The great spring blizzard of 2009 is almost over!
What I think happened was that the storm intensified so much that the models weren't able to handle its progression out of the area properly. NWS in KC noted that some of the energetics of the storm were 5 standard deviations above normal. Pretty crazy. So the storm ended up pulling up more warm air and more moisture from the south than were expected. So lots more ice than snow for the places that were supposed to get snow (I-35 corridor) and the snow shifted more north. Manhattan (8 inches) to Hutchinson (18 inches) to Pratt (28 inches) was the big snow bullseye for this storm. But, 6 inches of snow on top of 3 inches of sleet/ice in West Wichita, power lines down in Osage County, and snow and ice shutting down KCI were more than enough to impact my weekend.
SO... one more day in Kansas for me. =)
Snow total maps over the last 2 days:
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The great spring blizzard of 2009 is almost over!
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 4:44 PM
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Things are really starting to get crazy out there. Lots of spots along the Colorado front range are already experiencing full blizzard conditions - 12-15" of snow with 30-40mph winds over the last 12 hrs or so... Longmont, Boulder, Monument are all reporting drifts of snow of 3 feet or more.
Tomorrow, I'm betting I-70 will be closed, and the Wichita area, and other parts of south central Kansas and NW Oklahoma are expecting what may be the most snow in history for the area. (this after already getting the biggest rainstorm in history last year!)
Here's what Wichita NWS has to say:
THE BULK OF THE HEAVY WET SNOW AND WIND LOOK TO AFFECT MUCH
OF THE AREA FROM FRIDAY EVENING INTO MIDDAY SATURDAY. THE
INTENSE CLOSED LOW WILL TRACK ACROSS OKLAHOMA DURING THIS
TIME FRAME...WITH IMPRESSIVE ISENTROPIC AND DYNAMIC LIFT
ACROSS MUCH OF THE AREA. A WELL DEVELOPED TROWAL AND SOME
FRONTOGENETIC BANDING LOOK TO TRANSITION EAST ACROSS SOUTH
CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST KANSAS...CENTERED ALONG THE HIGHWAY 54
CORRIDOR. THEREFORE HAVE PLACED THE HIGHEST SNOW TOTALS
IN THE GENERAL AREA...WITH AMOUNTS IN THE 8 TO 14 INCH
RANGE. WILL LIKELY REALIZE THE HIGHER END OF THIS RANGE IN
AREAS OF CONVECTION/THUNDERSNOW WHICH IS EXPECTED AS WELL.
THE HEAVY SNOWFALL AND STRONG WINDS WILL RESULT IN NEAR
BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ACROSS PARTS OF CENTRAL AND MUCH OF
SOUTH CENTRAL KANSAS BY FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING. DUE
TO THE LATE SEASON NATURE OF THIS EVENT...WITH SOME TREES
IN BLOOM AND WET NATURE OF THE HEAVY SNOW...HAVE DECIDED
TO GO WITH A BLIZZARD WARNING FOR PARTS OF CENTRAL AND
SOUTH CENTRAL KANSAS. WILL KEEP THE WATCH GOING FOR AREAS
EAST OF THE TURNPIKE INTO SATURDAY...WITH A LATER ONSET
GIVING TIME FOR ASSESSMENT OF ANOTHER MODEL RUN OR TWO
BEFORE ISSUING ANY WARNINGS OR ADVISORIES. THAT SAID...THE
MODELS ARE SUPPORTIVE OF HEAVY SNOW AFFECTING AT LEAST
NORTHERN PORTIONS OF THE FLINT HILLS AND SOUTHEAST KANSAS
LATE FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY.
So I have some choices to make, as I have to make it back to KC for a 4pm flight on Saturday... either hang out in Wichita with Jenn and Pat and Emery on Friday and wait for the storm to break, or head up now and at least spend the evening with them, before getting out Friday morning. I dunno... riding out Emery's first thundersnowstorm might be pretty fun! Tough call...
UPDATE: NWS Wichita just changed Wichita metro area from a Winter Storm Watch to a Blizzard Warning... yikes!
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 4:38 PM
I'm in Norman reconnecting with the wonderful weather/climate community here. It's one of those things that I never realize how much I miss until I come back and I'm "in it" again for awhile... there are some really great people here with even greater people arriving every day. Yeah for progressive weather/climate folks!
