9/11-15 Years Later

It is hard to believe it has been 15 years since the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack occurred in New York, Arlington, and Shanksville. Time flies fast for sure. it felt like yesterday. We all remember where we were on that awful day. Four hijacked airplanes crashed large jet airplanes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field near Shanksville. Once it was all over, 3,000 people lost their lives, untold numbers injured, and left the World Trade Center a smoldering wreckage and Pentagon burning. An entire nation and world was left in mourning. Many more are getting sick and dying due to dust exposure from the destroyed World Trade Center, which spewed incredible amounts of toxic and carcinogenic smoke and dust through New York.

The sky was clear and sunny on the East Coast and the rest of America. It had rained on the night of September 10 after a cold front passed by. Meanwhile, an area of disturbed weather was in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. That disturbance would later become Hurricane Gabrielle. In the Atlantic, there was Hurricane Erin, which was a fish storm and not affecting land and was east of New York on that day. The sky was blue and weather was pleasant on that Tuesday morning. Looked to be another day and biggest news at the time was Michael Jordan announcing his return to the NBA and Chandra Levy case.

All that would change at 8:46 AM when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. The unthinkable happened when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower on live television and people watched horrified. It was obvious America was attacked. People above the crash zone in the North Tower were trapped. Some jumped out of the building because they had nowhere to flee to from all the fire and smoke. Firefighters and police went inside to rescue people as people were fleeing the stricken World Trade Center.

To make matters worse, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, the center of America’s military might. It was obvious that America was attacked and all airplanes had to be grounded. For the first time, almost no airplanes were in the sky. It was an empty sky, but two airplanes were unaccounted for. If things got worse, it got much worse. The South Tower crashed to the ground with people trapped inside in a massive plume of toxic dust and smoke. People are fleeing the collapse. United Airlines Flight 93 is hijacked, but the passengers fight back and terrorists crashed it knowing they failed into a field near Shanksville. The burning North Tower which was first attacked disintegrates into a massive plume of toxic dust and smoke. Reality had set in and that many people got killed. Manhattan, Pentagon, and Shanksville looked like war zones, except it was in America. Downtown Manhattan was covered in thick dust and smoke was gushing out into the afternoon. Another building, 7 World Trade Center collapsed as the Sun was setting for the day.

The death toll was going to massive. Death toll was estimated as high as 50,000 people killed including 800 at the Pentagon. First responders report to what is know Ground Zero to rescue and survivors. From there, it becomes a recovery work to find the dead and clean up the site by removing wreckage of the World Trade Center. Once the recovery work was done, 3,000 people lost their life on that Tuesday. Many people from first responders to office workers were exposed to the toxic dust and smoke of the World Trade Center collapse and could have respiratory problems and even death.

In the past 15 years since 9/11, we have seen disasters from Indian Ocean Tsunami, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Virginia Tech Massacre, Nargis, Sichuan Earthquake, Ike, Haitian Earthquake, Macondo Well Disaster, Japan Tsunami, Alabama Tornado, Joplin Tornado, Sandy Hook Massacre, Boston Marathon, UCSB, Paris, Orlando, Nice, and Baghdad. Also, we have had two recessions, wars, and many droughts. 9/11 had the most profound impact of all the events in the past 15 years.

Spring 2016 Report

Flower01

It is deja vu! Spring 2016 was wet like Spring 2015 despite El Nino fading. To make matters worse, there was severe flooding in April and May, which dumped up to 24 inches of rain in both events! That is something you see with tropical cyclones or core rain events with warm core low pressure systems. They are often from tropical cyclones.

For Texas, it has been mostly wet. For others, where’s the rain?

