Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A kiss from the sun

 On this Valentines day, our home star has blown us a kiss in the form of a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME for short.

 This big mass of solar energy was emitted on Monday, during a 6 hour long explosion. The blast of energy was ejected after a sunspot exploded causing the CME. It has been hurling towards the earth and should impact us late tonight or early Thursday morning.

The video clip is from a satellite that constantly observes the sun to detect just such explosions. You are looking at the sun through a special filter blocking out much of the visible light. You can see the clip goes from no activity to a huge eruption of energy. That is your classic CME. That's not all....That energy could tag team with a stream of solar wind  that was already making its way towards us. If they combine forces, the CME could hit the earth's magnetic field with an extra hard punch.

What does this mean for us?

Because we do have a protective shield that envelopes the planet, all the solar energy should be deflected and pushed towards the poles. As the energy dissipates, it forms the Northern Lights. They may be visible from the US-Canada border to points north.

That same CME blast could impact communication satellites, causing some interruptions in your cell phone services, Internet providers, and sat TV programming.

 The data and video clip courtesy of

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Super Lunar Stuff

On Wednesday, January 31st, you will get a chance to see a Supermoon, a Blue Moon,  and a Lunar Eclipse all in one! The last time this happened was back in 1866.  Plenty to talk about so lets begin with what is  a "Supermoon".


As the moon orbits the earth, it does so in an oval orbit, with it being at times a little farther away from earth (this is known as the Apogee) and sometimes closer (this is known as the Perigee). This Wednesday the moon will reach the Perigee at 4:54 am, being roughly 223 thousand miles way from the earth, as opposed to over 252 thousand miles when its at its farthest point.

This closeness makes it a "Supermoon". It will appear 14% larger and be 30% brighter than average. This will be the last of three such occurrences with the second taking place back at the start of January.

Blue Moon

Over the years, the second full moon of the month has come to be known as a blue moon. This "Supermoon" is also a full moon, the second of January which makes it a "Blue Moon". It won't really be blue as particles in the atmosphere will make it glow more orange than normal. Because of this, the event is also known as a "Blood Moon". Many are calling this lunar spectacle a Super Blood Moon!

 Lunar Eclipse

The earth will cast its shadow on the moon at the same time this is all happening creating a Lunar Eclipse.
Unfortunately, the eclipse will happen for us after sunrise and it will not be visible. This map courtesy of Spaceweather.

This is another map courtesy of Spaceweather, detailing the different areas that will have good visibility for the Eclipse.

For more details on all the Lunar Activity got to this NASA site:
NASA's Spermoon and Eclipse Site

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Why do we re-set our clocks?

We are all familiar with the saying, "spring forward, and fall back", which relates to setting the clock ahead one hour in spring and one back in the fall. But why do we do it? Here's a blog I wrote sometime ago explaining the tradition.

Here is a brief history of this practice:

18th Century:
Way back in the late 1700's Benjamin Franklin suggested that getting up earlier and enjoying the sunshine would help save lamp oil that otherwise would be wasted by staying up late at night.

19th Century:
When our country was young and most of the cargo was carried by train, companies needed set time zones so they would know where and when the goods would arrive. Time zones, splitting the nation into 4 parts, began in 1883. Until then, major cities set their own times from local astronomical observations.

20th Century:
By 1908, the House of Commons in England debated to change the time in order to eliminate "The Waste of Daylight". The measure failed.

Here in America, in 1918, congress passed a law making the time zones official for all to use but no time change was issued. That changed shortly thereafter as may countries engaged in World War I. The United States adopted Daylight Saving Time, pushing the clocks ahead one hour in order to conserve energy for the war effort. The measure was so unpopular that it was repealed as soon as the war was over.

As World War II emerged in 1944, we went back into Daylight Saving with clocks set ahead 1 hour. It remained this way until 1945. After the War, it was up to individual states whether to observe Daylight Saving.

By 1966 the Department of transportation was created and it took on the responsibility of handling the nation's time laws. They were confronted with a new problem... Television. How could networks tell the whole country at what time their favorite show would air if everyone was observing a different time zone? Over 100 million people were observing Daylight Saving set by local municipalities and customs, it was a mess.

Shortly thereafter, the Uniform Time act of 1966 was passed which called for the clocks to be set forward and backwards in the Spring and Fall. This new law just insisted that the states keep their times in a uniform fashion but did not force anyone to observe Daylight Saving.

21st Century
In 2007, new start and end dates were issued for Daylight Saving Time. It starts at 2 a.m. on the Second Sunday in March and lasts until 2 a.m.on the First Sunday of November.

As of last check, most states observe daylight saving time (DST), the exceptions being Arizona (except for the Navajo, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands), Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Why do we still do it?
Proponents say, it saves energy.  We tend to use less electricity during the summer months because we are home fewer hours.  During this time of year, most Americans are enjoying outdoor activities. This means less electrical usage.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a poll suggested that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings."  They also add, that while the amounts of electricity saved per household are small...added up they can be very large.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New Tropical Storm Philippe to move over us tonight

The area south of Cuba we've been watching has become Tropical Storm Philippe

As of the 5 pm advisory NHC has upgraded tropical depression 18 into a tropical storm. This is quite an interesting system. From time to time it has a typical symmetrical look to it and at others it appears to be lacking some organization.  The satellite imagery suggests plenty of cloud cover and rain across portions of Cuba and the NW Bahamas.

South Florida has seen its fair share of downpours and should still see more through the night.

A new spin has developed within the system that should be absorbed by the main center later tonight.

