Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catching a Break/Spotter Meetings

Millie and I have a break from our busy schedule of weather talks this week. We get going again next week with talks in Bel Aire at the City Hall and next Friday we'll be at Jefferson Elementary School. Pictures will be coming soon.

In the meantime, I've had some questions regarding spotter talks. The National Weather Service hold meetings in each county and they are free and open to anyone. We have a complete list on KWCH.com (in the weather section) but if you want to know about a specific county or city, just send me an email, rjanssen@kwch.com and I'll look it up for you. Wall clouds and shelf clouds are easily confused, as are tornadoes and low hanging clouds. Attending a spotter meeting can help clear this up. But, since you are already here, a wall cloud is on the left, and the shelf cloud is the one that stretches clear across the horizon. Wall clouds sometimes produce tornadoes; shelf clouds produce strong winds. Side by side, you can see how different they are, but some would instantly call a shelf cloud a tornado. We encourage you to report severe weather to us this spring. Good, clear spotter reports are priceless in times of active weather.

I've been forecasting some springlike weather changes by March 8-12. I still think the pattern will change during that time frame and we'll finally start getting some 50 degree weather on a more consistent basis. It's long overdue and I know many of you are counting down to spring. So is Millie. Have a great week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

School Talk in Windom

If you are traveling down Hwy 56 in McPherson county and you blink, you might miss the town of Windom, but remember that size isn't everything. Millie and I visited the small school Tuesday afternoon and we had a good time (as we do with most elementary students we visit). I honestly think the students were surprised to see Millie show up, but as I gave the presentation, she made her way up and down the rows of kids to greet almost each and every one of them. You see, Millie has been through my presentation, so she gets bored and decided to roam the gymnasium, probably looking for lunch. The questions were good and even one of the girls guessed "anemometer" when I put a picture of our wind measuring device up on the screen. Tough word to say, spell, and I'm so impressed when an elementary kids gets it right. Enjoy the pictures.

The weather looks a little unsettled going into the weekend. There will be some chances for rain and snow over the weekend. There are some signs of another Arctic blast coming in before the end of the month, so stay tuned to see if and when it might arrive.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dallas Snow/Spring Thoughts

Just when you thought the winter couldn't be any more bizarre, Texas ended up with a record setting snow event that dropped 10-14 inches on the metro area. Dallas/Ft. Worth had 11.2 inches officially, which set a record for the most snow in a 24 hour period. Of course, it was a heavy, wet snow (just like the snow we had in Wichita last Sunday night) and it caused some damage with the weight of the accumulation.

What should we blame this crazy weather on? Well, it's none other than El Nino (I'm not making this up either) and it's that unusual warm water in the Equatorial Pacific. It tends to keep the southern states wetter than normal, and this winter has been just that. It is weakening now, but it could be a contributing factor to springtime severe weather in Kansas. There could be some short breaks from time to time, but the overall pattern is very active and it may continue through early Summer before El Nino dissipates for good. I don't know the finer details of what will happen this spring, but if the pattern continues to behave the way it has this winter, there could be some good thunderstorm events in the central US. Have a wonderful weekend.

Next week, Millie and I will venture to the Little River/Windom area for a school talk. Hope to have pictures, so check back.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowstorm Comes and Goes

Alright, so Wichita just had some heavy, wet snow Sunday night and Monday morning, but it was such a narrow band. On the radio Monday morning, we couldn't belive that Wichita cancelled class, but Derby or Mulvane hadn't thrown in the towel yet. The band of heavy wet snow (accumulation 5+ inches) couldn't have been more than about 8 or 10 miles wide. But it stretched from around Kingman to El Dorado. Forecasting these events are just so difficult, but as a scientist, it is so interesting and we keep coming back for more day after day. It won't be long before we'll be pulling our hair out with severe weather forecasting. Storm spotter meetings begin this week for parts of Kansas, so stay tuned for a meeting near you.

While shoveling the driveway, Millie and I rolled up some snow for a snowman that turned out rather wimpy. Others, including Michael Schwanke, had his kids help make a snowman too (it's the other picture seen here). The heavy, wet snow is good moisture for the winter wheat crop and is good moisture going into the spring growing season. Spring is now less than 40 days away.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Will Winter Ever End?

This winter sure seems to be dragging on and on, but it's not because of record snowfall, it's because every other day is cloudy and foggy. Northeast Kansas has had a rough winter season, and another storm will threaten the area late in the weekend. Looks like the heaviest snowfall will occur Sunday night or Monday with heavy accumulations possible. It's nice to have the moisture and at least it's not going to be heavy ice, right?

Someone in our newsroom told me about the weather ball in Michigan, so I had to check it out. Imagine one of these sticking up above your town's skyline. It would make it so much easier to see if something bad was approaching. The ball turns green if there is no change coming in the weather. It's red if, temperatures will be warmer, blue means colder weather in view, and if it's blinking, then rain or snow is coming soon. I like to think instead of a weather ball, we have Millie. Although she's missed a few winter storms, she seems to know when the severe weather will hit. And speaking of Millie, she has a Facebook page. Just search "Millie the Weather Dog" and you should see her picture come up. It's not something I set up; there is another fan out there that established a page for her, so add her as a friend if you think about it.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the Super Bowl and the commercials. I'm going to root for the underdog, but in the end, I just hope the game is a good one and not a total blow out.

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