Weekend Update… Fall is here!

September 22, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Steve and I see eye to eye, that the most perfect weather of the year is fall, and according to the calendar, its here, as of Sunday morning. Now, of course, the weather often lags the calendar, and this year is no different.

Normal highs this time of year have slipped into the mid 80s, but the only thing “normal” about the normal highs are that they are a 30 year average. Some years have warm temps, some cool, and they average out to a “normal” temperature. But rarely is it ever normal weather!

Fall is wonderful here for football too. Football will keep me glued to the TV more than any other sport. There is something wonderful, intriguing and captivating about college football every fall, of course, it helps when my team looks so good going into conference play!

Texas is so lucky to have such great HS football, and Friday nights are special in the fall. Be sure to head to your favorite HS games on Friday nights, and experience Friday Night Lights yourself.

Now, if I just had a pair of tickets to the OU/UT game!!

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Rainfall Update By Steve MacLaughlin

September 19, 2007 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A year ago, we were just beginning to see signs in the long range weather patterns that our 18-month-long drought may finally be winding down. We were optimistic, yet cautious knowing that it would take several big rain storms over several seasons; consistent weekly events and the dreaded massive flooding to turn things around. As we end September of 2007, we got all of those things and the numbers are astounding.

We should note that some surrounding areas have seen much more, some much less. But the following data focuses on the immediate Dallas/Fort Worth area and most recently the numbers from DFW.

So far this year, we have seen 42.96″ of rain at DFW Aiport. Normally, between January 1st and September 19th, we should see 24.33″. We have nearly doubled that amount. In fact, a normal year from start to finish should only receive 34.73″ which we easily blew away months ago.

September is not one of the wetter average months, but we have seen an impressive 4.99″ of rain, most of that coming on Monday, September 10th when a record 3.9″ fell at DFW. If we do some simple math, we can extrapolate how much rain we would get if we kept up at this rate. We’ll estimate the total rainfall of 42.96″ thru September 30th which is exactly 3 quarters thru the entire year. So, 42.96″ divided by 3 is 14.32″ (the average rainfall for 3 months). Multiply this by 4 to figure out all 12 months and we get an amazing 57.28″.

57.28″ would be a record…By nearly 4 whole inches. The wettest year ever was 53.54″ set back in 1991. 2004 was the 5th wettest with 47.57″. Right now, the 42.96″ is the 19th wettest ever, but all we need in 2.17″ of rain to get into the top-ten all-time wettest years in North Texas.

Here are the average rainfall amounts for the rest of the year:
October 4.11″
November 2.57″
December 2.57″

3 month total: 9.25″

We are now at 42.96″ for the year. Adding another 9.25″ would yield a total of 52.21″. So if we get average rainfall the last three months, that would leave us in second place, about an inch and a quarter below our all-time record.

Some other leftover stats…The last 6 months have seen 36.43″ and the last 12 months 53.82″ of rain (which breaks the record of 53.54″ already…But we go from January to January, so we still have to wait to call this the wettest calendar year ever just in case it never rains again the rest of the year).

The wettest summer (June, July, August) ever was 2004. We saw 18.89″. This year comes in 5th place with 16.99″.

Okay, enough stats – Now let’s see how 2007 finishes up. For the record, the seasonal forecast:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/multi_season/13_seasonal_outlooks/color/churchill.html
has North Texas with at or below normal precipitation thru the spring.

Happy Autumn (Sunday Morning),
Steve Mac

New Tropical Disturbance?

September 19, 2007 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September are usually the most active of the tropical weather season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. As we near the end of the “most active” weeks, a new tropical disturbance has formed between Florida and the Bahamas, and it could affect North Texas.

This disturbance is bringing heavy rains to south Florida, but it’s moving to the west, heading for the Gulf of Mexico, and could strengthen into a tropical depression.

A tropical depression is a warm-core low pressure system (that means the center of the low pressure system is warm on the ground, but also warm aloft) with winds under 38mph.
It becomes a tropical storm once those winds increase to 39mph. At this point, the storm is named. If the winds increase to 74mph, it then becomes a hurricane. Once a hurricane, the intensity is rated on a scale from 1 to 5: one being the weakest hurricane with winds between 74mph and 95mph….5 being the strongest with winds over 155mph.

Only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the U.S.: The Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which hit the Florida Keys, Hurricane Camille, which hit Biloxi/Pass Christian in 1969…the same places Katrina hit….and Hurricane Andrew, which hit Southeast Florida in 1992.

