July 31: A Hot-But-Not-Humid Weekend Forecast


The humidity dropped dramatically throughout the day yesterday…the dew point dropped from 74 at 5am, all the way to 57 by 2pm!  To put that in perspective:
Dew Point Scale Increasing

Dew points will stay in the “comfortable” range all day:

Which means these temperatures this afternoon will feel like the actual temperatures…no worries about the heat index today:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

Pleasantly hot weather will stick around through the weekend:
Don’t worry about that 10% chance for Sunday — that’s the meteorologist’s way of saying “I can’t completely rule out a shower, so I’d better err on the safe side.”

A better chance of storms enters the forecast by the middle of next week, but we’ll worry about that after the weekend.
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Some good stuff for the last nerd-link festival of the week…

  • As the duration and scope of hot summertime temperatures increases thanks to climate change, the annoyance of various summertime pests will also increase.
  • Mentioned this on the air this morning…there’s an interactive map that shows every wildfire in the United States — California has been getting the national media attention, but Alaska looks dreadful.
  • California’s rain debt is now equal to a full year’s worth of precipitation.
  • Mentioned this on the air as well — today’s full moon is a “blue moon.”  (Note: it’s not literally blue.)
  • Isaac Asimov once said that “the most exciting phrase in science is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘that’s funny…'”  I bring it up because the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn observed some odd red streaks on the surface of one of Saturn’s moons.
  • The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is about to take the first steps from concept to reality.
  • The Philae lander that touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (how’s THAT for a name) might have sent back it’s last transmission.
  • But Philae sent back so much intriguing data before it went silent.  The most-interesting part of this article is kind of buried at the end: “Many scientists think that the chemical building blocks for life on Earth might have been delivered by a comet — and 67P’s contents are doing little to dissuade researchers from that train of thought.”
  • NASA confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our own solar system — “only” 21 light-years away.
  • Back on Earth: meet the first new species of canine found in 150 years.
  • Thoughts occur in your head, right?  Well, maybe.
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July 30: Lower Humidity!


Drier air is working its way into the Midstate from the north today, so the humidity levels will be dropping hour-by-hour.  Dew points were still in the 70s early this morning…for reference, here’s what the dew point equates to in real-world terms:
Dew Point Scale Increasing

By this afternoon, here’s what dew points will look like across the area:

Much better!  The lower humidity means that our hot temperatures this afternoon will feel “normally” hot — I don’t have to post a heat index forecast today:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

More of the same as we head into the weekend…hot but not-too-humid weather should prevail through Sunday, with only a very slight isolated storm chance on Sunday.  The humidity will eventually creep back in next week, which will lead to a better chance of scattered storms by the middle of the week:
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Weather, space, and some cool new tech in the nerd-links today…

  • Flooding has been the dominant bad-weather story across the country so far this year, and the looming El Nino could continue that trend.
  • Are heat warnings in the media over the top?  (Whenever I share hot-weather tips or talk about heat advisories on the air, I phrase the advice as being “common-sense” stuff…which it is.)
  • The title of this article says it all: “Pluto has an atmosphere, moons, and maybe geological activity.  Can we call it a planet now?”  (I’d say no: it’s smaller than our moon, it’s orbit crosses the orbit of another planet, the plane of its orbit is tilted significantly compared to the other planets, and it may not be the largest object in its own neighborhood, the Kuiper Belt.)
  • As fascinating as the new information from Pluto has been, I’m willing to bet whatever we would discover on Europa would blow that away.
  • The great thing about researching these links every day is that I learn something new every day…like the fact that right now the Milky Way is in the process of consuming several smaller galaxies.
  • The first instance of “northern lights” outside our own solar system has been spotted.
  • The previous article references brown dwarfs as “failed stars” — but are they really?
  • Love this: a new Braille smartwatch lets blind people read text messages.
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July 29: More Scattered Storms, Still Hot and Humid


Yesterday’s storms certainly intensified in a hurry — numerous wind reports, especially in and around Metro Nashville:
Interestingly, at no point yesterday did the Storm Prediction Center include us in even a “Marginal Risk” of severe thunderstorms, and we were never under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.  All of which proves that severe thunderstorms are always at least possible around here in the heat and humidity of mid-summer.

