• "Buresh Blog": Travel weather + GOES-R update - Nov. 23rd

    By: Michael Buresh


    Nov. 23, 2016 - The holiday travel season is upon us.  Here's to safe travel!  For info. on the roads.... click - here - ..... for info. on the airports, click - here.

    And now that we're getting deep into fall..... & winter is just around the corner, freezing temps. are an increasing concern.  Quite a few inland spots managed to dip to or below 32 degrees early Mon./Tue. but stayed about the hard freeze threshold of 25 degrees.  Most beach & intracoastal locations don't average a first freeze until well into Dec.  An interesting aspect of this winter is the weak La Nina.  Such winters (neutral ENSO or weak La Nina) have been found historically to have extreme temp. ranges from very warm to very cold.  Some of the most intense cold outbreaks for Jacksonville & much of Fl. have occurred under such circumstances.  But for right now.... very mild temps. are in the offing through most of the rest of the month.

    The GOES-R spacecraft had a successful launch (Nov. 19th) & we -- meteorologists -- anxiously await some data!  Now I should point out that this major advance in weather satellite technology will not make forecasts perfect(!), but the satellite & its components will help meteorologists better assess a weather situation (storm, for example).  Photos & images below courtesy NASA.

    From NASA:

    “The next generation of weather satellites is finally here. GOES-R is one of the most sophisticated Earth-observing platforms ever devised,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “GOES-R’s instruments will be capable of scanning the planet five times faster and with four times more resolution than any other satellite in our fleet. With these new instruments and powerful new capabilities, GOES-R will strengthen NOAA’s ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and make the United States an even stronger, more resilient Weather-Ready Nation.”

    GOES-R will scan the skies five times faster than today’s GOES spacecraft, with four times greater image resolution and three times the spectral channels. It will provide high-resolution, rapid-refresh satellite imagery as often as every 30 seconds, allowing for a more detailed look at a storm to determine whether it is growing or decaying.

    GOES-R data will help improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, the prediction and warnings of severe weather, including tornadoes and thunderstorms. Additionally, GOES-R’s improved rainfall estimates will lead to more timely and accurate flood warnings.

    “We are ready to receive and process GOES-R data into our forecasts as soon as it is available,” said NOAA National Weather Service Director Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D. “Forecasters will not only have sharper, more detailed views of evolving weather systems, they will have more data – better data – ingested into our weather models to help us predict the weather tomorrow, this weekend and next week. This is a major advancement for weather forecasting.”

    For the aviation sector, GOES-R will deliver clearer views of clouds at different atmospheric levels, generating better estimates of wind speed and direction and improved detection of fog, ice and lightning. This will improve aviation forecasts and flight route planning to avoid hazardous conditions such as turbulence.

    “GOES-R will significantly improve the ability of emergency managers across America to prepare for, and respond to, weather-related disasters. Better situational awareness will result in better outcomes -- from where to best position resources ahead of a storm to delivering more targeted information to local officials to decide if an evacuation is necessary,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator.

    GOES-R is flying six new instruments, including the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit. This new technology will enable scientists to observe lightning, an important indicator of where and when a storm is likely to intensify. Forecasters will use the mapper to hone in on storms that represent the biggest threat. Improved space weather sensors on GOES-R will monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings. Data from GOES-R will result in 34 new, or improved, meteorological, solar and space weather products.

    “We’ve crossed an historic performance threshold with GOES-R,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “NOAA is now operating the most sophisticated technology ever flown in space to help forecast weather on Earth.”

    There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.

    “NOAA and NASA have partnered for decades on successful environmental satellite missions," said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA’s Joint Agency Satellite Division, which worked with NOAA to manage the development and launch of GOES-R. “Today’s launch continues that partnership and provides the basis for future collaboration in developing advanced weather satellites.”

    Beyond weather forecasting, GOES-R will be part of SARSAT, an international satellite-based search and rescue network. The satellite is carrying a special transponder that can detect distress signals from emergency beacons.

    NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R series spacecraft and instruments. Lockheed Martin is responsible for the design, creation and testing of the satellites and for spacecraft processing along with developing the Geostationary Lightning Mapper and Solar Ultraviolet Imager instruments. Harris Corp. provided GOES-R’s main instrument payload, the Advanced Baseline Imager, the antenna system for data receipt and the ground segment. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics provided the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensor, and Assurance Technology Corporation provided the Space Environment In-Situ Suite.




