Sunday, January 13, 2013

Washington, D.C. Atlantic Fog; Australian Heat and Fires Agog; and Beijing Record Coal Smog

UPDATED 11:55PM 1/13/2013: See updates below including foggy night images.

Tammy Holmes and her five grandchildren ages 2 to 11 take refuge in the water off a wooden pier as a firestorm rages around them and destroys their home in the coastal town of Dunalley, Tasmania, Australia, January 4, 2013.  This picture was taken by her husband and their grandfather Tim Holmes.

Thankfully, everyone in this picture survived and were physically unharmed.

This is what happens when the weather and climate get really out of whack. More information on the Australian heat and fires is posted below.


First, though ...

... there was a bit of cosmic weather justice, today, though as the vocational-style NWS forecasters at Sterling LWX and the weather nerds Capital Weather Gang FAILED to achieve their much-touted 70F day in mid-January.  Both are GOP corporate stooges.

Instead, thanks to a cold air wedge / cold air damming situation due in part to the cold Atlantic Ocean and upper level flow parallel to the Appalachians, the warm front never pushed through.

Thus, it remained socked-in foggy all day with daytime highs* only 55F at National Airport and 54F at Dulles Airport climate stations (KDCA and KIAD, respectively). It reached just 48F at BWI Airport climate station (KBWI). By contrast, temps were in the low 70s in parts of southern and central Virginia.

Above: 18Z 1/13/2013 hi-res surface analysis from NWS/HPC showing cold air wedge.



Much obliged ...

*This is as of 5PM. It may very well warm up going into tonight if the warm front pushes through.

Complex array of high clouds over Washington, D.C., as seen from the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW (right outside my apartment building), 4:02PM, January 12, 2013.


The LWX crew  (especially WOODY!) often seem to have some supernatural ability to bend the forecast to their wishes, which if our usual Washington / Baltimore area weather is any indication, involves the following:  Partly cloudy ("10,000 broken") and +6F on the high and +10F on the low.

It's forever a "bonus day" and chasing the tail ends of ever-retreating nor'easters, "D.C. split" systems, fronts washing out or the energy going to the north, and storms remaining "well offshore" at our latitude.

View from my apartment on a gloomy drizzly early evening looking at the intersection of 16th and U Streets and New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 5:18PM, January 13, 2013.


UPDATED 11:55PM 1/13/2013: Some foggy night pictures that I took a couple hours ago but after I posted the original entry.

Foggy night in the 1900 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 8:52PM, January 13, 2013.


Foggy night at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and T Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 8:54PM, January 13, 2013.


And forget snow -- that's a cruel joke, all the more so at National Airport (KDCA), which is --Mark Richards "You kids get off my lawn!" defense of the spot aside -- THE WORST place to measure the weather, especially in the major snowfall events that (rarely do) occur and always for wintertime overnight low temperatures.

(Who is the guy in that video?? He must live near me. I've not seen him out.)

FYI: Mark Richards has overseen the KDCA observations since 1941 when the climate site was inaugurated about 1979. It just feels like it has been since 1941.

My view is that Washington, D.C.'s climate has basically become more like Atlanta, Georgia's in the past few years -- an especially galling prospect for me because for personal reasons I hates Atlanta, G-A.

Yes, operational weather forecasters, it's actually climate change. I know that's a galling prospect to many of you.

As it is, everytime I read a Sterling LWX discussion, a little part of my soul dies. It is why I tend to avoid the discussions and look at only the radar, stats, and forecasts.

As for the Capital Weather Gang, theirs is a world of endless "10" days on their uselessly subjective "Today's Daily Digit" that ranges from 0 to 10.

Then out of no where is whining that it never snows, only to be followed by more scintillation of spring warmth, sunshine, and no rainfall chances. Indeed, their daily digit exists cheek-by-jowl next to their wintertime "Snowfall Potential Index (SPI)".

I'm just happy that Jason Samenow, who made a big fuss last week about how glorious would be today's forecasted 70F warmth, had to see it all fall apart today about in a sea of chilly and drizzly fog, and dub it "So cruel."

Good. Or to shriek in the manner of H.G., "EXCELLENT!"

As for local TV weathercasters -- the huge-headed Doug Hill slurping through a forecast; the bad-tempered Palka-Cabra creature ("Ms. Snake Eyes" herself); the non-serious Steve Bell (whom I've see at Nellie's and 9); and the rest of the unwatchable crew -- they're just too annoying to watch.

OK, I do like Bob Ryan. I always have.

There she is -- Sue Palka -- after today's busted forecast.



One last item about today's "busted" forecast ... It shouldn't have been a shock that a cold air wedge / cold air damming situation east of the Blue Ridge / Appalachians over the mid-Atlantic stayed in place. That's kinda how it usually works, especially when the cold front itself is hung up to the west. In this way, the forecast "bust" wasn't exactly a shock.

