Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weather It Is (A Break And Then Stormy)

Good Evening:

Winds gusted to 120 km/h in Tel-Aviv on Thursday night/Friday and heavy rain fell in many locations.  There was also plenty of thunder and lightning to light the sky.  The strong thunderstorms produced lots of hail (some of which I gathered in my hand Friday morning). 

Despite the frequent rain, though, the accumulated amounts so far are still below normal for the season (see:

The strong thunderstorms occurred because of relatively cold levels in the upper atmosphere, with relatively warm and moist temperatures lower down.  A radiosonde measurement taken at the IMS office in Bet-Degan near midnight  Friday measured 1 C at 850 m, -10 C at 700 mb, and -27 C at 500 mb.  When we discussed the upcoming situation last week, we mentioned that for snow to occur the temperatures at 850 mb would be below zero (ideally -1 Cor lower), and -12 or lower at 700 mb.  Combined with -27 C at 500 mb (which was colder than suggested by the forecast at the time), it would have been an ideal snow situation.  It was not meant to be.

I am sure that there are plenty of folks who wondered why I mentioned the possibility of snow at all.  For instance, at best there was a 40% chance that temperatures would be cold enough for snow.  I might have easily just said that it was more likely that there would not be snow.  However, it is my job to spice up the weather forecasts, to grab the readers attention, and to build at least a bit of excitement.

There may be those who are disappointed that it didn't snow, and there might be those who are disappointed in me.  Yet, what readers forget is that I am also disappointed the weather "didn't work out." I have feelings too -- I'm not just a reporter: I'm involved.

Anyway, the weather will warm up a bit on Sunday, but then a front will pass through Sunday night and we'll be headed to what could be a week of very wet and chilly weather.   There will probably be two storms that arrive, the first on Tuesday and the next on Thursday or Friday.  The first should bring rain, while the forecast indicates that there is a 25% chance of snow with the second.

Our snow changes may in fact be higher than in our last go around because this storm will be arriving from the north.  This means that the low-level winds circulating around this storm will spend less time over the ocean, and have less time to warm enough to produce rain instead of snow. The "fly in the ointment" is that the cold air to our north is not as cold as typical for this time of year, so we may just get plain rain.

You may remember that it wasn't so long ago that we were quite worried that this winter would be another drought year.  On the other hand, you may not have been worried about this, and this is what concerns me.

In fact, a lot of strange things have been happening to me lately.  For instance, this morning I opened the door to our house and the power went off.  The power came back, so I went out and opened the door again -- the power went off.  I went to a neighbour, opened his door and the power came back on.

Of course, it was a coincidence, and one shouldn't make anything more of it.

But, this is not what I am speaking about.  For weeks, I had been arriving at the Bet-Knesset on Friday evening on-time only to wait about 5 minutes for services to begin.  A few weeks later, I arrived to the same Bet-Knesset five minutes late and the congregation was already half way through the Shabbat services.  It was like I had come to a different Bet-Knesset.

A few days later, I lay down for a snooze, expecting to wake up about 12:30.  I woke up a few times, and here are the times I saw on my watch: 12:23, 12:27, 12:18, 12:27, and 12:23. Weird.

Prior to the start of our rainy period it was very warm.  My wife said to me: "I love these weather changes, as I can wear sandals at the end of December."  I looked at her and wondered if this person was really my wife.

Last week was the Torah Portion "Va'era," except this happened two weeks in a row.

I think these strange occurrences can be explained by Quantum Mechanics or how the world works on the scale of very small particles, and what this implies for us.  For instance, if one uses an electron gun to shoot electrons one at a time at a double slitted barrier, the electrons appear to pass through both slits at the same time, as implied by a wave interference pattern that is found at the detector on the other side (see, for example: ). However, if we try to observed these single electrons passing through the slits, the interference pattern is eliminated and the pattern detected is what we expect (one electron passing through one of the slits one at a time).

The results is a conundrum.  It appears that the essence of a our world is a probability distribution, where the electron can be at both slits at the same time or some fraction of of the time, but when we try to observe what is happening, the electron behaves like we expect in our world.  This leads to strange situations. For instance, if we were to place a cat in a chamber with a radioactive trigger, quantum theory implies that it should be both dead and alive at the same time (since the decay of a radioactive particle from a single atom sometimes occurs and sometimes it doesn't, but until we check it is in both states).  This is the conclusion of a thought experiment proposed by Erwin Schrodinger ).  The cat should remain thus until we (an observer) check to see what happened to the cat, and this is referred to  "as quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox."  

