Wednesday, December 31, 2008

History And Honors

I am proud to announce that the Big Sky Convection blog has been chosen among the "100 Best Blogs for Earth Science Scholars" according to the blog.

You can find the listing as #48 on the list in a section for Meteorology blogs. I'm honored that this blog is listed among exclusive company: chaser/blogs such as Carlson Chasers Blog by the Carlson clan, Steve Miller (Oklahoma)'s HamWx, Mike Umscheid's High Plains Drifter, and Jon van de Grift's Perilous Planet

Thank you for the honor!

This started me thinking about how I wish I would have kept an active meteorology blog running as long as I have been online. When my family first got America Online in 1995, I immediately found the "weather chat". I made a few friends through this chat room and began publishing a newsletter which I called the "LepWx&News" (the "Lep" coming from my screen name at the time, Leporinis). This newsletter was sent out to the e-mail address of people I met through the chat and personal contacts. It included personal weather stories, some climatological information, and a few pictures.

That newsletter eventually went by the wayside and I would occasionally include meteorological discussion in my personal blogs but it wasn't until moving to Colorado that I had the opportunity (mainly due to proximity) to chase storms. Sure, I did that in Montana ... usually driving out to an couple preferred overlooks to experience the storms as they rolled in, but it's different here. Being here in Colorado, I definitely feel more like part of the meteorological community. Going to school and completing my degree in meteorology has helped, but back in Montana, aside from the local TV weatherman, I didn't know a soul who was interested in meteorology. So, with this blog, I'm reaching out, trying to expand my knowledge and opportunities. If I can help one person be more interested in meteorology or just teach someone something, than the purpose is served. I suppose this is a great way to end this year and embark upon a new one. Maybe tomorrow I'll put out a "looking forward to 2009 blog". For right now, I'm on my lunch break at work and have limited time.

So, a bit about the weather:
The Front Range of the Rockies experienced quite the wind storm on Monday night / Tuesday morning. Here are a few obs I pulled from the NWS page:

0706 AM NON-TSTM WND GST 2 N LONGMONT 40.20N 105.11W

It was 55ºF when I got home from my trip on Monday night. The temperature remained in the mid to upper 50's until yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon when a cold front of sorts backed into the mountains. The airmass behind it wasn't much colder, so to speak, but it prevented the Chinook winds from keeping the area warm. In fact, we cooled from 59º to the upper 30's before the sun went down. It was ... dramatic.

And finally, a little peek into the tropics (which are pretty quiet right now!).

Satellite imagery used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc. Click for larger images.

PS: I will try and get some photos from my trip to Montana up soon. Hope you all have a nice New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

To Wrestle The Wind

I'm back in Colorful Colorado. My trip to Montana was great. We had at least four different dendritic snowfall events including one on Christmas Day (talk about a "white" Christmas!)

Travel could have been a lot worse. On the way up, I only had to contend with wind in Wyoming (north of Cheyenne) and then again near Livingston, Montana (with blowing snow). The passes in south central Montana were snow packed but not icy. On the way back to Colorado, the snow ended in Butte just as I was leaving. The sun came out and made Homestake Pass slushy, but not slippery. The roads were dry after that and I only dealt with insane wind once south of Buffalo, Wyoming. Checking obs along the path, I was battling 30-50mph crosswinds at times! No wonder my arms are sore. There wasn't any blowing snow in Wyoming ... just blowing dust. It was very hard to see at times.

When I left Denver, it was cold. We had been battling inversions for almost the entire month of December. When I pulled up at my apartment this evening, the temperature was 55ºF with stiff southwesterly winds. Finally, some of the snow has had a chance to melt.

Anyway, that about wraps up the weather side of things. I took a lot of pictures but haven't had much time since being home (only an hour now) and really haven't gone through them. So, I'll share my favorite one since it came out well and I don't really have to do anything save for slapping a watermark on.

Bell/Diamond Mine (Gallows/Head) Frame
Butte-Silver Bow County, Montana
10:47PM MST December 28th, 2008
(click for larger image)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

I'm off to bed now ... or in a few minutes anyway. When I wake up at 5:20, I'll be embarking on my annual journey to visit family in Montana for the holidays. It's an 800 mile, 11 hour drive ... nothing for "never overnighter" storm chaser. I'll be checking in periodically (either here or on Facebook). Otherwise, I'll be back early next week.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. For me, Christmas is about spending time with those that you love and being appreciative of life. May you all be blessed.


Denver Weather, Severe Probs, and Australian Tornado

Last night at 8PM (MDT), the temperature outside my apartment was 20ºF. Two hours later, it was 36ºF (10PM). While KAPA had been in the 30's all afternoon and into the evening, other stations such as KBKF and KDEN were still inverted. I had made pleas to the universe in general yesterday to have the southwesterlies break the inversion just for a spell. For a brief period last night, they did just that. It was down in the 20's again this morning when I awoke.

We had a brief burst of snow here near Centennial Airport today. I did see some cumulus this afternoon which made apparent the instability today. It made me think of much warmer times ...

