Late May in the Mountains

May 24 weather animation for Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain clears into view after the morning fog burns off and reveals the marvelous green from this spring’s abundant moisture. One can see that spring is just reaching the summit and a beautiful sunset occurred on this spring day.

Spring Day

April 15 weather animation

A nice cloud swept sunrise this past Monday and a fantastic afternoon to follow. Special days ahead.

Climate prediction for next weekend

6-10 day temperature prediction

6-10 day temperature prediction

We know this weekend is setting up to be the best hiking weather we’ve had in this year. So go out if you can! But if you can’t and would like to plan a trip next weekend, it’s also looking good. This climate model predicts we’ll have higher than normal temperatures and precipitation during next weekend and into the first of week following. Temperatures could average around 55° F with rain about 0.4″ above normal rates for April 10-14. That’s a good spring forecast and we welcome the coming of the growing season.

6-10 day precipitation forecast

6-10 day precipitation forecast

Tale of Two Years

We have a late spring this year and you can see it with the Look Rock webcam. The first image is from April 1, 2013 and doesn’t show much greening of the trees. The second image is an animation from April 1, 2012 and you can quickly notice much more tender green.

[Read more…]

Early Spring Snow in the Great Smokies

Snow on Mt. LeConte

In winters past, the highlands of the Great Smokies could expect an average of 8-10 feet of snow. This winter we’ve had much less, though the average temperatures have about normal. On March 26, however, we saw a dramatic snowfall with Mt. LeConte getting about 20″ in one storm with little snowfall at lower elevations. These images clearly show the snow line and give a unique feeling to the mountain scenery.

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National Weather Service Update

Within the past few months, the National Weather Service updated many of their websites, which impacted our weather services on outrageGIS.com. We are happy to announce that we have completed updates on our end so we can continue to serve up weather information for the Daniel Boone and Great Smokies.

The biggest change was to their home page and to the point locations’ weather and forecast pages. This caused our 7-day forecast to break, but we have fixed the problem. Also, the rss feeds for watches and warnings were dropped for point locations, so we had figure out a work around to pull in these important messages. While we didn’t replicate the rss feeds, we were able to pull in hazardous weather discussions for our locations. It kinda works and thank goodness for the command line utilities pcregrep and sed.

A day of weather in the Great Smokies

A somber late-winter day from Look Rock mountain overlook, March 5, 2011. [Read more…]

El Niño to make the mountains colder and drier this winter

Predicting climate in the old days relied upon observing cues in nature. The Farmers’ Almanac finds that people looked at woolly worms in late summer in get a sense of winter. The more black hairs on the worm, the colder and wetter the winter. Of course woolly worms come in all configurations of black and orange colorings so how could a worm’s coat predict winter? It can as an analogy;  you look at the forecast to decide which coat you’re going to wear before leaving home. I think you would want to wear a black coat as opposed to a white coat on a very cold and sunny day to maximize the amount of solar energy you could absorb. Woolly worms just plan far ahead.

Today we track global changes in wind patterns and sea surface temperatures to predict weather conditions. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has issued a climate forecast for this winter based on the El Niño pattern emerging in the Pacific Ocean.

Below are winter predictions for the U.S. indicating greater or lesser chances for departures in average winter temperatures and precipitation.

temps

precip

El Niño is a departure from average sea surface temperatures created by a change in the intensity and direction of equatorial winds. In a normal period, strong easterly trade winds blow across the Pacific and upwell cold, nutrient rich waters on the west coast of South America. These same winds also pile up water in the western Pacific so that the sea surface is about 2 feet higher at Indonesia than at Ecuador.

Normal Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

In an El Niño cycle, the winds are not as intense and warmer sea surface temperatures extend further to east. This change has a global impact on weather with increased precipitation on the west coast of South America and the south & east coasts of North America. Warmer than normal conditions also occur at higher latitudes in North America and over the Pacific ocean.

El Niño Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

El Niño Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

Animations of the Atmosphere

As a lover of the atmosphere and sun, I want to see how light and sky change over the course of the day. I also want to see how large-area weather events, such as the passage of a front, impact different places in the Great Smoky mountains. The inspiration behind this page was a desire to record weather changes at different elevations on a mountain and to help the photographer in me better understand a secretive and dynamic landscape.

Enter Yesterday: a site of prior-day animations of federal web cams and satellite imagery located here at http://www.outragegis.com/weather/img/animation/yesterday. Note this page always shows conditions for the prior day since they are full-day timelines.

The Great Smokies have about one mile of vertical relief and weather conditions can be dramatically different depending on your elevation. Whatever it’s a line of thunderstorms or fog in the valleys on a calm morning, this is a visual record of evolving conditions…only of course it happens during daylight. For the weather nut who likes to take it a step further, the page gives data from park’s 5 weather stations for the same day….and it’s all archived.

