SNOW SQUALLS: Dangerous winter driving conditions

Published: Friday, December 09, 2016 @ 4:29 PM

We see snow squalls in the Miami Valley nearly every winter season, even though they are most common in lake effect snow areas. 

WHAT IS A SNOW SQUALL?

StormCenter7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini describes a snow squall as a burst of snow that quickly drops visibility levels to zero. They are usually accompanied by gusty winds which only make visibility worse as snow blows and falls simultaneously. 

WHY ARE SNOW SQUALLS DANGEROUS? 

Snow squalls are very localized. Driving conditions and roadways can look clear and safe one minute, and a minute later, you can't see. Drivers are caught in the whiteout as they are traveling at fair weather speeds which can result in chain reaction rear-end crashes like the incidents below.  

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December 8, 2016, Ashtabula County, Ohio I-90 pile up: 

Heavy snow squalls and icy conditions led to a 75 car pile up on I-90 in Ashtabula County, Ohio.  

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March 24, 2015, Shelby County, Ohio I-75 pile up: 

More than 20 cars collided during a snow squall in Shelby County on I-75 between SR 274 and 119.  

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January 21, 2013, Butler County, Ohio I-75 pile up: 

More than 50 cars were involved in a pile up on I-75 between Middletown and Monroe on January 21, 2013. 

No one was killed but the highway was shutdown for hours as emergency crews rescued drivers trapped in their cars and cleared the highway of debris.

Stay weather aware this winter no matter where you are.

DOWNLOAD the free WHIO Weather App that will send you audible weather alerts even when you're not in the app. You'll have access to live radar to see where snow is moving in to your area, as well as hour by hour forecasts. 

235 photos create beautiful cloud time lapse, and other must-see weather videos

Published: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 @ 9:07 AM

When you watch thunderstorms pass, they don’t appear to move very quickly.

But when they are photographed over time and then compressed in a video editor, you really get to see how things move.

The storm cloud time lapse above is made from 235 individual photographs over 11 minutes. The sequence was reduced down to less than 10 seconds - making it look like a scene from Harry Potter. 

MORE WEATHER VIEWS
» Strange cloud waves were spotted in Dayton. Here are 6 more recent odd weather events.
» These 12 lightning images will make you appreciate the beauty of thunderstorms
» 15 damaging storms that pounded Ohio in recent history

Here’s a look at other eye-catching weather videos:

A spring night thunderstorm time lapse

This spring thunderstorm was an early attempt at time lapse. The camera was left running all night, and the lens eventually fogged, but I really liked the lightning intensity and clearing sky with stars at the end.

February thunderstorm time lapse

A surprise line of thunderstorms in February lit up the sky over Greene County. About 10 minutes’ worth of exposures were captured before it began to rain and I had to stop for safety reasons.

Stars time lapse

Time lapse photos of the stars are fun and relatively easy unless clouds decide to roll in. This sequence ran all night, and I let the dawn wash away the frame.

Glowing sunset

This glowing sunset is not a time lapse, but it was one of the best unbroken sky illuminations I’ve seen. A ribbon of clear horizon appeared just as the sun set after a cold front pushed through and made the western sky glow for just a few minutes before fading away.

Apocalyptic-looking clouds officially identified

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 8:25 PM


            Apocalyptic-looking clouds officially identified

The afternoon of Monday, March 20, unique and ominous-looking clouds were spotted across parts of southwest Ohio.

The picture with this article was taken by Melissa Taylor.

At first glance, the clouds looked like rolling, storm waves in an ocean. In fact, these clouds almost look apocalyptic.

It turns out that last Friday, March 24, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) added this cloud to their official “cloud atlas” nearly 12 years after the clouds were first discovered.

The cloud atlas, which classifies and defines clouds, was first published in 1896 and, according to WMO, “is the single most authoritative and comprehensive reference for identifying clouds.” The atlas’ information is used by 191 countries. The name given to these clouds was “Asperatus.” These strange, wave-looking clouds are part of the cumulus cloud family.

The turbulent Asperatus clouds first caught the attention of Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2006. Gaven then began a decade-long campaign to have the WMO formally recognize the new cloud. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of these clouds lead to some very dramatic visual effects.

Although these clouds appear dark and storm-like, they almost always dissipate without a storm forming. The ominous-looking clouds have been particularly common in the Plains states of the United States, often during the morning or midday hours following convective thunderstorm activity.

Here in southwest Ohio, these clouds have often been spotted just before or just after thunderstorms have moved through.

Asperatus cloud sightings are an awesome reminder that our atmosphere is an ocean of gas, complete with cloud waves crashing high above us. These clouds occur when atmospheric instability associated with rising air is widespread enough to create almost total cloud cover. Combine this with turbulence and wind shear, and this will create wavy, rough ocean-like visual effects!

Just a heads up - if you do happen to notice these clouds overhead and you are planning to fly somewhere on a trip, you can expect a bit of a bumpy flight!

Eric Elwell is chief meteorologist for WHIO-TV NewsCenter 7.

Solar eclipse ‘event of a lifetime,’ says Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 5:32 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 11:18 PM

It will be the event of a lifetime -- IF -- the weather cooperates here in the Miami Valley late summer. 

On Aug. 21, the first total eclipse in nearly a century will be visible across much of the United States. It will be a total solar eclipse from Oregon to Tennessee to South Carolina, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.  

STAY WEATHER SMART: What’s the difference between dewpoint and humidity?

If skies are clear enough here in the Dayton region, expect the eclipse to begin a few minutes after 1 p.m. The eclipse will reach its maximum in the Miami Valley at 2:28 p.m. with nearly 90 percent of the sun being obscured by the moon.

We’ll have near darkness in the middle of the afternoon. The moon then will move away with the eclipse ending at 3:51 p.m.

STAY WEATHER SMART: What’s the difference between a watch and a warning?

It is highly recommended that viewers of the eclipse wear protective eye gear, not just sunglasses. Staring at the sun can cause severe damage to the eyes. 

STAY WEATHER AWARE: Live Interactive Radar
If you miss the eclipse or the weather does not cooperate, you won’t have to wait another century. Dayton will get a chance to see another total solar eclipse on April 9, 2024. 

STAY INFORMED: School-Business Closings, Delays

Published: Thursday, December 08, 2016 @ 3:03 PM

STAY INFORMED: School-Business Closings, Delays

Stay informed this winter season with the latest school delays and closings, business closings and snow emergencies.

You can access them 5 different ways: 

For information on how to enroll your school or business in the free School Watch Program, click here.