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  • We can continue to count down to the end of the hurricane season - Nov. 30th.  For daily updates on the tropics, go to 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'. While we're still technically in the tropical season, winter is starting to show its true colors across the Lower 48.  First.... a swath of snow covered the ground from the Plains to New England.  As an arctic high pressure moved east/southeast, the snow 'field' helped to keep cold air 'refrigerated' as the cold front plowed south & east.  The result was some of the coldest temps. for Jacksonville & surrounding areas since March into early April with a 'slew' of record lows from Texas to Michigan.  Some parts of inland Ga. had their first freeze of the season - anywhere from 1-2 weeks earlier than average.  The avg. first date for 32 degrees or lower: Check out the beautiful photos sent to me from Sean Riley, St. Augustine early Tue. (Nov. 12).  A fog bow forms when the sunlight is reflected/refracted off the water vapor/droplets that make up fog.  Due to the very tiny size of the water droplets that make up fog, the 'bow' appears white or even bluish in color (vs. the color spectrum of a typical rainbow caused by the sun reflecting off & through much larger raindrops).  More on fogbows * here *.
  • We're in the last month of the Atlantic hurricane season.  Only two hurricanes - going back to 1851 - have made landfall on U.S. soil during the month of Nov.  'Yankee' hit Miami Nov. 4, 1934 & 'Kate' hit the Fl. Panhandle Nov. 22, 1985.  More in 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'. For the 2nd year in a row, we're having a very warm autumn.  October was the 6th warmest on record for Jacksonville & the warmest since 1981.  Every month this year so far has been above avg.: And October was a dry month for NE Fl...  wetter for SE Ga.  From our Jax N.W.S.: FL JASPER 2.59  BEAUCLERC 5.05  JACKSONVILLE BEACH 7.62  LAKE CITY 2 E 2.95 GLEN ST MARY 1 W 3.40   SOUTH PONTE VEDRA BEACH SHOP 5.20  CRESCENT CITY 5.57   GAINESVILLE RGNL AP 3.59  HASTINGS 4NE 4.23  WHITE SPRINGS 7N 2.17  JACKSONVILLE CRAIG MUNI AP 6.57  JACKSONVILLE INTL AP 3.30  JACKSONVILLE NAS 4.89   MAYPORT NAVAL STATION 7.58  BELL 4NW 3.57  FEDERAL POINT 5.69  GEORGIA: PRIDGEN 5.45  ALMA BACON CO AP 3.48   NAHUNTA 6 NE 4.30  BRUNSWICK 7.35  BRUNSWICK MALCOLM MCKINNON AP 5.36   WOODBINE 8.90 Speaking of rainfall....now that we're in standard time, residents are only allowed to water their yards & landscaping once a week.  Though typically drier this time of year, days or shorter & temps. are cooler so less water is generally needed.  From St. Johns River Management District: Starting Sunday, Nov. 3, homeowners and businesses will fall back to once-a-week landscape irrigation across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District. Nov. 3 is the day that Eastern Standard Time begins. 'Healthy lawns in our area require no more than one day a week of irrigation during cooler weather, based on scientific analysis from the University of Florida,' said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. 'So, when you change your clocks Saturday night, be sure to also reset your sprinkler timers to water only on the designated day for your address. And thanks for doing your part to protect Florida's water resources!' The district's new Water Less campaign features four seasonal themes, starting with 'Fall Back' in November to encourage once-a-week watering as temperatures begin cooling. Public water supply is the largest category of water use in the district's 18-county region — about 565.5 million gallons of water a day. The bulk of this water is for residential water use, and landscape irrigation can account for more than 50 percent of total water use at residential locations. Because lawns need significantly less water in Florida's winter months, watering restrictions are in place to ensure that water used for irrigation is used efficiently. During Eastern Standard Time, landscape irrigation is limited to no more than one day a week on the following schedule: • Saturday at addresses that end in an odd number or have no address • Sunday at addresses that end in an even number • Tuesday at nonresidential addresses • No irrigation is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Irrigation restrictions apply to all landscape watering not currently regulated by a consumptive use permit, which typically includes residential, commercial and industrial landscapes, and includes water withdrawn from ground or surface water, from a private well or pump, or from a public or private water utility. Golf courses, plant nurseries, agricultural crops, and sports recreational areas generally have consumptive use permits that specify their irrigation limitations. Massive Amazon wildfires made headlines in Sept. with the typical flippant blame placed solely on climate change.  But as is often the case, there are extenuating circumstances: A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that this increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, analyzed decades of ground and satellite data over the Amazon rainforest to track both how much moisture was in the atmosphere and how much moisture was needed to maintain the rainforest system. 