What are supercells and how do they form?

Supercells sometimes develop in the middle months of May or June in certain arid places of the United States like the Great Plains, looming overhead in the form of tall storms clouds, as though covering the entire skyscape while displaying a distinct anvil-like, mothership appearance. While normal thunderstorms do look similar, supercells are easily distinguishable because of their persistent, large-scale updraft rotation known as a mesocyclone.

While the good news is that they are uncommon, supercells do wreak much havoc should they form, creating severe winds that often include huge hails. This weather phenomenon lasts for a few hours (between two and four), damaging everything on its path. Because of the mesocyclone trait mentioned above, supercells are sometimes referred to as rotating thunderstorms. Supercells can dominate all other weather systems in an area of up to 20 miles.

For a supercell to form, it must be at least buoyant and have moderate directional wind shear at around 20,000 feet. It’s the wind shear that is responsible for the mesocyclone’s formation and the tilt of the storm. This tilt separates the supercell’s downdraft and updraft, causing the storm to last longer as it allows for less rain to cool.

Some supercells are responsible for the most destructive tornadoes ever recorded. Thankfully, less than 20 percent of supercell thunderstorms actually produce tornadoes. Research is still being conducted by meteorologists to fully discover why certain supercells spawn such violent tornadoes while others don’t.

Jim Byrne is a weatherman and former chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12. He is a consulting meteorologist for the Weather Channel program “So You Think You’d Survive?” More on Jim and his work here.


The connection between carbon emissions and the weather

Temperatures all over the world have been hitting record highs on a yearly basis, creating noticeable changes in weather disturbances. For example, typhoons in the Pacific have now been observed to move slowly than before, while still maintaining the same strength. This means typhoons have become more destructive. Somehow, all these changes have to do with the rising sea levels and the melting polar ice caps.

But where do carbon emissions fit in all of this?

For starters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has reported that 80 percent of the greenhouse gases from the U.S. come in the form of carbon emissions. It’s these emissions that trap solar energy inside the Earth’s atmosphere. What happens after that? Global temperatures rise.

With the higher temperatures, experts at NASA have issued warnings to prepare for more droughts, tropical storms, and wildfires. It has also been discussed that early weather warning systems have to be updated regularly.

And the weather isn’t the only global phenomenon affected. Growing season for crops has been altered along with the slowly adjusting season schedules. And since carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for over two centuries, the planet’s temperature is predicted to steadily increase, leading to a reduction in overall water supply.

But all is not lost. Millions of people and hundreds of big corporations all around the world have made their stand and have continued to do their best in reducing carbon emissions. You should, too.

Weatherman Jim Byrne is a consulting meteorologist at the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” An alumnus of San Jose State University, he had served as the chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12 and as a freelance weekend meteorologist at NBC Bay Area. Read more on this page.

Weather Facts And Trivia To Enjoy

The history and study of weather are an ever rich and exciting one. It’s filled with fun and fascinating scientific facts that will make one continue to wonder about the phenomenon happening in and around Earth. Here are some of them!

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There’s a wealth of weather events that strike parts of Earth regularly. The energy in a one-day hurricane on average could power the whole United States for three years. Men make up 85 percent of the victims killed by lightning. Did you know, too, that the costliest hurricane to make landfall was Hurricane Katrina? It was a Category 5 storm that ravaged Louisiana in August 2005, with damages amounting to about $91 billion.

Raindrops aren’t actually shaped like raindrops! While they’re usually depicted as teardrops, raindrops don’t fall that way. Air pressure and surface tension, after all, tend to make raindrops form into more of a burger bun-like shape. Still on the subject of raindrops, the fastest a raindrop can fall is 18 mph. If a drop gets larger than around 4 mm radius, the friction of the air passing the drop will cut it into smaller droplets.

Snow typically falls when the temperature near the ground is below freezing. Once, however, there was a report of snow showering at the LaGuardia Airport in New York with a surface temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also snow from clear skies – sometimes ice crystals fall from clear skies when temperatures are single-digit or colder.

If you’re afraid of thunderstorms, the island of Java in Indonesia is bad news: it sees thunderstorms occur at an average of 322 days each year, the most in any part of the world.

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Jim Byrne is a weatherman serving a consulting meteorologist for the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” He studied at San Jose State Universityand served as both the chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12 and as a freelance weekend meteorologist at NBC Bay Area. Read more on this page.

The Differences Between Tropical Depressions And Tropical Storms

A lot of people get confused by various meteorological terms related to storms. The main thing to remember here is that the labels have to do with the relative strength, sustained winds, and organized formation of the weather disturbance.