Speaking of warmer times, I'm keeping my eyes on the trough portrayed by the models that should plow its way through the south this coming weekend. The models aren't quite lined up yet and vary a little run to run, so I'm not going to call anything yet. Indications are that the Gulf of Mexico will open up, though.

Here's a look at the CAPE on the WRF 84hr. (Friday evening)

Current tropical activity:

Looks like Billy might make a name for himself. After an initial landfall in Australia, he's emerging out into favorable strengthening conditions. We'll have to keep an eye on him.

Satellite imagery used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc. Click for larger images.

And finally, a nice tornadic storm is caught on camera in Australia:
Link to large picture.
Discussion on The Australian Severe Weather forum.
Canberra Times article.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Late December Severe Event?

Well, well, well, what have we here? Chaser friends are abuzz with a late December chase possibility. I will, of course, be enjoying the company of my family seemingly above the Arctic Circle in Montana. If the models verify, we will have a strong weather-maker crossing the CONUS. It looks squall line-ish, but you can't rule out some spin-ups, especially if we can work out some supes just ahead of it. It will be interesting to watch for the next few days.

SPC even has a Day 5 out on the situation already. I haven't seen one of those in at least a month.

And one final thought ... current tropical activity.

Satellite imagery used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc. Click for larger images.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cold Cut Switchblade

Well, it's getting a little chilly here again tonight in Denver. As it stands, it's 16ºF with a light breeze at my apartment. The sun was out most of the day, but it never really got much above 30ºF. While that doesn't seem all that cold, the wind sure had a knack for cutting right through me.

Montana is seeing very cold weather again. Temperatures dropped below -20ºF in many locales yesterday and have returned that low already tonight. The GFS and WRF did not show the quick drop in temperature tonight for the area. I wonder if they are having trouble with the timing of the system in the northwest. The warming in Montana just doesn't seem to have begun just yet. In fact, there are some readings below -25ºF currently and even one (Kevin, MT) at -31ºF.

Last night (Friday, the 19th) was the third installment of Convergence! The AMS Club at Metro State was kind enough to host the event and it took a slightly different turn than normal. Instead of just hanging out at the bar and swapping stories, we had a forum to share media. It was a lot of fun (-beer).

I was asked to fill some time so I did a presentation on the Alta Vista Tornado. More specifically, I wanted to talk about how sometimes storm chasing is just about going out and working with what you have. It seems like a lot of attention is paid to the moderate to high risk events. Well, in this case, we saw something happen one day, saw the same pattern the next day, and got lucky. I also wanted to show people that a non-traditional storm (in this case, a VERY LP-supercell) can still tornado under the right circumstances. I tried to cover this as best I could given the documentation that I had. However, my power-point presentation did not make it to the event intact. Unfortunately, I only linked the diagrams and pictures instead of inserting them. So, of course, nothing showed up. Luckily, I was able to talk my way through with some stuff I had uploaded to the infobahn and a couple secondary things that I had remembered to bring. Hopefully people enjoyed the talk.

Tony Laubach was up next and he presented the May 29th chapter of his latest chasing DVD. I had already seen it, so I knew what to expect (though thoroughly enjoyed it for the third time!), but it was cool to hear the oohs and ahhs from the audience.

Next up, we got to see some of the May 22nd chapter of the latest Carlson Chasers DVD. I had seen some bits and pieces before but it was nice to see the full presentation. I still need to pick up a copy of their DVD.

Cameron Redwine then wowed us with some slide of his storm photography. He doesn't have much material online or I'd link him, but he has some fantastic shots. He's been chasing in Colorado since 1997 and has documented completely with use of a film camera. It definitely gave me an appreciation for the film quality.

Kendall LaRoche was next and he showed some pictures of his front porch storm spotting, which was cool. I had the pleasure of bringing him along on his very first storm chase back in April. You should have seen his face the first time we saw lightning on that particular day.

Finally, Dr. Richard Wagner (from Metro State) did a presentation of below-zero climatology for Denver and finished it up by talking El Niño and La Niña trends here.

There were some new faces there, which was nice. Some of them were chasers and some of them not. All in all, it was a fun night.

The next event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 31st.

A couple days ago, I promised some shots from our grauple/thundersnow event. Though I didn't hear thunder, there were several reports in the metro along with some lightning strikes showing up.

I've enjoyed putting the information on the tropics in my posts for the past week. For some reason, the last couple years have seen me more excited about the Southern Hemisphere season than the more "local" events. I guess if you're reading this, let me know if you like seeing the tropical weather on here.

Satellite imagery used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc. Click for larger images.

And finally, Michael Carlson posted this link on Storm Track recently. I figured I'd share it as well.

The Big Picture (2008 Year in Photographs)
Part I
Part II
Part III


Friday, December 19, 2008

December Convergence! & The Tropics

December's Convergence! is tonight.