(When Katrina was over open water, it reached Category 5 status, but by the time it hit, it had weakened to a Category 3 storm.)

The problem in weather forecasting is the chaotic nature of the atmosphere the farther you go ahead in time. Many different computer models have many different ideas on what happens…and some of these computer models show that the current Florida disturbance may move due west, all the way to the upper Texas coast by Sunday night and Monday morning. Still others show it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and curving northward into the Florida Panhandle.

Right now, I wouldn’t cancel any weekend outdoor plans until we have a better handle on this new tropical system.

Nicest Weekend Since April 28th-29th? By Steve MacLaughlin

September 13, 2007 at 1:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

If you have read any of my other blogs, you know that I am a big fan of fall. Anytime the weather cools down just a bit or we get a front or the humidity drops, I consider it a little closer to that perfect time of year.

This week, we had our first real autumn cold front of the season and once the flooding rains ended on Monday, we were left with that crisp air that I lust. In September, we get small tastes of the good stuff. By October, those cooldowns last just a little bit longer each time. It wasn’t a shocking or massive cold front, but we were left with a couple of great days and a couple of perfect nights this week.

Another cold front is coming through early Saturday. It too is not a huge front and by Monday we’ll be right back into the 90s, but I am optimistically naming this upcoming weekend the nicest since late April. I admit “nice” is subjective and some people like weather that I find deplorable, but even you summer-lovers and hard-core winter fans can agree that weekends like the one coming up need to be cherished. I have to work, so please get out and enjoy it while thinking of me. Do something you think I would do if I were not at Channel 5.

The forecast right now is dry; both in precipitation and humidity. Plenty of sunshine. Nice northerly and easterly breezes. Highs in the mid to upper 80s; just at or slightly below normal. If we see any rain at all it would be very early Saturday and even that looks like it won’t happen.

So – Here’s my evidence. I will simply work backward through the weekends until I hit one that I consider nice.

9/8-9/9: Scattered showers and temps above normal in the mid 90s. Lows near 80.
9/1-9/2: More showers, more 90s, more humidity.
8/25-8/26: 98 to 99 degrees.
8/18-8/19: Highs in the 90s, lows near 80 and scattered showers. A Funnel Cloud near Argyle.
8/11-8/12: Hottest stretch of the summer. 100 to 104 degrees. Air Pollution Watch. Heat Advisory.
8/4-8/5: Highs between 95 and 97 degrees.
7/28-7/29: Isolated to scattered showers each day and highs in the mid 90s.
7/21-7/22: Scattered showers each day and highs up to 98 degrees by Sunday.
7/14-7/15: Highs between 90 and 95. This is not a terrible weekend, but it was typically Texas fro summer and very, very humid.
7/7-7/8: Scattered storms. Severe thunderstorms. Flash Floods on Sunday.
6/30-7/1: Two days of rain; some very heavy. Even tornado warnings on Sunday
6/23-6/24: Scattered storms each day.
6/16-6/17: Lots of rain and flash flood watches and warnings. Almost 3″ that weekend.
6/9-6/10: Scattered showers on Saturday. Severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.
6/2-6/3: Two days of rain.
5/26-5/27: Two days of scattered showers. Parts of the area saw over 4″!
5/19-5/20: Trace of rain Saturday. Cloudy Sunday.
5/12-5/13: Two days of scattered rain. Sunday had severe thunderstorm warnings.
5/5-5/6: Cloudy all weekend. Fog, drizzle and light rain Saturday.
4/28-4/29: Perfect. Sunny. High in the mid 80s. Lows around 60. Low humidity.

So, there it is. Take away the hot weekends from late summer, the wet weekends from early summer and the stormy spring and we get to late April.

20 weekends later we are about to have a great weekend. As I’m writing this I get tired of hearing me complain about all the weekends we’ve had, but I figured my complaining is not what’s important, but how great I feel about this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. Hope you all enjoy…

Steve Mac

Heavy Rain in North Texas

September 11, 2007 at 1:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A stalled front and a whole lot of tropical moisture added up to heavy North TX rain. Here’s a look at some of the rain totals:

DFW airport 3.9″ (record for September 10)
Irving 7.5″
Granbury (north of town) 5.7″
Carrollton 5.1″
Farmers Branch 4.5″
Garland 4.3″
Coppell 4.0″
Lewisville 3.6″
Grand Prairie 3.2″
Decatur 2.6″
Allen (SE of town) 2.0″
Rowlett 1.5″
TCU 1.0″
Sansom Park .91″
Pleasant Grove 1.1″
Granbury 1.0″
Arlington 1.4″
Lipan .9″
Wylie .8″

Is There Something Else Wrong with David?

