Sunday, June 5, 2011

Smokey the Bear, Sultry, and Scorching Oh My!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Just when you thought you have seen it all from nature we are surprised once again with black bear sightings around Fleming Park and Orange Park. Here was the bear some are naming Smokey that was spotted yesterday near 103rd Street and 295. I guess he does look a bit like Smokey the bear or does he? You decide.

Here is a look that gives you helpful hints on how to prevent forest fires. Yes, and only you can help prevent forest fires.
Was our local Smokey looking for food? Was he driven from his home by all the wildfires? So many questions. Now if you see Smokey he is actually not scared of humans. Do not try to feed him or run from him. Just slowly move on with your business and call the police immediately. Smokey the bear reminds us not only to remember fire safety but that we do have quite a large black bear population here in Florida. Speaking of smoky here is what it looked like at the beach this morning.

The smoke did drift back to the beach as expected. Today this smoke will once again drift west but likely not until mid-afternoon. It looks like you can cut the atmosphere with a knife out there. Not only do we have smoke and fog to start this morning but the haze is building up. This is what happens when you are in an extreme drought. At one point coming to work this morning my visibility was reduced to about 20 feet due to thick fog and smoke. This will be a recurring theme this week so be careful especially late at night and early morning.

There is some hope for fire relief with at least an increase in scattered thunderstorms by later Monday afternoon as high pressure breaks down and a back door front moves our way. Dewpoints will also be on the increase which will help develop badly needed thunderstorms. Until then we need to watch out for the heat and the humidity the next couple of days. That is right! It is not the heat but the humidity.

We have not talked much about heat indices so far this Spring but even at the beaches today it will feel like closer to 100 when you combine the temperatures and humidity in the shade. Monday our heat indices could peak out from 105-110 before the thunderstorms arrive and even though I know we say we are used to the heat in Florida you really need to use common sense and slow it down. Once your heat index reaches above 95 it has been proven it takes a toll on your body. Once we start talking a heat index of 100 that is what we call heat stroke weather. Unfortunately in Chicago we were reminded that heat safety is important as one runner died and at least a dozen hospitalized during the half-marathon yesterday. Temperatures were in the 80s but the humidity and sun made it feel more like 100. So remember to drink plenty of water and do not over-exert yourself in the heat. Hit the pool or go see a movie. Today is a perfect day for that and of course remember to have a cool spot for your pets which includes a full water bowl.

The tropics are still being watched closely specifically an elongated area of low pressure south-southwest of Jamaica. The National Hurricane Center will be flying into it this afternoon. Here is the latest model of choice above and want you to notice how the large green area is well to the east of our disturbance. What you  need to happen for development is the convective dense overcast or thunderstorm area to form over top of the developing low but it does not look like this will be happening. Also, the high pressure you need in nature's attic is centered over northern South America and not on top of this system which is still only designated at 94L. You combine that fact with tremendous shear on its northern side along with the rough terrain and it will be tough for it to develop. The hurricane center is only giving it a 30% chance of becoming Tropical Storm Arlene in the next 48 hours. I think that is way too high but it is the tropics and we will continue to monitor it for you. I do think if something does develop it would still pose no threat to the US.

Whether it organizes or not I do think the lesson learned from this is that it is a sign of a busy hurricane season because those thunderstorms are developing over unusually warm water and are confirming the lower than normal surface pressures prognosticated for this hurricane season. This theme will repeat itself and I would not be surprised if we even had a few named storms before August and September.

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