Inversion and balloons (much better than inverted balloons)

Fall brings many changes to Western North Carolina, from the turning of the leaves to the turning up of the thermostat. These cooler nights mean that many of us are heating our homes with wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to ward off the chill. Most of the time, the wood smoke (along with other particulates that are in the air) mix through much of the lowest layer of our atmosphere, called the troposphere.  But when the air is cool and the winds are calm, we can occasionally see those tiny particles concentrated in the early morning air under what meteorologists call a radiational temperature inversion. Such was the case this morning, as you can see in the image below from Madison County, looking to the southeast across the valley toward the Craggies (image center) and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Lots of water

The beginning of this week started with significant rainfall over the region thanks to a large weather system that dumped a record amount of rainfall in Asheville on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and provided more rain in two days than we usually expect during the entire month of September!  Our area’s rivers and streams are doing their job of transporting that water downstream — but the evidence of all that moisture was still hanging around early this morning in the form of low clouds.  I shot the image below earlier today as the clouds were beginning to break at 4000 feet — revealing the early fall color that is starting to appear on ridgetops.

The first sign of coming change

The bright yellows of Goldenrod are now plentiful in fields and along roadways in Western North Carolina; last weekend’s cold front brought cooler and drier air into the region; and you may have noticed that some of the leaves on the trees are beginning to lose their deep green color. These first signs of the coming autumn are a welcome sight to many of us who claim fall to be our favorite season.

Isaac takes the coast by storm (at night!)

This amazing image of Tropical Storm Isaac was captured just after midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 28, by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi-NPP satellite. Still off the Gulf Coast, Isaac’s clouds were lit by moonlight and the lights of cities across the Southeast U.S. are clearly visible. I’ve added labels for some of the more visible metropolitan areas, including Asheville.

Where is winter? Look to the polar vortex

Snowflakes were flying earlier this week, as Valentine’s Day started off white at the higher elevations.

Snowflakes were flying earlier this week, as Valentine’s Day started off white at the higher elevations.  This image of Max Patch in western Madison County shows the short-lived snow.  So – what has happened to this winter? Why has it been so different than the last two years?

Asheville-based National Climate Data Center turns 60

Weather Channel junkies, you are not alone. People have been obsessed with weather — and recording weather observations — for quite some time. Retro outfits and mod hairdos are no longer on view, but the Asheville-based National Climate Data Center celebrated its 60th birthday last week, and the center wants folks to know about the fascinating weather and climate information it has collected over the years.

New climate institute ramps up in Asheville

A newly established climate research partnership partially based in Asheville will begin working on projects this fall with an urgent focus: developing accurate, long-range climate-change forecasts. The Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, announced May 27, will work as a nationwide collaboration of researchers and institutions. The institute will have a working site in Asheville […]