How was it done? After tinkering with ImageMagick and FFmpeg, I made a script that creates full-day animations of the webcams in the Great Smokies and visible satellite images from NOAA. What will it become? Consider it a visual archive of the atmosphere and movements of the Sun in the Great Smokies. Any suggestions are welcome.

Some notes for updates: I haven’t fully utilized the flash embedded video (see the two samples below, top is animated gif and below is embedded flash video). The problem is setting animations in sync together, e.g., sun rises at the same time in all movies. With an animated .gif, I think you simply need to refresh your browser after all of the images are loaded to get a partial sync. A better solution is out there. I can also increase the sampling rate for smoother play; now it’s two samples an hour.

Weather map and webcam animation for the Great Smoky Mountains

Weather map and webcam animation for the Great Smokies


[flv:http://www.outragegis.com/weather/img/animation/090603/PurchaseKnob.flv 400 290]

These are also archived, so if you go to the smokies for a backcountry trip, you’ll be able to find your days here.

Rainy May: on track to be the wettest May ever

Spring is typically a wet month. However over the past week, Eastern Kentucky has experienced unusual rainfall amounts. The record for the month is 10.78 inches in 2004; and no other year has been above 10 inches for May. The only year that saw over 9 inches of rainfall for May was in 1995. May during 1983 and 1984 were the only times over 7 inches of rainfall.

From the National Weather Service in Jackson, Kentucky:

"2 TO 5 INCHES OF RAIN HAS FALLEN ACROSS EASTERN KENTUCKY DURING THE
MONTH OF MAY. THIS IS OF INTEREST...SINCE WE ARE ONLY ABOUT ONE
QUARTER OF THE WAY THROUGH THE MONTH. HEAVY RAINFALL IS VERY
POSSIBLE AS WE HEAD INTO MOTHERS DAY WEEKEND AND COULD PUSH RAINFALL
AMOUNTS UP ANOTHER INCH OR TWO.

THE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION FOR THE MONTH OF MAY AT THE JACKSON
WEATHER OFFICE IS 4.92 INCHES. WE HAVE ALL READY RECORDED 4.12
INCHES OF RAINFALL AS OF THIS MORNING AT 7AM. IT IS TOO EARLY TO TELL
...BUT WE ARE CERTAINLY ON TRACK TO HAVE ONE OF THE RAINIEST MAYS
EVER. THE RAINIEST MAY OCCURRED IN 2004 WHEN THE JACKSON WEATHER
OFFICE RECORDED 10.78 INCHES FOR THE MONTH. THIS WAS THE ONLY MONTH
OF MAY THAT OVER TEN INCHES OF RAIN FELL. MAY OF 1995 HAD 9.91
INCHES AND WAS THE ONLY MONTH WITH OVER 9 INCHES RECORDED. THE NEXT
HIGHEST TOTALS WERE OVER 7 INCHES AND THAT OCCURRED IN ONLY TWO
YEARS...1983 AND 1984.

HERE ARE RAINFALL TOTALS FROM EASTERN KENTUCKY COOPERATIVE WEATHER
STATIONS AND AUTOMATED SURFACE OBSERVING SYSTEMS AS OF 7 AM
EDT...FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2009.

