Sunday, August 14, 2011

Full Red Moon in the morning, Sailors take warning!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The full red moon as the Native Americans called it is living up to its name. The full moon in the month of August was called the red moon because the sultry haze this time of year tends to give it a reddish hue especially near the horizon as the moonlight is forced to travel through our pea thick atmosphere. In fact the moon not only looked red last night as it rose but it had a nice rosy color this morning before it set. Our weather intern extraordinaire Athena Masson captured this nice shot of the colorful rising moon last night just about over Everbank Field.

What is the red moon telling us for today's weather? Well, I had fun with the forecast and switched around the old weather proverb that says Red sky in the morning, Sailor's take warning. Red sky at night Sailor's delight. I had to since this saying usually only works in areas north of 35 degrees latitude. The red sky at night is caused by the sun shining on clouds to the east usually indicating a frontal passage and better weather ahead. Red sky in the morning is caused by the sun rising in the east and shining on clouds that could indicate an approaching storm or front on the way.

Here in the sub-tropics, a full red moon this time of year usually means it is hazy and humid. This humidity helps fuel thunderstorms this time of year. Another couple ingredients coming together is we have a strong southern cold front to work with along with plenty of instability. Notice I outlooked our area in a high wind risk where you see the yellow shading. This means I do expect at least a couple storms to produce wind gusts of 58 mph or higher which would prompt a severe thunderstorm warning. These warnings could include mariners or sailors since I expect these storms to reach the beach and even head offshore with a stronger west wind today taking hold of the area.

The red shaded areas is where more widespread severe weather will occur which is closer to the actual cold front that helped end the heat wave over much of the country. This would be primarily from McIntosh and Pierce Counties northward. We will keep our eyes to the sky and look west today. That is where the storms are moving from and like yesterday we could see a few trees down like we saw in Marion and Flagler Counties where gusts were near 60 mph. We will also be on the outlook for flooding rain and frequent lightning.

Jacksonville International Airport had an incredible 2.23 inches of rain yesterday! This brings the year total up to 32.79 inches which is about 2 inches above normal and is about 12" more than we received by this time last year. This is great  news. We are still in a drought but heading in the right direction! We only receive more than 2 inches of rain in 24 hours only about a couple times a year on average. Last year we only accomplished this once right before we went rainless in October!

So it has been like a once in a blue moon type of thing! Speaking of which....another moon fact...which was answered on the 11 p.m. news segment called the PRANG FACT of the night. Our next blue moon will be in August, 2012. A blue moon in this case is not defined by its color but by being the second full moon in the same month. This only happens about once every two and a half years. You could make the case our moon had a bluish tinge to it during our busy fire season but I think I like the traditional definition much more.

Last but not least the tropics are firing on all cylinders now but the good news is the main track is around a huge area of high pressure which is directing these named storms out to sea. Franklin is no more but look for Gert to form today and it could brush Bermuda with tropical storm force winds by tonight. It will quickly weaken and head out to see. Now we may not be so lucky with Harvey and Irene that form this week. We will keep a closer eye on those two that could have a track farther south and west. This is a reminder that we are heading into the heart of hurricane season and we need to stay prepared. Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Charley that slammed  Florida with 150 mph sustained winds. This was actually the second land-falling tropical cyclone that hit Florida in the same 24 hour period which had never been done before. Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall in St. Vincent Island, Florida just 22 hours prior

You see the incredible picture of Charley that was actually a small hurricane but very powerful. It hit southwest Florida but still caused plenty of damage on the East Coast of Florida including 80% of Volusia County being without power. Flagler County had hundreds of homes damaged by 60-65 mph sustained winds with gusts to 77 mph. Pretty amazing and it goes to show you the power of nature. Tonight we will take a closer look at Charley's track and maybe even find some cool file video. Also, we will be tracking several systems in the tropics. See you soon! Have a great day!

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