A tropical depression happens when a low pressure area forms and comes with thunderstorms. The circular wind flow that these thunderstorms create must pack maximum sustained winds of no more than 38mph. If the sustained winds get to between 39 and 73 mph—and if it shows a more organized or closed center cyclonic distribution—it is elevated to a tropical storm.

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The word “tropical” is added as these low pressure systems develop over the tropics. Tropical depressions and storms are generally called “cyclones” because they spin in a counter-clockwise manner. Before becoming a depression or a storm, these cyclones are simply called a tropical disturbance since they don’t have a closed center of circulation.

If a tropical storm reaches strengths of 74 mph winds or above, it would then be upgraded to a full-fledged hurricane or typhoon, depending on where exactly in the world the storm occurs.

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Jim Byrne is a weatherman currently serving as consulting meteorologist for the Weather Channel program “So You Think You’d Survive.” He was previously the chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12. For more insights on everything related to the weather, visit this blog.

Summer Facts And Trivia To Enjoy

Summer is upon us and with it comes warm days and some outdoor delight.  For now, here are interesting summer facts and trivia to feast on.

The word “summer” comes from the proto-Indo-European root word “sam,” meaning summer.  A variant of the root “sam” is “sem,” which means “together/one.”  This year the astronomical summer kicks off on June 21, and this calendar determines the seasons based on the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis in its orbit around the sun.  The meteorological summer, on the other hand, starts on June 1.  Meteorological seasons coincide with the Gregorian calendar to make it easier to observe and forecast for comparing seasonal statistics.

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The longest day of the year occurs in summer.  It’s dubbed the Equinox and Solstice, marking the point when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky.  After this day, the days gradually get shorter until the winter solstice occurs around December 22.  While the Northern Hemisphere goes through summer solstice, the Southern Hemisphere experiences a winter solstice that marks the shortest day of the year.

In the United States, more than 650 million long-distance summer trips are made.  The country’s top summer destinations are the beach/ocean, a popular city, national parks, a lake, and a resort.  In France, meanwhile, the summer heat makes the iron of the Eiffel Tower expand, making the tower grow over six inches.

Have you heard of the saying “dog days of summer”?  It pertains more to the stars than dogs – the Romans’ “dies caniculares” started toward the end of July when the star Sirius – also known as the “Dog Star” – began to ascend in the sky just before the sun.  The bright star was also believed to enhance the heat of the sun during the summer.

Jim Byrne currently works as the meteorological consultant for the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” He studied meteorology and journalism at San Jose State University. Read more on this page.

How is climate change creating stronger storms?

Record-breaking storms usually occur every few decades. But these days, they seem to come one after the other. This is due to climate change and its drastic effect on the Earth’s temperature. But how does climate change create stronger storms?

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Higher global temperatures, which cause polar ice caps to melt, have led to rising sea level. That and a growing population along major coastlines have exacerbated weather conditions resulting in hurricanes with higher winds and much more precipitation. The results of which created the likes of Hurricane Harvey, which had record-breaking rainfall and caused major flooding and billions of dollars worth of damage.

In some ocean basins, hurricanes have intensified overtime with causes linked to rising ocean temperatures. Every decade since 1970, sea surface temperatures have risen to about 0.1°C per decade. This is also expected to accelerate unless there are solid solutions to global warming.

Another reason for stronger storms is the ocean’s rising sea level due to warmer oceans and expanding sea water. Since the 1900s, sea levels have gone up by 7 to 8 inches. This created bigger problems for coastal towns as storm surges had a higher starting point. The results are higher water levels penetrating deeper inland and in low-lying locations.

Ocean-based hurricanes are also stronger because there is less cold, subsurface ocean water that can weaken hurricanes. If deeper waters become less cold, this breaking mechanism becomes less effective.

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Weatherman Jim Byrne serves as a consultant for the program ‘So you think you’d survive,’ now under the Weather Channel. An alumnus of San Jose State University, he has also served as the chief meteorologist at KCOY CBS-12 and as a weather reporter for NBC Bay Area. For more reads like this, visit this blog.

Hurricane damage: A grim prediction

In a recent study, it has been observed and predicted that approximately 7 million homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are vulnerable to extreme weather disturbances. While the figure is lower than those of previous years, it is still staggering nonetheless. Because of this, real estate experts have come forward to give their opinion and advice on the matter.


Firstly, homeowners have to assess whether or not their homes are at risk. Factors such as construction and location (elevation) should be scrutinized. While this is best done months before the onset of hurricane season, real estate experts state that by then (the few months before hurricane season), homeowners should only be doing testing and ensuring safety, and all installments and constructions should be finished.

Since global warming has led to a rise in sea levels and an influx of bigger and stronger storms, people in the states of Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and New Jersey are the ones most prone to hurricanes.

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Since it’s clear that the market for coastal homes doesn’t seem to be slowing down, the best advice weather experts have these homeowners is to always be prepared for evacuation procedures, and evacuate the area when told to do so.

Jim Byrne is a weatherman and former chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12. For more articles like this, visit this blog.



The Most Destructive Hurricanes In u.s. History

Last year’s Hurricane Irma was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, slamming some Caribbean islands as a Category 5 storm. Florida was fortunately saved from the main brunt as the storm weakened upon landing in the U.S., but it was the latest in a long list of catastrophic hurricanes to have ever hit American shores. Below are some of the most devastating and costly storms ever to hit the country.

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Hurricane Floyd, 1999

Hurricane Floyd slammed into North Carolina and up the East Coast, bringing with it tons of rainwater that led to extreme flooding in the affected area as it traveled north. It was but a Category 2 storm, but the constant downpour cost the U.S. government $6.9 billion.

Hurricane Hugo, 1989

When Hurricane Hugo made landfall as a Category 4 storm in South Carolina, it caused the death of 21 Americans and resulted in $7.1-billion worth of damage. It was the costliest storm in U.S. history at that time.

Hurricane Andrew, 1992

Ripping through Florida, this storm left millions without power and neighborhoods destroyed. The devastation and the problematic response led to vast changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Leading to $71.4 billion in damage, Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. The Category 1 storm pummeled New York City, flooding the city’s transportation systems and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

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Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Arguably the most destructive storm to hit the U.S. in the 21st century, Katrina’s rage led to a whopping $108 billion in damage. It made landfall as a Category 5 near Miami. Katrina was the third deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, resulting in more than 1,200 deaths.

Weatherman Jim Byrne serves as a consultant for the program “So You Think You’d Survive,” now under the Weather Channel. An alumnus of San Jose State University, he has also served as the chief meteorologist at KCOY CBS-12. More on Jim’s work here.


Here’s a Quick 2018 U.S. Spring Forecast

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Many experts saw a slow transition to spring for most of the United States in 2018. And while dramatic weather swings are a usual feature of the season, this particular spring is seen to have a markedly volatile mood.

In the area of spring temperature, most of the country will be warmer than normal as a whole, although the season will launch on a slow and even wintry start for certain location. Mixed rain and snow events are seen for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic as April kicks in, since chilly air remains entrenched across these regions. In the Midwest, cities like Chicago and Minneapolis could get snowy as late as April’s end.

A couple of high-impact weather storms are on the horizon, but once April kicks in, there’s a more consistent warm pattern to be established while cold weather attempts to fight back at times on the country’s northern tier.

When it comes to spring precipitation, an active storm track is anticipated for the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, Midwest, as well as parts of the Northeast, causing above-normal precipitation to these areas. Places like the northern Plains are expected to have a wetter-than-usual spring, although confidence is lower for the region.

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The southern Plains will be graced by a mid-spring warm-up, while the northern and central Plains are likely to content with surges of cold air. Along with the heat, though, comes dryness and thus worsened drought conditions across Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California.

As a preliminary look at summer, a hot one is expected for most of the country, with above-normal temperatures dominating June to August. Akin to what was seen last summer, the region appearing least likely to see a hot summer is focused on the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes.

Jim Byrne is a weatherman serving as a consulting meteorologist for the Weather Channel program “So you think you’d survive.” He studied at San Jose State University and served as both the chief meteorologist for KCOY CBS-12 and as a freelance weekend meteorologist at NBC Bay Area. More articles like this on this page.

The Primary Types Of Precipitation

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In meteorology, precipitation occurs when any form of water, usually in liquid or solid state, falls from clouds in the sky to the ground. There are various ways this happens.


The most common form of precipitation is rain, which is also the only liquid state. It is an important phase of the Earth’s water cycle, replenishing most of the planet’s bodies of fresh water. Rainfall can be as light as a drizzle or so heavy that it can result in flooding.

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Snow occurs almost every time there is rain, but this precipitation form usually just melts into rain due to being exposed to non-freezing temperature in the air. If the temperature is low enough, virga or flakes of ice water descend.

When rain passes through layers of below freezing conditions in the air, the droplets become super-cooled and solidify into freezing rain. Upon reaching the ground or objects on the surface, the liquid freezes and becomes a coat of ice called glaze.


Hailstones can only be formed in winter or sub-freezing weather. It is purely solid precipitation, unlike sleet, and can have a diameter as small as a pea or as big as a grapefruit.

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