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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T-STORM RISK THIS THURSDAY

Another strong storm system will be heading toward the Southeast on Thursday after delivering a blow to Texas and the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. Portions of east Texas and Louisiana could get hit the hardest. The Storm Prediction Center has parts of that area under an enhanced risk for severe t-storms including tornadoes.
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By the time the system gets to here in the Southeast the risk for severe weather will have greatly diminished. That being said we could still see a few strong to severe storms here in north Georgia, but the threat is greater across middle and south Georgia.

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The upper level forcing combined with the instability in the lower levels of the atmosphere support the possibility of damaging weather Wednesday in Texas and Louisiana.

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Things are not the same as the storm system makes its way into the Southeast. The forcing aloft is still there, but the instability in the lower levels is greatly reduced.

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Therefore don’t look for a large outbreak of severe weather here in north Georgia, but do be prepared for a few strong to severe storms that could be capable of damaging winds, large hail and a brief spin up tornado. While you’re at it download the FOX 5 Storm Team App for your smartphone. It’s FREE!!! Just follow the link below:

DOWNLOAD the FREE FOX 5 Storm Team app to keep up with this extreme weather

COLD IS OUT, WARM IS IN

After the bitter cold that came in the wake of our first winter storm this past weekend, it now looks like a reversal of fortune is fast approaching. We could see temperatures a good 40 degrees warmer Thursday than they were on Saturday! Any snow north of Atlanta will sure to be gone by then.

Unfortunately another cold night is on the way with subfreezing temperatures across most, if not all, of north Georgia. There are many areas still dealing with ice and snow covered roads that will refreeze in the overnight hours as temperatures once again drop below freezing. This should be the last night this week, and possibly for a while, where temperatures this cold will develop.

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As we head through the day on Tuesday our winds will start to swing more to the south, helping the high temperatures to jump into the 50’s. Much of the nation will be warming as well, as a large ridge of high pressure begins to establish itself across the eastern half of the country.

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By Wednesday we are looking at highs in the 60’s, and by Thursday and Friday highs will climb to 70 or better. Not bad for a week that is starting out this cold.

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Usually when you get such a spike in temperatures this time of the year, you can always count severe weather not being to far behind. This time though that is not the case. In fact apart from a few showers north on Wednesday, our next chance for showers won’t arrive until sometime on Sunday!

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GOOD NEWS FOR YOUR HEATING BILL

If you’re looking to save a few bucks on your heating bill this winter you may be in luck. Starting Christmas Day temperatures will trending upward as we head toward the New Year. The medium to long range forecasts keep the Southeast in above normal temperatures through March, which overall could help to reduce your heating costs. If we could get some decent rains to help with the drought it would be a big bonus.

Starting Christmas Day we see highs climb to near 60 degrees. The following week headed into New Years Day will bring temperatures well into the 60s to near 70. The record highs that week are in the low to mid 70s so we will close to record warmth, but won’t be breaking any.

Now onto January! Here is the latest outlook for temperatures and precipitation from the Climate Prediction Center for the month of January. As you can see we are projected to be slightly above normal for temperatures…….

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and slightly below normal for precipitation.

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In fact the news gets even better for the three month period January through March. Our potential for above normal temperatures increases…..

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while our prospects for rain falls anywhere between slightly above normal and equal chances.

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So hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to us, and give us a break on the heating bill this winter. Remeber this is all subject to change, but at least for now it doesn’t paint us a into a deep freeze.

Weekend Wintry Mix

You may, or may not, have heard of the possibility that some parts of northeast Georgia could see a brief period of a wintry mix early Saturday morning. While this is true, the chances of that happening, as well as the impacts, are quite low. While temperatures will be close to freezing in some spots northeast of a line from Athens to Gainesville to Ellijay, the amount of moisture arriving early Saturday morning will be very limited. There very well could be none at all.

First the set up. I’m sure your aware of the cold air moving across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. That cold air will arrive here on Thursday as a cold dome of high pressure expands from the Midwest to East Coast. That area of high pressure will eventually move eastward and reposition itself across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic setting us up for the classic wedge of cold air near the surface that so often occurs this time of year.

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Temperatures across the northeast corner of Georgia will drop to near freezing in a few spots early Saturday morning with the coldest readings being located across Habersham,  Rabun, Towns and Union County. This is where the greatest likelihood of any wintry mix occurring would be. Most locations though in northeast Georgia should remain above freezing lessening the chance of any wintry mix developing. Meanwhile lows will only drop into the upper 30’s to lower 40’s in and around the metro area, and locations west, southwest and south of Atlanta will remain well outside of the wedge with lows only dropping into the mid to upper 40’s. Safe to say that if anything falls from the sky in and around metro Atlanta it would fall as rain.

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Last but not least is the amount of moisture. Right now it doesn’t appear that the return of moisture will be that great early Saturday morning with most of the rain holding off to the west. If that is the case then little if anything will be falling early Saturday morning.

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Of course all of this could change, but even if we were to get some icing in far northeast Georgia the good news is that by afternoon the temperatures will be in the 50’s melting anything that may have frozen earlier in the day. As the say….Stay tuned!

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!

SPRING OUTLOOK 2016

With the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring (meteorologically speaking) upon us, we look ahead to see what the months of March, April and May have in store for us. By the way the official start of astronomical Spring (Vernal Equinox) is March 20th in case you were wondering. So let’s get to the forecast shall we.

First up it appears that the El Nino which has been raging on since 2015 will continue to be strong through spring with weakening occurring by late spring and early summer.

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This would lead us to believe that the weather pattern across the Southeast will continue to be active through March, April and May. Unfortunately an active weather pattern during the Spring will often times lead to an increase in severe weather outbreaks. The present El Nino is as strong as the 1997-1998 El Nino which is considered to be one of the strongest ever. That episode led to a very active severe weather season during the Spring of 1998 that lead to deadly tornadoes here in north Georgia during March and April, including the Hall/White County tornado as well as the Dunwoody tornado.

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This is not to imply that this Spring will include devastating tornadoes, but the correlation is there between a strong El Nino and an increase in severe t-storms across the Southeast.

As far as what we can expect in terms of rain and temperatures here is what the folks at the Climate Prediction Center have published. Again with the strong El Nino present you would expect more rain and cooler temperatures and that is generally what they are forecasting although they are leaning a bit toward the equal chances category.

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All in all I would say get ready for a wild ride the next few months as the affects of El Nino continue to be felt here in the Southeast!

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.

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.