Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jack D's Email Re Bizarre Point Forecasts

I know they (HQ) are wanting more automation in forecasts so “staff can dedicate more time to warnings and community outreach”. In AFDs around here (southern Illinois), they pull no punches. I have heard “Forecast Builder” mentioned many times as well as “Forecast guidance” from Central Region HQ.  Today is the first time I have seen a forecaster ADMIT they have been constrained by automation.  He clearly favors the drier solution based on his expertise, but has to be “beholden” to the “consensus model blend” and POP values into the weekend.  I have heard “CONSALL” thrown around lately and I would bet this acronym is this blend he is talking about..........   
  Area Forecast Discussion 
  .LONG TERM...(Thursday through Sunday)
  Issued at 327 AM CDT Mon Mar 26 2018
  Forecast confidence continues to deteriorate through the extended
  portion of the forecast. Confidence is especially poor for the 
  weekend into next Monday. 
  Due to the disparity in timing of surface features,
*******and the  consensus model blend we are beholden to these days,*********
  the forecast details, especially winds, are not very representative of any 
  solution through the weekend. We have lots of PoPs all the way 
  through the weekend, but the drier ECMWF is the favored model at 
  this point. Look for lots of showers/rain Thursday, Friday into 
  Friday evening, and then late Sunday into Monday. Saturday through 
  most, if not all, of Sunday should be dry.
 Note - southern Illinois was dry and mostly clear on the Sunday mentioned above (Easter Sunday).

Jack Henz sent this link which provides some insights:

Examples of bizarre point point forecasts with meteorologically improbable changes in sensible weather at short time intervals (1 to 2 hours) are shown below:

Beckley WV
Snow and sleet likely before noon, then rain, snow, and sleet likely between noon and 2pm, then rain likely after 2pm.

Scattered rain showers before 9pm, then a chance of rain and snow showers between 9pm and 10pm, then a chance of snow showers after 10pm.

Sun Apr 15 forecast for Wed Apr 18th for Madison WI
Freezing rain and sleet likely before 9am, then rain likely, possibly mixed with freezing rain between 9am and 10am, then rain likely after 10am.

FCST point NE Montana
Rain showers and sleet likely, possibly mixed with freezing rain before 2am, then snow showers likely, possibly mixed with sleet between 2am and 3am, then snow showers after 3am.

NWS Wind Forecasts For This Afternoon

This morning a 500 mb short wave (above from SPC is 12 UTC analysis at 500 mb) is oriented south-to-north across California, with a surface cyclone over the LA Basin (visible satellite image below is from 7:00 am MST). The 500 mb system is forecast to close-off and move eastward across the Great Basin, bringing Arizona another very moisture starved system, but with wind and dust yet again.

Continuing to focus on the NWS digital, high-resolution grid forecasts, above shows the forecast wind gusts for 2:00 pm this afternoon. Below is the hour-by-hour grid forecast for the airport today, and the bottom is the text forecast for airport. Note that text forecast is same as grid forecast for wind, but with blowing dust added to text.

More on digital forecasts later today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

NWS Gridded Forecasts

I have been trying to understand better the gridded forecasts that are available from the NWS (millions of grid point forecasts updated every few hours). These forecasts are easily accessed from the Forecast Office websites under the graphical forecast links. The grid point forecasts cover seven days at 1-hour time intervals. The NWS contracts with esri to provide the graphics for the mind-boggling set of products being generated (i.e., environmental system research institute of Redlands, California).

Shown above is the current digital forecast for high temperatures today across our region.

Another graphic (above) shows the gridded digital forecasts for wind gusts valid at 2:00 pm MST tomorrow (Thursday, April 19th). The display below shows the grid point forecast extracted from the massive data base by clicking on a point location (the interactive forecast map provided on NWS web pages). The wind forecast is for San Simon, Arizona - a location where I-10 in eastern Cochise County is frequently closed during blowing dust situations.

How accurate are these deterministic, point forecasts out through 7-days? Good question, and my experience watching them leads to my subjective appraisal - not very good, especially at longer time periods - but sometimes distressingly bad at only a few hours. When I tried to access verification data for the gridded forecasts, I found that that NWS link is restricted for only visitors having a email - so no luck there.