It will be held at the Tivoli Student Union Building on Auraria Campus. I will be doing a short presentation on the Alta Vista Tornado. It's nothing special really, I'm just trying to help fill time. It will focus on some of the mesoscale features and be filled with pictures and video.

Starts at 5:30PM tonight (hopefully I can get there on time!).

Did I mention free food and drink?

Also, I've been enjoying the tropical cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere, so here is an update.

Satellite imagery used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc. Click for larger images.

UPDATE on yesterday: The snow came quick yesterday and was gone. There were some reports of thundersnow east of town and lightning detection did show a couple strikes.

I'm not sure how much updating I will be doing over the next week and a half. I have a busy weekend ahead and two long days in the office, Monday & Tuesday. I will be traveling to Montana for Wednesday through Monday and my parents have dial-up. :)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nature Is Go'n'a Get Ya'

Nothing ground-breaking to say today, so I'll let the pictures and video do the talking.

I stumbled upon the following graphic on AOL News yesterday and it gave me a little chuckle. There have been several other versions of this map published in the past 24 hours, but I think this is one of the more simple ones to look at and understand. It basically describes how likely you are to be "dead by nature" by region.

The cold air has moderated over the last couple of days. The storm system that brought snow to Las Vegas yesterday has also plowed over most of the west. Everybody seems to be getting snow. We have a few showers in the Denver area right now, but nothing to write home about.

The situation developing in the midwest and Ohio Valley should be interesting over the next few days. Death, destruction via ice and snow. Prepare for those headlines.

... but, the cold air will return to the northern Rockies as exemplified in this forecast pulled from the Butte, Montana NWS point forecast page.

Looking in on the warmer latitudes ...

Satellite image used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc.

On the lighter side, this was posted over on Storm Track today.

Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias

We just had a nice graupel shower a minute ago. I took some pictures but don't have my cable with me. Hopefully I'll have them up tomorrow.

Quite the wave of showers that have just come off the mountains. We could be seeing some heavy snow with embedded small to moderately sized graupel. I wouldn't be all that surprised to see reports of thundersnow. Lightning is quiet for the time being, but I'll keep my eyes out.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cold Tropical Explosions

Okay, a couple little updates today.

Going back and looking at climatological data, I found that the actual lowest temperature in the lower 48 (at least) on December 15th was -39ºF at a COOP observing station along the Canadian Border (6N Simpson, Montana).

On the 16th, both Harlem and Chinook, Montana reached -35ºF (as well as Longville Minnesota as I previously reported.

And finally, here are some not-so-cold things to consider...

In the tropics:
04S (South Indian Ocean)
40kts / 993mb

Click for larger image. Satellite image used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc.

And a giant explosion on the sun. (posted by someone over on Storm Track)

Thanks for shopping,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Cold Than You Can Shake A Popcicle At

Well, how about another update on the cold?

-Denver tied a 111-year-old record by dropping to -8ºF this morning.

-Also, Butte, Montana crushed a record low maximum for December 15th at -9ºF. The previous record was 0ºF.

-The coldest spot in the nation this morning was Longville, Minnesota at -35ºF.

Select Montana minimums for December 16th:
-28º Jordan
-27º Cut Bank
-27º Wolf Point
-26º Glendive
-25º Glasgow
-24º Dillon
-24º Great Falls
-23º Lewistown
-22º Bozeman
-22º Butte
-22º Havre
-22º Sidney
-21º Baker
-20º Miles City
-17º Helena
-17º Malmstrom Air Force Base (Great Falls)
-17º Livingston
-16º Kalispell
-15º Billings
-15º Missoula

If the GFS verifies, we're looking at another cold weekend in the northern Rockies and adjacent plains.

And now, some pretty picture (click for larger) from contributors.

The first two are courtesy of Alan Clark of Rock Springs, Wyoming. Fantastic shots of halos and a moon dog. According to Alan, the pictures were 8 second exposures taken at 100 ISO. They were taken in Rock Springs at 6:30PM on December 11th. Thanks Alan!

The next photo comes from Cassie Robinson in Fargo, North Dakota. I believe it was taken early on the 15th.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Continuing Cold

Well, since I was tracking temperatures in Montana yesterday, I figured I'd update a few today. I'm just including the METAR sites this time as there were not outstanding intermediate readings.

Note, these are not official climatological lows for any specific period. They simply are the lowest reported reading or reported minimum within the last 24 hours ending today at 22Z.

-33º Havre (with wind chills approaching -60ºF!)
-32º Glasgow
-32º Jordan
-29º Glendive
-29º Lewistown
-28º Wolf Point
-27º Dillon
-26º Baker
-26º Great Falls
-26º Sydney
-25º Cut Bank
-23º Miles City
-19º Billings
-17º Butte
-16º Helena

The -33ºF in Havre was the lowest observation that I could find. That is cold!