'We observed that in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in dryness in the atmosphere as well as in the atmospheric demand for water above the rainforest,' said JPL's Armineh Barkhordarian, lead author of the study. 'In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years, we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability.'  So if it's not natural, what's causing it? Barkhordarian said that elevated greenhouse gas levels are responsible for approximately half of the increased aridity. The rest is the result of ongoing human activity, most significantly, the burning of forests to clear land for agriculture and grazing. The combination of these activities is causing the Amazon's climate to warm. When a forest burns, it releases particles called aerosols into the atmosphere - among them, black carbon, commonly referred to as soot. While bright-colored or translucent aerosols reflect radiation, darker aerosols absorb it. When the black carbon absorbs heat from the sun, it causes the atmosphere to warm; it can also interfere with cloud formation and, consequently, rainfall. Why It Matters The Amazon is the largest rainforest on Earth. When healthy, it absorbs billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) a year through photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert CO 2 , energy and water into food. By removing CO 2  from the atmosphere, the Amazon helps to keep temperatures down and regulate climate. But it's a delicate system that's highly sensitive to drying and warming trends. Trees and plants need water for photosynthesis and to cool themselves down when they get too warm. They pull in water from the soil through their roots and release water vapor through pores on their leaves into the atmosphere, where it cools the air and eventually rises to form clouds. The clouds produce rain that replenishes the water in the soil, allowing the cycle to continue. Rainforests generate as much as 80% of their own rain, especially during the dry season. But when this cycle is disrupted by an increase in dry air, for instance, a new cycle is set into motion - one with significant implications, particularly in the southeastern Amazon, where trees can experience more than four to five months of dry season.   'It's a matter of supply and demand. With the increase in temperature and drying of the air above the trees, the trees need to transpire to cool themselves and to add more water vapor into the atmosphere. But the soil doesn't have extra water for the trees to pull in,' said JPL's Sassan Saatchi, co-author of the study. 'Our study shows that the demand is increasing, the supply is decreasing and if this continues, the forest may no longer be able to sustain itself.' Scientists observed that the most significant and systematic drying of the atmosphere is in the southeast region, where the bulk of deforestation and agricultural expansion is happening. But they also found episodic drying in the northwest Amazon, an area that typically has no dry season. Normally always wet, the northwest has suffered severe droughts over the past two decades, a further indication of the entire forest's vulnerability to increasing temperatures and dry air. If this trend continues over the long term and the rainforest reaches the point where it can no longer function properly, many of the trees and the species that live within the rainforest ecosystem may not be able to survive. As the trees die, particularly the larger and older ones, they release CO 2  into the atmosphere; and the fewer trees there are, the less CO 2  the Amazon region would be able to absorb - meaning we'd essentially lose an important element of climate regulation. The study, 'A Recent Systematic Increase in Vapor Pressure Deficit Over Tropical South America,' was published in October in Scientific Reports. The science team used data from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Terra satellite. NASA/JPL-Caltech, NASA Earth Observatory: Night skies into early Dec. courtesy skyandtelescope.com Top: The path of Mercury across the Sun's disk on November 11th. Cardinal directions are in a celestial frame of reference; the Sun will appear tilted counterclockwise 40 to 60 from this view at sunrise (depending on your latitude) and clockwise by roughly the same amount in late afternoon. Bottom: Here's where the November 11th transit of Mercury will be observable.  DO NOT try to observe this with the naked eye! Credit: Sky & Telescope                                                               Nov. 9–11 (dawn): Mars passes 2 to the upper left of Spica, the blue-white alpha star in Virgo. Nov. 11 (daytime): Tiny Mercury transits (crosses) the Sun, with the midpoint occurring at 10:20 a.m. EST. This 5 -hour event is entirely visible from the eastern U.S.; roughly west of Mississippi River, the transit is under way at sunrise. This is a telescopic event (not visible without optical aid). Never look at the Sun directly, by eye or through a telescope, without using an approved solar filter. See skyantelescope.com for more details. Nov. 16–17 (all night): The typically weak Leonid meteors should peak tonight; waning gibbous Moon will interfere. Nov. 22–24 (dusk): Venus and Jupiter pass one another low in southwest, separately by 2 or less. Nov. 27–30 (dusk): Three planets and the waxing crescent Moon grace the southwestern sky. The Moon climbs higher each evening, visiting Venus and then Saturn along the way. Jupiter is lowest on the horizon.   Dec. 1 (dusk): Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter form an 18 long string above the southwestern horizon after sunset. The waxing crescent Moon guards the trio of planets from upper left is to their upper left. Dec. 10 (dusk): Venus and Saturn are less than 2 apart not far above the southwestern horizon.   Moon Phases First Quarter: November 4, 5:23 a.m. EST Full Moon: November 12, 8:24 a.m. EST (Full Beaver Moon; also Full Frosty Moon) Last Quarter: November 19, 4:11 p.m. EST New Moon: November 26, 10:06 a.m. EST
