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My New Gig at FOX 8. Check Out The Weather Lab!

posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

It was a gorgeous day in New Orleans today. Dry, breezy and sunny. It’s the kind of weather we look forward to all year. It’s been a cold winter down here, we’ve been waiting for Spring.

Cirrus Clouds, New Orleans Sunset

Cirrus Clouds, New Orleans Sunset

On my way to talk to a community group tonight, I shot this photo as I was looking to the southwest. What a gorgeous sunset. Louisiana often has beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Interesting cloud formations reflect the sunlight as the sun rises and falls.

Meanwhile, I’ve been neglected my weather blog. My new job at FOX 8 is creating new and interesting challenges. I love my job. We launched a new show called FOX 8 Morning Call on February 1.

Here’s a picture of Chris Franklin and me from this morning at 5am.

Chris Franklin and Dawn Brown, WVUE New Orleans

Chris Franklin and Dawn Brown, WVUE New Orleans

We started this new show that’s kind of like the Weather Channel, but it’s focused on Southeast Louisiana. We do the usual temperatures, rain chances, forecast, but then we get to spend extra time talking about the wave heights and sea surface temperatures in the lakes and Gulf of Mexico, the kind of stuff fisherman and mariners are interested in. We have the buoy data from all the Gulf  Coast buoys plotted in our new weather system.

Here’s the pic I took Friday of the current sea surface temperatures on one of our new weather systems.

Sea Surface Temperatures, (3/12/2010)

Sea Surface Temperatures, (3/12/2010)

Here’s Chris at the weather wall. Because I’m usually doing the weather, I never get to see how weird it looks that we’re pointing at a blank green wall.

Chris Franklin, WVUE New Orleans

Chris Franklin, WVUE New Orleans

Our weather graphics are projected onto the wall, and we are “keyed” out of the graphics. We can’t wear green or we would blend right into the graphics. We’ll probably both get pinched on St. Patty’s Day!

It’s awesome having two meteorologists in the mornings. Besides having the extra help with forecasts and graphics, we get to explain basic weather phenomenon, like hail, high pressure systems, sea fog, etc.

Every week, Chris and I also host a segment called “Weather Lab”, where we explain basic weather terms with experiments. Last week, Chris crushed a soda can with air pressure.

I’m having a blast! However, I’ve been remiss with my weather blog and adding new features to my website. I’m getting back on track… bear with me.

Thanks – Dawn Brown

Fog: Another Winter Hazard

posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 11:44 am
Dense Fog, Image: NOAA

Dense Fog, Image: NOAA

Dense fog has developed once again across the Northern and Central Plains. Drivers in Oklahoma City, Lincoln, Nebraska and parts of Wisconsin faced dangerous driving conditions this morning.

Dense fog advisories were issued. Advisories come out when fog reduces visibility to 1/4 mile or less over a widespread area. (Source: NOAA)

Fog is a low cloud. In the wintertime, A moist air mass, light wind, and cooling overnight can lead to dense fog.When an air mass cools to its dew point, the air will condense into clouds. This type of fog is called radiation fog. There are many other types of fog that form all year long. The University of Wisconsin has some easy to understand fog descriptions with pictures!

Today's National Forecast, Image: NOAA

Today's National Forecast, Image: NOAA

Snow is falling once again across the Rockies. Expect a wintry mix in North Dakota and Minnesota, and more rain across the Mid-Atlantic.

-Dawn Brown

Preparing for Wintry Weather

posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 3:36 pm
Winter Storms, Beltway, Image: NOAA

Winter Storms, Beltway, Image: NOAA

Early snow storms are a boon to ski retailers, but they also cause massive headaches for travelers and powerful snow storms can knock out power to thousands. The National Weather Service is now putting out its Winter Weather Guide.

As far as traveling in cold weather states, when bad weather is coming, the NWS has the following advice:

  • Keep the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Let someone know your destination, route, and when you expect to arrive.
  • Keep a cell phone or other emergency communication device with you.
  • Pack your car with thermal blankets, extra winter clothes, basic tool kit, (including a good knife and jumper cables), an ice scraper and shovel, flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries, and high calorie, nonperishable food, and water.
  • Use sand or kitty litter under your tires for extra traction, especially if you find yourself stuck in a slippery spot.

When a winter storm hits, there are four types of possible precipitation. The following graphic from NOAA illustrates the four types.

