Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Wonderland

This was the biggest snow storm in Utah in two years. Makes you wonder how many new Utah residents had their first experience driving in snow yesterday morning. I'm sure it was a shock to some. My commute was an hour longer than usual. The train and bus had no problem in the snow, but all the little two wheel drive cars we followed up the hill to campus sure struggled.

In Spanish Fork we had around eight inches of snow. My siblings had the sledding hill in the back yard built by the time I got home.

The commute this morning was much better and the side walks were mostly shoveled.

The Mountain Meteorology Lab at the University of Utah this morning is showing over 10 inches of snow (ignore the noise in the data, it's bad)

The largest snow totals were seen along the benches and areas further north. Utah county didn't get hit as hard Salt Lake county. The mountain snow totals are a little less impressive than one might expect. The winner of this storm was the Bountiful Bench which has 28 inches last reported.

 Looks like that was the brunt of the snow storm. A few more packets of moisture may bring a bit more flakes over a few days, but looks like a ridge is building up for the weekend. Now with the deep snow cover all across the Wasatch front inversion season will come in strong. Pay attention to the air pollution levels and consider limiting your driving this winter.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Snow Coming Sunday Night/Monday Morning

The storm is on its way. Sunday Night and Monday you'll see more snowflakes falling. It seems like the impact of winter storms are a distant memory to me, so prepare yourself for this season's first winter storm. It will likely have a big affect on your morning commute.

The NAM forecast below can be viewed at weather.utah.edu. This shows the approach of the pressure trough and the snow delivered to our mountains.

How much snow are we expecting?? We'll need to look at ensemble forecast to answer that question. Below shows the amount of snow expected in Salt Lake as forecasted by a dozen different models...
It's usually a pretty good guess to take the mean of the models -- about 2-3 inches of Snow on Monday -- But that's not to say the models predicting over 5 inches are totally out to lunch (though, I'm less inclined to believe it). I'll stick with the mean on this one.

Another way to look at these ensemble forecasts is by looking at a probability of different amounts of snow. Study the different plots below... The one on the top right suggests all of Salt Lake and Utah County have greater than 90% chance of receiving more than an inch of snow in the next week. Most of that snow will occur on Monday. Mostly the mountains and benches have a high chance of receiving more than 6 inches. And only the highest peaks have a high chance of getting a foot of snow.

It'll be important to keep an eye on this storm, especially if you are commuting into work or school Monday morning. You'll want to give yourself some extra time, or maybe go in late and wait for the roads to be cleared.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's Snowing

Even though been so caught up with other work today, it was nice to see the white flakes make a return. Naturally, everyone in the Atmos. department ran to the windows or outside to catch the flakes.

Yep, can't even see downtown.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

High Winds at Fremont Island

We were spoiled with a warm October, but expect a drastic change in the weather this first week of November. Today's high wind gusts are the precursors for cooler temperatures and rain (some snow in the mountains) this evening and tomorrow.

Fremont Island right now is experiencing wind gusts over 50 mph since early this morning. Right now the winds have steadily been from the south, but expect the change to northerly winds this evening.

Article: Debunking 5 Myths About Meteorologists

Dr. Marshall Shepard talks about what meteorologists really do...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Model for Prediction Across Scales

This is a new way of thinking about weather modeling: Model for Prediction Across Scales. I'm pretty fascinated with how well this modeling method will work. The most interesting thing here is the change in grid convention. Notice the hexagonal shapes in the grid over the earth. The grid resolution is course for most of the globe, but is much higher over the United States. I'm currently playing with WRF models, but this model looks like something I'd like to look into. http://mpas-dev.github.io/

Friday, October 23, 2015


Patricia, a category 5 hurricane, is about to make landfall in Mexico. The National Hurricane Center says this is the strongest hurricane in the eastern north Pacific ever. Intense rain, floods, and winds at 200 mph will cause catastrophic damage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Flying home with hopefully without delays

Flying home this evening, hopefully without delays. Here's the HRRR simulated radar for the time we'll be in the air...

Update: Getting a little closer to our flight... In the short term, it doesn't look like any thunderstorms will affect our flight. We have been delayed. Must for some other reasons.

In the mean time, I'm announcing my Simple Weather maps. It uses recent weather observations collected by MesoWest and plots the temperatures on a map. When you load the webpage you it will locate where you are at and show you a map of current temperatures. You can also move the map around and click a new area to populate the map with more weather stations. Check it out here: http://home.chpc.utah.edu/~u0553130/Brian_Blaylock/map.html

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flight to Denver

I'm on my way to Boulder Colorado for a workshop and conference for the SONGNEX campaign. I'm going to give a presentation on weather conditions in the Uintah Basin during their study period.

Our flight was delayed because our plane coming from Las Vegas was help up by the thunderstorms. It should be here soon to take us to Denver. Looks like we'll fly around some thunderstorms in the Colorado.

The storms seemed to miss us on our drive to Boulder. The Front Range welcomed us with this pretty sunset...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Perfect Fall Weekend

Get ready for a perfect fall weekend! No rain. Few clouds. High temperatures near 80.

Friday, October 2, 2015

EPA Reduces Ozone Standard to Improve Health

Press Release from the Environmental Protection Agencty (EPA) regarding the change in the ozone standard...

EPA Strengthens Ozone Standards to Protect Public Health/Science-based standards to reduce sick days, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, greatly outweigh costs

Release Date: 10/1/2015
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, Jones.enesta@epa.gov,, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355; En espaƱol: Lina Younes, younes.lina@epa.gov, 202-564-9924, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Based on extensive scientific evidence on effects that ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, has on public health and welfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The updated standards will reduce Americans’ exposure to ozone, improving public health protection, particularly for at risk groups including children, older adults, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the air. 