When I found out last year I'd be going to a weather conference in Oklahoma this spring I was excited to experience some good ol' spring thunderstorms/severe weather. It looks like I'll be witnessing some historic weather in Oklahoma/Kansas after all this week... just didn't expect it to be winter weather!!
From the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma...
WE WILL NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES THIS EVENING TO THE WINTER STORM
WATCH. 00Z NAM IS JUST ARRIVING. THIS SYSTEM STILL HAS POTENTIAL
TO BE A PARTICULARLY SIGNIFICANT AND DISRUPTIVE HEAVY SNOW EVENT
FOR PARTS OF THE AREA... ESPECIALLY FOR SO LATE IN THE SEASON. NAM
AND GFS HAVE BEEN STICKING TO THEIR GUNS WITH RUN-TOTAL SNOWFALL
IN THE RANGE OF 20+ INCHES IN PARTS OF NW OK AND ADJACENT KS/TX -
WHICH IS HARD TO BELIEVE AT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR MUCH LESS THE
FIRST WEEK OF SPRING. 00Z NAM HAS DOUBLE-DIGIT TOTALS INTO EXTREME
NW OK BY MID-EVENING FRIDAY... 15-20 INCHES INTO HARPER COUNTY BY
09Z SAT... AND AGAIN DUMPS AN EXTRAORDINARY 30+ INCHES IN SW KS.
THIS RUN-TO-RUN AND MODEL-TO-MODEL CONSISTENCY IS LEADING TO
INCREASING CONCERN THAT THIS SNOW EVENT WILL BE ONE FOR THE
AGES... AND THAT WE NEED TO RAMP IT UP FURTHER WITH WHAT AMOUNTS
TO A "PDS" WINTER STORM WATCH. UPDATED WSW WILL TREND THAT WAY
AND SHOULD BE OUT BY 10 PM. STRONG WINDS AND RELATED BLOWING/DRIFTING
EASILY COULD MAKE THIS ONE OF THE MOST CRIPPLING S-PLAINS
SNOWSTORMS IN RECENT HISTORY... ALTHOUGH CURRENT INDICATIONS ARE
THAT WIND SPEEDS ARE UNLIKELY TO ATTAIN BLIZZARD CRITERIA. ALL
USERS ARE URGED TO TAKE THIS DEVELOPING SITUATION SERIOUSLY AND
PREPARE AS WELL AS POSSIBLE FOR WHAT MAY END UP BEING ESSENTIALLY
AN UNPRECEDENTED LATE-SEASON HEAVY SNOW EVENT IN NW OK.
Wow, now that's a discussion. Reminds me of the Slidell WFO right before Katrina. (which is now the gold standard for justified extreme event hyping). Let's hope everyone can ride out this storm safely, and just enjoy it with some hot cocoa!
and... from Kansas City...
OTHER MAJOR CONCERN WILL BE TEMPERATURES...PARTICULARLY LOWS BOTH
SUNDAY AND MONDAY MORNING. WITH TEMPERATURES SO FAR THIS MONTH
AVERAGING SOME 3F TO 6F ABOVE AVERAGE...SPRING VEGETATION HAS
SPROUTED EARLY...ESPECIALLY FOR AREAS ALONG AND SOUTH OF THE
MISSOURI RIVER WHERE GROWING DEGREE DAY ACCUMULATIONS HAVE EXCEEDED
100F TO 120F. MOST VULNERABLE APPEAR TO BE STRAWBERRY BLOOMS AND
PERENNIAL FLOWERS...AS WELL EARLY PEACH BLOOMS...BOTH OF WHICH WOULD
BE DAMAGED BY TEMPERATURES AOB 28F (OTHER DECORATIVE BLOOMING TREES
WOULD ALSO BE SUSCEPTIBLE...THOUGH LITTLE IN PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
WOULD REALISTIC). FORECAST LOWS ARE FORECAST RIGHT NEAR THIS
THRESHOLD...WHICH MAY NECESSITATE STATEMENTS IN FUTURE FORECASTS. AN
INTERESTING SIDELIGHT HERE IS THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF SNOW
COVER...WHICH WHILE ALLOWING AIR TEMPERATURES TO FALL MORE THAN
WOULD NORMALLY BE EXPECTED...WOULD ALSO CONVERSELY INSULATE AND
PROTECT SENSITIVE VEGETATION. IN WHICH CASE...GROUND BASED
VEGETATION WOULD BE SAFE...WHILE TREE BLOOMS WOULD STILL BE DAMAGED.
