Dual-polarization data isn’t flowing to most people yet — based on my experience with the upgrade at Sterling, VA earlier this year, a day or two of calibration is still needed before the products are turned on over the Level III data stream (which serves a majority of the radar apps out there, including GRLevel3 and RadarScope). Dual-pol moments are available over Level II, though I’ll wait to rely too heavily on them until NWS gives the data its public blessing.
RadarScope 1.1 for Mac is out. RadarScope has been my go-to radar app on iOS since I got my iPod touch back in 2009, and quickly became my go-to solution for a Mac-native radar viewer. Version 1.0 was fairly solid but was missing some of the AllisonHouse and Spotter Network integration features the iOS version had. No worries, though, as 1.1 adds those back (lightning data being, for me, the most critical) along with some welcome UI tweaks to more easily control the radar display. While I still bring out GR2Analyst in my Boot Camp partition for heavy-duty analysis, I always keep RadarScope open in a Space for quick reference, and thanks to the improvements in 1.1, I’ll use it even more extensively. RadarScope is $30 and available in the Mac App Store (AllisonHouse data is subscription-based — I have had the $10/month “Storm Chaser” plan for many years and it has proven invaluable).
I can’t remember the last time I saw snow in December in SC; that’s what made the snow showers over the weekend that much more fun. Accumulation was very sparse (definitely not like snows we had back in February) but it was still a good time. Here are some iPhone photos I took during the snowstorm. There are a few photos of the heaviest snows still stuck on my mother’s point-and-shoot that I should extract and upload. Also, don’t forget this video of one of the snow showers.
This severe thunderstorm, referred to as extremely dangerous by the Charleston National Weather Service, was about as intense as advertised, and was quite a scare for one driver, as this NWS storm report illustrates (emphasis added):
CHS: 1 W Hilton Head Island [Beaufort Co, SC] law enforcement reports TSTM WND DMG at 05:34 PM EDT — large oak tree fell on car at intersection of jenkins island road and hwy 278. driver uninjured.
Yeesh. Glad the driver’s OK. Here’s a roundup of today’s storm reports — was a windy one out there on Tybee Island.
Hurricane Alex made landfall on the Mexican coast tonight as a Category 2 hurricane. The velocity image above is pretty ominous; the bright oranges and deep blues (indicating motion away from and toward the radar site to the north, respectively) are indicative of very strong winds upwards of 115-120 MPH (the radar beam at its lowest tilt, at a distance of 108 nautical miles from the Brownsville radar, is looking at the hurricane at around 14,000 feet, hence the slightly higher winds from the advertised 105 MPH surface winds at landfall). The base reflectivity image is pretty impressive as well, showing lots of spiral rain bands being tossed into south Texas. The most startling image though is the estimated storm rain totals already exceeding a foot of rain in some spots. There will be much flooding before this is all said and done. Thoughts are with those in Texas and Mexico this evening as this storm pushes through.
The first rumbles of Spring are about in Charleston today, and I still find myself longing for software comparable to GR2Analyst, my go-to RADAR analysis software, on the Mac. However, WeatherScope, a project of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey at the University of Oklahoma, fills a need I had on Windows for a full-fledged weather map. In addition to overlaying Level III NEXRAD, it also lets you pull surface and upper-air data from a variety of sources, and plot it in a variety of ways. The interface is a bit cumbersome at first and the software takes some work to set up, but you can configure a pretty nice map in little time. Take a look at a map I created with a composite of the three state NEXRAD installations, a gradient and numerical display of air temperature, and a contour display of area dewpoints. While this software certainly will not replace GR2Analyst for RADAR functionality, it certainly holds its own, especially for free software!
It’s never good when a fire registers on a weather radar, and well enough to show up in a vertical cross-section to boot. My thoughts are with those who are under siege from wildfires near Myrtle Beach. As a San Diego native whose family has been under repeated threat from wildfires over the last several years, I’m very sensitive to such situations.
Today was remarkable in Charleston for another reason than a historic day in America; depending on where you were, it snowed! It will continue to do so, too, throughout the evening and into tonight. Here’s a radar still from 6:00 PM, showing where snow has been reported (lots of places!)
NWS Charleston has noted accumulations of up to a quarter inch in Colleton County, with a trace of snow throughout the Charleston metro. I, personally, have seen a few flakes but nothing really out of the ordinary just yet. I’ll take video if/when I do. However, it seems as if the heaviest snow is remaining to the south and west; no telling if it will creep a bit more northeast. NWS keeps us in a 60% chance of snow and a Winter Weather Advisory until 11 PM, so it’s likely that we’ll see a bit more snow in the area before it’s over. Major accumulations aren’t expected; rather, the threat will be from puddles where it rained/sleeted earlier this morning refreezing overnight, as temperatures are expected to dip into the lower 20s inland (mid-20s near the coast). Wind chills will be somewhere in the low teens again. (It’s clear that Old Man Winter is reasserting himself after that absolutely balmy December.) Be very careful driving tomorrow morning in rush hour!
This morning I started the #omgsnow09 hashtag for Twitter users to make snow reports; there have been a lot of reports in North Charleston, and a couple in Summerville as well. Keep an eye on that one throughout the evening as more reports roll in. Also, watch @chswx on Twitter for updates as needed.
I’ve got a pretty rudimentary radar page going so you can monitor today’s impending storms. No, it’s not AJAXy and uses a low-tech meta refresh to reload every five minutes…but hey, I could whip it up in 10 minutes at a terminal. :) I might add some stuff on my lunch break later, so keep an eye out.