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Foliage Forecast #2: September 12, 2016
After our last forecast, the rain seemed to all but disappear in the Smokies! We’ve had some very dry and hot conditions throughout late summer…but that could actually be great news! The dry weather forces trees to build up the chemical that eventually creates the most vibrant colors…so we’re extremely hopeful for a fantastic display of fall colors! The question right now is “when”. The warm weather isn’t motivating any trees to kick into transforming any time soon…plus, we have some wet weather in the forecast, which could also delay the colors just a bit as well.

So, to sum all of that up, we’re expecting very vibrant colors but if the temperatures continue to be hot then the colors will likely peak in the later half of October in the upper elevations and early November in the lower elevations.

http://www.gatlinburgtnguide.com/news/gatlinburg-fall-colors-and-foliage-report/

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The timing of leaves changing have nothing to do with temperature as implied above, it's all about the hours of daylight getting shorter. Leaves fall because trees don't have enough daylight in winter to maintain photosynthesis. We've had heavy rain showers over small parts of the area yesterday and again today. The storms have started along Cumberland Mountain two afternoons in a row now and look to be spilling into the western areas of the Eastern Tn valley where it borders the Plateau or remaining over the Plateau.

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Believe the GFS has too strong of a US trough toward the end of Sept. CFS weeklies will whiff again; lol at two cool weeks! Typhoon Meranti is over mainland South China and will weaken before reaching the jet stream from North China to Japan. Typhoon Malakas is forecast to recurve near Taiwan toward Japan; however, it will probably weaken before reaching the jet stream too. European is handling the typhoons a little better. Figure the European weeklies tonight will keep a weaker shorter-lived US trough end of Sept. 

Extended warmth will not affect leaves either way, as John notes. It can delay things a few days, but sunlight drives the change. Also fall freezes have no impact because the trees are already closing shop for winter. Spring freezes are more important, which we escaped this year even if barely in a few places. Ditto for dry. I am a little concerned about the spring dryness earlier. However late season drought, counter-intuitively, can help color as Jax shares above.

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Guessing when the leaves will peak is not an exact science.  I have seen peaks in mid-October and as late as the first week in November to provide some examples of extremes.  Dry, hot weather right now is making many of them drop with no color.  Last year, the leaves started a bit early and then "paused."  This year, they seem on time or even a day or two late.  I see a ton of yellows and browns.  Seems like many trees are heat/drought stressed and are just dropping them. Might not be as good as last year.  But who really knows.  Like trying to guess when the cherry blossoms in DC will peak. Just ready for some cooler weather!!!  Don't see any great signs yet for that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It looks like we're actually going to get some cooler weather and maybe even a little rain.  I can't believe it!  This has been a brutal couple of months.  I don't have data to back it up, but this seems like the driest my location has been since I moved here in the mid 90s.  I pretty much gave up on watering the garden over a month ago.  Maybe the dust bowl is coming to an end.  Hoping to get the fall garden planted next weekend.  I sure hope fall/winter is substantially wetter.

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The models are wildly variable on Matthew last I looked. The Euro had it churning over the Bahamas as a strong cat 4 for days. The Canadian has it running up well off the coast then hitting Maine as a powerful storm. The GFS was hugging the coast before moving it into Rhode Island/Connecticut at strong cat 2 strength. 

Both the GFS and Canadian solutions featured the back side snow that we've seen before from hurricanes reaching up north in October. 

Not looked at today's runs yet to see how radically they might have shifted.

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Geez, looking at the GFS, it's horribly initialized. It's off by 60mb on the current strength of Matthew from the start of it's run. Not sure how the 12z run can ignore current data and start the storm out at 1000mb still. The NHC mentioned that all the models totally missed it intensification but I don't see how they keep missing it once it's already happened.

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On October 1, 2016 at 1:50 PM, John1122 said:

Geez, looking at the GFS, it's horribly initialized. It's off by 60mb on the current strength of Matthew from the start of it's run. Not sure how the 12z run can ignore current data and start the storm out at 1000mb still. The NHC mentioned that all the models totally missed it intensification but I don't see how they keep missing it once it's already happened.

Some of the 12z runs may impact the eastern portion of our forum, especially wind at elevation.  Heat in some areas.  Decent shift west by several models.

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The models still can't get a handle on the central pressure. It's 934 and the GFS has it at 991, the Euro is a little closer, only missing it by 20 millibars. Still, terrible handling of the intensity of a power house of a storm. The 00z shifted even further west than the 18z, which had shifted and caused the NHC to shift the track left earlier.

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On 10/5/2016 at 4:21 AM, whamby said:

still 40s on latest GFS for most of E. Tennessee... but a touch warmer. The lack of rain is alarming. When is the last time period we've seen such a prolonged drought?

I believe Chattanooga is well ahead of pace to have the driest year on record. I'm having trouble finding my source right now, but I think I remember that the previous driest year had around 35-36". We are still under 25" with under 3 months left in the year. The rest of October isn't looking promising either. It's a very odd drought as well, since areas to the east, west, north, and south are all at or well above normal for the year.

