A hot and humid forecast and a little meteorology lesson

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SUMMARY

Guess what’s in the forecast? If you guessed more showers and storms, mainly in the afternoon and evening, you hit the nail on the head. Any storm that pops up will have the potential to become strong, or even briefly severe.  The Storm Prediction Center has the plateau in or near the marginal risk area for today and tomorrow, highlighting the possibility of storms that could briefly become severe. It’s a similar pattern that we’ve seen over the past couple of days.

If you have outdoor plans, just be aware that you may need to seek shelter from a storm, and always keep that lightning hazard in mind!

As we move into the latter part of the week and into the weekend, our rain chances decrease, but we really start cranking up the heat. The humidity is what will make things so oppressive. Remember to limit your time in the sun and drink lots of water. Try to limit or avoid beverages that may dehydrate you, such as caffeinated soft drinks and alcohol.  Like I said, the rain chances decrease but they don’t drop to zero. Anytime we have that much heat and humidity on the plateau, we have to mention a chance for an afternoon/evening storm.

DISCUSSION

We’re certainly hot and humid enough for scattered storms, but we just don’t have the right support in the atmosphere for storms. Heat and humidity are fuel for the storms, but those are both found down here at the surface. If we can’t get the fuel to rise up into the atmosphere, it just sits down here and does nothing but make us uncomfortable. If, however, we can get something to force this fuel to rise, then we get storms.

There are several mechanisms nature uses to get air to rise. Fronts are a good example. This is especially true with cold fronts. The colder air wedges underneath the warm air ahead of the front, forcing the air to rise into the colder atmosphere above. As air cools, it condenses and forms clouds.

Mountains also act as a lifting mechanism. As wind interacts with a mountain, it can either go around it or up it. The air that goes up the mountain is obviously rising, which can lead to clouds and showers. We always have that mechanism present around here, with our rising terrain.

Another really good way to get air to rise is by increasing the winds above us. We often see that happen in the winter and spring with the jet stream, a fast-moving river of air above us. The swiftly-moving air forces air here at the surface to rise up and replace air aloft that is being carried away.

One of the only lifting mechanism we have these days is our terrain. But, we do have one more that may really help us out again today and that is outflow boundaries from storms to our north this morning. These outflow boundaries act like little localized cold fronts. They can really kick the air up and get it to rising, creating scattered storms. Outflow boundaries are created by the rain-cooled air left behind by storms. They are that cool rush of air you feel as storms are approaching or are nearby.  I’ve heard people say, “It smells like rain” when those move through.

So, that’s some meteorology in a nutshell for ya this morning (ha). You can sometimes see outflow boundaries on radar. They show up  as little speckled lines of green on the radar. Those speckles of green are dust, etc kicked up by the gust front. The radar only knows that its beam is bouncing off something. That “something” can be dust, precipitation, birds, etc. In the case of a gust front, it’s often dust and pollen and things of the sort.

Unfortunately, these outflow boundaries are such subtle features that our models don’t handle them well at all. We have to rely on radar and our expertise to determine how they will affect our weather.

I’ll be keeping an eye on that radar and keeping an eye out for any of these outflow boundaries. Sometime they really kick storms into gear and we can certainly have severe weather this time of year. I noticed that on this day in 1968, golfball-sized hail fell in Putnam County. That’s certainly large enough to do damage!

I also noticed some other interesting records from around the nation. On this day in 1947, Wyoming received their latest snow on record. Some places had 18″ of snow! Can you imagine? Montana also had snow on this day in 1969, with five inches reported at Great Falls and Billings. I noticed that several places in western Montana and Wyoming are in the 30s this morning. That’s in the mountains, of course, but still! (ha).

Some of you may dream of those temperatures this weekend but just remember, all winter and into this spring you promised me you wouldn’t complain about the heat. You promised! (haha)

Changing the subject….

Be sure and pick up a Crossville Chronicle today! I’m on the front page! Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything bad (I leave that stuff to the experts. ha). It’s about me running for office. Check it out, and be sure and have  great day!

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If you’re interested, here’s the original article I submitted to them.

When I graduated from CCHS, I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist. My first weather memory was in second grade, when Mrs. Lovell told me it was snowing outside but asked me not to tell anyone. That turned out to be impossible! Before long, the whole room knew. I remember being amazed at how much reaction the weather could cause, and how that all led to me having so many questions about the weather. Mrs. Lovell planted a seed that day. We cannot be thankful enough for good teachers.

Now, I have my degree in meteorology and a job I love at Trade-A-Plane, working in the weatherTAP department. In fact, many of you may know me as Meteorologist Mark, the weatherTAP guy who is always online when weather gets crazy and who writes a daily weather blog for the plateau.

My love for writing led to me earning a degree in journalism. My dream of being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul came true a few years ago when my story, Pizza Night, was published. (Google it and check it out!)

After earning my Masters in meteorology, I worked for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Nashville. After a few years there, I seized an opportunity to teach meteorology at Mississippi State University. After six years of teaching there I am now back home and ready to give back to the community that set the stage for my success.

Now, I am humbly asking for your vote for county commissioner of the seventh district. Two commissioners are elected from each district, and I am asking to be one of the two you choose from the seventh district; a district that includes Rinnie, Mayland, and Woody.

I know many of you are frustrated with the internet service in our county. That’s one of the top complaints I hear. WeatherTAP, like so many weather sources, is a web-based product, so I understand those of you who are frustrated with your internet service. Rest assured that I will be your strongest advocate in fighting for the better services we deserve.

I have also heard complaints about accessibility of your local politicians.  I assure you I will be accessible and listen to your concerns. You will never be ignored. You will be able to reach me by email, phone, Facebook, by my website, and/or by USPS.

I have been working since my first job in my paw-paw Lowe’s sawmill when I was 13 years old. You won’t find anyone who will work harder than I will for our district or who will fight harder for fiscally conservative ideas. Give me a chance, and I will prove I deserve your support.

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