Atlantic Sat Image

Atlantic Sat Image
Clouds over Atlantic

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NHC has new upgrades for 2015

Its a long article but worth reading for you hurricane addicts. This is direct from the National Hurricane Center. The season starts June 1st. Its never too early to get ready.

Click on the link below

New NHC Changes

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

First Ever Tornado Season Forecast

After the terrible and active 2011 tornado season, President Barack Obama asked why there wasn't a seasonal outlook for tornadoes, similar to our hurricane season forecast.  That year there were1,691 tornadoes — the second most for any season going back to the 1950s. That season spawned a horrible EF-4 tornado which demolished the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham area,

Well since then, forecasters have been working on such an outlook, and today it was made public.

The Forecast:
The experimental outlook for the 2015 spring tornado season released by Columbia University researchers.

They give a 60 percent chance that the tornado season will see normal levels of activity, a 30 percent chance that it will be below normal (as it has been so far, thanks to pervasive cold weather in the central and eastern U.S.), and a 10 percent chance it will be above normal.

Credit: John Allen 

The Reasoning:

They are focusing more or less on El NiƱo. They suggest their is some correlation that may give us an idea of how active tornado season can be. There are many other factors to tornado formation but this is a starting point. I'm sure there is still plenty of learning to be done and many refinements to this outlook, but at least it gives folks in tornado alley an idea of what to expect.  But just like hurricanes, just how many will strike an area is still unknown.

It is extremely difficult to forecast such small scale events. Even though they are ferocious, it is still almost impossible to forecast where a tornado may develop or even touch down, but the folks at Columbia University took up the challenge and released their outlook.

Solar Storm Going on Now

According to there is a severe geomagnetic storm underway right now.

It struck the earth earlier than expected, striking our magnetic field earlier on this St. Patrick's day.  Experts first thought it was a weak storm (G1-class (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm} but then they quickly realized it was much stronger.

It has now been upgraded to the strongest category (G4-class (Kp=8)), making it the strongest storm of the present solar cycle.

The geomagnetic storm sparked auroras over the Northern States like Washington, Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

The picture attached was provided by and is courtesy of Marketa Murray. It shows the Northern lights as seen from Alaska. What a beautiful sight as the foreground shows pine trees all covered with snow.

This Solar incident should continue for a few more hours as the earth passes through the Solar Flare. This may cause satellite outages and cellular phone call interruptions. 

If we get more, we'll pass it on.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Solar Flare Hiccup

On March 11th, the sun spewed out a really big sun flare.NASA classified it as an an X2 flare. NASA classifies them on intensity. This is how they do it: 

  • X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.  
  • M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events,  
  • C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

The big dose of ultraviolet radiation from the flare hit the earth,  ionizing the upper layers of the atmosphere. 

This event lead to HF radio fade-outs and caused other communication problems from North to South America. 

This impacted ham operators as well as boaters with intermittent or no communications at all.  As of this hour the disturbance has since subsided. 

We'll be on top of it in case we get any more flares. Some can disrupt cell phone communications as well. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Volcano Lightning! How?

Thousands of Chileans are being evacuated from their homes as one of South America's most active volcano blows its top. The name of this geologic menace is "Villarrica", and it began its tirade shortly after midnight on Tuesday. The evacuations were issued because authorities feared the oozing lava would melt the snow and ice and cause major flooding. Villarrica is covered by a glacier cap covering some 15 square miles. It is also capped by snow starting at around 5000 feet high.

This volcano rises 9,000 feet and is located near the small city of Pucon, roughly around 400 miles south of  Chile's capital, Santiago.

Yet, the most impressive thing about the eruption, was the lightning sparking from the spewing lava. It is keeping tourists, locals, and emergency managers in awe.

This image, courtesy of the Associated Press, shows the incredible lightning show shooting through the cloud of ash.
But how does this happen?. Well check out this article courtesy Popular Science:

The weird appearance of lightning during volcanic eruptions has been documented for some time now, but until recently, scientists weren't sure what caused the lightning bolts to appear. They were pretty sure it had something to do with the particles of ash from the eruption getting an electric charge as they spewed out of the volcano, but nobody could figure out how the charge got there. And getting a closer look wasn't exactly an option, since directly observing a volcanic eruption isn't the safest thing to do. Ash, lava, lava bombs ... there's a reason that the area around Villarrica was evacuated.

But in 2013, there was a breakthrough. Scientists at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich managed to create volcanic lightning in a lab, suspending particles of volcanic ash (gathered from sites around the world) in argon gas, then forcing the concoction through a narrow tube and into a tank. The process mimics an eruption, when particles go from a compressed environment under the earth's surface into the atmosphere.

The researchers videotaped their experiments and found that the particles of ash manage to charge each other through friction, just rubbing against each other during the 'eruption'. When the charged particles enter the tank, energy is discharged, creating tiny lightning bolts.
In nature, those tiny lightning bolts can be huge, making for some spectacular photos of eruptions that look an awful lot like a supervillain's lair. But in this case, it's not science fiction, just science friction.