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10 minutes ago, Stovepipe said:

The 12z NAM is trying to drop a third of an inch of rain on me Friday.  I'd sure like to see that happen.  We're in fire hazard territory now.

Hey Stove. I'm with you on those thoughts. We're at only 0.03" in the last 22 days. Just missed a decent amount from the back edge of Mathews moisture field. Neighboring Scott county picked up half to and inch in much of the county.

This dryness is causing big diurnal, nocturnal temp. ranges. Cold nights, warm days. Down to 35 here yesterday morning with patchy frost and 39 this a.m.. High yesterday 73.

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10.11.16

12z Euro and EPS are hinting at a cool down in the long range relative to norms.  That also includes the latest weeklies.  Shew!  It has been hot since May.  The timing of the cool down(not sure I would call it a pattern shift...more of a seasonal step down) varies as many times models are all over the place once they "see" the change on the horizon.  But the wall to wall above normal temps seems to go to a transitional period just after October 20th.  The weeklies show a pretty cool week 4.  All of that is waaaay past guidance for IMBY stuff, but in general it appears there will at least be a break from above normal temps and possibly a weak hint at an eastern trough setting up shop maybe around or just after the first week in November.  I have no idea how long that set-up would last. 

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11 hours ago, Stovepipe said:

The 12z NAM is trying to drop a third of an inch of rain on me Friday.  I'd sure like to see that happen.  We're in fire hazard territory now.

Our yards up here are just absolutely fried.  Crispy brown they are.  Anyway, I mentioned the Euro in the post above.  It also seems to bring a bit more rainfall to the area in the mid to long range.  Going to be tough to break this drought, but I will take average rainfall amounts over the nada we are experiencing right now.  My sweet potatoes are thriving in this dryness.  I tucked the rest of my garden in for the winter almost a month ago, because the ground was bone dry...still is.  Have planted zero fall crops.  Might be the most boring weather pattern I have ever experienced as I really have no interest in droughts.  Has been sunny and dry for weeks on end. 

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On 10/11/2016 at 11:45 AM, Stovepipe said:

The 12z NAM is trying to drop a third of an inch of rain on me Friday.  I'd sure like to see that happen.  We're in fire hazard territory now.

We actually have 2 fires burning in this area now. One is on the side of Lookout Mtn in NW GA, the other on the side of Signal Mtn in TN. They aren't huge fires, but they have now been burning for almost a week and neither are contained.

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The MJO is showing signs of getting into phase 8 and 1 in Nov. and even out of the COD,this would be a wet pattern by the anomolies in the Valley for Nov by both the GFS and Euro.The last drought monitor updated Thursday shows much of the Valley in some sort of drought,nothing to the extreme the SE Valley is showing.Maybe relief is on the way.Both the GFS and Euro are showing another system 9-10 days out

United States Drought Monitor   Home.png

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Think Carver mentioned it as well as i did.What was looking to be a good cool down in the Valley into the first part of Nov., it's starting to not look good anymore,The weeklies which were showing a trough with maybe even a freeze into the TYS area backed off this into a more zonal look with some 850mb temps around -20--25c locked up into Central Canada.Latest run off the Euro today basically shows the same in East Asia,looking more zonal

Numerical Model Prediction   Tropical Tidbits.png

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Weeklies are back to showing some cooler weather the end of around wk.1 into wk2 of Nov again.The MJO is showing signs it could get into 8 and 1 down the road,though the Euro  keeps some weaker signals.If it does get into 1 in Nov,anomolies are warmer and wetter,the severe thread could get active again,its been in a dormant stage for some time. :)

Phase Diagrams for MJO Tracking.png

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After last week's rain chance fell apart I probably shouldn't get my hopes up for this one, but it's looking pretty good.  GFS and SREF average show a solid half inch of rain for TYS with the NAM a bit more.  Saturday is looking like perfect campfire weather with the high not even hitting 60.  We'll see how it pans out.

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1 hour ago, Stovepipe said:

After last week's rain chance fell apart I probably shouldn't get my hopes up for this one, but it's looking pretty good.  GFS and SREF average show a solid half inch of rain for TYS with the NAM a bit more.  Saturday is looking like perfect campfire weather with the high not even hitting 60.  We'll see how it pans out.

Man, just ready to fire-up my wood stove.  This is the first year that I have truly seasoned firewood.  Have almost three years worth put back.  It doesn't look as nice as the pic Coach B shared, but it will do.  Locust, oak, silver maple and ash.  Anyway, have my WeatherBell account activated again.  Been watching JB some...might be blasphemy to mention that.  However, he had some nice comments about the current cold in Asia and Europe along w/ the extreme warmth in the Arctic.  He likes the idea that the pattern will grow colder during the second half of November for the East.  There is some support for that idea in the LR.  Plus...that is not hugely earth shattering to predict that cold weather will arrive in late November.   However, after this wall-to-wall warmth...I welcome the change. 

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