Another version of an animated wind map

Winydy map

Screen grab from Windyty map

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.

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Major storm hits northern California

rainfall northern california

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.

storm radar californiaOn Wednesday the day before the storm hit, crews on the Sequoia National Forest were able to prescribed burn 300 acres in the area around White River near California Hot Springs.

sequoia national forest prescribed fire.

Prescribed fire on the Sequoia National Forest, Wednesday December 10, 2014. USFS photo.

 

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Which areas have the most variable weather?

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.

Predictable weather

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Very heavy rain forecast for SoCal

flash flood watch southern california

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.)

Mt Laguna rain forecast

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Wildfire potential, December through March

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for December through March. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the eleven Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are accurate, southern California will have above normal wildfire activity in December, but no other areas are expected to be in that category during the next four months.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.

December, 2014

December wildfire potential

  • Long-term precipitation deficits and a risk off offshore winds will keep fire potential elevated through mid-December in southern California, returning to near normal wildland fire potential for the remainder of December.
  • Below normal fire potential is expected for most of the South.

January, 2015

January wildfire potential

  • No areas of above normal fire potential are expected for this period.
  • Below normal fire potential will continue for most of the South and Mid-Atlantic regions.

February – March, 2015

February March wildfire potential

  • No areas of above normal fire potential are expected for this period.
  • Below normal fire potential will continue across central and southern Texas, Florida, and southern Georgia.

UPDATE, December 4, 2014: the drought monitor released today.

Drought monitor

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