Going out with a bang

Two consecutive thundery spells. …

Times of lunar phases:

19 June 2012 @ 15:02
27 June 2012 @ 03:30


Friday 2012/06/29





These before and after images from NASA’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite show the power outages in the clear skies over Washington, DC and Baltimore that occurred as a result of a rare, fast-moving thunderstorm system on Friday, June 29th.

Of particular interest is the loss of light to the north and west of Washington, DC along the 270 and 66 interstate highways and Maryland route 267.

Clouds obscure Philadelphia and other areas north and east of Baltimore.

Known as a “derecho,” the storm combined intense lightning and rain with hurricane-force winds that were upwards of 60 miles per hour. It killed 22 people and caused some 4.3 million households to lose power for days.

Derecho is the Spanish word for straight and the storm raced from west of Chicago across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

According to the National Weather Service, the gigantic windstorms of a derecho are as powerful as tornados, but the winds don’t twist, instead driving in a straight line. To be classified as a derecho, the swath of wind damage must extend more than 240 miles and the storms are powered by hot, humid weather.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Rob Simmon using data from the NASA/NOAA satellite S-NPP. Caption by Aries Keck.



[What you are looking at is a roll cloud that stretaches from one hilltop to another. The cloud is cigar or fish shaped black and low. You can see a lighter strip of sky behind it.]

On June 29, 2012, a wind-storm with wind gusts of more than 90 mph started in north-western Indiana, travelling roughly 600 miles eastward to the Atlantic Ocean in 10 hours, toppling trees and power lines leaving more than a million residents without power in the District of Columbia alone.

NOAA reported wind gusts in the June 29 derecho rivalled those of an EF-1 tornado.

Derechos (from the Spanish “straight ahead”) generally blow in one direction. They do not swirl like tornadoes [they certainly appear to swirl inside themselves like lateral tornadoes.]

This photo taken in LaPorte, Indiana on June 29, shows a shelf cloud on the leading edge of the derecho. Associated with thunderstorms, the massive windstorm that swept over the eastern United States was also associated with thunderstorms, a long line of them stretching for hundreds of miles.

The June 29 derecho occurred along the boundary of two air masses. In the north, the air was stable and dry. In the south, the air was unstable, hot and moist.

Capital Weather Gang reported areas affected by the southern air mass were facing record-high temperatures 43 degrees Celsius in Nashville, Tennessee, and Columbia, South Carolina; and 40 degrees Celsius in Washington, DC.

To qualify a storm must cause damage over 240 miles and have wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. They occur most often in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States, between May and July.

The June 29 derecho was, according to the Capital Weather Gang, “one of the most destructive complexes of thunderstorms in memory.”


Johns, R.H., Evans, J.S., Corfidi, S.F. (2012, March 1) About derechos. NOAA. Accessed July 2, 2012.

National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Northern Indiana. (2012, July 1) June 29, 2012, derecho event. NOAA. Accessed July 2, 2012.

Samenow, J. (2012, June 30) Derecho: Behind Washington, D.C.’s destructive thunderstorm outbreak, June 29, 2012. Capital Weather Gang. Accessed July 2, 2012.


The Rocky Mountains had little snow cover, insect attacks in the forests and a hot spring and hot summer: In late June 2012, smoke from fires across the western United States =
Relative concentration of aerosols above USA on June 26, 2012.

Particles that impact weather, concentrations are represented in shades of red and yellow, with the highest concentrations in deep red and the lowest in light yellow.

Greys represent areas of no reliable data.

The instrument measures the light scattered and reflected by the atmosphere. Specifically, it observes the difference between the amount of ultraviolet light that the smoke and dust scatters back to the satellite compared to clear skies.

The signal is strong to the north and east of the North Schell, Dump, and Wood Hollow fires in Nevada and Utah.

Thick smoke plumes from wildfires across Colorado moved east and south into the plains states.

Further south in Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico, it is unclear if the aerosols were blown in from distant fires, or if there is local burning, or if they are dust storms, which are also a result of hot, dry, and windy weather.

The researchers who write “The Smog Blog” (hosted by the University of Maryland–Baltimore County) noted that much of the smoke in the midsection of the country is likely due to fires. Their reading of various instruments suggest that the aerosols lingering in the atmosphere are finer and smaller than the usual signature for dust. Earlier in the week, they noted, western fires were affecting air quality as far away as the U.S. East Coast.

Further Reading:

Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal (2012, June 27) All Time Records Tumble in Rockies and Plains; Fires Threaten NCAR. American Geophysical Union. Accessed June 27, 2012.

InciWeb Incident Information System. Accessed June 27, 2012.
NASA (2012, June 11) Satellite Sees Smoke from Siberian Fires Reach the U.S. Coast. Accessed June 27, 2012.

NASA Earth Observatory (2012, June 25) Wildfires Across Colorado.
University of Maryland–Baltimore County (n.d.) The Smog Blog. Accessed June 27, 2012.

NASA image by Jesse Allen, using OMPS data provided courtesy of Colin Seftor (SSAI). Caption by Michael Carlowicz.



And finally:

On June 28, 2012, wildfires raged across the western United States. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado attracted the most attention after spreading into Colorado Springs and charring hundreds of homes, but large wildfires also burned throughout Utah, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Lack of winter snow, ongoing drought and heat primed vegetation for ignition. The intensity and scope of the heat wave in the western United States is visible in this map of land surface temperature anomalies for June 17–24, 2012.

Based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the map depicts temperatures compared to the 2000–2011 average for the same eight day period in June.

Areas with warmer than average temperatures are shown in red; near-normal temperatures are white; and areas that were cooler than the 2000-2011 base period are blue. Colorado experienced the brunt of the heat wave and had eight large wildfires burning on June 28, 2012. Wyoming and Utah—other states that have seen unusually hot weather—together had nine wildfires burning.

From a satellite, the “surface” includes a number of materials that capture and retain heat, such as desert sand, the dark roof of a building, or the pavement of a road. (Such detail is not available to weather stations -obviously.)


Climate Central. (2012, June 27). Heat Wave Adds to Wildfire Woes, Expands East. Accessed June 28, 2012.

Inciweb. (2012, June 28). Waldo Canyon Fire. Accessed June 28, 2012.
IPCC. (2012). Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Accessed June 28, 2012.

Joint Fire Science Program. (2011, November). Synthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior: Volume 1 for Fire Managers (pdf). Accessed June 28, 2012.

Hansen, James. (n.d.) Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice (pdf). Submitted to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
NASA Earth Observatory (2012, April 5).

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using MODIS data provided by Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LPDAAC). Caption by Adam Voiland



The stuff on here is UScentric because the USA is without a peer when it comes to public services of this sort. There were plenty of national reports for disasters in these spells all over the globe in their respective local newspapers.

For example:

The floods in Wales were reported in Wales and were not a subject for much comment in the rest of Britain as far as I am aware. The chances are they made it to ONE news bulletin on the National news from the BBC, if a famous whore or thief wasn't grabbing the publicity they are granted nearly every day on such an occasion.


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