Total Solar Eclipse 2017

A total solar eclipse will be visible this August 21st across parts of the lower 48! This hasn’t happened since 1979, so it’s a pretty rare event. The good news is that the total eclipse will take place in Georgia! The bad news is that you will need to be in a tiny slice of the northeast corner of the state to see it in it’s entirety. If not don’t worry, you will still get an almost total eclipse even from metro Atlanta. Here is a map showing the path of totality.

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Not only will the view be limited spatially, but it will be limited in time as well. Provided there are good weather conditions to view the eclipse it will only last around 2 minutes sometime between 2:35 pm and 2:40 pm depending on where in northeast Georgia you are located. If your are elsewhere in Georgia during that time you will only see a partial eclipse. If you miss this one the next Total Solar Eclipse visible in the lower 48 won’t come until April 8th, 2024 and it won’t be visible here in Georgia. For that one you will have to travel west to Arkansas for the closest view.

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For those planning to take a look skyward remember do not look into the sun without proper eye protection. There are alternate ways to view the eclipse as well, and by following this link from NASA Eclipse 2017 you can find all the information you need to view the eclipse safely.

 

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More Rain To Kick Off June

It looks like the rainy pattern that we have been in, is not going away anytime soon thanks to a near persistent trough of low pressure covering the eastern half of the nation. Although it will shift, and loose it’s grip on us from time to time, the overall result will lead to above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures. The following chart shows the 500 mb circulation around the northern hemisphere. The big L parked over the Great Lakes is the trough that is currently helping to bring us the unsettled weather of late.

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The forecast from the Climate Prediction Center points to this trend continuing as well. Both the 6-10 day, and 8-14 day forecasts call for below normal temperatures and above normal rainfall.

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The winner in all of this is the drought situation across north and central Georgia. Since the beginning of the year the percentage of the state that was under extreme drought has been reduced from 49.64% to 6.37% with absolutely zero extreme or exceptional drought showing up in north Georgia. February and March were not kind to us as far as rain is concerned. A combined 4.55″ in that stretch was woefully below normal. Since then we have made up ground with 5.75″ in April and 4.35″ so far this May!

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So even though it seems like we can’t get a break from the never ending showers and t-showers, it will be nice to be ahead of the game before the dog days of summer arrive.

NOVEMBER TO START OFF WARM BUT WILL IT STAY THAT WAY?

One thing for sure is that November will start off well above normal with record highs possible during the first week. Highs this weekend will soar back into the low 80s, and those type of readings should stay with us at least through the following weekend. But will it last through the rest of the month? After all it is November, and it should be cooling off, right?

Well I decided to look back through the record books at previous Novembers going back to 2000. Of the previous 16 Novembers, 7 of them were above normal (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2015). The warmest year was 2001 checking in with an average overall temperature of 59.9 compared to the normal of 54.0. From the graph below you can see that most of the month stayed above normal. It was very consistent.

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Many months started out very warm only to end up below normal in the end. 2000 is a perfect example where the month began very warm with a high of 80 on the 1st, and then back to back records of 81 on the 2nd and 3rd only to start a slide toward cooler temperatures. That month ended up with an overall average temperature of 51 compared to the normal of 54!

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You can see by the graph above how the first three days of 2000 started off much warmer than the rest. Along with the cooler weather that year it was also wetter than average with over 5 inches of rain recorded!

BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES?

Yes that’s right we have below normal temperatures in the forecast for this week, but what about next? The 6-10 day forecast indicates some relief for areas to our west but here in north Georgia it appears that we will see temperatures at or near normal.610temp.new

So don’t get too excited about the prospects of August all of a sudden becoming cooler than normal here is north Georgia. Rainfall could be a different story. It looks like the unsettled, rainy pattern developing this week could continue into next week as well bringing much needed rain to our area.814prcp.new (4)

Above normal rainfall would be a beautiful thing since much of the central and northern part of the state is either in severe to extreme drought.

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WEEKEND WEATHER OUTLOOK

With the weekend fast approaching you’re probably wondering what we can expect across north Georgia. Earlier in the week it looked like late Friday through early Sunday would be the best time frame for showers and even a few t-showers. Now it looks like the upper level system over Texas is going to stall out, and take longer to reach the Southeast.

