Friday, June 29, 2007

A Sunsational Weekend is on the Way After Nature's Freak Show

Even by Indiana standards our weather has been crazy this week. This picture really sums it up. Monty Sloan at Wolf Park captured fire flies, lightning, and deep blue skies all in one picture. The little green streaks are the lightning bugs and there was just enough light at dusk to pick out the blue sky. Nature has certainly been putting on a show. If there was good news, it came in the rainfall department. In the last week, some areas have had about a month's worth of rainfall. Take a look at this.

Lindy Karberg sent this picture in from Lake Freeman. You can see the wake board sitting idle as sheets of rain ransacked Monticello. Some roads looked like you could go wake boarding on them in Cass County with areas just to the southwest of Logansport having torrential rain.

In Frankfort, Randy Rogers reported a cat under the hood of his car meowing. It took an hour to get the cat out safely. Talk about having nine lives. The cat apparently climbed up to higher ground in his car to avoid the flash flooding on Wednesday night. Kandy in Chalmers says the farmers are really happy with all of the rain.

But is everybody happy? Of course not. It is Indiana. We had a mere .01" of rain in Remington and just .25" of rain here at WLFI over the last couple of days. Luckily, we did have heavy rain last week. Not even the best of computer models could have forecasted the huge rainfall differences across the area. Convective precipitation is the culprit. You just cannot promise everybody rain this time of year. This is why I show Live Doppler 18 as much as possible so we can keep up with our crazy Indiana weather. Remember it is updated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on our web-site whether the rain soaks your neighborhood or misses you.

Just when I thought I had seen and heard it all this week, at 7:30 p.m. last night we had a report of a land spout in Howard County just west of Kokomo. Luckily, the funnel did not reach the ground. Usually these type of funnels do not reach the ground and when they do they do not cause much damage. It was caused by a wind shift that came through with a slow-moving front. We saw this happen in July of 2005 on the southside of Lafayette as you can see in the picture above. More land spouts were reported last year on May 31st in White County.

These funnels are usually found on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. But anything is possible in Indiana. Just chalk this one up to another example of nature showing who is in charge.

The good news is that a high pressure will take charge of our weather in time for our big weekend and for some a long holiday weekend. The dewpoints are the true amount of water in the air have plummeted! Take a look.

Basically we have cut by about 1/3 the amount of water in the air today compared to Wednesday. It will also feel about 25 degrees cooler. Here is the reason why. We are on the right side of the chart now with dewpoints dropping below 55 today!

But we are heading into July so make sure to join me tonight and I will also have a sneak peak at your 4th of July. Also check back here on the blog and I will post the dates and times of all the fireworks shows. Have a great weekend and I will see you soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bizarre Weather Wallops Parts of Lafayette, Lightning Strikes Fishers Man

We are used to bizarre weather here in Indiana and it is one of the many reasons I love living and working here in the Lafayette area. Yesterday it was a meteorological mecca. The main thing was everybody stayed safe and sound. This picture says it all. The new 231 had sheets of rain on the east side of the road, while the west side stayed mainly dry with not enough rain to really wet the pavement.

In Frankfort, a business owner of the Sprint Store (Corner of S.R. 28 & 39) had his roof collapse on him due to heavy rain. Frankfort had an incredible .75" of rain in 20 minutes. This comes out to about a weeks worth of rainfall in just a few minutes. Since Thursday, Randy Rogers is reporting 2.75" of rain. He also said they had brief flash flooding in Frankfort. Here are more rainfall totals around the area showing the "haves" and "have-nots".

Mark in Monticello also had a blinding rain with over 1 inch of rain bringing his total up over 3 inches since last Thursday. We have gone from drought to deluge. But notice some areas were still desert dry like Boswell and Remington without a drop of rain. The good news is more widespread soaking rain is moving in on Thursday.

While some areas were basking in sunshine we also had a strong, renegade storm or two across the area. A few trees were reported down in Russiaville and large tree limbs down across northern Cass County. The blue squares below show where the wind damage took place. Wind estimates came in at close to 60 mph. I wrote at length about lightning safety tips here on the blog yesterday and how concerned I am that most people do not take them seriously. Unfortunately my fears came true in Fishers yesterday. A Fishers man was struck by lightning while talking on a corded phone. He luckily survived. But once again, all phones need to be avoided during thunderstorms unless it is an emergency. New research out shows cell phones have a high risk of attracting lightning strikes even though they are not corded.

The good news is that the severe weather was very isolated and compared to last year nature has really let us off the hook when it comes to severe weather. Ocean temperatures in the Pacific have really been more neutral than expected, instead of having more of a full-fledged La Nina or cooler than average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. We watch this closely because the cooler the water, the more severe our weather usually is here in Indiana. We may go into a true La Nina by late summer, but right now you can even convince me another El Nino is on the way by time we head into our snowy winter later this year. What does this mean for Florida and the hurricane season? It is good news and would bring less hurricanes, but do not get too excited. I am still very worried about at least 2 hurricanes hitting Florida this year. Mom and Dad, I hope I am wrong.

Now on to what most of you are thinking about right now. That is right, the weekend! The good news is we will feel about 20 degrees cooler than the last couple of days and you will actually will be able to walk outside without feeling like you got slugged in the face. Say goodbye to the heat and humidity and hello fair weather in time for the Warren County Fair. The weather will just as sweet as the elephant ears and you can ride the ferris wheel in comfort. I am looking forward to trying something new at the Warren County Fair this year. Instead of being a goat milking judge I will be a baby judge. It should be interesting. My three daughters have trained me well, so I should be a pretty good judge. I will have more on this coming up and even a sneak peak at your 4th of July forecast that may turn hot as a firecracker. I will see you soon on the tube and make sure to check back with me here on the web. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lightning Safety Awareness Week Has Good Reminders for all of Us

Officially it is Lightning Safety Awareness week here in the Lafayette area. We have plenty of lightning in the forecast so this is a great time to go over a few tips you can use and that can really save your life. It is hard to believe that no weather watches or warnings are issued for lightning even though only flooding kills more people during severe weather. At the weather conference I was at in Cleveland this year, this point was made and I was told that this could in fact change in the future. We will see! The sooner the better because lightning reaches temperatures up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit yet many folks like sitting on their porch to watch storms move in. If you see lightning and hear a crash of thunder in less than 5 seconds you know that lightning is striking less than a mile away. Here is the math formula to remember.

If you count under 15 second you certainly want to seek shelter, but remember you are in danger whenever you can hear thunder. The big thing to remember is if you can hear thunder you can be struck by lightning. When the thunder roars outdoors, get indoors. If you cannot do this you will want to spread out from others and stay away from tall objects. You never want to lie flat on the ground. Stay low and crouch down on the balls of your feet. Remember lightning comes from the ground up and meets another bolt in the middle of the sky. It moves so fast our eyes only see one bolt. Many times lightning travels several miles outside the main cloud and most people are struck outside when it is not raining. Unfortunately this has helped to contribute to an average of about 70 lightning fatalities a year in the United States. Here is how Indiana stacks up compared to other states.

Florida ranks number one with 71 fatalities and only Delaware and Washington state recorded no fatalites in this 10 year span. So make sure to treat lightning as seriously as you would any other severe thunderstorm. If you see it flee it and if you hear it clear.

We will have to remember this advice with plenty of lightning and more widespread rain in the forecast. We will also have some heat relief and it could not come soon enough after yesterday's heat index values near 100 in the shade. It was amazing how portions of Jasper County had up to 5 inches of rain while here at WLFI we had nothing. Look for all of us to see some more needed rain by late tonight and Tuesday as a slow-moving cold front moves through the area. Join me tonight for the latest on Live Doppler 18 and we will track lighting and heavy rain moving our way. The weekend still looks super! Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One Year Ago We Rememer the Land Spouts, Today Get Ready for Sauna Weather

Here is what it looked like one year ago just south of Odell. This land spout flattened corn and damaged a barn, but luckily nobody was injured. Today we will have no big storms, but big heat index values that could exceed 100 when you combine the temperature and humidity! Join me for more on this tonight and in the meantime head to Mary Anne's web-site to check how hot it feels in Remington at

Here were the official heat index high temperatures across the area. It's like nature really slapped you in the face when you walked outside!

