Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recapping June Rainfall and a Drought Update

We will end the month of June and ring in July much like we did the months of April and May: that is, hot and bone dry.

We ended up with 2.39" of rain for the month of June, which is 1.79" below our normal value for the 30 day period. Other than a two day period between June 21st and June 22nd, the rest of the month was virtually rain free in Deep East Texas.

As you can see from the graphic above, our 2011 rainfall departure stands at 6.47". When you consider we ended the 2010 calendar year with a deficit of 16.61", we are now about 23 inches behind in rainfall dating back to last year. Wow!

The drought conditions have not changed much, as you might imagine. By in large, all of East Texas is either in an "extreme" or "exceptional" drought.

According to the Texas Forest Service, 97% of the state is in a drought, with nearly 75% facing "exceptionally bad conditions."

Our state climatologist, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon, has said that this is one of the worst droughts Texas has seen since 1895, when the state first began keeping records.

This drought has led to billions of dollars in lost crops, and has led to several wildfires across the state. The Texas Forest Service says that since fire season began on November 15, 2010, almost 13,000 fires have burned 3.3 million acres across the Lone Star State.

This is a reminder to obey those firework restrictions this weekend and be safe.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hello Arlene

On Tuesday evening, Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico in what is also known as the Bay of Campeche.

Arlene is our first named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season and looks to be a rather insiginficant threat for the United States.

The forecast track for Arlene calls for a landfall along the eastern coast of Mexico very early tomorrow morning.

This will affect most of Central Mexico and could bring flooding rains and mudslides to interior areas, especially areas near the higher mountainous terrain.

With Tropical Storm Arlene tracking well south of Texas, we will not see any of her moisture thrown in our direction. Considering we are in an "extreme" to "exceptional" drought, this is the type of tropical system we could use to help drop some soaking rains on East Texas soils.

Unfortunately, the ridge of high pressure, which has been keeping the Pineywoods high and dry, will also steer Arlene well to our south.

As always, you can stay up-to-date with the latest position, forecast track, satellite images, and more by visiting our Hurricane Center on our weather page. At this time, there are no signs of our "B" name storm developing within the next couple of days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting the Best and Worst of Mother Nature

After dealing with months of virtually no rain and wildfires raging out of control, the only thing we wanted was rain.

Well, we got some rain on Tuesday, and lots of it. That's the good news. The bad news was it came with a punch, in the form of severe weather.

These storms moved in from the Marshall and Shreveport areas late Tuesday afternoon. With all the moisture and heat we had in place, the atmosphere was ripe for these storms to maintain their strength, if not, strengthen even further.

Unfortunately, we had several reports of damaging winds, which knocked over trees and even took down a few power lines. As of Tuesday night, most of the power was being restored to residents in East Texas.

Alright, that's enough of the worst of what we dealt with on Tuesday. How about the bright side? Many areas picked up some incredible rainfall amounts as the storms merged over Lufkin and Nacogdoches. The end result was we saw many areas pick up anywhere from 1-3" of rain on average.

The image to your left shows some of the highest rainfall totals, as called in by our loyal weather watchers.

One of my colleagues here at the station said he received nearly three inches of rain in about an hour and a half. Wow! Talk about coming down in buckets.

So while we had a bittersweet symphony with the storms on Tuesday, I'll say it was more sweet than bitter. Heck, if I knew we could get two inches of rain for being without power for a couple of hours, I'll take it.

The good news is that more rain is in the forecast for Wednesday, and some of that rain will be heavy in spots.

Make sure you check our weather page for frequent updates on our live streaming radar as you head through your hump day on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rain Relief on the Way to Drought Stricken East Texas

The "Bearing" and "Powerline" wildfires continue to rage across the Pineywoods this afternoon. Make sure you check back frequently with and our facebook fan page. Our reporters and news team will be working hard to ensure you get all the latest developments on the wildfires.

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, our weather pattern will be undergoing a shift this week. This shift will be for the better, as rain chances will be on the upswing as we head towards the middle part of your work week.

The image to your left is an upper level weather map at around 18,000 feet high in the atmosphere. Without getting to technical, the one main feature I want to point out is the ridge of high pressure that is located over Florida.
(Image: unisys 500 mb 72 hour forecast)

If you have been watching KTRE-TV for the past few weeks, one of the things I have mentioned just about every night is a big bubble of hot, high pressure, which has been situated on top of Texas. This forecast model shows that by Wednesday, that ridge of high pressure will loosen its grip on the state and slide east towards Florida.

