Capital Weather Gang: Science


Posted at 11:24 AM ET, 03/08/2013

To be the best in weather forecasting: Why Europe is beating the U.S.

As early as 1995, the weather forecasts from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) were emerging as higher quality than U.S. products.

By Richard B. Rood*  |  11:24 AM ET, 03/08/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 02/28/2013

Could a quiet sun cancel global warming?

The current solar maximum, the high point in the sun’s activity over an 11-year cycle, is the lowest in over 100 years NASA says. Scientists speculate solar activity may decline further in the coming decades. Could a quieting sun cause the climate to cool enough to stall or even reverse global warming from the build-up of greenhouse gases? Leading climate scientists say no, the effect of the sun is too small.

By Jason Samenow  |  12:04 PM ET, 02/28/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Climate Change, Science

Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 02/26/2013

Second rate U.S. numerical weather prediction: Why you should care

In this blog, I will take issue with arguments that U.S. inferior computer modeling doesn’t matter and will suggest that first-rate numerical weather prediction by the U.S. National Weather Service is crucial for the nation and of great benefit to the entire world

By Cliff Mass*  |  11:14 AM ET, 02/26/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Science

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 02/13/2013

Hurricanes vs. nor’easters. What makes them different?

If hurricanes and mid-latitude cyclones often physically resemble each other so closely and are both characterized by areas of low pressure and cyclonic (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere) winds, what makes them different?

By Kathryn Prociv  |  10:30 AM ET, 02/13/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 02:36 PM ET, 02/08/2013

Northeast blizzard: The science behind the storm

“Phasing streams” will lead to a meteorological bomb that will release vast quantities of snow.

By Wes Junker  |  02:36 PM ET, 02/08/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 12/10/2012

Behind 30 hours of fog: warm air moving over cold ground, “advection fog”

Since Saturday night, widespread fog has covered large parts of the Washington, D.C. metro region. The explanation is pretty simple: the ground has been relatively cold compared to the air trying to sneak into the area.

By Jason Samenow  |  12:04 PM ET, 12/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/07/2012

Can lightning help predict tornadoes? A D.C. area case may shed some light

At this week’s annual American Geophysical Union fall meeting, geophysicists from Johns Hopkins University presented a poster featuring findings on lightning activity as a possible precursor to a tornado in the area.

By Ian Livingston  |  10:45 AM ET, 12/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  capital-weather-gang, Latest, Thunderstorms, Science

Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 11/08/2012

NOAA calls off El Niño forecast

So much for having El Niño conditions this winter. NOAA has walked way from its forecast for meaningful warming of the tropical Pacific ocean - which sometimes leads to stormy conditions across the southern U.S. and snowy winters in the Mid-Atlantic.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:52 AM ET, 11/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms, Science

Posted at 03:06 PM ET, 10/18/2012

Tropical storm Prapiroon and a von Karman vortex street

A massive swirl and a “street” of mini-swirls. These vortices in the western Pacific adjacent to one another are examples of a decaying typhoon and a phenomenon known as a von Karman vortex street.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:06 PM ET, 10/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, Science

Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 09/21/2012

Autumnal equinox brings first day of fall Saturday morning

Say hello to fall: the 2012 autumnal equinox occurs this Saturday, September 22 at 10:49 a.m. (EDT).

By Justin Grieser  |  12:59 PM ET, 09/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Astronomy

Posted at 02:24 PM ET, 09/20/2012

What the heck is a fire tornado?

A frightening video of a so-called fire tornado setting ablaze the Australian outback is spreading like ... So how did we explain this phenomenon?

By Jason Samenow  |  02:24 PM ET, 09/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Science

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 09/17/2012

Red sprites, blue jets, and elves: What are these mysterious, elusive phenomena?

Today, although still quite enigmatic and elusive, red sprites, and their cousins, blue jets, and elves, are revealing some of their secrets.

By Don Lipman  |  12:00 PM ET, 09/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, Science, Thunderstorms

Posted at 11:21 AM ET, 09/07/2012

From tropical disturbance to hurricane: To be or not to be?

As meteorologists and coastal residents track the tropics, they wonder if a fledgling disturbance is to become a major, destructive hurricane or a harmless wave of breezy showers.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:21 AM ET, 09/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, Science

Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 08/24/2012

As Isaac threatens the RNC, a look at how far hurricane forecasting has come

There’s no way to know exactly if or where Isaac will ultimately make landfall in the United States or how strong it will be. Even a close call in Florida could result in flight cancellations, heavy rains, and other complications for the Republican National Convention. The good news is that forecasters now have a wealth of tools and an array of knowledge at their disposal that were almost unimaginable 40 years ago.

