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October 13, 2005


Dr. Steve Lyons


Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert


In many past years we have had very costly hurricanes affect the U.S. An excellent example is the 26.5 billion dollar disaster caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The dollar cost of such hurricanes can be estimated with some accuracy by professionals in that business. The economic loss by the lack of local and regional commerce from them, although more sketchy, can also be estimated.


This 2005 hurricane season is different; as above, the costs associated with damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita locally may be estimated with some accuracy. But the economic consequences from them have already crossed the entire nation, settling into every gas pump in your city or town!


At the start of hurricane season in June I paid about $2 per gallon to fill my car. It is now mid-October. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have severely impacted the Gulf of Mexico oil industry. Today is October 12; at the same gas station I always go to, the same one I went to in June, I paid $3.30 per gallon.


Now I realize there are many complicated aspects related to gasoline pricing: supply and demand, inflation, foreign import costs, global demand, federal and local taxes on it etc. etc. But when I was young and pumping gas into my 1964 VW bug for 19 cents a gallon so I could get to the beach to surf in California, I never in my wildest dreams thought my beloved weather (and its hurricanes) would so control the cost of gasoline in America.


Whether it was an excuse to raise prices, some of the elements above, or a true direct result of Katrina and Rita and their destruction of oil production processes most of us will ever know for sure. But I think the coincidence of rapid rises in gas prices with the landfalls of these Hurricanes tells a clear tale. I could not believe the lines of cars at gas stations as I came into The Weather Channel to cover the final day of hurricane Katrina. "Hurricane Katrina has caused a gas shortage in Atlanta"; that was the big buzz as if it had come from the President himself!


So enough of the past; what is the cost of Katrina, of Rita? It is huge and far, far greater than any count of fallen or flooded homes will ever tell. And we will forever be paying for these two hurricanes, as long as we go to the local station and fill our car tanks with gas. This winter, home heating prices may also be a reflection of these hurricanes.


Oh for the days of 19 cents a gallon, no burden of accurately forecasting hurricanes, and to ride a few waves again!



Posted at 11:37 am ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

Mike Bettes


Mike Bettes, On-Camera Meteorologist


We traveled to Denver a few days ago to cover the first big snow storm of the season. It's only the second week of October. We don't usually expect snow this early, but Denver is one of those cities where the weather can change on a dime, and it did. It was 83 degrees Saturday then it dropped to 33 Monday with heavy snow. That's incredible! We first started out in Evergreen, CO about 25 miles west of Denver. It is over 7000 feet in elevation and typically gets a lot of snow with a storm like this. Evergreen did get snow...about 7 inches, but that's nothing compared to the 18 inches east of town in Strasburg. Most of the heavy snow fell east and south of town. We finished our broadcast from Centennial which picked up a foot of snow. Usually it's the mountains and foothills that get dumped on, not this time.


Most of the trees still had leaves on them so this snow storm was a real "branch breaker". Clean up has been on going but it has warmed up and most of the snow has now melted. Denver should be back into the 70s with sunshine by the weekend. How's that for wacky weather?


Posted at 11:17 am ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

Stephanie Abrams


Stephanie Abrams, On-Camera Meteorologist


You know those days when it is cold outside and you just don't want to get out of bed, run errands, workout, go to the store. Well, no matter what the weather, the athletes I spoke to at the 2005 Chicago Marathon will run.


Many marathoners I spoke to said they have run in the rain, snow, and extreme heat/cold. Several runners told me that when it is really cold out, they coat their faces with Vaseline to prevent wind burn and a frozen nose!!!! That is some serious dedication! I still can't figure out how they have the motivation to run when it is that cold out!


Fortunately, for the marathoners and the "Weekend View" field crew, there was no need for Vaseline, temperatures were in the 50's and there was no rain.


Posted at 10:22 am ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

October 12, 2005


Stu Ostro


Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist


In a recent entry, I took the plunge and addressed the topic of global warming vis-Ã -vis recent hurricanes and the September heat wave.


What about the torrents in the Northeast last weekend, with more ensuing today, as plumes of tropical moisture have swept in all the way from the Caribbean Sea? Studies have shown that an increase in precipitation extremes would be expected in a warmer world. So is global warming to blame for the prodigious rainfall?


This meteorologist's opinion: yes and no.


No, it's not outright the cause. The weather and climate "system" is extraordinarily complex, and subtle differences in the atmospheric ingredients involved could easily have caused the deluges to occur elsewhere or not at all. In the same vein, the record one-day rainfall in New York City for October was set in 1903, and for any month in 1882 (during September). There wasn't much talk about global warming back then! That having been said ...


