Saturday, June 11, 2011

More sunshine and ocean breezes than smoke! Rain next week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I was looking for the oxygen mask yesterday and the calls about the smoke were through the roof. No our weather team cannot control the weather or the wild fires, but I did love taking calls and calming folks down about the worst smoke to encompass the Jacksonville metro area since 1998. At least we did not have any evacuations. I do wish I had the power to clear the smoke because I once again had to run inside on the treadmill and many kids in St. Johns County spent their first full day of summer vacation cooped up inside their homes because it was too smoky to go outside to play or go swimming. Yesterday we had the perfect storm for smoke due to a light and variable wind. Areas south and west of town had a breath of a southwest wind while areas farther north had a hint of a northwest wind. The graphic at the top shows the most active wildfires. The beaches had a light southeast wind and notice the smoke from the now more than 100 wildfires burning across the area all converged on the Jacksonville area.When it is this smoky you do need to exercise caution and try to stay indoors especially if you have any respiratory ailments. The picture below looks more like Los Angeles than Jacksonville. Here is the smoggy Florida DOT cam yesterday!

Ilyssa Trussel, St. Vincent's HealthCare Media Relations Coordinator reported to First Coast News that they are seeing a rise in the number of patients complaining about irritation from smoke. Pulmonologist Dr. Thomas Szwed, who works at St. Vincent's Medical Center, says people exercising outdoors may feel the effects. “For people who do not have known lung disease, they need to be aware of their symptoms. If they notice a lot of cough, chest tightness or wheezing, they should avoid that exercise and return to an air-conditioned, indoor facility if possible. If you have an inhaler and you work out outside, they should use their inhaler 10-15 minutes before exercise to get the bronchial tubes dilated. People who have underlying lung disease, which may include elderly people, need to be very careful when the smoke is higher,”.

If you have questions about your symptoms, call HealthLink, a free confidential community nurse advice and physician referral service. The team, consisting of registered nurses, can assist callers with medical information, as well as help locate a physician or specialist. For more information, call 800-226-5465 or locally at 904-308-5465 (LINK). They are available for phone calls Monday-Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM (EST).

Today I have much better news!! Here is our new weather maker! An area of low pressure skirting east of Florida will help mix up the atmosphere. The suffocating high pressure that has also put a lid on our atmosphere has now weakened and moved west. Fresh ocean breezes will kick in and even though there will be some smoke for areas mainly west of Highway 17 it will likely be much more dispersed and not nearly as thick. Visibilities in Jacksonville at 11 a.m. are at 10 miles compared to just 2 miles yesterday. The thickest smoke today will be closer Gainesville and up to Waycross but visibilities should remain at 2 miles or greater. Thank goodness!! There could even be an brief isolated shower, although the more widespread and beneficial rain will be closer to the west coast of Florida. I think only about 5% of us see rain today. Are you ready for the best news of all. HERE. IT. IS.

R---A---I----N!!!! We have had only 4 days of rain over the past 41 although at the beach many areas have had less! Over the next 8 days we have good chances of at least scattered showers and thunderstorms for 6 of those days beginning on Monday! Yes, after all it is our thunderstorm season and it officially begins right around June 10th. For once nature may be showing us some normalcy. The latest models are showing average rainfall of close to an inch over the next week. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Tonight I will talk more about this on our weather casts at 6:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. and if this pattern change is here to stay.

In 1998 or the last time it was this dry and smoky it wasn't a tropical system that saved us but in fact the thunderstorm season that finally came to life. We had five days of one hundred degree weather and then the pattern flipped with two to four inches of rain in just one day just in time for the start of summer. We then followed that up with an invigorating 6 to 9 inches of rain in July, and a gully-washing 10 inches plus in August.

Our maps this morning are showing LIFE and plenty of RAIN and I am hoping with all my heart we have a repeat this year. After all my original forecast was for us to actually have a thunderstorm season this year with precipitation picking up closer to average by late June. Last year our thunderstorm season was cancelled as an area of high pressure sat over us keeping it hot and dry. It not only impeded thunderstorm development but kept much needed moisture from the tropics that normally moves our way well south of our area. Our atmospheric set-up is much different this year with high pressure centering much farther west and a Bermuda high closer to where it should be off the US East Coast replacing last year's trough of low pressure. So go with the flow nature and bring it on! Just keep the direct land falling tropical systems away. You do have to be careful what you wish for.

Have a great day and a special thanks to Michael Winslow for coming in this morning on Good Morning Jacksonville. He is the man of  "10,000 sound effects" from Police Academy who will be out at Latitude 30 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Looking for a good laugh you will get that and then some tonight! Michael is also ready for rain and knows all about the drought and fires here in Florida since he lives just outside Orlando. He helped me do his version of a rain dance in front of the chroma key. During my weather he made storm sound effects including "cats and dogs" since it will be raining them soon. He also had me dodging debris. Take a look at the mess at the chroma key.

LOL... It was a memorable forecast and it proves I will do anything to change this pattern. Now it is nature's turn! Have a great and safe weekend and I will see you soon.

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