07.31.10

Oklahoma Heat

Posted in Weather News at 1:43 pm by Rebekah

NWS Norman forecast for Norman this week.

Ugh.  Just looking at all those glowing balls of orange makes me hot and thirsty.

Still waiting for the first big summer MCS…if it comes…

See also: More Heat (Jeff Makowski’s blog)

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Record Breaking Hailstone

Posted in Weather News at 1:06 pm by Rebekah

Last Friday, on July 23rd, a record-breaking 8-inch-diameter hailstone fell in Vivian, South Dakota.

This hailstone measured 18.625 inches in circumference and weighed 1.9 pounds!

Reports from eyewitnesses describe hailstones even larger than this in the area, some possibly as large as 11 inches in diameter.

The largest hailstone previous to this was 7 inches in diameter, 18.75 inches in circumference, weighed 1.6 pounds, and was found in Aurora, Nebraska in 2003.

For photos and more information, check out the following links:

July 23rd Storm Reports and Pictures of Large Hail (NWS Aberdeen)

Vivian Hail Officially Sets Record (Severe Studios)

Vivian Residents Relate Tales of Massive Hailstorm (Mitchell Daily Republic)

Overview of Thunderstorm Producing Record Hailstone (Patrick Marsh’s blog)

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07.29.10

Record High Temperature in Moscow (Again)

Posted in Non-US Weather, Weather News at 12:10 pm by Rebekah

On Tuesday, I posted on how western Russia is in the midst of a record heat wave.  On Monday, Moscow had broken the record for the city’s all-time highest temperature, at 37.4 °C (99.3 °F).

However, as the model forecast I showed on Tuesday predicted, Moscow broke that record AGAIN today!

Currently, the all-time highest temperature for Moscow is 37.8 °C (100.0 °F), set on 29 July 2010 at 4:00 pm.

Some parts of Moscow reached temperatures as high as 39 °C (102 °F), but the official record stands at the location where weather records have been taken for the last 130 years.

According to Weather Underground, the previous record temperature for July 29th in Moscow was set in 2002, at 86 °F (30 °C), while the average temperature for this day is only 68 °F (20 °C)!

Some relief may be found soon, though, as a cold front is expected to pass through tomorrow and drop the temperatures a bit.

With regard to the fires around Moscow, they are not as large as the ones in far eastern Russia that John brought to my attention in his comment on Tuesday’s post (check out this amazing satellite image he linked to); however, they are affecting a more populated area and causing serious health problems.

I have seen Alexander Chuchalin, Russia’s chief pulmonary doctor, cited in several news articles as saying the current level of carbon monoxide in the air in Moscow could have the same effect on someone as smoking two packs of cigarettes every three to four hours.

The smoke should at least begin to disperse as the front moves through tomorrow with a chance of showers.

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07.27.10

World Wide Weather #10: Moscow, Russia

Posted in Non-US Weather, Weather News at 10:59 pm by Rebekah

This week’s post in the global weather and climate series features Moscow, Russia (click for a Yahoo! maps link).

Moscow, Russia (click to enlarge). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The most populous city in Russia and second largest in Europe (only London’s metro is larger), Moscow is located in west central Russia, on the Moskva River.  By most definitions, Moscow is in eastern Europe rather than in Asia.  Moscow, dating back to at least the 12th century, was the capital city of the U.S.S.R. and is currently the capital of Russia.  Moscow was the site of the 1980 summer Olympic Games, which were boycotted by the United States and several western European countries.  Moscow is home to about 10.6 million people.

A few more facts about Moscow (from Wikipedia):

  • Time zone: Moscow Standard Time (UTC+3) or Moscow Summer Time (UTC+4)
  • Elevation: 512 to 837 ft above mean sea level
  • Climate zone: Humid continental (warm, somewhat humid summers and long, cold winters)
  • Average high temperature: 49 °F (9 °C)
  • Average low temperature: 35 °F (2 °C)
  • Record high temperature: 99 °F (37 °C) – recorded on 26 July 2010!
  • Record low temperature: -44 °F (-42 °C)
  • Average annual precipitation: 28 inches (700 mm)

Current weather:  Russia is currently in the midst of a record heat wave; as noted above, the all-time record high temperature in Moscow (over 130 years of records) was set yesterday, at 99.3 °F (37.4 °C), and it’s possible that that record could break yet again over the next few days.

Thursday’s GFS temperature forecast (in Celsius), for 4 pm local Moscow time (Moscow can be found just south of Belarus’ northern border and just west of Ukraine’s eastern border):

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

Note the forecast high is for 37 to 39 °C!  Moscow’s normal high for this time of year is around 23 °C.

Why is it so hot?

I’m a little unfamiliar with Russian microclimates and geography, but one big reason is that there is a large ridge of high pressure that has built across western Russia (see 500 mb 00Z initialization of the ECMWF model, below, valid for 4 am Wednesday, local Moscow time).

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

This ridge is associated with a surface high, seen below (for the same time as the above map).

(Courtesy of Weather Online UK; click to enlarge)

This high pressure has brought and will continue to bring, for the next several days, dry, sinking air and warm south / southeasterly winds to western Russia.

To make matters worse, there are also some 60 forest and peat fires ongoing near Moscow, covering about 145 acres, according to the BBC.  Doctors have advised residents to keep their windows closed and to wear masks to avoid inhaling ash particles as the smoke and smog is so thick.

The sinking air associated with the high pressure is a large part of the problem, as it has prevented much of the smoke from dissipating and has kept it trapped close to the surface.

For more information on Moscow, here’s a link to Wikipedia.

For weather maps and information on current and forecast Moscow weather, see Weather Online UK (collection of maps and weather information for all over the world) and the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia (Russia’s national weather service – it is in English!).

Next Tuesday I plan to take a look at the climate and weather in another part of the globe.  As always, if you have any comments or suggestions for future cities, please leave a comment on this post!

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07.24.10

Lightning Photos

Posted in Photography, Storm Chasing at 5:21 pm by Rebekah

As expected, Bonnie has not survived her trip across the Gulf, thus she is not even a tropical depression anymore.

But instead of writing about the weather today, I thought I’d share some of my first attempts at lightning photography.  With the exception of a few video stills, I did not have a lightning photo before this year.  (I did take some photos of the Lone Grove supercell lightning on 10 February 2009, but those were with my film SLR that I rarely use anymore, so I have not finished off the roll and got the photos developed yet…hopefully I will soon, and then I’ll scan and post those later if any of them turned out…)

I took the following photos with a Nikon D3000, without a tripod (thus why some are a little blurry), on mostly automatic settings.  I still have a lot to learn about lightning photography, and I look forward to getting to know my new camera better (and using my tripod!) so I can take better photos in the future.

The first four photos are from May 18th, in the Texas Panhandle.  The last photo was from June 13th, also in the Texas Panhandle.  All of the other photos are from May 19th, in south central Oklahoma.

(By the way, I finished going through May 19th photos, so I should have those posted along with the chase log sometime late tomorrow or Monday.)

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