2016_SpringPrecipitationDivisionalRanks

2016_SpringTemperatureDivisionalRanks

America 2016 Spring
Mean Temperature: 53.68°F
Total Rainfall: 9.03

America Spring Temperature (1895-2016)
Mean: 51.10°F
Median: 50.87°F
Standard Deviation: 1.39
Lowest: 56.18°F (2012)
Highest: 47.37°F (1917)

America Spring Rainfall (1895-2016)
Mean: 7.95
Median: 7.95
Standard Deviation: 0.98
Lowest: 5.58 (1925)
Highest: 10.40 (1991)

It was a warm spring, but not a record breaking spring for America. It is nowhere like 2012. The average temperature is 1 standard deviation from the mean in terms of temperature. That is unusual, but not extraordinarily warm. If it was 2 standard deviation or greater that would be abnormal. It was abnormally warm for spring time in America.

It was much wetter as a whole. In fact, the Spring 2016 rainfall total is exceeds by 1 standard deviation. It was a wet spring for most of America.

Texas 2016 Spring
Mean Temperature: 66.27°F
Total Rainfall: 11.90

Texas Spring Temperature (1895-2016)
Mean: 64.76°F
Median: 64.73°F
Standard Deviation: 1.76
Lowest: 69.67°F (2012)
Highest: 59.93°F (1931)

Texas Spring Rainfall (1895-2016)
Mean: 7.37
Median: 7.05
Standard Deviation: 2.34
Lowest: 2.53 (2011)
Highest: 16.48 (2015)

It was warmer than normal for spring in Texas. It is 1 standard deviation from the mean.

It is wet, but not like 2015, which was wetter. Actually, it is the eighth wettest spring on record as it ties with 1914. It was indeed a wet spring for Texas, like last spring. Having two wet springs back to back is a rarity. Here is the top 10 wettest spring in Texas since 1895.

Top 10 Wettest Spring In Texas
1.) 2015 16.48
2.) 1957 14.75
3.) 1905 12.59
4.) 1941 12.43
5.) 1900 12.36
6.) 2007 12.16
7,) 1922 11.97
8.) 1914/2016 11.90
9.) 1997 10.85
10.) 1929 10.79

Many of the wettest springs occurred when El Nino is developing (1914, 1957, 1997, and 2015), persistent (1905 and 1941) or dying (1900 and 2007). 1922 was La Nina, while 1929 was Neutral. It shows that El Nino does have an impact on spring rainfall,whether is strengthening or dying. Interesting to note hurricanes made hurricanes made landfall in 1900, 1929, 1941, 1957, and 2007. Two were major hurricanes, Galveston Hurricane and Audrey in 1957.

Upper Texas Coast 2016 Spring
Mean Temperature: 71.07°F
Total Rainfall: 20.77

Upper Texas Coast Spring Temperature (1895-2016)
Mean: 68.54°F
Median: 68.42°F
Standard Deviation: 1.69
Lowest: 72.83°F (2012)
Highest: 63.37°F (1931)

Upper Texas Coast Spring Rainfall (1895-2016)
Mean: 10.58
Median: 10.02
Standard Deviation: 4.53
Lowest: 2.43 (2011)
Highest: 24.75 (2015)

It has been a warm spring. It is nearly 2 standard deviations from the mean. It was abnormally warm spring. It is the eighth warmest spring for Upper Texas Coast. Here is the top 10 warmest spring in Texas since 1895.

Top 10 Warmest Spring In Upper Texas Coast
1.) 2012 72.83°F
2.) 2011 72.03°F
3.) 2006 72.00°F
4.) 2000 71.57°F
5.) 1967 71.43°F
6.) 1963 71.40°F
7.) 1908 71.37°F
8.) 2016 71.07°F
9.) 1991 71.00°F
10.) 1925 70.97°F

Spring 2012 was warm everywhere, especially up north. 2011 was very warm as well. Who could forget Summer 2011? It was Hell for sure, which was made worse by the drought. The warmth is due to abnormally warm low temperatures. All that heavy rain makes the air more humid. Humidity keepers temperatures from going too cold or hot. It is the seventh warmest low temperature for spring. Here is a divisional ranking map of low and high temperatures.

