Mark your calendar for these 2017 meteor showers

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

Image from a dashcam video provided by Lisle Police Department in Lisle, Ill., shows a meteor as it streaked over Lake Michigan Feb. 6, 2017. The meteor lit up the sky across several states in the Midwest.  Contributed photo
Image from a dashcam video provided by Lisle Police Department in Lisle, Ill., shows a meteor as it streaked over Lake Michigan Feb. 6, 2017. The meteor lit up the sky across several states in the Midwest. Contributed photo

There are plenty of meteor showers to enjoy this year, reports Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

Mark your calendars and keep checking in for the latest forecast.

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  • Lyrids: Active April 16-25. Rates are usually 10-20 meteors per hour. The moon will be a waning crescent so the sky will be pretty dark. This meteor shower is associated with fireballs which are very bright. The shower peaks pre-dawn April 22.
  • Eta Aquariids: Active April 19 to May 26. Rates are usually 10-30 meteors per hour. The moon is a waxing gibbous so it will shine bright in the sky. The shower peaks before dawn May 7.
  • Alpha Capicornids: Active July 11 to August 10. Only produces about five meteors per hour but is known to produce fireballs. The shower peaks July 26-27.
  • Delta Aquariids: Active July 21 to August 23. This shower is best in the southern hemisphere. There is usually a good number meteors the week surrounding the peak which is July 30.
  • Perseids: Active July 13 to August 26. This is an active shower that produces 50-70 meteors per hour. The peak night is August 11-12. The moon will be near full and might be bright.
  • Southern Taurids: Active September 7 to November 19. It is long but doesn’t have an impressive peak. You could see an increased chance for fireball sightings. The shower peaks October 9-10.
  • Orionids: Active October 4 to November 14. A typical year it can produce 20-25 meteors per hour. The shower peaks October 21-22.
  • Northern Taurids: Active October 19 to December 10. Can be active the same time as the Southern Taurids. The shower peaks November 10-11.
  • Leonids: Active November 5-30. The rates are usually about 15 meteors per hours but there can be outbursts some years. The shower peaks November 17-18.
  • Geminids: Active December 4-16. This is a great meteor shower during the year. They can have long tails and bright colors. The showers will peak December 13-14.
  • Ursids: Active December 17-23. The shower usually produces five to 10 meteors per hour but an outburst can take the rate up to 25 meteors per hour. The shower peaks December 21-22.

Elwell: Alberta Clippers to bring frigid winds this winter

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 3:18 PM

Alberta Clippers are defined as very fast moving low-pressure systems, usually with low in moisture content, originating in Alberta in the lee of the Canadian Rockies, and then travel southeastward. CONTRIBUTED
Alberta Clippers are defined as very fast moving low-pressure systems, usually with low in moisture content, originating in Alberta in the lee of the Canadian Rockies, and then travel southeastward. CONTRIBUTED

What is typically born in Alberta, Canada, and tends to love La Nina winters? An Alberta Clipper, of course. 

It’s one of the most significant synoptic-scale winter weather phenomena affecting central North America and the Great Lakes.

STORM CENTER 7: Get the latest forecast

We had one bring us snow last weekend, and we have another one crossing the Great Lakes Tuesday. They occur most frequently during December and January and substantially less during October and March. 

Alberta Clippers are defined as very fast moving low-pressure systems, usually with low in moisture content, originating in Alberta in the lee of the Canadian Rockies, and then travel southeastward.

Because clipper systems develop and track usually far away from large moisture sources, they typically do not produce a lot of precipitation. They also tend to move very quickly, sometimes as fast as 40 miles per hour. 

Clippers are most known for producing strong, frigid winds, and the strongest ones can blast a region with 30 to 50 mph gusts or stronger.

