Posted by: pyeager | December 29, 2012

Biggest Weather Events of 2012

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I find it amusing how we can turning anything into a top-10 list at this time of year; it’s a fine tradition between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

I don’t like to do that sort of thing with important weather events since major storms are too serious for too many people to make them into some sort of whimsical list. Even if I did want to do that, how would you rank them? The worst storms in terms of dollars done, or the worst storms in terms of lives lost?

I don’t know; it just strikes me as a bit insensitive, but I’m sure you can find some of those lists out there.

The closest I came is my recent post on Huffington Post that highlights the billion-dollar-plus storms of 2012. It’s not a ranking, just a list from NOAA.

Posted by: pyeager | December 4, 2012

Christmas Snow Season

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

We’re in the heart of snow reminiscence season–the time before Christmas when even the most hardened snow hater has a tendency to love the fluffy white stuff. I wrote a little article about it in the Huffington Post recently.

The point of the article wasn’t necessarily to mock those who love snow, but to make the point that it’s not a very practical thing to want snow until Christmas when most snow falls after Christmas. Enjoy snow throughout the entire winter.

I will say this, though. I do have a tendency to poke some fun at the six-week obsession that Christmas has become. No holiday can possibly live up to the expectations established by such a prolonged period of anticipation, and I think we would be better off looking for contentment more from within than from a holiday.

Posted by: pyeager | November 4, 2012

Global Warming and Hurricane Sandy

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I’m not a climate change denier. I’m certainly not a political conservative (far from it!), and I’m not associated with the energy industry in any way, two of the main categories of deniers.

I just wonder why Hurricane Sandy seems to be a “slam-dunk” (a Dubya reference!) as far as being proof that climate change is making individual storms stronger when the East Coast has been hit with many strong storms in the past.

For more, read what I wrote on the Huffington Post.

Posted by: pyeager | October 31, 2012

Sandy Verus the Original Superstorm

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I always try to be respectful when talking about extreme weather events because of the resultant tragic effects, so I want to make sure that I’m being clear. This is a purely meteorological comparison between the Blizzard of ’93 (the original superstorm) and Sandy (the new superstorm). It’s not a comparison of the amount of damage done.

I know that the first two images are not precise matches in terms of scale (but they seem to be close) and that not all of the clouds from Sandy are shown, but the Blizzard of ’93 is clearly a competitor of Sandy’s in the competition for the largest and most impressive storm to affect the United States.

Sandy is the first image, and the Blizzard of ’93 is the second and third. (I added the third because I think it shows the size of the ’93 storm better.)

Hurricane Sandy image

Blizzard of '93 image

NOAA enhanced satellite image of Blizzard of ’93

Posted by: pyeager | October 30, 2012

What’s In a Name? Confusion for One Thing

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I’ve written and talked about the devastating storm called Hurricane Sandy, Frankenstorm, and Superstorm Sandy elsewhere, including on WHYY in Philadelphia and the Huffington Post, but I wanted to talk about the trend of naming non-tropical storms. Put simply: My stance is that it causes more confusion than brings clarity. (I did refer to the storm as Frankenstorm on the Huffington Post to make it consistent with the coverage on the site.)

I know why tropical storms and hurricanes have been named, and it works. The storms are easier to follow, there is a standard naming convention, and the names alone give people some idea about the strength of a storm.

The naming of non-tropical storms, however, would not have that effect. There would be no naming convention, meaning some people would use one name and others would use another, and the names would not include some indication of strength.

The Weather Channel believes that it’s in its own best interest to begin naming storms, but once AccuWeather refuses to use that name and, instead, gives the storm a name of its own, and NOAA doesn’t call the storm by a name at all, and other media entities give a storm its own nickname, the general public will be completely confused.

Naming storms is about bringing attention to those doing the naming, not about bringing information to the public in a more clear way.

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

After a winter that was much less snowy than might have been expected, a major and potentially damaging winter storm will affect parts of the mid-Atlantic region and Northeast late in the weekend into early next week. Some areas from the mountains of West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and western New York will receive more than six inches of heavy, wet snow from later Sunday through Monday. A foot of snow is possible in the higher elevations.

Predicting the amount of snowfall is very difficult in a situation like this (insert your favorite joke about the weatherman here). The ground is very warm and temperatures will be above freezing while the snow is falling, so the amount of official snowfall will be higher than any amount of snow that accumulates on the ground. For instance, in a given location, four inches of snow might fall, but there might never be more than two on the ground at any given time.

What is easier to predict–and more important–is the impact of the storm. Travel will be slowed at night when snow will accumulate on the ground, but the main danger is the potential for power outages caused by tree limbs (and possibly entire trees) being brought down by the accumulation of snow on the leaves, which are well ahead of schedule given the amount of warmth this spring.