2016_SpringMinTemperatureDivisionalRanks

2016_SpringMaxTemperatureDivisionalRanks

It was very west for Upper Texas Coast. It exceeds 2 standard deviations, which makes a near outlier. In fact, it is the third wettest spring on record! Yes, third wettest. There have been two back to back wet springs in the Upper Texas Coast. Here is the top 10 wettest spring in Upper Texas Coast since 1895.

Top 10 Wettest Spring In Upper Texas Coast
1.) 2015 24.75
2.) 1997 22.18
3.) 2016 20.77
4.) 1900 19.54
5.) 1957 19.32
6.) 1929 19.06
7.) 1914 18.54
8.) 1944 18.33
9.) 1993 18.32
10.) 1905 17.60

Many of the wettest springs for Upper Texas Coast occurred when El Nino is developing (1914, 1957, 1997, and 2015), persistent (1905) or dying (1900). 1944 had a developing La Nina from Neutral. 1929 was Neutral. April and May 1929 had heavy rain that led to massive flooding in the Houston area. The 1929 flood is considered an epic flood on par with December 1935 and Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. It shows that El Nino does have an impact on spring rainfall,whether is strengthening or dying. Interesting to note hurricanes made hurricanes made landfall on Upper Texas Coast in 1900, 1929, and 1957. Two were major hurricanes, Galveston Hurricane and Audrey in 1957.

Could this be a harbinger of things to come? America has not seen a Category 3 or stronger hurricane since Wilma in 2005. Now, if we lowered Category 3 by 1 mph from 111 mph to 110 mph, than Ike would be a major hurricane. Even than, America has not seen a major hurricane make landfall since 2008, which is a long stretch. Keep in mind, hurricane re-analysis is happening, so this long stretch of no Category 3 or stronger hurricanes we are seeing may not be the longest.

April 2016 Hurricane Season Forecast

20050829_GOES-12_IR_Enhanced_0045Z

Already, Hurricane Alex formed in the Eastern Atlantic in January. It overcame hostile conditions on top of a strong El Nino. What does this mean? It this a harbinger of things to come? Hurricane season is looming as usual as it starts on June 1, 2016.

Tropical Storm/Hurricane/Major Hurricane ACE=Accumulated Cyclone Energy

Colorado State University
12/5/2 ACE: 90

Joe Bastardi (Weather Bell)
11 to 14 Storms/6 to 8 Hurricanes/2 to 4 Major Hurricanes ACE:105 to 135

Crown Weather Services
11/7/2 ACE: 90

Tropical Storm Risk
12/6/2 ACE: 80

Accuweather
14/8/4

The Weather Channel
14/8/3

Crown Weather Services
11/7/2 ACE: 90

Analog Years For 2016 (TS/H/MH ACE ACE/Storm)
1878 12/10/2 15.1
1889 9/6/0 104 11.6
1897 6/3/0 55 9.2
1900 7/3/2 83 11.9
1931 13/3/1 48 3.7
1941 6/4/3 52 8.7
1958 10/7/5 121 12.1
1988 12/5/3 103 8.6
1998 14/10/3 182 13.0

I chose those years because they are coming off of a strong El Nino on top of a warm Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Any data before satellite should be taken with a grain of salt. It is likely those seasons are more active than reported.

So, what affect did those analog seasons have?

1878
Hurricane #7 formed south of Haiti as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. An American brigantine was wrecked on Tiburon Peninsula with everyone killed. It intensified into a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds as it went over Eastern Bahamas. It intensified into Category 3 on September 30 and Category 4 on October 2, which peaked at 140 mph. The hurricane was a major hurricane at a high latitude up to October 8. It likely became an extratropical storm and affected Europe.

Gale of 1878, which is the eleventh storm of the season. A tropical storm formed west of Jamaica on October 18, 1878. Two days later, it became a hurricane made landfall on Cuba the next day as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. It moves northward and makes landfall on Swansboro, North Carolina on the night of October 23, 1878 as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph. Hurricane force winds can be felt throughout the Eastern Seaboard. It merged with an extratropical low over New England. Once it was all over, 71 people lost their life from the storm.

