Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Accuweather Thanksgiving Travel Forecast: Rain to Hug US East Coast; Lake-effect Snow to Slick Roads Near Great Lakes

November 21, 2017

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By Alex Sosnowski, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather Global Headquarters – November 21, 2017 – AccuWeather reports rain may slow travel for a time in part of the east coast of the United States, while significant travel delays are likely in the Northwest and near the Great Lakes leading up to Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day represent some of the busiest travel days of the year for all means of transportation, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

While the weather will cooperate for a large portion of the nation, there will be some areas of concern for holiday travel.

Rain to hug Atlantic coast

In lieu of a major storm, a weak storm is likely to brush part of the Atlantic Seaboard prior to Thanksgiving Day.

Wet weather is in store over much of Florida into Tuesday night. Rain is forecast to brush the coastal areas of the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic coast late Tuesday night and then coastal New England on Wednesday.

The greatest impact will be to motorists.

Wet road surfaces and blowing spray may require lower speeds.

“The combination of rain and a low cloud ceiling may also be enough to lead to airline delays in Boston and perhaps New York City for a time on Wednesday,” according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

How far west the rain extends will depend on how close to the coast the storm tracks. At this time any long-duration rain is not likely to occur west of Interstate 95 in the mid-Atlantic region. Areas right along the mid-Atlantic coast may get a few hours of light rain.

Drenching rain is mostly likely to occur in southeastern New England and eastern Long Island

A brief period of rain and snow may occur on the back side of the storm over the central and northern Appalachians and eastern Great Lakes from Tuesday night to early Wednesday.

“Regardless of the amount of rain and/or snow showers, gusty winds are likely to herald the return of the cold air on Wednesday,” Abrams said. “Winds may pose a problem as the massive balloons are inflated ahead of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.”

Another storm is forecast to bring more rain to parts of Florida on Thanksgiving Day, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Fait Eherts.

Snowy, windy episodes to pester Upper Midwest

A new burst of cold air and a weak storm are forecast to produce spotty snow for the northern tier of the Midwest into Thanksgiving Day.

The fresh batch of cold air will be accompanied by gusty winds over much of the North Central states. Winds may be strong enough to lead to airline delays even in the absence of any snow showers into Wednesday.

As a pocket of arctic air races southeastward, it will briefly renew lake-effect snow from northern Michigan to northern and western New York, western Pennsylvania and northeastern West Virginia into midweek.

Motorists should be prepared for sudden snow showers and rapidly changing road conditions on their travels in these areas.

From late Wednesday to early Thanksgiving Day, a brief period of snow and/or freezing drizzle will develop over the northern Plains and slice southeastward across the Great Lakes.

While only a small amount of wintry precipitation is anticipated, even a thin coating of snow or ice can cause great difficulty for motorists on crowded highways.

Throughout the Midwest, there will be a couple of episodes of gusty winds that may lead to minor airline delays and tricky crosswinds on the highways.

Storms to harass travelers in northwestern US

By far, poor travel conditions will be the most consistent in coastal areas of Washington and Oregon through Thanksgiving Day.

Motorists venturing along the Interstate 5 corridor in the Northwest can expect rounds of drenching rain and periods of fog, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliot.

Lesser rain is forecast east of the Cascades.

Snow levels are forecast to rise slowly into Thanksgiving Day.

Motorists may encounter slushy and slippery conditions into Tuesday over Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 in Washington. Milder conditions will allow plain rain to fall from Tuesday night to Thursday. However, fog may accompany the milder air over the mountains, where snow remains on the ground.

The milder air will allow rain to fall or a mixture of rain and snow to occur at most intermediate elevations of the northern Rockies, including many of the major passes.

Major weather-related travel disruptions unlikely over rest of US

It is possible that flights originating from the Northwest, coastal Northeast and Upper Midwest may cause minor delays elsewhere across the nation into Thanksgiving Day.

However, a large portion of the Southwest, South-Central and interior Southeast can expect good travel conditions.

Showers are forecast to retreat to the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas and Louisiana coasts beyond Tuesday night.

