Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watch the NASA rocket launch tonight!

As cloud cover decreases behind this morning's cold front, which is allowing a drier air-mass to settle into the Commonwealth, visibility should be great in Virginia for tonight's scheduled NASA launch at Wallops Island. Here are the details on the rocket, its satellite load, its launch window, and who can see it:

The rocket is a United States Air Force Minotaur 1, carrying the ORS-1 satellite for the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space Office.

The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday night, June 28th, but was scrubbed as a result of thunderstorms in the area. Tonight's launch, though, should be good to go weather-wise! Look east; you should be able to see the launch from as far west as the Blue Ridge!

If something (likely other than weather) scrubs the launch again tonight, never fear, there are backup launch days already scheduled from June 30 through July 10 for the same launch window each day of 8:28 to 11:28 PM Eastern. And tell your friends and family from North Carolina to New York on the East Coast (even inland) to look East tonight for the opportunity of viewing the rocket rising above Earth's atmosphere into Space!

If you'd rather watch the launch a little more "up close," it will be streamed on the web live at .

Launch status can be followed on Twitter at: @NASA_Wallops

You can also call this phone number for updates on the launch status: 757-824-2050.

To learn more about this ORS-1 mission, click here:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Live vicariously through Carrie's recap of her trip to the Broadcast Meteorology Conference in Oklahoma City!

As many of you know from my absence on air the latter half of last week (June 22-25, 2011), I attended the American Meteorological Society's 39th Conference on Broadcast Meteorology. I am an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (the little logo you see next to my name on TV), and attending this conference is part of my continuing education and development. If you already "Like" me on Facebook, then you were able to live vicariously through my experiences in Oklahoma as I posted video and photo updates, and engage in the weather conversation live as I reported on the various presenters.

You can view my online Facebook public photo album by clicking here (i.e., you don't have to join Facebook to view the pictures).

And you can also watch the videos I took of what I experienced, from flying past a thunderstorm at night to climbing a tower into the guts of a radome that houses a groundbreaking research radar on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Flying past a thunderstorm at night:

Climate expert Deke Arndt chats with me after his research presentation and summarizes what it means for us in the Mid-Atlantic:

Foucault's Pendulum at the University of Oklahoma, "proving that the Earth still rotates!"

Welcome to the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma:

I introduce you to our tour guide Dr. Kevin Kloesel at the National Weather Center, one of my meteorology professors from when I attended the meteorology school:

And here's your tour itinerary for the National Weather Center:

Check out OU:Prime, a research radar that is a "future generation" radar:

Dr. Kloesel introduces us to the OU:Prime radar:

Experience with me what it's like to climb up the OU:Prime radar tower and into the radome!

If you're interested in the technical aspects of the OU:Prime radar, here's one of the students conducting research with this new radar inside the radome:

Wondering what the other side of the radar dish looks like? I crawled on the other side to shoot this video:

Dr. Kloesel explains what it took to build this radar tower:

Back inside the A/C of the National Weather Center, Dr. Kloesel takes us into the large atrium and gives us a taste of his teaching philosophy and style:

Watch this behind-the-scenes clip of the research vehicle bay at the National Weather Center:

Here's one of the VORTEX2 research vehicles:

If you're interested in pursuing meteorology, I would love to point you to one of the coolest new educational tools I learned about at the conference. This is an online site for students called "Young Meteorologist." Click here to go to the website.

There was a fascinating economist speaking about some of his research pertaining to severe weather at the conference, and I snagged his book to learn more.

I'll be updating this blog posting with more details about the conference in coming days, so check back for more!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Getting Dry...Again.

