Scientists tackle mystery of thunderstorms that strike at night (PECAN) & No NWS Open House this summer

NWS has informed the NYC/LI Chapter of the AMS that there will be NO NWS Open House this summer. The entire BNL Summer Sundays schedule is listed below.

2015-06 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2015

Scientists tackle mystery of thunderstorms that strike at night
Researchers armed with more than 100 scientific instruments will spend six weeks this summer probing nocturnal thunderstorms on the Great Plains.


David Hosansky, NCAR/UCAR Media Relations

Laura Snider, NCAR/UCAR Media Relations

For additional media contacts, visit

BOULDER – Thunderstorms that form at night, without a prod from the Sun’s heat, are a mysterious phenomenon. This summer scientists will be staying up late in search of some answers.

From June 1 through July 15, researchers from across North America will fan out each evening across the Great Plains, where storms are more common at night than during the day. The research effort, co-organized by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and several collaborating institutions, will use lab-equipped aircraft, ground-based instruments, and weather balloons to better understand the atmospheric conditions that lead to storm formation and evolution after sunset.

Their results may ultimately help improve forecasts of these sometimes damaging storms.

The Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) field campaign will involve scientists, students, and support staff from eight research laboratories and 14 universities. The $13.5 million project is largely funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR’s sponsor, which contributed $10.6 million. Additional support is provided by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Aloft in the night

Thunderstorms that form during the day are less puzzling than nighttime storms. The Sun heats the Earth’s surface, which in turn, warms the air directly above the ground. When that warm air is forced to rise, it causes convection—a circulation of warm updrafts and cool downdrafts—and sometimes creates a storm.

The formation of thunderstorms at night, however, when the Sun is not baking the land, is less well understood.

"At night, the entire storm circulation is elevated higher off the ground," said NCAR scientist Tammy Weckwerth, a PECAN principal investigator. "This makes observations of the conditions leading to nighttime thunderstorms much more challenging because that part of the atmosphere is not well covered by the network of instruments we normally rely on."

The vast array of instruments available to PECAN researchers will allow them to collect data higher in the atmosphere. This data will help scientists characterize the conditions that lead both to individual storm formation as well as to the clustering and organizing of these storms into large-scale systems, which can drop significant precipitation.

"Nighttime thunderstorms are an essential source of summer rain for crops but are also a potential hazard through excessive rainfall, flash flooding, and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning," says Ed Bensman, program director in NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. "Weather forecast models often struggle to accurately account for this critical element of summer rainfall on the Great Plains. The PECAN field campaign will provide researchers and operational forecasters with valuable insights into thunderstorms at night—and improve our ability to model them more accurately."

Deploying in the dark

The campaign, based in Hays, Kansas, will begin each day at 8 a.m., when a crew of forecasters starts developing a nightly forecast. At 3 p.m. the scientists will use the forecast to determine where across northern Oklahoma, central Kansas, or south-central Nebraska to deploy their mobile resources. Moving dozens of people around the Great Plains each night will be a challenge for PECAN, but it’s also what distinguishes it from past field projects.

"Previous severe weather campaigns have focused mostly on daytime storms, for largely practical reasons, as it is more difficult to set up instruments in the dark," said Bart Geerts, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wyoming and a PECAN principal investigator. "But the large thunderstorm complexes travelling across the Great Plains at night really are a different beast."

Scientists believe that several interacting factors may contribute to nocturnal storm formation and maintenance: a stable layer of air at the surface; a strong wind current above that layer, known as a low-level jet; and atmospheric waves, some of which are called "bores," that ripple out from the storms themselves.

"But we just don’t really know how they interact," Geerts said. "That’s what PECAN is about."

A better understanding of these storms will have relevance for areas beyond the Great Plains. Clustered nighttime thunderstorms are common in various regions scattered across the globe.

A fleet of instruments

PECAN will use three research aircraft, two of which—a University of Wyoming King Air and a NASA DC-8—will fly in the clear air away from the storms. Only the third, a NOAA P-3, which is widely used in hurricane research and reconnaissance, will be able to fly into the trailing region of storms.

The researchers will also rely on a number of ground-based instrument suites, known as PECAN Integrated Sounding Arrays, or PISAs. Six of the PISAs will operate from fixed locations around the study area, and four will be mobile, allowing them to be repositioned each night depending on where storms are expected to form.

The instruments within each PISA vary, but collectively they will give each array the ability to measure temperature, moisture, and wind profiles, as well as launch weather balloons. Among the instruments are several newly developed at NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory (EOL), including one that uses an innovative laser-based technique to remotely measure water vapor and an advanced wind profiler.