 

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Accuweather: Blinding Lake-effect Snow, Bitterly Cold Winds to cause Thanksgiving Travel Delays

November 15, 2017

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By Alex Sosnowski, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather Global Headquarters – Nov. 15, 2017 – AccuWeather reports  that following the mild, wet weather ending this week, progressively colder air will unleash rounds of lake-effect snow from the Upper Midwest to the interior Northeast for travel during the week of Thanksgiving.

Travel delays related to wind and/or snow are likely in parts of the midwestern and eastern United States.

“We expect two major pushes of cold air into the eastern half of the U.S. during the week of Thanksgiving,” according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

The weather pattern is giving mixed signals as to whether or not a storm will bring rain and snow to the East during the transition to the cold weather.

However, there will be a consequence as reinforcing waves of cold air pass over the Great Lakes.

As cold air passes over the relatively warm waters, streets of towering clouds form and deposit heavy snow along the downwind shoreline and dozens of miles inland.

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Where the bands of heavy snow persist, up to a foot of snow can fall. As many as two rounds of lake-effect snow are anticipated from Sunday through the Thanksgiving weekend.

The details of which communities will be hit the hardest on particular days has yet to be determined. A small variance in the wind direction can vary the bands of heavy snow by a dozen miles or more.

For example, a west-southwest wind off Lake Ontario would blast Watertown, New York, with intense snow, but a due west wind would potentially bury communities such as Barnes Corners and Sandy Creek, New York, several miles to the south.

“Motorists with plans on utilizing Interstate 90 from northern Indiana to western New York, I-81 in northern New York state and other highways immediately downwind of all of the Great Lakes should be prepared for travel delays and rapid changes in roadway visibility next week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

One round of lake-effect snow associated with the first cold blast will erupt later this weekend into early next week.

Another round of lake-effect snow may begin during the middle of next week. There is still uncertainty as to the extent or intensity of that round of lake-effect snow.

Travel conditions will range from blinding snow and the potential for temporary road closures to sunny over a span of a few miles.

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At times, the bands of lake-effect snow may extend 200 miles or more to the central Appalachians. Motorists traveling through the higher terrain in West Virginia, western Maryland and western and northern Pennsylvania should expect locally blinding snow squalls and a quick accumulation on roads. This includes stretches of I-79 and I-80.

At times, wind gusts may be strong enough to lead to difficulty for high-profile vehicles. Strong crosswinds at airports from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic coast can lead to airline delays in lieu of any snow or a major storm.

Gusty winds to add to the pain of the cold air

“Blasts of cold air like this are not uncommon during the middle and latter part of November,” Duffey said. “However, following the warmth during most weeks of this autumn season, heating demand will be high.”

Temperatures are projected to average 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal during multiple days during the week of Thanksgiving from the Midwest to the Northeast, as well as much of the Southeast.

The anticipated weather pattern will translate to highs in the 20s over the northern tier to the 40s over the interior South on the coldest days. AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures can dip to 20 degrees lower than the actual temperature at times.

Battling the wind on the highway may reduce fuel efficiency.

Regardless of wind, motorists can expect to pay much more at the pump for their Thanksgiving road trip. Strong consumer demand and lowering national inventory have pushed gasoline prices to nearly 40 cents a gallon higher than last year at this time, according to the American Automobile Association.

One positive of the cold weather pattern will be plenty of opportunities for ski resorts to make snow in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

What about the storm potential?

In terms of large-scale storms that may increase commute time, one storm projected to affect much of the eastern U.S. this weekend will likely be warm enough for rain in most areas and even gusty thunderstorms in part of the Midwest.

However, it is the same storm that will set into motion the first blast of cold air for next week.

“A second storm during the middle of next week has the potential to bring a period of rain along the Atlantic coast and snow over the Appalachians spanning Wednesday to Thanksgiving Day,” according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams. “Another scenario is the second storm may be so overwhelmed by cold, dry air that it is forced out to sea.”

Regardless of the nature of the storms, gone are the warm and tranquil conditions that graced much of the Midwest and East during October.

Motorists and airline passengers should anticipate delays and be ready to adjust their travel plans during the week of Thanksgiving.