  • 5 weeks left in the hurricane season - 'Talking the Tropics With Mike' updated every day. Summer is trying to hang on.  Yet another 90-degree day (91) Tue., 10/22 was the 100th 90 degree day of the year.  The avg. for a year is 82 days, & we were just 5 days from the latest 90 degree day ever recorded - Oct. 27th. The unseasonable heat occurred ahead of a strong cold front that dipped temps. the next (Wed., 10/23) morning to the coolest in nearly 6 months! But the cool air will not be around long & heat & especially humidity return for the weekend into a good part of the following week (I always say you have to wait 'til Halloween - at least - for when cool air will move in & stay). While we've had some chilly air enter the Northern & NW U.S. this month, arctic ice is well below avg. - some 3 million sq km below the avg. of 8.4 million sq km. - from the National Snow & Ice Data Center.  This despite a very snowy spring & early summer that saw snow on the ground into late July in Greenland. Interesting read from phys.org - on Florida mangroves - click here.  Mangroves are tropical, salt-tolerant trees that die of during severe freezes.  Florida's last widespread significant freeze was in Jan., 2010 but a long term widespread severe freeze has not occurred since the 1980s.  On average, these harsh freezes occur every 10-30 years, so we're due to say the least.  The article points out that data doesn't necessarily point ot climate change for the latest move north by the mangroves which serve a vital role in our coastal environment: (1) protect against storm surge during hurricanes.... (2) good at removing carbon (greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. Photo from NOAA: Lots of talk & controversy regarding a major EF-3 tornado in Dallas Sunday night (Oct. 20th) & the manner in which tornado warnings were - or were not - communicated via television.   The FCC may very well become involved.  The NBC affliate was showing the Dallas Cowboy game which led the station only occasionally breaking into programming - including weather/storm crawls - despite a large EF-3 damage moving through populated areas of North Dallas.  See an interesting video timeline * here * showing all four local t.v. stations at the same time & their handling of the tornado warning.  Video & pics from 'LiveScience' - here. This protocol is constantly scrutinized by consumers.  Action News Jax policy is to break into regular programming for all tornado warnings. Interesting air pressure readings: Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center, has been awarded the Service to America medal for his pioneering work on storm inundation & storm surge including public warnings.  I've had a chance to interview Jamie on multiple occasions.... I've followed his work & research... & now I use many of the forecast products he's helped develop to warn & advise you about storm surge & water levels during a tropical storm or hurricane.  Job well done! Example of a storm inundation map - forecast feet above ground level.  This map has proven to be very helpful - especially along the coast during hurricanes.  These proved quite accurate along our coast during Matthew & Irma.
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated every day during the hurricane season (through Nov. 30th).... Speaking of the tropics.... the first 10 days or so of Oct. have become rather notorious in recent years.  Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 over the SW Atlantic which contributed to the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro... hurricane Matthew in 2016 which hammered our local NE Fl./SE Ga. coast.... & hurricane Michael last year - 2018 - the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Fl. Panhandle. Joaquin track: Matthew track: Michael track: Well... September was dry which was continuing into the first week of Oct. then came 'Rainy Days & Monday's' on Oct. 7th.  A tremendous soaker from the I-95 corridor to the coast with amounts approaching a half foot at some of the beaches.  While inland areas have been the driest & again missed out on the heaviest rain, beneficial rains occurred over virtually the entire viewing area except for inland SE Ga.  