By Robert Henson  |  10:15 AM ET, 08/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, Science, Technology

Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 08/17/2012

The U.S. Navy FLIP: a radical ship for ocean-atmosphere research

Imagine while cruising on a friend’s yacht somewhere in the eastern Pacific you catch sight of what appears to be the sinking of a large ship: the bow (front) begins to rise above the waves and stern (back) starts to sink below. Just 30 or so minutes later you are astonished to see the bow section standing vertical some 5-stories above the sea surface and not sinking any further.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:51 AM ET, 08/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Tracton

Posted at 02:20 PM ET, 07/19/2012

Dissecting a derecho bolt: more to lightning than meets the eye (and camera lens)

Over a year ago, NOAA’s Scott Rudlosky and I began discussing an effort to match a lightning photograph with its corresponding lightning data recorded by the Washington D.C. Lightning Mapping Array (DCLMA).. We felt that we could learn more about the lightning that we see flashing across the sky by investigating the data behind the flash, such as where it originated, where it traveled, its elevation, and where it struck ground.

By Kevin Ambrose and Scott D. Rudlosky Ph.D.  |  02:20 PM ET, 07/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Thunderstorms, Photography

Posted at 02:53 PM ET, 07/17/2012

South Pole weather: 200 degrees of separation from Washington, D.C.’s scorching heat

With temperatures closing in on 100 Washington, D.C., today is a good day to dream of working at the South Pole. The high there today (Wednesday at the South Pole, which is on New Zealand time, 12 hours ahead of ET) should be -79 F, says Dale Herschlag, the meteorologist at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

By Jack Williams  |  02:53 PM ET, 07/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, International Weather

Posted at 01:03 PM ET, 05/18/2012

Scientist responds to reader’s idea about storm phenomenon

Tom Walker of Alexandria, Va., emailed me the question below about the sidebar to the May 1 story on the big Vortex 2 tornado experiment. The headline for the sidebar says: “Scientists are surprised to find ribbon in thunderstorm data.”

By Jack Williams  |  01:03 PM ET, 05/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Thunderstorms, Science

Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 05/17/2012

Viewpoint: pitting climate change research against weather research is unproductive

Some feel the argument that resources for weather forecasting are more important than for climate change prediction is an affront on the importance of climate change modeling and not helpful in advancing broader goals in advancing atmospheric science

By Jason Samenow  |  12:18 PM ET, 05/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Climate Change, Government, Science

Posted at 03:16 PM ET, 05/14/2012

Weather forecasters better than doctors at giving you the odds

Some joke that weather forecasters are the only professionals who can be right half the time and keep their jobs. But the truth is, historical research says they are better than just about anyone at realistically telling you the likelihood of a certain outcome.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:16 PM ET, 05/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science

Posted at 02:56 PM ET, 04/26/2012

Rain fail not rainfall: why today’s wet forecast went wrong

It happens once in a great while. We get a forecast wrong. From the look of things, today’s going to be one of those days. That quarter-to-half inch of rain we told you was coming - unless some late day showers intervene - simply isn’t.

By Jason Samenow  |  02:56 PM ET, 04/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Weather Checker, Science

Posted at 02:31 PM ET, 04/24/2012

Are weather forecasts beyond a few days any good?

Are forecasts beyond a few days any good? Mine are (laugh). More seriously, though, and perhaps not surprisingly, the answer is, ‘it depends’.

By Greg Postel  |  02:31 PM ET, 04/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Science

Posted at 01:39 PM ET, 04/05/2012

Weather forecast accuracy versus skill: skill is what matters

In his post on AccuWeather’s new 25-day forecasts, Jason Samenow says, “Never mind, the skill in forecasts rapidly deteriorates beyond 5-7 days.” Notice he didn’t say accuracy because for meteorologists the score that counts in judging forecasts is “skill,” not “accuracy.”

