2012 has been one of the hottest years on record with thousands of new high temperature records both this summer and also back in March. July therefore provides a perfect opportunity to investigate dangerously cold and violent winter storms- to balance out all this heat, of course.
America is a strong country populated by people who take risks. It is the underpinning of what has made us great. But the landform we live on is equally unique and rugged, featuring every ingredient that the severe storm recipe requires. Our US mainland is located at an average latitude of about 40 degrees north, placing it squarely in the “mid-latitudes”. We are not exclusively in the tropics nor are we exclusively polar. In fact, the most potent aspects of both tropical heat and humidity are often composed with polar jet stream dynamics in the active spring and early summer. These drivers of weather meet in the mid-latitudes. Add to this the Gulf of Mexico source region of thermal instability and the semi-arid western high plains providing critical mid-altitude dry air, and you find the American Heartland resembles an almost idyllic laboratory setting for the genesis of strong to violent thunderstorms. It becomes a textbook example of the Perfect Storm script many times throughout the year.
Get ready for Dec. 21, 2012. It's going to be the end of the world. At least that's what the Mayans say. But wait a minute, haven't we heard that before?
It isn’t every day that the moon blots out the sun. But this year there will be two solar eclipses, one on the 13th of November in the South Pacific which very few people will see and an annular solar eclipse in less than 3 weeks which many people will get to witness from China and Japan to most of the United State. In fact, you will participate in a brotherhood of mankind becoming eyewitness to one of nature’s most spectacular treats.
How important is the weather? From earliest civilization, farming has been completely dependent upon adequate amounts of rainfall and sunshine, a lack of freezing temperatures together with conditions that limited pests. Travel across great oceans from ancient time has also depended upon favorable winds and a minimum of storminess to guarantee success. Agriculture and commerce have indeed bowed to the whims of weather at every step of the way from the start.
This weekend marks that point where we flip our calendars from March to April. As the phrase goes, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. But it is also understood that if the month comes in quietly it will go out strongly- so “in like a lamb, out like a lion”. These are just sayings we’ve come to learn in grade school, sayings that often prove correct.
The first substantive change to the Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates potential hurricane damage, is coming to the world beginning May 15. This should not be an earth shattering amendment to the current category 1 through 5 assessment of hurricane strength. But it does represent the first time such a change has taken place in the 40 year history of this scale. In the early 1970s, Bob Simpson was the director of the National Hurricane Center. He and an engineer by the name of Herbert Saffir worked on the task of developing an easy to understand scale, like the Richter Scale for earthquakes, that would provide an intensity guide to potential destructive power of tropical cyclones. At the time, Saffir had been working for several years on a study commissioned by the United Nations regarding poor housing along coastlines frequented by hurricanes. By 1972 the Saffir-Simpson scale was introduced and became well known by the public at large in 1973.
February has ended- with an eye to March. Will March comes in like a lion or a lamb? How will it go out? But most importantly, is there any hope for salvaging this rainy season?
Here comes another presidential election and thus a leap year. Every 4 years February grows by one day. But why?
January has ended drier than normal, missing the mark by .72" and adding to our growing hydrological concerns. Upstream weather systems seem to keep avoiding central and southern California as February dawns, typically the wettest month of the year.
From ancient times, farmers have looked to the skies for rain in due season. They have also noted patterns in nature that portend changes in the weather. The way animal’s coasts thicken or then, the peculiarities of flowering trees, wooly-worm characteristics, etc. A connection would be made between events seen in nature and the weather they experienced. They would become accustomed to them and expect repeated results in the future.
In comparison to last winter, we are starting off the new year on a rather dry note. Our 2010-11 water year (July through June) ended up well above normal, having reached the average rainfall benchmark even before 2011 began. That was a singularity that had never happened before.
Last December was notable on so many levels. It turned out to be the wettest month ever recorded in Bakersfield’s weather history (dating back to 1889).
While tornadoes and hurricanes may ravage some parts of the country on a routine basis, Kern County is not the first place you think of for severe weather. But we have had our moments. So I compiled a top 10 list of the most extreme weather events in the county of Kern. I investigate weather events you remember, and weather that may have occurred before your time.
Here we go into the month of December. And with that comes my annual winter outlook for the next several months, taking us well into 2012.