My digging has been stimulated by a question from Jack D, currently located in southern Illinois. Simply put his question was: Why are the NWS point forecasts so bizarre?

More on this issue in next post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wind And Dust Cycle Continues

Dust still hanging in the air this morning - early morning RH has only crept up to a very dry 13 percent. The 06 UTC GEFS plumes for wind (below) key on another spate of high winds for Thursday. The 06 UTC WRF-GFS forecast of 10-m winds valid at 4:00 pm MST on Thursday (second below) indicates the same.

Down at bottom is commentary on the ridiculous state of NWS short-term forecast graphics - this will be first of several posts about the problems with grid forecasts and meteorological absurdities.

If one goes to the NWS TUS web page this morning he/she finds both of these graphics about a Red Flag Warning for today - obviously a very short-term and important product. The real warning area is above; whereas the point-interactive graphic (below) that brings up the supposedly "high resolution" grid point forecasts shows a much larger area. What I find inexcusable is that a click, say on TUS, indicates a Red Flag Warning in effect - but this is not so for Tucson. Such inconsistencies at very short-terms should be totally inexcusable - but apparently management in NWS at Regional and National levels does not care.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wind And Dust Here; Wildfires Southern Plains

It was very windy across much of Arizona yesterday, as per forecasts, with gusts of 40 to 60+ mph common. I estimated gusts to 50 mph here during mid-afternoon, as blowing dust obscured the mountains (above). The GEFS plumes from 06 UTC forecast last night (below) indicate three windy periods at airport for coming week.

Nasty wildfires continued into the night over western Oklahoma - as per news blurb at bottom.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spring Fling And The Winds

The University of Arizona is holding it's annual spring fling carnival today through Sunday. This event includes many carnival-type rides, as per above, and various booths up and down the length of the mall. (Edited to add important correction: the carnival starts tomorrow afternoon on Friday the 13th and today is setup, preparations, and testing of the big rides.)

So they are possibly faced with keeping things together during today's strong wind event. The NWS grid forecast for the University calls for possible gusts to 47 mph this afternoon. Below is the 06 UTC WRF-GFS forecast for 10-m winds from Atmo, valid at 5:00 pm MST today. Forecast indicates a widespread wind event affecting especially eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Winds, Dust, And Temperature Swings Rest Of Week

Rapid changes during the rest of week, with strong winds presenting biggest problems. Above is from NWS webpage this morning, while below is 06 UTC WRF-GFS forecast of 10-m winds valid at 4:00 pm MST on Thursday. The NWS grid point forecast for TUS that afternoon calls for gusts as high as 44 mph. Blowing dust with last event like this shut-down I-10 for about six hours off to our east and into New Mexico. With the very high temperatures and strong winds there will probably be some impressive dust devils around tomorrow and Thursday. 

Monday, April 09, 2018


Jack Hales reports:

Jack Hales has left a new comment on your post "Miscellaneous Photos":

Bob, That is an Eagle's nest. Here is a video I grabbed a few days ago. 

Looks like I happened to grab the image when the eagles were away and a raven was standing in their nest.

Also - the Flying Saddle Resort (and webcam) are in Alpine, Wyoming - not Idaho as earlier reported.

Miscellaneous Photos

Not much weather to write about this area - near record highs this week bumping at 100 F, and windy Thursday as strong short-wave goes by to the north. Am beginning to worry that rain may not come again here until summer thunderstorm season begins.

Below are some photos from last few days.

From Jack Hales webcam wall yesterday. Above is along the Snake River in Idaho. My weak, old eyes thought there was a bald eagle sitting in the nest - magnifying glass showed that there was actually a raven in the nest. Below shows buffalo grazing below Electric Peak, Montana, which is just inside the northern portion of Yellowstone, NP.

Sunrise near Sonoita, Arizona, on Saturday morning (above) and a nice sunset here at house on April 4th (below). At bottom is a Northern Cardinal from my walk yesterday morning.