First Alert Weather Alert: Flood Warning expires at 8:00 PM on 4/28, issued at 10:03 AM Bryceville, FL | Callahan, FL | Fernandina Beach, FL | Glen Saint Mary, FL

A "Split" Weekend... Weather "Wimps"... "Earth Gauge": Saving in 2014, Winter Recretion, Pine Island Glacier

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Updated: 1/10 11:28 pm

A wet Sat. will turn into a nice Sunday.

A cold front -- driven by a strong upper level disturbance -- will roll across the First Coast Sat. evening. Strong, warm, moist southwesterly flow ahead of the front will help trigger scattered showers & storms late Sat. morning through early afternoon before numerous showers & storms develop & spread east/northeast in the afternoon & evening. There is at least some potential for strong to severe storms with damaging winds the primary threat but also at least a low (though not zero) risk of an isolated tornado.

The front will sweep through the area Sat. night leading a very nice Sunday with lots of sun & cooler -- but still pleasant -- temps. in the 60s.

The next storm will not be far behind bringing rain back into the area late Mon. into Tue. followed by a midweek chill that could result in an inland freeze mid to late week.

Have Americans become "weather wimps"? An Associated Press story says "yes" -- click ** here **. The gist of the story is that because there have been fewer instances of arctic cold outbreaks the last 20-25 years, people are less prepared for severe cold &, therefore, not as "weather battle tested". Personally....I think a lot of it has to do with the intense media coverage -- some of it a little over the top to say the least.

Earth Gauge: Resolve to Save in 2014

Detailed infographic from Energy.gov: Home Energy Audits

Are you resolving to save money in 2014? Efficiency pays off! Check out these tools to help you lower bills by saving energy, water and fuel at home and on the road.  Added bonus: you’ll help the environment, too.

Lower your energy bills.

  • Do it yourself: ENERGY STAR’s Home Energy Yardstick provides an easy-to-understand assessment of how your home energy use compares to similar homes. The tool provides a snapshot of how you use energy at home and ideas for improving comfort and lowering your utility bills.
  • Get help from a professional: A professional home energy audit is a detailed, room-by-room assessment that can help you find ways to save 5-30 percent on your energy bill. Check with your local or state energy/weatherization office or your electric/gas utility for help finding an auditor.
  • Look for incentives: Some states, localities and utilities offer incentives and rebates for performing home energy audits and making improvements.

Don’t send dollars down the drain.

  • Calculate your water savings: Want to know how much that water-efficient appliance will really save? Use EPA’s WaterSense calculator to see how much water (and money!) you can save with WaterSense labeled low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads.
  • Search for rebates: Check out the WaterSense Rebate Finder to find money-saving rebate programs for WaterSense labeled products and water conservation services.

Save at the pump.

  • Save fuel to save money: FuelEconomy.gov offers tips for driving efficiently and keeping your car in top shape to get the best gas mileage possible. Use the My MPG to track your vehicle’s fuel economy and compare it with EPA test ratings.
  • Weigh your options: In the market for a new car? Compare vehicles side-by-side, view lists of most-efficient and most-popular cars and trucks, and learn about tax incentives for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars.

Climate Fact: Winter Recreation in a Warming World

Did you know skiing can be traced to prehistoric times? Primitive skis have been found in Sweden dating back to 2,000 years B.C.! Skiing was a means of travel between isolated communities during harsh winter conditions. Today, winter sporting is a billion dollar industry. During winter 2011-2012, snow sports generated 53 billion dollars in the economy, supported over 500,000 jobs and generated over six billion dollars in state and federal taxes. An average of 22 million people went snowboarding, alpine and cross-country skiing; nine million people went snowmobiling.

The winter sports industry is sensitive to changes in snowfall and snow cover – and total snowfall has decreased in many parts of the country. Since the 1920s, snowfall has declined along the West and Mid-Atlantic coasts, as well as in southern margins of the seasonal snow regions, the southern Missouri River basin and parts of the Northeast. Over the same time period, snowfall has risen on the leeward side of the Rocky Mountains, in the Great Lakes and northern Ohio Valley regions and in parts of north-central U.S. Variations in snow are a reflection of changes in precipitation and temperature. Our planet’s rising thermostat has altered the overall rate of precipitation and increased the amount of winter precipitation falling in the form of rain instead of snow. While total snowfall may be on the decline, scientists have also discovered that there were twice as many extreme snowstorms in the past half century as there were in the preceding one. Warmer temperatures have enabled the atmosphere to hold more water vapor, or “storm fuel,” and storms with exceptionally heavy precipitation have become more common as a result. When the air is cold enough, this precipitation falls as snow, which may explain why scientists have seen an increase of powerful snowstorms.

How do warming temperatures and changes in snowfall affect winter sports? The snow sporting industry is used to inter-annual variability in operating conditions, but climate change increases that variability and can delay or shorten the snow season, leading to significant economic losses. This is a problem for areas where winter tourism is the most important source of income and snow-reliability is key. For example, snowmobiling relies on natural snowfall because of the linear nature and long distances of snowmobile trails. The skiing and snowboarding industry has tried to reduce vulnerability in areas such as eastern Canada, the Midwest and the southeastern U.S. by investing millions in snow-making technology and operations. But these systems are too expensive and logistically impractical to solve the problem for snowmobiling. Scientists believe that resorts located in southern regions or at low elevations could suffer greater impacts as a consequence of rising temperatures.

(Sources: United States Environmental Protection Agency. Climate Change Indicators in the United States: Snowfall. Accessed online 9 December 2013 and Krasting, J.P., A.J. Broccoli, K.W. Dixon, J.R. Lanzate. 2013. Future Changes in Northern Hemisphere Snowfall. American Meteorological Society. 26:7813-7828. and Kunkel, K.E., M. Palecki, L. Ensor, K.G. Hubbard, D. Robinson, K. Redmond, D. Easterling. 2009. Trends in Twentieth-Century U.S. Snowfall Using a Quality-Controlled Dataset. American Meteorological Society. 26:33-44. and Scott, D., J. Dawson, B. Jones. 2008. Climate Change Vulnerability of the U.S. Northeast winter recreation—tourism sector. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 13:577-596. and Scott, D., G. McBoyle, A. Minogue, B. Mills. 2006. Climate Change and the Sustainability of Ski-based Tourism in Eastern North America: a Reassessment. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 14(4):376-398. and Southwick Associates. 2013. Outdoor Recreation: Technical Report on Methods and Findings. Accessed online 18 December 2013 and Snowsports Industries America. 2013 Snow Sports Fact Sheet. Accessed online 18 December 2013)

Climate in the News: “Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Sensitive to Climatic Variability”ScienceDaily, January 2, 2014 A new study published in Science this month suggests the thinning of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is much more susceptible to climatic and ocean variability than at first thought.

Have a great & safe weekend!

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