Winter Precipitation

Snow starts off as frozen precipitation high up in the atmosphere. If the temperature is below freezing as the snowflake falls, it never melts., and lands on the ground or in the palm of your hand as a snowflake. Sleet is a snowflake that melts as it falls into warmer air, but then refreezes when it hits a layer of subfreezing air close to the ground. Sleet looks like ice pellets. Freezing rain starts off as snow,  then melts in warmer air, and then refreezes after it hits the ground. Freezing rain is often referred to as “black ice” because when drivers hit a patch of ice on the highway, often they don’t see it because it is the same color as the asphalt. Finally, if the column of air is above freezing throughout most of the atmosphere, the frozen precipitation will melt and fall as rain. USA Today has a great graphic with more thorough information on the four different types of winter precipitation. For more information on winter weather advisories and warnings, see the NWS’s Winter Weather Guide.   -Dawn Brown

Leaf Peeping

posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 at 12:45 pm
Fall Colors, Image: NOAA

Fall Colors, Image: NOAA

With the beautiful, cool weather finally making it to the deep South, there is still some time for leaf peeping in the lower part of the Appalachians, especially in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. 

Since the changing colors of the leaves depends on the weather, the Southern States experience the fall foliage later than the Northeast.

USA Today has a great article, with plenty of interactive graphics, on why the leaves change color. Click on the link for a full explanation with pictures.

The weather forecast is pretty benign – not much going on – the next few days. This weekend computer models have storms blowing up on both the East and West Coasts.

We’ll see!

-Dawn Brown

A Watch Versus a Warning

posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Expired Weather Warnings, Image: NOAA

Expired Weather Warnings, Image: NOAA

When a TV weather forecaster breaks into television programming, it’s usually to tell the viewers a watch or a warning has been issued by the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is the government agency in charge of issuing weather warnings to save lives and protect property.The NWS issues the warning, television stations broadcast it to the viewers. The image above tells us the National Weather Service has issued two different warnings for Southeastern Texas and Western Louisiana. The counties colored red are under tornado warnings. A tornado warning means that a tornado has either been spotted visually

Union City, Oklahoma 1973, Image: NSSL, NOAA

Union City, Oklahoma 1973, Image: NSSL, NOAA

or it has been detected by Doppler radar. When a tornado warning is issued, this means viewers need to take immediate shelter. Click on the following link for more information on tornado safety. The counties shaded in green are under flood warnings. This means that heavy rain has caused river levels to rise in those areas. A flash flood warning means that a flash flood is occurring or about to occur. Flash floods typically occur during torrential rain events.

Expired Tornado Watch, Image: NOAA

Expired Tornado Watch, Image: NOAA

Television viewers are most likely not surprised when the National Weather Service issues a warning. They have probably seen the skies darken, lightning flash in the distance, and heard the rumbling of thunder. By the time a flash flood warning or a tornado warning has been issued, viewers need to take immediate action to protect their lives or property. Television forecasters don’t have much time to tell viewers they are in danger when a tornado is already on the ground, or heavy rain has turned into a flash flood event.  It is the job of forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma to forecast the possibility of severe weather days in advance, and give local forecasters a heads up that they need to warn viewers that they need to prepare for severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center is in charge of issuing watches. (This can be a flood watch, tornado watch, severe thunderstorm watch, etc.)

A tornado watch means that conditions are right for the development of tornadoes. A watch can be issued when the sky is blue and the weather does not seem at all threatening. On a Sunday morning, you may leave for church, then an afternoon of shopping at the mall and be totally surprised by severe thunderstorms passing through as you try and leave the shopping mall to head home. This is why forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center spend hours trying to predict the weather days in advance of developing storms, to give people adequate time to protect their property and save lives.

If you live in an area where severe thunderstorms occur, you are responsible for making sure you know what precautions to take when the National Weather Service issues a warning. Again click on the following link for the latest information on tornado safety.

The main threat from flash floods comes in the form of water filling roadways. Flash floods are the #1 severe weather related killer from in the United States. (Heat related deaths are the highest overall.) Most of the threat comes from people trying to cross flooded roadways. Six inches of fast moving water can knock you off your feet. (Source: Turn Around, Don’t Drown, National Weather Service Southern Regional Headquarters.)   

Flash Flooding, Image: NOAA

Flash Flooding, Image: NOAA

-Dawn Brown

The Climate Data! How to Find the Highs/Lows/Rain Totals!

posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 7:38 pm

It’s usually at the breakfast table… or on the way out the door that you find your child hasn’t completed a very important homework assignment. It’s not difficult, it doesn’t involve a lot of math, but finding the climate data for the current or previous day can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

Every National Weather Service Office across the country lists the high temperature, low temperature and rain/precipitation totals for the day after about 5pm. The high temperature of the day is usually reached between 12 and 5pm unless you had a weather event come through that day. I’m going to go through it step-by-step. And, then, I will have an example search to show you how I found the high/low and rain near Houma, Louisiana. FYI… the National Weather Service only has a certain number of weather observation stations across the United States, so you will be finding the climate data of a station near you, most likely not the town where you live.