1889
Hurricane #4 formed on September 1 east of Barbados. It made landfall on Puerto Rico as an intensifying Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. The hurricane stalls off the Northeast from September 9 to 12 causing flooding from heavy rain and storm surge. The hurricane claims 40 lives.

1897
Hurricane #2 was first spotted in Straits of Florida on September 10. It is probable it formed further east. It makes landfall as a tropical storm around Marquesas Keys, Florida. Once it exits for the Gulf of Mexico, it intensifies into a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. It makes landfall on Cameron Parish, Louisiana as a hurricane on September 13. It weakens over Texas. The hurricane claims at least 29 lives in Texas.

Hurricane #5 forms south of Windward Islands on October 9. It is probable it formed further east. The hurricane travels over the Caribbean and turns northwest on October 14 towards Cuba. The hurricane makes landfall on Cuba on October 18 as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph. Most of the deaths are from the sinking of Triton near Pinar del Rio province. The sinking claims 188 lives and 42 people are rescued. The captain committed suicide. The hurricane weakens to a tropical storm and heads to the northwest and makes landfall around Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with 65 mph winds. The storm produce strong winds and heavy rain throughout the Eastern Seaboard. The storm moves eastward into the Atlantic and becomes extratropical.

1900
Great Galveston Hurricane. It made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds. It had a central pressure of 936 millibars. The hurricane produced 15 foot storm surge, which proved deadly. Once it past, 12,000 people died, making it one of the deadliest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin. Only Great Hurricane of 1780 and Mitch are deadlier. It remains the deadliest disaster in American history, exceeding 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and 9/11. Even with the death toll combine of 9,000, the Great Galveston Hurricane claimed way more lives.

1941
Tropical Storm #1 made landfall between Galveston and Port Arthur as a tropical depression after it peaked as a 60 mph tropical storm.

The 1941 Texas Hurricane is Hurricane #2, which comes a week after Tropical Storm #1. The storm lingers over the Gulf of Mexico before intensifying into a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds and central pressure of 942 millibars. The hurricane made landfall late on September 23 as a large 115 mph Category 3 hurricane around Bay City. The hurricane went west of Houston, putting the city on the “dirty” side of the hurricane. Houston received considerable damage from the hurricane. The hurricane claimed 7 lives as it weakened and became extratropical. The extratropical storm would be a problem for Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

Hurricane #4 traverses across the Caribbean. It peaked at 130 mph Category 4 hurricane before making landfall on Cape Gracias a Dios, Honduras on September 27. It went over Central America and hits Belize with 85 mph winds. Once the hurricane exits into Bay of Campeche on September 29 and fizzles. The hurricane claims 43 lives.

The 1941 Florida Hurricane is Hurricane #5, which peaked as a compact Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. It formed north of the Virgin Islands. The hurricane rapidly intensifies before it ravages Bahamas. The hurricane makes landfall as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. It is a very small hurricane that dumps light rain. The highest rain is 0.35 inches, which is unusual. The hurricane goes over Gulf of Mexico as a small hurricane before making landfall on Carrabelle, Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds. The hurricane went over Georgia causing damage. The hurricane claimed at least 10 lives and was not a rainmaker.

Tropical Storm #6 travereses across the Florida Straits before making landfall at Cedar Key. It stalls over and dumps up to 35 inches of rain in four days between October 17 to 22!

1988
Hurricane Gilbert is the most intense hurricane prior to Wilma. It had a central pressure of 888 millibars and 185 mph winds. It is on top of being one of the largest hurricanes known. It directly hit Jamaica as a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. Jamaica is ravaged by Gilbert from 19 foot storm surge and heavy rains that claim 49 lives. Once it exits Jamaica. Gilbert undergoes explosive intensification over the Caribbean. Than it hits Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico as a Category 5 hurricane with 165 mph winds. It is the first time since Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane. The Yucatan Peninsula is ravaged by strong winds, storm surge, and flooding. Once it exits Yucatan Peninsula, Gilbert goes over Gulf of Mexico. There is concerns that Texas could be hit by Gilbert, prompting evacuations.

