Friday, July 29, 2016

New Jersey Teen Survives Lightning Strike While Filming Storm

Eric Chaney
Published: July 29,2016 

A New Jersey teenager got little more than he bargained for earlier this week when he was struck by lightning while trying to capture a bolt on film at a local beach. 
Sixteen-year-old Ethan Riozzi-Bodine was waiting out the storm under “a little overhang" in Bradley Beach, when a lightning bolt hit the ground, “maybe 10 to 15 feet away from me,” ABC News reports.
"The whole ground just vibrated and it went up through my feet, up through my body, through my chest, and out through my arms," Ethan told WPVI. 
Ethan Riozzi-Bodine survived a lightning strike while filming a storm on a New Jersey beach earlier this week.
(Screenshot courtesy of KGNS)
Ethan captured the entire incident on video. You can’t actually see the bolt that narrowly missed him, but you can hear his reactions. 
“You ... actually hear me get electrocuted in the video; I’m like ‘argh!’” Ethan  told WFLA.
Ethan had been riding his bike home Monday evening when the storm blew through, but stopped near the beach because the bike chain came loose, ABC News reports. 
That bike very likely saved his life. Doctors told Ethan that if he hadn’t bee “holding onto my bike I wouldn’t be here right now, because my bike kind of grounded me because of the rubber tires and the rubber grips,” Ethan told WFLA. “So if I wasn’t holding onto my bike, I wouldn’t be here right now talking to you.”
Doctors found that Ethan had high levels of the enzyme creatine in his system, something that sometimes happens sometimes after a major trauma like a heart attack, but other than that he was fine. 
“They could not believe that he walked away from this, that he did not have any significant injuries,” Elaine Riozzi-Bodine, the teen’s mother, told News 12 New Jersey.
Ethan, who works as a lifeguard, told News 12 that he’ll take extra precautions during lightning storms from now on, especially while working on the beach.
“You always think, ‘I'm invincible. I'm 16,’ you think that’s never going to happen, but things like that do actually happen,” he told News 12.
Ethan told ABC News that in hindsight the experience was “pretty cool”, but Elaine has a different take. 
"I just think he's extremely lucky," she told ABC. "I'm just blessed it had a happy ending. It could have very easily been a completely different story. I'm just very fortunate that he's OK." 
MORE: Lightning By the Numbers

Spectacular Shelf Cloud Sweeps Through Oklahoma City, Norman

Jon Erdman
Published: July 29,2016

A shelf clouds surges through Norman, Oklahoma, just before 7 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 29, 2016.
(Rick Smith)
Residents of central Oklahoma were treated to a spectacular sight Friday morning as a shelf cloud swept through the Oklahoma City and Norman metro areas.
Early Friday, a complex of thunderstorms surged southward from southern Kansas into the Sooner State. Cooler air rushing from the downdrafts of the thunderstorms surged at least 20 miles ahead of the squall line, producing a rather distinct signature on Doppler radar from the National Weather Service in Norman.
That outflow boundary lifted warmer air ahead of it, forming the classic shelf cloud which was seen throughout central Oklahoma.
(MORE: The Science of Shelf Clouds)
First, it was photographed by many in the Oklahoma City metro area.
An amazing shot of the shelf cloud through OKC at sunrise from David Bryant.

Thanks to our viewer Danny for this incredible shot of the shelf of the severe storm moving through !

Awesome shelf cloud this morning passing S Moore. @NWSNorman @KOCOBrad @koconews @AlonzoJAdams

Then it pushed into Norman, home of one of the nation's most prominent schools of meteorology, the University of Oklahoma, as well as NOAA's Storm Prediction Center housed in the National Weather Center.
So you just knew there would be photos galore from legions of weather geeks, including NWS-Norman Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Rick Smith (photo above).
Impressive shelf cloud approaching north Norman
And it just...kept...going into southern Oklahoma.
This shot is in focus more! Pano of shelf cloud in Wynnewood, right now.

Shelf clouds are, arguably, the most frequently shared weather phenomena on The Weather Channel Facebook page, as well as the photo gallery.
(MORE: The Best Shelf Cloud Photos We've Seen in 2016)
While certainly scary-looking, they're simply an indication of strong thunderstorm winds following behind the shelf cloud, and are more common than they may appear.
This squall line of storms produced some 60 mph gusts in both the north Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, and farther north near the town of Breckenridge.
The strong thunderstorm winds also triggered power outages in parts of the Sooner State.
Check our most recent uploaded weather photos anytime from late spring through early fall, and you're likely to see many photos of this menacing cloud seen at the leading edge of a thunderstorm or line of storms.
(MORE: Enter Your Photo Into Our 2016 Photo Contest)
Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7.