By Jack Williams  |  01:39 PM ET, 04/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science

Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 04/04/2012

AccuWeather debuts 25 day weather forecasts

No it’s not an April Fools’ joke: Accuweather is pushing the limits of weather forecasting and issuing detailed predictions extending 25 days into the future effective today. Consider me highly skeptical about their value.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:14 AM ET, 04/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Media, Science

Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 03/29/2012

National Weather Service budget cuts misguided, misplaced

President Obama’s 2013 budget for the National Weather Service (NWS) reduces funding by $36.4 million in operations and research while weather satellite programs are slated for an increase of $163 million. Is there something wrong with this picture of enormous investments for satellites at the expense justifiably valuable components of NWS’s operational mission? In the opinion of many, including myself, the answer is a confident yes.

By Steve Tracton  |  10:20 AM ET, 03/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Science

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/27/2012

NASA successfully launches 5 rockets from Wallops (VIDEOS AND PHOTOS)

Almost two weeks after the first scrubbed attempt, NASA successfully launched 5 rockets to study winds in the upper atmosphere early this morning.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:00 AM ET, 03/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Photography, Astronomy, Science

Posted at 03:39 PM ET, 03/14/2012

NASA to launch 5 rockets in 5 minutes from Wallops, Va. tonight (maybe)

Between midnight and 3:00 a.m. March 23 (tentative), 5 NASA rockets will soar into the atmosphere to obtain information about rip roaring winds 60-65 miles high in the atmosphere. Assuming clear skies, NASA says the 5 rockets will be launched in just over 5 minutes from Wallops Island, Va.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:39 PM ET, 03/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Space, Science

Posted at 12:07 PM ET, 03/09/2012

Solar storm peaks at strong level; why forecasting space weather is difficult

After the sun hurled out the biggest solar flare in five years, media were abuzz, sometimes hyperbolically, about the prospective solar storm threat. Then, when a mere “minor” storm arrived Thursday with minimal impact, headlines pronounced the storm a fizzler. But, just as it was presumed dead, geomagnetic storming surged early Friday, and a strong solar storm is presently underway. The twists and turns of this recent solar event illuminate the challenges in forecasting and reporting solar activity.

By Steve Tracton and Jason Samenow  |  12:07 PM ET, 03/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Astronomy, Space, Science, Tracton

Posted at 02:18 PM ET, 03/08/2012

Red sky in morning... (SUNRISE PHOTOS)

To explain and illustrate the weather setup for colorful sunrises, I analyzed past sunrise photos with their associated satellite images. I found a predictable and repeatable weather pattern that is responsible for creating vibrant color in the sky at sunrise.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  02:18 PM ET, 03/08/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Photography, Science, Education

Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 02/23/2012

Will 2012 produce large numbers of tornadoes?

2011 went down in the record books as one of the worst U.S. tornado years on record. Can we say anything about how many tornadoes we’ll have in 2012? That’s debatable but forecasters and research groups are starting to give it a try.

By Jason Samenow  |  02:39 PM ET, 02/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Science, Thunderstorms

Posted at 10:07 AM ET, 02/17/2012

Accurately measuring snow: a critical winter weather challenge

Let’s assume there will be measurable snow on the ground by Monday morning. How do we most reliably figure out “how much?”. The answer to the question is not as straight forward as one might think.

By Steve Tracton  |  10:07 AM ET, 02/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms, Science, Tracton

Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 02/14/2012

Sudden graupel and squall Saturday afternoon (PHOTOS AND VIDEOS)

You have heard of graupel, right? If it’s not a snowflake, it’s not hail, it’s not sleet, it’s not snow pellets, but it’s white and falls from the sky, then there is a good chance it is graupel. On Saturday afternoon, a squall moved through Manassas, Virginia that produced graupel during its onset.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  10:15 AM ET, 02/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Photography, Winter Storms, Science

Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 02/09/2012

NOAA: La Nina to end this spring

The La Nina pattern, linked to one the most extreme weather years on record in 2011 in the U.S., is forecast to fade away this spring according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

By Jason Samenow  |  12:02 PM ET, 02/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Science, U.S. Weather

Posted at 02:25 PM ET, 02/01/2012

Why was January 1950 so warm in Washington, D.C. compared to the mild 2012?

January 1950 was a shocking 12 degrees warmer than average in Washington, DC with 14 days above 60 degrees, including 6 above 70. By comparison, our very mild January 2012 was a mere 5 degrees above normal. What made January 1950 so warm?

By Jason Samenow  |  02:25 PM ET, 02/01/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate, Science

Posted at 02:11 PM ET, 01/30/2012

Lego man launched into near space (VIDEO)

Using a weather balloon purchased online, two 17-year old Canadian students launched a lego man on a dramatic mission 80,000 feet into the stratosphere. By affixing multimedia recording equipment to the payload and a parachute linked to GPS so it could be recovered (it was), the resourceful teens captured spectacular imagery of the journey.