 

AccuWeather Launches New Mosquito Zika Risk Index for US

October 18, 2017

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AccuWeather, a major source of weather forecasts and warnings, announced a Mosquito Zika Risk Index on AccuWeather.com and AccuWeather iOS apps. Availability on the AccuWeather app for Android will follow soon.

The first-of-its-kind index gives users a quick and easy way to view the likelihood of mosquito infestations that could lead to greater risk of contracting the Zika virus at a particular location in the contiguous U.S. The Index will help people understand where the greatest concentrations of mosquitos exist (which may carry other pathogens as well) and where and how this is related to possible Zika carrying concentrations.  The Index is not a medical warning or diagnosis and decisions about one’s health and related risks and is not intended to be, those decisions should always be made in concert with medical professionals.  The Index can alert people to relatively unsafe areas; keeping in mind that a Zika carrying mosquito could exist in safer areas as well.

The Mosquito Zika Risk Index level (very low, low, medium, or high) is generated by evaluating the historical habitat for the mosquito species most linked with Zika and the latest scientific research on how weather affects Zika transmission by mosquitos, then combining it with the AccuWeather Day-By-Day 90-Day Forecasts. This innovative index benefits users by providing real-time insights they can use to make informed decisions to keep themselves, and their families, safe.

“Weather is an enormous factor when it comes to our health,” said Steve Smith, President of Digital Media, AccuWeather. “We are glad to lead the way in offering an array of innovative product enhancements that help people derive important and useful information from our weather forecasts.  This new Mosquito Zika Risk index will help people make better decisions to protect their health by giving them the insight they need to avoid risky scenarios, or take necessary precautions when visits to high-risk areas are unavoidable.”

People can access the Mosquito Zika Risk Index from the Personalized Forecasts Menu on the AccuWeather.com homepage. Select the Mosquito forecast and click the button labeled “Check Your Zika Risk” to open the Mosquito Zika Risk Index page.

Risk level information for the user’s location will be presented at the top of the page. If Zika cases suspected to have been transmitted by mosquitos have been reported at this location, the number of cases will be displayed. Users can view details for additional U.S. locations by clicking on the map displayed on the page.

An interactive timeline lets visitors see predicted risk levels over a 90-day period, with color coding to indicate the risk contours on the map. This is particularly helpful at this time of the year, when rapid changes to Zika mosquito risk occur as temperature patterns change during the Fall.  Tapping the dates on the timeline triggers the map to show the index for different timeframes.

Users of the AccuWeather app for iOS can access the Mosquito Zika Risk Index from the menu located in the bottom right corner of the screen. Expanding this menu and selecting “View Map” opens a map page with a gray search box at the top of the screen. Tapping on the search box permits users to choose “Zika Risk from Mosquitos” from a selection of maps. Users can then scroll around the map, zoom in and out by pinching the screen, and tap on an area to see the current Zika risk in that location. Color-coded risk levels, from low to high, displayed on the map make the information quickly and easily accessible and understandable.

The Mosquito Zika Risk Index is AccuWeather’s latest product enhancement designed to save and improve people’s lives by providing contextually relevant information, in this case to reduce the risk of an infectious disease. In addition to ensuring safety with the most accurate weather forecasts and warnings, AccuWeather.com and the company’s iOS and Android apps already include a Pollen Index to help people protect themselves against pollen as an allergen. Having the most accurate forecasts and warnings also gives migraine or joint pain sufferers the information they need to avoid humidity, and people with asthma the information they need to avoid dry conditions.

“This new Mosquito Zika Risk Index takes our efforts to use weather forecasts for improved health one step further,” said Smith. Smith also noted that the index is especially timely during this extraordinary hurricane season, when residents of Texas and Florida are experiencing a greater pooling of standing water due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which may ultimately lead to greater infestations of mosquitoes.

Dr. Joacim Rocklov, Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Global Health at Umea University, Sweden, urges caution about the threat of Zika virus following a major flood event.  “The risk of Zika typically decreases in the first month following a flood event, then increases in the two- to three-month time frame before falling back to normal levels,” he said.