“Put simply – ozone pollution means it hurts to breathe for those most vulnerable: our kids, our elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Our job is to set science-backed standards that protect the health of the American people. Today’s action is one of the most important measures we can take for improving public health, reducing the costs of illness and protecting our children’s health.”
EPA examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008. Scientific evidence shows that ozone can cause a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including difficulty breathing and inflammation of the airways. The revised standards will significantly improve public health protection, resulting in fewer premature deaths, and thousands fewer missed school and work days and asthma attacks. For people with lung diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or the 23 million Americans and 6 million children living with asthma, these effects can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Evidence also indicates that long-term exposure to ozone is likely to be one of many causes of asthma development. And studies show that ozone exposure is likely to cause premature death. The public health benefits of the updated standards, estimated at $2.9 to $5.9 billion annually in 2025, outweigh the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion.
Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2014, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent, while the economy has continued to grow. And by 2025, EPA projects that existing rules and programs will bring the vast majority of the remaining counties into compliance. Advances in pollution control technology for vehicles and industry along with other emission reduction standards, including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards, the Clean Power Plan and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, will significantly cut smog-forming emissions, helping states meet today’s updated ozone standards.
To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is extending the ozone monitoring season for 32 states and the District of Columbia. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.
EPA also is strengthening the “secondary ozone standard” to 70 ppb, which will improve protection for trees, plants and ecosystems. New studies since the last review of the standards add to evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone reduces growth and has other harmful effects on plants and trees. These types of effects have the potential to harm ecosystems and the benefits they provide.
The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the ozone standards every five years to determine whether they should be revised in light of the latest science. Today’s action comes after a thorough review and public comment process. The agency received more than 430,000 written comments on the proposed standards and held three public hearings.

Announcement: Seminar Talk October 7, 2015 @ 3:15 PM

Thunder and morning clouds

Last night was the first time in a long time when lightning woke me up in the middle of the night. Around 4:30 AM my dark bedroom flashed with light, followed by a loud crack from outside. I ran upstairs to watch the storm pass. It rained for about 30 minuets.

Radar image at 4:45 AM local time

Rain accumulation at my station in Spanish Fork. Rain started around 4:40 and ended around 5:00 Am

The storm has since moved north. My sister and mom shared this picture with me of the clouds in the morning looking west.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Great Salt Lake Time Lapse 1984-2012

This image from Google's Earth Engine shows the size of the Great Salt Lake between 1984 and 2012. I image in the strength of the lake breeze is affected by the size of the lake, especially in recent years when Farmington Bay is almost completely dry.

If you zoom into Utah Lake you'll see it hasn't changed much.
Try looking at other areas, like your neighborhood, and see how it's changed!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse

Supermoon lunar eclipse on September 27, 2015. Photo taken from the University of Utah.
Did you see the lunar eclipse last night? A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is positioned between the sun and the moon so that earth's shadow completely blocks the moon.

The moon has a reddish tint to it. This red color is caused by light scattered by earth's atmosphere, essentially the same phenomenon that causes red sunsets.

Left image illustrates light being scattered and refracted by earth's atmosphere. Blue light is scattered most efficiently (that is why the sky is blue). With enough scattering (by a long path through the atmosphere) only red light makes reaches the moon shown on the right.
Read more about the red moon at EarthSky

Friday, September 25, 2015

Adventure on Fremont "Island"

The newest addition to the University of Utah's Mesonet is a weather station on Fremont Island. Fremont Island is located in the Great Salt Lake between Antelope Island and Promontory Point. It is named after John C. Fremont who was a military officer and explorer of the western United States. He visited Fremont Island and surveyed the Wasatch Mountain Range a few years before the Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley.

We drove out to the island yesterday morning to set up the weather station. Yes, you read that right, we drove to the island. The cartoon map image above is a little deceiving. The Great Salt Lake Level is actually really low and there is now a land bridge that makes driving to the island possible. Note: The island is privately owned. We had permission from the owner to set up the weather station and he escorted us to the island. You can see from satellite images the land bridge that exists between the Antelope Island causeway and Fremont Island. When the lake level is high it is best to take a boat.

The image on the left shows when the lake is high. The right image was taken on 10 September 2015, just over a week prior to our excursion. The drive on the lake bed is really flat and sandy, as you can see below. That hill in the distance if Fremont Island.
Castle Rock is the highest point of the Island. We didn't hike there, but there is a famous cross carved in the rocks by Kit Carson who explored the west with John Fremont.

Kit Carson's cross (photo from the internet)
The images above makes it look like the island is barren, but the island really has diverse a diverse blend of vegetation and geological formations. Our wet summer has kept the plants green. The sagebrush especially gives lots of color to the island.

The island owner pointed out some cool rocks. They are little cubes of iron. I'm no geologist, so I can't say anything more about them.

After some wild four-wheeling on the island, we reached Miller's Point or Miller's Hill which turned out to be a perfect place for a weather station.
Our escort had an ATV.
Climbing Miller's Hill
Millers Point Survey Marker
Installing weather station on Miller's Hill.

Had to get my "Station Selfie" before we left. No idea when or if I'll ever be back here.

Weather data from this station (and thousands of other stations) can be accessed via MesoWest

Here is the past 24 hour temperature:

Past 24 hour winds:

More information about the island at Deseret News and this blog.