I have been sitting on this idea of talking about the wild winter weather most of the country has seen. It would seem that Oregon has been the only contiguous state that did not see any sort of significant winter weather. The Upper Midwest, Midwest, and East coast have been slammed several times with heavy snow starting in November and continuing even today! Today's forecast is calling for snow in parts of Nebraska and Pennsylvania. I looked into some numbers from some major cities around the central part of the country. Check out these seasonal average snow fall totals compared to the observed totals for this season:
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN average: 42.3" observed: 76.5"
Chicago, IL average: 28.3" observed: 56.3"
Topeka, KS average: 4.3" observed: 19.1"
Oklahoma City, OK average: 2.1" observed: 18.9"
Sioux Falls, SD average: 7.4" observed: 14.8"
Some pretty impressive numbers! "Insert whitty Global Warming joke here" But seriously...that is a lot of snow. Which means that snow pack is probably a bit above normal for a lot of locations around the country. This could lead to water basins being at or above normal for many locations once melting begins. The people who have endured this extreme winter are probably looking forward to a break this Spring. However, Spring does not mean that there will be a break in the active weather.
We have just entered "tornado season", that typically extends from March through May-June. Spring is notorious for severe weather across much of the Midwest. The severe weather is caused by collision of the cool winter air still pouring down from Canada and warmer summer air that is pushing its way up from the south. These two air masses mix and create a ton of instability that often spins up severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Many of the states listed above lie directly in what is coined "Tornado Alley". This is where the highest frequency of tornadoes occur in the world!
Of course, we know tornadoes can be very dangerous and damaging. But we also need to keep in mind how dangerous all the snow can be, especially when it all melts when temperatures turn warmer and coupled with heavy rains from intense storms, can result in flooding. So even though the calendar says Spring, it doesn't mean a break in the severe weather for those who endured a long Winter.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Friday, March 11th, 2011. Probably a day I will never forget. I don't yet know anyone who was immediately impacted by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan (using the term "rocked" doesn't even do it justice). But as I pulled into the parking lot at work Friday at 2:30 a.m., I realized that it probably wouldn't be hard to stay awake this Friday.
My station was all over the news from the time the earthquake was reported. The 10 o'clock news crew was STILL at work at 2:30 the following morning when I walked into the studio. For a crew not use to running 5 straight hours of coverage, I was more than impressed with their drive. I immediately had to begin taking in information. I had NO clue the amount of devastation that had occurred. It took about 20 minuets to get oriented and on the same page with the rest of the crew. Sometime after 3 a.m., our morning crew officially took over and thus began an epic day. We wound up being on-air until 1:13 p.m.! Our morning anchors Pete and Deb, and weather guy Andy went through roughly 10 hours of straight, commercial-free news coverage!
The people behind the scenes were just as important in getting the coverage out for that long. So many people go into keeping a show on air for that long. At the end of the day, I have to give huge kudos to all of my co-workers. They inspired me to be at the top of my game all day long and I could not ask for a better set of co-workers and friends at the station! These people are all pros and contributed to a day I will never forget! Thank you all!