Summer is now in full swing, and from the standpoint of annual rainfall, it's looking scarily similar to last year. Our rainfall deficit to date is -2.97", compared to -3.35" at this point last year. We're ahead of the pace from 2010, but not by much, and with a dry weekend ahead, the gap will narrow even more. The top graphic above shows current drought conditions across the state. The area across far SE VA has been upgraded to a severe drought, while a broad area of moderate drought conditions persists for the rest of Hampton Roads, the Middle Peninsula, and the Northern Neck. There is a bright spot on the near horizon in the second graphic. An upper-level disturbance will move into the area on Monday (the blob of yellow across northern VA), bringing us a chance for rain. It's by no means a drought buster, but every bit helps. Enjoy the weekend! -Zach

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer begins Tuesday

Summer "officially" begins Tuesday at 1:16 PM EDT, the moment when the Sun's most direct rays will be at the Tropic of Cancer north of the Equator.
From our perspective on Earth, this is when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere, and it also has the most time of daylight. For Richmond, Tuesday will have 14 hours, 45 minutes, and 29 seconds of daylight.
After Tuesday, the daylight time will gradually lessen as the axial tilt of the Earth puts the Northern Hemisphere less in the direct path of the Sun's most direct rays. From our perspective on Earth, the Sun will appear to sink back southward.
Watch this educational video to learn why the Earth has seasons as a result of this "axial tilt":

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Severe storms possible in Virginia through Monday morning

As an upper disturbance tracks over the Commonwealth later today and overnight, strong to severe thunderstorms are possible, capable of damaging straight line winds, large hail, and even brief, isolated tornadoes. Even if these storms do not become severe, they will still be able to produce torrential downpours that can lead to flash flooding, and also prolific lightning.

Highlighted in yellow is the most likely part of the state to experience severe wind gusts and large hail from this afternoon through early Monday morning:

A mature, "bowed" line of severe thunderstorms is tracking through Kentucky and Tennessee this Sunday morning, producing damaging straight line winds and large hail in response to that upper disturbance I mentioned. This same upper wave during daytime heating Sunday may enhance the line's intensity again, allowing it to survive all the way into the Commonwealth later tonight, and produce the same severe weather. If this is the case, severe activity may occur overnight while most of you are asleep. We will be monitoring the situation around the clock! Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A large wildfire in North Carolina is making Virginia's air smell smoky

Have you noticed a campfire smell in Virginia today? Our winds shifted overnight back from the south, allowing the southerly breeze to transport an air mass that has been held to our south in North Carolina all week. That air mass has been contaminated with smoke from a large wildfire burning in Dare County. The fire is in eastern North Carolina at Pains Bay, which is about 19 miles south of Manns Harbor, NC.

Lightning struck causing the wildfire to start Thursday, May 2, 2011. Since then, it has burned 45,294 acres. As of this posting, the fire is 80% contained, but is still producing prolific smoke that can reduce visibilities below a mile in that part of North Carolina along US Highways 264 and 64. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the threatened areas from the wildfire.

You can track this, and other fires in the U.S., by clicking here for updates.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Virginia could have strong to severe storms Thursday and Friday

An approaching low pressure storm system with a history of producing severe wind and hail damage to our west is approaching the Eastern U.S. Thursday. This system is causing winds to return from the south in the Commonwealth, which is transporting low-level moisture back into the Mid-Atlantic after it was swept well to our south earlier this week from a strong cold front. This moisture will serve as fuel for scattered shower and thunderstorm development Thursday and Friday, mainly during the most unstable part of the day in the warm afternoon and early evening hours. Although this storm system is not going to produce a constant, soaking rain for the entire area (which we do need), those of you who do receive the storms could have locally heavy rainfall, damaging wind gusts and severe hail, and a lot of lightning. Those severe threats are exactly what this storm system has a history of producing. Check out all of the wind and hail reports from Wednesday into the overnight to our west and south:

The Slight Risk area for severe thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and evening covers nearly all of Virginia:

The severe threat on Friday is less certain, as there may not be as great of instability to develop for severe storms. However, the same threats of damaging winds and hail are possible tomorrow. Here is the slight risk map for Friday:

I do want to emphasize, though, that even if these storms do not strengthen enough to warrant a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, they can still produce dangerous, frequent lightning and torrential downpours that can lead to flash flooding of low-lying areas. Move indoors to safety and allow these thunderstorms to pass before resuming any outdoor activities.

