This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

To storm or not on this Thanksgiving?

The GFS model forecast by the National Weather Service
for 4:00 p.m. Thursday PST
taken from Cliff Mass's blog discussed in text
Hmmmmm...who to believe? If you read CNN.com here, you get the impression that Thanksgiving is going to be a mess. In fact, that article is on the front page of CNN.com with titles "Massive storm for Thanksgiving" and "A side of weather with your story." I was feeling smug that I am staying local for Thanksgiving, and so I turned for a local forecast to my favorite northwest meteorologist Cliff Mass's blog, which is particularly funny today and, as usual, educational.
    And, what did I find?An essay on the "lack of storminess and ill-weather" in the Thanksgiving prediction! Cliff usually takes on the Seattle Times, but he missed a chance to take on CNN today! If you read the text of the CNN article, you can see that they are talking about yesterday, today and Tuesday mostly, not about Wednesday through Friday, but the headlines are certainly misleading.
        The only place on the mainland to see significant precipitation is far NW Washington State and, Cliff says, "not many folks live there and most of those watch Canadian TV. In other words, they don't count!" (The comments posted today reflects that he has a tolerant readership up in that area of Washington!) He really is in good form in this post. High pressure dominates most of the nation, there are no low pressure systems influencing the mainland (there is one noticeable one off the coast of southern California). He also points out that today (Nov. 25th) is the 6th straight day without rain in the Seattle area, when the normal chance of rain at this time of year is 65%. It looks like we could squeek by through Wednesday without rain, with some moving in on Thanksgiving. That would be 8 straight days without rain, and according to him, the chance of that is about 3%.
       But there's more to the story. According to the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center, Wednesday could be messy in the midwest and east coast. Temperatures will be 10-20 degrees below average in the central east coast and upper midwest regions, and a front over the Great Lakes will produce lake effect snow over the Great Lakes through Wednesday (this does bring back memories of Thanksgiving storms where I grew up in Northwester Pennsylvania, where we got the lake effect snow from Lake Erie). A storm developing over the Central gulf coast will move toward this Great Lakes disturbance to produce moderate to heavy rain that will move from the central Gulf Coast into the Appalachians by Tuesday morning. This system of rain will then move east to the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday and expand into Northern New England by Wednesday morning. Snow will expand into the Lower Great Lakes Tuesday evening and Wednesday. So, in detail, it's complicated and worth reading the various forecasts/news articles carefully.
        As, Cliff also pointed out, Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah coincide this year, the first time since 1888, and the next time may be 77,000 years from now! Compounded with the fact that Comet Ison will be the closest to the sun and brightest that same day, as Cliff says , "Happy Thanksgivukkah", or maybe better, "Happy IsThanksgivukkah!"

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