National Hurricane Center Watching Two Areas in the Atlantic For Development

Tom Moore
Published: July 29,2016

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) continues to watch a pair of disturbances over the Atlantic Ocean that have some potential to develop into a tropical depression over the next few days.
Both areas of interest are tropical waves – a batch of energy and general spin in the atmosphere that develops due to temperature contrasts on either side of Africa's Sahel region – that are moving west across the central and eastern Atlantic Ocean.
(MORE: What is a Tropical Wave?)

Areas of Interest in the Atlantic
The first tropical wave - designated Invest 96-L - was located just west of Africa, or several hundred miles south-southeast of Cabo Verde. This naming convention is used by the NHC to identify features that are being monitored for potential future development into a tropical depression or a tropical storm.
(MORE: What is an Invest?)
As of Friday morning, the NHC indicated that Invest 96-L had a medium (50 percent) chance of developing into a tropical depression during the next five days. The disturbance exhibited a nice pulse of convection overnight Thursday night into Friday morning, but was headed into a fresh surge of dry air moving into the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Computer Model Track Forecast For Invest 96-L
A second tropical wave - designated Invest 97-L - was located more than 1,200 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles.
This separate tropical wave has been given a low (30 percent) chance to develop during the next five days. The NHC said that this system's fast movement was a negative to development. The aforementioned dry air in the region also may be playing a role in keeping convection rather disorganized.
Regardless of development, showers and some gusty winds should spread into the Leeward Islands this weekend, then through the Caribbean Sea next week, typical of most tropical waves.
These are the first tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean to have a chance to develop this season, which is why they have our attention. However, they both have a long way to go, and there's plenty of time to monitor the disturbances as they track west, so there's no need to have any major concerns at the moment.
Technically, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Much of the tropical activity occurs between the second week of August and the second week of October. In late July and early August, we begin to keep an eye on the eastern Atlantic as it begins to show signs of life.
(MORE: Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Drought Likely to Become the Longest in 130 Years)

Why We Begin Looking Farther East Into the Atlantic This Time of Year

In July, a series of tropical waves often form across the Sahel area of Africa and move westward toward the Atlantic coast. The Sahel area lies between the Sahara Desert to the north and wetter areas to the south.
Tropical waves can develop into tropical storms and hurricanes once they emerge into the Atlantic, but because of some unfavorable environmental factors, they tend to not develop in July.
Meteorologists observe trends, however, that can frequently give us a sneak peek of what the heart of the tropical season could look like.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have noticed a series of weak tropical waves that have moved westward, emerging off the African coast. These waves have dissipated rapidly due to lots of dry air, cool ocean temperatures and wind shear in this region.

Latest Africa Infrared Satellite Image
Now that we are moving toward August, ocean temperatures have risen to about 80 degrees along the African coast – more favorable for tropical development. Each preceding wave has added moisture to the atmosphere in the eastern Atlantic, and the amount of dry air that can inhibit development is eroding.
The latest satellite photograph clearly shows a number of tropical waves in the Sahel region of Africa, which are moving westward.

August and September: More Favorable For Development

Tropical waves that emerge off the African coast often develop around or after passing the Cape Verde Islands.
Meteorologists make frequent references to the "Cape Verde" season, which is essentially a season within the overall hurricane season. Most Cape Verde storms develop from mid-August until late September.
There are so many "mouse traps" (unfavorable conditions) in the Atlantic that very few of these Cape Verde tropical storms and hurricanes ever make it all the way to the United States. But there have been some notable Cape Verde storms that made it to the East Coast of the U.S., such as the 1938 Hurricane, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Development of tropical waves into tropical storms or hurricanes is determined by several environmental factors that can range from somewhat favorable to extremely favorable, including:
  • Ocean temperatures
  • The orientation of ridges (high pressure) and troughs (low pressure) aloft
  • A moist environment
In general, the ocean temperature needs to be around 80 degrees for tropical cyclones to develop. Off the coast of Africa, that doesn't usually occur until late July.
Tropical systems like to have winds that are roughly the same speed and direction through a depth of the atmosphere for maximum development. Wind shear - changing winds with height - tends to break up tropical systems that are trying to develop, displacing convection away from a center of circulation.
This often occurs when a trough of low pressure aloft is to the west of a tropical weather system, such that west to southwest winds aloft combine with the typical tropical east-northeast trade winds to produce wind shear.
Expanding high pressure ridge creates a more favorable environment for tropical systems to develop and move westward in the Alantic
In August and September, a high-pressure ridge aloft, known as the Bermuda-Azores high, often expands and creates a more favorable environment for development. Atlantic systems are often steered toward the western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and sometimes all the way to the U.S.
Since the area from Africa to the eastern Atlantic looks quite active already and we now have a tropical system of interest, it'll be interesting to see what the rest of the hurricane season will have in store.
MORE: Retired Atlantic Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Hailstorm Damages Hundreds of Homes in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming; National Guard Called Out

