Partial Solar Eclipse Coming Thursday (10/23)

2014 has been a lucky year so far- it seems like every month there’s a unique celestial event occurring.  It was just 2 weeks ago that we had a glimpse at a lunar eclipse, or “blood moon”, and now the moon will return the favor and cast its shadow on the Earth.  This will occur close to sunset for us in the Stateline tomorrow evening.

 

A partial solar eclipse is coming Thursday evening (Oct. 23)

A partial solar eclipse is coming Thursday evening (Oct. 23)

This will be a partial solar eclipse, with the moon blocking out only a section of the sun.  The farther west and north you go in North America during this event, the more the moon will “eat” into the sun.  Up to 85% of the sun may be blocked out over northern Canada.

What may be blocking us from even seeing the partial eclipse will be some lingering cloud cover behind potential rain showers tomorrow afternoon.  Here’s how Futuretrack looks around sunset Thursday evening (sunset will be at 6:04 PM).

The Futuretrack forecast for Thursday evening

The Futuretrack forecast for Thursday evening

Let’s hope the sky is at least beginning to clear out by 5:30 PM, otherwise we won’t see much of the celestial event.

The most important thing to do tomorrow evening, if we do get a glimpse of the partial eclipse, is to not look directly at the sun!!!  Permanent damage to your eyesight will occur.  To safely view the eclipse, check out this link from NASA for suggestions: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/how-to-safely-watch-the-october-23-partial-solar-eclipse/index.html#.VEgyqfnF81I

They recommend building a pinhole viewer out of cardboard, or use specialty wielding masks or eclipse glasses.

If you can’t view Thursday’s partial eclipse, mark this date down on your calendar: August 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse will occur on that date, and should be visible for much of the United States!

-Alex

 

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 22, 2014

National Weather Service’s Winter Outlook (2014)

The National Weather Service issued their forecast for the upcoming winter season today.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Temperature outlook for Winter 2014

Temperature outlook for Winter 2014

The 2014-2015 outlook has chances for warmer weather on the West Coast and the northern sections of the U.S., with colder than average temperatures in the South.

Precipitation outlook for Winter 2014

Precipitation outlook for Winter 2014

The weather pattern looks to be drier than average along the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, with the South and East Coast looking wetter than average.

Midwest temperature outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest temperature outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest precipitation outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest precipitation outlook, Winter 2014/2015

For the Stateline specifically, we have a good chance for below average precipitation (snowfall) this winter, with equal chances for above or below average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.  That means there isn’t a strong indicator one way or the other right now for a warmer or colder winter for the Midwest.

A couple things to keep in mind:

-These are probabilities for above/below temperature/precipitation, not definites.  For example, the prediction for below average precipitation for the Midwest means that more likely than not we will have less than usual snowfall, however there still may be a chance that snowfall will be above average.

-Remember that this is a prediction for the whole season- there are plenty of smaller or short term weather patterns that can occur that will throw the prediction off, and because they are smaller in scale or time, they cannot be factored in yet.  For example, remember this pattern from last winter?

This is a Greenland Block pattern, when high pressure near Greenland "clogs up" the weather pattern, keeping very cold air diving down into the center of the U.S.

This is a Greenland Block pattern, when high pressure near Greenland “clogs up” the weather pattern, keeping very cold air diving down into the center of the U.S.

Short term patterns like the Greenland Block can change up the weather for a few days to weeks, and may affect or contradict the overall prediction for the season.

-As mentioned above, this is an overall look at the winter season.  It won’t provide any specifics, like if or when a blizzard may hit, how many snow storms may occur, or how cold it will be on some random date, like January 15.

-It would be really nice to have a clear picture, but forecasters are limited some this year by a lack of strong climate indicators.  For example, a weak El Nino pattern has been struggling to form.  When it finally does form, weak El Ninos are generally harder to deal with because their impacts are not as clear cut as a strong El Nino.  By the way, El Ninos usually bring wet weather for all of the southern U.S., so if you aren’t a fan of snow, keep rooting for El Nino to keep the wet weather to the south of us!

