Thursday July 8, 2010 | Weather Forecasting in Our Region

July 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 17 Comments

The Carolinas are temperate regions with four distinct seasons and lots of weather changes. Our microclimate can experience long periods of drought or lush periods of precipitation. Weather is always on folks’ minds and always a topic for conversation. We look at the science behind the weather and at the policies local stations employ when forecasting weather, broadcasting bulletins or pre-empting your favorite TV show. We tackle one of the oldest conversation topics in history – the weather.
Steve Udelson
– Chief Meteorologist, WSOC TV
Larry Gabric – Meteorologist, National Weather Service

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  1. Weather on TV is a tease and not usually complete information. The focus has become commercial: “When you’re heading out to the big game…” , “…rain ending in time for the race.” “drizzly down at the Taste of Chit.” or , assumes a particular lifestyle: “…sunny glare as you head for the office.”, “…time for a round of golf before the gusts begin.”
    A pseudo-personal relationship with the “meteorologist” (often not officially trained) is a major attempt at appeal. But think about it. Brad Panovich and others have made media idiots of themselves with excited bulletins about pea-sized hale and 25 mph tornadoes. Pregnancy has become a major aspect of weatherwoman talent. And one of these days Steve Udelson is gonna fall off someone’s service porch roof and be chewed up by a Staffordshire Terrier.
    Politically, local weathercasters have been instrumental in the corporate business effort to deny global warming, and have never discussed the coming engineered scarcities as water is commercially commodified by aquifer privatization. At best they are personalities and promoters in the NAB mold. Taking up coats in winter or third rate surplus food for the hungry can not redeem them. In a medium where the public deserves crucial information and continual scientific education they fail miserably because of concentrated corporate ownership of almost all media outlets. The digital shift with increasing reception costs have brought this vacancy of responsibility to a crisis level. All the elderly are ever told is that a madman is on the loose, someone has died in agony, and that threatening weather is imminent. It’s another fiasco amid the cascade failure of modern organization and infrastructure. TV weather is an insult to humanity.

    • Not far off the mark on that one. Rock on Grady.

    • Now the weather is a conspiracy? How about directing your ire towards the fraud a East Anglica? There is no doubt the data was cooked (no pun intended). Algore has made millions with his hideous graph that proves CO2 levels rose AFTER the temperature rose NOT BEFORE as he represents it. The UN has bilked billions. That should bother a capitalist hater like you.

      • East Anglia scientists have been exonerated after a long investigation. Global warming proves itself with glacial melting. Arguing and denying does not alter real conditions. Only Transcendental Meditation practiced by a large team of exceptional mystics can do that! (joke)

      • They admitted they cooked the books. Their exoneration of a crime (taking your word) is irrelevant.

      • Talk about “misinformed” (otherwise a liar). The facts were presented by Ira Flatow on Science Friday, July 16th. Hear also On Point about heat waves, also this week. Gregg’s grass is wilting and he’s buying out of state hay, but he still refuses to see. I have talen tome out from my conference activities to reply. It’s that important that people be informed! We can’t afford the 5 types of lazy-mindedness anymore. What type of G.dD….d investments would drive people so crazy? There are no dividends or profits in a ruined environment. Even religious extremists can comprehend “The Fire Next Time” (Baldwin).

      • “talen tome” intended as “taken time
        I can’t type or see on these handheld devices!

  2. I’ve heard anecdotally that the drought in the Piedmont region at the end of the last decade was longest and most severe drought in recorded history, Is there any truth to this? What is the best source of data about this?

  3. It seems to me that it has become a whole lot more arid in the Charlotte region in the last 10 years or so. In the hotter months it’s definitely not as green, lush, cloudy, and humid as it used to be – now we have incessant sun, blazing heat, lower humidity, and very dry conditions. What happened to all the rain and clouds? Or was it just more wet in the last 20-25 years than it has been in the last 10? It’s almost like desertification is in the process of occurring in this region. We look more like North Africa and less like the North Carolina I was born and grew up in.

    Of course we live in a pretty southerly point here in Charlotte, in the “horse latitudes” – – the horse latitudes are subtropical, little precip, calm winds, usually situated above deserts

    • During the drought our farm had to import hay. We got 2 tractor trailer loads from New York and 3 from Texas. While we were in a drought those states were fine. Texas had too much rain and floods were a big problem that year.

      It was much hotter during the very productive bronze age.

      • See “Heat Waves: The New Normal” On Point /Tom Ashbrook- July 15th (Thursday).