You can see from the hour-by-hour forecast that the rain hardly advances eastward through Friday. The only minor exception would be a few light sprinkles in the northeast Georgia mountains early Thursday, and a few showers in northwest Georgia early Friday morning.

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Saturday should turn out to be dry with the bulk of the rain arriving Sunday. The storm system will be responsible for huge amounts of rain up and down the Lower Mississippi River Valley with some spots seeing more than 6″ of rain between now and Saturday morning.

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By the time the storm arrives here there wont be much left of it. In fact across north Georgia don’t expect much more than a half inch of rain during the day on Sunday with little to no t-storm development.

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So once again if you have outdoor plans this weekend you’re set for Friday and Saturday, but not Sunday.

WINTER 2015-2016 SUMMARY

Now that winter has come to an end (meteorologically speaking) it’s interesting to see just how wet and mild the period between December and February was. In an El Nino year we typically see a wetter than normal winter along with a colder than normal temperatures. The wet part worked out, but not so much with the temperatures.

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As you can see in the image above courtesy of The NWS Peachtree City, all of north and central Georgia saw above normal rainfall through the winter. In fact here in Atlanta it turned out to be the second wettest winter on record! We only missed tying the record by a mere 1.26″.

winter temps

The temperatures on the other hand didn’t come in the way you would expect them to in an El Nino winter. Instead of being below normal we were actually well above normal across all of north and central Georgia. In fact here in Atlanta it turned out to be the 9th warmest winter on record.

MILDER WEATHER RETURNS

As January draws to a close milder air will begin to arrive starting Thursday. Much of the southern half of the nation will see a significant warm up with temperatures locally climbing into the mid 50s! In the Mid-Atlantic states where they saw enormous snowfall totals a week ago, they will now see much of that melt as temperatures there rise into the 40s and eventually into the 50s this weekend. We have 60 degree readings to enjoy here both Saturday and Sunday.

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Shower chances are also in our future both later tonight (to the south and southeast),

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and on Monday out ahead of a stronger system that will be developing in Texas.

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As the storm system rapidly develops late Monday and Tuesday even warmer air will be drawn ou ahead of the storm pushing temperatures here well into the 60s to near 70.

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The bulk of the rain with the next, stronger system will arrive on Tuesday and into early Wednesday. With the warmer air in place a few t-storms may be possible.

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As the storm system pushes east, colder air will eventually move in from the northwest,

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eventually dropping our afternoon high temperatures across north Georgia into the 30s by next Friday.

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The cold air may stick around through the weekend of the February 6th & 7th, but conditions will be dry.

WEATHER HEADING INTO CHRISTMAS

With the warmer than normal start to December lots of people are wondering if the trend will last heading into Christmas. Here in the Southeast it looks like a pretty good bet that the pattern, for the most part, will hold together through the end of the month. All of this is in response to the strengthening El Nino in the Pacific. Take a look at the the 8-14 day temperature forecast that runs through December 21st.

8-14 day tempsThe entire Eastern two thirds of the nation is forecat to have above normal temperatures with the greatest certainty being across the Great Lakes and the Northeast! In fact Buffalo, NY has yet to see any snow which breaks the record for the latest date in the season without any measurable snowfall.

To go with above normal temperatures one would expect above normal rainfall during El Nino episodes such as this, and that is exactly what is forecast. So far we have yet to see much rain materialize this December, but a few strong storm systems are poised to moved through. One especially on the way this Sunday could bring some locally heavy showers and t-showers.

8-14 day precipTaking a look at the 500 mb flow through the next several weeks, it appears that the trend will be to keep the ridge in the east and the trough in the west. The only exception will be the occasional trough slipping through quickly limiting our chance for any extended periods of rain.

500mb 1500mb 2So all in all I think would be safe to say that the month of December will turn out to be much warmer than normal. As for precipitation our chance for seeing any snow is about as low as it gets, but with the warm air in place we do need to watch for the possibility of severe t-storms with the passage of these quick moving systems between now and the end of the month.