By Jason Samenow  |  02:11 PM ET, 01/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Photography, Technology, Education

Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 01/27/2012

Yes, that big boom was late January thunder

More than one deafening crash from the heavens jolted the metro region this morning. The noise was so loud, jarring, and out of season, some did not immediately think “thunder” when they heard the clamor, but were concerned it might be something else, like a blown transformer, a plane crash, a sonic boom, or a bomb. Rest assured, it was thunder. Here’s what happened.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:34 AM ET, 01/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Thunderstorms, Science

Posted at 11:05 AM ET, 01/26/2012

What a wonderful world, the Earth in high definition (Blue marble NASA image)

Feast your eyes on it: NASA released one of the sharpest, most stunning true-color images of our planet the world has seen Wednesday.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:05 AM ET, 01/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Science

Posted at 02:35 PM ET, 01/05/2012

Missing snow? Make your own ...

Weather Watcher Eric Peterson did what nature didn’t yet this winter: Make his yard a white wonderland.

By Eric Peterson  |  02:35 PM ET, 01/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, Latest, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 10:11 AM ET, 11/30/2011

The Siberia to East Coast snow connection

In Tuesday’s Washington Post print edition, CWG’s Andrew Freedman profiles the work of Judah Cohen, Ph.D., principal scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (a Verisk Analytics company) who has studied linkages between fall Eurasian snow cover and East Coast winter weather. The article begins: According to new research, Washingtonians shouldn’t blame bad luck for the recent string of high-impact snowstorms, from “Snowmaggedon” two years ago to last January’s “Commuteageddon.” Instead, it may be more justified to cast a suspicious gaze toward Siberia, about 6,000 miles away.

By Jason Samenow  |  10:11 AM ET, 11/30/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 09:52 AM ET, 10/28/2011

State of the art NPP weather and climate satellite launched

At 2:48 a.m. Pacific time (5:48 a.m. EDT), NASA successfully launched what is considered the next generation satellite for monitoring weather and the Earth’s climate. The satellite was boosted into space by a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

By Jason Samenow  |  09:52 AM ET, 10/28/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Science, Space

Posted at 11:33 AM ET, 10/24/2011

Will new studies confirming global warming settle skeptics’ questions? Don’t hold your breath

During the past several years, skeptics of manmade global warming have focused their attention on the reliability of the modern surface temperature record, which according to numerous studies, shows a distinct warming trend starting in the middle of the 20th century, and continuing through the present day.

By Andrew Freedman  |  11:33 AM ET, 10/24/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Latest, Science

Posted at 03:24 PM ET, 10/12/2011

NASA preparing for Earth-observing satellite launch

On October 27, NASA will launch the next generation weather and climate satellite. Known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (or, to save some syllables, NPP), the satellite spacecraft, roughly the size of mini-van, will orbit at an altitude of 512 miles above the Earth’s surface. The data it beams back to Earth will help improve understanding of both global change and weather prediction.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:24 PM ET, 10/12/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Government, Climate Change, Media, Science, Space

Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 10/11/2011

Low solar activity linked to harsh winters in U.S. and northern Europe

A new study published in Nature Geosciences presents new support for the idea that when the sun’s intensity weakens, it favors weather patterns conducive to cold and snow over large parts of the U.S. and northern Europe.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:25 AM ET, 10/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Winter Storms

Posted at 03:19 PM ET, 10/04/2011

Did the atmosphere signal March Japan earthquake before it happened?

Imagine how many lives would be saved if the atmosphere could detect a major earthquake 30 or minutes before it rocked the land beneath. Japanese researcher Kosuke Heki believes he may have identified such a precursor: electron counts 185 miles high in the sky, in the atmospheric layer known as the ionosphere. His research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, shows ionospheric electron counts unexpectedly escalated beginning 40 minutes before Japan’s deadly March 11 quake.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:19 PM ET, 10/04/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Environment, Science

Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 09/27/2011

An immaculate mid-latitude cyclone and its decay

Behold one of the most beautiful satellite views of a mid-latitude cyclone you will ever see.

By Jason Samenow  |  10:48 AM ET, 09/27/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Science, Photography

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/23/2011

Rumblings within Indonesia’s Mount Tambora volcano: could eruption bring year without summer?