So let’s revisit this some time in March or so, after winter is over, and see how the National Weather Service’s prediction played out.  A few things are guaranteed for this upcoming winter: it is coming, it will be cold, and there will be some snow. 😉

-Alex

 

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 16, 2014

Soggy Fall Weather Beneficial

October isn’t known for being a very rainy month- the average amount of rainfall for the whole month is 2.67″.  This 2 day stretch of soggy weather has nearly equaled that!  We can thank a strong storm system for bringing all of the moisture in.

An area of low pressure brought very moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in lots of rain for the Midwest.

An area of low pressure brought very moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in lots of rain for the Midwest.

Dewpoint temperatures jumped into the 60’s at times – we see more values like those more often in the summer rather than the fall!  With all of that moisture to work with, the rain totals have been impressive.

Rainfall for Tuesday, Oct. 14, through 8 p.m.

Rainfall for Tuesday, Oct. 14, through 8 p.m.

Rainfall total for Oct. 13 & 14, through 8 p.m.

Rainfall total for Oct. 13 & 14, through 8 p.m.

With the exception of farmers (they’re trying to get their crops out of the fields, and the soggy weather has not helped at all), the rainfall has been welcome, as the ground has been thirsty at times this fall.  Before the soaking rain showers hit yesterday and today, Rockford was in a 1.5″ deficit for rainfall.  Not any more:

Rain totals for this month and season

Rain totals for this month and season

The recent rains have nearly erased the deficit for the Fall season!  We shouldn’t see much more rain with this storm- after Wednesday morning, another dry stretch sets up for the rest of the week.

-Alex

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 14, 2014

A little more about the Blood Moon

lunar eclipse

As you may have heard, a total lunar eclipse will occur at 5:25 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7th.  You can read about the basics of the Wednesday’s eclipse by heading here: http://www.wrex.com/story/26728356/2014/10/07/total-lunar-eclipse-means-blood-moon-could-greet-early-risers-wednesday-morning.

Here’s a few additional facts about a lunar eclipse:

-Why doesn’t the moon become eclipsed every time it circles the Earth?  The answer is that the moon’s orbit wobbles slightly, and doesn’t stay as a stationary circle.  This gives the moon chances to duck under and over the Earth’s shadow as it orbits the Earth.

lunar 1

-As the Moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it takes on that distinctive red color, giving it the nickname “Blood Moon”.  The moon does not become fully blackened out, like we would see during a solar eclipse (when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth).  Imagine sitting in a dark room with someone shining a flashlight in your face.  If someone sat behind you, some light would still reach them, right?  This instance is going on with the Earth and the Moon.  The Moon may be in Earth’s shadow, but it still gets some light from the Sun.  Because the light passes through Earth’s atmosphere, it takes on a red color as the air “bends” or refracts the light before getting to the Moon.

lunar 2

-If you were standing on the Moon during a lunar eclipse, what would you see?  It would look a lot like a solar eclipse on Earth!  You would be able to see every sunrise and sunset occurring on Earth, at that moment, at the same time.  How neat is that!

-Finally, for those you are lucky enough to have an unobstructed view, it may be possible to see the Sun and the Moon in the sky at the same time on opposite ends of the sky, or 180° from each other.  This occurrence is called a selenelion.  The Sun rises at 7:01 a.m. on Wednesday, with moonset at 7:09 a.m.  When you consider that the Moon and the Sun are on opposite ends of the planet during an eclipse, this shouldn’t be possible! Because of the way light bends in the atmosphere, we get to see the Sun before it rises, and the moon after it sets.  This atmospheric illusion occurs right around twilight. In order to see this, you have to have a clear, unobstructed view of the sky.  It will only occur for those few minutes in between moonset and sunrise.  Good luck!

-Finally, this total lunar eclipse is part of a tetrad, or four total lunar eclipses in a row.  Lunar eclipses are not always total, or obscure the entire Moon, so this series is special.  All have been and will be visible in North America during the tetrad.  The next eclipses will occur April 4 and September 25 of 2015.

-Alex

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 7, 2014