Sunday, January 31, 2010

Picture of the Weekend

Gina Rugan from near Lyons sent us this amazing picture of hoarfrost this morning. She says: "Never have I seen such thick hoarfrost on our antique iron fence around our property. The frost is nearly 1" thick and is truly a sight to behold."

Gina...thanks for sharing!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is this London?

The back wall here at KWCH will never be mistaken for Big Ben. None the less, the air over Wichita has had a London feel to it, thanks to the near-daily appearance of fog the last several mornings. This was the view this morning as the sunlight filtered through the shallow fog bank here at the station.

Here's a view from above. Visible satellite imagery helps us discern those areas blanketed in fog and those that are not. We've had a light south breeze this morning over the Wichita area. The wind direction is depicted by white wind barbs that point to the direction from which the wind is blowing. As a result, the fog has been drifting slowly northward, actually moving through the Whitewater and Walnut River valleys in western Butler County. In addition, see the fog-free areas to our west, thanks to a southwest breeze (see wind barb at Pratt). And while not due to wind direction, note the fog-free areas in the eastern sections of Butler county, thanks to the higher elevations of the Flint Hills.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why was it colder at Jabara Airport?

On this morning's show, I made note of the fact that Jabara Airport (ID: KAAO, located on the northeast side of town) was a few degrees colder than the official reading at Mid-Continent Airport (KICT, on the southwest side ). KAAO's low today fell to 5 below zero , while KICT dropped to "just" zero. What gives?

Let's take a look at the visible satellite picture from Friday around Noon.

It's hard to tell exactly but the back edge of the snow runs right through Wichita. As such, the northeast side of the city has a little bit more on the ground than the southwest side. Farther north, northeast and east, there's even more snow with Topeka still measuring around 6" on the ground! Since there wasn't a whole lot of melting yesterday with the frigid temperatures, it's a good indicator of where the snow-covered and snow-free areas were located this morning, just 18 hours after this satellite picture was taken.

Take two different spots, both with clear skies but one with snow covering the ground. The one with snow will be colder every time. This may explain part of this morning's difference across the city. In addition, the northeast wind (aka "Turnpike Transport") was blowing some of the frigid temps up around Emporia back this way (they dropped to 11 below today!) But, we have to include one more thing: urban heat.

Urban areas are warmer than the surrounding country side, thanks to the abundance of concrete, asphalt, and buildings which soak up the sun's energy and radiate it as heat. Even in the cold of winter, there's a little more warmth in town than in the country.

So this morning, with a little more snow cover and that frigid wind blowing from an even deeper snowpack to the northeast, KAAO fell to 5 below zero. As the light breeze continued across the city though, it transported what little warmth there was in the urban/downtown area toward the airport, with a little less snow, thus the difference in temperatures between the northeast and southwest side of town.

As the saying goes: location location location!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold ISS Passage tonight over Wichita

Well, the images aren't as good as my regular digital camera but they'll have to do! The International Space Station passed over Wichita (and KWCH) tonight around 5:54 p.m. Click on either picture to see a larger view. The little white dot inside the circle (and to the left of our tower) is the space station as it quickly moved northeast this evening.

Definitely the coldest ISS viewing weather I've experienced! Unless I decide to watch it tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Deep Freeze is wide open

Storm Team 12 has been talking about a huge cool down for the last several days. And now it's here and boy did the freezer door swing open this afternoon! It was interesting to watch HD Super Doppler Radar late today as both the precipitation display and the doppler (wind) display showed the incoming Arctic front, accompanied by areas of light snow. As Merril gave the forecast in the 5pm show, I stepped outside and (barely) managed to open the west door. Gusty north winds and snow flurries...yep the front was here! At 5pm, the temperature at Mid-Continent Airport was 30. At 6pm: 22! (with a wind chill of 6)
The graphic above is a surface plot of the temperatures up in the northern Plains and southern Canada, where the temperatures right now are from 0 to nearly 20 below zero!! Guess where that cold air is headed? Yep, you guessed it. And it's not going to be pretty the next few days. Here in Wichita, we expect tonight's low to be around 4 degrees, 5 below zero on Friday morning and 4 below zero on Saturday morning. The last time we dropped below zero was December 8, 2005. And before that, you had to go back to early February 1996!! Yes, this is the type of cold snap that Wichita doesn't see all to often.
As if the temperatues weren't cold enough, the wind chill values will be between -15 and -30 at times. With those readings, it takes less than 30 minutes for exposed skin to experience frostbite. Please use caution and be extremely careful out in the cold the next several days, as the frigid temperatures will be with us through the first half of the weekend.