*I was going to create diagrams to go along with this post but I just don’t have time today. You’ll have to envision it in your mind’s eye. 

*For more on winter weather in general, check out my reeeeeally old post about winter weather in the south

I will go out on a limb and say that weather-wise, the past 5 days or so have been just about the ugliest, most depressing string of days Nashville and middle TN have seen in quite a while. This is all due to a rather interesting weather scenario across the whole nation. I will attempt to concisely explain the factors involved, and hopefully you’ll also see why these types of storms are so incredibly hard to forecast.

First of all, last weekend (Jan. 11th & 12th) were unseasonably warm and also very rainy, especially Saturday. This was due to a large upper level “cutoff” low pressure system that parked itself right over the southwestern U.S. Because this system was in the upper levels of the atmosphere (about 18,000-30,000 ft) where the main branches of the jet stream exist, it controlled on a broad scale which airmasses were influencing which parts of the nation. The big trough of low pressure stubbornly sat spinning over the western 1/2 of the U.S. for several days, causing the jet stream to dig southward over the west, then shoot northeastward over the midwest and on into the northeast. The southern branch of the jet stream was allowed to surge northward and pump lots of warm moist air from the Gulf and northern Mexico up across the southeast and even into the northeast U.S., bringing the soaking rain and warm temps we had over the weekend. Meanwhile, the northern branch of the jet stream was doing just the opposite, pumping dry frigid air from Canada down over the western and southwestern U.S.

Finally on Sunday Jan. 13th, the huge upper-level low pressure pushed eastward across the nation, and thus the cold arctic air across the west pushed eastward along with it, creating a very sharp cold front at the surface that moved across Nashville that afternoon. You may remember that the temp was a balmy 65F or so Sun. morning, and around 3:30pm it plummeted 15-20 degrees over the course of about 2 hours.

That was part 1 of this crazy chain of events. Now for part 2:

After that initial surge eastward, the upper-level low pressure trough stalled out yet again, leaving that sharp cold front draped roughly along the spine of the southern Appalachians. The cold airmass wedged down at the surface (we all remember from basic science that cold air sinks and warm air rises, right?) but after it stalled out, the southern jet stream was still active. Monday & Tuesday of this week we had a battle between the southern flow of warm Gulf moisture and the stubborn cold airmass that surged eastward Sunday. The warm moist air has been sliding up and over the heavy cold air at the surface and thus we’ve had sleet and freezing rain across the whole middle TN area as the two forces have been at a stalemate. Temps in the mid-levels of the atmosphere have been steadily 6-10 degrees warmer than at the surface. This is an old diagram I made showing a simplified version of how that looks as a cross-section:

icestorm

Judging exactly where that freezing line will be on the surface is nearly impossible. Thus, forecasts for this type of weather are rarely accurate on a local scale. Last night, the Nashville metro area got lucky in that the freezing line at the surface ended up being just to the west of us- the temp held at about 33 or 34 degrees. This large trough is finally going to push further eastward tomorrow, as yet another piece of Gulf moisture and energy combines with a surface-level low pressure system moving east out of Texas. That will bring the possibility of significant snow and ice to east TN, southern VA, and western NC. Nashville will be spared any precipitation from that system, though, and most of the southeast is forecast to remain firmly in the grips of that arctic airmass for at least another week or so, so keep your heavy coats handy.

Advertisements

*This will be my last post this week, and today will be my last day of web presence until after Bonnaroo.*

As I’ve said before, I’m going to Bonnaroo this year. I’m not going the way I’ve gone the past 2 years, however, as the Scene/SouthComm is sending their staff photographers to cover it this year, obviously the result of a rough economy/tight budget. (They are full-time staff photographers, so in the end SouthComm isn’t having to pay them anymore than they would have already, whereas my work would be an extra expense to them since I’m freelance.) Let me say that I’m in no way irked at them for doing this, as they have to do what makes financial sense in these times especially, and if I were in their shoes, I’d probably do the same. Since they weren’t sending me, I had to work a little harder to acquire a pass, but I did. So, don’t expect any photos from me this year, as I won’t be able to get into the photo pits, and honestly don’t want to have to lug the expensive/heavy equipment around and keep up with it unless I have to. My only real goal is to see LCD Soundsystem, since this is expected to be their last year of live shows, ever.