The eruption of the Mt. Tambora volcano in April 1815 was the largest and most deadly volcanic eruption in recorded history. Its sunlight dimming particles caused a major cooling in the global climate that led to1816’s “Year Without a Summer”. Experts are now saying that Mount Tambora is ready to erupt again as a sequence of earthquakes has been shaking the island at increasing frequency since April. Columns of ash are already venting as high as 4,600 feet.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:00 AM ET, 09/23/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  International Weather, Science, Latest, History

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 07/15/2011

Does cloudiness affect baseball game outcomes?

In the study of more than 35,000 major league baseball games, eleven performance measures from batting, pitching, and fielding were related statistically to varying levels of cloud cover. More specifically, the study evaluated whether the collective differences in offensive production, pitching, and fielding led to changes in “home field advantage”. A principal finding: cloudy skies benefit the batter while clear skies benefit the pitcher.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:15 AM ET, 07/15/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Tracton, Latest, Science

Posted at 11:50 AM ET, 07/05/2011

New study blames 10-year lull in global warming on China coal use, air pollution

A new study published this week offering a fresh take on what may have driven a temporary, 10-year slowdown in global warming reinforces the scientific hypothesis that human activities are contributing to long-term global warming.

By Andrew Freedman  |  11:50 AM ET, 07/05/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Science, Latest

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 06/28/2011

Summer sunbeam weather

The perfect sunbeam weather occurs on humid, hazy summer mornings that follow an evening or nighttime of showers or thunderstorms. The air is filled with fog and haze particles which makes sunlight visible by diffraction, reflection, and scattering of the light.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  10:45 AM ET, 06/28/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Photography, Science, Latest

Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 06/21/2011

The summer solstice – and other interesting sun facts – explained

Most of us can agree that summertime heat and humidity have been well underway in our area since meteorological summer began on June 1. Yet for those who prefer the astronomical definition of the seasons, today marks the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This year the summer solstice occurs at 1:16 p.m. EDT. It marks the time at which the sun’s rays are at zenith (directly overhead) at 23.5 degrees north latitude, better known as the Tropic of Cancer.

By Justin Grieser  |  10:50 AM ET, 06/21/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Astronomy, Science, Latest

Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011

Airline safety: Is the fear of a lightning strike warranted? JetBlue plane struck

On December 8, 1963, a 5-year old Boeing 707 Pan American World Airways jetliner crashed near Elkton, MD, killing a total of 73 passengers and 8 crew members. The plane, en route from Puerto Rico, had stopped at Baltimore and was on its initial approach to Philadelphia, the final destination. Since thunderstorms were in the vicinity, it was thought that lightning had caused the vapors in a reserve fuel tank to explode. Before you come to the conclusion that lightning represents an extreme hazard for commercial aviation, you should know that that accident—almost 50 years ago--represents the last time that lightning was responsible for commercial U.S. airline casualties. A very good record indeed! Nevertheless, lightning does strike airliners all the time.

By Don Lipman  |  02:00 PM ET, 05/17/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Lipman, Latest, Science, Thunderstorms

Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 05/17/2011

Rare, complex flow pattern behind weird weather

Unless you’ve been trapped in the depths of a DC Metro underground station by inoperative escalators and elevators, you know the several contiguous days last week of positively delightful spring weather has been replaced over the weekend by less than totally pleasant conditions expected most of this week. In his post last week Jason asked “what’s the cause of this lovely stretch of San Diego-like weather in Washington, D.C.?” He answered “we can thank an atmospheric pattern known as an omega block”. The question now is what’s the cause of the prolonged stretch of less than perfect (icky, lousy, unsettled, crappy, etc.) conditions this week? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is the same: an omega block. How can that be?

By Steve Tracton  |  11:20 AM ET, 05/17/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Tracton, Latest, Education, Science

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 05/12/2011

On Saturn’s moon Titan, spring rains but no spring flowers

At last, spring has sprung. Heavy, persistent rains have arrived sometimes overflowing riverbeds and gullies. River and lake ice have thawed. Tropical weather systems are migrating north. And at northern latitudes, average temperatures have finally risen above the freezing point of -297 degrees F. 297 degres F below zero? Did you catch that? There is no error. I’m not talking about freezing/melting point of water, but rather methane. And the coming of spring is occurring not on Earth but on Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:15 AM ET, 05/12/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Tracton, Science, Latest, Space

Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 05/11/2011

Our big beautiful block

What’s the cause of this lovely stretch of San Diego-like weather in Washington, D.C.? We can thank a atmospheric pattern known as an omega block. In this regime, a big fat area of tranquil high pressure - currently influencing much of the East - sits between two areas of stormy low pressure. The resulting signature of such a feature on the weather map resembles the Greek letter omega, hence the name.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:34 AM ET, 05/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Education, Science

Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 05/05/2011

Double rainbows look down on Washington, D.C.: what does it mean?

