Basics of weather interpretation

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1 Basics of weather interpretation Safety at Sea Seminar, April 2 nd 2016 Dr. Gina Henderson Oceanography Dept., USNA Image source: accessed 03/03/13

2 The goal of this session is to: Understand main features on a surface weather chart Cloud interpretation as it relates to sailing conditions Severe weather on the Bay & en route to Bermuda Introduce upper atmospheric mb specifically Image source:

3 Weather products from NOAA Ocean Prediction Center

4 Weather products from NOAA Ocean Prediction Center

5 Weather products from NOAA Ocean Prediction Center

6 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Image source:

7 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Surface map ISSUED à time analysis was released VALID à Time conditions apply UTC/GMT/Zulu time Image source:

8 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: H vs. L? H vs. L relative to what? Mean sea level pressure à 1013 millibars Pressure gradients? Fronts? Image source:

9 Pressure gradients: At the surface winds cross the isobars toward low pressure and away from high pressure

10 Surface High pressure center Winds diverge at center Clockwise (anticyclonic flow) Surface Low pressure center Winds converge at center Counter-clockwise (cyclonic flow)

11 Wind 101 Wind à horizontal movement of air Naming wind o From source direction

12 Wind 101 Measuring wind speed o Knots o MPH o Beaufort Scale. force 1-12

13 Pressure Gradient Increased gradient à increased wind speed

14 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Where are the strongest winds on this chart? What direction are they flowing? Image source:

15 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Interpreting a station model Image source:

16 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Interpreting a station model Image source:

17 Interpreting a station model

18 Interpreting a station model

19 Interpreting a station model

20 Interpreting a station model: What information are we given? Surface pressure (upper right) Pressure tendency (not shown here) Wave height (lower right) Temperature (upper left) Dew point temp (lower left) Wind speed & direction Sky conditions (middle) Sea surface temp (lower middle)

21 Interpreting a station model: What information are we given? Pressure range is 960 mb to 1060 mb. You must decide if a 9 or 10 should go in front of the pressure.

22 Interpreting a station model: What information are we given? 10.9 In this case mb 109 Pressure range is 960 mb to 1060 mb. You must decide if a 9 or 10 should go in front of the pressure.

23 Interpreting a station model: What information are we given? Surface pressure (upper right) Pressure tendency (not shown here) Wave height (lower right) Temperature (upper left) Dew point temp (lower left) Wind speed & direction Sky conditions (middle) Sea surface temp (lower middle)

24 What can clouds tell us about approaching weather systems?

25 Sky conditions: Cloud types & identification Named based on: Height Shape

26 Cirrus = thin and wispy

27 Stratus = flat clouds in layers

28 Cumulus = puffy clouds in heaps

29 Nimbostratus = rain (grey in color)

30 Cumulonimbus = thunderstorm

31 4 main types of thunderstorms, depending on how organized the system is Airmass à away from frontal boundary driven by intense surface heating, rarely produces hail/tornadoes 2. Squall line à a line of storms, often along a frontal boundary Associated with heavy precipitation, winds and potentially hail/tornadoes

32 4 main types of thunderstorms, depending on how organized the system is Multi-cell à storms occur in clusters Most common in spring/summer 4. Supercellà most intense and severe Supercell thunderstorm updrafts ALWAYS rotate

33 Thunderstorm clouds -- green tinge may indicate presence of hail

34 Thunderstorm clouds -- Hook echo, Tulsa 03/30/16

35 Squall Line Long line of thunderstorms o individual cells are so close together the heavy precipitation forms a long continuous line Typically form along an advancing cold front o Sometimes associated with a cold front aloft Can be hundreds of miles long Most commonly associated with strong straight-line winds o Can produce hail and/or tornadoes, too Called squall because of the abrupt wind changes

36 Squall Lines Squall line thunderstorms

37 Squall Lines Squall line thunderstorms L

38 Squall line approaching Memphis, TN. Note the heaviest precip is along the leading (eastern) edge of the line, with moderate but still continuous rainfall occurring 100+ km behind (to the west) of the line

39 Shelf cloud: found along the leading edge of the gust front

40 Squall Lines

41 Squall Lines

42 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Pressure gradients Fronts? A front is a transition zone between two air masses of different temperature and moisture content (they have different densities) Image source:

43 Air Masses have uniform temperature & moisture characteristics Figure 5.21

44 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Fronts, 4 main types 1. A stationary front 2. A cold front 3. A warm front 4. An occluded front Image source:

45 Mid latitude cyclones = clash of two different air mass types!

46 Image source: accessed 04/01/14 Let us compare the surface observations ahead, and behind the front

47 Stationary Front Cold air. X Warm air Cloud types depend on the atmospheric stability Precipitation intensity depends on the situation

48 Cold Front marks the front of a cold air mass How is it represented on a map? What type of clouds and weather is it associated with?

49 Warm Front marks the front of a warm air mass How is it represented on a map? What type of clouds and weather is it associated with?

50 Occluded Front Clouds and precipitation depend on the atmospheric stability

51 The following criteria are used to locate fronts: 1. Sharp temperature changes 2. Sharp dew point changes 3. Wind shift lines 4. Pressure changes (pressure tendency ) 5. The presence of clouds and precipitation

52 cp mp The following criteria are used to locate fronts: ct mt 1. Sharp temperature changes 2. Sharp dew point changes 3. Wind shift lines 4. Pressure changes (pressure tendency ) 5. The presence of clouds and precipitation

53 Interpreting a station model: What information are we given? Surface pressure (upper right) Pressure tendency (not shown here) Wave height (lower right) Temperature (upper left) Dew point temp (lower left) Wind speed & direction Sky conditions (middle) Sea surface temp (lower middle) Water holding capacity of atmosphere.. Amount of water in atmosphere. Dew point depression = T - TD

54 Image source: accessed 04/01/14

55 How do we forecast where surface systems will move? Look UP!

56 Let us identify some features on this Surface Analysis map: Where will our surface systems move to? Will they intensify or weaken? Image source:

57 500mb Chart: forecast -- Gives us the height where we reach 500mb of pressure

58 500mb Chart vs. Surface chart

59 500mb Chart: forecast -- Also called the steering level of the atmosphere

60 Let us track where our surface Low and surface High go... L H

61 24-hour forecasted surface map

62 Weather products from NOAA Ocean Prediction Center

63 24-hour wind & wave product

64 24-hour wind & wave product Wave height (ft) = total height from crest to trough

65 Hurricanes Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th

66 Hurricanes Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th

67 The goal of this session is to: ü Understand main features on a surface weather chart ü Cloud interpretation as it relates to sailing conditions ü Severe weather on the Bay & en route to Bermuda Dr. Gina Henderson Oceanography Dept., USNA ü Introduce upper atmospheric mb specifically Image source:

Mid latitude Cyclonic Storm System. 08 _15 ab. jpg

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