DEEPWAVE New Zealand!

Friday, June 6th, 2014 Hokitika, South Island, New Zealand

Thanks to NCAR EOL's Bill Brown for training me in! First DEEPWAVE upsonde launch earlier this week

First DEEPWAVE upsonde  launch earlier this week–  Thanks to NCAR EOL’s Bill Brown for training me in!

I’ve travelled all the way to beautiful Hokitika, New Zealand during NZ winter to work on the NSF/NCAR-EOL/Naval Research Lab DEEPWAVE mission.  I’ll be launching daily weather balloons (upsondes) from the Hokitika Airport and forecasting and monitoring days with conditions that may produce internal atmospheric gravity waves.  

These days are called Intensive Observing Periods (IOPs) where we’ll launch additional upsondes, and dropsondes will be released from NSF/NCAR’s HIAPER GV.  The HIAPER research aircraft is now in Christchurch and, on IOP days, will fly over regions where gravity waves are expected.  Data from these flights, upsondes, dropsondes, and various instruments will help us better understand the development of deeply-propagating gravity waves.  I’ll also be working on research involving stereo-photogrammetry with Dr. Brian Billings to provide more information on wave and cloud formation.  I’m thrilled to be part of DEEPWAVE and to be working with such talented individuals!

{Today’s actually a big day for DEEPWAVE New Zealand–our first Intensive Observing Period (IOP) to search for atmospheric gravity waves…Let the hunt begin!  I’ll post an update on the experience.





Weather Experiments for All!

Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 016 (1280x960)

Science is meant to be interactive!  That’s exactly why I tried out these three weather experiments with a class of first to fifth graders after teaching them more about severe weather events and safety.  These intelligent and curious students were very engaged and I loved hearing their thoughts on each experiment. (I’ve included some suggestions on what I would change or add to the experiments for the next time!)



#1 Thunderstorm in a Box (Thunderstorm Development)

Use: shoe-box size clear container, red food coloring, one tray blue-dyed ice cubes, lukewarm water (to fill container)

Set out container filled with lukewarm water and place a blue cold ice cube in one side of container.  Then, drop a couple drops of red food coloring in other side of container.  Add more red drops to examine results.

What it shows:  The water is a fluid, as is air in the atmosphere.   Due to convection, the warm red water representing the warm, unstable air rises, while the cold blue water representing the cold air mass sinks.  The cold air brought in by a cold front forces the warm air to rise.  When the colors mix to create purple, you see a thunderstorm cumulonimbus cloud form with a somewhat-overshooting top.

**This demonstration did not work the best for me because the water was too warm and the ice cubes began melting and spreading throughout the container.  Make sure to add just one ice cube at first, and to use lukewarm water.  I also used two separate containers so the kids wouldn’t have to all crowd around one!

#2 Balloon Hair (Static Electricity)

Use: Balloons

The kids (and teacher-at right) loved this one, and it’s SO simple!  All you need to do is blow up and tie as many balloons as you can.  BE WARNED: It’s helpful to show a quick demo before throwing the balloons out to the crowd of excited kids!

Ask for a volunteer.  Rub the balloon on his or her hair to observe how the hair stands up and attaches to the balloon when you move it slightly away from their head.

What it shows:  When you rub a balloon on the hair, you are putting tiny negative charges all over it.  Because these charges are all the same, the strands of hair attempt to move away from one another rather than join together.  If you move the same balloon (after having been rubbed on hair) near the ceiling, you will see that it becomes attracted to the ceiling and actually sticks to it.  This is because the balloon and the ceiling have opposite charges.  Lightning acts in a similar way, where it is attracted to the ground due to opposite charge.  This is because of static electricity! In dry air, we notice greater effects of static electricity because there are less water particles in the air to help electrons move off of us…so a bigger charge is built up!

#3 Tornado Vortex (Tornado Formation)

Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 013 (1280x960)Use: drained and rinsed 1-liter bottle of pop, confetti pieces, lukewarm water (to fill bottle), dishwashing liquid

Fill the bottle a little over three-fourths full of water and add in just a couple drops of dishwashing liquid.  The ratio of dishwashing liquid to water  took some experimenting before I went in to the school, so I would suggest testing it out before demonstrating.  I added in confetti pieces to make it a bit more exciting! Glitter, food coloring (only need a couple drops so it’s not too dark to see through), or colored lamp oil (would make the vortex stand out more) are other fun extras you can try adding to your bottle.  Swirl the bottle upside-down bottle in a fast, circular motion so that its contents spin into a vortex.  Keep in mind that tornadoes almost always rotate counterclockwise (cyclonic rotation) in the Northern Hemisphere.