Yesterday evening, Capital Weather Gang’s Twitter feed (@capitalweather) was lit up by double rainbow sightings, primarily in the vicinity of Arlington, Falls Church, and Alexandria. Many Tweeps tweeted the obligatory “what does it mean?” refrain in reference to the now legendary “double rainbow” YouTube video that went viral in 2010.

By Jason Samenow  |  10:20 AM ET, 05/05/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, Photography, Science, Latest

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 04/04/2011

Another record low for Arctic sea ice

Each month seems to bring new evidence of the transformation underway in the rapidly warming Arctic. Late last month, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced that the maximum Arctic sea ice extent for 2011, which occurred on March 7, tied for the lowest such value since satellites began making observations in 1979.

By Andrew Freedman  |  10:45 AM ET, 04/04/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, Science

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 03/31/2011

NOAA warns weather forecasts will suffer from budget cuts

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sounding the alarm on budget cuts, telling Congress that a failure to restore funding for development of the next generation of polar orbiting satellites, known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), would significantly reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts, particularly medium-range forecasts, and may have an outsized impact on forecasts for extreme events, such as blizzards or hurricanes.

By Andrew Freedman  |  11:15 AM ET, 03/31/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Freedman, Science, Snowmageddon, Latest

Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 03/23/2011

Computer models aid Japanese nuclear response

As the Japanese nuclear crisis continues to unfold, the airborne spread of radioactive materials from the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power station continues to be a key concern of Japanese and American officials. To help determine the path that any hazardous emissions are likely to take, scientists are employing specialized computer models, known as “trajectory models,” which can take into account factors such as winds and temperatures aloft to determine how high a parcel of air is likely to climb, how far it may go, and where it may be within certain timeframes.

By Andrew Freedman  |  10:15 AM ET, 03/23/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Freedman, Health, Latest, International Weather, Technology, Science

Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 03/22/2011

Harp seals spotted along Delmarva coast

Once a rare sight even in New England, harp seals native to the east coast of Canada and Greenland - have been seen this year as far south as the Delmarva and North Carolina beaches according to reports.

By Jason Samenow  |  02:00 PM ET, 03/22/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Climate Change, Science

Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 03/18/2011

Super moon Saturday evening

Saturday evening, the biggest full moon since 1993 will rise from the eastern horizon. The moon will appear large because it’s reaching its “perigee”, the closest approach to earth in its orbit. According to NASA, perigree moons are 14% bigger and 30% brighter than moons on the “apogee” side of the moon’s orbit, when it is farthest away from earth. What’s special about Saturday’s perigee moon is that it’s almost coinciding with a full moon, a relatively rare occurrence. Some refer to this coincidence as a “supermoon.”

By Jason Samenow  |  10:25 AM ET, 03/18/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science

Posted at 06:45 PM ET, 03/17/2011

Image of day: Sub-tropical storm Arani

Earlier in the week, a rare sub-tropical storm formed in the Southern Atlantic off the coast of Brazil. Named Arani, it never threatened land. Arani is just the third storm with tropical characteristics to develop in this region since 2004.

By Jason Samenow  |  06:45 PM ET, 03/17/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Tropical Weather

Posted at 08:22 PM ET, 03/16/2011

Image of day: Japan dries out

Although snow and rain fell over Japan yesterday, complicating the tsunami and earthquake clean-up effort, satellite imagery (above) shows the responsible storm pulling away to the northeast over the Pacific. In the storm’s wake, flow from the northwest and high pressure is building in.

By Jason Samenow  |  08:22 PM ET, 03/16/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Environment

Posted at 03:06 PM ET, 03/16/2011

Animation of the dozens of Japan earthquakes

The YouTube video belows shows a time lapse of all of the earthquakes that occurred between March 9 and March 14. The “big one” occurs at one minute and 17 seconds into the video. The tectonic flurry is jaw-dropping.

By Jason Samenow  |  03:06 PM ET, 03/16/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Environment, Science

Posted at 11:50 AM ET, 03/16/2011

Are nuclear reactors vulnerable to solar storms?

The subject of nuclear power plants and solar storms was not what I planned for the second part of the series: Space weather: Are we ready for a solar strike? But, in light of of the nuclear disaster in Japan, caused by loss of external and backup electrical power needed for the reactors’ cooling system, it occurred to me that renewed discussion on the safety of nuclear power ought to include concern about the prospects of widespread and long-lasting outages from solar storms.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:50 AM ET, 03/16/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Environment, Science

Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 03/15/2011

Risk of nuclear radiation in U.S. from Japan low

Some have raised the question whether nuclear radiation from Japan could be transmitted by upper level winds across the Pacific and reach the U.S. West Coast or Alaska. The answer is possibly, but not in sufficient quantities to pose a meaningful risk to public health.

By Jason Samenow  |  01:30 PM ET, 03/15/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Environment

Posted at 07:15 PM ET, 03/14/2011

Imagery compilation: Japan earthquake & tsunami

Over the last several days, no image, set of images, video or set of videos can do justice to the catastrophic series of events that have unfolded in Japan. In lieu of an image of the day, I’ve aggregated some of the most dramatic images, videos, and galleries from around the web to post in one place here. They are worth viewing if only to remind us how cruel nature can be and to help us better understand the trauma.

By Jason Samenow  |  07:15 PM ET, 03/14/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Photography

Posted at 08:00 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Video of day: Tsunami wave height animation

This animation shows the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research’s wave height estimation for the March 11, 2011 tsunami that started off the coast of Japan and has placed the entire Pacific basin on alert.

By Jason Samenow  |  08:00 PM ET, 03/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Environment, Science

Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 03/11/2011

The “SuperMoon” and the Japan earthquake

On March 19, the moon’s orbit will make its closest approach to Earth in 18 years while at the same time be in full phase. Such a coincidence has been named a “SuperMoon” by astrologer Richard Nolle. As entertainingly chronicled by John Metcalfe over at TBD, Nolle predicts all kinds of weather and natural hazard mayhem, including strong earthquakes, in conjunction with the Supermoon. So the questions that emerge are: 1) Is there any legitimate science linking the Supermoon and extreme natural hazards? and, 2) Did the upcoming Supermoon play a role in this morning’s horrific earthquake in Japan?

By Jason Samenow  |  01:45 PM ET, 03/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Environment, Science

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 03/11/2011

The tsunami’s path and progress to Hawaii, California, Oregon and other U.S. sites

The extraordinary earthquake that devastated parts of coastal Japan this morning has triggered tsunami activity currently propagating across the Pacific ocean. At the same time, a flood of information is pushing through cyberspace that could easily overwhelm anyone seeking the basic facts. Let’s break down what we know based on information from sources we trust.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:30 AM ET, 03/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Environment, Science

Posted at 05:02 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Glory climate satellite fails: information & reactions

A rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite is in the Pacific Ocean after a failed launch attempt, NASA officials said Friday.

By Jason Samenow  |  05:02 PM ET, 03/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Climate Change, Latest, Science

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Should global warming send us to the bunker?

Last Sunday, the Washington Post ran a provocative essay on the front page of the “Outlook” section by climate activist Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. In it, Tidwell reveals the lengths to which he is going to prepare himself and his family for what he sees as the now inevitable consequences of climate change. For example, he is stockpiling food, testing guns, and invested in an emergency generator - all in an effort to stave off social unrest that he sees coming down the pike due to climate change-related extreme weather events. The essay is surprising - and completely wrong - in two main respects.

By Andrew Freedman  |  12:30 PM ET, 03/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Freedman, Climate Change, Latest, Science

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/07/2011

Should global warming send us to the bunker?

Last Sunday, the Washington Post ran a provocative essay on the front page of the “Outlook” section by climate activist Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. In it, Tidwell reveals the lengths to which he is going to prepare himself and his family for what he sees as the now inevitable consequences of climate change. For example, he is stockpiling food, testing guns, and invested in an emergency generator - all in an effort to stave off social unrest that he sees coming down the pike due to climate change-related extreme weather events. The essay is surprising - and completely wrong - in two main respects.

By Andrew Freedman  |  12:30 PM ET, 03/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Freedman, Climate Change, Science, Latest

Posted at 06:30 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Weather forecast delivered by toothpaste?