Societal impacts for strawberry farmers!! In a NWS forecast discussion! Whoa.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 12:15 AM
Friday, March 20, 2009
Like my good work friend said... today was magical. It was one of those days that you just know are special. Of course we work for a climate organization - so the weather today had a lot to do with it. =)
snow outside my apartment this morning
NYC Dept of Education sends notices to parents in 7 languages - Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and Urdu
the end of my commute
snow on the main campus this morning
snow at lamont
3 hrs later - spring!
the way home - on the F train (graffiti etching says "unite ONE")
my walk home
i got concert tickets in the mail today too!
and, a reminder of the good ol' usa - endless cleaning products.
(Not shown - capping off the evening with a nice cold beer and college basketball!)
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 11:25 PM
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
After 18hrs of flights... I'm home safe and happy. It's a beautiful blue world. Over the last day, I saw endless desert in Egypt, lights from islands in Greece, the Alps over central Europe, a windfarm off the coast of the Netherlands, icebergs in the North Atlantic, and the Empire State Building back home in NY. The world is so big, and... beautiful.
Now, rest, and then back to work.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 2:54 PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 9:56 AM
We've had a number of good wrap-up meetings today, and interest is still strong. We have also been invited to return to Addis in May to present to the association of Ethiopian microfinance institutions in hopes of jump starting the scale up of this model across the country... and also met with a representative that will be taking part in the climate change negotiations this December in Copenhagen (aimed to develop a follow-on treaty to the Kyoto Protocol) - that will be lobbying for up to a $10B/yr fund to be spent on risk transfer/risk reduction for climate change adaptation in developing countries. He said that in his view, our project is the best one in the world right now for how to do that, using weather index insurance in a holistic way - and if we're successful during the pilot phase this summer in Tigray, that he would push to have our model replicated across the world as an example of best practice. Exciting stuff!
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 8:15 AM
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Just got back to Addis this morning, so I'm able to have a little more bandwidth to send some more pictures of my walk through Tigray yesterday looking at some of the old churches there. It was a beautiful day. Some might call Tigray desolate and lifeless (some may say the same about Kansas who have only driven through!), but I strongly disagree. It is in these rural, isolated places that people learn to make due with what they have (in the case of Tigray, just barely) and build strong communities in the process.
Of my 14 day trip, only 2 remain. The next two days will be high level meetings in Addis with the major stakeholders of the project. All signs are pointing towards a very successful set of talks, we've done the groundwork locally and regionally to make these next days hopefully easy. But they still need to be done - these are the make or break people. I'm excited about all the personal infrastructure we've put in place on this trip - people are informed and talking to each other without our help, and everyone is sharing really good ideas. What I'm most excited about is that this is truly a project where the local local people, the poorest farmers in already a poor place, are having input in designing the solutions to their own poverty. And I can tell you, as part of the design team, their ideas are forming the basis for the project. Now we just need the head bosses to say yes, and it will happen.
I'm also looking forward to getting home. Even though it's been a great trip, I'm at the stage where I can see the end of the tunnel, and its getting closer. I'm looking forward to building some community of my own when I get back - both in Kansas for Emery's baptism this weekend, and back home in New York, where I have a lot of smiles waiting for me. =)
Ethiopian TV, at 1am. (After our big meeting Friday night!) Our 4 channels were, Ethiopian TV (ETV), Fox Movies (I watched Back to the Future III), BBC World News, and BBC sports (I also watched part of Manchester vs. Liverpool).
Start of the drive up into the highlands from Mekele.
The main road from Wukuro to Howzen.
A beautiful tree-tunnel!
Another tree-tunnel on the steps up to the first church, Abraha Atsbeha.