September 8, 2007 at 1:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I just want to head off a lot of emails and phone calls that I know are coming. No, I am not home sick again. Actually I will be off this next week for a vacation that I scheduled last January.

Healthwise, I have continued to improve, although I am not 100%. I still have an occasional cough. But it’s nothing like it was a month ago. And I expect continued improvement. So thanks for your concern, but I am doing fine.

As for my vacation, I am not headed for some exotic location like Iceland, Antarctica or Easter Island (although those have been some of my past vacation destinations). Instead I am spending a week trying to learn to play the guitar! That is something I have tried a couple of times before, dating back to my college days. And I could learn either to use my left hand to form the chords, or I could strum the strings with my right hand. But I could never get a handle on doing both simultaneously. So after a month or two, I would get frustrated and give it up. But my wife Shari gave me a new guitar as a gift recently, and I decided I would try again. I have been practicing a little on my own, but a week-long course with an accomplished teacher will hopefully make a difference this time. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have just asked Steve MacLaughlin. He is evidently quite a guitar player and singer!

On a different note (no pun intended), you may have noticed some big changes that occured on NBC5 this week. On Friday, we officially launched our news broadcast in High Definition, from a new set in the revamped studio. For the past six weeks, we have been doing our newscasts each day from a temporary set in the newsroom. Now we are back in the studio. But it is totally different. Our staff of meteorologists is really pleased, because the entire set was designed and built around the Weather Center. It is beautiful to be sure (especially if you have an HD television set). But behind the beauty is function. Our new Weather Center was specifically designed so that we would have all the tools we need within arm’s reach, when we are involved in continuous weather coverage during severe weather. Let’s hope we don’t have to use it too often. But the next time severe weather strikes north Texas, we will be more than ready for it.

And there is more to come. Stay tuned, and watch carefully in the coming weeks. Before the end of September, we will have some more big changes in the way we present our weathercasts each day. It’s going to get better and better.

By the way, if you don’t yet have HDTV, don’t worry. I don’t have one at home yet either. But we will all have to make a switch to digital TV sets in the next 18 months. As I understand it, TV broadcasts nationwide will continue in both analog and digital formats until February 2009. But after that, everyone will need a digital TV. That doesn’t mean everyone will have to buy an HDTV set. There will be relatively inexpensive converter boxes that will become available if you want to contine to use your old television a while longer. But with more and more programming switching to High Definition (including our NBC5 broadcasts) there will be more incentive to buy a HDTV set in the next year and a half. I am not a techno-geek. In fact I am usually one of the last in the neighborhood to buy the latest electronic gadgets. But I’m thinking I will have to break down and get a HDTV set before too much longer. And I’m sure many of you reading this will be joining me.

Is Summer Finished with North TX?

September 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The hottest time of the year on average is the last week of July and the first couple of weeks of August.

This year, we saw our hottest weather from August 11 to August 15, with highs above 100. Since then, we’ve seen temps dip below 100, but we saw highs rebound into the upper 90s last week.

In an average North Texas summer, we’ll hit 100 sixteen times, but so far this year, only 5 times, cooler than normal, and so far, we’ve heard few complaints!

With the weather pattern showing no real signs of a heat wave building back in, its probably safe to assume we won’t hit 100 again. Of course, humble pie is often served to meteorologists in the Metroplex, and the latest 100 degree high occured in October 3, 1951, but from here, it sure looks like we’ll finish 2007 with just five 100 degree days.

Now, in two summers, 1970 and 1906, we escaped with zero 100 degree days! Rare indeed!

Attention All Runners: October Is Almost Here, By Steve MacLaughlin

September 1, 2007 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Let me begin by apologizing for how esoteric this blog is about to be. I am a runner; this is about running; this is for runners. Non-runners may not quite get it. Some people think running is stupid. There are some nights when I think running is stupid. That being said, I will try to make this interesting to everyone, but forgive me if I forget that not everyone understands this addiction. Sometimes I don’t quite understand it myself. This blog was inspired by a conversation I was having with David Finfrock the other day about how we are both getting very excited about the fall.

