Articles by Paul Douglas

California Wildfires
October 5

NOAA Turns 50 – Are US Power Outages Increasing – Western Infernos

NOAA Turns 50! We can debate which weather models are more accurate, but there’s little doubt (in my mind, at least) that America has the best weather service on the planet. Kudos to the men and women of NOAA who keep us informed, in good weather and bad. Details via NOAA: “Since its inception in 1970, NOAA has evolved into one of the world’s premier science organizations with a mission that spans from the surface of the sun to the floor of the ocean. Our work is incredibly diverse, and it’s difficult to capture everything we do in one place....

cansips_T2ma_namer_1_header
October 2

Are Long Range Forecasts Getting Better? California Glass Fire Incinerating 1 Acre Every 5 Seconds

A Hopeful Forecast: More Accurate Long-Term Weather Predictions. Good news (for people living in the tropics) but pesky chaos theory quickly comes into play – don’t get your hopes too high too fast. The New York Times (paywall) reports; here’s an excerpt: “...In the ’90s, we had almost no satellite observations in the southern hemisphere,” she said. “Since then, the number and quality of satellite observations has increased substantially,” so our ability to make accurate forecasts in the southern hemisphere is almost as good as in the northern hemisphere. Additionally, the global weather models that are now in development can...

heat-forecast-oct
September 30

Heat Wave Stokes More Fires Western USA – First Flakes for Northern Minnesota by Saturday

ECMWF total snowfall forecast (Kuchera Method) by next Wednesday courtesy of WeatherBell. A few wet snowflakes may mix in with the rain showers with Saturday’s clipper, but with relatively mild ground temperatures I doubt there will be any accumulation. Cooling Off Again Third Week of October. After a milder than average second week of October GFS guidance above suggests a return to average or slightly cooler than average weather looking out about 2-3 weeks. We’ll see – my confidence level is pretty low things will work out exactly like this. Why the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Has Spun Out of...

fall-Deerfield-Trail-Lake3-Pete-header
September 28

Drought Worsens Over Western USA – New NOAA GEFS Model Upgrade Now Looks Out 35 Days

NOAA Takes Steps To Catch Up to ECMWF For the record, I’d like American Exceptionalism to apply to weather model accuracy. My take: The National Weather Service is the best on the planet, but in recent years the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts) has been more accurate. Not perfect, but better than NOAA’s models many days. That may change with the recent overhaul of NOAA’s GEFS (Global Ensemble Forecast System) FV3, which reduces resolution to 25km, with better physics – able to peer out 35 days into the future. Stay tuned, and good luck with all these...

fall-Deerfield-Trail-Lake-Pete-header
September 25

La Nina Likely This Winter – 5 of California’s 6 Biggest Wildfires Observed Last 2 Months

La Nina Now Likely This Winter I’ve consulted my therapist and my winter outlook remains unchanged: “Colder with some snow”. It’s the details (when, where, how much?) that trip me up every time. According to NOAA, a La Nina cooling phase in the Pacific Ocean should linger into much of the winter. Every La Nina is different (lovely) but most La Nina winters favor more snow for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Snowfall has been erratic in recent years but snow lovers may have reason for hope. In spite of La Nina, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a milder...

teddy3-scaled
September 24

“Beta” Floods Houston, “Teddy” Strikes Canada, Zombie-Storm “Paulette” Rises Again

2020: A Disruptive Year For Weather Too “There are two ways to be fooled. One, to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to believe what is true” wrote 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. The way 2020 is turning out it’s tempting not to believe our eyes or ears some days. Meteorologists are paying attention to a firehose of freakish weather, tracking volcano-like plumes of smoke and ash from western fires. 140 mph wind gusts from an Iowa derecho. Hurricane Teddy hitting Nova Scotia, Canada! And now Paulette, a “zombie storm” that died, then regenerated over the...

sunset-Sept-20-2020-Pete-header
September 23

Tracking “Beta”, “Teddy” and Massive Smoke Plumes – Limits of Forest Management in Controlling Wildfires

The Limits of Long Range Forecasting “Paul, please help. My little girl is having an outdoor wedding on October 11. Any idea what the weather will be?” Yes I do. Changeable. It might be easier to predict where the stock market will be on October 11. There is (some) forecast skill going out 1-2 weeks for a specific location. Beyond that it’s mostly hand-waving and ruminating about trends. The reason? Chaos Theory. Over 210 million current observations from weather stations, balloons, satellites, ships and planes provide the raw fuel for weather models that simulate what the atmosphere SHOULD look like...

aeris lanos1
September 22

“Medicane” in the Mediterranean Sea – “Teddy” and Likely “Wilfred” Threaten U.S.

2 Weeks Out – Cut Off Low Out East? Minnesota and the western two thirds of the USA are forecast to run milder than average, with a closed low causing clouds and showers (and cooler than normal temperatures) over much of the east. Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday morning, September 17th, 2020: Tropical Depression Sally Sally Weakening. While Sally has quickly weakened over the past 24 hours as the system continues to move inland, it is still producing heavy rain across portions of the Southeast this morning. As of 4 AM CDT, the center of Sally was 50 miles southeast of...

smoke from fires in western US
September 17

Sally Fades – Now There’s “Teddy” – Medicanes – Tracking Nationwide Smoke Plume

Climate refugees? Maybe Bangladesh or the Maldive Islands in the Pacific, but here in the U.S.? As a warming climate makes naturally-occurring fires, floods and hurricanes more intense experts predict a slow-motion migration away from high risk areas in the south and west. A recent story at The New York Times outlines the trends and predictions: s many as 13 million Americans could be forced to move away from submerged coastlines. 28 million Americans may face “mega-fires” as summers heat up, making work outside increasingly difficult. Access to clean, reliable water will be a major theme of the 21st century....

eye of hurricane from air
September 9

Chaos Theory Limits Long-Range Weather Accuracy – Tracking “Paulette” and “Rene”

The Dominance of Chaos. An accurate forecast 4 months into the future? Don’t hold your breath. At the end of the day meteorologists are up against chaos theory, as a story at Mashable explains; here’s an excerpt: “…Yet, there’s a limit on how far into the future humanity can ever predict the day-to-day weather: Will a storm probably hit my town? Will it be a terrible day for a barbecue? Will driving be too dangerous? The absolute limit on this type of weather prediction is somewhere between two and three weeks, said Falko Judt, a research meteorologist at the National...