The amazing part is that this was the shade temperature you you combined the temperature and humidity. If you were playing tennis today it felt more like 115 to 120 in the sun! We will have to make sure to check on the pets and find a cool place for everybody at least for one more day before some real relief arrives by later on Thursday. In the transition, we will have to watch out for plenty of thunderstorms. We could really still use the rain and the latest maps are showing our hit and miss storms becoming more widespread by by late tomorrow into Thursday morning. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain! Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drought Conditions Give Way to A Deluge of Rain

What a weekend it was. It was nothing short of amazing the big turnaround we have had in rainfall. Paul Hadfield shot this from Decatur, Illinois during a severe thunderstorm that popped up on Saturday evening. This picture should make the front of a 2008 weather calendar. Way to go Paul! Here in the Lafayette area we had very few lightning strikes this weekend and plenty of welcome rain. We had the best of both worlds. Here are some of the big rainfall totals from around the area.

There is no longer a haze of dust covering portions of the sky in Benton and White Counties and you can see why. Some areas literally doubled their rain since late April. The news was even good for Tippecanoe County as you can see below.

On Friday, it was one of those forecasts where I thought we would actually make everybody happy. The farmers would see some needed rain and our plans should be okay with scattered rain showers with the key word being scattered. Our wild Indiana weather lived up to its name and Saturday was more of a washout although folks told me they still went out and listened to some great music at the Fiddlers Gathering. But many folks were singing the blues in the rain as many softball and baseball games were rained out. This is a humbling business at times and this was a perfect example. I am just glad we really needed a rain and I still do think it will help our viewing area dodge the worst of any drought that does take place in Indiana this summer. Our soil moisture is looking much better! Take a look at a dent we put into our rainfall deficit we have had since April 27th. We still will have to watch things closely, but things are looking up!

We can thank the area of low pressure you see below for bringing us some drought relief.

Our waves of rain were caused by an area of low pressure that stayed stronger, longer than expected. Instead of spinning and rapidly weakening to our west like all the weather models depicted, it remained strong and even came right for us bringing plenty of rain. We knew the potential was there for this to happen and certainly nature pounced on the opportunity. The building heat wave to the West can be blamed because it caused this low pressure to really dig and hold together. Remember nature likes to keep the balance. Areas in the West were near 100 degrees while we paid for it with highs only in the 60s on Saturday.

Luckily for me, I was attending an indoor event or the preliminary Prairie State Swim League Championships at Mc Cutcheon High School. It certainly was a great day to watch not only some great swimmers from Lafayette but from all over the area. There were teams from Monticello, Attica, Lafayette CC, Fountain, Benton, Warren, and Rensselaer. Here is a picture of a few swimmers from the Mc Cutcheon Swim Team. In the background from left to right you can see Kaitlyn Miller and Megan Prangley. In the foreground you can see Taryn Weber. She had a really cool pig hat on and was full of energy. They all had a great time and that is what is all about.

Tonight is the finals for the PSSL at Mc Cutcheon High School. It is definitely worth your time to see some great swimmers. Already two records have been set in the preliminary round and things are just starting to heat up like our weather. I will have more on this and the muggiest weather of the season tonight on WLFI. I will see you soon on the tube and make sure to check back here on the web. Have a great day and stay cool!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fire & Rain Weather Pattern Settles in for Start of Summer

This map says it all! We have a totally different weather pattern setting up as we head into the first week of summer. I see fire and I see rain. Do I sound like James Taylor yet? Yes! He is one of my favorite singers and it looks like we will all be singing in the rain, because many areas will see well over an inch of rain with four inch rain totals in spots not out of the question. This is all because of a hot summer dome of air that is pushing our way along with a stalled frontal boundary across the region. We will be sizzling in the middle 90s for highs by early next week. So this is the fire in the forecast. The rain is coming from showers and thunderstorms riding around its periphery of the hot high pressure or what we call "ridge runners." They are known to bring heavy rain amounts, and can also pop severe thunderstorms usually in the form of large hail and damaging wind. Here are the main threats I think we will have here in Lafayette the next couple of days.

This is really hard to believe. But the latest models do not lie. We were experiencing drought conditions last week and now I am forecasting the potential of flash flooding as our biggest weather threat. Only in Indiana! I still think some areas could have severe weather in the form of hail or damaging wind, but it should be isolated in nature. We have a lot of campers out there this weekend and the combination of lightning and flooding is not good. Make sure you stay alert to changing weather conditions and have a plan B or place to go when the weather turns threatening. Never cross waters of unknown depth. Most people die in their cars during flash flooding and it is still the number one weather killer in our country. So even though our tornado chances remain small this weekend, we have plenty of weather to keep us concerned about and many good reasons to stay tuned.

