A snow squall lowers visibility and drops heavy snow.
Snow squalls – the quick and wintry traffic disruptor. November 21st is Snow Squall Safety Day and we’re going over what this entail and how to practice safe navigation if you are caught in one.
Snow squalls are quick-hitters, and they can come with or without a winter storm event, making them seem unexpected if you are not used to their sudden arrival. Snow squalls only last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes too, making them very different from a snowstorm which could last several hours to even days.
Snow squalls can drop moderate to heavy snowfall, quickly lowering visibility to white-out conditions and creating a dangerous travel environment.
Gusty surface winds and a moisture source create a snow squall, which can happen anywhere. The Great Lakes often see snow squalls before the lakes freeze. As cold winds pass over the lake, they pick up the moisture and drop it as snow.
This past weekend’s event across northeast Pennsylvania and western New York was considered a lake-effect snowstorm, but as the westerly gusty winds moved across the lakes, they brought snow as far south as the Mid-Atlantic with snow squalls moving through West Virginia.
A few snow squall warnings were issued on Saturday as a squall moved over northern West Virginia. Gusts as high as 35 mph and visibility as low as a quarter of a mile were likely. When you’re indoors, the snow squall can be a beautiful sight but driving in one is very dangerous.
When the National Weather Service issued the warning on Saturday, they encouraged drivers to find an exit or rest area to be away from other traffic and wait out the squall. This is to avoid dangerous accidents that can quickly turn into multi-car pileups, which are common during snow squall events.
You can be ready for snow events throughout the winter by staying up to date with your local forecast and heeding watches and warnings as they are issued. Awareness is key when it comes to winter driving.
Lava from Mauna Loa, which started erupting late Sunday local time, is nearing a major highway on Hawaii's Big Island. The highway may soon be cut off, significantly impacting daily life for many on the Big Island. The sulfur dioxide plume produced by the eruption has also reached western North America. In addition, Mauna Loa's neighbor, Kilauea has been erupting since last year. Watch the video above for more information.
Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, continues to erupt after nearly 40 years of quiet. For now, lava is not threatening any homes or communities, but that may change. The eruption started on Mauna Loa's summit and then spread to vents on the mountain's northeast side. Eventually, the lava may spread to Hilo, which is on the east side of the Big Island.
Lava nearing an important highway
Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, is a crucial roadway on the Big Island. This highway is the fastest route linking the east and west sides of the island. As of Thursday morning, lava is just over 3 miles from this important roadway. A road closure will be necessary if the lava reaches the roadway.
The good news is that the lava is moving slowly, and Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency predicts that it will be at least one week before lava reaches the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. For now, the highway remains open.
Air Quality Concerns
Air quality also remains a concern as Mauna Loa continues to erupt. Volcanic eruptions can increase levels of sulfur dioxide and volcanic ash, which can create vog or volcanic smog. Vog is a mixture of water vapor, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. Vog is created when the sulfur dioxide emitted from volcanic fissures reacts with oxygen, sunlight, and moisture, as well as other airborne particles and gases, creating a haze of fine particles.
Vog can cause respiratory irritations, especially in sensitive groups. Vog conditions can fluctuate from one location to another, and there may be temporary decreases in air quality. Those who suffer from respiratory illnesses should monitor air quality levels.
While the volcanic gases produced by an eruption are dangerous at the surface, the elevation of Mauna Loa may prevent big air quality problems at the surface. The eruption of Mauna Loa is about 13,000 feet above sea level, so most of the particulate matter from the eruption is not expected to affect lower-elevation populated areas of any of the islands.
Vog from neighboring volcano Kilauea is more likely to be an air quality concern, since that volcano sit at a lower elevation.
Sulfur Dioxide Plume
High up in the atmosphere, the sulfur dioxide plume from Sunday's eruption is spreading east. According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the plume has reached western North America. This plume will not cause any air quality issues on the surface.
1 de diciembre de 2022
Stubborn for most
November's drought recap
Between the lake-effect snow, the tropical weather, snowstorms, and even severe weather events, November was busy, but the U.S. drought situation seems to have stayed stagnant for most.
