Monday, August 25, 2008

HD Weather Gets Better!

You may start noticing some of our weather maps have a blue "SkyTracker7 LIVE CONTROL" panel on the top right of your screen. This allows Robin, Brent, Leo and I to have tools available to us on the screen - just by touching them. We can zoom in on an area, show the direction a storm is moving, draw on the screen and much, much more - all live! We call this feature "hand tracking." It's actually something that we've been able to do for years - but now it's much more refined. In the old days, we had a clicker attached to a cord we had to use in order to hand track. It was more like jump roping instead of hand tracking. Now, Robin has bought us the Cadillac of all wireless remote controls from our weather vendor, WSI. It's a great piece of equipment, and I figured this past weekend I should give it a test drive. Above, you can see me doing a "box zoom" on the Charlottesville area. I was zooming in on that part of the state to show how clear the skies were, while southwestern Virginia was clouding up. Our new clicker has eight buttons on it, so our fingers are busy selecting tools from the on-screen LIVE CONTROL panel, changing sources, advancing maps and more. Not only that, but our new toy can also change our weather graphics from out on the SkyTracker7 Weather Deck. This thing has a heck of a range, and in a pinch, could be used as a paperweight. Just thought you would be interested in our newest toy. It's another thing in our weather arsenal!

Quickly, one more note.

I got a call after News 7 at Six this Sunday from a very interesting viewer. His name is Ed. Ed is a retired Trooper with the Virginia State Police. He had heard me mention last week during one of my weathercasts the 39th anniversary of Hurricane Camille making landfall in Mississippi. Ed was a young Trooper in 1969, when the remnants of Camille slammed into Nelson County. To say I've always had an interest in "Camille" is an understatement, but I've never met or talked to anyone who lived through the flooding in Nelson County or worked the scene afterwards. Ed is my new best friend! He instantly had me hooked with his stories, and he's promised to send me tons of information on the Nelson County event he's compiled. I can't wait to go through it all. If it turns out to be as good as I think, I'll post something on this blog soon.

Keep havin' a great week friends! --Jay

Monday, August 18, 2008

Could Fay be a Bust?

First things first. There's still plenty of time for Tropical Storm "Fay" to change her mind and bring us a soaking rain. But right now, at 10:45 Monday night, I have no plans to stop watering my yard.

I enjoy tropical weather! After all, it was Hurricane Hugo in 1989 that sparked my interest in the subject, and was a deciding factor for me to pursue a career in meteorology. We often say meteorology is an inexact science, and this is especially true of tropical systems.

Tropical Storm Fay has been a conundrum since forming into a tropical depression. The latest curve ball she's throw is a drastic change in her track. Sunday night, long-range models had the remnants of Fay in far southwestern Virginia by Friday. Now, it appears high pressure will steer her only as far north as Georgia by Saturday! In a nutshell, this could be bad for us in terms of getting beneficial rainfall from Fay. I've included three graphics on this blog. The top graphic showing the GFS model forecasters use. Note the regions of pink and purple. These are zones of possible precipitation Saturday evening. It shows -NO- rain around here. Next, is the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). 24-hours ago this graphic showed Fay as a depression over southwestern Virginia on Friday - now it's showing her as a depression over Georgia. (Please note: there is a wide cone of uncertainty. Southwestern Virginia is still an outside possibility for a track by Saturday afternoon). Finally, the Hydrometeorologial Prediction Center (HPC) 5-day precipitation panel. A colorful graphic with a few bulls eyes of heavy rain, but nothing worth writing home about around here.
I don't have to tell you it's been dry lately, but perhaps you don't know exactly how dry. Lynchburg has only had a trace of rain all month (over 11" below average for the year), and Roanoke has had less than a tenth of an inch of August rain. Tropical systems are excellent rain producers, but will Fay produce anything for us other than a few clouds? Time will tell, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to keep watering my yard.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The included graphics were posted on this blog Monday night. Forecasts are constantly being updated. The graphics above should be considered dated and not the latest guidance. Please consult the websites of NHC and HPC for the latest forecast tracks. Stay with SkyTracker7 Weather for the latest on Fay.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back From The Beach

Vacation 2008 is quickly winding down for the Webb family. We drove to Myrtle Beach and enjoyed some much needed rest and relaxation.

I've always wanted to buy my son Parker one of those "heavy duty" Tonka dump trucks. I had two growing up. I got my first one when I was his age, and another one many years later after the first one rusted to pieces.

So I did it. At 1:30am - just hours before we left for South Carolina - I went to Wal-Mart and bought the $30 monstrosity. I buried it in our car below bags, suitcases and beach towels so Parker wouldn't see his new toy until we arrived. I was going to surprise my wife with the gift from father-to-son when we got to our condo, but I was so excited about my purchase I told her before we even got to Greensboro. Once we got to the Grand Strand and unpacked, I presented Parker with his dump truck. He loved it for about 30 seconds, and then started playing with his "Thomas the Tank Engine" trains (he LOVES those things!) Eventually, however, he warmed up to his big yellow earth mover and quickly learned how to push it around. It's so big, he could sit in it and I could push him. I think he moved more sand this past week than Hurricane Hugo. Now that we're back home, he's hauling sand from his sandbox across our backyard. Any golfers are welcome to come to my house and practice their bunker shots. I've got more sand traps than Augusta National! To close, the beach trip was a blast. Parker loved his new toy, and I got to sleep and eat seafood. I'm ready to return to work - so that's got to be a sign of a good vacation! Take care! --Jay