LOCATION         /   COUNTY     /     PRECIPITATION

BARBOURVILLE         KNOX              4.38  INCHES
BAXTER               HARLAN            3.85  INCHES
BEATTYVILLE 4N       LEE               3.68  INCHES
BIG SHELBY           PIKE              3.01  INCHES
BOONEVILLE 1SE       OWSLEY            4.49  INCHES
BUCKHORN LAKE        PERRY             2.80  INCHES
CARR CREEK LAKE      KNOTT             2.73  INCHES
CAVE RUN LAKE        ROWAN             2.28  INCHES
CLAY CITY 1WNW       POWELL            2.77  INCHES
CLOSPLINT 4ESE       HARLAN            4.55  INCHES
COLO                 PULASKI           3.98  INCHES
CRESSY               ESTILL            2.59  INCHES
DRAFFIN              PIKE              3.54  INCHES
EZEL                 MORGAN            3.31  INCHES
GIMLET               ELLIOTT           2.60  INCHES
HARLAN 1S            HARLAN            3.80  INCHES
HARLAN STATE POLICE  HARLAN            2.95  INCHES
HAZARD WATER         PERRY             3.71  INCHES
HAZARD               PERRY             3.70  INCHES
HAZARD STATE POLICE  PERRY             2.95  INCHES
HEIDELBERG 2N        LEE               4.05  INCHES
BAXTER               HARLAN            3.85  INCHES
INEZ 2E              MARTIN            3.78  INCHES
ISLAND CITY          OWSLEY            5.16  INCHES
IVEL                 FLOYD             2.27  INCHES
NWS JACKSON          BREATHITT         4.12  INCHES
JEREMIAH 1S          LETCHER           3.11  INCHES
KINGDOM COME ST PARK HARLAN            3.12  INCHES
LONDON CORBIN APT    LAUREL            4.46  INCHES
MONTICELLO 3NE       WAYNE             4.00  INCHES
MOUNT STERLING 5N    MONTGOMERY        2.41  INCHES
MOUNT VERNON         ROCKCASTLE        2.77  INCHES
ONEIDA               CLAY              4.54  INCHES
PAINTSVILLE 1E       JOHNSON           3.55  INCHES
PIKEVILLE ST POLICE  PIKE              2.05  INCHES
PRESTONSBURG 3NW     FLOYD             4.09  INCHES
QUICKSAND            BREATHITT         3.52  INCHES
RELIEF               MORGAN            3.18  INCHES
ROGERS               WOLFE             2.82  INCHES
SALYERSVILLE         MAGOFFIN          4.28  INCHES
SANDY HOOK           ELLIOTT           2.67  INCHES
SKYLINE              LETCHER           3.20  INCHES
SLADE 5NE            POWELL            2.86  INCHES
SOMERSET 2N          PULASKI           3.74  INCHES
STANTON 2W           POWELL            2.88  INCHES
STEARNS 2S           MCCREARY          5.09  INCHES
VICTORY 5NW          LAUREL            4.13  INCHES
WEST LIBERTY 3NW     MORGAN            2.67  INCHES
WEST LIBERTY 11NW    MORGAN            2.57  INCHES
WHITESBURG           LETCHER           2.50  INCHES
WHITESBURG 2SE       LETCHER           3.21  INCHES
WILLIAMSBURG 1NW     WHITLEY           5.14  INCHES

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AT JACKSON WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE
DEDICATED COOPERATIVE WEATHER OBSERVERS FOR THEIR TIMELY REPORTS."

It is all about Light: a photographers dream

The past day’s weather has included periods intense light and shadow from very low, broken stratus & cumulus clouds. Rays of love from god shine from heaven through parted clouds; and there was plenty of love in the mountains. Even in these low quality webcam images, you can see golden rays of light and clearly defined ridges. Now what if you were there with a serious camera.

Though the weather overall has been chilly and uncomfortable, it does give some memorable vistas. The more diffuse stratus clouds in the western mountains were lower in altitude and created softer light.

Moon Rise
View from Purchase Knob

A Tale of Two Smokies

Visible Sat April 15, 2009. We see two very different Smokies today and the highest peaks in the southern Appalachians provide an atmospheric boundary.

On the west side of the mountains we see low dense stratus clouds, but on the east side we have clear skies. As the atmosphere is uplifted over the the highest ridge of mountains there’s cooling and abundant cloud formation. That’s half the story.

The winds are form the northwest and the Smokies (along the Tennessee/North Carolina stateline) provide the highest barrier the winds must cross over. On the leeward side, as the winds cross over the mountains, they descend, warm, and prevent cloud formation especially just east of the summits.

Link to more: http://pixel.outragegis.com/v/weather_maps/090415_TwoSmokies/
These images and animation show a textbook situation of topographic control of weather, but over a very large area.

   

Easter Morning Sunrise

Weather in the Smokies this spring has been very active. Just last week, Mt. LeConte had 14 inches of snow. This morning the sun rose as a golden fireball that lit the mountain ridges in clear relief. Mt LeConte is the peak at the sun’s 4 o’clock position. Over six inches of snow lingered at the highest elevations for a few days. May has given measurable snowfall.

Moon Rise
View from Look Rock

Fire in Cades Cove

Controlled burning will impact Cades Cove through April. From the park’s website: “Fire managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park plan to begin conducting a series of controlled burns of fields in the interior of Cades Cove on Tuesday March 24, 2009, if weather conditions permit. Park managers plan to burn three to seven different parcels totaling up to 300 acres from now until May 1.”

Moon Rise
View from Look Rock

March Moon Rise

Tonight at 10:28 P.M. we will have our March full moon, the last full moon of winter. Full moons throughout the year have names given by early settlers and Native Americans to indicate important seasonal activities…such as a Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon.

The March full moon is know as a Worm Moon in the Farmer’s Almanac, for the warming of the soil and emergence of earthworms that herald the return of robins and spring. Also known as a Sap Moon for rising maple tree sap, a Lenten Moon for catholic settlers, and a Crow Moon for the cawing of crows that indicate the end of winter.

Below are photos of the moonrise above the Great Smoky Mountains. The far mountain peak the moon rises over is Mt. Le Conte.
Moon Rise

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