1998
Hurricane Bonnie formed east of the Lesser Antilles. As Bonnie moved through the Atlantic, it intensified into a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Bonnie made landfall as a large 110 mph Category 2 hurricane around Wilmington, North Carolina. Many areas saw 6 to 10 inches of rain from Bonnie. Once Bonnie left, it left 5 people dead and $1 billion in damages.

Tropical Storm Charley forms in the Gulf of Mexico and peaked at 70 mph. Not too long after, Charley made landfall around Port Aransas. On August 24, core rains form around the center of Charley, dumping 17 inches of rain on Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña. 26 people lost their life from Charley, mostly from flooding.

Hurricane Earl formed in the Gulf of Mexico from a tropical wave that left Africa on August 17, 1998. Earl intensified into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. It had no discernable eye or eyewall, which is unusual. Earl made landfall around Panama City, Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph. As it traversed the Southeastern US, Earl became extratropical. Once it entered the Atlantic, Earl rapidly intensified as an extratropical storm in the Atlantic with central pressure of 957 millibars. Earl made landfall on eastern Newfoundland.

Tropical Storm Frances formed from a monsoonal low in the Caribbean. It slowly moved into the Gulf of Mexico. The large area of thunderstroms became a tropical depression east of Brownsville, Texas. The lack of sheer and warm water, allowed Frances to strengthen into a large tropical storm as it made landfall around Corpus Christi, Texas as a strong tropical storm. Frances dumped heavy rain over Texas and Louisiana. Many areas saw 10 to 20 inches of rain. 44 inches of rain was reported in Escuintla, Chiapas, Mexico. Frances produced 8 foot storm surge, which is high for a tropical storm. It is due to its very large size.

Hurricane Georges is a long lived and very intense hurricane. A classic Cape Verde storm, which formed from a tropical wave. Georges rapidly intensified into a large Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds as it travesed the Atlantic heading towards Lesser Antilles. It weakened to Category 3 with 115 mph winds as it first made landfall on Antigua. It weakens to a Category 2 before it intensifies to a Category 3 with 115 mph winds before making landfall around Faljardo, Puerto Rico on September 21. It dumps extremely heavy rain over Puerto Rico of up to 30 inches. It exits Puerto Rico and heads for Dominican Republic and Haiti and makes landfall on September 22 as a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane. The mountainous terrain weakens Georges, while dumping extremely heavy rain of 39 inches over Dominican Republic and Haiti. Once Georges left, 589 people die in Hispanola, mostly from flooding. Than Georges heads to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on September 23. Georges traverses over Cuba dumping heavy rain of up to 24 inches. Georges claims 6 lives in Cuba before heading towards Straits of Florida as an intensifying Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Georges made landfall on Key West with 105 mph winds on September 25. Georges heads to the Gulf of Mexico and makes final landfall on Biloxi, Mississippi as a 105 mph Category 2 hurricane on September 28. Georges stalls and moves slowly east dumping heavy rain of over 38 inches of rain! The Louisiana Superdome is used as a “shelter of last resort”, a first. The Superdome would be used for Ivan in 2004 and lastly with Katrina in 2005 which proved disasterous. Georges long reign of terror claimed 604 lives.