Here is another reason for all of the busy weather. Notice the stalled out stationary front across our area. Its exact position will make all the difference in the world for severe weather. Since we are going to be north of the front on the cooler side of the storm, I think we will have more isolated severe weather. Where it will be warmer and more humid which will be south of the front they can expect more severe weather. This will be roughly in a line from Cincinnati to Indianapolis and over to Champaign. The main thing is everybody across Indiana should get in on the heavy rain. Yes, it is going to rain cats and dogs! Speaking of dogs...

Mary Anne Best our weatherwatcher sent in this picture of Princess Maggie and the dried out grass is tough to walk on and hard on her paws. This picture really sums up how much we still need the rain. We are running about 2 to 3 inches below average on rainfall since late April. Maggie seems to be smiling in this picture and really does look like a princess! I think we will all be smiling with all of the rain in the forecast. Today is a perfect day for WLFI's bring your dog to work day! Bowie, Jr. (BJ) is ready to run around the building with Daddy barking up a storm about all the rain. He is a real ham and full of personality. You can really see it in the picture below.

But remember this forecast has not gone to the dogs. We should have plenty of dry hours this weekend. We will have occasional thunderstorms once again Saturday, but not an all day rain for the Fiddler's Gathering. Sunday looks to be mainly dry with the hot weather really starting to take hold. Make sure to have a great weekend and our weather team will continue to keep you posted on all the storms that do pop. Now I better go get BJ ready for his big trip to work with me. I will bring plenty of treats. If time permits maybe he can even make a guest appearance. It should be exciting either way, weatherwise and otherwise. Thanks for taking time to check the blog and I look forward to seeing you on the tube tonight.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Space Ships Sighted Over Wolf Park & Greater Lafayette as Spring Goes Out in Style

The phones are still ringing off the hook and the e-mails are coming in. Everybody is really excited about seeing the Space Shuttle and International Space Station in the sky. I ran up to the roof just before the start of the 11 p.m. show and had to be careful to get off the roof in one piece. I am glad Gina was holding the fort down which allowed me to view this incredible sight for the second consecutive night. You should have seen how fast I sprinted down the hall before my first weather. I didn't know I could run that fast in dress shoes. Maybe I should try it in my next race. It was worth the mad dash and I will remember the last Spring night of 2007 as an unforgettable one.

Mark our weatherwatcher in Monticello called in and actually saw two shooting stars after the Space Station and Shuttle passed overhead. Gene and Charlotte in Monon are still in awe of the big event in the sky and Kandy in Chalmers said it was nothing short of spectacular! So without further adieu here are the pictures that are worth a thousand words. A special thank you to Monty Sloan. He really captured the moment.

This was a long exposure. The Space Station was a little brighter than the Shuttle because it is bigger giving it more reflectivity. The second streak was the shuttle that was also quite bright. What made it all just right was the moon, Venus, and Saturn all nearby.

Here is another perspective. These spectacles were moving at 18,000 mph hour but it was almost surreal as it all took place in slow motion and it was almost as if our fellow humans on board could see us waving at them.

They say all good things must come to an end. By 10:56 p.m. Atlantis finally faded out of view. You can barely pick it out in the upper right hand side of this picture. I cannot thank you enough Monty!

Today we all can also be excited about the summer solstice. It is the official beginning of summer which arrives at 2:06 p.m. It is amazing that we will have over 15 hours of daylight making it our longest day of the year of course when talking about daylight hours. In Barrow, Alaska they will have 24 hours of daylight in the land of the Midnight Sun.

The sun's direct rays reach their northernmost point this afternoon. It is all downhill from here. The term solstice is latin for the sun stands still. There will be very little change in our daylight hours for the next couple of weeks. By late July though you will start to notice the days growing shorter which will eventually bring my favorite season of winter!

But let's take one season at a time. Summer is known for its heat and humidity and even though it will be comfortable today a hot ridge of summer weather will start to build our way that will eventually bring middle 90s for highs by early next week. The next couple of days and nights we will be in transition with scattered showers and thunderstorms that could even fire in the middle of the night. This is a classic summer pattern. I am concerned about severe weather with large hail and damaging wind as the main threats. Portions of Minnesota last night had grapefruit size hail. Hopefully we will not see anything like that. You can see all the ingredients coming together below.