More scattered storms are expected again today, but the exact evolution of our storm chances is the tricky part of the forecast.  One computer model (the BAMS model, for you serious weather nerds) handled this morning’s shower development pretty well, and it holds onto scattered storms at noon, with more activity moving generally north-to-south throughout the afternoon and evening:

Another computer model (the RPM) also has scattered storms on the radar simulation around noon, but then shows a break in the action for much of the afternoon, before more storms move in from the north this evening and early tonight:

So which one will be right?  Both.  And neither.
I try to always emphasize the importance of looking at the pattern of what the computer models produce, rather than the specific timing and placement of the scattered storms.  Today’s the perfect example of that — we expect scattered storms, but the precise timing and placement of those storms is really up in the air.  So the various computer models will probably each have some but not all of the details right.  Just be prepared for scattered storms — it won’t rain everywhere all the time, but keep the umbrella handy and be ready to adjust.

Some of the storms could be strong again…the Storm Prediction Center HAS included us in a “Marginal Risk” for severe thunderstorms today:
I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if some portion of that is upgraded to a “Slight Risk,” but that depends on how fast the atmosphere de-stabilizes.

Storms aren’t the only story of the day — we’ve got another day of oppressive heat and humidity ahead of us as well.  Temperatures will reach the low to mid 90s (hour-by-hour temperatures will depend on whether or not it’s raining in your location) with the heat index maxing out in triple-digit territory again.  The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for areas along and west of I-65, where the heat index is most likely to exceed 105:
PAUL WATCH1379398449430198621

Want some good news?  Drier air will start moving into the Midstate tomorrow, pushing the storm chances down to our south.  Very low (or zero) severe-weather chances tomorrow through the weekend:

Even better news: the humidity should be much more tolerable by tomorrow afternoon, and it should remain tolerable (or at least “less uncomfortable”) through the weekend.  It will still be hot, but a drop in the humidity is no small victory this time of year.
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  • Cloud-to-ground lightning isn’t the only electrical phenomenon associated with thunderstorms — now researchers are gaining a better understanding of “sprites.”
  • A lot of national-news focus on infrastructure lately, especially the road network across the country…but dams and levees are in need of some attention as well.
  • The temperature on Pluto is unbelievably cold…so how is ice on the surface able to flow across the landscape, as the New Horizons probe found?
  • Researchers expected to find a lot of craters on Pluto…but instead found an unexpectedly smooth surface.  It’s changing the way astronomers are thinking about Kuiper Belt objects like Pluto.
  • Analyzing the physics (and math) of the New Horizons mission.
  • A different probe, the Rosetta mission, is still orbiting a comet, and finding some cool stuff — for instance, comets have sinkholes.
  • And yet another probe, the Dawn mission, has yielded a detailed topographic map of the dwarf planet Ceres.
  • Some of the biggest names in science and technology have signed a letter warning of the dangers of “autonomous weapons” — basically, Skynet.
  • Smarter people live longer.  But you can’t study your way into living to 110 — the link is mostly genetic.
  • This is pretty cool — researchers have figured out where the brain unites the view from your two eyes into the one picture of the world you actually see.
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July 28: Hot. Humid. Still.


Another day of oppressive heat and humidity.

Forecast temperatures this afternoon:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

And forecast heat indices:

You know the drill: find some A/C, drink plenty of water, make sure outdoor animals have a shady spot and plenty of cool water.