Hurricane Mitch is the most intense since Gilbert in 1988. Mtich formd from a tropical wave that intensified over the Caribbean. It underwent explosive intenisfication On October 25-26. Mitch had a central pressure of 905 millibars and 180 mph winds over the Western Caribbean. Mitch goes over Swan Island during its peak and a schooner, Fantome, gets destroyed, claiming 31 lives on October 27. Guanaja Island is hammered with 120 mph winds for two days, destroying every vegetation on the island. Mitch was forecasted to go north towards Yucatan Peninsula, but went southwards due to upper level ridging. Mitch makes landfall as a 80 mph Category 1 hurricane east of La Ceiba, Honduras on October 29. It lingers over Central America as it dumps extremely heavy rain as it draws moisture from Pacific and Caribbean due to its large circulation. The heavy rain causes deadly mudslides and massive flooding. Some areas record up to 75 inches of rain in the mountains. Very likely that some areas see over 100 inches of rain during its reign. Some rain gauges recorded 25 inches of rain in 6 hours before it got washed away! Mitch moves slowly over Central America dumping heavy rain nonstop, mainly at night. The heavy rain causes massive and deadly mudslides in the mountainous regions. Many areas are flooded greatly. Mitch than goes over the Gulf of Mexico and intensifies into a 60 mph tropical storm before making landfall near Naples, Florida. Many areas see 6 to 10 inches of rain as it spawns 5 tornadoes. Mitch becomes an extratropical storm as it heads to the Atlantic. What was Mitch ravages Ireland and United Kingdom with heavy rain, strong winds, and high waves. Once Mitch is gone for good, at least 19,325 people have died from deadly floods and mudslides. Hurricane Mitch is the deadliest hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780, which claimed 28,000 lives! Mitch is one of the deadliest disaster in the Western Hemisphere besides 2010 Haitian Earthquake and Great Hurricane of 1780.

Interesting those analog seasons have two of the deadliest hurricanes, Great Galveston Hurricane and Mitch. Does this mean that 2016 will be a deadly year? No, but anything is possible. Also, interesting to note, many hurricanes made landfall on the East Coast like in 1878 and 1998.

Here is a heat map of analog seasons. It is based on 300 mile radiusm from the storms.

2016AprilAnalogHurricaneMap

Looking at the heat map, the highest risk areas are Central and Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Southwest Caribbean, Hispanola, Lesser Antilles, and Eastern Atlantic. However, when you look at the whole basin, everyone is at risk for landfall, which is why I never make landfall predictions. Everyone is at equal risk!

It only takes one to be a bad year, no matter how inactive the season is. Case in point, 1983, a very quiet season. It is best known as Hurricane Alicia ravaging Southeast Texas on Augus 18, 1983. Let’s go to analog statistics.

Analog
Mean
9.89/5.67/2.11
10/6/2 (Rounded up)

Median
10/5/2

Standard Deviation
3.06/2.83/1.62

ACE
Mean
103.22

Median
103

Standard Deviation
51.21

ACE/Storm
Mean
10.43

Median
11.60

Standard Deviation
3.31

How do analog seasons compare as a whole. Statistics from 1870 to 2015.

Mean
9.82/5.49/2.03
10/6/2

Median
9/5/2

Standard Deviation
4.20/2.62/1.66

ACE
Mean
91.85

Median
83

Standard Deviation
53.76

ACE/Storm
Mean
9.38

Median
8.70

Standard Deviation
4.06

The analog seasons are within standard deviation, which indicates this upcoming hurricane season is going to be within averages.

What is my prediction for this season?
7 to 13 named storms, likely 11 named storms
4 to 8 hurricanes, likely 6 hurricanes
2 to 4 major hurricanes with 3 major hurricanes
ACE is 90 to 150 with ACE likely of 100 to 130

This includes Hurricane Alex that formed in January. Excluding Alex, it would be 10 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Some of the analog seasons had high ACE/storm, like 1878, 1958, and 1998. Interesting to note they all have 8 at the end.

Let’s see how my April 2015 hurricane forecast compare to the actual 2015 season.

6 to 10 named storms, likely 8 named storms
4 to 6 hurricanes, likely 4 hurricanes
1 to 3 major hurricanes with 2 major hurricanes
ACE is 40 to 90 with ACE likely of 50 to 80

2015 Actual Number
11 Named Storms
4 Hurricanes
2 Major Hurricanes
63 ACE

I was off with named storms. I got it right with hurricanes and major hurricanes. I was withing range for ACE.

Regardless, I think 2016 will be an interesting season. So fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a bumpy ride.

Leap Day 2016

It is Leap Day and it comes every four years. So, what is the weather like on Leap Day in Houston? Here is official weather records on February 29th.

