According to the January 13, 2015, U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 28.0% of the contiguous United States, a slight decrease from last week’s 28.1%. The worst drought categories (extreme to exceptional drought) also remained nearly unchanged, covering around 8.8% of the lower 48 states.
In 2012 we wrote about an animated wind map at hint.fm which has lines that move in the direction of the wind, and the speed of the moving lines varies depending on the actual wind speed. Now another source, Windyty map, has developed a version that has additional features. If you zoom in, borders, cities, and weather stations appear. Overlays allow viewing of clouds, temperature, pressure and humidity. Surface winds are shown by default, but winds at altitude can also be displayed. A time slider allows the viewing of predicted conditions.
The hint.fm map seems to show the wind over land better than the the Windyty map, but it does not have the additional layers, or the predicted winds. These maps could be useful for wildland firefighters and pilots.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Robert.
The map above shows some very impressive precipitation amounts in northern California through noon today, December 11. Upwards of eight inches have fallen in some areas, including near the Shasta and Russian Rivers.
The weather system is bringing localized flooding and power outages in some areas. PG&E reported approximately 80,000 customers without power in San Francisco at mid-morning Thursday, with about 90 percent of those customers expected to have their power restored by noon. The weather service also said heavy rain and an unusually high tide would mean flooding along the San Francisco Bay coast, including the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
An excerpt from an article in the LA Times:
…The storm, billed as the one of the most powerful to hit the state in years, was living up to the hype Thursday, with powerful winds uprooting trees and rain pouring over the northern half of the state. Forecasters said a wind gust at Mount Lincoln, northwest of Lake Tahoe, was clocked at 107 mph.
The storm is working its way into the southern part of the state.
Even though I hated taking statistics classes in college, I am now an interested consumer of compilations and analysis of data that help to explain our world. One of the best statisticians at doing that is Nate Silver, who runs the FiveThirtyEight web site. Mr. Silver became a public figure after using very successful and innovative techniques to analyze the performance of baseball players and to predict the outcome of elections. For several years he wrote for the New York Times, but now he is associated with of ESPN.
One of Mr. Silver’s latest projects was to study weather patterns, resulting in the article, Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather? The title is a little misleading and seems to imply that in those “unpredictable” cities, the professional weather forecasters are more frequently wrong in their forecasts than in other more “predictable” cities. What he actually studied was the degree to which the daily weather in those cites deviated from the average for that day. He should have named the article, Which City Has The Most Variable Weather?
But we’re nitpicking. And in spite of the semantics issue, Mr. Silver came up with some data that could be of interest to wildland firefighters.
In the “predictable” areas, the weather one day is more likely to be similar to that of the previous day, and is not too far off from the average. That is not the case in the “unpredictable” cities.
Variable weather is the bane of wildland firefighters. They don’t like to be surprised by sudden changes in humidity, wind speed, or wind direction.
Generally, Mr. Silver found that weather east of the Rocky Mountains was more variable than in areas west of the mountain range. Rapid City has the crown for the most variable weather.
You should read the article, but below is sample.
Very heavy rain is in the forecast for southern California through Wednesday. Included in the prediction is a flash flood watch for Tuesday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties below the recent burn areas. Specifically mentioned were the Colby, Powerhouse, Station, and Williams Fires in LA County.
As you can see in the map above, extensive areas should get between two and three inches, with a few places looking for five to six inches. This is a crapload of precipitation for southern California. Most inland locations normally receive 10 to 15 inches a year. Can we safely call this a fire season ending event for southern California? (I know — some will say the fire season there is year-round.)
An interesting comparison with this forecast is the prediction in the following article for elevated wildfire potential in southern California for the first half of December.
Below is the precipitation forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday at Mt. Laguna, California in the mountains east of San Diego (where I used to live). It looks like they are expecting over four inches of rain. (Click on it to see a slightly larger version.)