Saturday, November 28, 2015

POSTED: Friday, October 16, 2015, 3:41 PM
Cherry Hill Wegmans during January snow scare; forecast was a bust. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

For the first time in decades the local National Weather Service office changed its thresholds for issuing winter-storm warnings and watches right before last winter.

And it is adding a tweak for the upcoming season.

For the western half of Chester County, that will mean that a winter-storm warning will be issued when 5 inches or more is expected in a 12-hour period or 7 inches or more for a 24-hour period.

POSTED: Friday, October 16, 2015, 11:37 AM
Foliage in Boston Public Garden this week; after slow start, show is picking up. (AP Photo / Michael Dwyer)

The annual foliage tide of scarlets, russets, and golds is rapidly lapping southward, and based on some reports from the north country, Halloween week could be quite sensational around here.

We saw a wire-service report earlier in the week saying the New England pallette was a tad muted, but conditions have been changing quickly.

According to Jim Salge, a meteorologist and veteran tree observer, despited some "localized" muting, the colors have been "almost universally vibrant."

POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2015, 2:18 PM
Snow-covered sculpture in Haddonfield last winter: no telling yet what's ahead for us. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

It may have something to do with the public’s fascination with snow or degree-day obsessions, but the annual winter outlooks draw far more attention than those for spring, summer, or fall.

The government’s Climate Prediction Center released its outlook on Thursday morning, and, predictably, it’s heavy on ambiguity, even though it appears to have more specificity than we’ve seen in previous forecasts.

You’ll find no mention of “snow,” nor much of anything that would qualify remotely as click bait, and you’ll have to do some math to decipher it.

POSTED: Saturday, October 10, 2015, 11:53 AM
Circa 1500, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Finding out what was going on in the Western Hemisphere in pre-Columbian times has been a detective story for the ages since native peoples evidently weren’t doing a lot of recordkeeping.

But those Europeans sure packed their pens and papers when they ventured to the New World.

His GPS issues notwithstanding, Columbus had precocious understanding of ocean currents,  perhaps even a rudimentary understanding of the Gulf Stream, and that he was a prolific writer.

POSTED: Friday, October 9, 2015, 4:53 PM

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for areas just to the northwest of Philadelphia effective until 5:15 p.m.

The area include Norristown, Phoenixville, West and East Norriton Townhips, King of Prussia, and Conshohocken.

No sightings have been reported officially yet, but the weather service says conditions are ripe for a twister, based on radar echoes.

POSTED: Friday, October 9, 2015, 2:22 PM
File: A snow plow makes it way along Bethlehem Pike in Ambler. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)

On Oct. 10, 1979, 2.1 inches of snow fell officially in Philadelphia, far and away the city’s earliest measurable snow on record.

In fact, the city has had only two measurable snows in October; the other was on Oct. 29 four years ago, an official 0.3 inches during a nasty day that ruined Manayunk’s Halloween celebration. Heftier amounts fell to the north and west.

The weekend outlook calls for temperatures to take a dive to near seasonal normals, with highs in the ‘60s and overnight lows likely to kick-start hundreds of thousands of heating systems.

POSTED: Friday, October 9, 2015, 11:50 AM
National Weather Service Philadelphia Regional Office in Mount Holly, N.J. (National Weather Service)

Weather information these days is about as plentiful as air and bad supermarket music, a tap or click away on laptops, a dominant force on TV newscasts and a radio staple.

The backbone of this ubiquity remains the U.S. taxpayer-financed National Weather Service, still the prime source of warnings and all that data that we take for granted.

Thus we taxpayers and the nation’s commercial weather services have a stake in the outcome of the weather service’s “reorganization” talks, which ultimately could result in the closing of some offices and reassignments of meteorologists.

POSTED: Thursday, October 8, 2015, 5:06 AM
T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Vice Chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board, answers questions about the search and investigation as Thomas Roth-Roffy, investigator in charge for the NTSB, left, and Capt. Mark Fedor, 2nd from right, chief of response, U. S. Coast Guard 7th District and Capt. Jason Neubauer, right, Chief for Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis, U. S. Coast Guard listen, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. The Coast Guard and NTSB held a news conference aboard Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville in regards to the missing Jacksonville-based cargo ship El Faro. (Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

While the search continues for missing crew members, the investigation of precisely what caused the sinking of the freighter El Faro is underway.

It is known that the crew had issued a distress call, that the ship had lost propulsion, and that it had encountered the circulation of Hurricane Joaquin, which eventually exploded into a dangerous Category 4 storm with 140 m.p.h. winds.

The tragic encounter occurred within the region famously known as “the Bermuda Triangle.”

About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

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