Houston Weather Branch 1921-1968
Year High Low Average Rainfall
1924 67 42 55 0
1928 75 33 64 T
1932 85 64 75 0
1936 71 50 61 0
1940 82 57 70 T
1944 62 45 54 0
1948 72 59 66 0.01
1952 83 58 71 0
1956 68 50 59 0
1960 53 49 51 0
1964 60 45 53 0
1968 49 39 44 0

Bush Intercontinental Airport 1969-2010
Year High Low Average Rainfall
1972 72 61 67 0.33
1976 78 57 68 0
1980 82 63 73 T
1984 55 28 42 0
1988 82 58 70 T
1992 82 48 65 0
1996 47 39 43 0.53
2000 80 57 69 T
2004 72 56 64 0.49
2008 78 57 68 T
2012 84 71 78 0

From 1920 to 2012, only one (4.4%) Leap Day saw below 32°F, which was in 1984. The winter of 1983-1984 was one of the coldest winters on record. Seven out of 23 (31.8%) Leap Day saw at least 80°F days. The warmest Leap Day occurred in 1932. Interestingly, it snowed on March 10, the latest measurable snowfall recorded in Houston. Also, it is not very wet on Leap Day. In fact the record rainfall is 0.53 inches, which fell in 1996. It rained in 10 out of 23 (43.5%) Leap Day from 1924 to 2016. There is more chance to see rain than to see 80°F Leap Days in Houston.

Here are some interesting facts about Leap Day. Leap year occurs in year divisible by 4. However, there are exceptions when years that are divisible by 100, they are not leap unless they are divisible by 400. So the year 1900 is not Leap Year, while 2000 is Leap Year. The purpose of Leap Year is meant to keep calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun, which is every 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds or 365.242199 days. Happy Leap Day!

Challenger Disaster 30 Years Later

SpaceShuttleChallengerHeader

It is hard to believe it has been years ago on this day. Space Shuttle Challenger was launched on a cold morning. Than 73 seconds later it explodes as it is heading into space. To make matters worse, many children watched the space shuttle explode on live television. It was on CNN that time. The reason was that a teacher was on board, Christa McAuliffe. She was the first teacher on board the space shuttle. There were also people watching Challenger racing into space at Kennedy Space Center. January 28, 1986 is a day that anyone who remembers will remember as long as they live, like September 11, 2001. What caused Space Shuttle Challenger to explode? Was weather a factor?

Challenger was originally to be launched on January 22, but due to bad weather. Than it was rescheduled on January 25, but bad weather plagued Dakar, Senegal. Dakar serves as a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) if the space shuttle is heading into space and runs into trouble. A lot of things go into play when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to launch space shuttle. It is not just weather at Cape Canaveral. It is also TAL location weather.

A strong cold blast hit the Eastern US in late January 1986. The morning of January 28, 1986 was a cold one. Melbourne and Orlando both recorded 26°F, a record to this day for Melbourne. It was very cold in Florida. It was very cold for Florida and east of the Mississippi River.

19860128_TemperatureAnomalySurface_USA

To make matters worse, ice accumulated on the launch pad and space shuttle. This is despite the Ice Team cleared ice the night before. The Ice Team did one last inspection and it was declared safe to launch.

However, the O-ring in the Solid Rocket Boosters was damaged from the cold weather. The cold weather weakened the O-ring. Plumes of smoke from the Solid Rocket Boosters shoots as Challenger is launched at 11:38 AM. Aluminum oxide from the heat of the burning propellant sealed the hole where the O-ring was. Had aluminum oxide not form, Challenger would of exploded right at launch. Looks like the aluminum oxide saved Challenger from explosion.

ChallengerLaunch01

That all changed 37 seconds later, Challenger encounters unusually strong wind shear. The wind shear causes fluctuations and damages the aluminum oxide in the solid rocket boosters. This allowed smoke and fire to shoot out where the O-ring is suppose to be. Than a series of catastrophic events happen 72 seconds after Challenger was launched.

