Thursday, October 7, 2010

Arizona twisters, Atlantic hurricane, and our 80s

We've got a couple topics to cover today, and the first is the outbreak of tornadoes before daybreak Wednesday in Arizona.

It looks as if there were four twisters, mostly in the northern part of the state, around Flagstaff. A low pressure system that was parked over central California spun up the severe storms, and the tornadoes destroyed about 200 homes.

I heard someone mention on a TV newscast today that October tornadoes in Arizona are almost unheard of, so let's go to the record book.

In the decade from 2000 and 2009, there were 38 tornadoes reported in Arizona. Is that a lot? How about these figures, for the same 10 years:

Texas: 1,526

Oklahoma: 529

North Carolina: 319

South Carolina: 313

Alaska: 3

OK, so tornadoes are pretty rare in Arizona, unless you're comparing it to Alaska, in which case Arizona is like Tornado Alley.

On average, there are almost four tornadoes a year in Arizona. Of the 38 in the last decade, five were in October, including three on Oct. 18, 2005. Five twisters in a month is actually more than the state's average, so the point is that tornadoes any time of year in Arizona are rare.

By the way, the low pressure system responsible for the stormy weather out West is weakening and won't have such an impact as it moves into the upper Midwest this weekend.

The Tropics: As we mentioned yesterday, Subtropical Storm Otto has become Tropical Storm Otto and is crawling along at 2 mph. The National Hurricane Center still thinks Otto could become a hurricane, but the forecast track continues to be out into the open Atlantic.

My brother Michael, who is even more of a Weather Guy than the Weather Guy himself, points out that my comparison of subtropical and tropical storms in Wednesday's blog entry failed to mention a key difference -- the temperature of the atmosphere in the center of the storm systems at different altitudes.

As he notes, a subtropical system has warm air near the surface and cold air aloft. A tropical system is warm in the center, from bottom to top.

And For Us: It's the same old pattern we saw in August and September, and I'm betting it's the same pattern we'll see much of this winter. High pressure is locked over the Southeast, which means it'll be warm and dry for the foreseeable future.

Those morning lows near 40 degrees earlier this week will be replaced by lows closer to 50, over the next few days. But we'll see a real difference in the afternoon. It didn't reach 70 earlier in the week, but we'll be looking at highs near 80 through early next week.

In fact, it could reach 82, 83 or even 84 degrees in Charlotte on Saturday or Sunday. Maybe the Chicago Bears will have problems with our heat when they come to town for Sunday's game.

Baseball Playoff Weather: No problems for today's Major League Baseball playoff games. It'll be in the upper 60s and dry at gametime early this evening in Minneapolis, for the Twins' game (and probable loss, given their history) against the New York Yankees.

In San Francisco, it'll be in the upper 50s for the first pitch of the Giants' game against the Atlanta Braves.

And in St. Petersburg, it'll be 80 degrees and sunny when the Rays face Texas in Game 2 of their series. Of course, that game's being played in a dome, and from the looks of attendance at Rays' games, most everyone is outdoors enjoying the sunshine.


Anonymous said...

As a Charlotte native, I love hot weather, and especially the 80 degree temps we are now having. What I don't like is how meteorologists who are from the Midwest or from up North say "It's going to be nice and cool tonight, in the 40's and 50's." That's COLD weather to us natives! And 80 and 90-degree temps are NOT too hot! The weather has been this way in NC forever. They need to remember that their entire audience is not ex-New Yorkers. Really, they need to keep their comments to themselves and just tell what the temperatures are going to be, and let US decide if it's too hot or too cold.