You can "Like" Meteorologist Carrie Rose and Chief Meteorologist Zach Daniel on our Facebook pages to receive frequent updates on the severe weather threat today. Join the weather conversation!

Stay with CBS 6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Few Strong to Severe Storms Possible Thursday

Low level moisture will return to the area on Thursday, and with an upper-level disturbance approaching from the west, much of the state will see conditions somewhat favorable for a few strong to severe thunderstorms. The primary threats will be strong straight-line winds and large hail. Temperatures will remain on the mild side for the middle of June, helping to limit the number and intensity of severe storms. Meteorologist Carrie Rose will have the latest on CBS 6 News Thursday morning, and I'll be covering whatever storms develop in the afternoon. Stay With CBS 6, We'll Keep You Ahead of the Storm. -Zach

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Severe T-Storm Watch is in effect until 8PM

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 8PM for nearly the entire state of Virginia, as well as most of the Mid-Atlantic states. Here are the affected Virginia counties highlighted in Yellow on this map:

Thunderstorms are developing and strengthening in western parts of the state as of early afternoon, and will continue to advance into central Virginia through the afternoon and evening. Threats from these storms will include damaging wind gusts to 70 mph, some hail up to 1.5" in diameter (that's about the size of a ping-pong ball), frequent lightning, and torrential downpours that can produce localized flooding, especially ponding on roadways. This development today is occurring ahead of an approaching cold front from the northwest. In Virginia ahead of that front, ample low-level moisture is present as well as peak daytime heating to support instability and storm initiation and intensification. The wind environment from the ground up is not conducive for rotation in these storms (ie, no tornado threat), but rather the threat for damaging straight-line winds from down-bursts out of the strongest storms. Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm. --Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here are important heat safety tips you need today

If you've "Liked" my CBS 6 Facebook Page (click here to do so), then you have been receiving lots of heat safety tips from my feed for yesterday and today's dangerous combination of high heat and humidity. I'll summarize that information here on the blog now for everyone! Please stay cool and safe today...and share this information with others!
  • Did you know the average adult requires 2-3 liters of water on a hot day like this? For your reference, 3 liters is just shy of a gallon. Recycle your milk gallon when it's empty by filling it up with water! The average child requires 1-2 liters, depending on the age. Just think of an empty 2 liter Coke bottle...that's how much water a kid playing outside today needs!
  • Don't eat foods high in protein on extremely hot days like today. Your body has to work harder to process it, and that can make it more difficult to stay cool if you're outside in the heat!
  • Eat smaller meals through the day to help your body digest easier and let it fight the heat without working so hard to both digest big meals and be outside in the extreme heat trying to keep your body temperature at a safe level.
  • If you wait to drink water when you feel thirsty, you're already becoming dehydrated! Drink water early and often through the day. Don't wait until your brain says, "Hey, I'm thirsty!"
  • Your instinct might be to drink something extremely cold if you've been out in the heat. But don't! Ice-cold drinks consumed quickly can cause stomach cramps. Opt instead for a nice, cool glass of water.
  • Don't consume drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or sugar in them. They dehydrate you.
  • Did you know that the temperature in your vehicle (without A/C and with windows closed) can skyrocket to 130 degrees within just a few minutes?! Think about this: When you pump gas and have to turn off the car, if your kids or pets are in the vehicle, open every window and make sure they have water to drink!
  • Get your outdoor, strenuous activities accomplished before 9AM. Even well after sunset, heat index values can hold in the upper 80s and low 90s, making it more difficult for your body to exercise safely.
  • Playground equipment, even the plastic sets, can become dangerously enough to cause serious burns on your child's skin! If your kids want to play, take them immediately after breakfast (before 9AM). The play sets heat up quickly, and the tender skin of kids can burn easier than an adult's. Always test the equipment yourself before allowing your kids to play.
  • If you have outdoor pets, they need to come indoors today! They need to stay cool and hydrated, too.
  • Put towels on your leather/fake leather car seats so you don't burn your skin when you sit down!
  • If you are outside today and you start to feel sleepy, disoriented, or develop a headache, those are the first signs of a heat-related illness. You need to move into the A/C immediately and drink water. Remove as much clothing as possible, and put cool compresses on your pulse points to help lower your rising body temperature.
  • One of the treatments for someone suffering from a heat-related illness is to put them in a cool bath of water. But you can't put ice in the water, because that can cause too quick of a temperature don't want hypothermia!
  • Speaking of Heat-Related Illnesses...Do you know the signs of Heat Stroke (when the body's cooling system stops working)? They are: Extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)...Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)...Rapid pulse...Throbbing headache...Dizziness...Nausea...Confusion...Unconsciousness.
  • And here are the symptoms of Heat Exhaustion (a step below heat stroke): Heavy sweating...Paleness...Muscle cramps...Tiredness...Weakness...Dizziness...Headache...Nausea or vomiting...Fainting. The CDC says the skin may be cool and moist, with a fast but weak pulse rate. Breathing is fast and shallow. If untreated, it can progress to the more severe heat stroke.
  • Did you know: Heat-related deaths were the #1 weather killer in the U.S. in 2010? Not tornadoes, not hurricanes, not lightning! Flood, the long-term #1 killer, came in second in 2010.