  4. One of the guests mentioned a recent paper describing a long term climate study focusing on precipitation & perhaps temperature, on the order of hundreds of thousands of years for the region. One take home is that the actual climate of the southeast may be drier than what we have generally experienced since European colonization. Could they give a link or a citation for this paper? Thanks!

  5. Would have loved to have asked Steve Udelsen why it seems that with all the sophisticated technology of today, ie. satellites, computers, etc., it seems as if the meteorologists are less accurate predicitng the short term forecast, (2-4 days) than they were 20 plus years ago, without the technology…Sometimes the forecast is changed within 24 hrs. of say the 6:00 pm forecast, (upon which plans were made to avoid the rain which wasn’t supposed to arrive for 2 days) to now include rain that day. This seems to happen alot, not just with channel 9, but the others as well. I know its not just my imagination, because friends and co-workers have discussed this lack of accuracy many times.

    Also, please tell Mark Rumsey that a temp of 97 and 98 or 99 is the same for all practical purposes. For 2 out of the last 3 days he has said (at the end of the 7:00 am news) that today “will not be as hot” with a high of 97.. “Not as hot” would be 90 or 91, a spread of 7 or 8 degrees, not 1 or 2 degrees.. He has me excited and hopeful, and then says the high is 97!!

    • Debbie: One primary characteristic of human forced climate change (Global Warming) is increasing volatility and instability. Intensity of every sort becomes common in many places (not all). Sure it is harder to predict weather when the atmosphere and the oceans contain more heat energy. Things can change in minutes that used to take hours.

      One thing local weathercasters have been cautioned to avoid is a discussion of regional changes in jetstream patterns. (Overheard at NAB conference) Jetstreams are always there because of the coriolis effect of the Earth’s spin. They are currents high in the atmosphere along the border between air masses. The movement of cold or warm masses (fronts) is propelled roughly along these gradients. Jetstreams manifest themselves for people on the ground as the prevailing weather pattern in any region. Our prevailing weather pattern has altered from a Southwesterly delivery to a Westerly delivery in the last two decades. We are now deprived of previous rainfall in summer by the Appalachian Mountains that ring out water and dump it in the High Country, mostly Tennessee. Now we get to the point of wishing for hurricanes as a source of rainfall, as in Japan. That’s hardly as dependable as when Gulf weather routinely came up through Birmingham, Atalanta, and Spartanburg to provide a regular delivery. It is almost as if our temperate jet has moved generally North and put us in the doldrums (horse latitudes because sailors were forced to eat horsemeat when wind-stranded) that would usually exist at 25 degrees latitude. (We are at 36 degrees here.)

      When you watch weather or visit NOAA always notice the jetstreams (temperate and polar). The prevailing pattern, the latitude and number of nodes is crucial in predicting weather and steering hurricanes. Recently temporary mergers between the polar jet and the temperate jet have occurred, and there have been produced an increased number of lobes (looped curves) in a torturous pattern of greater heat energy. A second key indicator is sea surface temperature which is generally increasing. I am not informed enough to say how hot seas will affect NC weather, but hurricanes will be inevitably changed in their intensity and routes, and the storm season may continue later into winter. (Snowcaines?)

      I’m glad they can warn people quickly of severe weather though they risk credibility by “crying wolf.” Just watch your weather ladies or men, Debbie, and notice their hands. see how they train themselves to avoid indication of the skytrains we call jets. Sometimes the thing that is missing warns you what to expect. It’s a shame when corporate business owns the weather (casting). (At least Rick Santorum failed in monetizing weather information access.)

      Note: I also believe the recent wilting during the short dry spell in our area was caused by increased UV penetration due to ozone depletion in the Stratosphere. Watering did not seem to help in many cases. Of course, salts in our tap water are not good for plants.

      • oops- The Appalachians WRING out water, not ring, although they do form a partial ring of high topography to our west. It wouldn’t have mattered had I been reading the copy.

  6. You may be able to tell from my spiel I was previously employed as a bluescreen puppeteer, telling weather yarns for the business community.
    I was on a cable produced newschannel, highly scripted, recorded and canned. It sometimes became embarrassing when people put their head outside to find different current conditions than we described. I remember the days when the radio jocks would excuse themselves to go in the teletype room to “get their weather.” Computers can be kept silent and below shot, and that improves public confidence. A friend of mine, John Bolaris, then on a major outlet, once got inebriated and predicted a Nor’easter to travel in a “perfect circle” hitting Philadelphia twice. Weatherpersons can be idiots.

  7. “You may be able to tell from my spiel I was previously employed as a bluescreen puppeteer, telling weather yarns for the business community.”

    Yes, that was my first thought: “I’ll bet Mr. Howard was a bluescreen puppeteer”.

    What a lucky man!

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