Yes, I’m aware of the color bars…

… the radar computer decided to turn off last night. It also decided it doesn’t want to turn back on.

Let’s hope it’s an easy fix… in the meantime, we’ll have no radar loop from the live Madison radar on our website or on-air.

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This post was written by qni_it on July 27, 2008

Complicated forecast

Northwest flow can be a pain in the hindquarters sometimes. During the winter, it means continuous chilly weather with frequent rounds of nuisance snowfall. During the late summer, it means a steady stream of disturbances in the atmosphere that, if there’s moisture around, lead to seemingly random thunderstorm complexes. As you may have guessed by this point, our weather pattern is back into northwest flow.

These images are the GFS model’s forecast (for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively) for something called vorticity at about halfway up into the atmosphere. The details aren’t important for this blog post, but when we see a little ripple, or shortwave, move through, that’s a disturbance that needs to be watched because it can provide the energy for thunderstorm complexes to develop. Each of those days, there is a shortwave passing fairly close by. As a result, I don’t feel comfortable leaving the forecast totally dry through the middle of the week. The models will change the timing and location of these shortwaves, and it’s nearly impossible to determine exactly where the complexes will form more than about 18 hours before they’d happen. That’s pretty much why we sometimes will have a blanket low-chance of rain.

Complicating matters even further, Tuesday’s high temperature is something that could be iffy. I don’t buy into big changes in how a model is painting a picture unless there’s consistency and continuity. However, the GFS model has had a couple runs of bringing very warm air aloft into the Stateline for Tuesday. IF that air can mix down to the surface and we have full sunshine, we would easily be in the 90s. However, there are three reasons I’m resisting the urge to go higher in my forecast: 1) We still haven’t hit 90° yet, 2) Cloudcover would stymie any big heat, and 3) the GFS solution is an outlier – no other model is suggesting it’ll be hot that day.

We’re in a pattern that will require adjustments to the forecast. And, from a meteorologist’s point of view, it’s a frustrating pattern to be in because there’s a higher-than-normal potential for a busted forecast.

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This post was written by qni_it on July 27, 2008

Storm is weakening as it approaches

Iowa County (county just west of Madison) is under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. However this storm is undergoing rapid weakening now. It is entering an area that has been under clouds all day. I expect this storm to weaken to a plain, old shower by Green and Rock Counties. It may fizzle entirely by the time it moves into Illinois. -ES

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This post was written by qni_it on July 26, 2008

Wildlife & Weather

Bat hanging and looking at the cameraBatman, the hero of Gotham and star of The Dark Knight, is a good guy faced with intense obstacles that sometimes make him an enemy in the eyes of his city. More often than not, he falls victim to the fact that people tend to scrutinize what they don’t understand.

Sounds like the average bat if you ask me. We have thousands of little heroes saving us every night–it’s just a matter of knowing why bats are just as awesome (even more so) then Batman.

7 Reasons Bats Are Just as Cool as Batman

1. They take out thousands of pests: While Batman is tough on inner-city pests, a small brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour. And bats don’t just stop at mosquitoes; they eat a large number of other insects like beetles and moths that are agricultural pests. Species like the big brown bat are known for being very helpful when it comes to bug control. The California leaf-nosed bat is so agile, it can swoop down and grab beetles, crickets and grasshoppers right off the ground. So if you have a pest problem, put a little bat house on the side of your home and fight off the bugs the natural way!

Indiana bat2. They bring us awesome food like mangoes and tequila: Do you like tequila? How about mangoes? Both of these would suffer greatly if we didn’t have bats. Fruit bats make up about 30% of the bat population and play a huge role in pollinating essential crops like agave, from which tequila is made. Seeds dropped by bats can also account for up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land. In fact, it’s known that more than 300 plant species in the tropics alone rely on the pollinating and seed dispersal of bats.

3. They have an expansive range: While Batman’s range is fairly restricted to the city limits of Gotham, bats have a much more expansive range. Depending on the species, they can cover hundreds of miles in a single night, hunting for insects, drinking at water holes and pollinating plants. We certainly are being watched over!

4. They are the ONLY flying mammals: That’s right, while Bruce Wayne can glide, bats can really fly! While you may hear of “flying” animals like squirrels, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. The others simply glide.

5. Echolocation…that says it all: In the most recent Batman movie, the Caped Crusader uses something resembling echolocation, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing. A number of bat species have this “feature” built in! Bats that use echolocation often have big ears and really funky looking faces. Those faces help capture sound waves bouncing off of prey and other objects and funnel those waves to the ears. Bats that don’t use echolocation, like fruit bats, actually have big eyes to see in the dark and long dog-like faces (some are called “flying foxes” because of this). Here’s a great shot of one.

6. Even their poo is helpful: To my knowledge, the Dark Knight has never developed a bowel-related superpower (thank goodness). Bat guano, however, not only makes a great fertilizer, it is the sole habitat for some animal species! That’s the making of a real hero–when even poo has helpful qualities.

7. They help the whole ecosystem, not just one city: Bats are key species to helping their habitats flourish. Not only do they eat insects and pollinate crops, but they also serve as prey for predators like hawks and owls.

I don’t know about you…but when I shine the bat symbol, I have a completely different idea of the response I want. I want more bats! Unfortunately, a number of bat species (both in and out of North America) are at risk. They are suffering from a White Nose epidemic and are also falling victim to habitat destruction. We can take a turn in doing the saving of these little heroes.

