WSAZ - Blogs - Brandon Butcher

So... "How Hot Is It?"

The first official day of spring. A recount of how hot it has been locally, nationally, and beyond. Storms are still hanging around out we're just left with the heat.

Happy Tuesday everyone! We've finally made it to "spring" (for real) today...

The actual "Vernal Equinox" occurs at 1:14am (EDT), so that technically means spring "springs" on different days in different parts of the US (the folks in Cali hit it at 10:14am on the 19th). Spooky.

Get ready for another warm one out there. Highs today could approach an average afternoon during the dog days of August. It's times like these when the forecaster can be decidedly less sophisticated. Like this guy:

 You gotta love a place where you can block the entire map, talk for 9 seconds, and pretty much cover all the bases ;-) ...Of course, "Arthur" has around 5 million hits for this performance-- perhaps I can take some lessons.

Well, because we've been tracking and anticipating the storms out in the middle of the country for days, and because we're going to remain more-or-less dry today, I thought it might be a good time to look at how we stand in the whole climate scheme of things. This may be a little wonky at times, but feel free to skip to the tracking tools at the end (I'll put'em all up just because).

---Climate Tangent---

So here is a look at our recent temperatures combined with the record/normals highs for the dates: (Charleston/Huntington)

Day High Temp Normal High Record High
March 17th 77° / 77° 57° / 57° 81° / 79°
March 18th 75° / 78° 57° / 57° 84° / 85°
March 19th 82° / 84° 57° / 57° 87° / 85°
March 20th HOT / HOT
58° / 58°
90° / 87°
March 21st HOT / HOT
58° / 58°
85° / 85°

You can track today's temperature below, but rest assured we'll still be about 20-25 degrees above normal for the day. But still, note that we did not set any record highs (and probably won't). Taken together though, the National Weather Service in Charleston has issued a statement declaring that the "Meteorological Winter" was the warmest the Charleston area had seen in 40 years. For the sake of ease, the "Meteorological Winter" is defined as the months of December, January, and February (it's a lot easier to mess with instead of taking parts of various months and such, although people do want an accounting of that too, so they do it as well). [Note, Charleston WV had a winter that was equally mild in 1996-1997, but it hasn't been surpassed in 40 years.

For the US itself, the past three months were the 4th warmest "winter" on record (with our region seeing it's 2nd warmest "winter" in the last 117 years):

Now the interesting part: When looking at the entire globe, though the temperatures are still above average as a whole compared to the mean of the entire temperature record, the temperatures globally are actually a little cooler than what the experience of the US might dictate.

There is a satellite (or series of them) that has been measuring temperature of the Earth's surface since 1979-- which is pretty cool because it can theoretically assess places that are remote and that don't have temperature gauges.

For anyone familiar with the recent news, debate, 'wars', etc. involving climate and climate change, you readily recall that there is not just one measurement of global temperature (and folks even argue which one is 'best', etc.) The one that has been developed by the folks at NASA have a map that is of interest to us today:

This is the GISS Temperature series, smoothed to 250km (the gray spots indicate areas where a qualifying instrument was not located close enough to get a validly direct measurement). The folks at NASA make another map that includes analysis that smooths out the nearby data points (as far as 1200km away). Here is one such map with this kind of smoothing for the "Meteorological Winter". Anyway, the point of this map is to show that despite the clear warmth in the US, folks in Central Europe have been enduring one of their worst winters (we've reported on it a few times). This is a lesson to not judge regional climate by a local city, the US climate status by a single region, or the world by the temperatures of a single country. All that said, the last 15 years or so have been just about the warmest we've seen in the entire temperature record (we've been reliably paying attention to this for the last 150 years). At times here and there, I'm sure I'll be talking about climate and climate-change things, but I don't want to get off the beaten path that y'all want me on (which is why I'm grateful for all your feedback).

---End Tangent---

I know a few of you have been asking me for 'predictions' on what the summer will be like in light of present days. At the outset, I want to say that I concentrate my forecasting on the nearer term (I usually go out 1-2 weeks). It's been my experience that anything more specific than 'above'/'below' normal kinds of forecasts can get a little hairy :-) ... Here's how the National Weather Service does it

So this map says that we'll have a 40% chance of an "Above Normal" 3-month period. Such forecasts do have some utility for those who know how to use it, but it may not be what others are looking for ("chance" forecasts are basically unfalsifiable, because no matter what happens in the future the forecast technically said it was possible). Remember, it's also possible to have record low temperatures experienced in the next three months and still see an "above normal" period. If anyone is confused about this, just let me know in the comments section... I'd be more than happy to explain anything further :-)

Without further ado... Your tracking tools (we've been talking about severe weather popping up in the central plains and Mississippi valley-- let's see what we get).

Regional Radar/Satellite with Warnings Tracking

Accuweather Radar

 From the Storm Prediction Center (below): Click For a Larger Image

Activity Overview Storm Outlook Watches Potential Watches Storm Reports


Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active Warnings
Current Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active NWS Warnings
Click For Larger Click For Interactive Radar Click For Larger Click For Larger

Have a great day everyone!




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