What it shows: Like in an actual tornado, a vortex forms (lucky for us, it’s in a bottle!).  Centripetal force, which directs the water inward toward its circular path, allows the water to spin quickly around the center of the vortex. Wind shear plays a major role in the formation of tornadoes.  The person swirling the bottle is actually the force causing the water (wind) to rotate and create a vortex.  You can even mention the three ingredients needed for a tornado to form: moisture, lift, and, instability!

**I used two separate bottles so all the kids could have a turn.  The sunlight from the window really helped to show the vortex more clearly! You could connect the bottles mouth-to-mouth with duct tape (very tightly wrapped) to see the vortex transfer from one to another, but I’ve seen these make a big mess unless you use a Tornado Tube bottle connector

Have a blast!



Thanks to Meteorologist Crystal Wicker of Weather Wiz Kidz, and meteorology friends Brad Carlberg & Ashley Heath for great advice on fun experiments!

School Weather Fun!

I had the exciting opportunity to talk about severe weather and safety with a class of young scientists!  These elementary-age students were very eager to hear all about hail, floods, winter weather, but especially tornadoes, thunderstorms, tsunamis, and hurricanes.  I absolutely loved seeing how tuned in the kids were to the weather facts and safety tips.  At the end, we did three meteorology-related experiments that really helped make everyone excited and involved.  I have some great photos of many of the kids trying out the experiments for themselves after the demos! (I’ll link my next post to this one so I can share the experiments in detail)

Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 004 (1280x960)Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 007 (1280x960)Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 012 (1280x960)Meteorology Presentation 3.13.14 017 (1280x960)

I really enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned on a topic I’m not only passionate about, but that we all realize is important to understand so we can best prepare our families for severe weather events.  What a wonderful day spent with bright, inquisitive children full of pure energy!!

Input from the Kids:

When the power goes out, what do you do if you have to go to the bathroom?

My three cousins saw a tornado before.

Can hail kill you?

Why does warm air rise above cold air?

Why is it not safe to play in flood water?  How can it make you sick?

You can fill up a bathtub with water before the power goes out.

Can I take home the tornado pop bottle you brought so I can make a plastic penguin? 

Where do you go if there’s a tornado?

Are we gonna make a rainbow?

No wait.. we’re gonna make thunder!

How do hurricanes form, and how do they get stronger?

We’re making electricity like lightning!

Can I take home a balloon?

So if there’s a flood, you do the opposite of what you’d do with a tornado.  You go to high ground instead of low ground!

Will you pleeease come to my birthday party?



Thanks to Meteorologist Crystal Wicker of Weather Wiz Kidzand meteorology friends Brad Carlberg & Ashley Heath for great advice on fun experiments!

Chilly Winter Weekend


A couple days ago I talked about this chilly Minnesota weekend (12/6-12/8) on our university station with one of our anchors, Elizabeth! In St. Cloud, we were down to -10° at 11pm last night. That’s 21° lower than the normal low temperature for December 6th!! According to the Chanhassen National Weather Service office, we’ll get down to a -15° low overnight and we will likely get 1 to 3 inches of total snow accumulation Sunday.


Keep in mind those windchill values could get as low as -23° tonight and tomorrow, but as low as -29° is expected for Monday. This is how cold it will feel on bare skin for people and pets. Exposed skin can freeze within 30 minutes with windchill lower than -22°, so BUNDLING UP is advised if you must go outside, otherwise stay warm and dry inside to reduce your exposure and chance for frostbite and hypothermia, which can very quickly become life-threatening. Just don’t forget to keep pets sheltered, too!

Forecast updates (type zip code in left panel)
More information on windchill


Inundaciones en el Sur de Florida

Incluyendo hoy (19 Viernes 2013), ha habido cinco días de lluvia en el Sur de Florida.  No es típico para los residentes de esa región ver tanta lluvia en el medio de Julio. El Servicio Meteorológico Nacional de Miami predice más lluvia durante este fin de semana. Con la lluvia, vienen las tormentas.  Esperan ver tormentas en las mañanas por los próximos dos días.

El miércoles, habían más o menos 152 milímetros de lluvia en Miami Shores, y 63 a 102 milímetros en Oakland Park y Tamarac.  Aún más sorprendente, habían 203 milímetros recordó en Hialeah.

Los residentes del Sur de Florida esperen ver más lluvia este fin de semana. La lluvia puede causar más acumulación e inundaciones.

