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 September 15, 2006

Wild changes

Happy Friday everyone!

The weather pattern is continuing to go through some rather wild changes as the seasons are changing. A winter storm watch is in effect for higher elevations in Montana. The jet stream is strengthening. What causes the jet stream to exist and strengthen? The answer is......temperature contrasts. The jet stream is driven by the "thermal wind". When thinking of how the thermal wind sets up think of the polar jet stream. To the north of the polar jet stream the air is cold. Since the air is cold the thickness values (and heights) are lower since cold air is more dense. To the south of the polar jet stream the air is relatively warmer. Since air is warmer the thickness values are higher since warm air is less dense. A north to south temperature gradient is set up and the height values slope over this distance. When height values slope (think of height contours close together on upper level charts) the pressure gradient force is put into action. It is the Pressure Gradient Force that causes the wind to blow. Whether it is the jet stream, a mid-latitude cyclone or a sea breeze it is the change in temperature over distance that sets the wind in motion. The thermal wind occurs above the boundary layer since friction is not an influence on altering the wind direction aloft.

So what does this mean? The thermal wind is a wind that flows parallel to the temperature gradient in the troposphere. The thermal wind explains the magnitude and direction the wind will take when a temperature change occurs over a horizontal distance. In simpler terms......the thermal wind is a direct result of temperature contrasts. At this time of the year the temperature contrasts are growing stronger and as a result so is the jet stream.

Below, you can see the front coming through on Sunday on the first map. The second and third maps show the strange developing pattern for early next week. The trough is positively tilted as it is moving across the plains, but then by early Wednesday morning there is a strong shortwave trough swinging into the plains. This is causing a surface cyclone to form over Oklahoma. This would bring us a cold rain on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. But, is this right? It is changing every day.

Sfc Sunday noon.gif
Click to enlarge (Surface valid Sunday morning)
gfs 500 Wed.gif
Click to enlarge (500 flow Tuesday night)
Sfc flow early Wed.gif
Click to enlarge (Surface valid Wednesday morning)

The bottom line.......the weather is getting exciting. Now, let's get some actual real time weather and then it won't just be on the computer models. Tonight on the newscasts we will be tracking all of these features. I just wish I had 10 minutes to explain it all. But, I only get 3 1/2 minutes per show and we will be working to put together a nice weather intensive show tonight. I love this time of year. But, winter is my favorite season.

Have a great weekend.


Posted by at September 15, 2006 6:53 AM



They only give you 3 1/2 minutes? Wow, that is not right! You need at least 4 minutes. The good news is you do have weather plus, but even then you only have 2 to 3 minutes at a time. Why is it you guys only have 3 to 4 minutes? It seems to me like you should get 5, the sports should get 5, and then news should get 20! Oh wait, I forgot about all the commericals! Well, the news gets 15!

:-) Tell that to your boss and see what he says! I think I know, but at least somebody said it!

Keep up the good work and THANK YOU for the education in the blog! I hope you can have more stuff like that in the blog!


We get 3 1/2 minutes. The weather people in Los Angeles only get about 1 minute and in Miami they only get about 2 minutes. I know that I could easily put together a great weathercast that is 10 minutes long every night. Most News Director's (the boss) think that when the weather seems boring then we should get less time. But, I believe that the weather is rarely boring. Something is always going on and changing.

Have a great weekend and I am glad you enjoyed today's educational blog. I will try to add more of this when I get the time.


Posted by: Brian at September 15, 2006 7:44 AM

i think your weather graphics are the best in town. We watch other channels with the ball games take over..ha! There is no comparision.

Tech ? Sometimes we see a sillouete around you guys in front of the green screen. What causes that - color or clothing?

Randy Senior,

Thanks for the kind comments. Weather graphics is one of the areas that I have always prided us as doing very well. But, with technology always changing the challenges will continue. So, we must always find new ways to describe the weather.

The glow.......I am not sure. It may be your television?


Posted by: randy senior at September 15, 2006 7:48 AM

Gary, i'm a huge sports fan, but I don't watch the local news for sports....I watch the local news for weather...you should get at least 5 minutes and the sports should get like 2 minutes since everyone watches ESPN for sports highlights. Anyways...what's the earliest date KC has seen snow?


Sports gets about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on most nights and not much more. It is the news that has so many stories that I think could be taken out. At least 4 or 5 every night. But, I can't complain. I get just enough time. Over the years they have reduced weather time from 4 minutes to 3:45 to 3:30. I can ask for more time if something big is coming in.


Posted by: Chris at September 15, 2006 8:55 AM

I know its still out there quite a few days, but do you have any thoughts on next weekend's weather? I have many friends and family coming to town next weekend and would love to have a few wonderful autumn days here in KC!


It may be very nice, but remember the weather pattern is changing every day right now. The latest data has great weather next weekend.


Posted by: Jason S. at September 15, 2006 9:03 AM

Gary, what are the chances for a nice Sunday afternoon for our grandson's minature golf birthday party? Rain seems in forecast for early Sunday, will it contiune??
AZ. and Vegas were very hot last week, glad to be home in cooler weather.


I am going to Vegas in about 10 days. I can't wait. Hopefully it will be a bit cooler out there.

Our weather for Sunday will depend on a cold front moving through early Sunday and then a second upper level disturbance. Right now it looks good for Sunday afternoon.


Posted by: Ginger at September 15, 2006 9:38 AM

Ok..I started with pulling graphics yesterday, and will do more this weekend. I am seeing the "non trend" trend right now that started with the huge cold front that ended summer back in August. Then, shortly there after, we had the cutoff low [mixed with Ernersto] that brought rain - remember the blocking? Then we had another front more recently that mixed with the shortwave that came out of SW Kansas.