Not to be out done, Denver experienced some cold this morning as well. I was coming back from a graduation party at * ahem *, four this morning and I noticed that it seemed "Butte-cold" out. What do I mean by "Butte-cold"? Well, growing up in Butte, Montana, during similar arctic air masses, the cold air would often sink into the valleys of southwestern Montana creating extremely cold pockets of air. I've seen as low as -48ºF and been outside at -46ºF (imagine me sitting in my living room in back in the late 90's, preparing to go out and deliver newspapers when turning on the Weather Channel and seeing THAT on the local forecast). It felt similar in Denver this morning as the cold air hugged the lower areas in the Front Range. It was cool to see all the refineries in Commerce City and their billowing steam plumes coming to an abrupt stop at the top of the inversion. One refinery had a nice flame on the top which was flickering and illuminating the "cloud deck" almost making it look like there were explosions occurring. It was very odd.

Speaking of inversions, check out the sounding from this morning!

Click for larger image.

Now let's talk temperatures...

Minimums from official stations in the Denver area this morning:
-19º Denver International Airport
-13º Buckley Air Force Base
-11º Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport
-9º Centennial Airport

Minimums from elsewhere along the Front Range and Northeast Colorado:
-20º Greeley
-18º Fort Collins
-16º Sidney, NE
-15º Akron
-13º Cheyenne, WY
-9º Pueblo
-8º Colorado Springs

UDFCD Mesonet Minimums:
-21º Brighton North
-18º Brighton
-17º Pump Station 3 (E Aurora)
-16º Button Rock (Boulder County)
-13º Louisville Lake (Louisville)
-13º Urban Farm (Stapleton-Denver)
-10º Highlands Ranch
-9º Aurora Reservoir
-9º Aurora Town Hall
-9º Quincy Reservoir
-8º Diamond Hill (W Downtown Denver)
-8º Ward (Boulder County)
-6º Squaw Mountain (Clear Creek County)*
-1º Hiwan Golf Club (Jefferson County)*
2º Elbert*
5º Cal-Wood Ranch (Boulder County)*
5º Sugarloaf (Boulder County)*
7º Blue Mountain (Jefferson County)*
11º Castle Rock*
* stations at higher elevations either in the foothills or on the Palmer Divide

Wow, that's cold for Denver! The low at the airport of -19º smashes the record by 15ºF!!

Elsewhere in the world:
Click for larger image.

This is Typhoon 27W Dolphin. Figured that might warm you all up just a bit.

Satellite image used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Enter: The Cold

Last evening, I was sitting a long table celebrating Tony Laubach's graduation (double major) from Metro State when the weather outside turned frightful! We had enjoyed a high in the mid 50's yesterday, but while the revelry took place, a strong front plowed down the Front Range, dropping temperatures forty degrees or so and providing lift for some snow showers. While I didn't end up with much snow (not measured, but estimated at 2-3"), the wind blew it around into some nice drifts. Not to mention the fact that it bottomed out at 0ºF at my apartment. (Denver International Airport saw -3ºF).

The sun is finally out now ... just in time to head to more parties of the holiday and graduation variety. But first, let's talk about the cold farther to the north.

I've done an unofficial minimum temperature survey of various stations in Montana and have come up with the following list. Keep in mind that quality control may be lacking as many of these observations came from Montana's SNOTEL and other various mesonets in Big Sky Country.

METAR sites:
-25º Lewistown
-24º Cut Bank
-23º Great Falls
-20º Havre

Rocky Mountain Front Area:
-34º Waterton National Park Gate (ALBERTA, CANADA)
-30º Mount Lockhart
-28º Badger Pass
-27º Browning
-26º Many Glacier
-25º Sweetgrass
-24º East Glacier Park
-24º Saint Mary

Central Montana Mountains (Big, Little Belt Mountains, Crazy Mountains):
-33º Crystal Lake
-30º Pichfoot Creek
-30º Boulder Mountain

Southwest Montana Mountains
-25º Big Hole Pass

Right now, the colder readings are starting to come from far NE Montana and the Dakotas. Temperatures are still falling in the area with strong winds. Wind chills are touching -50ºF in some areas. Blizzard warnings have been dropped in Montana, but remain in the Dakotas.

So congrats Tony!

... and it's currently 4.6ºF and sunny here!


Hawai'i Tornado Warning

Someone on Storm Track mentioned that there was a tornado warning for the island of Kauai, Hawai'i yesterday. Immediately, I thought waterspout, but by checking out the radar, I'm convinced otherwise. There was some wind damage reported (click here) but no confirmed tornado. Anyway, I've included the warning text below as well as some radar images:

1241 PM HST SAT DEC 13 2008








Base Reflectivity (0.5º)

The next three are consecutive storm relative velocity scans at 0.5º.

Wow! Nice little couplet there!

Radar images used with permission; courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc.

PS: Update on snow and cold possibly later today. Also, some awesome moon halo images sent in by a friend.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Eve

Well, well, well ... I'm sitting pretty here in Denver. Right now, temps are in the 50's and air is descending off the mountains giving us some strong southwesterly winds. There is some turbulence in the lee of the mountains giving us a few clouds, but mostly we're just enjoying a partly cloudy and reasonably warm day.