    While these large, plump birds are able to both fly and swim for short distances, they are not a migratory species, and can be found living year-round in every state in the US except for Alaska.  Look for them in open forests where they spend their nights roosting high in the trees, either as part of a flock or individually. Turkey populations living near residential areas have been known to roost on railings, roofs, and even on vehicles!

    Tough birds: Wild turkeys live year-round in some of the chilliest parts of the United States, including the Midwest and Northeast, and are able to survive sub-zero temperatures.  As a matter of fact, during spells of severe weather, turkeys can settle in roosting areas without food for up to two weeks, able to survive losing up to 40% of their body weight!

    Snarled by snow: The bigger winter challenge for wild turkeys is snowy weather. Wild turkeys eat all sorts of ground forage, including seeds, grains, and small bits of vegetation, but they generally cannot reach foods under more than six inches of snow.  Soft, powdery snow also makes it harder for turkeys to move around—the birds will generally “wait it out” in roosts until snow crusts over or melts.

    Despite extreme weather, most wild turkeys make it through winter.  Survival rates during mild or average winters are between 70% and 100%; harsher winter survival rates are between 55% and 60%. Even during harsh winters, more than enough turkeys survive to maintain healthy breeding populations.


    Most of the world’s cranberries are produced in the United States, hailing predominantly from Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. These fruits thrive in a special type of wetland, a bog made up of acidic waters and alternating layers of sand and decomposing plant material. Cranberries grow here and in man-made wetlands on long, woody vines, which form a thick mat over the surface of the bed. The cranberries harvested from these vines are affected by their local weather conditions.

    Sunshine: Cranberries are typically harvested from September to November, and the amount of sunlight the plants receive in the year prior to the harvest can have a big impact on their yield. Greater amounts of sunlight, especially in the fall and winter months, can lead to an increase in photosynthetic activity, producing stronger flower buds and larger berries at harvest time.

    Temperature: This seasonal favorite is restricted to areas that have moderate summer temperatures, with a July daily average maximum temperature of 85°F. Currently, this temperature range restricts cranberry habitat to only as far south as New Jersey, but temperature increases due to climate change may shift this boundary northward. This shift in the fruit’s habitat would mean that cranberries, currently the third largest agricultural commodity in Massachusetts, would no longer grow in the southeastern part of that state.

    Rainfall: Cranberries rely on regular rainfall during the May through August growing season for large harvests, but the effect of precipitation on the cranberry yield can start as early as the previous year’s harvest time. Cranberry bogs are flooded with water every winter, and the resultant ice sheet insulates the plant’s buds, protecting them as they sit dormant until the spring thaw. If there is insufficient precipitation before the plants enter dormancy, there may be less fruit production the following year.


    About 80% of the United States’ pumpkin supply is available in October, but pumpkin makes an appearance year-round in pies, breads and other foods. The majority of US pumpkins are grown in Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and New York, and the weather in these areas can have a big impact on the yearly pumpkin harvest.

    Wet and soggy: Too much rain can cause crops to rot and make them more susceptible to infection and disease. Fungi, which thrive in wet conditions, can damage leaves and stems or kill pumpkin vines and fruits.

    Hot and dry: Dry, hot weather can cause pumpkins to have too many male blossoms and too few female blossoms, resulting in a smaller harvest.  Lack of water during droughts can also result in smaller and lighter-weight pumpkins.


    In the United States, the majority of apples are grown in Washington, New York, and Michigan. The life-cycle and health of this fall staple is directly related to seasons and weather.

    Spring: Pollination, essential to fruit development, occurs in late spring, and the flowers bloom from mid-April to early June, depending on the growing region.

    To keep pest populations down, many apple growers use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, which are pest-control methods that are less harmful to the environment than typical methods. One technique that farmers use is monitoring weather (temperature, humidity and precipitation). This helps them predict pest and disease outbreaks and decide when to spray pesticides to minimize impact on water quality and maximize impact on pests.