Nearly 2 billion people worldwide rely on AccuWeather to help them plan their lives, protect their businesses, and get more from their day. AccuWeather provides hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute forecasts with Superior Accuracy™ with customized content and engaging video presentations available through smart phones, tablets, free wired and mobile Internet sites via AccuWeather.com, award-winning AccuWeather apps, connected TVs, wearables, smart homes, and connected cars, as well as radio, television, newspapers, and the AccuWeather Network cable channel.

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Accuweather: Jose to track close enough to bring rough surf, wind, rain to northeastern US

September 16, 2017

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AccuWeather Global Headquarters – September 15, 2017 – AccuWeather reports  Jose will track close enough to the northeastern United States to raise seas and winds as well as to deliver rain to coastal areas next week.

People in coastal areas of the Northeast will need to monitor the progress of Jose, which will begin to track northward but remain offshore of the Southeastern states this weekend.

“It appears that Jose will miss the quick ride away from the U.S. coast and into the cold waters of the North Atlantic next week,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

Instead, Jose is now expected to pass within 200 miles of the Northeast coast.

“We cannot rule out landfall in New England during the middle of next week,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

The exact track and strength of Jose will determine the severity of the wind and surf as well as the northwestern extent of the rain.

Jose to bring significant impact, even if storm stays offshore

A hurricane does not need to make landfall to cause significant adverse effects in the northeastern U.S., since the shape of the coast tends to enhance storm effects and trap ocean water.

Rough surf and strong rip currents will be a problem along the southern Atlantic coast through the weekend.

At this point, impact in the northeastern U.S. is based on a strong tropical storm, minimal hurricane or hybrid storm that comes close to the Northeast coast but remains slightly offshore. Such a storm and track will tend to keep the most significant effects to communities along and east of Interstate 95.

At the very least, Jose will cause dangerous surf and seas, which will lead to beach erosion and minor flooding at times of high tide from eastern North Carolina to Maine.

The number and frequency of rip currents will increase along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts this weekend. Breakers powerful enough to cause serious injury may reach much of the Northeast coast by early next week.

With the new moon phase early next week, tide levels are higher than most of the rest of the month. A strong storm tracking near the coast may push tides to 1-3 feet above published levels.

Winds may get strong enough to damage trees and cause sporadic power outages. Gusts to 50 mph are possible from eastern Maryland to Maine and are likely on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Some rain will reach the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts. The combination of rain and wind near the coast will lead to airline delays and slow travel on area highways.

Much worse effects are likely if landfall occurs

Should Jose be stronger than a Category 1 hurricane and/or make landfall, more significant effects are likely.

A Category 1 hurricane or the equivalent thereof can cause property damage, widespread power outages, flooding rainfall and moderate coastal flooding.

Just offshore, seas could range upwards of 20 feet, should a Category 1 hurricane or greater approach the coast.

A landfall in southeastern New England could cause heavy rain and gusty wind to spread well inland across the Northeast.

What will influence Jose’s strength?

“Jose is likely to gain back some strength into this weekend as the storm encounters less disruptive winds aloft,” Pydynowski said.

Waters are sufficiently warm to maintain a hurricane through early next week.

“The storm will move over even warmer waters of the Gulf Stream by early next week, which may lead to additional strengthening,” Pydynowski said.

Jose may reach Category 2 or 3 status at some point between Sunday and Tuesday.

“As Jose moves off the coast of the upper mid-Atlantic and New England, water temperatures drop significantly, which may lead to weakening or transformation to a sub-tropical system,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Even if Jose weakens or loses some tropical characteristics, the storm may spread out in size and the same adverse effects of wind, seas and rain can occur.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty of Jose’s track and strength. However, people may want to take some precautions, should the storm wander onshore. Preparation for the equivalent of a moderate to strong nor’easter may be warranted, especially in southeastern New England.

Lee and Maria may join Jose in Atlantic this weekend

Two additional tropical storms or hurricanes are likely to join Jose over the next few days. One has already become a tropical depression. These systems are likely to gather the names Lee and Maria.

Both of these systems are brewing in the same general area that gave birth to Irma.

The system farthest west has the greatest chance at bringing adverse conditions to Irma-slammed areas in the Leeward Islands, British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos during the middle days of next week.