The first thing you want to do is go to the National Weather Service main site. Here is the link: www.nws.noaa.gov.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Type the name of your town and the state in the small box near the upper left hand corner of your screen. (It says Local Forecast by “City,St” above the box. To show you an example, I’m typing in Houma, Louisiana.)
  2. Hit the Go tab to the right of the box after entering the name of your town and state.
  3. You will be taken to a forecast screen where it will list the current conditions in your town as well as any weather hazards, and the forecast. (This is the page I was linked to for Houma.)
  4. This step is very important! You need to find the link that will take you to the local NWS Office near your town.  On the left hand side, just below the NOAA emblem or sign, it will say NWS and the name of the local National Weather Service office. The writing should be in blue. Click on that link.  (If you look at my example page, it says NWS for New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA.)
  5. That will take you to the MAIN PAGE of the National Weather Service office in your region.  (Again, here’s the link to the page in my example: NWS for New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA)
  6. On the left hand column, scroll down to the word Climate, below the word climate, it will say local. Click on the word Local. (Example: It should look like this. )
  7. In the middle of the page, you will see a blue bar, with the words Observed Weather Reports.
  8. Below this, you find a series of selections.
  9. First, select Daily Climate Report.
  10. Move over to the next column.
  11. Select the National Weather Service Office closest to you.
  12. Go to the next or third column. If it’s 7 o’clock at night, and your trying to find the data for today, then you just need to leave “Most Recent” selected and hit Go.
  13. If you are trying to find the highs/lows and rain for a previous day, you need to select Archived Data, and select the date you need. Then hit Go.

A new window will open. It should look like the page below:  (The information you want is underlined and in red.)

-Dawn Brown

____________________________________________________________________

These data are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at the NCDC – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov.

Climatological Report (Daily)

000
CDUS44 KLIX 112119
CLINEW

CLIMATE REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS
418 PM CDT FRI SEP 11 2009

...................................

...THE NEW ORLEANS CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR SEPTEMBER 11 2009...
VALID TODAY AS OF 0400 PM LOCAL TIME.

CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1971 TO 2000
CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1946 TO 2009

WEATHER ITEM   OBSERVED TIME   RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST
                VALUE   (LST)  VALUE       VALUE  FROM      YEAR
                                                  NORMAL
..................................................................
TEMPERATURE (F)
 TODAY
  MAXIMUM         80   1106 AM  98    1980  88     -8       90
  MINIMUM         73    127 PM  57    1969  72      1       75
  AVERAGE         77                        80     -3       83

PRECIPITATION (IN)
  TODAY            2.28          5.64 1998   0.20   2.08     0.32
  MONTH TO DATE    4.30                      2.28   2.02     6.32
  SINCE SEP 1      4.30                      2.28   2.02     6.32
  SINCE JAN 1     41.48                     47.68  -6.20    43.40

SNOWFALL (IN)
  TODAY            0.0
  MONTH TO DATE    0.0
  SINCE SEP 1      0.0
  SINCE JUL 1      0.0
  SNOW DEPTH       0

DEGREE DAYS
 HEATING
  TODAY            0                         0      0        0
  MONTH TO DATE    0                         0      0        0
  SINCE SEP 1      0                         0      0        0
  SINCE JUL 1      0                         0      0        0

 COOLING
  TODAY           12                        15     -3       18
  MONTH TO DATE  176                       172      4      184
  SINCE SEP 1    176                       172      4      184
  SINCE JAN 1   2620                      2259    361     2508
..................................................................

WIND (MPH)
  HIGHEST WIND SPEED    30   HIGHEST WIND DIRECTION    SE (130)
  HIGHEST GUST SPEED    43   HIGHEST GUST DIRECTION    SE (120)
  AVERAGE WIND SPEED     6.9

SKY COVER
  POSSIBLE SUNSHINE  MM
  AVERAGE SKY COVER 0.9

WEATHER CONDITIONS
 THE FOLLOWING WEATHER WAS RECORDED TODAY.
  THUNDERSTORM
  HEAVY RAIN
  RAIN
  LIGHT RAIN
  FOG
  HAZE

RELATIVE HUMIDITY (PERCENT)
 HIGHEST    88           100 AM
 LOWEST     79          1000 AM
 AVERAGE    84

..........................................................

THE NEW ORLEANS CLIMATE NORMALS FOR TOMORROW
                         NORMAL    RECORD    YEAR
 MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE (F)   88        94      1991
 MINIMUM TEMPERATURE (F)   72        57      1969

SUNRISE AND SUNSET
SEPTEMBER 11 2009.....SUNRISE   644 AM CDT   SUNSET   711 PM CDT
SEPTEMBER 12 2009.....SUNRISE   644 AM CDT   SUNSET   710 PM CDT

-  INDICATES NEGATIVE NUMBERS.
R  INDICATES RECORD WAS SET OR TIED.
MM INDICATES DATA IS MISSING.
T  INDICATES TRACE AMOUNT.

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