November started off with most of the Lower 48 experiencing some level of drought, except for the states of Maine and Delaware. As the month went on, several storm systems brought snow, rain, tornadoes, and even tropical weather but only one portion of the U.S. saw the positive effects of all this moisture.
Many of the East Coast states improved greatly over the last month. Not only did they receive the last bits of the storms that brought perfect ski weather to the West, but these states also received the remnants of Hurricane Nicole, the last system of the 2022 hurricane season. Take a look at the hurricane season recap.
Not to be outdone, a large lake-effect snow machine turned on over the lower Great Lakes in mid-November, bringing upwards of seven feet of snow to the New York Snowbelt. This kept any drought worries at bay across much of the interior Northeast in November.
As for the rest of the U.S., the drought barely budged. However, some spots in the interior Northwest, High Plains, central Rockies, and ArkLaTex have stayed above water – pun intended – when it comes to the dry conditions.
The main areas of concern are the Plains states, as well as Montana, California, and the Great Basin. These areas have a mixture of the upper intensities of drought. Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and California are all experiencing the highest intensity, exceptional drought and have continued to experience this all through November.
According to the Climate Prediction Center, the West Coast has the chance to see above-average rain and snow amounts over the next two weeks, helping to add moisture to the water table and snow to the river-feeding mountains.
The same can be said about the South and Northeast. However, this could be hit or miss for the South, considering there is a chance for warmer-than-average temperatures.
Florida, for example, has the highest chance for above-average temperatures in the next two weeks but near-average rainfall. The western panhandle could use a good bit of rain at this time. Luckily, heavy rainfall came with this last severe weather event which dropped one to two inches rain.
Wondering when you could receive your next rain or snow shower to help the drought situation in your town? Stay up to date with the latest forecast, and keep an eye on the WeatherRadar.
1 de diciembre de 2022
December astro outlook
Most active meteor shower of the year!
Advent has started and the countdown to the new year is on, but before we say farewell to 2022 there’s plenty happening above our heads this December!
The month begins with the appearance of a full moon known as the Cold Moon by native Americans for its winter arrival next week on December 8th. It is also referred to as the Moon Before Yule by some for its festive timing.
On the same night, Mars is in opposition making its closest approach to Earth in its orbit and visible all night illuminated by the Sun. It marks the best time of the year to see our Martian neighbor, although the full moon may obscure the view.
Next up is the Geminids Meteor Shower, the most active shower of the year.
Caused by the debris of an asteroid this is the year’s most active event producing multicolored shooting stars at a rate of 120 per hour at its peak. The shower does peak on December 13th but smaller shooting stars may be obscured by the moon.
Later in the month on the 21st comes the December Winter Solstice, marking the beginning of astronomical winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere.
The astronomical beginning of winter falls on the shortest day of the year - the winter solstice on December 21.
On the same day Mercury enters its point of greatest eastern elongation meaning this is also the best month to see the planet particularly towards the west after sunset.
Our final major event of the year is the Ursids Meteor Shower, this only produces around 10 meteors an hour and is the result of dust left by the Tuttle comet. This shower peaks on December 21st.
Before the year ends we wave goodbye to 2022 with a New Moon on December 23, meaning dark skies overhead perfect for a Christmas stargazing.
1 de diciembre de 2022
Meteorologists say today!
When does winter actually begin?
It is dark, (possibly) wet, and chilly outside. Three indicators that winter is here… but is it actually?
There are two definitions when it comes to winter. You could look at it meteorologically or astronomically.
The simple version lays with the meteorological definition. Here, the seasons are split using the standard calendar with each season lasting three full months. In this system, winter begins today on December 1st and lasts until March 1st when spring arrives.
Now for the astronomers out there. Using the astronomical definition we look towards the Winter Solstice. Since this changes slightly each year, there is a new start date for winter annually.
This year, the astronomical winter season will begin on or on either side of December 21st, lasting until March 20th.