Yes, I think it has played a role the past few days. Even scientists who would agree with me on that point could have a spirited debate as to how much: A lot? A little? 99%? 50%? 1%? There's no way of quantifying, but I would argue it's not zero.


Although the ridiculous heat of last month has finally abated, various aspects of the weather pattern continue to be atypical of this time of year.


I'll reiterate a couple of points from the other post. In the past I have been very resistant to making the connection between global warming and individual weather events; in fact I've been passionate in urging others to avoid doing so. I still think that such links become much more tenuous when one goes beyond temperatures and into the realm of precipitation and various kinds of storms.


However, I am, bit by bit, crossing over to the other side. At some point, while recognizing that the degree of influence varies from place to place and at different times, one has to begin considering that the larger-scale changes in climate are manifesting themselves by way of day-to-day weather.


And it's not just the weather. I've come to expect that by mid-October in Atlanta at least a brief appearance would have been made by overnight lows in the 40s or even upper 30s along with daytime highs in the 60s. This year, no such luck yet. So please excuse me while I get the mosquito repellent ...


Posted at 11:57 pm ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

Paul Kocin


Paul Kocin, Winter Weather Expert


With a coastal storm currently dumping copious rains on a saturated Northeast, the first half of October has featured some pretty startling weather. While September was dominated by Hurricane Rita, the rest of the time the weather nationwide was pretty tame. However, October has started out anything but tame.


To begin with, a blizzard pounded western North Dakota and eastern Montana on October 4th and 5th, leaving 15" of snow in Dickinson and 14.5" in Minot, one of the greatest early season snowstorms on record in an area where it's not unusual to see snow in October! Nearly every road in the western half of North Dakota was closed and snowplows were ordered to stay off the roads until conditions improved. And this was in a place where blizzards are not uncommon!


Then, one of the greatest October rainfalls on record swamped much of the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to New England on October 7th and 8th. While Tropical Storm Tammy was marginally involved, especially at the beginning of the event, from northern Florida to South Carolina, dumping more than 6 ½ inches at Savannah, Georgia, the main culprit was a frontal system, several weak low pressure systems combined with an incredibly deep tropical flow tapping into a warm Atlantic Ocean.


Rainfall was astonishing, with more than 10 inches of rain common in a band from western Virginia northeastward into central Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania, southeast New York and western and central New England. If it hadn't been so dry before the event, the deadly flooding which did occur could have been much, much worse. Cities such as Washington and Philadelphia, which saw nearly no rain the previous month, were swamped with more than a half foot of rain.


Then, it was the central Rockies turn for some wild weather on October 9th and 10th. While it not all that unusual to snow in October in Colorado, this storm was an odd and peculiar fellow. While some of the heaviest snows often falls in the foothills of the Rockies, this storm had a mind of its own and instead dumped the heaviest snows east of Denver on the High Plains, with up to 2 feet of sloppy, tree-damaging, powerline-dropping wet snows. In Denver itself, parts of the southern metropolitan area received more than a foot of snow, while the airport east of town experiencing near-whiteout conditions.


However, a friend of mine, a weather enthusiast who lives up the road in Louisville between Denver and Boulder, bemoaned that nary a flake of snow fell while towns 30 miles to the east were getting hammered. Even in downtown Denver, very little snow fell on the west and north sides of town, with some hardened citizens wondering "what storm?".


Now there's a slow-moving coastal storm in the Northeast that has already dumped more than 2 inches of rain in New York City and up to 5 inches on Long Island. And it looks like this weather system will be another headliner by the end of the week as more record rains are possible in the Northeast. These breathtaking weather events are making for a memorable October! Signs of things to come?




Posted at 2:52 pm ET Comments (2) | Permanent Link

Inside The Weather Channel


Inside The Weather Channel


We wanted to share with you a sneak preview of two new commercials promoting weather.com which will run on The Weather Channel starting this weekend. Paul Goodloe and Jennifer Lopez were a lot of fun to work with in their acting debuts. For obvious reasons the "baseball" version will have to wait until next year, sorry Cubs fans!


Baseball - 30 seconds


Golf - 15 seconds


Look for more entries from the marketing department here in the future. We welcome any feedback you have on our new logo, these promos, or ideas for future ways we can continue "Bringing Weather to Life".