Models now show the center moving over Florida Bay and into Extreme Southern Miami Dade County later this evening.

The center should make landfall over the Upper Keys / Deep Southern Miami Dade county tonight.
  • Because of the structure of this system, the strongest winds will remain offshore, but cannot rule out a tropical storm force wind gust.
  • The main impact for South Florida will be the rain.  Many areas may get 2 - 4" with isolated spots seeing as much as 6" through tomorrow.

Watches and Warnings:
Because of the forecast track, a tropical storm watch is in effect from the Upper Keys (Craig Key) north to Golden Beach in Southern Broward County.  This means that winds up to 40 mph may be felt over the area during the next 24 hours.

Heavy rain is possible that may lead to street flooding with the best chance in area highlighted in orange .

Tonight through tomorrow morning will probably be the wettest period of this new storms for South Florida. We'll keep you posted.

Potential Tropical Storm 18

A Tropical Storm may brush South Florida this weekend

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Coastal Areas of South Florida from Craig Key in the Upper Keys to Golden Beach in SE Broward County..

There is an area of clouds and rain that practically takes up much of the western Caribbean Sea. It is dumping rain from Central America, to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Cuba. Some of this rain is forecast to move over us this weekend.

A recon plane found that the disturbance has become a depression  Earlier, NHC had deemed this a Potential Tropical Cyclone.

What is a Potential Tropical System?
This process of issuing advisories before a storm actually develops, is new.  NHC now has the option of starting advisories on a storm that has yet to organize. This gives areas in the storm's path the chance to prepare.  This new advisory  is known as Potential Tropical Cyclone.

The latest thinking on this Depression, is that it remains large with plenty of moisture, capable of heavy downpours. The 30 - 35 mph winds that have been clocked at times with this disturbance appear to be mostly on the southeastern side, down by Central Cuba.

This big mess will continue to move in our direction, and could still become a tropical storm later in the day.  It has a small window of opportunity to grow as strong upper winds ahead of a front may cut in down to size by Sunday.

Lots of uncertainties
The disturbance is still capable of heavy rains that could lead to flooding, land and mudslides over the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and the Bahamas. 

For South Florida the impacts should be in the form of possible heavy downpours.

This what NHC thinks:

The Cayman Islands, western and central Cuba, northern Bahamas: 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches through Sunday. These rainfall amounts may produce life threatening flash floods and landslides. South Florida, including the Keys: 2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum totals of 6 inches through Sunday. These rainfall totals may produce flash flooding, especially in urbanized areas. WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the warning area in Cuba later today and the northwestern Bahamas tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas tonight or early Sunday. TORNADOES: A couple of brief tornadoes are possible across far South Florida and the Florida Keys from midday through this evening.

The bottom line is just be aware that there is a possibility of heavy rain that may cause flooding. You can monitor the Live Radar here:


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tropical Storm Nate

A new storm develops in the Western Caribbean Sea and its name is "Nate".

On Thursday morning, "Nate" was just offshore the Nicaraguan coast with top winds registered at 40 mph. It is moving northwest under 10 miles per hour and should impact coastal Nicaragua and Honduras throughout the day.

It should dump plenty of rain across the region:

  • Honduras and Belize can expect 2 - 5 inches with isolated areas getting as much as eight.
  • Eastern Yucatan may see between 4 - 8 inches with some areas as much as 12.
  • Costa Rica and Panama are forecast to get between 5 - 10" with isolated areas up to 20".
  • Nicaragua will see huge downpours of 15 - 20 up to 30 inches in accumulation which will surely lead to flooding , land and mudslides.

Where is it going?
Tropical Storm "Nate" is very close to land and that should keep its growth process in check until it gets into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. While the waters here are not has hot as they were a month ago, there's still plenty of juice to elevate "Nate" to hurricane status on Saturday/Sunday.

The models on Thursday, shifted the cone a little further west as the strong upper level winds that were supposed to nudge east will arrive later than anticipated. This now places the area from Pensacola west to SE Louisiana in the cone of concern. Keep in mind this red area only represent where the eye may be at that time. Impacts can be felt hundreds of miles away from the center.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Irma" Category 5

Early Tuesday morning hurricane hunters found "Irma" to be stronger with winds of 175 mph.

  • NHC says there's an increasing chance that South Florida may see some impacts from "Irma"
  • Please prepare now as if we will get a direct hit. We will have a couple of good weather days that will give you the opportunity to prepare your property and get the supplies you need.
  •  A catastrophic event is in store for the Northern Leeward Islands with 175 mph winds, heavy rain, flooding, and a surge of 6 - 9 feet.
  •  Puerto Rico could see winds just as strong with heavy rain starting by Wednesday. You are under a hurricane warning.
  •  Hispaniola has a hurricane watch in effect. Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba will also see some impacts form Irma by the end of the week.

Where is it headed?

All the models place it near the Straits Friday-Saturday, stopping and aiming north across the entire state. The possible "Saving Front" may not arrive in time to deflect the system over the Western Atlantic. Instead, it appears "Irma" will move over us.

Worry Meter

Northern Leeward Islands: EXTREME- You will be impacted by a cat 5 as early as Wednesday morning.

Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba & Bahamas: ELEVATED. Possible cat 5 winds with heavy rain ahead. Finish your preparations now.

South Florida: VERY HIGH: Now is the time to review your hurricane plans, and get the supplies you need. If nothing changes with this forecast, we could be dealing with a powerful Cat 4 by the weekend.
Please take this seriously, it may be very close to us by Friday.