We are living on the edge of a huge area of hot weather with highs hitting near 100 in Denver, Colorado. As this hot air meets our cooler atmosphere we will have to watch out. We are in a slight risk for severe weather. We will also add humidity to the mix by late tonight. It doesn't take much to fire up storms this time of year. Stay tuned, stay alert, and stay safe. Get ready for another big show in the sky, nature-style by late tonight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Space Shuttle Atlantis Lights Up the Lafayette Sky After a Gully Gushing Rain

What a night last night. The e-mails and calls came pouring in just as fast and furious as the early morning rain. I was out on the roof taking in the breath-taking view of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station as they rocketed over Lafayette. It was like not one, but two shooting stars next to each other moving in tandem and in slow-motion so you could easily take it all in. Earlier in the day of course they undocked from each other helping to make all of this possible. Here is a re-cap of the show in the sky that lasted about 3 minutes.

Atlantis is expected to land in Florida now on Thursday. The good news if you missed last night's show in the sky is you can once again see the International Space Station pass over us tonight at 10:53 p.m. It will be followed by another space shuttle fly-by at 10:54 p.m. Look toward the northwest sky. It will last about 3 minutes and is worth watching before the late newscast. The viewing conditions like last night should be excellent.

Now what you all have been waiting for and that is an update on our drought which did reach the moderate stage last week across much of Indiana. The rain we had this morning is a sign of better days ahead for farmers. The Climate Prediction Center has the drought easing up for much of the southeast, including Florida and much of the Hoosier state, including Lafayette. The long-term drought outlook for the rest of the summer keeps the highest risk south of us as you can see below.

We will have occasional dry spells but the true drought conditions seem to favor areas in Kentucky and Tennessee. The blocking pattern we have seen so often this Spring will not be in place for much of the summer. So even the areas with the higher drought risk should receive at least some rain. Here at home you can see the pattern is already changing with yesterday's welcome rain totals below.

This was the heaviest rain in two weeks and if you look closely you can see some happy hastas!
Some areas did not receive as much rain with huge variations as we so often see this time of year. Folks in Frankfort were wishing Logansport would have shared some of their heavy rain. The gem city struggled to reach much more than a tenth of an inch of rain.

But do not despair if you are in need of more rain, by late week into the early part of the weekend we have more welcome rain in the forecast.

Here on our Wednesday you do need to get out and enjoy. We do not have too many more of these days with low humidity. The summer solstice or beginning of summer arrives tomorrow afternoon. I recommend a nice walk or jog and if possible a fishing trip.

Bill Lovelace shows us how it is done, with your blog picture of the day. We have great fishing weather today. This is a 33 and a half inch flathead catfish he caught this past weekend. His fishing spot was top secret. This broke his old record of 32 inches he set last year. Great job Bill! Check back for lots of interesting weather worth tuning in for tonight as a summer surge of heat is back in the forecast that could be preceded by strong thunderstorms. I will see you soon. Do not forget the sunscreen. A sunburn at 1 p.m. is possible in as little as 18 minutes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Great To Be Back from the Nation's Capital & I Brought Some Rain With Me!

Happy Birthday Mom! She is certainly the reason I do what I love every night on television. I used to read weather books around the house to her while she cleaned. What a Mom! Have a great crab cake dinner in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida tonight and make sure to have lots of ice cream with your cake. You deserve the best! Come visit us soon in Indiana. It will be much cooler than Florida and you will not have to worry about hurricanes here.

Speaking of family, I just got back from the Washington, D.C. area where I also had the good fortune of having Maryland crab cakes. The company was even better. The girls and I were treated like royalty by my aunt Tina and uncle Kevin. I appreciate them letting my wild family stay at their house.

My daughters swam most of the time and took a brief break so they could take a picture with Dad and and all their cousins. You can also see BJ our new dog, who actually had control of the house while we were there. My aunt's Akita, Springer Spaniel, and Beagle were no match for his 4 pounds of spunk.

One of the highlights of my trip was taking the subway into Washington, D.C. like I did tons of times while I was growing up in the area.