Would you buy a toothpaste that changed flavor based on the weather? One day, you may be able to.

By Jason Samenow  |  06:30 PM ET, 01/13/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 12/29/2010

The No-mageddon D.C. snow hole from space

We showed you a crude illustration of eastern U.S. snow cover Monday after the "Beach Blizzard, Beltway Bust." Now see it from space.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:15 AM ET, 12/29/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science, Science

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/21/2010

In focus: The heat & humidity double whammy

Back on July 6 and 7, when we suffered through the hottest days of the summer thus far, you may recall it wasn't all that humid. Though Reagan National sizzled to 102 both of those days and BWI touched a jaw-dropping 105 on 7/6, afternoon relative humidity values averaged just over 20% and dew points were in the relatively comfortable mid-to-upper 50s. Compare those conditions to what we're predicting for this Saturday - when we think highs will reach the upper 90s to near 100 but relative humidity values will likely be closer to 40% with dew points around 70. Due to the added humidity, the coming heat may feel more oppressive than the record-breaking heat of just two weeks ago.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:00 AM ET, 07/21/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 04/26/2010

Tornado Alley: What's that???

Is there even justification for describing any single contiguous region as tornado alley (here)?

By Steve Tracton  |  11:00 AM ET, 04/26/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science

Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Celebrate Weather & Climate With Year of Science

* Our Full Forecast | UnitedCast | Meet Tropical Storm Danny * Confused about science, or want to learn more about it? Year of Science 2009 is a national, year-long celebration to improve public understanding about how science works, why it matters and who scientists are. Each month this year,...

By Ann Posegate  |  01:45 PM ET, 08/26/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science

Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 03/25/2009

Movie Trailer: Owning The Weather (and Climate)

* Rain on the Way: Full Forecast | What Wx Features Interest You? * Whether you think controlling, or "geoengineering," the weather or climate is a good idea or bad idea -- the American Meteorological Society is rather wary (pdf) -- the following movie trailer for the documentary "Owning The...

By Capital Weather Gang  |  12:15 PM ET, 03/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 02/25/2009

Citizen Science & Global Change: What You Can Do

Wx and the City * Getting Warmer: Full Forecast | More Pathetic: Winter or Wizards? * A Missouri farmer and son collected hailstones in spring 1975 for Project Dustorm, a collaborative project to examine thunderstorms and hail formation. Courtesy University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Global warming. There -- I said...

By Ann Posegate  |  12:30 PM ET, 02/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science, Science

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/10/2008

The Science and Wonder of Snowflakes

Wx and the City * Mild Showers, Then Cold Rain: Full Forecast | Weather Wall * Courtesy UCAR With the D.C. area's first dusting of snow this past weekend and the slight possibility of more flakes this week, I got to thinking: What's so great about the white stuff? Is...

By Ann Posegate  |  11:00 AM ET, 12/10/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science, Science

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 11/21/2008

Rogue Waves: They're Real, & They're Spectacular

* Snowflakes Outside Your Window? Full Forecast | Photo Contest Winners * Estimated at 60 ft. high, a rogue wave off of Charleston, S.C., moves away from a ship after crashing into it a short time earlier. Courtesy NOAA. I recently learned I might serve this spring as a subject...

By Steve Tracton  |  11:15 AM ET, 11/21/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 08/27/2008

Free Radicals! (and Lung Cancer)

Wx and the City By Ann Posegate Free radicals! Free radicals! No, I'm not talking about the 100+ protestors who were arrested outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday. I'm referring to atoms and molecules that can cause lung cancer. As if we didn't have enough environmental health...

By Capital Weather Gang  |  01:00 PM ET, 08/27/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science, Science

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 04/23/2008

Bad Forecast? Blame the Butterflies

Farewell to Lorenz, the man behind the "butterfly effect" By Steve Tracton "Don't blame us. Blame the butterflies" -- maybe that's what meteorologists should say when they miss a forecast. One person who most certainly would have appreciated such an excuse is Ed Lorenz. It was Lorenz who was one...

By Capital Weather Gang  |  11:15 AM ET, 04/23/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science, Science

Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 01/08/2008

Sunspot Sparks Space Weather

Bored with the Washington area's warm winter weather? At least things are picking up in space. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that a new sunspot could spell magnetic storms and solar winds capable of disrupting everything from power grids to ATMs....

By Dan Stillman  |  01:45 PM ET, 01/08/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Science