Saturday, May 13, 2017

How To Forecast The Probability Lightning... For The Layman....

We have had thunder storms in our forecast quite frequently lately.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a tool that will allow you to look into the future, just like the forecasters, to see how intense and where lightning is likely to occur.  As I have said before, I am NOT a meteorologist, so this is written by a layman….  For the layperson..…  (Keep It Brief And Simple)

I’d like to credit Scott Sistek from KOMO for providing some resources to me to help with this blog. 

There is a term meteorologists use to quantify the probability of thunderstorms.  CAPE, which stands for Convective Available Potential Energy.  This is actually a calculated metric that determines the probability for electricity in the atmosphere.  Meteorologists can look at models that measure the vertical instability of the atmosphere to make these calculations.

Electricity in the atmosphere is caused by warm moist air on the ground rising rapidly into cold air above.  It also needs a “trigger” like a cold front moving in from the ocean.  In simple terms, lightning is essentially caused by “static electricity” that forms when cold and warm moist clouds are rapidly running into each other.    This video shows how rapidly “convective cumulus” rise and fall.

So, now for the simple tool we can use to see the probability.  I just added a link on my site called CAPE Forecast:

Here is the direct link: CAPE Forecast Link

When you click on this link, it will take you directly to a tool that graphically shows the probability of a thunder storm.  It starts with essentially a time lapse in 3 hour increments showing color coded probability forecasts for lightning. It updates roughly every 12 hours at 9:00am and 9:00pm.  The image below shows the CAPE for 5:00pm Saturday, May 13th.

You can see by the colors that the CAPE (joules/kilogram) is forecast to be in the 200-300 range, which is typical for us, but very mild by national standards.  

When I use this tool, I usually click on the controls in the upper left had corner and stop the animation.  Then I step through image by image so you can see the date and time easily.  

This is a very simple tutorial on how to use the CAPE tool and some basics about how thunderstorms come to be.  

Scott Sistek did a great blog last week about how our thunder storms are unique to this area.  Plus, he goes into more detail that is easy to understand.  

It's a good read with some nice pictures.... ;)  Scott's Lightning Blog


Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Review....

Thought I’d do a review of all that happened last week….  The "highlight" for me has been computer issues…  That took me off-line for several hours last week.  I finally have everything running smoothly… (knock on wood). 

I’ll share some of the things I posted on Facebook and Twitter here.

First, my cams had a HUGE photobomb by a violet green swallow…

And then he came back for more a few minutes later....  Photogenic little bugger....  :)

Last weekend Cliff Mass asked if I could provide some wind shear time lapse video.  He used it in yesterday’s blog:   Cliff Mass's Wind Shear Blog

On Thursday May 4th we had one of the largest electrical storms in many years.  We were spared the brunt of it, but still got some action.  If memory serves, this is the only daytime lightning strike my cams have ever caught.  During daylight hours my exposure time may be 1/125th of a every 20 seconds.  Night time it is set to a 20 second exposure that occurs about every 35 seconds.  So, daylight captures are very low odds.  Here is the image:

Here is the video that includes the lightning strike.  

Sometimes a panorama time lapse tells a better story….

We had a very cold, windy Friday evening….  With a surprisingly beautiful, but brief sunset.  Notice the white caps in the bay....  Winds were sustained in the mid 20's gusting to 32.  Temps were in the 40's....

Extended forecasts are hinting at some more instability and a chance of thunderstorms Friday through the weekend….  Lots of time for that to change though…

Saturday, April 29, 2017

This Past Week....

I thought I’d post a bit of the content I shared on Facebook and Twitter this week.  The main reason I started this “blog” was to share with folks who don’t have social media accounts.   

So…  here is a bit of what happened this past week….

We had a gorgeous sunrise this morning with a "mackerel sky" (altocumulus) sunrise.  Altocumulus are indicators of an imminent weather change (like rain) within the next 6-12 hours. It's coming true right now as I type....  

Another great show was some very active spring time cumulus and morning wind shear.

We were visited by the Starship Enterprise on Friday....  In cumulus form.  Scott Sistek put these words to it on Twitter: 

"To boldly go where no cumulus cloud has gone before? :)
We had a gorgeous pink sky during sunset on Wednesday.

Here is that pink sky in time lapse: 

And tonight we watched the first cruise ship of the year go by.  The Holland America Eurodam.

As I am typing a beautiful pink is briefly peaking through the clouds....  Time to stop typing...


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Follow Up From Hansville Community Center Talk

Last night I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Hansville Community Center.  I had a ton of fun sharing some of the things my cams have discovered.  I’d like to thank all who attended and would like to follow through on a couple of things, due to some great questions during Q&A.  

I got a request to post the video that I shared at the end of the presentation, so here it is.  Be sure to have some nice headphones or speakers.... 

Best viewed on HD here: Video From Tuesday Talk 

or YouTube:

One of the questions was about a convergence zone, so here is a video of one I captured back on March 2, 2013.


I also did some research about the “Green Flash”…..  I know what one is now and found a video to share…. :)

Once again, thanks to all who attended and let's hope that May will not be a "happy place" for the Pluviophiles....  (Inside joke)....  :) 

I just reviewed the sunset last night that took place during the talk...  Here is part of that 98.61% that we don't see...  :)