– By Alex Sosnowski, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

Website Lists Hotel Room Availability During Hurricane Irma in The Palm Beaches

September 8, 2017
Fla-Breakers 011712 (c) Karen Rubin 299e2

The grand, historic Breakers Hotel on Palm Beach island must now brace for Hurricane Irma. Discover The Palm Beaches has deployed a storm update page as a resource regarding hotel room availability © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (September 8, 2017) – Discover The Palm Beaches, the official tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County, has deployed a storm update page as a resource regarding hotel room availability during the potential impact of Hurricane Irma. The page can be found at: www.thepalmbeaches.com/severe-weather/accommodations.

The page is also accessible on www.ThePalmBeaches.com and will feature a list of hotel and lodging options throughout Palm Beach County with available occupancy. In addition, the page is linked to a list of key agencies that provide important resources for hurricane preparedness in Palm Beach County and throughout Florida.

“Our top priority is the safety of our visitors, conference attendees, residents, and tourism partners. This webpage will help ensure that these groups can remain informed in real time regarding the availability of resources to assist them during the potentially severe weather,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO for Discover The Palm Beaches. “We encourage everyone in the area to monitor our website as we continue to keep our eye on the storm and its potential impact on our area.”

Current weather forecasts have issued hurricane advisories that include Palm Beach County. Visitors are encouraged to exercise caution and check with airlines, hotels, meeting venues, car rental companies, tour operators, etc. to determine what actions they plan to take and what methods are in place to assist potentially displaced travelers.

Travelers, conference delegates and residents should also look to the following sources for information:

  • National Weather Service: www.weather.gov/
  • National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov
  • VISIT FLORIDA travel advisories on www.VISITFLORIDA.com
  • VISIT FLORIDA Partners and businesses in the Florida tourism industry hotline, (877) 435-2872
  • Florida Division of Emergency Management: floridadisaster.org
  • General tourism information: VISIT FLORIDA consumer hotline, 888-735-2872
  • Florida Power & Light (FPL) Storm Center: www.fpl.com/storm
  • Palm Beach County public affairs: http://discover.pbcgov.org/

 

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Travel Insurance Company Warns of Widespread Disruptions as Florida, Caribbean Prepare for Hurricane Irma

September 5, 2017

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MIAMI, FL (Sept. 5, 2017) – As Houston continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, another potentially life-threatening storm is churning east of the Caribbean with a trajectory that will likely reach Florida by the end of the week, according to APRIL Travel Protection. Hurricane Irma (NASA satellite view of developing storm pictured) has recently been upgraded to Category 5.

“While it’s still too early to tell what kind of impact Hurricane Irma will have on the U.S. mainland, the storm is on a direct path for the Caribbean with islands in the northeast region from Puerto Rico to Antigua and Barbuda in its crosshairs,” said Jason Schreier, CEO for the Miami-based U.S. division of 29-year-old APRIL Group.

Policyholders who purchased travel insurance from APRIL for an affected destination before the storm was named on Aug. 30 are eligible for trip cancellation. Additionally, policyholders currently on vacation in affected areas may be eligible for trip interruption and evacuation benefits under APRIL’s flagship “Stress Less” Benefits which utilize instant adjudication to bypass the claims process for applicable inconveniences.

A ground-breaking feature first introduced to the U.S. market by APRIL, ‘Stress Less’ Benefits allow policyholders to enjoy their vacation without having to worry about out-of-pocket expenses in an emergency caused by severe weather, natural disasters or a wide range of potential issues including injury, sickness, death, job loss or relocation, military duty, terrorism, strikes, supplier default and more. “This means you don’t have to pay out of pocket, endure a ton of paperwork and then wait months to find out how much your policy will actually cover,” explained Schreier.

“Though Hurricane Harvey was only a tropical storm when it traversed the Caribbean, the proximity of these storms lends credence to some of the dire predictions made by forecasters for the 2017 hurricane season, which may stretch into November this year,” noted Schreier.

Earlier this year, Global Weather Oscillations, which is known for its reliability with an impressive 87% accuracy, predicted that the “2017 Atlantic hurricane season will be the most dangerous in 12 years.”