Scattered storms will develop in the heat and humidity, but your odds of getting one of those storms to pay you a visit are less than 50/50.  Futurecast’s radar simulation for this afternoon and evening shows the hit-and-miss pattern:
Not much organization to those storms, so don’t take Futurecast’s specific placement of the scattered storms too literally.  That lack of organization also means that our severe weather potential will remain low.

More of the same tomorrow: hot and humid, with scattered storms mostly in the afternoon.  The difference tomorrow is that the storms could be slightly better-organized, so the Storm Prediction Center has included us in a “Marginal Risk” (level 1 of 5) for severe thunderstorms.

The storm chances will most move off to our south on Thursday, dragging the worst of the humidity along with them.  It will still be hot this weekend, but the humidity looks like it will be tolerable Friday and Saturday.
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Lots of weather-related material today, and of course a few space-links as well…

  • The strengthening El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean is good news for some, very bad news for others around the world.
  • The Atlantic hurricane season has been very quiet so far (typical for an El Nino year), but things are brewing in the Pacific again.
  • Some research released a few weeks ago made a big media splash, because it speculated on a decrease in solar activity leading to a “mini ice age” in the next couple of decades.  (CNN and Climate Central even reported on it.)  Problem is…probably not.  In fact, it’s very unlikely.
  • One of the biggest challenges in evaluating climate change risks, and separating long-term trends from day-to-day variability, is sorting through the huge amount of date available.
  • In case you missed it last week, NASA revealed the discovery of an Earth-ish planet 1400 light-years away.
  • I used the phrase “Earth-ish” because it’s far from an exact match.  So if you could transport yourself to that planet, what would you experience?
  • NASA missions like the New Horizons probe to Pluto, or the Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres, face a fierce fight for support and funding.  There are a lot of proposed missions still in the planning stages — but which ones will actually happen?
  • This is a great story: how inmates in Georgia are helping train drug- and explosive-sniffing dogs.
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July 27: Typical Late-July Weather, Daily Links


The last work week of July will feel like…well, like late July.

Temperatures today will be hot:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

And the humidity will make it feel even hotter:

We’re in the type of weather pattern that allows storms to develop to our northwest and then try to run into our neighborhood.  Some storms in southern Illinois this morning look like they’ll hold together to move into the western half of southern Kentucky and northwestern Middle Tennessee before they fizzle around midday.  I don’t really trust much of what the computer models are saying, so I won’t post any radar-simulation images.  Overall today, the best storm chances will take shape in southern Kentucky and northern Middle Tennessee, with lower chances as you head south:

Even if you get a passing storm to cool things off a bit, the humidity isn’t going anywhere.  More scattered storms will be possible tomorrow and Wednesday, but even then our severe-weather potential will be limited:

Right now it looks like the best storm chances will get nudged off to the south by the end of the week…the worst of the humidity should be similarly nudged away from us as well.  That time frame is still the back half of the 7-day forecast though, so stay tuned for possible changes.
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Some space stuff, and some other general nerdiness today…

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July 24: Hot But Dry Weekend, Daily Links


Overall, the weekend forecast may not make you want to do this…

…but I’m confident you’ll at least give it this:

Temperatures this afternoon will still be hot, but normally hot for this time of year:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

The humidity will be noticeably lower by this afternoon, so there won’t be a huge difference between the air temperature and the heat index:

The weekend forecast is looking VERY favorable for spending some time at the pool, on the lake, running through a sprinkler…you get the idea:


It will be hot, but the humidity will still be pretty tolerable…considering it’s late July, that’s a decent-looking forecast — enjoy!