Above: Chris T. sent me this picture of a flower growing outside his place in Montgomery, Ala. I think it's a lily or iris of some sort.


The12Z Jan. 11, 2013 GFS run valid at hour 288 / 12Z 23 Jan. 2013 showing 850mb temps, heights, and wind over the U.S. and Canada.  This would be one helluva an Arctic outbreak if it verified (which it won't).

I was going to talk about the possibility of an Arctic outbreak over the eastern U.S. in the 10 day time frame. This is something the GFS has been showing 10 days out now -- for the past two weeks.

This reminds me of Michael Lind's statement that the clean energy revolution is 30 years away. And it will always be 30 years away.

However, today's 18Z run doesn't really show this as dramatically, so I'll refrain from now.  But there is still SOME needed measurable rainfall in the forecast for the next few days, though.

NWS/NCEP/HPC 72 hour (days 1 - 3) cumulative quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF) through 0Z January 17, 2013 issued this afternoon.

It's about the same for D.C. as on the last QPF map I posted in my previous entry. It wouldn't shock me if we ended up with zilch.


Unless and until it is relevant to the weather pattern this winter, I'm going to delay for now discussing the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the effects of a widespread convective outbreak over Indonesia on the "Pineapple Express" sub-tropical jet and on the Rossby wave pattern over Gulf of Alaska and downstream into the North Atlantic.

However, I am still posting the picture that Chester sent me related to this showing a schematic of teleconnections and weather patterns. 


UPDATED 11:55PM 1/13/2013: Part of this discussion involved whether or not a sudden stratospheric warming event could be associated with a change in the polar vortex that leads to an Arctic outbreak over eastern North America. That is still uncertain. I just don't have the scientific background in this area. Kristof says, I think, it can.


Some other notable weather and atmospheric events ...

Australia experienced scorching / record-breaking heat and devastating fires last week.

Another image of the Holmes family taking refuge in a lake as a firestorm engulfs everything around them. This is in Dunalley, Tasmania on January 4, 2013. There were literally tornadoes of fire around them.

While they lost everything, all the people in this photograph survived physically unharmed.


The children ages 2 to 11 get ready to jump into the water as the fires approach; Dunalley, Tasmania, January 4, 2013.


The fires burn the Holmes' home as seen from the end of the lake at the end of the wooden pier, Dunalley, Tasmania, January 4, 2013.


A God's Eye view of the fires in Tasmania ...

Caption from this website: "NASA's Terra satellite captured this image showing numerous fires across the island on January 6, 2013. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected the unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires."

Dunalley is located on the southeastern coast of Tasmania (labeled on the above image).


The fires in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia have been associated with incredible heat and drought plaguing the heat-and-drought-prone continent, although this is extreme even by Australia's summer standards.

Australian government temperature map for the week ending January 8, 2013 in Celsius.


The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported that on January 7, 2013, the average maximum daily temperature record for Australia was broken at around 105°F (40.33°C). This 40-year-old original record was set in December 21, 1972 at 104°F (40.17°C).

Information from BOM press release.

The BOM temperature forecast for Australia on January 9, 2013. BOM had to use new colors on the graphical map because the values were so high.

News reports indicate the heat has eased somewhat at least for now.


Here a thunderstorm with dramatic looking shelf cloud kicks up a haboob (dust storm) ahead of it as seen just off Western Australia over the Indian Ocean near Onslow.


Record Beijing Winter Smog

Meanwhile, the frequently dangerously polluted air quality in China is "off the charts" the past few days. This seems to happen frequently in the wintertime -- probably associated with inversions.

A couple walks in the air overloaded with pollution and particulate matter near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, January 13, 2013.

Here is another version of the AP story carried by ABC News.

And here is an informative New York Times piece: On Scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s Air Quality Tops 'Crazy Bad' at 755.


Much of this pollution seems to come from the especially dirty coal the Chinese burn like crazy. The amount of coal burning is only increasing. China's CO2 emissions are also off-the-charts and still skyrocketing.

Severe smog shrouds Beijing in a deep gray-blue gloom, January 13, 2013

As a New York Times article from a few years ago stated, no country in the history of the world has industrialized so fast as China and none has had the level of toxic pollution of land, air, and water.

Maybe we can get some sh!tty libertarian-minded think tank "China experts" from D.C. who writes op-eds to The WaHoPo to move to Beijing (for good) and tell us how great is this model.

This is the GOP/libertarian fantasy world. To me it's kind of like something out of the movie Blade Runner's dystopian future (November 2019 as imagined from 1982.)


OK, that's all for now. My next planned update may not be until Wednesday. I'm heading over in the fog o Larry's Loung tonight to meet Gary and Kristof. Tomorrow after work is a gym night.


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