I remember my freshman year of college at Rutgers. I was like most students. I ate, drank and slept most of the time, and what time was left was divided between studying and being outside exercising and having fun. It was late October and we were playing flag football. I will never forget how we were dressed. Pants; sweatshirts; even hats and gloves. New Jersey can get really cold, really fast. We had an amazing snow storm that year. This has nothing to do with my point, but I love snow and we all spent the winter being kids. Then spring rolls around. I think it was late March when my friends and I were playing softball one day. The weather was amazing. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and some guys even took their shirts off.

Me being the budding meteorologist and generally curious cat that I am, I started looking at the numbers and discovered that the day we were playing football (October) and the day we were playing softball (March) were identical. Same temperature. Same wind. Same sky. And yet we were dressed like we were in the Yukon Territory on that October day while that March day inspired some of my most cocky friends to show off their bare abs. The point is our bodies are amazing machines that adapt to pretty much any type of weather, but we adapt based on what we experienced last. 50 Degrees in October is cold after a mild autumn. 50 degrees in March feels like summer when you’re coming out of the brutal, unforgiving winter months.

That brings me to running outdoors in Texas. For eight months out of the year, North Texas might be just about the best place on the planet to exercise out in nature. Then there are the three to four months where every step forces explatives to fly from a runner’s mouth. When I run in the summer I think and say things I am ashamed of; I certainly cannot repeat them here. That’s what the Texas summer heat does to people. It makes us crazy. And running in it is even crazier; next to impossible. I do understand that some people like running in the heat, but the basic physiological fact is that running in the Texas summer heat is inefficient and sometimes dangerous. I like a good challenge, but you risk injury and you begin to break down muscle instead of fat. It’s exhausting and there’s always the threat of heat stroke.

This summer actually started off okay. All that rain we got early kept the temperature down into July. Then the rain stopped and running became a mental, emotional and physical grind that made walking a viable daily option. Oh, and the late rain kept the mosquitos out longer and nightly bug bites were just terrific to deal with. I’d wake up with scratches all over my body from scouring my itchy skin in my sleep. Okay, I’ll stop complaining now. October is just weeks away and that is like Christmas for a runner in this part of the country, so, smiles everyone.

I believe October is the best month of the year for running (or walking or biking or any outdoor activity) because summer is over but winter has not yet arrived. Even here in North Texas, we can have some brutal winter nights where it stings just to be outside. I actually prefer winter weather to July or August, but I am from the east coast and know not everyone likes to be outside in January or February.

But the main reason why October (and even November and December) is bliss goes back to that college experience I described above. Our bodies adapt, but really react to their most recent experiences. October is the time of year when it’s cooling off but my body is still conditioned to running in that sweltering heat and humidity. My body gets a jolt. It’s like running on air. It’s like running in air conditioning. I get to the finish line and want to run more. It’s like those athletes from hot climates that keep winning our American marathons. When you’ve conditioned your body to struggle and succeed in the most extreme of conditions, a slight drop in temperature or humidity makes you invincible. Even this past week was easier than the week before. It’s still summer and it’s still tough to run outside, but now that conditions are getting better, every run is stronger than the last.

I just went to Foot Locker today to buy new sneakers and I’m not gonna break them out until October 1st. That is my day. Between the new shoes, the cooling temperatures, the lower humidity and the comfort of knowing summer won’t be back for an entire human gestation period, I will fly like Superman. Barring any injuries, my runs just get better and better and better until the spring.

I still love running in March and April, but each run gets a little bit tougher than the last. Maybe it’s all in my head; knowing we are approaching summer. But in reality, my body starts to feel the stress of the warming weather after being conditioned to running in the winter months. The human body is actually quite efficient in the cold; a typical winter night is much easier on the body than a typical summer night as long as you dress properly and in layers. People in New York or Chicago or Boston may not see it that way; their winters are not like our winters, but Texans get rewarded in the winter for the pain we feel in the summer. That October weather I crave is almost identical to the weather in April, but in April each run is getting deeper into the hot season and therefore a little bit harder. The weather this past week felt much like June weather. In June, I can barely finish. This past week, while it wasn’t easy, I did feel pretty good. Same weather. Different results.

So, if you are a runner, congratulations on making it thru the summer and please join me in wishing all outdoorspeople a Happy October. If you are not a runner but long to be, this is the best time to go out and see what you’ve got. The weather in North Texas is on your side for the next few months. We should all take advantage of it, because we all know what awaits us next summer.

Enjoy,
Steve Mac

One post-script: I am a huge baseball fan and if October is like Christmas for runners, it is like a month long birthday party for baseball fans. To have both together is simply too much to handle. I will be in some truly euphoric utopia. I am not sure if I will even make it to November.

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