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With freshly fallen snow, clippers can create blizzard-like conditions. With the low moisture content, these systems usually only produce a few inches of snow at most. This can vary, though, depending on how much moisture the clipper can bring with it and how cold the air is. The colder the temperature, the higher the liquid to snow ratio will be. Basically, if it is quite cold, snowflakes can “fluff up” more, leading to higher accumulations. 

Because we are likely entering a La Nina winter, it is likely that much of the snowfall we see this coming season will be from Alberta Clippers. Alberta Clippers love La Nina years. 

La Nina means the Jet Stream or storm track usually dives south across the Great Lakes. That can often mean areas surrounding the lakes often see a white Christmas.

The Great Lakes southern and eastern shores often receive enhanced snowfall from Clippers during the winter months from lake enhancement. Lake-effect snow substantially increases snowfall totals. 

Also, if conditions are favorable, an Alberta Clipper can rapidly intensify off the East Coast. Once the storm taps the relatively warm moist air over the Atlantic Ocean, the storm sometimes spreads heavy snow over New England and Southeastern Canada. Such a system appears to be brewing for this region this week. 

While not quite as common, there are two variations of Alberta Clippers. Manitoba Maulers and Saskatchewan Screamers are the names given to the other two. These systems are still often referred to as Clippers. The main difference between the three is from which Canadian province they begin their southward track. 

MORE: Snow squalls could impact drivers Tuesday

While the pattern may try to moderate some as we head through this week, we have clearly entered a weather pattern prone to frequent clippers. If we can maintain or get a reinforcement of fresh cold air, it is looking like our chances for a white Christmas this year may be higher than normal. 

There are signs in the long-range models that more cold air should arrive toward the end of the month. In fact, it is possible that the Ohio Valley could see a “battle-zone” of sorts set up around Christmas week between colder air trying to get reinforced from the northwest and moist, warmer air trying to get pushed northward. 

This could mean a bigger storm system could be brewing around that time-frame somewhere in our region. Of course, timing is everything, but it still looks like the weather will be busy the rest of the month.

Worst global warming predictions likely the most accurate, study finds

Published: Saturday, December 09, 2017 @ 12:53 PM

What you know about climate change is correct — for the most part.

The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true, a new study published this week has warned.

"Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century," Dr. Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who co-authored the study told The Independent.

RELATED: What’s in the federal climate report? 7 key takeaways

This research shows a dramatic increase over previous estimates, which placed the likelihood of such a drastic increase at just 62 percent.

Since the Earth's climate system is incredibly complex, different scientists have put forward different models to determine how fast the planet is warming. This has resulted in a range of predictions, some more dire than others.

The new study, published in the academic journal "Nature", aimed to determine whether the upper or lower-end estimates are more reliable.

Caldeira and co-author Dr. Patrick Brown looked at models that proved to be the best at simulating climate patterns in the recent past. They reasoned that these models would present the most accurate estimates.

"It makes sense that the models that do the best job at simulating today's observations might be the models with the most reliable predictions," Caldeira explained.

According to the researchers' conclusions, models with higher estimates are more likely to be accurate, meaning the degree of warming is likely 0.5°C higher than previously accepted.

(AP Photo/Andy Wong, File/for the AJC)

Scientist that weren't involved with the research have come out in support of the findings as well.

"There have been many previous studies trying to compare climate models with measurements of past surface-temperature, but these have not proved very conclusive in reducing the uncertainty in the range of future temperature projections," Professor William Collins, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said.

Professor Collins explained that the new study "breaks the issue down into the fundamental building blocks of climate change."

While the overwhelming majority of climatologists and environmental scientists agree that climate change is a problem accelerated by human activity, representatives from the fossil fuel industry and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have dismissed such claims.

However, with more and more research backing worst-case predictions, complete dismissal of such findings becomes increasingly difficult. This study in particular addresses one key point climate change deniers often seize upon: the uncertainty that comes with so many different climate models.

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"This study undermines that logic," Dr. Brown told MIT Technology Review. "There are problems with climate models, but the ones that are most accurate are the ones that produce the most warming in the future."