With that high pressure ridge getting out of our way, we will finally see the door open up for some deep tropical moisture to surge into Deep East Texas starting on Tuesday. At the same time, a few disturbances will be moving through the Southern Plain states, helping to enhance the lift across our region.

(image: HPC 3 day rainfall total)

They Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) image shows three day (72hour) rainfall totals starting this evening and lasting through Wednesday evening. On average 1-2" of rain look to fall across portions of Deep East Texas.

It should be noted that we have rain forecasted starting Tuesday and lasting through the end of the week.

At this point, however, our best chances for seeing that precious liquid precipitation will be Tuesday through Wednesday.

Make sure you check back in with us over the next couple of days as more details start to emerge with our rainfall.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crunching the Numbers on our Spring Heat

You don't need a meteorologist to tell you that it has been a hot spring. Not only have temperatures been above normal since April, but in many cases, we have broken record highs and seen temperatures top out at the century mark on a number of occasions.

The main reason for our hot stretch of weather solely has to do with our extreme to exceptional drought which continues to hold its grip on Deep East Texas.

Over the last couple of days, I did some number crunching on our high temperatures. Here's some interesting factoids in a category I like to call "Did You Know."

Number of 100° Days
The Angelina County Airport, just south of Lufkin, has hit the century mark already 6 times this month, including today. Considering we have another 14 days to go, who knows how many more triple digit days we might see.

Record High Temperatures
Since May 1st, we have tied our record high temperature only 2 times, but have broken or surpassed the record on 7 different occasions.

Number of 90° Days in 2011
This stat may be the most staggering to date. In looking back at the highs since April 1st, we have hit or surpassed the 90° mark an astonishing 39 times. Of those occurrences, we had a temperature of 90° or higher 10 times in the month of April which is mind-boggling.

We can't end this blog entry before giving you some good news. It does look like the heat will let up by the middle of next week as our high pressure ridge breaks down. That let up in the heat will also come with better rain chances. I'll have more on this in the days ahead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Lunar Eclipse Outside of this Continent

Tomorrow night, you will notice a full moon shining brightly in the night sky. What you won't see, however, is the total lunar eclipse that most of planet earth will get to view.

A lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon. This results from the moon's orbit around the earth in which the moon becomes fully engulfed in the Earth's shadow.

Not On our Continent

Unfortunately, residents in North America will not be able to view this total lunar eclipse, which starts at 12:24pm our time on Wednesday and lasts until 6pm.

This lunar eclipse will be the longest total lunar eclipse in eleven years and is expected to last around eleven minutes.

Part of the eclipse will be visible in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, while the entirety of the event can be seen in Africa and the Middle East.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interesting Stats on our Drought

When I was at Texas A&M studying meteorology, one of my professors was Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon. Not only is he a professor at the greatest university in the world, Dr. Nielson-Gammon is also the Texas state climatologist.

Just recently, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service interviewed our state climatologist on just how bad our current drought is and where it ranks all time.

"Based on Palmer Drought Severity Index values, this is the third-worst drought Texas has ever seen in the month of May," Nielsen-Gammon said. "Records go back to 1895. May also marks the end of the driest eight-month period on record."

Dr. Nielsen-Gammon also stated in one of his recent blogs that the two worst droughts occurred in the years of 1918 and 1956.

It should be noted that according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 50% of the state remains in an "exceptional" drought, which is the worst drought category possible. In addition, more than 90% of the state of Texas is either experiencing a "severe" or "exceptional" drought.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 Hurricane Season is Underway

Today is the official start of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season. We are now entering a six month stretch in which the tropics will be monitored on a daily basis. The season always starts on June 1st and runs through the end of November.

This is the list of names we will be using in the Atlantic Basin this year. It should be noted that there are six lists of names that rotate every six years.

The 2011 Atlantic storm names is the same list that was used back in our record setting season of 2005. As you look through the list, you will notice that a lot of the names look familiar.

What you may not know is that we have five new names that are replacing historic hurricanes from that 2005 season. Don will replace Dennis, Katia replaces Katrina, Rina replaces Rita, Sean will replace Stan, and Whitney has been added as she replaces Wilma.

Already a System Worth Watching

On this June 1st, there is a flare up of showers and storms associated with a disturbance tracking through Florida. While this system has very little chance of developing into our first named storm, it could give us a few showers this weekend as it tracks westward through the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Center is Your One Stop Shop

Remember that you can stay up-to-date with any developments in the tropics by going to our Hurricane Center. It is there where you can get satellite images in the tropics, the latest storm positions, forecast track, and more.