The combination of a weak stalled front, winds off the Atlantic, an upper level disturbance & warm/humid air lifting across the area (isentropic lift) set up bands of heavy rain virtually all day long. Rainfall as provided by the Jax N.W.S. for the month of September: FL   JASPER                                0.48 FL   BEAUCLERC                             2.74 FL   JACKSONVILLE BEACH                    4.88  FL   LAKE CITY                     0.26                 FL   LAKE CITY 2 E                    0.71       FL   GLEN ST MARY 1 W                0.68                   FL   CRESCENT CITY                         2.64             FL   GAINESVILLE RGNL AP             0.93          FL   HASTINGS 4NE              3.75                                           FL   OCALA                    2.01                                                FL   WHITE SPRINGS 7N               0.45            FL   JACKSONVILLE CRAIG MUNI AP      3.05      FL   JACKSONVILLE INTL AP        2.35              FL   JACKSONVILLE NAS          3.19              FL   FEDERAL POINT                2.66                                       FL   BUNNELL                 5.99                            FL   PALM COAST                            6.19 FL   NORTHEAST PALM COAST                  7.56  FL   NORTH PALM COAST                      7.20  FL   WEST PALM COAST                       7.29 FL   WEST PALM BEACH              7.29             FL   WEST CENTRAL PALM COAST               7.89  FL   FLAGLER BEACH                 4.35                     GEORGIA:              GA   ALMA BACON CO AP        0.20                                               GA   NAHUNTA 6 NE            1.70                   GA   FARGO 17 NE            0.70                                     GA   BRUNSWICK             1.39                  GA   BRUNSWICK MALCOLM MCKINNON AP       2.76 Our Oct. night skies courtesy Sky & Telescope: Oct. 17 (evening): The waning gibbous Moon rises about 2½ hours after sunset with Aldebaran 3° to 4° to its right. Oct. 21–22 (all night): The moderate Orionids meteor shower peaks in the evening. The radiant, northeast of Betelgeuse, stands high by midnight local time. However, light from the last-quarter Moon will interfere somewhat. Oct. 26 (dawn): The thinnest sliver of the almost-new Moon, Mars, and Porrima form a triangle low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise. Binoculars will help. Oct. 29 (dusk): Right after sunset, look toward the southwest to find the Moon, not quite 2 days old, and Venus less than 5° apart. Oct. 31 (dusk): The waxing crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn briefly gracing the skies in the southwest after sunset.   Nov. 1 (dusk): Saturn, the waxing lunar crescent, and Jupiter form a line 22° long in the south-southwest after sunset. Nov. 3: Daylight-Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. for most of the U.S. and Canada.   Moon Phases First Quarter: October 5, 12:47 p.m. EDT Full Moon: October 13, 5:08 p.m. EDT (Full Beaver Moon; also Full Frosty Moon) Last Quarter: October 21, 8:39 a.m. EDT New Moon: October 27, 11:38 p.m. EDT AND - after 'great demand' :) ...... I am now professionally on Instagram!  Apparently this is 'the thing to do' but at least a few years late.... according to my kids & co-workers.  A shout out to Nora Clark on our Action News Jax digital team for her enthusiasm regarding this endeavor & for at least trying to get this ol' chief meteorologist up to date.  Give me a follow if you wish.
  • Two months! left in the hurricane season.  'Talking the Tropics With Mike' updated every day. We turn the calendars to Oct. with the hopes of some true fall weather (I always say you have to wait for the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair &/or at least Halloween before we get sustained cooler temps.) So the averages at JIA: Low / High - 1st: 66 / 84.... 31st: 55 / 77 Rainfall: 3.93' Sunrise / Sunset: 1st - 7:20am / 7:12pm.... 31st - 7:40am / 6:40pm - lose 52 min. of daylight. Our so-called wet season is officially over (June - Sept.) & ended up drier than avg. largely thanks to a slow start in June & dry end in Sept.  JIA was a little more than a half foot below avg. for the four months but some inland areas were nearly 10' below avg. And it's been a hot year again.  As of Sept. 30th, JIA has had 96 90-degree days - well above the avg. of 82 & closing in a top 10 year (2018 is 10th with 99 90-degree days):
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated everyday throughout the hurricane season (ends Nov. 30th). Astronomical fall arrived Mon., Sept. 23rd.  But I always say we usually have to wait 'til Halloween to enjoy sustained fall weather in Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.  Our avg. high does drop 20 degrees to the mid 60s by the astronomical start of winter in Dec. The seasons are a result of the tilt of the earth.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the earth is tilted toward the sun during the summer (but farthest from the sun).... the earth is tilted away from the sun during the winter (but closest to the sun!).  The tilt is just about equal during the (autumn/spring) equinox. U.S. Forest Service tracks fall foliage * here *.  Fall foliage prediction map * here *.  Various state links on autumn color from the SE Regional Climate Center - here. Arctic sea ice reached its summer minimum in mid Sept. (18th) & was tied for the 2nd lowest at 1.6 million square miles - with 2007 & 2016 - since 'modern' record keeping began in the 1970s.  The Arctic summer temp. averaged about 7-9 degrees F above avg.  Full NASA story * here *.