Dr. Brown and Dr. Cadeira's study also comes on the heels of a dire warning issued by more than 15,000 scientists from around the world last month. The scientists warned that quick and drastic actions should be undertaken by society to address the threat to Earth.

"Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out," scientists wrote in the letter. "We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home."

But despite scientists around the world, including the leading minds in climate and environmental research, raising their voices in concern, President Donald Trump's administration has expressed its disinterest and disbelief.

President Donald Trump said in June that he would pull the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, joining only two other nations – Syria and Nicaragua – which had not signed the international accord.

Since then, Nicaragua agreed to sign the agreement in October, and Syria followed in November.

Instead of addressing greenhouse gas emissions as the Paris accord requires, the White House said it "will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change," a decision scientists around the globe have warned against.

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How to keep your kids entertained when stuck at home by severe weather

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 5:19 PM

How To Entertain Your Kids When You're Trapped By Weather

When severe weather keeps you inside your home with your children, there are things you can do to keep kids entertained while you keep your sanity.

>> Read more trending news

If you're home for the day, or a few days, here are a few things you can do to stay entertained without going crazy or running up your data plans.

If you still have power:

Do some family-friendly baking:

One way to keep kids occupied is with a slew of simple cooking tasks (cracking eggs, manning the mixing bowl) and the promise of sweets.

Cooking Light has a roundup of “kid-friendly desserts,” including gluten-free s'more bars, chewy caramel apple cookies and more. If you run through that list, the Food Network has another.

And not having kids is no reason not to bake in bad weather: for company, just sub in the closet available roommates, family, friends or pets. (This advice applies to the rest of the list.)

Check out these party games:

Jackbox's Drawful is a bizarre twist on Pictionary: players score points not just for drawing the best possible version of, say, "angry ants"; but also for getting other players to guess their answer for a given drawing instead of the correct one.

Drawful comes packaged as part of the Jackbox Party Pack and is available to buy and download here, and is compatible with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV and others. All you need to play is a phone, tablet or controller. 

But if you're feeling more competitive and less artistic, consider QuizUp. Available for both iPhone and Android. This competitive trivia app pits two players against each other in seven rounds of questions in one of several hundred different categories, including pop culture and academia. And it's free. 

Get crafty:

Create a crafting area in your home. Fill it with crafting materials like tape, paper and boxes. When inspiration strikes your child, they can create fun things in their own “workshop.”

Power outages are common during severe weather because high winds can knock trees into electrical lines, causing blackouts.(Gordon Donovan/Getty Images)

Without power:

Get clever:

When the house goes dark, kids’ imaginations light up. A trip to the bathroom with a flashlight can become an adventure, and reading stories by candlelight will stick with them more than just another movie night. 

Get ahead of a power outage:

Stock up on glow sticks. Kids can really have fun with these simple light sticks. Once you crack them, they provide a bright light for up to 12 hours and a dim light for as long as 36 hours. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors, and can provide hours of fun for children.

Build a fort:

Kids love building forts just for fun anyway. So if you find yourself in the dark without power, gather up pillows and blankets, and plan on moving some furniture around to help your little ones build the perfect fortress. You can even make it more like an adventure. Plan to snuggle in for the night, and maybe tell a few ghost stories, too.

Supermoon 2017: 12 must-see photos that lit up social media

Published: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 3:51 AM

How To Photograph Super Moons And Other Cosmic Events

Did you miss the supermoon that delighted skygazers Sunday night? Here’s the good news: Photographers around the world shared must-see snapshots of the phenomenon on social media.

>> Click here or scroll down to see the photos

>> MORE PHOTOS: Supermoon 2017 around the world

>> Sunday supermoon kicks off trilogy of spectacular lunar viewing

>> Supermoon 2017: How to see, photograph the majestic ‘Full Cold Moon’ this weekend

>> Read more trending news

You’ll also get a chance to see other supermoons on Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2018.