-- Posted by Derek, weather.com Marketing


Posted at 2:16 pm ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

October 7, 2005


Dr. Greg Forbes


Dr. Greg Forbes, Severe Weather Expert


The Wizard of Oz movie in 1939 helped Kansas and the Great Plains become known as part of "Tornado Alley" - the region of the United States often visited in late spring and early summer by dangerous, sometimes violent, tornadoes. Part of the reason why is that the "dryline" -- a front separating moist Gulf of Mexico air from dry air from the Southwest -- often sits across these states, helping spawn tornado-producing thunderstorms.


The Glossary of Meteorology published by the American Meteorological Society defines "Tornado Alley" as "a term often used by the media to denote a zone in the Great Plains region of the central United States, often a north-south-oriented region centered on north Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, where tornadoes are most frequent."


It turns out that the last phrase isn't correct. If we looked for the state that gets the most tornadoes per square mile of countryside, the "honor" belongs to Florida. Other states also have as many or more tornadoes per square mile as those listed in the Glossary, including Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Louisiana. If we looked at states that get more than a handful of tornadoes just about every year, then the entire area east of the Rocky Mountains -- excluding New England, New Jersey, and Delaware - could be called the "tornado strike zone." In fact, every one of the United States has had at least one tornado.


So what does "Tornado Alley" mean and where is it really? Let's come up with a better definition!


My own definition of Tornado Alley is where you would -- on average -- have the highest chance of SEEING a tornado during a well-chosen one-week tornado-chasing vacation. It combines tornado frequency, compact tornado season, tornado intensity/duration, terrain, and visibility factors. Using that definition, the weather data shows that "Tornado Alley" is north Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, east Colorado, and Iowa.


To come up with those states using that definition, we begin by eliminating the states with few tornadoes, while additional states get eliminated because their hilly terrain and numerous trees block out your view of distant tornadoes. Other states get eliminated where visibility is often poor because of haze. In Kansas, visibility is more than 10 miles during 70% of the tornado season. These factors eliminate states in the East.


Then, since you need to schedule your tornado-chase vacation well in advance, we further limit Tornado Alley to where the tornado season is relatively short and consistent from year to year. The majority of tornadoes in Tornado Alley fall during a 2-month period (May and June). In contrast, the tornado season is spread across many months across the Gulf Coast states.


Posted at 4:52 pm ET Comments (4) | Permanent Link

October 6, 2005


Mike Seidel


Mike Seidel, On-Camera Meteorologist


It's becoming a running joke at The Weather Channel: If you want the weather to clear out, send me! Even Bill Keneely mentioned this morning how happy the local Chambers of Commerce are when they see me showing up in their town.


I did the first live shot yesterday afternoon and then the rain from Tammy abruptly ended. This morning was stellar with the sun glistening off the waves and temperatures around 80.


Now we're on the way to Tampa, about a four-hour drive, while we wait to see if the next area of low pressure near the western tip of Cuba develops into a depression/storm. It's not moving into a very favorable area for development, but we'll wait to see what the Hurricane Hunters find. They're currently scheduled to take a look at it this afternoon. Follow the latest reports in weather.com's Hurricane Central.


I'm looking forward to this weekend's NFL Kickoff Forecast. We'll be live from the Meadowlands for the Jets game, with temps around 50 Sunday morning. It'll be a nice break from the tropical heat and humidity we've been dealing with this season!. Catch the tailgating action on 'Weekend View' from 7-11 AM.




Posted at 12:05 pm ET Comments (3) | Permanent Link

October 5, 2005


Stephanie Abrams


Stephanie Abrams, On-Camera Meteorologist


Being in Maine was great! We got to take a floatplane ride from Pushaw Lake to Chamberlain Lake to see the brilliant fall colors. Many people refer to these aircraft as seaplanes, but out pilot said he travels lake to lake in Maine so he calls his plane a floatplane. Seeing the foliage from the air was marvelous! There are so many adventurous ways to check out the trees, rafting, biking, and kayaking are just a few.


Many places we visited had limited or no cell service. Having limited cell service was tricky, because we were working, but at the same time it was very liberating. So if you need a weekend away, head to the outdoors!


Posted at 1:37 pm ET Comments (4) | Permanent Link

October 3, 2005


Paul Kocin


Paul Kocin, Winter Weather Expert


Finally! Looks like mother nature is going to start its winter machine going and it's not just going to be in the highest peaks of the Cascades or the Rockies. No, don't get me wrong, we're not going to see a snowstorm in New York or Chicago or even Minneapolis (although before all is said and done, the Twin Cities might see some flakes), but we may see our first real snowstorm away from the Western Peaks. Just not very far away from the western peaks. But it's a start, right?