Chris Dolce
Published: July 29,2016

Large hail driven by strong winds damaged virtually every home in a Wyoming town Wednesday evening, prompting help from the Wyoming National Guard.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported around 500 homes were damaged in the town of Pine Bluffs, about 40 miles east of Cheyenne near the Nebraska state line.
"It looks like the storm was a direct hit on every structure in town," Director of Wyoming Homeland Security Guy Cameron told The Wyoming Tribune Eagle Thursday. "There is virtually visible damage everywhere."
Members of Cheyenne Urban Forestry work on disposing one of seven pine trees Thursday afternoon, July 28, 2016, at the city park in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.
(Blaine McCartney/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP)
Thursday, Governor Matt Mead ordered 27 members of the Wyoming National Guard to assist with cleanup in the town of about 1,200 residents. This included clearing of trees and boarding shattered windows.
The Pine Bluffs hailstorm was from one of a pair of supercell thunderstorms that pelted parts of southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska and northeast Colorado with wind-driven, large hail that damaged homes, businesses and vehicles Wednesday.
(MORE: Hail is an Underrated Danger)
The hail was first reported near Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it reportedly accumulated up to six inches deep 20 miles east of town. Photos taken along Interstate 80 near the Wyoming-Nebraska state line showed hail covering the ground and fog developing in the aftermath near the town of Pine Bluffs.
Hail and fog on Interstate 80 in southeast Wyoming near Pine Bluff on Wednesday.
(Melanie Walker)
Wyoming DOT cameras captured what almost looked like a winter wonderland surrounding Interstate 80 near Pine Bluffs. Traffic was moving slowly around 6:30 p.m. local time due to the significant amounts of hail that piled up.
Wind-driven hail to the size of golfballs later arrived in Pine Bluffs. Not only were buildings damaged, but windshields on many vehicles were smashed, including those traveling on Interstate 80.
A windshield destroyed by large hail near Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, on Wednesday.
(Melanie Walker)
A windshield destroyed by large hail near Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, on Wednesday.
(Melanie Walker)
The same storm also produced wind-driven hail near the southwest Nebraska town of Bushnell where a home suffered damage.
Hailstones to the size of tennis balls were reported from the second supercell that moved through northeast Colorado. That storm produced vehicle damage near the town of Kersey.
Hail damages a car near Kersey, Colorado.
(Max Olson/LSM)
(MORE: Destructive Hail in Plains in Early July)

Recap of the Damaging Hail Storms

The radar and hail reports animation below shows how the damaging storms evolved late on Wednesday.
After the storms first started producing hail near Cheyenne, Wyoming, they split, with one supercell pushing through southeast Wyoming and southwest Nebraska. A second supercell thunderstorm moved southeastward through northeast Colorado.
Radar and hail reports Wednesday evening in northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming and southwest Nebraska.
Hail in the Plains is common during the spring and summer months.
The areas affected by the large hail Wednesday typically see five or more severe hail reports annually based on the 2003-2012 average. Severe hail is classified as 1-inch diameter or larger.
Severe hail refers to 1-inch diameter or greater hail. Areas in dark purple see the most days per year of large hail.

MORE: Layers Inside Hailstones

Recent Stories

When the Atlantic Hurricane Season Typically Ramps Up

Jon Erdman
Published: July 29,2016

Frequently in July, I am asked: "Why has the Atlantic hurricane season been so quiet?" or "When will the hurricane season ramp up?"
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, but most years, the first two months of the season are typically benign.
June averages only one named storm every other year, and July has averaged one named storm each year since 1950.
66-Year TotalAverage Per SeasonJuneJulyAugust4165208
Data: NOAA/National Hurricane Center

Then comes August and it's almost as if a switch is flipped.
August sees more than three times the number of named storms as July, and almost double the number of June and July storms combined.
(MORE: Five Tools Used to Monitor Hurricanes You've Probably Never Heard Of)
Origin points for Atlantic named storms since 1950 in 10-day increments from July 1 through August 31. You can see the increased number of named storms forming in August, particularly in the "main development region" between Africa and the Lesser Antilles.