Finally, the scientists will have a fleet of mobile and fixed radars, including the NCAR S-Pol. In all, PECAN researchers will have access to more than 100 instruments brought to the effort by partner institutions from across North America.

"The sheer number of instruments being coordinated is unprecedented," said Weckwerth, who has participated in more than 15 other field expeditions.

The planning necessary to manage this large collection of instruments—from finding property suitable for a fixed radar to making sure the mobile instruments are out of harm’s way while tracking a storm—is being taken on by EOL’s Project Management Office. That team is also responsible for housing, food and other logistics for the scientists and students who are participating in the campaign.

On the Web


Mark Kramer, Chair

New York City/Long Island AMS Chapter



July 12 – August 2, 2015

For several weeks each summer, Brookhaven Lab welcomes members of the public to its site. We plan days that include visits to our facilities, opportunities to speak with our researchers, special activities for adults and children, and much more—and it’s all free!

July 12

Exploring the Ultra Small

Visit the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, where Brookhaven researchers probe structures as tiny as a billionth of a meter. Learn about scientists’ latest discoveries in innovative energy technologies. Be amazed by "Atoms, Molecules, Matter and More!"

July 19

Brilliant Light, Dazzling Discoveries

Tour the National Synchrotron Light Source II, the world’s brightest synchrotron light source! Learn how scientists will illuminate the inner workings of batteries and seek answers to some of the nation’s toughest energy challenges. Be enlightened by the "Science Laser Light Spectacular."

July 26

Family Fun Day

A fabulous day of hands-on family fun! Use the basic scientific method to explore magnets, mirrors, and more! Hop aboard a fire truck and learn all about the Laboratory’s protective services. Be mystified by the "The Mystery & History of Magic."

August 2

Atom-Smashing Fun*

Visit the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a world-class particle accelerator where physicists recreate the conditions of the universe as they believe it existed microseconds after the Big Bang! Stump a physicist and meet "Einstein" alive.

* Facility tour appropriate for ages 10 and over.

FREE! No reservations needed.

  • Gates open 10 a.m.—3 p.m.
  • All activities are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Visitors age 16 and over must bring a photo ID.
  • Handicapped accessible
  • 1-1/2 miles north of LIE Exit 68
    Maps & Directions to Brookhaven Lab
  • Call (631) 344-2651
  • Visit the Summer Sundays Facebook page to receive monthly updates.
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NJWO Blog submission — Jeff Permuy

Hi, Dave…

Enclosed is the WS article I submitted for the March edition. Also attached is the photo I used for the article (embedded in the Word doc). I can submit the article used in the WS May edition later.


WS article_02-23-15 (Jeff Permuy).docx

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by Kevin Shaw, NJWO member and observer in charge

We had quite a contrast between April 2015 and April 2014.
We set several records last year, had some wild rainfall amounts,
setting new monthly records. This year virtually no records were
set either in temperature and rainfall, with a very insignificant
snowfall record tied with our 0 amount, the 16th April when that
has happened out of my 37 year period of record (POR). Being that
April 2015 featured a bit lower than normal precipitation amounts
compared with my long-term average, and a bit above normal
temperatures, the rankings show that it was not a remarkable
month, as it was the 15th driest month and it was the 10th
warmest in average temperature in my POR.

The only daily record set all month was the month’s warmest
minimum temperature, 59°, recorded early in the month on the
3rd. That officially goes down as a daily record maximum
minimum temperature. The 31° minimum temperature on the 1st
of the month, the only sub-freezing minimum temperature of the
month, was almost 3 weeks earlier than the long term average last
32 spring minimum temperature. (We have been nowhere close to
a 32° min so far in May.) After a cold March, leaf bud was behind
schedule on April 1, but by the end of the month caught up.

The average maximum temperature for the month was 67.2° (+1.0°),
the average minimum temperature was 44.2°(+2.5°) with the resultant
mean average temperature for the month of 55.7°(+1.7°). The highest
temperature recorded during the month was a modest 81° on the 18th,
which did not come close to setting or tying a daily record. The lowest
reading of the month was 31° on the 1st, which also did not come close
to setting a daily minimum record.

The month’s total precipitation amount of 3.01″ was 0.65″ below the
normal March amount of 3.66″. The 14 days of measurable precipitation
during the month was a bit above the long term average of 11.3 days.
The year to date (YTD) precipitation total of 13.88″ is 0.20″ above the
normal YTD average amount for this time of year of 13.68″. No snow fell
in April, and there hasn’t been any in May, so the final seasonal snowfall
total of 35.8″ was 7.3″ above the normal total seasonal snowfall amount
of 28.5″.