The first significant winter storm for any area outside the western mountains is likely on Tuesday night and Wednesday, especially for eastern Montana and western North Dakota. A winter storm watch is already in effect in parts of North Dakota and 4" or more is possible across the western part of the state and there may even be some reports of a foot of snow before this storm is done! As winter weather expert, I finally have something to look forward to (it's been a long, lonely summer!).


The storm will start to crank up Tuesday afternoon across the Intermountain states and rain should develop from Wyoming and eastern Montana and later change to snow. This is a classic early season snowstorm with lots of wind and it's not all that unusual to see this type of storm occur at this time of year. A few years back, there was a significant snowstorm in North Dakota in late September.


Once this storm moves out of the Northern Plains later this week, cold air will whip southward behind it, ending the summer sojourn that keeps deluding Midwesterners and many Easterners into thinking that summer really hasn't ended. In those places, enjoy the illusion for the next several days, because you'll know the real season by the end of the week!


Posted at 6:04 pm ET Comments (16) | Permanent Link

September 30, 2005


Dr. Greg Forbes


Dr. Greg Forbes, Severe Weather Expert


We all know that humans under high pressure feel stress, which can lead to emotional flare-ups. But atmospheric high pressure can lead to weather conditions favorable for wildfire flare-ups.


The fall is prime fire season in southern California. It follows a long dry season, as California gets most of its rain in the cool season from November through April. Last winter was a wet one, allowing ample growth of brush this summer.


When a ridge of high pressure builds into Nevada at this time of year, it can bring more than its normal sinking air and clear skies. It can push air southwest down the mountains and into the coastal regions of southern California. These winds, known as Santa Ana winds, become quite warm and dry as they descend the mountains. This leads to low humidity conditions that can dry out the brush and leave vegetation prone to fire. The gusty Santa Ana winds can cause fires to spread rapidly. Local effects, such as swirling eddies due to interaction with hills, can cause erratic fire behavior that may put firefighters and residents quickly in peril.


In 2003, wildfires in southern California burned 750,000 acres, destroyed more than 3,750 homes, and took 22 lives. My best wishes and appreciation go out to firefighters trying to prevent this year's fires from taking such a terrible toll.


Posted at 5:20 pm ET Comments (2) | Permanent Link

Stu Ostro


Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist


In the immediate wake of Hurricane Rita, it was understandable for there to be a perception that Rita's damage was minor compared to Katrina's, and that the nation really dodged a bullet this time.


On one level, that remains true even today. The direct damage, overall economic losses, and loss of life from Katrina were staggering, while the worst-case scenario in terms of that was avoided with Rita, as the strongest part of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane and the maximum surge did not sweep right up across Galveston, Galveston Bay, and the Houston metro area.


But make no mistake: Hurricane Rita was also a catastrophe. Based on the hurricane's track, size, and intensity, and the vulnerability of the region, we were concerned about what happened in the areas near the coast that were less accessible afterward. Unfortunately, in the days since landfall, as more information and visual images have come in, the magnitude of the damage has become more and more apparent.


This Los Angeles Times photograph of Holly Beach shows some of the most staggering hurricane damage I've ever seen. That town along with Cameron and other coastal communities bore the brunt of a vicious surge of water from the Gulf even though Rita "weakened" to a Category 3 before landfall. Although most people fortunately had evacuated, they are now facing a very difficult road to recovery.


Inland, while not as utterly devastating as that caused by Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, wind damage has been widespread and severe in southwest Louisiana and extreme east Texas, enough to cause great discomfort.


So let's keep Rita's as well as Katrina's victims and survivors in our thoughts.


Posted at 12:28 pm ET Comments (6) | Permanent Link

Dr. Steve Lyons


Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert


Have coastal residents with the greatest hurricane losses from Katrina and Rita gotten shortchanged?


Hurricane Katrina made a direct hit on western coastal Mississippi. Surge there was of record proportions; currently a conservative estimate would be in the 27 foot range, and at the maximum point it will likely be higher. The previous record surge was 24.6 feet during hurricane Camille in 1969 (ironically in nearly the same location). Coastal structures were destroyed and if you did not have a before photo to compare with the after picture there is no way for one to understand the destruction that occurred there; little is left to compare to.


Media attention has focused on New Orleans, a true disaster in its own right although more from man-made failed levees and a tragically underdone evacuation than from Nature itself. The horror as presented by media coverage in the greater New Orleans area has been vivid and heartbreaking as residents that did not evacuate waited a long time to be rescued and provided with food/water/ice/shelter/support. Interestingly it seems that less attention has been given to those who lost everything in coastal Mississippi.