To see a list of bat superheroes–Read this excellent bat guide (pdf).

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This post was written by qni_it on July 25, 2008

Memphis weather veteran passes away

According to myeyewitnessnews.com in Memphis:

MEMPHIS, TN – One of the Memphis area’s best known television news personalities died suddenly this morning. Brian Teigland, Chief Meteorologist for ABC24 and CW30’s Eyewitness News Everywhere, became ill at his home. Paramedics from the Memphis Fire Department worked to keep Teigland alive and took him to Germanton Methodist Hospital where he later died.

Teigland was a mainstay in Memphis television since the early 80’s. He was a weathercaster at WREG-TV for several years, before moving to Detroit to continue his career. He had been at ABC24 and CW30 for many years. Teigland was known by the staff of Eyewitness News Everywhere as a loving father to his children and a compassionate and caring friend to his coworkers.

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This post was written by qni_it on July 25, 2008

Wager update!

Yesterday, Adam asked me whose side I was on with the little weekend rainfall bet. I gave him my honest answer: I would agree with him if he asked, and I’d agree with Eric if he asked. Yes, I’ll admit to being a little wishy-washy at times.

Then Eric and I checked out the new computer model runs in the afternoon… and both had a little devious chuckle. Those thunderstorm complexes that roam the Midwest during the late summer? Three of our computer models were showing one of those passing quite close to Rockford later on Sunday. A couple models continue to show this complex around the same time period… but a bit farther north, right across our viewing area. One of our ensemble forecasts is showing a 50% chance of at least 0.01″ of rain by Sunday evening, and another shows the 0.10″ threshold moving through by Sunday evening. So, now that there’s been some pretty decent consistency and agreement in the model solutions, I’m officially siding with Eric.

I will point out that the precise timing and location of these thunderstorm complexes are just about impossible to nail down, but we can generally get an idea of how they’ll evolve. That’s my little disclaimer, so factor that into your decision when you vote in the poll on the right! And don’t forget to read the original post about this little forecasting battle down below this one…

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This post was written by qni_it on July 25, 2008

What is the purpose of reindeer? It makes the grass grow, sweetie.

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This post was written by qni_it on July 24, 2008

What is the purpose of reindeer? It makes the grass grow, sweetie.

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This post was written by qni_it on July 24, 2008

Who Will Be Right? Pick a Side!


So here is the background information that led up to the infamous bet. As a weather team we often consult each other on our forecasts. We typically come to an agreement, but that hasn’t been the case for one important time period (the weekend) recently. The big chief and I have had differing opinions on that timeframe and have stuck to our guns. Each morning Monday through Wednesday I came into the weather center and put in a dry forecast for both Saturday and Sunday. Each afternoon Monday through Wednesday, Eric came into the weather center and inserted a thunderbolt in at least one if not both of the days for the weekend.

Last night, after the 6pm show I sent Eric a text message saying that he was crazy. He asked me if I wanted to bet on the weekend forecast. I said I wasn’t afraid… so here’s the deal. I am stating that the rain gauge at the Rockford Int’l Airport will receive a trace or less of rain between Saturday at 7am and Sunday evening. Eric believes we will measure at least 0.01″ of liquid during that timeframe.

On 13 News 10 at 10 last night, Eric ended his main weathercast with the graphic to the left. He could have just simply stated the wager, but he had to one up it and draw on my face. For some reason he also thought that he was angelic enough to deserve a halo!?! Therefore, I had to exact my revenge on him this morning. Since he is the elder statesman of the weather team (he is going to hate this) I figured I would add a bit of a gray beard to his face. I think the “Mr. Sunshine” pin on my lapel is better than that wild yellow hat anyway.

So who do you think will turn out correct? The loser of the bet has to clean the weather center. Not exactly a fun punishment. If you are trying to pick a side, pick me because I am forecasting beautiful weather for the weekend! -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on July 24, 2008

Disastrous Dolly

Hurricane Dolly has been strengthening rapidly all morning long and has recently been upgraded to a category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 95 mph with wind gusts as high as 120 mph. A good indicator of a strong hurricane is showing a clear eyewall. The radar scan from Brownsville, TX as of 9:54am shows a distinct eyewall just off the coast. Heavy rain bands have already begun to pummel inland areas. This is only the beginning. The graphic in the middle is estimating a bullseye of over 8″ of rainfall in the next 24 hours around the southern tip of Texas. This could be a conservative forecast, as I’ve heard some meteorologists calling for more than 10″ of liquid from Dolly.

The right front quadrant of a hurricane typically holds the most damaging winds, strongest storm surge, and severe weather. As the graphic to the right shows, this part of Dolly has basically been outlined in a tornado watch until 7pm this evening. There have already been reports of a doppler indicated tornado near Corpus Christi, TX. The storm surge is expected to reach 15 to 20 feet in height near the South Padre Islands. Luckily the east side of the islands are mostly uninhabitated with the majority of the tourist attractions on the west side of the islands.

The eyewall should make landfall around noon today. This storm system is moving very slowly off to the northwest at 7 mph, and it continues to decelerate. This is going to be problematic, because southern Texas will feel the worst that Dolly has to offer for an extended period of time. This part of Texas has been dealing with extreme drought. Rainfall is good news, but not this much in such a short amount of time. The majority of this rain won’t be able to soak into the rock hard ground, which could cause catastrophic flooding. One well known hurricane meteorologist is predicting damages in excess of 100 million dollars. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on July 23, 2008