  • For your reference, here is a Heat Index chart (from the National Weather Service) along with the associated heat-related illnesses that can occur:
And here is an excellent resource with more heat-safety tips you can print off and post on the fridge for your family to see:

Learn more from the CDC about heat safety by clicking here for their extensive resources.

Stay safe and cool!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Severe Thunderstorm Watch in Effect Until 10 PM

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 10 PM for roughly the northern half of VA until 10 PM. Winds to 70 mph and hail to 2" in diameter will be possible. -Zach

Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today

The 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today, June 1, and continues through November 30. Tropical activity in the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf basins tends to peak around September 10, as displayed on this chart:

Here is the list of names for the 2011 season:

These are the long-term averages for tropical activity in the Atlantic:
  • Named Storms (either Tropical Storm or Hurricane strength): 11 cyclones
  • Hurricanes (named storms that reach hurricane strength): 6 cyclones
  • Major Hurricanes (named storms that reach Category 3, 4, or 5): 2 cyclones
You can learn about the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale by clicking here.

If tropical cyclones form this early in the season, they tend to form in the Gulf, western Caribbean, or off the coast of Florida around the Bahamas.

There are a number of "ingredients" that must be present for a tropical cyclone to develop and mature, and if some of these key elements are missing, a storm will likely not be able to intensify to its maximum potential:

We are monitoring a small low pressure system 300 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina this morning that could exhibit tropical characteristics over the next couple of days, even though that chance is low. Conditions there are not favorable for tropical development, but here's the infrared satellite view of the disturbance as of 6:15 AM EDT Wednesday:

Although that system off the coast of South Carolina should not impact Virginia, it still serves as a good heads up! With a low pressure system that close to the Virginia coastline, now is a good time to brush up on our risks in Virginia from tropical systems.

Tropical Storm Force Winds are one of the threats we tend to experience from a tropical system in central Virginia. Here are the sustained wind speed classifications to know:

Tropical systems do affect Virginia regularly, being brushed by one or hit with the remnants of a tropical system about once a year. A hurricane will affect the Commonwealth about once every 2-3 years. But we rely on these tropical systems for a good chunk of our September rainfall, so they can be beneficial when they pass over our region (as long as they don't stall and produce too much rainfall in too short a time!).

Before these threats arrive this season, you need to prepare! Here are some essential items you should include in a disaster kit:

If a tropical system approaches the Commonwealth this season, here are some actions you can do before the storm arrives to be ready:

Click here to learn more about hurricane safety and how to prepare for this season.

The outlook for this season calls for average to slightly above-average tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin as a result of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, and relatively low wind shear from a weakening La Nina in the Pacific.

Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.