    Summer: In the summer, the apple crop can be damaged by heat stress and drought, which can negatively impact the fruit set and subsequent quality of the apples if the orchards are not adequately irrigated. Apple growers might also prune the trees to encourage fruit growth—if the trees are shaded, restricting their photosynthesis, the fruit production can drop significantly. By the end of the summer, apples complete their growth period and begin to ripen.

    Fall: Months of intense light exposure coupled with the arrival of cool nights spurs the activity of a particular enzyme in red apples which generates a red pigment, causing their color to deepen. Apples become fully ripe, are harvested and are made into a variety of different foods and juices. After the harvest ends, farmers prepare the orchards for winter.

    Winter: Flower and leaf buds appear on apple trees in late fall and the trees lie dormant throughout winter. In mid-winter, some farmers prune the trees so they will receive plenty of winter sunlight and their foliage and flowers will be healthy, full, and productive the next spring. These cold winter temperatures are necessary to make the apple trees flower, and this requirement restricts the apples’ growth to the upper latitudes.

    Under climate change projections, this crisp favorite may be at risk—apples rely on cool winter temperatures for flowering, and historically, the harvest following a warmer winter produces a reduced fruit yield and poor fruit quality. Climate change may already be impacting these fruits—over the past 30 to 40 years, the spring bloom dates for apples grown in New York have occurred several days earlier than they have historically. This earlier bloom can lead to increased frost damage, as the trees leaf out and flower earlier in the spring when the temperatures are still variable, potentially exposing young shoots and buds to dangerous chill and threatening the state’s $286 million apple industry.


    Sweet potato originated in the Western Hemisphere, where the tradition of growing this nutritious vegetable continues, with the United States’ sweet potatoes predominantly grown in North Carolina, California, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. 

    Sweet potatoes thrive in warmer weather, needing a long frost-free season to reach full maturity.

    Frost can damage sweet potato vines and roots. Cold soils, from 55°F and below, can reduce the potatoes’ ability to keep well in storage after harvest. 

    Heavy rains can prevent sweet potato roots from forming properly or may cause the potatoes to split.


    In the United States, a large portion of the grapes grown to produce wine come from California, Oregon, and New York. The growth and health of wine grapes–and the quality of wine–are affected by many different weather conditions.

    Sun: White and red grapes that receive a lot of sun exposure generally result in fuller-bodied wines.

    Wind: Too much wind can damage grape vines, reducing crop yield or halting grape maturation. Some wind is necessary, however, to dry out the grapevines and prevent fungal diseases.

    Rain: Grape vines generally need about 22 inches of rain per year to survive.  However, too much rain during the summer can cause mildew growth, damaging crops.  Too much rain shortly before grape harvest can affect a finished wine by reducing the amount of sugar in the grapes.

    Frost: Frosts that occur in the spring after the buds have made an appearance can kill emerging shoots, while fall frosts can lead to the death of the vine canopy and stop fruit from ripening.



    • The amount of long-distance trips increase by about 54% during the Thanksgiving travel period.
    • Around 89% of Thanksgiving travelers use automobiles to reach their holiday destination. Air travel accounts for about 7.7%.
    • The US transportation sector accounts for approximately 29% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.

    Long-distance travel, 50 miles or more, in the United States is most frequent during the week of Thanksgiving. AAA predicts that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. Most travelers use vehicles as their main mode of transportation during this time and can reduce their impact on the environment by following these tips:

    Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking can lower your highway gas mileage by up to 33%. 

    Avoid high speeds. Every 5 mph above 50 mph is like paying an extra $0.25 per gallon of gasoline.

    Pack light. An extra 100 pounds in your car could increase costs by $0.07 per gallon of gasoline.

    Place items inside the car, rather than on the roof. Traveling with your luggage inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks can increase your fuel economy by 5% or more.

    Carpool. Sharing rides saves you money, reduces emissions, and reduces traffic on the roads.

    Check tire pressure. Inflate your tires to the pressure recommended in your owner’s manual to improve gas mileage by up to 3.3%.

    Replace clogged air filters. Replacing clogged air filters on older cars with a carbureted engine will improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%.

    Learn More

    • As you are traveling around the country this holiday season, find out what animals are also on the move through NEEF’s new Animal Migration Activity Guide, perfect for exploring the topic with young learners through fun at-home activities!


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