APRIL Travel Protection is owned by APRIL, an international group with 45 operational companies in more than 40 different countries.  APRIL is listed on Euronext Stock Exchange and has yearly sales of more than $1.1 billion.

With Insurance Made Easy as it guiding principle, the APRIL Global Assistance Network benefits from an extensive organizational structure servicing more than six million policyholders worldwide.

The company’s U.S. division is supported by American Modern Insurance Group (an AM Best A+ rated carrier) as its preferred underwriter and is headquartered at 11900 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 600, Miami, FL, 33181. Visit www.AprilTravelProtection.com to learn more.

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Accuweather: Hurricane Irma tracking toward US; Residents of East and Gulf coasts urged to prepare now

September 4, 2017

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By Jordan Root and Renee Duff, Meteorologists for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather Global Headquarters – September 4, 2017 – As major Hurricane Irma churns across the northern Caribbean and towards the United States, residents along the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. need to be on alert, AccuWeather reports

Irma will blast the northern Caribbean with flooding rain, damaging winds and rough surf this week, bringing life-threatening conditions to the islands.

A similar scenario could play out somewhere along the Gulf or East coasts this weekend or next week, depending on where Irma tracks. Residents are urged to prepare now.

“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of Harvey,” Evan Myers, expert senior meteorologist and chief operating officer, said.

A landfall in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas is all in the realm of possibilities. Irma could also head into the Gulf of Mexico.

Another scenario still on the table is that Irma curve northward and miss the East Coast entirely. This would still generate large surf and rip currents along the East Coast. However, this scenario is the least likely to occur at this point.

The exact path of Irma beyond the end of the week remains uncertain and will depend on a variety of moving parts in the atmosphere.

“A large area of high pressure across the central North Atlantic is helping to steer Irma,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

This feature will be the main driving force of Irma over the next few days. As the weekend approaches, other factors will come into play.

“The eastward or northeast progression of a non-tropical system pushing across the central and eastern U.S. this week will highly impact the long-range movement of Irma,” Kottlowski said.

How fast or slow this non-tropical system moves will be an important factor on where Irma is steered this weekend into next week. The speed of this feature will determine when and how much Irma gets pulled northward or whether Irma continues on more of a westward track.

This amount of uncertainty means that the entire southern and eastern U.S. should monitor Irma this week. Residents along the coast are urged to start preparing and making sure plans are in place to deal with the worst case scenario. This includes plans on how to evacuate and what is important to bring with you and your family.

“As we saw just 10 days ago with Harvey, it is important to be ready to evacuate,” Myers said. Be prepared with a list of items you would need to take if you had 30 minutes’ notice or one hour’s notice or six hours or a day to evacuate.

Due to Irma following so closely on Harvey’s heels and since FEMA and other government resources will be strained, more preparation and storm aftermath may rest on individuals, Myers said. It may be crucial to evacuate ahead of the storm, so preparation is key.

If Irma were to make landfall as a Category 4 or 5 storm somewhere in the U.S., it would be in historical territory.

“The U.S. has not sustained a direct hit from two Category 4 or above hurricanes in more than 100 years,” Myers said.

Keep checking back to AccuWeather.com for updates on the status of Irma and where it may track in the days ahead.

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AccuWeather: California Ski Resorts On Pace to Extend Season with Abundant Snowfall

March 22, 2016
Skiing down the California Trail at Heavenly Resort, Lake Tahoe © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Skiing down the California Trail at Heavenly Resort, Lake Tahoe © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Brian Lada, Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather reports  this year’s ski season in California is on pace to be one of the longest seasons in the past several years due to the abundance of mountain snow that El Niño has delivered.

This is a significant turnaround from the past several winters when ski resorts in California were forced to close early due to a lack of snow.

Last season, Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area closed on Jan. 29. According to Ashely Quadros, the resort’s marketing content coordinator, the mountain typically stays open until the middle of April.

Other ski resorts echoed the return to a normal or a longer-than-normal season.

“We’ve come off of a couple pretty low snow years and this season has really been a return to a normal snow year for us,” Lauren Burke, public relations manager for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, said.

Mammoth Mountain usually open their slopes around the middle of November and they remains open through Memorial Day weekend.