The outside of the first church. You can see how they literally carved the mountain away to make the church. Lonely Planet says the church was built in the 10th century. (over 1000 yrs ago) Just to be clear, all of these churches were carved, by hand, from a single piece of rock (usually out of the side of a mountain). Google/Wikipedia for more info.
This was an amazingly lucky moment. I arrived to the front steps of the church just as the traditional morning service was ending (all the churches that are still operating are Ethiopian Orthodox...) The priest's vestments were just beautiful. This is the best picture I got of the priest - but it doesn't show too well the vividness of the colors, red, green, and gold. Imagine stepping into a 1000 yr old church for the first time seeing this scene - with chanting and incense and a dozen or two really old, really devout rural Ethiopian men and women (a woman is kneeling in the background) not knowing whether to look at this new foreigner or pay attention to the service! It was pretty amazing.
A detail of the wall paintings inside the church. I don't know how old they are, but it's absolutely amazing they look the way they do. So beautifully detailed and vivid and inspiring.
Some of the old men that hung around to watch me after the service. (You can see more of the wall in the background)
The interior of the church. This was the nicest, most well-kept church I visited. Probably one of the most actively used rock-hewn churches in Tigray. You can see the pillars are carved into the shape of crosses (the church itself is also in the shape of a cross), and also you can see some of the drums in the back on the left.
The priest locking up the church after I left. I think he was waiting on me - and I took my time!!
The priest with his cross (that he lets people kiss), and the keys around his neck. He actually wanted me to take this picture, so he could see himself on the screen in the back of my camera. He thought it was pretty funny.
The second church - Debre Tsion Abraham..... waaaaaay on the top of that mountain. It took about an hour to climb up, with 6 little boys trailing me the whole time as "guides".
The way up. In addition to lots of cool sandstone formations, we saw 2 monkeys, a bunch of cool birds, and a small lizard, which the boys tried to kill by throwing rocks at it. It got away.
One of the boys (with his Air Jordan tshirt) stopped for a picture (and to see the back of the camera) near the top.
Some markings in the ground along the path pointing the way to the church. Not sure how old these are, but the sandstone is pretty soft so probably only a few years/decades at most. Especially since tourists have just started coming to these churches in the last 50 years.
The view from the top. This building is the monk's workshop.
The monk - who let us in and walked us around. The priest was gone to market, since it was Saturday (market day).
The front of the church.
The monk opening the door.
Inside/ceilings... some of this is carved/some painted. I think the stone was covered with plaster for the paintings at some point, because some of the paintings were chipping away.
One of the boys talking to the monk... it was really cute. The monk was very hard of hearing, so the boy kept having to repeat himself louder and louder. It could have happened in any language, anywhere in the world!
Detail of one of the paintings.
This church was kind of two churches in one. It had an inner and outer wall. This is between the walls. The boys said that this is where the women would be during a service (they weren't allowed inside the main part).
An engraving of St. Michael... I had to crawl through a really small tunnel/hole to get to this room (the boys showed me) and use a flashlight to see cause it was so dark. The light you see is from my flashlight (which one of the boys was using).
One of the boys paying the monk for me (by this time, a second monk had arrived), and the monk giving me a blessing. His hand was on my shoulder.
Self-timer of me and the "guides". They were really cute. I quizzed them on world capitals on the walk down. They were pretty good.
A couple of boys on the walk down. (Just before they saw the lizard)
The market in town, as we passed through to the 3rd church.
A troop of Gelada baboons crossing the road....! they are found only in Ethiopia. There were at least 50 of them... and about 12 big males.
Kitty sleeping on the steps of the 3rd church. Not an endemic baboon, but probably cuter.
The third church - Chirkos, in Wukuro town.
The monk opening the door. He was a pretty young monk, maybe 40 or so. We connected. He showed me his bible made of animal skins, and then I showed him the pictures (on the screen on my camera). He was smiling a lot.
Inside of the church - you can see the beautiful sandstone swirls in the pillar.
This church had a lot more detailed carvings than the other ones.
The monk with the bible - hand written on animal skin paper.
The outside of the church. You can kind of see how it was carved.
Some of the tinkling metal chimes on the guard house of the church.
Neat little shop on the way back to Mekele.
Posted by Eric Holthaus at 9:48 AM