Other places aren't fairing so well. I'm "nowcasting", if you will, for my parents, who are driving from Boise, Idaho to Butte, Montana today. They just encountered a strong snow band north of Idaho Falls which is attributed to a strong surface low there (it's quite wrapped up on visible satellite). The road ahead won't be anything easy, however, as most observations along the path are between 4 and 7" of new snow ... and a howling north to northeast wind. In fact, temperatures in southwest Montana have dropped below zero.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Montana, the storm is just cranking up. I checked in with my cousins in Billings and they report plenty of new snow and plenty of wind. Earlier today, SPC issued a "blizzard" mesoscale discussion for the area. In fact, most of Montana and the Dakotas are under a blizzard warning for the next day or so.

In the wake of this storm, which should continue to pound the northern tier, the cold air will settle in. Many locations will see -20ºF to -30ºF with wind chills even lower. This looks to stay around for a while as well, especially if the GFS verifies. The upper level pattern really doesn't modify in the 180hour time frame, with the persistent trough in the west and ridge in the east allowing the cold air masses to advect down along the eastern slope of the Rockies and the northern plains. Even at the end of the week, the GFS is showing lows in Montana back to -30ºF again.

A little further to the south, Colorado may see a few quick inches tonight and brief showers of snow in the coming days as little perturbations ripple in the flow. However, the western slope seems to have more heavy snow potential.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Hoobler says name it: "______".

It's been a bit since I've updated, so I figured I'd stop in an let everyone know that I'm still alive.

Let's talk about the weather!

We had what I would almost call an "outbreak" of severe storms in the southeast on Tuesday ... and then yesterday, snow! Snow in Houston ... snow in New Orleans ... up to 8-10" in SW Mississippi! Quite the storm.

(snow still visible on satellite)

Now ... we have more excitement coming down the pike. The east looks locked in a ridge for the next few days, while the west (especially the northwest) will see persistent upper level troughing. Did I mention it is going to get cold along the northern tier? I can almost here the "I'm not a meteorologist, I just play one on TV" mets screaming ARCTIC OUTBREAK!!!!

Well ... I suppose they won't be too far off:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Denver Cyclone Snow & December Convergence! Announced

I woke up to a dusting of snow yesterday morning as a cold front plowing south along the mountains gave us a brief upslope event. A secondary surge was forecast for today, bringing with it a deeper upslope and a better chance for snow. I wasn't paying too much attention to anything until I heard on the radio this morning that the Weather Service had suddenly upped snow predictions.

When I got to work and had a look at things, I saw this:
(click for larger image)

Hello Winter-time Denver Cyclone! (I guess it is still Fall, but still...) The Cyclone tends to form a day or two after passage of a Canadian cold front when the surface flow generally has a south and east component. We were a little more east than south today, but the return flow along the foothills gave us enough spin to categorize the cyclone. It was gorgeous on radar, with a nice convergence boundary setting up from DIA curving south and west toward Elbert. Very cool to see today. I don't have any specific links ... but do a search for "denver cyclone" or "Edward J. Szoke" and you should turn up some good results (if you're looking for more info).

Anyway, it seems that the forecast may have been increased as a result of this formation, which can amplify precipitation (and mesoscale vertical motion) in the area. At my apartment, we saw about 3-4" and we're a little on the chilly side at 13ºF currently.

... okay, so I went out and checked ... 3.5" of very light, fluffy snow. I don't have my gauge set up at my new apartment, but I'd estimate the water content at somewhere between 1/15 and 1/20.

ALSO! I'm happy to announce that Marta Nelson, who succeeded me as president of Metro State's Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society when I graduated, has organized a big get-together on December 19th. This will be the December "Convergence!" and I am going to cancel the January 3rd meeting. This Convergence! will be held at the school in a large-capacity room with plenty of guests and probably an opportunity to show video. More details to come.


Radar image courtesy of IPS Meteostar Inc.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Convergence! (November) Success

Had another great night at our monthly weather-people meeting. We had some new faces this time to go along with the old and weathered faces such as my own. :)

I met some old friends early that couldn't stay late at 7PM and before I knew it, it was a quarter past one! It's easy to get lost in the stories and in the company of good people.

Next event: January 3rd

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Denver Area Snow (November 28)

So, we're getting some snow ... I almost went to bed but at the last minute, decided to go out and see if I could get a good vantage to take some pictures or video. The pictures came out pretty well, but the video is boring (cars driving on wet highway ... zzzz) Here are a couple select photos.

Unfortunately, when I got home, I slipped on the grass and landed on a raised manhole cover. Most of my weight went onto my left elbow/arm and left thigh. In the process, I smashed my phone (the screen is screwed up now) and really hurt my arm. It's not broken ... but my hand is half-numb and my elbow is in a good deal of pain.

.... still trying to decide if it was worth it or not.