Here is a picture of Capitol Hill which was a short walk from the Air and Space Museum. I could have spent a week there. The Air and Space Museum was full of interesting things ranging from moon rocks brought back by Neal Armstrong to the very uniform George Washington used to wear. I could have spent a whole week at just that one museum, but of course my kids needed ice cream and hot dogs so being there for an hour was quite a feat. The weather was great for walking around the Mall area with cloudy skies and temperatures in the lower to middle 70s. Usually it would be tough to walk more than a few steps without breaking into a sweat this time of year. But last week it was just perfect! The Washington Monument was a 555 foot marvel. It never gets old to me no matter how many times I have seen it in person.

The big reason I was visiting was to celebrate my 20 year high school reunion. I was very proud to go with my wife Julie and show all my old friends lots of pictures of my three daughters. Family is what it is all about and I am blessed many times over. When it came down to it the thing that really mattered to most people at my reunion was not their job, or what kind of car they drove, but their families. It was kind of funny how most of my friends, including me shared pictures of their loved ones on digital cameras. You have to love those memories and memory cards.

Before I left for vacation, I told my weatherwatchers and some farmers that I was not coming back without bringing some rain. Well, my rain dance or at least prayers worked. The maps before I left did show the blocking pattern breaking down with better rain chances and sure enough about a week later I woke up to downpours this morning. Tonight join me for the latest on some impressive rainfall totals. I will post these and talk about the effect it will have on our long-term drought prospects. Get ready for more good news. It is great to be back.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sizzling & Parched in Lafayette, But it is Not Here to Stay

Well it is a good thing that most of you would want a heat wave more than a blizzard. Our weather poll has gone quite well with over 400 responses! I think the voting was closer than you may have thought.

The finally tally had 56% in favor of a heat wave and 44% wanting a blizzard. It is good to know I am not the only crazy one that loves snow. It makes me feel great! Thanks so much for participating in our weather poll. We will have many more fun questions coming your way. But these polls are a sign I am in big trouble. This means my forecast will be unpopular with more than 4 in 10 folks tonight. Those that want rain which is probably more than 8 out of 10 people will not get what they want either.

But I will take it like a man and let you know that there is plenty of hope for us to get out of this drought and heat wave pattern. When all is said and done I will make plenty of folks smile. I do aim to please everybody! But I know I am just the messenger. Now back to the heat wave. Most models have us reaching 90 degrees or higher for 3 consecutive days beginning on Saturday. What makes this significant is it would meet the criteria for a heat wave in Lafayette, Indiana. Of course it would be much different if we lived in Phoenix. Location, location, location, that is what it is all about and here at home we are the hot spot. Notice the hot weather spreading our way. This is all a function of how dry it has been with a 7 week rain deficit now over 3 inches. The sun's energy is able to directly go into heating our ground, and with very little moisture to evaporate it becomes more efficient. We certainly will be able to feel this, especially by Saturday.

The biggest fear most folks have is that they are worried it will just stay hot and dry all summer. The latest long-range maps have plenty of hope that this simply is not the case. You can sleep easier tonight. This does not mean it will not be on the hotter, drier side this summer, but I like the 1964 analong year which gives farmers and the rest of us lots of hope for some rain and breaks in the heat at times this summer.

An analog year is simply a year that matches up well with this year in terms of key meteorological factors. Basically, our weather maps look very similar. By understanding the past we are able to better understand the future and this helps with long-range forecasting. Make sure to join me here on the blog for more good news coming our way with plenty of relief for our plants, lawns, and June sizzle. Just be patient. If you cannot wait you can also tune in at 5,6, and 11 to stay cool. I look forward to seeing you! Have a great day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Drought Builds in With No Rain Relief Until Next Week

It is beginning to look a lot like May when it was tough to squeeze out enough rain to just wet the sidewalk. A building drought to our South is actually helping to build a strong ridge of high pressure which is going to bring hot and dry weather here in the Midwest. You can blame the drought cycle. The sun heat's the earth up and evaporates most of its soil moisture. Soil moisture is one of the key ingredients here in the Midwest in helping to fire up pop up thunderstorms. When there is little available soil moisture these storms have a much harder to time developing and literally fizzle. This solidifies the drought cycle. Take a look at it below.

We saw this take place in May as many areas were close to 2 inches below average in rainfall. In June we started off the month promising with near normal rainfall but we are now paying the price for our driest May in 15 years. It just doesn't take much to teeter back in the danger zone of going into a drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center provided this map of showing how serious the situation is becoming.

