It's gonna' get cold. This will be a quick but strong shot of cold air with the coldest temps. for the First Coast since last Feb.(!) which is not so much because this cold wave will be extreme as it's a testament to how mild this winter has been. Winds make the forecast lows for Sat. night a bit difficult but suffice to say temps. drop below freezing inland & just above freezing near the coast. Gusty winds will easily drop wind chills into the 20s. As high pressure moves closer late at night, winds should drop to near 5 mph which is when temps. will drop the fastest -- between 4 & 7am. As the cold front rolls through Sat., there will be scattered light showers for the First Coast but snow not all that far away in S. Carolina & especially N. Carolina. A 4-6 hour drive north on I-95 could get you to accumulating snow, especially in N. Carolina.
Sunday will be sunny but cold with a stiff north breeze continuing. Winds will become calm Sun. night & with clear skies & dry air, temps. will tumble quickly & will be several degrees lower than Sat. night with a frost/light freeze all the way to the coast.
This cold "wave" will at least be fleeting as temps. quickly moderate Mon. afternoon & return to the 70s by Tue.(!).
The fast-changing temps. will be courtesy fast-moving & strong storm systems moving through the center of the U.S. After this weekend's arctic surge, there will be 2 storms to track for the upcoming week:
(1) a moderately strong storm will develop over Kansas Mon. & move to Lake Superior then into Canada by Tue./early Wed. Some heavy rain & storms will occur with the cold front all the way to the Gulf while moderate to heavy snow occurs northwest of the low. The storm's track far to the north of the First Coast will result in little meaningful rain for the local area as a weak cool front moves through late Tue./early Wed.
(2) a much stronger storm will develop in/near the Oklahoma Panhandle Wed. & move to near Indianapolis by Fri. This storm has the potential to produce a major severe storm/tornado outbreak for parts of the deep south, Tennessee & Ohio Valley's with a big snow storm to the north of the low pressure track from Colorado to Michigan. Once again, the storm will lift far to the north of the First Coast & weaken so showers for the local area will probably again be limited late Fri. or so.
What a wild meteor show over Russia Thu. night! (a meteorite if the "space debris" hits the ground). From Colorado State University:
- Visible and infrared imagery of the meteor that made a fiery entry into the Earth’s atmosphere over the Ural Mountains of Russia has been captured by Colorado State University scientists. Steve Miller, deputy director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), a partnership with NOAA, analyzed imagery from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) weather satellite and captured several images of the condensation trail left
behind the meteor as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere at an estimated 33,000 mph (54,000 km/h.)
The meteor, which scientists estimate to have been roughly 15 meters across and with a mass of 10-11 tons, has caused widespread damage and 1,000 injuries across the Chelyabinsk region, approximately 900 miles east of Moscow.
“We were extremely lucky to have a satellite crossing the immediate area, literally moments after the event. The imagery can help us understand some details of the entry that may have been more difficult to infer from the surface observations alone.” Miller said.
Click ** here ** to the satellite imagery.....click here for video.
Earth Gauge: Great Backyard Bird Count
The 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18. Each year, volunteers across the country tally the birds they see in backyards, parks and natural areas. Last year, GBBC participants racked up more than 17 million observations and identified 623 species! Counting birds during GBBC helps scientists gain a snapshot of how winter bird populations are changing across North America. Some interesting trends from the 2012 count include:
• Snowy Owl Sightings: Above average numbers of Snowy Owls were reported nationwide, and records numbers of observations were set throughout the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest. Why so many? The most likely explanation is that Snowy Owls depend on prey populations that rise and fall in cycles. When prey populations are large, so are numbers of Snowy Owls and other predators. When prey populations crash, the owls have to look elsewhere for food.
• Coots Across the Continent: In a normal year, American Coots are found in more southern areas of North America that do not freeze. In 2012, coots were found well to the north of their normal range and in higher numbers across the North American continent. There are two reasons: more coots due to a very successful breeding year in 2011 and a mild winter that left some preferred habitats – like ponds, lakes and rivers – unfrozen.
• Spread of Invasive Species: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species that was introduced in Florida in the 1980s and has expanded its range ever since. 2012 observations show that the dove has colonized the Pacific Northwest and reached Alaska – but it is absent from New England.
Tip: Collecting all this data would be impossible without the help of thousands of volunteers. Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Simple instructions for counting and reporting birds are available ** here **. You can also find regional bird checklists, photo galleries, resources for kids and more!
GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Bird Studies Canada.
Climate Fact: Cheating Birds
Link - click here.
According to a recent study, birds living in unstable climates are more likely to cheat on their significant others. But avian cheaters have good intentions – by mating with multiple partners, female birds can improve their offspring’s ability to cope with variable future weather conditions. Studies have shown that chicks born from cheating have higher survival rates, grow better feathers, build stronger immune systems and have more reproductive success than chicks born from long-term partners. Scientists found this link between cheating birds and weather conditions by comparing the mating behaviors of more than 200 bird species to local weather records. They discovered that birds became more promiscuous in environments that exhibit larger and more volatile temperature swings each year. Some research suggests that future temperatures will vary even more, and that’s bad news for loyal birds.
(Sources: Botero, Carlos A. and Dustin R. Rubenstein, 2012. “Fluctuating Environments, Sexual Selection and the Evolution of Flexible Mate Choice in Birds.” PLoS ONE, 7:1, e32311, (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032311); Diffenbaugh, Noah S. and Moetasim Ashfaq, 2010. “Intensification of hot extremes in the United States.” Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L15701, (DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888)
Climate in the News: Wall, Mike. "NASA Launching Powerful Landsat Earth-Observation Satellite Today" – Space.com, February 11, 2013 – NASA's latest Earth-observation satellite, Landsat 8, will track changes in forest cover, agriculture, water use, glacial retreat, urban sprawl and other land features.
Have a great & safe weekend ... stay warm!