PS: The photos were time exposures, ISO 80, F8.0. I used the flash on purpose to get snowflakes 'in the act'

Friday, November 28, 2008

Incredible Brisbane, Australia Storm Video

Severe storms ravaged the Brisbane, Australia area on November 16th. This is by far the best video I've seen of the event:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Fire Of Sunset

Wow, talk about dry! KBJC had a nice katabatic wind event this morning, mixing the already dry-as-a-bone atmosphere down to 1% humidity. The temperature was 57ºF with a dewpoint of -38ºF ... that's a dewpoint depression of 95º. I don't think I've ever seen that far of a spread before. That's one of those days where you take off your sweater and start a forest fire!

KBJC (Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport) is dead-center in the image below (click for larger)

High clouds moved over the area over night, leaving bleak, overcast conditions throughout the day. In addition to the high cirrus, a huge wave cloud set up. I kept reminding myself all day to make sure and catch the sunset.

By the time sunset was approaching, the wave started to disintegrate, which saddened me. However, some nice lenticulars had shaped up to the north. I had camera and tripod handy, so I got up on the roof and started taking shots. I went completely into manual mode on my point-and-shoot. This was the first time I've done that for anything except lightning. It was kind of exciting and I experimented a lot before running out of batteries. (I thought I had an extra pair, but did not.) I took quite a few photos, however, and I'll share a couple.

Sorry about the horrendously off-center placement of the watermarks.

Tweaked contrast, saturation, brightness, and added 'watermark'.


Monday, November 24, 2008


The current dewpoint depression at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport is 86ºF!!!

Current temp: 59ºF, 2% humidity = -25ºF Td

Here is the raw METAR:

KBJC 242147Z 30006KT 60SM FEW250 15/M32 A3020 =

We're also seeing temps in the 60's around the metro area with humidities between 3-6%. KBJC (Rocky Mountain) is situated on a hill in Broomfield, Colroado. Winds are out of the northwest right now (downslope), causing a little extra drying.

Close to work at KAPA (Centennial Airport), we're sitting at 64ºF with 4% humidity. That gives us a dewpoint of -13ºF (Td depression= 77ºF)


(sorry for the weathernerd excitement)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Colorado County Tornado Frequency

According to the map above (provided by NWS Denver), the top 10 Colorado counties as far as tornado frequency are as follows:

1. Weld County
2. Adams County
3. Washington County
4. Lincoln County
5. El Paso County
6. Kit Carson County
7. Arapahoe County
8. Elbert County
9. Logan County
10.Yuma County

However, when divided by the area of each county, the list changes dramatically:
(previous ranks in parenthesis)

1. Adams County (2)
2. Arapahoe County (7)
3. Denver County (25)
4. Douglas County (14)
5. Weld County (1)
6. Sedgwick County (19)
7. Phillips County (17)
8. Morgan County (12)
9. Washington County (3)
10.Elbert County (8)

This, of course is assuming that all tornadoes that form are reported.

I would like to go back and reanalyze using an average population density over the time period listed and further rank the counties by how likely any existing tornado is to be reported by the public. Of course, Denver area will be forever skewed by the "non-supercell tornado alley"!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just Wait A Second

You know, I really hate the expression "If you don't like the weather in _____, what a second." It seems that every time I meet someone from some state, they say that like it's the secret thing to say about their home state. If you don't like the weather in Colorado ... bah bah ... but with that said ... * ahem * ... what a change is in store for us here in Colorado!

First, let me talk a little about the warm weather here in the West. We've had a persistent ridge for the past week or so, bring unseasonably warm temperatures (and giving those nice Santa Ana winds in California that the fires love). There was some wonder as to whether Denver would set its all-time record November high yesterday (the 18th). We did set a record ... but were a couple shy of the all time:

415 AM MST WED NOV 19 2008




Also, in Butte, Montana, we saw record "heat" (yes, I'm pretty much focused on Denver and Butte as far as records are concerned.)

1240 AM MST TUE NOV 19 2008



A cold front pushed through here in Denver today. Winds switched to the east and while it didn't cool down immediately, it sure has tonight. We're sitting at 37ºF at my apartment at about 10PM and that temperature should drop below freezing by early morning. Now, the surface high distant to our northeast could get amped up tonight and give us some shallow upslope. Moisture is finally starting to increase here and the prediction of freezing drizzle seems possible. Guess we'll see tomorrow morning when I'm driving to work.

* * *

I'd also like to say that I really enjoyed the Wild Western Weather Seminar last night. I'm not trying to be nice or suck up, but I thought Tony Laubach's "what if" scenario on the Windsor tornado moving through the Denver area was very well though out and interesting.

Also, I got to watch Lubacca 2008 Brilliant last night. The May 22nd footage is fantastic and had me on the edge of my seat! I would recommend purchasing it from Tony's website when it's available!!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wild Western Weather and the Milk River Supercell

Tonight I will be attending the 2008 Wild Western Weather Seminar. I was unable to attend last year, so this will be my first year. Tony Laubach and Tim Samaras will both be presenting.