However, this winter is on pace to be an extended season for the ski resort due to the stormy El Niño weather pattern.

According to Burke, Mammoth Mountain opened ahead of schedule this season due to early-season storms, allowing skiers and snowboarders to hit the slopes about a week earlier than normal.

Additionally, the feet of snow that fell over California’s mountain ranges during the first half of March will help the resort stay open through the entire spring.

“We’re committed to staying open through Memorial Day, and then we [will] just reassess week by week how our snowpack is holding up,” Burke said. “So depending on how late-season storms come through, we’re really looking forward to a long season.”

Not only will ski resorts in California be able to stay open later this season, but they will also have more trails and terrain parks open for skiers and snowboarders.

“The terrain that we’re going to have available as we move through the spring is going to be a lot larger [than last year],” Burke said.

The increased snowfall and extended length of this year’s ski season has been a significant help to the ski industry in California following multiple years with poor conditions.

“With more snow comes higher visitation,” Burke said. “We’ve already surpassed last season’s total ski visits number, so we’ve definitely seen a great pickup this year and we are having a strong financial year.”

Following the snow drought and shorter season last year, some resorts are touting that winter of 2015-2016 ranks among their top seasons.

“This season has been our best yet and we can’t wait to see what else Mother Nature brings us [next] season,” Quadros added.

 

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Fireballs to Flash in November Night Sky as Taurid Meteor Shower Peak

November 5, 2015

accuweather-taurid meteor

By Brian Lada, Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com 

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – AccuWeather reports cosmic fireballs will occasionally light up the night sky as the Taurid meteor shower approaches its peak into next week.

“Every year, the Earth passes through a stream left by Comet Encke, producing the Taurid Meteor Shower,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

“This shower is notorious for producing fireballs, and there are signs that this could be a year of enhanced activity,” Samuhel added.

Fireballs are extremely bright meteors that last for several seconds and can light up an entire countryside when they are at their brightest.

Unlike other meteor showers thought the year, the peak of the Taurid shower is drawn out, lasting nearly a week.

This year, the peak is expected to occur from Nov. 5 through Nov. 12, but some meteors from the Taurids will continue through the end of the month.

The long peak of the shower means that stargazers will have several opportunities to see the Taurids, and one cloudy night should not prevent people from catching the display.

“Usually the shower only produces 5-10 meteors per hour,” Samuhel said.

The best time for viewing the Taurids may prove to be near the end of the shower’s peak during the new moon.

The new moon will mean that the sky will be darker, making the Taurids appear even brighter as they glide across the night sky.

As for when to look for the Taurids, there is no specific time of the night that will bring more shooting stars than another time of the night.

Whenever it is dark, you’ll have the chance to see some fireballs flash as they streak through the night sky.

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Accuweather US Winter Forecast: Northeast to Dodge Winter’s Brutal Cold; Rain, Snow to Dent California Drought

October 9, 2015

Accuweather-Winter15

Where will the skiing be best this winter? Where will it be brutally cold? According to AccuWeather’s 2015-16 U.S. Winter Forecast, winter will kick off with mild weather in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic as an intensifying El Niño influences the weather pattern across the country.

El Niño will drive heavy rain and mountain snow to California, helping to replenish reservoirs but also threatening to cause flooding and mudslides. Meanwhile, a rain deficit will continue to build in the Northwest.

Here is a regional breakdown of the AccuWeather.com 2015-2016 U.S. Winter Forecast:

Brutal Cold Won’t Return to Northeast, Mid-Atlantic; Weak Lake-Effect Season in Store for Great Lakes

After the winter of 2014-2015 brought brutal cold to the northeastern United States, this season is set to be milder overall, but particularly during the early part of the season.

“We just don’t know exactly yet whether or not we’re going to see the pattern turn cold and snowy,” AccuWeather Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “…There is an opportunity that [the weather] could change on us as we get into February and early March.”

Regardless, the Northeast and mid-Atlantic can expect fewer days of subzero temperatures than last year. February of 2015 went down in the record books as the second-coldest February on record for both the region and for eight states individually, including Pennsylvania, New York and all six New England states.

