Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ashes coat cars like snow, smoky sunshine, and keeping Mom cool for her big day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

That does look like snow! Some cars looked like this in Jacksonville when it really snowed back in December. So imagine Joshua's reaction when he went out to start his car early this morning. He thought he was  dreaming and sent this picture in to show that there was so much ash falling from the sky near Hanna Park that it coated his car.  Yes, this was in fact caused by the big Okefenokee Swamp Wildfire that has now burned 30,000 acres after starting off as a much smaller 3,000 mile wildfire sparked by a cloud to ground lightning strike last week. We can blame the drought and the fact that many of us are running three to five inches below average on rainfall since meteorological spring began on March first. It just does not take much now to stoke a fire. We had a northwest flow in the atmosphere overnight causing the shallow smoke to move south. Also, a temperature inversion set up when we had lows drop into the upper 40s this morning. An inversion means temperatures rose with height which is the exact opposite of what normally happens which acted to trap the smoke near the ground. The good news is no road closures are expected in Florida with visibilities remaining greater than 5 miles but southeast Georgia could be a different story especially near Highway 1. Here is the forecast or should I say smoke cast for the remainder of this afternoon.

Notice a sea breeze will work in by noon at the beaches and 2:30 p.m. on the St. Johns pushing the thickest smoke or gray areas mainly to the west of the river. This is also good news for the world's biggest inland regatta taking place on the St. Johns River. The sea breeze will make it easier to breathe and should really fill up those beautiful sails this afternoon! Please send in some pictures so I can show them in my weather. The sea breeze cannot come soon enough for many of us.

Our sunrise was glorious but check out all the blue haze our reported Mike Lyons captured over downtown Jacksonville. That weird bluish-gray tinge is something you would normally find in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, not here in Florida. It does look like most of us get our blue skies back not only this afternoon but in time for Mother's Day. Sunday our wind will turn more to the southwest keeping most of the smoke in Georgia. That brings us to our next big weather story and that is the winds of change will bring in a May heat wave with the first of several 90 degree days in a row beginning on Sunday.

Now my wife likes hot weather so I am not in any kind of trouble for this forecast. Whew! Thank goodness! She deserves the best weather wise and otherwise. Julie would live at the pool or on a sandy beach if she could. My Mom on the other hand does not like scorching weather so I have something for her in the long-range forecast. No, it is not easy being a meteorologist. LOL. Here is the latest synoptic map showing a big ridge of high pressure building into our area at all levels of the atmosphere. The "H" might as well stand for heat wave! When you see a high pressure building in from the west like this during May we usually have hot weather and this year is no exception. By Wednesday we could actually have our hottest May 11th since 1955 as highs soar into the middle 90s. I cannot rule out some upper 90s in the normally hotter spots!

Now last week here on the blog we talked about a cooler May developing. Patience. I do not see this blazing heat as a permanent thing and cooler weather will likely  move in for the TPC by Friday into the weekend. Yes, there could be some rain or thunderstorms around as a result of cooler air clashing with our tropical air mass, especially late Thursday into Friday but I do not see a washout with plenty of dry hours for the world's best golfers. Next Saturday and Sunday for the championship rounds, I have low chances of rain and high chances of great weather as temperatures return closer to where they should be! But until then it is all about Mom and making sure she stays cool! We average 8 days of 90 or above in May and we will see at least half of that total from now through Wednesday. Take care and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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