This drought cycle will only become worse as the summer goes along because of the extremely strong sun angle evaporating at least a .25" of soil moisture a day. So our deficit of almost 3 inches of rain since April 27th is really starting to catch up to us. The abnormally dry soil conditions you see above could likely turn into moderate drought conditions in the next week. We will keep you posted.

Now the good news I like to end my blog with everyday. We all got those weekend plans in and all the June weddings went off without a hitch. No runny mascara or dowpours. I celebrated the good weather forecast by going to Tropicanoe Cove yesterday with my family. Lauren loved going down the Dolphin slide, we all went in the lazy river, and then my daughters talked me into going on the huge waterslide. It was a lot different than the little slide you see below!

I not only had to go down the big slide, but actually do it backwards with no hands. I screamed as the lifeguard pushed me....and then....well I let out an obnoxious scream or two. A fan told me that I screamed so high-pitched that the whole park could hear me. They thought it might have been their little girl or sister. Now do you see why I do not like these hot weather patterns? They only bring trouble. I am still laughing about this. I did not realize I did this as it was all a blur. But I won the respect of my daughters even if I did almost lose an arm. I finally wiped out at the end of the ride as I hit the water. The last time I wiped out that badly I was in the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. It was a fun day. I will definitely be back to do it all over again. I think I had more fun than all the kids. Before I forget, my apologies to those that had to hear me scream. Have a great day. Check in tomorrow to find out what a building La Nina means for our summer weather and how many of you are in fact like me and would rather have a blizzard instead of a heatwave.

Friday, June 8, 2007

It Will Be a Great Weekend for June Weddings and Space Shuttle Gazing in the Lafayette Sky

I have finally come up for some air after tracking storms across much of the Midwest throughout the day and much of tonight. I am still here at work and it is almost 2 a.m. Ross Ellet should be arriving shortly. Normally, Kelly Greene comes in but she has a well-deserved day off. Our weather team works around the clock when the weather turns busy. Computerized crawls are okay, but having humans here is what really matters so we cannot only answer calls, but do cut-ins to programming if the weather turns nasty. I would not have it any other way.

Don't feel sorry for me on this sleepless night because I have been doing this since I was 7 years old. I think my brother is glad I no longer live with him because I would wake him up to tell him what was happening and if we would be off school. If snow was in the forecast I usually would run around the house all night, checking on the latest weather conditions outside my window, drawing weather maps, and practicing doing the weather in my room. No wonder I became a meteorologist. I know I am very lucky to do what I love and being able to live in a great weather state like Indiana. Tonight I have been running around the TV station instead of my old house in Bowie, Maryland. We have computers all over the building and I love looking for storm videos that come in and then running back to the weather center to check on the latest Live Doppler 18 image.

There is a tornado watch for Benton, Newton, and Jasper Counties until 6 a.m. but right now I do not see much of a tornado threat. We could still see some gusty winds and small hail early this morning, but I think nature will once again spare us the worst of a potent storm. We will have not have to worry about kayaks through trees like they saw in Wisconsin last night. There were about 10 tornadoes alone in the Badger state. My aunt Barb called and told me all the sporting events and graduations were canceled in the Osh Kosh area. I am glad everybody is safe and sound there tonight and that folks are more weather aware than ever. My hats off to the folks in Wisconsin for taking the storms seriously. Here in Indiana we also do a very good job of being alert for changing weather conditions. Interestingly, our weather watch/warning system and skywarn networks around the country came about because of the Palm Sunday tornadoes that hit Indiana back in 1965. It changed the way the country viewed weather. Weather was no longer considered trivial but finally taken seriously.

Our blog question of the day deals with weather watches and warnings.

I know it might seem that this issue has been driven into the ground, but I really need some clear answers to stop my head from spinning.

My understanding has always been:
Watch = conditions favorable
Warning = happening and sighted

But I keep hearing on the radio from the NWS:
“..the national weather service has issued a tornado warning for ‘x’. At ‘x’ o’clock doppler radar indicated a storm capable of producing a tornado…” or even “…with conditions favorable for a tornado…”

Shouldn’t these be watches?
I know that in any event, I should seek shelter, but lately I just walk outside, look at the sky, and say “what are they talking about?!”

Please help me out, because it’s driving me batty.

Thanks a bunch.

Jason Warner

Thanks for the note Jason,

You are not alone on this, believe me. The fact is that 70% of all tornado warnings are false alarms. A warning has been redefined to include storms capable of producing tornadoes to give people extra time to take cover. The spinning in the clouds can reach the ground in an instant. So to be safe rather than sorry a warning is issued. If the weather service offices that are in charge of issuing warnings waited to make sure the rotation reached the ground as a tornado, folks in most cases would not have time to get to their safe spot. I hope this helps. So there are two types of tornado warnings. There are SIGHTED TORNADOES which fit right in with the traditional warning definition and the DOPPLER INDICATED TORNADOES, which means to treat it as a warning to ensure you and your family stay safe.

This weekend we can all feel safe. A cold front will move east and usher in refreshing breezes and plenty of dry weather for the weekend. This is a good thing with all of the June weddings going on around town. It is the least I can do. Nature will also add in a special wedding gift for everybody. Look to the sky on Sunday night. The skies should be clear to view the space station and space shuttle!

That is right the International Space Station passes over Lafayette on Sunday night. If all goes as planned the Space Shuttle will attach to the Space Station and you will see both of them light up the sky like a slow-moving shooting star. Make sure to check in tonight on the news for more details and I will post the times in detail here on the blog this evening. I hope you are enjoying our new web-site. I will make sure to read all of your comments and answer as many questions as I can. I want this blog to not only be fun, but informative. We will also be fixing up our weather section with new and exciting weather data over the next several weeks. Enjoy! You deserve the best.

In the meantime, I have a golf tip for you this weekend. I have no right to even begin to try to teach you golf. My Dad would be much better at this. At least I can help you with the science!

Make sure to use a higher club this weekend with our cooler, drier air. In my case of course I will use a higher club and lots of prayer.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bad Hair Day Today Gives Way to Nature's Fireworks Tonight

What a storm! It is not often you see tornado watches and heavy snow warnings within 200 miles of each other. Last night that is exactly what I showed on the 11 p.m. weathercast in Montana. Huge atmospheric contrasts in temperature are feeding one of the strongest June storm systems you will ever see and its moving our way. Here at home we will be on its hot and windy side today with gusts near 40 mph. You can put away the hair spray today because it will do you no good. Jumping into a pool would be a better choice. This vacuum effect is the result of this huge storm causing the air to literally be sucked in toward its center as the atmosphere tries to find some sort of equilibrium. This means we will have to be ready for our hottest day since August 2nd of last year with highs in lower to middle 90s.

This monster low will also impact our weather with strong to severe thunderstorms. It will be a real dogfight in the atmosphere with not one but two rounds of storms on the way. Check out when the storm zone will move our way.

The good news for us is it looks like the most powerful line of thunderstorms will move through very late tonight. Since we will lose a lot of daytime heating that tend to feed these storms our chances of a tornado outbreak are small. The bad news is that a nasty squall line of storms will still likely hold together due to the strength of this storm bringing a threat of 65 mph wind gusts. Our weather staff will be watching it for you even at 2 a.m. I am rested and ready to go! Here are the main threats.

Even though we will have plenty of moisture, instability, and lift in the atmosphere tomorrow night, the directional wind shear will be weak. Shear is the fourth ingredient meteorologists use to help forecast tornadoes. So this brings us to our weather word of the day which is derecho.

We all remember the derecho of July 21, 2003 when it came through at about 4 a.m. Trees were snapped like tootpicks with some wind gusts estimated at 80 mph. It looked like several tornadoes ripped through the area with even one home with a tree branch through a wall. But, most of the damage was in fact due to straight-line winds. That stormy night proved straight-line wind can do just as much damage as tornadoes and in some cases more. Carroll County needed a good week to clean up the huge mess the derecho caused.

There was one brief tornado confirmed near the Tippecanoe Fairgrounds at 18th Street and Teal Road that night. The gustnado tossed the Jeff High School bleachers around like a football and was rated an F-0 tornado. The wild part is that the tornado had estimated wind speeds at only 70 mph compared to the non-tornadic winds of close to 80 mph. Nature may put us to the test again tonight. So make sure to be ready and stay tuned! Our weather team will keep you posted on any watches and warnings. I will have some good news tonight concerning your weekend. Take care and make it a great day.