ChallengerLaunch02

The Solid Rocket Boosters starts to break away from the External Tank as the struts have been broken away. The flames point to the External Tank, which damages it, allowing hydrogen and liquid oxygen to come out. They all ignite and trigger a massive explosion. The massive explosion destroys Challenger with all seven crew members on board. It starts raining debris onto the Atlantic Ocean. Grace and Ed Corrigan watched their daughter, Christa McAuliffe die in the explosion. One cannot fathom the shock and grief they are going through as they watched their daughter die.

ChallengerExplosion01

ChallengerExplosion02

A stunned world watches Challenger exploding on television. It was only live on CNN that time, but other networks played Challenger exploding many times. The nation and world grieved for the seven people who died on board Challenger. President Ronald Reagan canceled the State Of The Union speech. He gave a speech addressing a shocked and grieving nation about the Challenger disaster.

What role did weather play in the Challenger disaster? It played a role. The O-ring was weakened by the record cold weather to hit Florida. That weakness was sealed due to the heat only to run into strong wind shear. It was the strongest wind shear encountered by a space shuttle that time. Had Challenger not encountered wind shear, the disaster would probably not have happened.

My verdict, Space Shuttle Challenger should of never been launched on January 28, 1986. The series of weather events played a role from the cold blast to wind shear. Space Shuttle launches have not occurred in cold weather prior to Challenger. Also, the engineers were horrified to see ice build up on the launch pad and space shuttle. That is very telling right there.

Here is a video of Space Shuttle Challenger launch on live television on CNN.

Christmas Storms

RowlettTornado01

It was a terrible Christmas for sure. The warm Chrsitmas last week made it felt like late Spring or early Summer. Christmas was very warm throughout America, east of the Rocky Mountains. The warm weather could not last forever in Winter. Cold air from the north came and it clashed with the warm air. That leads to severe weather including tornadoes.

Christmas2015_SurfaceTemperatureAnomaly_NA

The Eastern two thirds of America is abnormally warm. However, the warm and humid air by itself does not create storms. It needs lift. There is a large upper level trough to the west and upper level ridging to the east. That kind of setup is favorable for severe weather. The upper level trough brings in cold air from Canada and Alaska. The upper level ridging keeps things warm throughout America.

Christmas2015_500mb_GeopotentialHeightAnomaly_NA

The day before Christmas Eve, known as Festivus, severe weather hit the Southeast and Midwest. It mainly centered around Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. There were numerous reports of tornadoes, hail, and strong wind. Christmas Eve had tornadoes hit the Southeast, Alabama and Mississippi. Once the tornadoes and storms past, 15 people lost their life. It is not over yet.

Christmas2015TennesseeTornado01

Christmas2015TennesseeTornado02

Christmas sees more tornadoes and severe weather in the Southeast, again over Alabama. The tornadoes do not stop there. The day after Christmas, tornadoes strike the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. A large EF-4 tornado hits Garland and Rowlett, destroying houses in its path. Once it is all over, 11 people lost their life.

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There is also flooding from heavy rain. The heavy rain is mostly over Southeast Alabama, Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma, and Northwest Arkansas. The heavy rain is from the same storm system and warm air clashing. Many areas see 6 to 12 inches of rain in a 7 day period. Southeast Alabama saw as much as 19 inches of rain in 7 days! That is a lot for Winter! Then floodings have claimed at least 18 lives. Many areas in Missouri could see record flooding on par with 1973 and 1993.

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To make matters worse, there is an epic blizzard that hits New Mexico and West Texas. Many areas see 6 to 12 inches with isolated totals of 15 inches of snow. Talk about an epic blizzard right there!

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Christmas went from Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter all at once! Talk about crazy weather! This is what El Nino can do to our weather. My Winter forecast had a higher chance for severe weather for the South and Southeast. I think this Winter will be known as the Winter of severe weather. It is not even January and February yet.

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This Christmas is a tragic one for 43 families. At least 43 people have lost their life in this severe storm. Thankfully, severe storms around Christmas are rare.