The monthly barometric pressure extremes were a modest 30.43″ on the
16th and 29.44″ just a few days later on the 20th on our wettest (0.86″)
day of the month. Average barometric pressure for the month was 30.00″,
not the same value you would get if you averaged the two extreme values
(29.94″) I had for the month but pretty close. In March they came out as
the same. Just trying to explore t his relationship for a few months to see
what kind of patterns develop, if any.

The distribution of 9 sunny, 11 partly cloudy and 10 cloudy days
corresponded somewhat with our drier than normal precipitation values
but more aligned with the above normal amount of measurable
precipitation days.

There was 281 heating degree days and 2 cooling degree days. There were
6 days with fog and 2 days with thunder.

My maximum temperature frequencies included 2 days at or above 80°,
11 days between 70°and 79°, 12 days between 60° and 69°, 4 days from
50°- 59°, and 1 day between 40°and 49°. On the minimum temperature
frequency side of things, there were 8 days below 40°, 15 days between
40°and 49°, and 7 days between 50°-59°.

The diurnal range average was a bit below normal (23.1° vs the normal
24.5°). The max daily range of 39.1° occurred on the 6th during one of
typical spring warmups bridging late winter leftover cold and early
spring warmth. The lowest daily temperature range of 5.6° occurred on
the 9th at the end of a rainy period with our coldest max temp of the
month (47°). There were only 2 days total with diurnal ranges lower
than 10° while there were 6 days with ranges of 30° or more, mostly in
the first half of the month.

The month of April had no real outstanding periods of cold or heat,
reflecting in the lack of daily records being set. Precipitation was below
normal, but light amounts were spread out throughout the month and
were frequent. Gardens and lawns got off to a good spring start with no
damaging late frosts occurring. With the lack of significant heat and
remaining winter cold, there was a lack ofthunderstorm activity that
normally starts to get going in April. May has started out warm, but
with still a lack of convective activity during this typically active month.

Monthly record precipitation amounts

January 3.00” 1/20/2013 February 2.80” 2/14/2007
2.12” 1/14/2005 1.81” 2/29/2012

March 2.86” 3/13/1993 April 4.15” 4/30/2014
2.43” 3/23/1991 4.08” 4/22/2006

May 2.75” 5/5/1989 June 4.09” 6/25/2006
2.71” 5/18/1988 3.11” 6/18/1996
2.67” 516/2014 3.01” 6/19/1996

July 2.79” 7/20/1986 August 4.68” 8/11/2001
2.57” 7/27/1994 3.71” 8/6/1995
3.58” 8/19/1979

Sept 5.41” 9/5/1979 Oct 5.20” 10/29/2012
5.20” 9/30/2010 3.50” 10/23/1990
4.92” 9/8/2011 3.22” 10/1/1979
4.31” 9/6/2008 3.07” 10/2/2012

Nov 3.03:11/27/1993 Dec 2.10” 12/7/2011

2.95”11/16/2006 2.09” 12/24/1986
2.71” 11/7/1997
2.58” 11/8/1996

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Tornado Watch for SE PA

Good afternoon everyone,

It appears we will see a squall-line or several bowing line segments
will move rapidly east northeast across eastern Pennsylvania and
portions of eastern Maryland, especially between 6 PM and 9 PM.

The New Jersey and Delaware threat appears to be a bit later,
primarily between 730 PM and 10 PM.

We will be looking for your damaging wind reports, unusual poor
drainage flooding reports, any hail and its size, any lightning
related damage. There is a small chance of a tornado.

Thank you for participating in this ground truth skywarn severe
weather reporting program.

Tornado Watch 90 is now in effect through 10 PM with the primary
threat period as noted in earlier paragraphs.

Walter Drag

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MTHOLLYSKYWARN Tornado watch and severe weather reports late this Monday aftn/eve 4/20/15

Even though this is currently not in effect for Norther New Jersey, it is very close and need to be monitored for severe thunderstorm potential for NJ.