Here is the agenda:

6:00 PM -- Mike Nelson Intro and welcome

6:20 PM -- Tim Samaras - Tornado Expert - featured in National Geographic Magazine, "Inside Tornadoes - The Latest Research: Twistex 2008"

7:00 PM -- Tony Laubach - Storm Chaser - "The Windsor Tornado vs Douglas County Landspouts"

7:40 PM -- Dr. Walt Lyons - Lightning Researcher - "Flash Facts - Red Sprites, Blue Jets and Other Rare Airities"

8:20 PM -- Ethan Greene - Director, Colorado Avalanche Information Center - "Avalanches and the Big Snow Winter of 2007-08"

9:00 PM -- Dr. Thomas Schlatter - NOAA's Earth System Research Lab and the University of Colorado - "The Pine Bark Beetle - A Canary for Climate Change?"

9:40 PM -- Questions

More information can be found HERE. If you're in the Denver area and want to go, there still may be seats available ... contact info is on the linked page.

* * *
The Milk River Supercell

This might be better placed in a separate post, but I wanted to mention it here anyway. My passion for meteorology was birthed and nurtured by Montana weather. It has long been my desire to intercept a tornado there. Before I moved to Colorado, I had never really gone storm chasing (according to my current definition of the term), though I did "follow" a few storms or go out onto a hilltop to take one in as it passed. I had the opportunity to actually chase in July of 2007. The setup was marginal, but I was able to intercept a beautiful, high-based storm off of the Crazy Mountains, providing one of the most beautiful stormscapes (in combination with the topography) that I have ever witnessed. There is an inherent beauty to the place, something, that I believe, sets it apart from elsewhere in the United States.

I feel very connected to the land and the sky in Montana and was very inspired after reading the story of Bear White Child of the Crow. (It's worth the read)

It is my intent to spend more time chasing in Montana in the next few years. While watching the weather elsewhere and especially locally, I still always have an eye on the weather in Big Sky Country, or known to some as "The Last Best Place." With the droves of storm tourists now piling onto the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, tempered with the "try this at home mentality" after absorbing the myriad 'reality' storm chasing shows, it seems like Montana might be a good place to escape the crowd. Chasing has always been a spiritual experience for me, but a personal one at that. As much as I love to chase socially (and that has been the case with higher gas prices) ... I never feel more at home than when I am out under a storm, all by myself.

Montana doesn't have near as many severe days as most of the United States, but don't let that fool you. There are a couple favored setups where things can get absolutely wild. The state can be split in half climatologically with the mountains on the west and the plains on the east. There is one event that seems to happen every year, without fail, and sometimes more than once. I call this the "Milk River Supercell".

I intend to research this storm via climatology and in the field.

Here is a brief overview of the storm:

Most often, the Milk River Supercell forms off of the Rocky Mountain Front (not to be confused with Colorado's Front Range) and travels in an arc from west to east slightly north and then slightly south, roughly along the path of Montana and Alberta's Milk River. It often targets the city of Glasgow, MT before moving off into the Dakotas, sometimes as a mesoscale convective system. This storm usually begins as a low precipitation supercell and can sometimes evolve to have high precipitation characteristics. Though further research is required, it seems to form on days where abundant Pacific moisture is available in the mid-levels, usually associated with a short wave riding up along the mid to late summer Rocky Mountain ridge. At the surface, Gulf of Mexico moisture is plentiful thanks to the low level jet and a sometimes a Canadian moisture advection mechanism that I wish to study is also present. With the varying moisture sources and topography in Montana, it could seem like meteorological chaos ... but the boundaries can lend to some explosive weather. This is what I want to study and observe. It will take a more climatological approach at first and then hopefully get to study an event in the field. This could be difficult with my distance, uncertain (eventual) job placement, and having to rely on lucky timing, but it is something that I really want to be a part of.

One such storm on June 16th, 2007:
Glasgow NWS writeup
Severe Reports
Radar Loop

Sure, the Milk River Supercell isn't any more severe than the behemoths that form on the plains in the early spring, but it is special to me. With a poor road network, marginal phone service, and not very many people, it is literally just you and the storm.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tornado Dreams, Early Morning Sunday the 16th

Being as passionate* about weather as I am, the elements often pervade my dreams. The tornado, an iconic manifestation of my passion*, is most often present in my dreams. Usually, these dreams involve an inability to experience of photograph such an event. I am always aware of the situation, but sometimes I am paralyzed or only able to move and react extremely slowly. Sometimes, my equipment fails ... cameras ... cell phones ... vehicles, etc.

This dream was different. This dream was awesome.

Here is the context of the dream. Remember, it was a dream, and not everything always makes sense in dreams:

I was on the north side of the Denver-Metro area, looking east. A familiar looking storm dominated the landscape. It was my Alta Vista storm; my first tornado. I was looking at it from a different point of view however. On the original storm, we were in position to the southeast of the updraft as the storm moved due south. This time, I was to the west, looking at it to the east.

