First Alert Weather Alert: Flood Warning expires at 8:00 AM on 4/18, issued at 10:44 AM Bryceville, FL | Callahan, FL | Fernandina Beach, FL | Glen Saint Mary, FL

Beautiful Weekend Weather... Rocket Launch... Hurricane Season Begins June 1... Salvation Army & Tornado Recovery... "Earth Guage": Boating Safety, Mountain Snowpack

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Updated: 5/25/2013 12:36 am

Download the very cool! & ** free ** First Alert Weather iPad App -- click ** here **............

Wow...a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend!  Highs inland will be in the lower 80s Sat...mid 80s Sun. & Mon.....upper 70s to around 80 at the beaches.  Lows will fall into the comfortable 50s each night.  There will be lots of sun each day with burn time as low as 10 minutes.  Onshore east to northeast winds won't be all that strong but brisk enough to enhane the rip current risk through the weekend.  Remember to never swim or surf alone & always near a lifeguard.

A Delta IV rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Fri. evening about 8:30pm.  The payload was a $342 million military communications satellite.  The photo below is from Artur Bereznyak looking south from Hodges Blvd. on Jax's Southside.  I showed a timelapse of the launch + the full moon rise within my Fri. night weathercast -- click ** here **.  Watch a close-up of the launch ** here ** from FloridaToday.com.

Next weekend -- Sat., June 1 -- will be the official start of the hurricane season.  I'm continuing to monitor the Gulf &/or NW Caribbean for possible tropical development the first week or so of June.  Click ** here ** for the explainer in an earlier post.

Major Ronald Mott from our St. Augustine Salvation Army sent this in from his 2nd day helping with the tornado disaster in Moore, Ok:
"Today was another very busy day. Spent all day walking door to door in two neighborhoods and spoke to everyone that was out and going through what used to be their houses. Many people were very glad to see us and poured there hearts out to us. I spoke to a mother and two little girls that rode out the tornado in there safe room that was underground in the garage. As the little girls were anxious to show us there shelter they went back down and said this is where we sat while the tornado went over our house. I had some Ty beanie bears with me and I gave each girl one and they began to hug on them. Also as we were going thru the neighborhood I found someone special Joe Joanas as he was talking to some of the victims.  Morale is very good with everyone we came in contact with. There was a lot of volunteers today helping those that were effected."  Ron's photos are below....click ** here ** to watch a video of the Salvation Army's efforts in storm-ravaged Oklahoma.

Earth Gauge: Safe Summer Recreation
What happens when you combine water, warm temperatures and sunny days?  A great opportunity for outdoor recreation! May 18-24, 2013, is National Safe Boating Week. Whether you are an experienced boater or just getting out on the water for the first time, boating can be a fun way to explore the environment and enjoy nice weather. It can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared.  The U.S. Coast Guard tallied over 4,500 recreational boating accidents in 2011 – including 758 deaths, over 3,000 injuries and 52 million dollars of damage to property.
Viewer Tip: Whether you’re hitting the water in a motor boat, canoe, kayak or raft, brush up on safe boating practices and know how to protect yourself and others in all kinds of weather.  These tips will make sure everyone has a safe boating season:

• Take thunderstorms seriously. Thunderstorms can develop quickly, causing dangerous wave conditions, torrential downpours and lightning.  If a storm is approaching, wait for the storm to pass – do not venture out on the water.  If you are already on the water and cannot make it to port or shore before the storm hits, head to the cabin of your boat and stay away from any metal or any electrical devices.  If your boat does not have a cabin, stay as low as possible in the boat. More lightning safety tips from the National Weather Service.
• Stay safe in the sun. The Friday before Memorial Day, May 24, 2013, is Don’t Fry Day. The bad news: there are over 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually.  The good news: skin cancer is highly curable when detected early and there are simple ways to protect your skin from sun damage when you spend time outside.  The National Council on Skin Cancer wants you to remember to “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!”  Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, slap on a wide-brimmed hat and wrap on some sunglasses.
• Wear your life jacket. Nearly 85 percent of people who drown while boating are not wearing a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket is one of the most effective and life-saving strategies for safe recreational boating. Make sure everyone on the boat is wearing a life jacket when spending time on the water. They come in many different colors, shapes and sizes – there are even life jackets for pets.
• Make boating safe for the environment, too. Boat within marked channels, observe “no wake” zones, and avoid areas with shallow water and sea grass beds. Properly dispose of trash and fishing line. And, take care to avoid spills when refueling. More clean boating tips from the American Boating Association.

(Sources: National Weather Service, “National Safe Boating Week,”; National Council on Skin Care Prevention, “Don’t Fry Day,”; U.S. Coast Guard, “Recreational Boating Statistics 2011,”; American Boating Association. “Clean Boating and Environmental Stewardship.”)

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Climate Fact: Warmer Springs are Reducing Rocky Mountain Snowpacks

Over the past thousand years, the long-term, interdecadal variability of mountain snowpacks in Western North America followed a steady pattern: when northern snowpacks were unusually heavy, southern snowpacks were unusually light by a similar amount, and vice versa.  However, this “asynchronous” pattern broke down in the middle to late 20th century when snowpacks in both regions began to fall in tandem with one another.  Natural drivers of regional snowpack variability – the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Pacific North American pattern (PNA) – haven’t drastically changed their rhythms in the past century, and if anything, precipitation has actually increased slightly over this period.  Only 20-50 percent of the Western mountains’ lower-elevation snow cover losses can be explained by these natural drivers.  Why, then, have these places lost 20 percent of their snow cover since 1980?

For the first time in at least a thousand years, temperature – not precipitation – has become the primary driver of large-scale snowpack patterns in the Western North American Mountains.  In particular, warmer springs have accelerated snowmelt and caused less precipitation to fall as snow, resulting in reduced stream flows and inflamed fire seasons.  Warmer temperatures have even decreased snow accumulations in the high elevations of the northern Rockies where the snow’s average amount of water (snow-water equivalent) has fallen since 1958. For at least 950 years, the natural variability of ENSO, PDO and PNA cycles largely explained western North American mountain snowpacks.  Now theses cycles are mostly useful for understanding when and by how much snowpacks will decline across this region.

(Source: Pederson, Gregory T., Julio L. Betancourt and Gregory J. McCabe, 2013, “Regional patterns and proximal causes on the recent snowpack decline in the Rocky Mountains, U.S.,” Geophysical Research Letters, 40:1-6, doi: 10.1002/grl.50424.)

Have a great & safe weekend!

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