Ok..so lets fast forward. We are looking at another powerful cold front [snow Montana][about a month later from the first one], Weds vort shows nearly a cutoff low [about a month later from the first one], and after this we should get a weird shortwave back out of Oklahoma/KS. I have to get the dates down from my previous blogs, but I think we are on a 30-40 day cycle. Yes, I know this is impossible, and only visible to me...but I think I can prove it out.

First of all it isn't a powerful cold front. It is somewhat strong for this time of the year but not that unusual either. I really don't believe there is any cycle right now. It is chaos!


Posted by: Scott at September 15, 2006 9:51 AM

Hi Gary-
Have you ever thought about teaching? I love learning about the weather from you as you make it interesting and fun. I have learned a lot from you!
I got some picutures of some anvil clouds on our flight to Florida. Once I get them downloaded I will send them to you.

I am glad you enjoyed the recent lesson. We look forward to seeing a few pictures. Have a great weekend.


Posted by: Jeanie at September 15, 2006 10:22 AM


Speaking of winter, I heard that El Nino is setting back up in the Pacific. Does this mean another mild winter and NO SNOW.... I hope that's not the case. What are your early thoughts?

Best regards,


Read the blog entry before this one for my thoughts on El Nino. Don't worry yet.


Posted by: Don Hassinger at September 15, 2006 11:40 AM

How much of an impact will the reminents of Tropical Storm Lane have on our weather next week.


Probably none, unless a trough can dig into the west coast.


Posted by: David at September 15, 2006 11:45 AM

hey, gary im a softball director for a league, this rain is killing my softball season on the weekends, do you think i should cancel the rest of the season? accoding to accuweather and weather .com its going to rain for the next 2 weekends and we play only till mid october.

This is why you don't ever again need to look at Accu weather and weather.com. Come on Craig. Those sources don't know our weather at all. Not even close. And this weekend and next weekend should be the perfect example.

We are in transition right now. This weekend looks dry with the exception of Sunday morning. And next weekend looks dry right now. From now on just use our 7 day forecast and then ask us if you need it to be more specific.


Posted by: craig harvey at September 15, 2006 11:50 AM

Hi Gary. I saw that KSHB was named station of the year, I can't help but think that you and your weather team are the reason why. Thanks for doing such a great job. By the way, winter is my favorite season too. Bring on the snow!!
Thanks Kristy,

It is a team effort starting with our new General Manager Craig Allison, our News Director Debbie Bush, our entire weather team, and the rest of the staff. We really have a good group of people here at KSHB.


Posted by: Kristy Jarman at September 15, 2006 12:29 PM

What do you mean by a cold rain?


A cold rain can meet a lot of different scenarios. But later in the week it could be in the 40s or 50s with rain. The latest data doesn't support what this mornings data was doing. So, it is a changing weather pattern and we will see how it sets up next week.


Posted by: Jeff at September 15, 2006 1:08 PM

Hello Mr. Lezak. We are going camping over the weekend is there any severe weather threat?

There is a slight chance, but the timing right now appears to be Sunday morning which would limit the severe potential in this situation.


Posted by: Ben Tracy at September 15, 2006 3:18 PM

Hey Gary:
Not really a weather question, but is there any chance we could see the airshow on the skyview camera this weekend? (maybe a time lapse?)

The airplanes would be way too small to see on a timelapse. But, we will likely get some video and show it on the air Saturday night.


Posted by: Matt Haden at September 15, 2006 3:47 PM

We also see the sillouete around you guys at our house, we thought that it was your clothing but that doesn't seem to make much of a difference. We are all hoping for a very snowy winter. Also is the Air Show this weekend at the downtown airport going to be affected by any rain?

It must be the chroma key.

Have a great weekend.


Posted by: Shannon at September 15, 2006 3:49 PM


We were planning on going to the airshow this weekend. What are the chances of rain for Saturday and Sunday afternoon.


It looks dry with the exception of early Sunday.


Posted by: Jim at September 15, 2006 4:42 PM

Your excitement and passion for meteorology definitely come through in your forecasts and even in your blog entries. That makes reading your forecasts and watching them even more exciting. Good for you!

Thank you and this is why our blog can be special. It is in addition to what we show on the air. It compliments it and explains some of our thoughts a bit further, but showing the graphics on television and providing a great weather story each night is the most important, if that makes sense.


Posted by: Marlina at September 15, 2006 4:49 PM

Hi Gary:

I saw somebody on the blog asked about the "green glow" around you. That is actually because of the chromo key effect used up in the booth. I am not sure why it is gets off, but sometimes it does. It is worse on some stations than others, but I beleive it all has to do with that. I am a Communications major with a speciffic area of study in Broadcasting. I have also been down to a local TV station many times (In Jackson Michigan where I am from) and the weather man there showed me all the toys and things.

Yea 3 1/2 minutes is about average. I guess they just want you to explain what is happening and what is going to happen. It is hard to get it in within 3 1/2 minutes, but you do a good job at it. Less is more right?


Thanks for the help with the glow. 3 1/2 minutes is enough time until there are thunderstorms on radar or snow developing, then 4 1/2 minutes is what I really need to adequately explain the array of possibilities.


Posted by: Brian at September 15, 2006 9:48 PM

I'll be honest, the weather segment is the only reason I watch local news..and possibly Jack Harry, I like his opinions on sports. Other than that they could scrap the news and give you 20 and jack 5 and commercials 5.

Thanks for the compliments. Gary and Jack are two very dynamic people... and they are so good at what they do!

Posted by: Dave C. at September 16, 2006 7:10 AM


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