Another way to visualize the "ramping up" of the hurricane season is through an index called accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE.
The ACE index is calculated by adding each tropical storm or hurricane's wind speed through its life cycle.
Long-lived, intense hurricanes have a high ACE index. Short-lived, weak tropical storms, a low ACE index.
The ACE of a hurricane season is the sum of each storm's ACE, thus taking into account the number, strength and duration of all the tropical storms or hurricanes in the season.
(MORE: Weather Underground's Seasonal ACE Tracker)
Colorado State University tropical scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach constructed a graph of how the ACE index adds up during an avearge Atlantic hurricane season.
1981-2010 climatology (Credit: Dr. Phil Klotzbach/Colo. St. Univ.)

Where the slope of this graph is steepest, in other words, when the ACE index is increasing the fastest, generally marks out the most active stretch of the Atlantic hurricane season.
According to Klotzbach's plot, this is from the second week of August through September.
While landfalls don't necessarily correlate with numbers of named storms, there's a 17-day stretch from mid-August to early September during which the most intense U.S. hurricane landfalls all occurred.
Several factors contribute to the seasonal ramp-up in August:
  • African easterly waves are most well-developed, often serving as a seed for tropical development. 
  • Saharan air layers, surges of dry air into the central and eastern Atlantic basin, which normally squelch tropical development in those areas tend to give way by August, as the parade of African eastely waves gradually add moisture. This effectively opens up more favorable real-estate for tropical cyclone development.
  • Wind shear, the change in wind speed and/or direction with height which can rip apart a tropical cyclone wanna-be, tends to be low.
  • Sea-surface temperatures rise toward a peak in early fall.
  • Instability, namely, the atmosphere's ability to generate convection (t-storms) to help initiate tropical cyclones, also rises toward an early fall peak.
Typical origins and tracks of tropical cyclones in July and August in the Atlantic Basin. The orange and red contours show where named storms are more likely, in this case, in August compared to a fewer number in July.

Of course, averages and climatology are no guarantee of an outcome in any individual hurricane season.
However, if you have plans for, say, a Caribbean cruise, and you're concerned about hurricane season, the long-term data would suggest a lower chance of a hurricane interrupting your vacation in June or July, compared to August or September.
Then again, you may be able to nab a great discount on Caribbean travel in August or September. Just make sure to buy travel insurance, just in case.
Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7.

Twin Invests 96L and 97L Worth Watching in the Atlantic

By: Jeff Masters , 2:41PM,GMT on July 29,2016

There's a new threat area to discuss today in the Atlantic: a tropical wave midway between the Lesser Antilles Islands and the Cabo Verde Islands that is headed west to west-northwest at 25 mph. This disturbance was designated Invest 97L on Thursday afternoon by NHC, and should arrive in the northern Lesser Antilles by late Saturday night. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to investigate the storm on Sunday, if needed. Satellite loops on Friday morning showed 97L had a modest area of heavy thunderstorms which were poorly organized, though there was some increasing spin evident in the cloud pattern. Wind shear was a light 5 - 10 knots, and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) was an adequate-for-developement 27°C (81°F), which was about 1°C (1.8°F) above average. Water vapor satellite imagery showed that 97L had a modest amount of dry air from the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) surrounding it, which was slowing development.

Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Invest 97L in the middle Atlantic.

Forecast for 97L
Steering currents favor very rapid west to west-northwesterly motion at about 25 mph for 97L though Monday, and storms that move this fast typically have trouble getting organized. This motion should take the disturbance through the northern Lesser Antilles Islands on Sunday morning, over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, and into the Dominican Republic by Sunday night. All of these areas should expect to see heavy rains of 2 - 4" and wind gusts of 30 - 35 mph as 97L passes, and the NWS may end up issuing a Flash Flood Watch for portions of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend. The 8 am EDT Friday run of the SHIPS model shows somewhat favorable conditions for development through Saturday night, with wind shear in the light to moderate range, 5 - 15 knots, a moist atmosphere, and SSTs near 27 - 27.5°C (81 - 82°F.) However, an unfavorable factor for development will be large-scale sinking motion over the tropical Atlantic over the next few days imparted by the passage of what is called a Kelvin Wave (see the tweet by The Weather Company's Mike Ventrice on this.) On Sunday through Monday, 97L is predicted to encounter high wind shear of 20 - 30 knots, which would thwart development. At that time, the system may be undergoing interaction with the rough topography of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, will would also inhibit development. By Tuesday, 97L should be traversing Cuba, and will slow down to a forward speed of about 10 - 15 mph, taking it into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula by Wednesday and into the Gulf of Mexico around Thursday.

