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Arlene to Drench Drought Stricken Mexico

posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

The Latin American Herald Tribune is reporting today that Mexico is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years.

Tropical Storm Arlene may alleviate some of the drought, although many mountainous regions may experience flash floods because of the amount of rainfall associated with the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Arlene, Image: NOAA

Tropical Storm Arlene, Image: NOAA

The satellite presentation became much more impressive in the overnight hours, most likely due to the lack of wind shear in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Thunderstorms started sprouting up in the southern and eastern section of the storm early this morning. It’s possible Arlene could reach just below hurricane strength before making landfall between Tampico and Poza Rico. The topography in this section of Mexico makes it susceptible to flooding rains.

Although Arlene doesn’t have much time to strengthen, it could be just below hurricane strength before making landfall between Tampico and Poza Rica. For complete tropical storm coverage, visit TV stations in coastal towns of Texas like Houston and Corpus Christi.

Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans

Weak Tropical Storm Arlene on Track for Mexico

posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 at 7:14 pm
Tropical Storm Arlene, Image: NOAA

Tropical Storm Arlene, Image: NOAA

The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Arlene at 7pm Central Daylight Time this Tuesday, June 28th. The storm’s satellite presentation isn’t all that impressive, but it’s kicking up some good wave heights in the central Gulf of Mexico (up to 12′). The area of showers and thunderstorms west of the Yucatan Peninsula has been fairly persistent over the last few days and observations near the center of the storms show maximum sustained winds of about 40 miles per hour.

Arlene is expected to make landfall just south of Tampico, Mexico sometime on Thursday. It could provide some heavy rainfall for Tampico, Ciudad Valle and San Luis de La Paz Mexico. This is a mountainous region of central Mexico and tropical storms can dump copious amounts of rain over this region.

For the latest statistics on Arlene, go to the National Hurricane Center website. This is expected to be a fairly active hurricane season.

Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans

Ski ’til July 4th! Watch Yosemite Fall!

posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Reporting on the record snowfall across the western United States convinced me to plan a last minute trip to Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in early June. I recruited my husband, fellow meteorologist Jonathan Myers, to venture west with me, to take advantage of the late season snow! We ended up flying into San Francisco, (where my sister lives), and had to drive the looooong way around to get to Mammoth because all of the Sierra Nevada mountain passes were closed (due to the record snow). You know how something that seems likes it’s going to be a huge hassle turns out to be a big blessing? That’s the way our trip went. My Mom convinced us to go to Yosemite National Park to see how the record snowfall and melt had enhanced the waterfalls in the park. Yosemite is not that far from San Francisco-about 4-5 hours. We booked a tent/cabin in Camp Curry and drove over.

Camp Curry, Yosemite National Park

Camp Curry, Yosemite National Park

This is a picture of our cabin/tent. They have heated cabins, but since we booked at the last minute, we bundled up with wools blankets and sleeping bags with overnight temperatures in the 30s.  At about 4am, I started asking if we could just get up and go hiking since I was freezing. Everybody finally got up at about 5:15am and we were on the trail to Vernal Falls by 6.

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park

The hike to Vernal Falls is only about 3 miles round trip. In fact, by 6:40, we only had .3 miles until we got to the top. That’s about 17-18 hundred feet, right? My Mom and I had a little optimistic mid-hike meeting, saying we should go on to Nevada Falls, which is 5-6 miles round trip since we were making such good time. Yeah, no. The last .3 miles is straight up, stairs, with a mist coming off the falls that soaks you from head to foot. You’d be shivering if you weren’t sweating so much from the hike.  Don’t get me wrong. It was beautiful, inspiring, something I’m so glad we did. But, it was not an easy 1.6 mile hike. We did continue about a 1/2 mile more to get this beautiful sunrise shot of Nevada Falls.

Nevada Falls Sunrise, Yosemite National Park

Nevada Falls Sunrise, Yosemite National Park

If I were to do Vernal Falls and/or Nevada Falls again, I would recommend carrying a poncho, water, and snacks! A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a little coffee would have tasted so good as we watched this sunrise! We were very happy that we got on the trail so early. When we were hiking downhill at 8am, there was a line of summer hikers headed up. It’s punishing to get up before the sun comes up to hike, but it’s worth it when there’s nobody on the trail and you get the sunrise views.