Todo esto causó inundaciones en varias áreas.  El agua acumulada en las carreteras causó muchos problemas de tráfico.  Además, en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Miami, habían 43 retrasos en los vuelos debido a las tormentas asociadas con las fuertes lluvias. Es aconsejable tener precaución manejando carros en esas condiciones. No conduzca a través del agua estancada en las carreteras.



Calor y Humedad en los Estados Unidos

Hoy (18 Jueves 2013), el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional ha emitido una alerta sobre las condiciones extremas en el norte y este de los Estados Unidos.  Los estados que verán afectados serán los de North Dakota hasta Massachusetts.  Este aviso de calor es en efecto porque las temperaturas en estas regiones están extremamente altas.

Hace mucho calor en varios estados de los Estados Unidos, especialmente en el nordeste, con temperaturas de sobre 30 grados centígrados

No solo está el calor,  pero también la humedad.  La combinación puede tener un efecto negativo en la salud de los residentes de estas áreas.  Se recomienda que las personas que están trabajando fuera en el sol tomen descansos frecuentes. En Nueva York, la temperatura de 36 grados centígrados, pero, el promedio ha sido solamente 29.  Boston tiene una temperatura de 34 grados centígrados, ocho grados más que el promedio.



From Drought to Flood Threat: U.S. Southern Plains

The National Weather Service has outlined flash flood watches throughout most of central Texas and into areas of the Four Corners. In the next 24 hours, 2 to 4 inches of rain are expected in central Texas, with 1 to 2 inches northeast into the Four Corners region.

Flood watches issued by NWS covering Texas and portions of the Four Corners

This rain will provide relief for SW regions where dry air and high temperatures have been persistent. As of July 9th, 2013, the U.S. Drought Monitor classified these areas as having extreme to exceptional drought conditions. Now, rain here is even expected to become a flood threat.

Not only will these arid regions see moisture, but they are also expected to see cooler temperatures. Average triple-digit temperatures will not likely be seen again until after the storms pass. Rather, highs near 80 degrees are in the forecast through midweek.

1-2 inches of rain are expected in the SW Plains, with up to 6 inches in parts of Texas over the next 2 days

Overall, 1 to 3 inches of rain are expected over these regions, with 4 to 6 possible in some areas. Thunderstorms bringing this downpour will also bring lightning strikes and gusty winds. Flash flooding is a potential threat, especially as rain accumulates more throughout the week and into next week. In the next 7 days, more showers are expected and floods here could become dangers, as they can easily carry debris and cause lowlands to become impassable. Residents of these regions are warned to take precaution in the event of flash flooding, and to avoid afternoon hiking on ridges in order to avoid being struck by lightning.



Typhoon Soulik-Closing Eye

Typhoon Soulik is experiencing what meteorologists call an eyewall replacement cycle.  Major hurricanes commonly undergo this transformation when winds exceed 100 knots (115 mph/185 kph).  An outer eyewall can develop as the eye becomes smaller in size and surrounding thunderstorms intensify.  Soulik has weakened due to the outer wall overtaking the inner wall and closing the eye.  If the eye closes completely, the storm has a chance of strengthening once again.  This westward moving system, with winds of 95 knots (109 mph/175 kph) and higher gusts, remains a major threat to nearby regions.  It is expected to hit the southern end of Ishigaki-jima Island tomorrow morning (July 12, 2013), northern Taiwan later tomorrow, and China on Saturday (July 13, 2013).

Soulik's eye is was still open early this morning (July 11, 2013), but is becoming less distinguishable.

Soulik’s eye was still open early this morning (July 11, 2013), but was becoming less distinguishable.

12 hours later, clouds have closed in on Soulik's eye.

12 hours later, clouds have closed in on Soulik’s eye.

High Temps Expected for Central U.S.

Central regions of the United States are expected to have above average highs for the next three days.  Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado may see temperatures 8 degrees higher than average. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for many counties in the eastern half of Oklahoma.  This advisory is in effect until later this evening (Thursday, July 11, 2013).

This weekend shows hot, humid conditions taking over central areas of the United States. (I created this graphic in CNN Domestic)

This weekend shows hot, humid conditions taking over central areas of the United States. (I created this graphic in CNN Domestic)

Intense heat combined with humidity will cause dangerous conditions, thus limited outdoor activity with frequent breaks is recommended.  Stay aware of signs of heat exhaustion and stroke in case of emergency.

Signs of heat-related illness: