Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brisk Spring breezes, Spring tides, and Spring showers

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring has certainly Sprung across the area. You can feel it, smell it and even feel it! I was out in the yard for several hours the last couple hours trimming those bushes down, the dead palm fronds, and picking gargantuan weeds. Yes, it was like a jungle in parts of my yard but it is looking better. I am a little sore but hey it was all well worth it! In this forecast we will be feeling the pollen too as Jacksonville continues to have one of the highest pollen counts in the country. You see my Dad's tulip tree in Mandarin. Yes, what a beautiful sight and he certainly has the gift of the green thumb. He lives at the house with all the blooming flowers. But it is bittersweet. What makes the pollen count even higher this time of year is when the wind picks up. Nature is right on cue with all this wind. This is our windiest month on average followed by February, April, and January. It was more like the windy city of  Chicago today with gusts of 33 mph.

Now these brisk Spring breezes will be with us at least through Friday. You can see why. The tight pressure gradient continues over our area due to that monstrous high pressure system over New England that brought them toe-numbing cold. One thing I am concerned about are the Spring tides that could work with all that wind bringing some beach erosion problems. Tomorrow morning we have a high tide at St. Augustine at 7:39 a.m. and Mayport at 8:21 a.m. What happens with these Spring tides are the moon, earth, and sun are aligned. The gravitational pull of the sun is also added to the much bigger pull of the moon creating higher tides. This gravitational force that causes the earth's tides is called the traction force. Spring tides are not named for the season but the tides that are 20% higher during the new and full moons. We are certainly at the new moon with the moon at only .003% illuminated. Since we are at a new moon and we have had a strong fetch over the ocean for the last couple days it all adds up to beach erosion troubles. The good news is I am only expecting it to be minor. But our weather team will keep a close eye on it for you. The good news is the high pressure you see above which is our big wind-maker will move away by Saturday helping the wind to ease up.

What causes the wind? That is our blog question today. Well think of the wind being caused by pressure differences and temperature differences which in fact are influenced by the earth's tilt. This tilt which causes our seasons does not allow the sun to heat the earth's surface equally and as a result it is always out of balance when it comes to both temperatures and pressures. Since air flows from areas of higher to lower pressure you get plenty of wind here on earth. We also have a huge temperature range today from north to south across the United States ranging from the single digits in Maine to the lower 80s in Florida. This has caused a strong zonal jet stream to develop and when you add in some March sunshine it does not have much trouble mixing down so some of those higher winds aloft. Today we had hurricane force winds at 36,000 feet!

Check out the impressive cirrus clouds above showing the strong west winds over our area. This same jet stream will have to be watched closely by Sunday. If it combines forces just right with a weather system moving our way it may mix down some of those higher winds aloft bringing us damaging gusty thunderstorms. I will have more on this here on the blog for your Friday. In the short term we will just have a few coastal showers develop tonight primarily east of Interstate 95. While there may be a few wet roads in the morning I do not see the rain as being much of a weather factor with most of us once again missing out on some pollen relief. We certainly need the rain with many parts of our area especially in Southeast Georgia not seeing a drop of rain for over three weeks now. At my house we had just enough to wash the pollen off my car but my new plants could use a real watering from nature and my car is ready for a free car wash. Right now it does look like Saturday will be the drier and nicer day this weekend with rain and even thunderstorms coming in Sunday and I do think most of us should see some rain. Make sure to check back on the blog. In the meantime I am heading into work and it will be nice to get some rest and relaxation after all that crazy yard work! See you soon.

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