MINI SEVERE WEATHER SEASON, EL NINO & WINTER

Each year around this time we notice an uptick in the number of tornadoes across the Southeast and here in Georgia. November and for that matter December have been come to be known as the Second Season for severe weather after the lull that is seen during the summer and early fall.

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The atmosphere at this time of year (just like in the spring) is going through a major transition as cold air starts to shift southward. Unfortunately the warm air hasn’t completely gone away and this leads to problems. Then if we are in an El Nino year you have to throw in a very active and powerful branch of the southern Jetstream which you would think would help to produce lots of severe weather and tornadoes. But is that really the case? Is there a correlation?

This year’s El Nino is on track to rival the last major episode that took place in 1997-1998. Since then there have been two moderate episodes (2002-2003 & 2009 & 2010) and two weak episodes (2004-2005 & 2006-2007).

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Going back and comparing the El Nino episodes with tornado activity doesn’t reveal a clear picture. In fact during the strongest El Nino (1997-1998) there were only two tornadoes in November and none in December. The one episode that yielded the greatest number was the 2002-2003 moderate El Nino. November and December of 2002 saw 12 and 13 tornadoes respectively! The other El Nino episodes resulted in the following number of tornadoes: 2004-2005 (0 in November and 0 in December); 2006-2007 (2 in November and 2 in December); 2009-2010 (0 in November and 8 in December).

So is there a correlation between El Nino and fall tornadoes. It appears not. Is there a correlation between El Nino and wetter, cooler weather in the months of November and December? Absolutely! In fact looking back at the last five El Nino episodes and the ten corresponding months of November and December, there have only been two drier than normal months (Nov. 1997 & Dec. 2006) and two warmer than normal months (Nov. 2004 & Dec. 2006).

With all of this being said where are we so far this November? As of today Georgia has seen 2 tornadoes. They occurred at the beginning of the month in Telfair County in south Georgia. There is a possibility that a few more could occur this Wednesday primarily in the southern tier of the state. Rain so far this month has been abundant. Here in Atlanta we have recorded 6.94″ which as today is 5.05″ above normal. The normal rain total for the entire month of November is just 4.10″! In keeping with the strong El Nino you would expect the temperatures to be slightly below normal, but that has not been the case. In fact as of today we are 3 degrees above average so far this November.

So what should we expect going down the road through the winter? All indications are for the El Nino to stay strong if not strengthen some. Therefore expect cooler than normal temperatures

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and above normal precipitation.

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What about snow? Below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation…..sounds promising for snow. Right? Wrong! The below normal temperatures are factoring in the increase amount of cloud cover that comes along with an increase in storm systems rolling through. Actually in El Nino years we often have a wedge type setup with cold air sliding in out of the Carolinas at the surface in advance of the storms coming in from the west. This in fact is more conducive to ice events than snow. I personally would rather have the snow!!! As they say stay tuned, I’m sure it will be an interesting if not memorable winter!

FALL FORECAST

Fall is just about here and officially arrives at 4:22 am Wednesday morning September 23rd. So what can we expect as we head into October, November and December? Rain has been hard to come by since August, and many spots across north and central Georgia are entering certain stages of drought. The hardest hit areas are from Macon to Augusta with severe drought showing up just south of Augusta. Abnormally dry conditions have increase the most from just under 6% of the state at the beginning of the year to 42% currently.

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Rain totals here in Atlanta have fallen off in September after a wet summer that saw above normal rainfall for June and August, and near normal rainfall in July.

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As we head into October there is a very good chance that the dry pattern that has established itself so far this September will continue.

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Warmer than normal temperatures are also expected for October which combined with the dry conditions would further elevate the drought conditions across the state. This could all be changed by a few late season tropical systems, but with a moderate to strong El Nino firmly in place that scenario is not likely.

Our prospects for alleviating the drought start to look better as we enter November and December. Above normal rainfall is expected for the period of October through December along with near normal temperatures.

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All indications point to the El Nino lasting into next spring, and historically this leads to a wetter than normal winter period. Therefore if for some reason we end up with a drier than normal fall, we should be able to pick up the slack over the winter months. As for temperatures they typically run slightly below normal, not because of Arctic outbreaks but because of a more active southern branch to the Jetstream that leads to more clouds and rain.