Friday, October 28, 2011

NPP Satellite Launches Successfully

This past Friday, America's newest polar-orbiting satellite launched into space successfully. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is a joint project between NASA and NOAA to better help make better forecasts.

The NPOESS Prepatory Project (NPP) satellite includes five brand new instruments that will help collect more information on weather data around the world. This includes both surface observations on land and over the oceans.

According to NOAA, NPP will be able to orbit earth every 102 minutes, flying 512 miles above the surface of the earth.

This newly advanced satellite will be able to help diagnose the atmosphere with more detailed information, which will help meteorologists be able to forecast big weather events (severe weather outbreaks, winter storms) with better accuracy and with more advanced notice.

It will be a few more months, however, until the NPP satellite will have data available to view. According to NOAA, it will be 90 days until the satellite begins its operation and replaces the NOAA-19 satellite.

For more information on the NPP satellite, you can go to

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Seesaw Ride Continues

Our fall weather continues to operate like a seesaw, with wild swings in temperatures from day to day and from week to week.

After a seasonably cool week last week, it has been anything but that over the past several days. A southeast wind and a ridge of high pressure has made for unseasonably warm weather over the past few days, with highs climbing back into the middle and upper 80's.

While the seesaw has been tilted upwards, it will be going down rather quickly, starting tomorrow.

Another strong Canadian cold front will be diving south through the Southern Plains on Thursday and will provide us with some pockets of rain followed by a drop in the temperatures.

While the rain chances tomorrow will be rather high, the rainfall totals won't be all that impressive. The image to your right is from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. It shows the 2 day rain total between now and Friday evening. Notice the swath of heavier rain will be confined from Oklahoma to Arkansas and then further up the Mississippi River Valley, towards Kentucky and Ohio.

Our guidance suggests a tenth to a quarter of an inch as an average rain total for the Pineywoods of Deep East Texas, with isolated areas receiving slightly higher amounts.

Temperatures on your Thursday will be warmest in the mid-to-late morning hours, before falling throughout the course of the day.

Make sure you take your umbrella and light jacket with you as you head off to work or school in the morning. Even though you may not need it to start the day, you will probably need both by the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rainfall Totals From Early This Morning

Before the cold front blew through East Texas, we did see some areas and communities pick up some beneficial rainfall in the wee hours of the morning.

The image to your left shows the rainfall totals that were reported in by our weather watchers in Deep East Texas.

The heaviest rain fell over areas along and north of the Highway 69 corridor. Most areas in Nacogdoches, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby counties received anywhere from one half inch to well over one inch of rain.

These rainfall totals match up well with our Doppler Radar estimates. The shading of green represents one half to one inch of rainfall, with the blue showing 0.10" to 0.25". You can clearly see a defined cutoff point from the areas that received the rain vs. the areas that barely got a trace.

The strong northerly winds we saw today dried out the ground soils very quickly, limiting the usefulness of the rain we saw around daybreak.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Dip in the Jet Means More Surges of Cool Air

A cold front moved through Deep East Texas earlier today, clearing out the skies and ushering in some cooler temperatures.

This cold front will act more like a "cool" front, as the airmass behind the front is not all that cold. Our overnight lows the next few nights will be below normal, as we fall into the upper 40's and lower 50's, while our highs will be above normal, as we warm up into the middle to upper 80's.

While the weather will be less humid and quite refreshing in the days ahead, we are going to see a much stronger fall cold front sweep through the Pineywoods next week.

Next week's cold front will literally be a ":cold" front, as a dip in the Jet stream and a deeper trough pulls down some Canadian air into the heart of mid-America.

Parts of the upper midwest and northern Plain states could dip below freezing. We won't be quite as cold, as much of the chill will modify as it moves further south. Nonetheless, it looks as if you might be able to break out the boots, jeans, and sweaters next week as we really get our first significant fall cold front.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Soaker for the Lone Star State

Very heavy and beneficial rains fell across the extreme to exceptional drought grounds of Texas this weekend. The rain that fell started on Saturday morning and lasted all the way through Sunday night before finally tapering off.

The affects of the rain were felt state-wide as a weak Pacific front combined with a strong upper air disturbance to generate widespread showers and storms.

Waco had the highest 48 hour rainfall total, reporting 5.83". San Antonio received 3.12", Houston got 3.02", followed by Abilene with 2.97".

East Texas Misses Out

As you look at those totals, you are probably becoming depressed as many of you did not receive even a tenth of an inch of rain.

As we talked about on Friday, most of the heavy rain was going to stay to our north and west. As it turned out, the forecast verified with only parts of Houston, Trinity, and Polk counties getting in on some rain on Sunday.

Rain chances will be dwindling as drier air moves into the Pineywoods on Tuesday. There will be a brief window for an isolated shower or storm late Wednesday night, as a cold front swings through the Texas Forest Country.

Once that window passes, we will be in store for some beautiful weather, as cooler and drier air filters into the region. However, with our drought situation, sometimes beautiful is an adjective that can sum up rain; unfortunately, we don't see much of that wet stuff in the offing over the next five to seven days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

La Nina Could Last Another Year

The weather phenomena known as "La Nina" is likely to persist for another year, which means our exceptional drought status could remain the same for a second year.

My college professor at Texas A&M University, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon, spoke Monday at a climate workshop in Fort Worth. He is our state climatologist and has been reiterating the fact that no significant rain relief looks to be in the offing at this point as La Nina is expected to strengthen and last for at least another year.

If there is any good news, it's that Nielsen-Gammon says there is only a 25% chance that Texas' drought will persist for another five years.

La Nina is a weather phenomena associated with cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, as seen by the image to your left. It is these abnormally cooler water temperatures that alter the weather patterns across the globe and can influence a region's temperature and precipitation outlook.

Unfortunately for us in East Texas and all Texans across the state, it means warmer and drier than normal conditions throughout the entire year. It just so happens that this particular phase of La Nina is stronger than normal, which has led to the worst drought in over 50 years.

What Lies Ahead

With a persisting La Nina, we would see a dry fall and winter, which would only worsen the ongoing drought. We would also see a few cold blasts, but the overall trend would be warmer than normal conditions when averaged out for a two or three month period.

With very little rainfall and strong winds blowing in behind cold fronts, the fire threat will also be increased. The combination of dry fuels, low relative humidity values, and gusty winds means the wildfire season could get worse.

Going into next spring, we could see a few severe weather outbreaks that are more violent than normal. If you recall, we had a very active spring earlier this year with several tornado reports. We had two consecutive nights of active tornado warnings this past April. This was part of the storm system that ended up producing the violent tornadoes across Dixie Alley in the days that followed.

History has shown that La Nina years have more severe weather episodes and that's not good as it means any chances for wet weather in the spring will come at a steep price.