The Friday morning operational runs of our three reliable models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis, the European, GFS and UKMET models, did not show 97L developing much. The 00Z Friday runs of the GFS and European model ensemble forecasts, done by taking the operational high-resolution version of the model and running it at lower resolution with slight perturbations to the initial conditions in order to generate a range of possible outcomes, had fewer than 10% of their ensemble members predict that 97L would become a tropical depression. In their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 97L 2-day and 5-day development odds of 20% and 30%, respectively. When 97L reaches the Western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week, we will need to watch it, but the crystal ball is very murky on whether or not 97L might find favorable conditions for development then.

Figure 2. MODIS visible satellite image of 96L south of the Cabo Verde Islands taken on Friday morning, July 29, 2016. Image credit: NASA.

96L continues to grow more organized
A tropical disturbance that began as a strong tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on Wednesday morning continues to grow more organized over the eastern Atlantic, and has the potential to develop into a tropical depression by Saturday as it tracks west to west-northwestward at about 15 mph into the middle Atlantic. Satellite loops on Friday morning showed 96L had a compact area of heavy thunderstorms, and this activity was showing increasing organization. Plenty of spin was evident in the cloud pattern, and low-level spiral banding features were evident. Wind shear was a light 5 - 10 knots, and sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were warm, near 28°C (82°F), which was about 1°C (1.8°F) above average. Water vapor satellite imagery showed that the eastern tropical Atlantic was quite moist, with the dry air of the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) several hundred miles north of 96L. These conditions are favorable for development of a tropical depression.

Forecast for 96L
Steering currents favor a west to west-northwesterly motion at 15 - 20 mph for 96L over the next five days, and the storm should reach a point near 40°W, midway between the Lesser Antilles Islands and Africa, on Sunday night. The 8 am EDT Friday run of the SHIPS model predicted modestly favorable conditions for development through Saturday night, with wind shear in the light to moderate range, 5 - 15 knots, a moist atmosphere, and warm SSTs near 27 - 27.5°C (81 - 82°F.) However, by Saturday night, 96L will encounter cooler waters, with temperatures a marginal 26.5°C (80°F). The SHIPS model also predicts that wind shear over the weekend will become high, greater than 20 knots, and the atmosphere will get very dry, due to an intrusion of the Saharan Air Layer (check out the 10-day African dust forecast from NASA.) These unfavorable conditions would stymie any development of 96L. As 96L approaches the Lesser Antilles Islands later next week, the shear increases even further and the air grows drier, making 96L unlikely to be a threat to the islands.

The Friday morning operational runs of our three reliable models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis, the European, GFS and UKMET models, all supported continued development of 96L through Saturday. The 00Z Friday run of the GFS ensemble forecast had 30 - 40% of its twenty ensemble members predict that a tropical depression would form from 96L this weekend in the eastern Atlantic. Most of these forecasts had the storm dying out the middle Atlantic, due to unfavorable conditions, and none had it becoming a hurricane. Between 30 - 40% of the 50 members of the 00Z Friday European ensemble model forecasts also showed 96L becoming a tropical depression this weekend. In their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L 2-day and 5-day development odds of 40% and 50%, respectively.

A tropical cyclone-free Eastern Pacific for the first time since July 1
For the first time since July 1, there are no active tropical cyclones in the Eastern Pacific, thanks to the dissipation of Tropical Storm Frank on Thursday. The seven named storms this month tied a record set in 1985 for the most July storms on record in the basin. We have a chance to break the record with an eighth named storm, if it forms by Sunday: in their 8 am EDT Friday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave a new tropical disturbance 850 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula 2-day and 5-day development odds of 50% and 80%, respectively. This storm--which would be named Howard if it gets to tropical storm strength--is expected to move west-northwest and not impact Mexico.

This Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of Colorado's Big Thompson flash flood, one of the deadliest flooding disasters in U.S. history, with 139 people killed. Bob Henson will be back later today with a look back at this historic flood.

Wunderblogger Steve Gregory has more on the tropics in a Thursday afternoon post, HEAT WAVE ENDS AS MR & MRS ENSO FIGHT IT OUT.

The next name on the Atlantic list is Earl.

Jeff Masters