Later, we drove around and looked at some of the other waterfalls, including the famous Yosemite Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the United States. The snowfall over the Sierra this year is 178% of normal, and the output from Yosemite Falls at the time of this picture was 1600 cubic feet per second. It was beautiful.

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

When we left Yosemite, we had to head back toward the west, then north and then east again because the mountain pass east from Yosemite was closed. If Tioga Pass (Highway 120) had been open, it would have taken us 2-3 hours to get to Mammoth. Instead, it took about 10 hours!!! Thank goodness the views were amazing. As I’m writing this, I’m disappointed we didn’t capture the shot as we rounded the bend on U.S. Highway 50 into South Lake Tahoe and saw the incredible view of the lake, the glacier mountains and the valley floor. It was a very steep mountain pass and there was nowhere to pull over!

As we drove toward South Lake Tahoe, we saw a roadside construction sign that said Monitor Pass was open, so we headed over Highway 89 toward US 395 that would take us into Mammoth. Highway 89 is a remote highway that takes you through Markleeville, California.  More windy roads without guard rails, more incredible, once-in-a-lifetime vistas. There is a bike ride that goes over these mountain passes in the summertime called the Death Ride.

We spent two days in Mammoth. Spring skiing is always a good trip because there are less people on the mountain and it’s warmer. The ski conditions were also remarkable for the time of year. The mountain is open daily until July 4th.

On the way back, we found out Caltrans had just cleared Highway 108 or Sonora Pass. A long and windy trail over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, it passes US military training camps and freshwater rivers filled with recent snowmelt. The top of the pass still had 10-15′ of snow. Incredible.

Sonora Pass, 9,582'

Sonora Pass, 9,624'

We ran into a German couple right by this sign, we had both stopped to get pictures of the snow. Luckily, we made it to this sign just before darkness fell. It was still a long drive to the bottom of the mountain and the lights of the interstate.

Dawn Brown, FOX 8 New Orleans

2011 Hurricane Season Begins

posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 at 7:49 pm

The National Hurricane Center is currently watching two areas in the Atlantic for the possibility of development into a tropical system.

Gulf of Mexico Disturbance, IR Imagery, NOAA

Gulf of Mexico Disturbance, IR Imagery, NOAA

The infrared image above shows the area of showers and thunderstorms from the system in the Gulf of Mexico. A line of heavy thunderstorms rolled through Tampa earlier today associated with that disturbance. Both have a 10% chance for development.  There is the possibility this area of showers and thunderstorms could strengthen over the central Gulf of Mexico before quickly weakening because of the amount of wind shear in the western Gulf.

Wind Shear, Gulf of Mexico

Wind Shear, Gulf of Mexico, Image: University of Wisconsin

The GFS or global forecast system model (which has its own Facebook page) has been developing the area of disturbed weather in the Caribbean Sea since the beginning of the week.

Last year, the GFS did a fairly good job of showing areas of possible development at the far end of the forecast cycle. For example, the GFS model run goes out 15 days in the future. Last year, most of the systems it showed developing at the end of that 15 day cycle did develop. However, not all of them developed into a tropical storm or hurricane as the model predicted. It used to be that we could discount a tropical storm that developed at the end of the model run because it just wasn’t accurate. That’s not the case anymore. It may be there, but we still don’t know what kind of storm we’ll be dealing with.

Back to today! The active weather pattern continues across the US. Springfield, Massachusetts got hit with a tornado today. And Kansas has more storms rolling through tonight.

Dr. William Gray and Phillip Klotzbach came out with their latest hurricane forecast today. No changes from their April forecast update. Gray/Klotzbach are still forecasting 16 named storms, 9 of those to become hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. Klotzbach and forecasters with the National Hurricane Center point to above average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean; a La Nina or neutral La Nina, which leads to low wind shear across the Atlantic Ocean; and a multidecadel cycle of active hurricane seasons.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on these disturbances being watched by the National Hurricane Center. Go to my Hurricane Tracking page to follow the latest storms.

Dawn Brown, FOX 8 News, New Orleans, dbrown@fox8live.com

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