Farther west, in the Great Lakes region, a lack of arctic air for much of the early and midwinter will lead to a weak lake-effect season, causing snowfall and precipitation totals to fall below normal.

Upstate New York and northern New England are not in the clear, however, as rain events along the coast early in the season can translate to snow in the higher elevations.

Severe Weather to Grip Southeast, Gulf Coast States

As one of the strongest El Niños in the last 50 to 60 years continues to develop, it’s likely that heavy rainfall and severe weather will take aim at the Southeast and Gulf Coast.

El Niño patterns often result in severe weather outbreaks for this region as bigger, stronger systems are able to take a southern storm track.

Florida, in particular, may have a higher risk for tornadoes this season. Southern Georgia and South Carolina are also at a higher risk for severe weather events.

Overall, heavy rain will be widespread for the South. As the season progresses, additional rain on an already saturated ground will increase the chances for flooding.

“As far as the biggest impacts go, I would look at Shreveport and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. I think those areas are going to get hit with a lot of rain,” Pastelok said.

Springlike Highs to Visit Northern Plains on Occasion; Below-Normal Temperatures to Grip Southern Plains

Wintry weather will become active early on in the northern Plains, with the potential for a few snowstorms as early as November and December.

As is typical for this region, however, the weather pattern will be a roller coaster, causing wintry weather to back off in the middle of the season and return again just before spring.

“There will be a good portion of the middle part of the season where [the weather] doesn’t do a lot, but the bookends can get pretty active,” Pastelok said.

At times, temperatures in the north-central Plains could soar into the 50s or even the 60s F for a couple of days as mild weather is pushed out from the Northwest and northern Rockies.

In the southern Plains, the building El Niño will dictate an active southern storm track, meaning the region could end up with above-normal precipitation.

Below-Normal Snowfall to Exacerbate Drought Woes in Northwest, Northern Rockies

Below-normal precipitation, in the form of both rain and snow, and above-normal temperatures will define the season across the Northwest and northern and eastern Rockies.

For the season as a whole, the region is likely to end up with snowfall totals much below normal.

“Ski areas in the northern Rockies may be missing out on significant fresh snowpack. They’re going to have to make most of their snow at night,” Pastelok said.

The dryness across the area could eventually translate to building drought conditions if spring rain is not abundant.

Wet, Snowy Conditions to Frequent the Southwest

Wet and snowy conditions will frequent the southwestern United States this winter.

“It may not happen early on, but by the middle of the season, I think they’re going to get hit very hard and frequently,” Pastelok said. “That’s going to put a lot of snow in the mountains and cause a lot of rain in the valley and desert areas.”

“Phoenix, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, should prepare for significant precipitation this season. “These cities are not going to miss out this year,” according to Pastelok.

Across the region, a few precipitation events will occur during November and December, but things will pick up deeper into the season.

“January and February will bring more frequent heavy events,” he said.

El Niño to Send Rain, Snow to Parched California

“There’s good news and bad news for California,” according to Pastelok.

El Niño will help to set up a pattern of rain and snow for California, which is still dealing with devastating drought conditions and rampant wildfires.

Copious amounts of rain from systems over the same area, a theme which occurs often during this type of weather pattern, can lead to problems for California.

The state is dealing with more than 9 million acres of wildfire-charred land, more than 2.5 million acres more than the 10-year average.

“[The heavy rain] is going to lead to patterns in the mud where water will travel rapidly and lead to flooding,” Pastelok said. “It’s going to lead to developing streams and rivers that are not supposed to be there, and you’re going to get localized street flooding in the cities.”

Mudslides and basement flooding may also prove devastating for homeowners.

However, there’s a silver lining: The 2015-2016 season may yield triple the amount of snow than that which fell last year in the central and northern mountains.

“This is what fills the reservoirs in the spring and early summer,” Pastelok said.

Central California will finally experience the feast that follows famine. Pastelok believes his forecast may even be conservative for this area.

While the rain and snow will put a dent in the water crisis, it won’t result in the be-all and end-all residents are hoping for.

“Will it be enough? I think we need a couple of these kinds of years and I’m not sure we’re going to get that,” Pastelok said.

 

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