursday into Friday. 
 (this is based on earlier forecast information and is subject to change)

Please be prepared before the storm starts!!  Please visit this web page to learn about being prepared:

Remember that I am not an expert, I am just a messenger.  To find out more from the experts visit and here is the link to the currect briefing from The NWS:

Get Warning updates from the for your area