I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous rumors that there’s going to be a monsoon in Manchester this year. THIS IS BALONEY. The weather forecast looks exactly like every other June forecast in TN has since the beginning of time. It’s going to be hot, humid, and there’s a slight chance (20-30%) of scattered showers and storms in the afternoon. I’d say there will be at least 1 or 2 of those showers/storms that happen across Bonnaroo, but it will by no means equate to a monsoon. The cause of this rumor is probably the fact that most weather apps and “forecast-at-a-glance” sources don’t include the probability of precipitation (PoP). They just show a small icon that has the sun covered partially by a storm cloud, a few rain drops, and a lightning bolt. It still shows that icon, even if the PoP is only 10%. This is a problem in my opinion, because sadly the vast majority of people will probably look at those icons on each day and think that it means it’s going to rain all day, everyday. So if you’re going this year, of course be prepared for rain and mud- it’s going to rain at some point, but it’s not going to rain the whole time. Remember to drink plenty of water and you’ll be fine.

I must also point you to Nashvillest’s 2nd (I think) annual CMA Bingo card. With the “CMApocalypse” quickly approaching, this little bit of local humor/snark is all but necessary to keep your sanity if you’re a Nashvillian who hates this annual gathering of:

AND

Have a great rest of the week/Bonnaroo if you’re going, and I will see you here sometime next week.

DJ A-Trak’s Dirty South Dance 2 mixtape is officially available for free download today via his Bandcamp. This mix follows up his 2007 release Dirty South Dance, and continues his style of blending popular hip hop vocal lines with more electro/dance beats. Personally I’m a fan just about everything he does, but then again who isn’t? Dude is one of the most well-respected DJs in the world right now. Just go grab the mix and enjoy. (Via A-Trak’s blog)

Speaking of DJs and dancing, Justin Kase is apparently planning a revival of the post-Buddytown/pre-Happy Valley era Youth Group parties at a yet-to-be-disclosed new location. Kase is planning to move to L.A. this September, thus the emphasis on making the most of this summer. More info will posted here as soon as I know it, but I’m sure it’ll be well-publicized.

Tonight is the final Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th at Mercy Lounge. Come early and stay late, and cast your vote not based on who you’re friends with, but who fucking rocks your face off. I’ll be there shooting pics as usual. Lineup is: Heartbeater, My Tyger, Pico Vs. Island Trees, Delta Saints, Space Capone, Cheer Up Charlie Daniels, And The Relatives, and Deep Fried Five.

On a side note- if you’re in Nashville, please check your property for standing/stagnant water. The recent floods combined with the typical hot/humid summer weather will make the mosquito population explode this year, so if we don’t take measures to prevent them from breeding, we may be in for one very itchy, West-Nile virus-ridden summer. Mosquitoes breed in even the smallest areas of standing water- empty flower pots, buckets, old tires, etc… All you have to do is simply empty them out after it rains, or put them in a place where they won’t collect rainwater. If you (like Megan and me) use a rain barrel to water your lawn/garden/flowers, you can get tablets at any gardening store that when dissolved in said rain barrel, will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water. I like summer for the most part, but I absolutely dread dealing with mosquitoes every year. I’m cursed with a pretty significant reaction to their bites, and they usually leave me with a quarter-size whelp that lasts a couple of weeks. So, for your own sanity and the sake of everyone else’s, PLEASE take measures to minimize the mosquito population this summer! For more info read this article from WKRN.

The flood waters that have turned Nashville into “Nashlantis” came close to our house but thankfully spared us. There are many, MANY who were not so lucky, so first and foremost I want to direct you to this post on Nashvillest, where they are continuously and tirelessly updating info about where volunteers are needeed, where they’re not, where supplies are needed, where they’re not, and just about anything else about how to help. Seriously, those girls deserve a medal of honor for their awesome work aggregating information and putting it all in one easy place. Morgan/Christy- I’m buying you both a drink next time I see you out. If manual labor is not your thing, the best thing you can do right now is CONSERVE WATER. As of now the water supply is perfectly fine and safe to drink, however officials are concerned that with one water treatment plant flooded and another threatened, Nashville may end up with a clean water shortage. LIMIT YOUR WATER USAGE TO ONLY THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITIES. WHEN YOU TAKE SHOWERS, LIMIT THEM TO 3 MINUTES OR LESS, AND DON’T USE DISHWASHERS OR LAUNDRY WASHING MACHINES. DON’T EVEN WADE THROUGH FLOOD WATER UNLESS YOU HAVE TO, BECAUSE IT IS LIKELY CONTAMINATED WITH RAW SEWAGE.

Relating this to the local music scene: there will be many benefit shows in the next few weeks, the first of which is happening at Mercy Lounge tomorrow (Wed.) night. They have turned their Cinco De Mayo party into a benefit show, and it will feature Paper Route, How I Became the Bomb, the Dozen Dimes, Hillbilly Casino, and possibly more. Please come out and donate some $$$ to help out. Also, my band Powerbrrrd had our first show in many months booked this Sat. May 8th at the End, and we’ve all decided to turn it into a benefit show as well. Other bands are Diarrhea Planet, Frank the Fuck Out, and Bad Cop, and Spanish Candles. We’re gonna try to start right at 9 since we’ve got 5 bands. It’s Diarrhea Planet’s EP release show as well.

If you’re interested in some of the statistics on this event, check out this public information statement from the National Weather Service containing most of the records that were set/broken this past weekend.

In dire times like these, it’s good to lighten the load on your mind for a minute and just laugh at something. So in case you haven’t already seen it, I give you the Great Nashville Weather Penis.

Here are a few select photos I took Sunday and Monday at the Farmer’s Market and in my neighborhood in north Nashville. The full set is on my flickr.

Here we go again. I recommend investing in Kroger stock this year, because they’re gonna get a big boost in sales in TN from all these “snowstorms” wherein a meteorologist utters the word “snow” and 75% of the population immediately clears the milk, bread, and egg isles. (Apparently people only eat french toast during snowstorms?) As usual, I’ve been monitoring the progress of the forecast and find it interesting that the NWS hasn’t issued the winter storm warning yet, only a watch. I’m sure the warning will come, but it’s kinda funny that they’re hesitating, no doubt because of the giant snow fail from a few weeks ago. (To be fair, some areas around the midstate did get something close to the forecasted amounts, though no one really got the full 2-3 inches that was initially forecast…) This system is a little different than the last one, however. This one will most definitely have enough moisture to generate the 3-5 inches, unlike the last system which had moisture “issues.” The big limiting factor with this system will instead be temperatures. Nashville will literally be right on the dividing line between having an ice/rain mix and having an all snow event. If this system decides to track just 50 to 100 miles further north than the models think it will, that will cause more warm air to advect farther north, and we’ll end up having mostly rain friday changing to a little snow on the backside fri. night into sat. morning. If it decides to track slightly further south, we’ll have all snow, but much less of it, and areas to the south of us could actually see more snow than Nashville does. This system has a little better chance of “success” in giving us a good ol’ fashioned snowfall than the last one, but I wouldn’t place any bets yet.

Big rumors abound in the blogosphere about Obama’s budget proposal due to land in Congress on Monday. The biggest rumor is that it will completely cutout NASA’s Constellation program, which is the rocket system currently under development to not only replace the Space Shuttle, but also put men back on the Moon. I reported many times on the progress of the Augustine Commission and its recommendations for how NASA should proceed given that its current “trajectory” was financially unsustainable. One of the options they proposed was to eliminate the Constellation program and let commercial spaceflight companies like SpaceX takeover the duties of getting astronauts to the International Space Station and other low-earth orbit missions. I have a feeling that if the budget really does cut the Constellation funds, that’s where we’ll be headed next. Honestly I think it may not be a bad idea, because it would allow NASA to focus more on getting man further out into the solar system, and eventually to Mars. I tend to agree with Dr. Phil Plait’s (the Bad Astronomer) sentiments on the issue (as usual) but I’m not in total agreement with him that we should still go back to the moon. But then again, he’s the astronomer with a Ph.D and I’m not. For even more info, check out Universe Today. Check those blogs again on Monday afternoon, as I’d say they’ll be able to update waaaay sooner than I will once the actual budget info is released.

Score one for the weather forecasters. This morning on my way out the door I inspected my surroundings to find a thin glaze of ice on almost everything except the road (THANKFULLY!). We were under a freezing rain advisory and freezing rain is indeed what we had. It’s rare, but it’s kinda cool to see when it happens. When it hits you on the hand, it’s wet, yet when it hits anything else, it freezes! But I really don’t think any roads had problems as they were just a little too warm for anything to freeze on them. I also found this cool slideshow on the Tennessean’s website showing snow photos over the past several years.

Ok, enough nerdy weather science. Back to the usual links of interest:

Since I’ll be flying to NYC this Wed. with Megan, I thought it appropriate to post this video showing the astounding number of flights world wide over a 24 hour period.

Apparently astronomers are already tired of discovering exoplanets. Now they’re onto discovering exomoons around exoplanets! David Kipping at the University College London is working on a method of measuring the wobble of planets around other stars. So, we look at a distant star and observe its wobble caused by the tug of a large planet orbiting it. Then we directly image that planet with Hubble or even some ground-based telescope, and observe its own wobble, caused by it’s moon(s). Obviously this can only be done (at least for now) with very large planets (think Jupiter-sized or even bigger) that are close enough to be directly imaged, but still… AMAZING. Read the rest of the the story at Universe Today.

Finally, I give you Snowball, the Dancing Cockatoo: