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In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  Steady rain could cause a problem in some areas

Some parts of southern West Virginia are at a risk for flash flooding through Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

A flash flood watch was posted for McDowell and Wyoming counties beginning Saturday afternoon through Sunday. More than a dozen other counties stretching from Elkins to Wayne were placed under a hazardous weather outlook Saturday with the chance of those turning to flash flood watches.

“Periods of heavy rainfall are expected over the weekend. This could lead to flash flooding, particularly along flood prone creeks and streams, and adjacent low lying areas,” the NWS message said.

Some areas, particular south of U.S. Route 60, could get as much as three inches of rain out of the system.

Sunny skies are scheduled to return Monday.

In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  Weather service: Wildfire danger higher in West Virginia

The National Weather Service says warm, dry conditions and gusty winds have increased the chances for wildfires in West Virginia.

The weather service says in a news release Sunday that outdoor burning is considered extremely dangerous.

The statement says residents should be aware of heat and sparks while operating equipment and avoid smoking in wooded areas.

Outdoor burning is only allowed through May 31 between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. and limited to brush, leaves, yard clippings and other vegetative materials.

Residents could faces fines if a fire they started escapes and causes a wildfire or forest fire. State law requires a safety strip or ring at least 10 feet wide around outdoor fires to prevent them from spreading into woods.

In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  West Virginia prepares for April snow

The Mountain State will see several inches of snow in some parts Thursday into Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

After a mild winter and several 70-80 degree days this week, NWS Meteorologist Simone Lewis said snow in April is not uncommon.

“It does happen. Snow in April is not uncommon at all, particularly across the mountainous counties,” Lewis said.

Temperatures will fall below freezing throughout the day Thursday before a mix of rain and snow moves into the state Thursday night.

Lewis said the northern and central mountains will see the most snow. The lowlands will see little to no accumulation.

“Generally, elevations above 3,000 feet could see 5-8 inches. Other areas across the northern and central mountains, generally, 1-3, possibly 4 inches,” Lewis said.

Windy conditions are also in the forecast which will create a “blowing snow,” Lewis said. Wind gusts could reach up to 55 miles per hour in some parts.

“Tonight when the snow starts flying that’s when you’ll get that blowing snow and the reduced visibility across the mountains,” she said.

The NWS issued Winter Weather Advisories Thursday morning for Mercer, Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier counties. The advisory remains in effect through 8 p.m. Friday.

Motorists along Interstate 81 and Interstate 77 should be prepared for strong cross winds, the NWS said. Downed trees could create power outages during the storm.

The snow will taper off Friday. Mild temperatures are in the weekend forecast.

“The weekend is actually looking really nice. We’re looking at dry weather and temperatures rebounding up into the 60s again,” Lewis said.

In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  Australia Braces Itself for a ‘Monster’

It’s no Little Debbie. Australia is bracing itself for Cyclone Debbie, which is set to make landfall along the coast in Queensland—that’s the country’s northeastern most state—after 7am local time Tuesday, reports the BBC. That area is 14 hours ahead of EDT, so US storm watchers should start paying attention after roughly 5pm EDT on Monday. Debbie is being hailed as “a monster,“ bringing with it winds of up to 170mph, and there’s the potential for a double whammy. Here’s why, plus more storm coverage:

  • The “storm tide” may be the biggest issue, according to New Zealand’s Stuff. The BBC reports the cyclone may unfortunately sync up with high tide, which should peak at about 10.5 feet; the storm surge could tack on another 13.
  • With the risk of flooding so high, evacuations are underway, with 25,000 people who live in the coastal city of Mackay told to leave. “This is probably the largest evacuation we’ve ever had to do,“ Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says of Mackay, per news.com.au. (Some sources put the potential Mackay surge at closer to 8 feet.)
  • Buzzfeed reports that other Aussies are reacting “in the most Aussie way possible,“ and cites one woman who baked a cake that reads “Be Kind Debbie” in icing. A Bowen resident tells the Australian he tried to bring a smile to his neighbors when he spray-painted the following on his fence: “Cyclone Debbie bring it on. Bowen is not a ##### town do your best you got.“
  • As for how Debbie will have to do its best, Sky News reports projections have it downgrading to a Category 2 storm (that’s winds of up to 110mph) around 8pm local time.
  • But things could get intense before then. The AP quotes Palaszczuk as saying the farming region has never experienced a storm stronger than Category 2, whose gusts top out at 102mph. Older homes won’t be able to handle Category 4, she says.
  • Australia’s ABC reports Debbie is projected to make landfall south of Bowen, and explains the Bowen area, which it describes as between Mackay and Townsville, is where the majority of Australia’s winter vegetables are grown. Projected potential damage: $1 billion.
  • Debbie follows a relatively calm period: A record was set in January for the longest span (280 days, or a little more than 9 months) without a hurricane-strength tropical system (meaning maximum sustained winds of at least 74mph) in what Weather.com describes as “any of the three major Southern Hemisphere basins.“
  • How is a cyclone different from a hurricane? It isn’t, really, explained the BBC in 2015. The moniker is tied to where the storm originated. In the case of cyclones, the zones are the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.


►  Looks Like an Asteroid Once Triggered a Tsunami on Mars

A new study suggests that ancient Mars not only had an ocean, it experienced a tsunami unlike anything we’ve seen on Earth, reports Cosmos. The study in the Journal of Geophysical Research—Planets identifies a 75-mile-wide crater in the north as the likely source, reports the BBC. The scientists theorize that an asteroid smashed into the planet 3 billion years ago, creating the Lomonosov crater and triggering the tsunami. Researchers point to “thumbprint terrain”—so named because it resembles ridges on a human thumb—on the planet’s parched surface whose geological formations suggest massive water movement, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “It was a really large-scale, high speed tsunami,“ says French researcher Francois Gostard.

The initial wave from the impact would have been nearly 1,000 feet high, with waves about 300 feet high crashing ashore hours later. Previous research has suggested that mud flows or glacier movements are responsible for the thumbprint, but “it’s very hard to conceive of any other process other than a tsunami” that could have etched out these precise formations, says Gostard. The existence of an ancient Martian ocean is actually still debated, which is what American co-author Stephen Clifford finds most intriguing about the tsunami evidence. It means “there must have been an ocean present in the northern plains,“ he says. “That’s the key point here—it indicates that there was a substantial amount of water in residence on the Martian surface.“


►  A Foot of Snow Fell, Then the Deadly Avalanche Hit

What started as a snow-filled trip for seven schools in Japan has ended in tragedy. The BBC reports that eight high school students are believed to have been killed in an avalanche that hit a ski resort 90 miles north of Tokyo on Monday. Some 70 students and teachers were believed to have been present, with about half those who survived suffering injuries. The incident occurred near Nasu, which has seen about a foot of snow fall since Sunday. That snow “condensed [with the warmer weather], and then once you have somebody on top of that, that creates a trigger,“ a meteorologist tells the Guardian. “These are all a recipe for avalanche creation.“ Indeed, an avalanche warning was in effect at the time.

The Japan Times and Guardian report the ski season had closed last week at the Nasuonsen Family Ski Resort; the students who arrived Saturday were about two-and-a-half hours away from the conclusion of Monday’s climbing event when the avalanche struck near the upper part of the slope. NBC News specifies that the weekend event was a “mountain climbing safety training exercise.“

In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  This May Be the Strangest Weather Forecast You’ll Ever See

Viewers of Mississippi station WLBT were told Saturday that the weather was full of “farts and toots.“ That was the word from a boy who burst onto the set in the middle of meteorologist Patrick Ellis’ weather forecast while it was being broadcast live and proceeded to fart, or at least pretend to fart, on Ellis, Thrillist reports. Ellis played along, asking the kid if he wanted to give the weather report, until a man burst onstage and grabbed the boy. Inside Edition says that man was the child’s father, who is one of the network’s lawyers.

In Climate and Weather….

The Free Press WV

►  Winter isn’t going quietly

Just when West Virginians thought winter was about to conclude with a whimper, Mother Nature seems to have one strong gasp left for us.  A cold front moving eastward brought the first of what will be several winter storm patterns into the region Friday morning.  The system left several inches of snowfall across northern counties of West Virginia and especially the northern mountains.

The next system, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist John Victory at the Charleston Weather Bureau, will come Saturday night into Sunday.  However, the Mountain State won’t have to worry to much about that one.

“That’s the one we were talking about for days and days,” he said. “But that one has been shunted south so most of West Virginia will be precip free from that, just some light snow in the far southern coalfields and southern mountains Saturday night and Sunday morning.”

The one forecasters are eyeing closest will be a system due to arrive Monday night through Wednesday.  That system could pack quite a punch according to Victory.

“This one looks to be more serious because its taking on a climatologically winter type pattern,” he explained.  “Which means for us when it arrives Monday, we’ll get some rain, but behind that we could get some pretty good snow activity into Wednesday.”

Victory estimated there would be the potential for significant accumulation, even in the western lowlands of West Virginia.  However, it’s difficult to say just how many inches will pile up on the ground at this point.

“We could very well see some accumulations for that,” he said. “However at this time of year most of the accumulation we see will come at night.  This time of year the solar radiation is such that it would limit that during the day.”

One thing Victory could say for sure was temperatures will plummet.  Hard freezes are expected, especially in the overnight hours.  That could mean doom for a lot of flowers and buds which were coaxed out in the last three weeks with above normal temperatures and spring like conditions.

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