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TV Forecasting in the Bay Area

posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

If you go to my t-shirt shop, you’ll see a couple of shirts I made to represent San Francisco weather. My niece loves “The Horror! The Fog!”, because if you’re on the inland side of the coastal ranges, and you start to see the fog roll in, it can feel like a winter snow storm hitting on a summer day. San Francisco experiences heavy rains, thunderstorms, even snow on nearby mountaintops. During the summertime, forecasting high temperatures can be extremely difficult. You can forecast a high of 80 degrees, and the marine layer will move in, and your forecast high will be blown by 15 degrees! My friend Billy Poon, meteorologist at KPIX in San Francisco, helped me with this blog.

NWS Office San Francisco/Monterey Bay (I use this to check out the weather changes in the last 24 hours, surface pressure very important for forecasting shifts in winds. Wind shifts are not only important for marine forecasts in the Pacific and San Francisco Bay, but for fog forecasting as well.)

Weather Underground Bay Area Weather Sites (This map from Weather Underground shows all the personal weather stations available, much more than the local National Weather Service Office provides. Each station has a record of weather information.)

Unisys Weather Upper Air Models (Place I go to start on my 7-day forecast.)

GFS MOS Guidance (GFS MOS forecast guidance for temperatures around the Bay.)

NAM MOS Guidance (NAM MOS forecast guidance for temperatures.)

Raw FOUS Data (The FOUS… Billy uses this to check out the Relative Humidity at 3 levels, for Low, Mid & Highs clouds & rainfall over 60 hours.)

NWS San Francisco/Monterey Bay Weather Tables (This is a clickable map that will show 7-day model based weather forecast.)

Air Quality (Check the air quality for the day—big concern in the summertime.)

Airport Delays (Check for airport delays, especially San Francisco!)

Rainfall Forecast (Rainfall forecast broken down over 3 days, very fine detail. Billy says it’s a great tool during rainy season.)

California Department of Transportation – Road Conditions (Knowing the actual road conditions, can help you determine if you blew the rain/snow elevation on the roads leading up to Lake Tahoe!)

USGS Earthquake Map (And, of course in California, you will need this earthquake map from the USGS.)

Thanks Billy!

-Dawn Brown, Billy Poon, KPIX Meteorologist

Tips for the Gulf South TV Forecaster

posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Moving to a new TV market is tough. I’m putting together some of the most important websites you’ll need to hit the ground running. Good Luck! Since the Gulf South is driven in a large part by the tropics during the summertime, you will have many days of frustation before you begin to learn the patterns and the different small scale boundaries that can develop.  Severe weather develops rapidly, especially in the fall, winter and spring. Even a summertime thunderstorm can cause flooding in the streets. Of course snow is not a common occurence, but if you get all the right ingredients, you will have a miracle snow day during a cold winter.  

 Looking at the radar and satellite, (if your shop doesn’t have what you need, go to the National Weather Service Eastern Region Headquarters and Aviation Weather) to get a general idea of the weather pattern.

Use your synoptic scale models (large scale models) to get storm placement, flow patterns, and 850 mb temperatures, and precipitation amounts (this is available at Unisys Weather), and make a short-term forecast. Look at atmospheric forecast soundings  site, especially if thunderstorms are expected, to determine severity. Make sure you visit the Storm Prediction Center to see if you are in a risk category for thunderstorms.

Generally, your local NWS office can give you the risk of inland flooding due to repeated storms, but here’s a link to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center – Inland Flooding in case that is a concern during repeated storm events or a tropical storm has moved inland.

Tides are extremely important for coastal communities, here’s a link to Tide Predictions for Gulf States. Marine and boating forecasters also generally use buoy data. NOAA Buoys Gulf of Mexico

Make an extended 7-day forecast using the latest and most complete suite of extended model runs (e.g. the GFS), available at NCEP Model Analyses and Forecasts.

Also, you’ll need a temperature forecast to compare all of your graphical data against for a highs/lows forecast.  The best place to find MOS (Model Output Statistics) is Current NWS MOS Forecast Products.

When it comes to tropical weather, which can also often be a player, things can get even more interesting, here’s a link to my blog on Tracking Hurricanes.

Oh! One added note, sea fog can develop in the wintertime along the Gulf South. The NWS Office in New Orleans has a decision tree Sea Fog Forecasting to help you forecast a sea fog event in the wintertime. It’s fascinating!

Tips for the TV Forecaster in the Northeast

posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Moving to a new TV market is tough. I’m putting together some of the most important websites you’ll need to hit the ground running. Good Luck!

Forecasting in the Northeast can be overwhelming, especially if you start in the middle of winter! You could be dealing with lake effect snow, ice storms, sleet, freezing rain and blizzards! Here are some of the best web links to get your forecast off the computer and on the air.

After looking at the radar and satellite, (if your shop doesn’t have what you need, go to the National Weather Service Eastern Region Headquarters and Aviation Weather), follow these steps to make a forecast:

Take a look at Unisys Weather at your synoptic scale models to get storm placement, flow patterns, and 850 mb temperatures (this is available at Unisys Weather). Unisys also has the local Skew-T’s, but forecast soundings are also available here.

After you’ve figured out what’s going on in the larger scale, you can get down to the more nitty-gritty mesoscale (especially for lake-effect and even rain/snow lines).  What I typically use for this is a tool called BUFKIT which is available at Buffalo, NY National Weather Service for download along with the required data sets.

Also, especially good for lake-effect snow, is the MM5 model, which is available at SUNY Stony Brook MM5 Mesoscale Forecasts.

To wrap this up and get a good idea of the next 7 days of weather, a good standby for the latest and most complete suite of extended model runs (e.g. the GFS) is NCEP Model Analyses and Forecasts.

Of course, you’ll also need a temperature forecast to compare all of your graphical data against for a highs/lows forecast.  The best place to find MOS (Model Output Statistics) is Current NWS MOS Forecast Products.

If you’d like to learn more about forecasting lake-effect snow or other winter weather phenomena, check out this website MetEd Home Page and become a member.

Another great option is to check out Haby Hints, developed by meteorologist Jeff Haby from Mississippi State University. You can go to his website and search for pretty much any weather term, and get an easy explanation of how to predict and forecast weather.

Happy forecasting!

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