Downed tree limbs, of course, also pose a danger to house roofs, cars, and pedestrians.

Only three or four inches of heavy, wet snow will cause major tree damage in a situation like this, and some locations will receive double that.

The areas in blue on the map below are in a winter storm watch (as of Saturday evening). The dark green areas along the East Coast are flood watches, where rain amounts will locally exceed four inches.

It’s going to be an April storm that’s remembered for a very long time.

national weather service watches and warnings on April 21, 2012

Posted by: pyeager | March 26, 2012

Eastern Fruit Crop Damage Likely

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I enjoyed the nice weather as much as anyone else, but it looks as if we’re going to pay for the extended and exceptional early-season warmth tonight. With frost and freeze warnings extending from the Midwest into the mid-Atlantic region, along with very cold conditions in the Northeast, damage is likely to the upcoming eastern fruit crop.

NWS Watchings and Warnings

Watches and warnings map from NOAA; Light blue areas are under freeze warnings, and dark blue areas are under frost warnings.

We all know that fruit trees are susceptible to below-freezing temperatures once the trees flower, many of which in the mid-Atlantic region already have–the areas warned above–but it’s less clear to me how much damage can be done to trees when they have budded but not yet bloomed.

Interior Pennsylvania and New York state are not in the warned area, which surprises me since it seems as if the trees in those areas are also susceptible to serious damage. The trees may not be as far along as trees in the warmer areas, but according to my limited research, damage is still likely.

An article in the Centre Daily Times (central Pennsylvania) over the weekend indicated that farmers believed that fruit trees have advanced enough to be susceptible to damage, and an interview on the Weather Channel over the weekend made referenced to concerned farmers in parts of New York State. (New England has not been warm enough for trees to sustain damage.)

I hope that damage is not too extensive, but I’m not hopeful given the amount of time temperatures will be below freezing (six hours plus in some areas) and the intensity of the cold (temps in the teens in parts of northern Pa/southern New York).

For more on the threat to fruit crops in the Midwest, see today’s Jeff Masters’ blog.

Posted by: pyeager | March 18, 2012

Global Climate Data for February

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I know. I know. It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve been enjoying all of the late-season snow and cold here in Pennsylvania. It’s been a heckuva winter, with somewhere between one and two snow storms and between one and two cold outbreaks!

Sarcasm aside, I’ll try to be a little more diligent in writing here, but remember, I write the occasional post for the Huffington Post. I rarely write posts about current weather since it sometimes takes a little time between when I write a post and when it gets published because it’s such a large site.

I have written a little about the upcoming (or, more accurate, ongoing) tornado season, and I also wrote about the latest global climate stats for February and the winter.

I know that it’s been exceptionally warm across the U.S. this winter, but that has not been the case globally. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the global land surface temperature in February was the lowest in nearly 20 years.

I’m not making a statement about climate change or global warming, just reporting the facts in the form of stats. I know that any post about climate stats is interpreted as a political statement about global warming, but mine generally aren’t (at least I hope!)

I don’t work for or have clients in the oil industry who have a vested interest in denying climate change, and even though my political views are liberal, it doesn’t mean that I think that I have an obligation to believe in global warming/climate change. My views are always my own.

In this case, I’m not giving an opinion, but I’m pointing out that it’s been much cooler globally than the stats for just the United States might indicate.

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Don’t worry–I’m not becoming one of those meteorologists who is obsessed with (and thinks he’s an expert in) climate science, but since the weather has not been terribly exciting across the U.S. this winter compared to recent years, I thought I’d highlight a climate-related post that I published on the Huffington Post yesterday: January: 19th Warmest Globally and “Coolest” in Four Years.

The word coolest is in quotes because even though the global temperature (combined land and sea surface average) is the coolest since January 2008, temperatures have remained about the 20th century normal.

Posted by: pyeager | February 14, 2012

Global Stats, Update on Eastern Europe Weather Disaster

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

Romania snow

Image of Romania snow--courtesy of Reuters via Capital Weather Gang blog

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I long for the old days, when we had three 30-minute newscasts per day but had more news stories covered. Since we’ve gone to the 24-hour-per-day news stations all over the dial, we get the same couple of stories over and over and over again–and they’re mainly about politics.

That might explain why there has been so little coverage to the major weather disaster that’s on-going in Eastern Europe. I don’t have access to unlimited stats and details, of course, since I’m one little blogger/writer in the U.S., but I did pull together some information from a Washington Post story yesterday to write something for the Huffington Post.

See Mild U.S. Winter, But Devastating Winter in Eastern Europe for some information on global climate stats and the disaster in Eastern Europe.

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