Suddenly, we were storm chasing. There were four of us in a vehicle, and I was in the passenger's side back seat. We drove around the storm to the north and passed under the meager low-precip core, now directly to the east of the updraft. The storm became tornadic quickly, with multiple vortexes dancing on the ground. I wasn't videoing, I was taking stills. Suddenly, my batteries ran out ... a common occurrence in such dreams. Luckily, I easily replaced them with a couple of double A's. (My batteries did run out while filming my first tornado.) The sky behind the tornado (to the west) seemed yellow and the tornado was black. The multiple vortexes seemed to be animated spirits, dancing along the ground and taking strange shapes.

I woke up at this point but fell back asleep a couple of times this morning, each time going back to dreamland. It was strange that my other dreams, which did not have tornadoes, had the same storm ... usually in a later stage, at one point with an "Independence Day"-style updraft and the other in dissipation, it was strange that the same storm carried over. I remember the second dream really well, but it was more personal. The third, I don't remember at all, but I remember the storm finally dying out.

It was nice to dream about tornadoes and not waking up frustrated. Not because of the weather, anyway.


*For Storm Track members, see Roger Jensen thread.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obligatory First Snow Post

When I went to bed last night, the downsloping winds had kept the atmosphere close to the foothills stable all day. The cold front swung in from the northeast, but never made much ground toward the mountains, continuing to drop south further east and lagging to the west. A little snow was falling in Weld County, of the banded sort, but I figured we'd be spared here in the metro area.

Interestingly, I had a dream where someone asked me if they could spend the "snow day" with me, meaning today and I awoke to a "happy first snow day" text message. I honestly was surprised.

So, the snow came, and mostly melted fairly quickly today. The interesting part, to me, was the unstable atmosphere left behind. We had some nice convection over the south end of the metro this afternoon. Nothing really precipitated, but it was neat to see a more vertical component to the clouds.

Tomorrow, I'm heading down to the Springs to see Air Force take on BYU. Should be a fun game.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This first one is thanks to Paul ... who doesn't necessarily want credit, so I won't give his last name or link to his * ahem * weather blog. ;)

Who cares about the tornado, look at that sweet RFD cut!

These next two are creations of my own:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! I'm a jerk!

So, I got a friend request on MySpace from and was absolutely astonished at the complete disregard for correct spelling and grammar. Not to mention the fact that there are no chase photos at all ... just a picture of a spotter training certificate (which makes me wonder if that is the extent of the experience).

A few little gems:

USA Storm Chasing Tours's Blurbs
About me:
This web site is for our customers that have been with us and for people that like to see whats happen on a storm chasing tour. Thier will be traveling to different states and we will stay in hotels and eat out threw the trip.
Who I'd like to meet:
People that like adventure and the agenlin rush of chasing storms. And a place where storm chasers can get to chat and share information. And people that has any questions about any thing.

USA Storm Chasing Tours's Interests
General Our tour group has highly qualified and perfeshinal staff and willing to go above and beyond to make your storm chasing tour as mind blowing and fun for you and your family and friends.

It just boggles my mind. ... I sent a little note ... so I might have a little hate mail coming back. I'm not one to stir up trouble, but crap.

I mean ... really!?


Less Likely Places

Things have slowed down quite a bit since the chase last week. I will say, however, that I spent most of the day on Monday watching the weather; both here and elsewhere. Everyone had been preparing for a severe weather outbreak in central Texas. For a brief moment, I had considered finding a way to make the trip. Cooler heads prevailed, though and I decided to take a day at home ... being productive. Well, I wasn't productive, but this isn't really a personal blog, so I won't dwell on that.

I was intrigued early in the day by reading Mike Umscheid's blog. He had forecast a possible tornado threat for area around low. Most of the play would be along and ahead of the dryline in Texas, but he had his sights up north. Reading that, I recalled his presentation at the Chaser Convention a couple years ago about the cold core setup and the famous "tumbleweed tornado". So, I pulled up GR3 on three locations: 1) Here in Denver to watch the snow event if it possibly unfolded, 2) Alternating between Dodge City and Pueblo, tracking Mike, and 3) Various sites in central Texas.

Frustration, similar to that coming out of chasers in Oklahoma last week, could be felt from the Texas setup. Yet, I was delighting in the action in SW Kansas. I think I was chasing vicariously through Mike. I'd watch the cells go up, see him (on Spotter Network) core one; moments later a hail report showing up. Next thing I know, the cell is tornado-warned and I knew it was him. Awesome! So, congrats to Mike on netting the only tornado of the day anywhere in the U.S. ... and more ironically, in SW Kansas where the temps were in the low 50's. Incredible.

A not-too personal update on me:
Still job hunting. Still existing. That is it.

And, now some pictures to pretty up this blog:

I went downtown to attend a hockey game with my uncle and cousin who were visiting from Montana. The sunset was gorgeous ... and luckily, I had my camera. The first set is of the Tivoli Student Union Building on Auraria Campus (various perspectives).

And a couple of the game ...

This turned out to be an Avalanche goal ... see the puck?

And finally, sunset from the office on November 6th: