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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Homeland Security Threat Level: YELLOW (ELEVATED)
Significant National Weather:
A strong and very moist storm system will develop over western Washington today bringing heavy rain, upper elevation snow and strong winds to the Pacific Northwest. Parts of the Cascades, Bitterroots, and mountainous regions of Wyoming may see up to 12 inches of snow by tomorrow evening. Elsewhere, the region will be mild and sunny, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s across the lower elevations of California and the Desert Southwest.
Light to moderate snow can be expected today in the Upper Midwest from northern Minnesota across Wisconsin. Up to 4-6 inches of snow will be possible from northeastern Iowa through north-central Minnesota, with heavier amounts closer to the Canadian border. Elsewhere, expect light showers and possible thunderstorms to move across portions of the Middle Mississippi and Ohio Valleys.
Tuesday should be mainly dry, with light showers possible in parts of the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys. Look for temperatures to remain slightly above average, with highs in the 60s and 70s in the Southeastern U.S., and in the 50s from Arkansas to the southern Appalachians & northern North Carolina.
Some light precipitation is expected today, with a chance of showers in upstate New York, and portions of Pennsylvania & West Virginia. Elsewhere will be mainly dry from New England down through the eastern Mid-Atlantic, with temperatures from near average to 15 degrees above average.
Mid-Atlantic Winter Storm Power Restoration:
Power restoration continues for a winter storm that occurred Sunday February 19, 2012 and stretched from eastern Tennessee and Kentucky across to North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The storm brought heavy, wet snow that resulted in numerous power outages across several states. As of 5:15 a.m. EST, Kentucky Power was reporting 16,742 customers still without power, with restoration expected by Friday, February 24. Appalachian Power, servicing most of the affected areas in Virginia and West Virginia, was reporting more than 20,839 customers without power and expects to have power restored to 90% of their customers by midnight Friday. Appalachian Power has approximately 740 contract line workers, 500 tree trimmers and 80 damage assessors assisting their employees with service restoration. Meanwhile, Dominion Virginia Electric reports that power has been restored to all customers. There continue to be no reports of shelters opening due to the power outages. None of the State Emergency Operation Centers have activated; there have been no requests for FEMA assistance and none is anticipated.
Severe Thunderstorms‚Kansas & Oklahoma:
A Severe Storm system brought rain, hail and straight-line winds with gusts over 60 mph to portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas on Monday evening, February 20, 2012. Minor damages were reported to some homes, mobile homes and businesses‚primarily in the Oklahoma City area‚however, no major damage was reported. Media reported one storm-related fatality (unconfirmed) near Ada, Oklahoma in southeastern Oklahoma. Power restoration is nearly complete, and as of 5:15 a.m. EST, Entergy Power (Arkansas) was reporting just over 400 customers without power, while Weststar Energy (Kansas) reports that power has been restored to nearly all customers. None of the State Emergency Operation Centers are activated; there has been no request for FEMA assistance and none is anticipated.
Western Washington River Flooding:
The combination of heavy precipitation and mild temperatures continuing through tomorrow morning in the coast and mountains of Washington State could lead to possible flooding in some of its western rivers, and a flood watch remains in effect this afternoon through Thursday afternoon for western portions of the state. Total rainfall will likely be 4 to 7 inches over the Cascades for the 36-hour period spanning from yesterday morning through tomorrow evening (PST), however, as is often the case during heavy rain events, some areas of even greater amounts are likely. The rivers of greatest risk of major flooding are those flowing out of eastern King and Snohomish counties off the Cascades‚ western slopes. These include‚but are not limited to‚the Stillaguamish, the Skykomish, the Tolt, the Snohomish, and the Snoqualmie Rivers. Model uncertainty is great enough that all rivers in western Washington have some risk of flooding, and a flood watch has been issued for all main stem rivers, including those on the Olympic Peninsula and the entire Chehalis Basin.
No space weather storms were observed for the past 24 hours and no space weather storms are predicted for the next 24 hours.
Space Weather Center to Add World‚s First "Ensemble Forecasting" Capability:
Improved Forecasting to Coincide with Peak in Solar Activity
After years of relative quiet, the sun is beginning to stir. By the time it's fully awake in about 20 months, the team at NASA‚s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., charged with researching and tracking solar activity, will have at their disposal a greatly enhanced forecasting capability. Goddard's Space Weather Laboratory recently received support under NASA's Space Technology Program Game Changing Program to implement "ensemble forecasting," a computer technique already used by meteorologists to track potential paths and impacts of hurricanes and other severe weather events. Instead of analyzing one set of solar-storm conditions, as is the case now, Goddard forecasters will be able to simultaneously produce as many as 100 computerized forecasts by calculating multiple possible conditions. Just as important, they will be able to do this quickly and use the information to provide alerts of space weather storms that could potentially be harmful to astronauts and NASA spacecraft.
Sun Growing Restless
Since the sun reached its solar minimum in 2008‚the period when the number of sunspots is lowest‚it has begun to awaken from its slumber and is now entering a solar maximum as part of its 11-year cycle, which is expected to peak in 2013. During this time, more powerful Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), often associated with M- and X-class flare events, become more numerous and can affect any planet or spacecraft in its path. In the past, solar storms have disrupted power grids on Earth and damaged instrumentation on satellites. They can also be harmful to astronauts if they are not warned to take protective cover. With this in mind, NASA recognized the importance of accurately predicting future solar storm conditions.
Weaknesses in Current System
Currently, the laboratory is running one CME model, meaning it is calculating one set of parameters at a time. The parameters are derived from near real-time data gathered by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, among others. However, imperfections currently exist in the data‚imperfections which grow over time, leading to forecasts that don't agree with the evolution of actual conditions. Ensemble forecasting, however, overcomes the weaknesses in the data by allowing forecasters to tweak the conditions. In essence, the multiple forecasts provide information on the different ways the CME can evolve over the next few hours, ultimately improving forecasting techniques. Once this forecasting technique is verified and validated by NASA's Space Weather Laboratory, the capability will be made available to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, which is responsible for issuing national space weather alerts. NASA's goal to understand and track space weather activity will enable a greatly enhanced forecasting capability for U.S. interests.
Tropical Weather Outlook
No new activity (FEMA HQ)
No new activity (FEMA HQ)
Friday, February 17, 2012 (For period 10‚17 February, 2012):
National Preparedness Level: 1, Initial Attack Activity: Light (568 new fires)
New Large Fires: 3, Large Fires Contained: 2, Uncontained Large Fires: 1, Type 1 IMT Committed: 0, Type 2 IMT Committed: 0, State Affected: FL & AZ
Disaster Declaration Activity
No new activity (FEMA HQ)