Hurricane Rita made a direct hit on southwest Louisiana near Cameron and Holly Beach. Surge there is currently estimated at about 18 feet and the resulting destruction looks similar to what was shown for the huge tsunami in Indonesia. Hardly a building still stands in coastal Holly Beach. Residents have nothing to come back to but a plot of soggy land.


Yet much focus has been on Houston's relatively minor wind damage and stories of evacuation ordeals (bad but very temporary in most cases).


I would really like to see more attention also paid to areas outside the big cities that experienced utter destruction from these devastating hurricanes. I would really like to see more attention paid to people that lost everything and what they plan to do to recover from their huge disaster. I would like more attention paid to the devastation a strong hurricane can leave behind so that others will act when a strong hurricane comes their direction.


Posted at 11:08 am ET Comments (38) | Permanent Link

September 29, 2005


Paul Kocin


Paul Kocin, Winter Weather Expert


While a strong cold front pushes through the East today, finally bringing a feel of Fall, September is drawing to a close as an extension of summer, rather than as a harbinger of the upcoming winter season.


I anxiously await the cool outbreaks that often spell the demise of summer. Slowly but surely, they're coming. But they're sure coming slowly this year! We've all been rightfully focused on the trials and tribulations of Katrina and Rita, which have effectively destroyed the entire coasts of 2 states -- Mississippi and Louisiana. In the meantime, I've had my eye out for the onset of autumn and any early signs of winter.


I must admit that September has been a bit pathetic in that regard. We've seen the typical return of high elevation snows out West, but it hasn't been anything out of the ordinary -- even Denver averages 2 inches of snow in September but it looks like this month will pass without a flake.


While a few cold fronts have brought temperatures down to average in portions of the Midwest and Northeast, September has really just brought slightly cooler weather than August to much of the area east of the Rockies.


Consider these numbers. In New York City, no day in September so far (I am writing this on the 28th) has averaged below normal and the month is currently running more than 6 degrees above normal (slightly cooler than August normally is). If you're a New Yorker (and I used to be) and you're thinking this has been a hot summer, consider this: Since July 10th, 81 days have come and gone -- 75 of those days have averaged normal and above -- only 6 have averaged below normal. Hot! While high temperatures haven't been exceptional (it did hit 99 degrees last month), low temperatures have been way up.


The story is not that much different elsewhere except out west (where temperatures are no more than 1 or 2 degrees below normal in places like Cut Bank, Seattle and Portland). Chicago has had a hot and dry summer that's spilled over into September. Of that same 81-day period, only 14 days have averaged below normal (less than 20%). The story is similar in places like St Louis, Minneapolis and Bismarck.


In the south, it's been unbearable, especially out across Texas where 100-degree weather has been the norm over the past week. And much of the nation will start October with above-seasonal temperatures. So where are the cold fronts?


Well, they're coming and maybe we'll finally see a big chilly outbreak late next week across much of the U.S. Even if that's true, October is right around the corner and you know, it would be about time!


Posted at 5:34 pm ET Comments (4) | Permanent Link

Inside The Weather Channel


Inside The Weather Channel


Jim Cantore's crew came back to The Weather Channel from covering Hurricane Rita with an extra passenger -- one that happened to be wrapped in brown fur.


Field Producer Michelle Birnbaum found an injured puppy during the crew's coverage. "Rita," as the puppy was named, has been adopted and has received veterinary care. Michelle updated her co-workers via e-mail this week:


"As many of you may know, I found a puppy during our Hurricane Rita coverage. Our satellite truck operator John O'Leary graciously agreed to take 'Rita' home with him and find her a good home -- which I think is now his home!


"Rita, it turns out, is a 6-month-old chocolate lab who broke her hip during the storm. She is a very sweet and social puppy -- and a very lucky one!"


Close-up of Rita:


The crew in the field, with Rita:


-- Posted by Laurel, weather.com Product Manager


Posted at 10:34 am ET Comments (10) | Permanent Link

September 28, 2005


Dr. Steve Lyons


Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert


An average hurricane season (which ends November 30) has 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. This 2005 hurricane season has broken many records with the highest number of storms and hurricanes for the earliest dates within this season. After getting off to a fast start in June and July, the season continued out of control in August and September! As of today, September 28, there have been 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes; on average 30% of hurricane season remains.


Of these 17 named storms in 2005, seven have directly affected the U.S., three as major hurricanes. An average of two or three tropical storms and/or hurricanes affect the U.S. per year.


Those numbers do not begin to indicate the devastation. Katrina will be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history and the deadliest since 1928 and perhaps even the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. The total death count is far from complete but already exceeds 1,000. Katrina made a direct hit on the Mississippi coastline with a water rise believed to be in the 27-32 foot range. If that level becomes official it will surpass the old U.S. water rise record of 24.6 feet from Camille in 1969, ironically nearly in the same location in western Mississippi.


Unfortunately the huge disaster ended up spreading to New Orleans which was only grazed by the western eyewall of Katrina. Katrina has left the city of New Orleans in a soggy flood of toxic water exacerbated by recent flooding from hurricane Rita. The cause not topping of the levee system, but rather a breach in the levee system caused by water pressure on the levee from Katrina's surge. This was fortunate since water rose more slowly than if the path of Katrina's center would have been slightly farther west. If New Orleans would have suffered the worst-case track, thousands of additional people that did not evacuate from New Orleans may have drowned in a more rapidly rising surge that could have exceeded 25 feet.


The city of New Orleans is filled with thousands of homes with mold and contaminated by toxic water that remains in pools around the city, refilled by levee breaks from surge from hurricane Rita. A monumental recovery effort that will cost billions of dollars and will likely take years to complete is now in the early planning stages. New Orleans remains very vulnerable to the remaining 30%, on average, of hurricane season.


Rita devastated Cameron Louisiana and severely damaged Lake Charles. Damage extends across Port Arthur, Texas well west to Galveston, Texas. One of the greatest (if not the greatest) hurricane evacuations in U.S. history unfolded during Rita as hundreds of thousands fled east Texas low lying coastal areas and Houston...the final count may reach into the millions. That evacuation did not go well as roads and freeways were jammed for 12 hours or more with evacuees that ran out of gas on roadways. Stranded they abandoned cars in masses. And many had nowhere to stay as hotels and motels were filled and overflowing in all surrounding states.


Ophelia never made landfall on U.S. soil but spent a few days ransacking coastal North Carolina, while earlier in the season Dennis swept quickly onshore on the Florida Panhandle. Both caused power outages and severe beach erosion, which is now widespread from Texas to Florida to North Carolina from hurricanes and storms in 2005.


Stay tuned to the Tropical Update on The Weather Channel. With an average of three named storms yet to develop somewhere in the Atlantic basin from now until the end of hurricane season, we wait to see what additional records will fall in 2005.


Posted at 5:57 pm ET Comments (11) | Permanent Link

Stephanie Abrams


Stephanie Abrams, On-Camera Meteorologist


The official end to the 2005 Hurricane season is November 30 and it could not come any faster. It is possible that you can have hurricanes out of the official season, which begins June 1, but at least we know the tropics will quiet down.


Our new show Weekend View will debut this weekend. We have had some delays do to the tropics, but we have been preparing and we are really excited about it. Check it out Saturday and Sunday 7-11am. See ya then.


Posted at 12:54 pm ET Comments (11) | Permanent Link

September 27, 2005


Jeff Morrow


Jeff Morrow, On-Camera Meteorologist


"Wet and Weary," was the front page headline of the Lafayette, Louisiana Advertiser newspaper on Sunday morning. I think that pretty well describes our crew of seven that endured Rita's wrath in Sulfur, Louisiana.


I've covered four hurricanes this year and found myself in the eyewall of all four. Each storm had its own personality. Dennis was quick but briefly intense. Katrina was huge and overwhelming in its scope of destruction. It was also the saddest story I have ever covered in my 20 years at TWC. Ophelia, in contrast to Dennis, was agonizingly slow and I felt thoroughly water logged when it finally left.


Rita, for me, was the most intense. Instead of being in the western eyewall, I was on the strong, east side. The wind was incredibly powerful in the early hours of Saturday morning, so much so that I seriously thought the roof of our hotel might come off. I was awoken by the Holiday Inn manager screaming above the wind, "Put your mattress against the window." At first I thought I was dreaming, but soon realized I wasn't, when his flashlight caught my shocked face in its beam. I can tell you that standing on a soggy carpet, wrestling a queen size mattress in front of a window with a hurricane raging outside while you are half asleep, is one of those once in a lifetime experiences. At least I hope it is.


I think I speak for all of The Weather Channel crews when I say that we've seen enough destruction and heartache to last a lifetime. I hope wherever you are reading this , that you and your family are safe and secure. This year I've seen far too many people who are not.


Posted at 10:16 am ET Comments (11) | Permanent Link

September 24, 2005


Stu Ostro


Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist


I figure if that got your attention, you might be willing to read through this long blog entry written in my sleep-deprived Hurricane Rita stupor.


But no, in the title above I'm not referring to Rita -- more on it in a moment. I'm talking about the heat wave and its associated big hot ridge of high pressure.


While the headline-getting weather news story has been Hurricane Rita, temperatures have been ridiculously high for this time of year across a good chunk of the country. I mean, c'mon ... highs in the 90s all over the place and even 100+ degrees in many locations, within a week or two of October?!


There was a time at which reading anything more into that would have been the last thing you'd ever hear from me. I was a certified Global Warming Skeptic. As most climate scientists came to conclude that humans were changing the climate and those changes were significant, I, priding myself on also being an Objective Meteorologist, vehemently resisted as a result of what I felt was insufficient evidence.


I eventually came to the judgment that I was wrong and global warming was real, largely caused by human activities, and profoundly changing the planet on which we live. Even so, I was particularly opposed to the notion of "blaming" global warming for any single weather event. To this day I think that a lot of discretion needs to be used in making such connections.


But when it comes to warmth, increasingly frequent and strong extremes in temperatures such as the recent spell are what add up to changing climate averages. That doesn't mean some extremes in the other direction (cold) can't still be part of the mix, or that every hot day everywhere can be attributed to global warming.


It's the intensity, duration and geographical expanse of the recent hot weather at this time of year that I think must be directly linked to, if not outright caused by, the changing climate.


As for global warming in relation to hurricanes, a topic which my colleague Dr. Heidi Cullen has written about a couple of times in these blog pages:


There's no doubt that a natural climate variability known as the "Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation" is a big player in the upturn in overall Atlantic hurricane activity and U.S. landfalls. Determining to what extent global warming is also influencing tropical cyclones here and worldwide is tricky given limitations in reliability of the data and length of the period of record.


Furthermore, especially once one goes beyond the most direct link (temperatures) with global warming, one must be very careful in the conclusions one draws when it comes to individual weather events such as Hurricane Rita.


But could global warming have played a role in the life cycle (track and intensity) of Rita by way of that big hot ridge of high pressure? Could another unusually strong late September ridge of high pressure have played a role in Ivan's bizarre loop to, and regeneration over, the Gulf of Mexico last year? And what's up with the occurrence of so many Atlantic basin Category 5s in recent years, including two of the five strongest hurricanes on record (Katrina and Rita) within the past month?


It's enough to at least raise this [ex-]skeptic's eyebrow ...


(This is my opinion blog on this particular topic. Read TWC's "official" overall global warming position statement.)



Posted at 4:14 pm ET Comments (36) | Permanent Link

Mike Bettes


Mike Bettes, On-Camera Meteorologist


We went through some nasty stuff in Beaumont, Texas, last night for sure. The winds were 105 mph. We've had some minor structural damage and we've had some very heavy rain. Over 8.5 inches of rain has fallen in Beaumont. That has caused some extensive flooding throughout the city.


We hunkered down for the height of the storm and broadcast last night from St. Elizabeth Hospital. The hospital is basically surrounded by water on all four sides now. It's an island, and it's going to be difficult for us to move at all. We're stuck here.


The hospital is without power, as is all of Beaumont. The hospital is working on generator power. The hospital does not have water either, and because of that, the hospital will be evacuated. Over 100 patients will be taken to the Houston area to make sure that they're cared for.


We also want to let you know, there are a few people out and about trying to survey damage as far as power crews. We've seen them out there and I think they're going to try to restore power as soon as possible. There will be some places that they can't get into because the water covers the roadways.


The rain has let up this morning. We're on the southern side of the storm. The winds have let up as well. We're expecting the water to recede in some of the streets, but it may take some time.


Posted at 10:33 am ET Comments (14) | Permanent Link

Jim Cantore


Jim Cantore, On-Camera Meteorologist


Even though it appears that Houston is out of harm's way, there are still going to be some effects from Rita felt in the city.


But I have to say, after watching the evacuation of the fourth largest city in the United States and seeing how people came out of their issues and helped others, my hat is off to this city.


It was an absolute class act regardless of how it went. There are obviously things that can be done better. But to get two million people out of harm's way is nothing short of a miracle.


Great job, Houston. Let's hope we don't have to do it again.


Posted at 12:23 am ET Comments (37) | Permanent Link

September 23, 2005


Dr. Greg Forbes


Dr. Greg Forbes, Severe Weather Expert


People sometimes talk about "normal" weather conditions, but it turns out that most of the time the weather (temperature or precipitation) turns out to be above or below, but rarely right on average. It's often feast or famine.


In that context, what a difference there can be from one state to another when it comes to the weather!


Illinois has had one of its driest summers on record, with extreme drought in the northern part of the state and corn crop there nearly a total loss. Precipitation at Peoria is running about 10 inches below average for the year. Moderate to severe drought also affects eastern Wisconsin, where places have had 8 to 9" of rain less than average. Western Wisconsin, however, is close to normal and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota is right on their annual average precipitation.


Quite often the tornado pattern shows a relation to these precipitation patterns. Minnesota and Wisconsin have had tornado seasons that have been WAY above average. In fact, Wisconsin has had 62 tornadoes already this year, a record for the state. Minnesota has had 65 tornadoes, almost twice their annual average. By contrast, Illinois has had 19 by my preliminary count, less than half of their annual average.


When the weather pattern doesn't favor thunderstorms and their precipitation, it's hard to get many tornadoes! One small positive for what has been a dreadful year for the farmers of Illinois.


Posted at 8:10 pm ET Comments (1) | Permanent Link

September 22, 2005


Jim Cantore


Jim Cantore, On-Camera Meteorologist


Last evening, many viewers witnessed a tragic accident on-air, when a dog was run over in traffic in the background of one of my live reports from Texas.


When I learned what had happened, I was heartbroken. I was not aware of the accident that was occurring right behind me, as my crew and I were focused on getting the hurricane information out to our viewers. But the local authorities were contacted and handled the situation.


Many of you have written and e-mailed. I do understand your distress and I am deeply saddened, too. Please know that we sincerely regret that this happened.


Posted at 5:53 pm ET Comments (62) | Permanent Link

Mike Bettes


Mike Bettes, On-Camera Meteorologist


We reported this morning from Freeport, Texas, which is little southwest of Galveston. But as we got settled in, it appeared that Rita's track might shift more north and east.


Now we're on our way to Port Arthur, Texas. Yes, the same spot we covered the second coming of Ivan last year when it came back into the Gulf as a tropical storm. It's a low-lying area susceptible to flooding, which is going to be a big concern for us.


So, before we left Freeport, we picked up more supplies -- completely loaded three vehicles with water, food and gas. We actually found a gas station that was open and filled up all of our vehicles and some extra gas tanks to help us out for the next couple of days.


Unfortunately, now we are in gridlock as we try our best to get to Port Arthur. We've taken every possible back road we could find to try to avoid traffic. We traveled a good 90 miles before we really started to have to start using some ingenuity and find some different routes.


We're now on Highway 90, making our way to Beaumont, Texas, and then we'll attempt to go south on 146 to get us into Port Arthur. So we're kind of going a round about way. We think we have enough gas, and everyone on the road seems to be pretty frustrated, but calm.


Thing is, we've got somewhere between 30 and 40 miles before we get to Beaumont and we've traveled two-and-a-half miles in the last hour.


Posted at 5:25 pm ET Comments (17) | Permanent Link

Dr. Heidi Cullen


Dr. Heidi Cullen, Climate Expert


Peter Webster - a scientist at Georgia Tech - did an interview with me last Thursday about global warming and increasing hurricane intensity. His research study - the second published this summer - linked warmer ocean temps to more Category 4 and 5 storms.


I've known Peter for a while - and like a lot of good scientists - he's interested in solving the toughest scientific questions. I asked him what motivated his research, and he admitted that he was looking to prove the global warming connection wrong. But instead, he became convinced it was real...


Science works that way more often than you might think. You have an idea, you collect data and sometimes you just have to suck it up and admit you were wrong. It can be a real character builder for some :)


Science is about turning the unknown into the known. But at the same time, its about admitting there's still stuff out there that is simply unknowable - mostly because we lack data. In real estate it's location, location, location - but in science it's data, data, data.


Webster readily admitted that the connection between global warming and more intense hurricanes is really complicated and there are still a lot of unknowns. The connection between ocean temperature and hurricanes, for example, is not a simple one.


There are also a lot of questions that are unknowable because we don't have a long enough sample of data yet. The irony of global warming is that waiting for proof means letting a window of opportunity slip away...


My heart goes out to the roughly 87 million Atlantic and Gulf Coast residents (that's nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population!) who are coming face to face with the known risks of living along the coast - first from Katrina and now Rita.


Richard Kerr - who writes for the journal Science - nicely captured the knowns, the unknowns, and the unknowables when it comes to global warming, hurricanes and living along the coast. Here's the article:


Is Katrina a Harbinger of Still More Powerful Hurricanes?



Posted at 2:51 pm ET Comments (14) | Permanent Link




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