A little weather to start, but a lot of space news that dropped in the last 24 hours…

  • How does the developing El Nino in the Pacific Ocean compare to previous El Nino events?
  • The “huge” news that NASA teased earlier this week?  The discovery of a roughly-Earth-size planet in the habitable “Goldilocks zone” of a star similar to our own sun.
  • But don’t call that newly-discovered exoplanet “another Earth” — there’s a lot we still don’t know about it.
  • This isn’t the first Earth-ish planet discovered…there are about 10 to 15 candidates so far.  This article does a great job detailing the similarities and differences between those planets and solar systems.
  • Astronomers aren’t just finding Earth-like planets with the Kepler telescope.  There are others…a LOT of others.
  • If you’re interested in doing a deep dive into the science of hunting for exoplanets, check out this e-book.
  • Even with the confirmation (or pending confirmation) of literally thousands of exoplanets, you shouldn’t lose sleep over the possibility of hostile aliens.  Space is big.
  • Within our own solar system, there are new ideas for exploring our cosmic back yard — how about wind-bots to explore Jupiter’s atmosphere?
  • Looking deep into space lets us look back in time — to when the first galaxies were first in the process of forming stars.
  • The trait that helps predict whether a 5-year-old will be successful as an adult.


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July 23: Wet Today (But No Sharknados), Daily Links


Numerous showers and thunderstorms in the forecast today — they’ll travel through the Midstate in waves, with warm and muggy conditions in between the storms.  In general, the individual thunderstorms will move west-to-east, with a slight southward shift throughout the day.  Futurecast depicts this radar simulation throughout the day:

Don’t get too hung up on the specific timing and placement of what the model is saying — the pattern of off-and-on storms is the most important part, so keep the umbrella handy.  A stalled-out boundary is acting as the “railroad tracks” for the storms to train along, and that boundary will slowly drift to the south by this evening.  That means southern Kentucky will be the first to see more breaks between the scattered storms today…but it looks like you’ll have to wait until late afternoon and early evening to catch a more prolonged break along I-40:

Our severe weather potential will be limited, but not absent.  The Storm Prediction Center has pushed even the “Marginal Risk” for severe thunderstorms to the southwest of us:

After today, the big story will be the heat — after some stubborn Friday morning clouds dissipate, we’ll warm up to around 90 by Friday afternoon.  Mid 90s Saturday through the middle of next week, with limited rain chances:
7 Day PM



Sharknado 3 aired last night.  I didn’t watch it, I didn’t record it, I just looked at the GIF-tastic recap posted on Warming Glow this morning.

The first Sharknado movie was an unexpected delight — deliberately cheesy effects, the barest attempt at a coherent plot, plenty of over-the-top acting…and sharks.  Plus tornadoes.  The second Sharknado movie was fine — a completely-expected effort at recapturing the kitsch (and ratings) of the first.  With this third one now behind us, I hope SyFy is done.  It’s time for ShihTzuNami — get on it, Hollywood.

And in case you missed it, here’s a link to the third annual Sharknado photoshop contest.  Do your worst/best.



Tons of weather-related nerdery for you this morning…and of course, some space stuff.

  • Lightning photography is pretty tough to pull off, since the actual lightning strike only lasts fractions of a second — but this is one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen.
  • Beyond the “do I need an umbrella” method of forecasting — specific solar and wind forecasts are becoming more important.
  • How climate change could affect your finances.
  • The accuracy of weather forecast models is partially tied to the accuracy and availability of weather observations around the world.  (In order to predict the weather accurately, you have to know what the weather is doing to begin with.)  So the idea of 3-D printable weather observation stations is pretty big news.
  • NASA says we can expect “huge” news at a press conference today, specifically new findings from the Kepler Space Telescope.  Rampant speculation is that they’ll reveal evidence of the most Earth-like exoplanet discovered to date, but their press release gives nothing away.
  • Why is the Earth uniquely suited for life, compared to another planet of comparable size, like Venus?
  • More analysis of the latest images of Pluto that were released Tuesday.  More will be released tomorrow.
  • “Dark matter” and “dark energy” make up 96% of the universe…but we don’t really know what they are.  Here are some possibilities.
  • Some good news from the world of medicine: researchers are closer to a “universal” flu vaccine.
  • My fiance sent me this link, which I interpreted as an apology: the science of “hangry,” or why some people get grumpy when they’re hungry.
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