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Stewartsville March 2015 Summary

Stewartsville Monthly Weather Observation Summary
1 29.0 8.0 18.5 0.29 2.90 10.5
2 39.0 23.0 31.0 T T 13.5
3 34.0 14.0 24.0 0.55 0.9 13 1/2 snow .4″ sleet then fzr
4 45.0 33.0 39.0 0.18 T 13.5 fzr and rain
5 38.0 13.0 25.5 0.5 7.2 14.5 1.6 @ 7
6 26.0 2.0 14.0 0 21
7 40.0 6.0 23.0 0 18
8 48.0 26.0 37.0 0 15
9 53.0 27.0 40.0 0 T 12
10 53.0 27.0 40.0 0.28 10
11 56.0 38.0 47.0 0.01 8.5
12 47.0 31.0 39.0 0 7
13 46.0 24.0 35.0 0 6
14 45.0 35.0 40.0 0.78 3
15 43.0 36.0 39.5 0.01 1
16 51.0 32.0 41.5 0 T
17 58.0 31.0 44.5 0 T
18 43.0 26.0 34.5 0 T
19 44.0 22.0 33.0 0 T
20 35.0 28.0 31.5 0.4 4 T
21 47.0 28.0 37.5 0.01 4
22 43.0 28.0 35.5 0 T
23 40.0 21.0 30.5 0 T
24 46.0 21.0 33.5 0 T
25 47.0 21.0 34.0 0.06 T
26 60.0 36.0 48.0 0.54 T TRW-
27 47.0 35.0 41.0 0.26
28 41.0 24.0 32.5 0
29 46.0 21.0 33.5 0
30 54.0 35.0 44.5 0
31 47.0 32.0 39.5 0.14 0.8
4.01 15.80
Season Snow Total: 53.00
Extreme High 60.0 Date: 26-Mar
Extreme Low 2.0 Date: 6-Mar
Mean Max: 44.9
Mean Low: 25.3
Mean: 35.1
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Bergenfield March 2015 Summary



It was cold here in Bergenfield, New Jersey. U.S.A. during the month of March. I recorded a mean temperature of 36.5°F ( 2.5°C ), 5.2°F below the long-term mean. The lowest temperature of 8°F ( -13.3°C ) was measured on the 6th and established a new daily record. A maximum temperature of 60°F ( 15.6°C ) was recorded 11th.

The first 15 days saw a continuous snowcover, reaching a maximum depth of 18″ on the 6th. Each of these days established a new daily record.

The total precipitation of 4.34″ ( 110.2mm ) was close to normal. The greatest daily precipitation 0.84″ ( 21.3mm ) occurred on the 14th. 13.1″ ( 33.3cm ) of snow fell during the month with a daily maximum of 5.6″ ( 14.2cm ) on the 5th.

A number of new daily records were set. Low temperatures of 8°F and 25°F on the 29th established new marks. Peak wind gusts of 41mph(NW) on the 17th and 40mph(NW) on the 18th were records. Snowfalls of 3.3″ on the 1st and 5.6″ set new daily marks.


Most folks are anxious for Spring to finally arrive!


Best wishes,


Rudy J. Nickmann


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Adam Sobel – talk on Sandy, Weather and Climate Wed- 3/25 in Manhattan

Mark Kramer, Chair

New York City/Long Island AMS Chapter

NYCP917-UG-AdamSobel-Invite-v1 1.pdf

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Marcella Monthly Data February 2015

Here it is.

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Stewartsville February 2015 Monthly Summary

Stewartsville Monthly Weather Observation Summary
1 37.0 11.0 24.0 0.10 1 4.5 1
2 35.0 14.0 24.5 0.89 3.9 7.5 .75 liquid as of 7 am
3 26.0 10.0 18.0 7
4 36.0 10.0 23.0 7
5 33.0 10.0 21.5 0.04 0.4 7
6 28.0 5.0 16.5 6
7 40.0 10.0 25.0 6
8 42.0 31.0 36.5 5.5
9 33.0 23.0 28.0 0.11 0.4 5 rutgers data problems
10 38.0 24.0 31.0 5
11 36.0 17.0 26.5 5
12 40.0 13.0 26.5 0.04 0.5 5
13 20.0 4.0 12.0 5
14 28.0 4.0 16.0 0.25 3.1 4.5
15 18.0 0.0 9.0 0.01 8
16 20.0 -2.0 9.0 T T 8
17 26.0 11.0 18.5 0.14 3 12
18 32.0 0.0 16.0 T 11
19 21.0 4.0 12.5 T T 10.5
20 17.0 -3.0 7.0 9.5
21 26.0 -3.0 11.5 0.25 3.2 9
22 44.0 25.0 34.5 0.07 0.9 13 4.1 storm total
23 35.0 3.0 19.0 11
24 24.0 -7.0 8.5 11
25 37.0 10.0 23.5 11
26 28.0 16.0 22.0 T T 10.5
27 29.0 13.0 21.0 10.5
28 29.0 4.0 16.5 10.5
1.90 16.40
Extreme High 44.0 Date: 22-Feb Seasonal Snow Total: 37.20
Extreme Low -7.0 Date: 24-Feb
Mean Max: 29.6
Mean Low: 8.9
Mean: 19.2
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