To most people, this seems like an impossibility.  The cat is either dead or alive but not both. One not so obvious solution to this problem is to simply accept the fact that in one "world" the cat is dead, while in the other the cast is alive, and that the observer (that's us) exist in two different realities.  Or, to put it succinctly: there are two of us!

Taking this a step further, it means that when a card that is balanced on its edge and falls in one direction, it also falls some percentage of the time (depending on its tilt) in the other direction, in another universe, and so-on.  We the observer, however, do not know that these other universes exist or that (perhaps) they are being created all the time.

Except that I know -- because I have been moving between universes (even though this is suppose to be impossible) for the last month or so. The proof: I was living in a universe where it didn't rain and now it seems to rain all the time.  There's also my wife... or at least someones wife. And, there's probably a universe where it did snow, and snowed a lot, and I can't wait to get there.

Barry Lynn

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Weather It Is (Winter Weather Warning)

Good Afternoon:

The latest forecasts are in, and they indicate that snow should fall in the northern mountains of the Golan, but not in the central mountains.

The temperatures at 500 mb (and 700 mb), though, are cold enough to bring potential thunderstorms and hail, which could make for slippery driving conditions.   However, surface temperatures should be above freezing, so the ice should melt off given enough time.

Winds should also be gale force, so caution should be taken.

The rain should arrive this evening and then should taper to showers later on Friday.

A longer lasting and very high precipitation producing storm should arrive next week, most likely beginning on Tuesday.  The rain may actually continue into early next week.

Barry Lynn

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Weather It Is (Stormy Weather Again)

Good Afternoon:

The latest forecasts from the GEFS (Global Ensemble) indicate that the upcoming storm will most most likely not produce any accumulating snow in the Jerusalem area.

The basic "problem" is that the area of coldest air is forecast to slide just to the north and east of Israel Thursday night, meaning that precipitation will be lighter than thought originally, and the chance for snow particles to grow large is quite low.

However, winds will gust to gale force levels, and rain amounts will still be on the heavy side, so at least there should be more rain to add to our already (what was) normal totals. Rainfall amounts should be heaviest up north.

Looking ahead: next week looks to be stormy, and we'll keep in mind that cold air may be arriving from the north. In such a situation, the longwave pattern is more greatly amplified (called an "Omega" pattern after the Greek letter Omega).  This means that the lower level air is more likely to remain cold and that the stormy weather could possibly remain pretty much all week long.

Barry Lynn

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Weather It Is (Winter Storm Watch Continues)

Good Evening:  After issuing my "Winter Storm Watch" for Thursday night and Friday morning, the forecasts from the GEFS trended a bit warmer.  There were still some forecasts with unusually cold temperatures, but the majority were pointing towards "just" a rain event.  This was discouraging if you're a snow-liking person.

I know where my wife stands on this matter, because she was going around telling people that I said that it wouldn't snow.  What I really said was that looking at the weather maps Tuesday morning made me less optimistic, but not completely pessimistic.  Well, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest..." (so aptly said Simon in Garfunkel in the song "The Boxer.")

However, today's (0z (00:00 UTC)) forecasts were again pointing towards a cold event.  Looking at the GEFS mean weather forecast field maps, one notes the arrival of unusually cold air Thursday night into Friday morning.  In terms of the potential for snow accumulation, this will be helped out by very cold temperatures at 700 mb in the presence of strong vertical velocities.  The ideal temperature for "growing snowflakes" (interlocking dendrites; see: is between -12 and -18 C, and at the moment 40% of the forecasts indicate a drier, more likely to accumulate snow after the rain transitions to snow Thursday night.

In the last blog, we spoke about the possibility of snow at even low (or lower elevations). However, the current forecast puts this probability at just 10%.  Still, the ECMWF forecast at 500 mb is colder than the GEFS, so this may not be the last word on this subject.

In the meantime, Wednesday (tomorrow) should bring more rain, and Thursday's storm should bring even heavier precipitation, strong winds, and a chill just about everywhere.

The temperatures should warm up on Shabbat and Monday, but the next storm should also bring chilly weather (with another chance for snow) mid-next week.

In terms of actual snow amounts, the reader should check back on Thursday morning for an estimate by location.

Barry Lynn

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weather It Is (Winter Storm Watch)

Good Evening:

There is a winter storm watch for Thursday night into Friday morning for the higher elevations of Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, and the northern mountains.

The latest  (0000 UTC) GEFS forecast mean temperatures at 850 mb are just below freezing, with temperatures at 700 mb (the level near which snow grows most quickly) comparatively even colder with more than 60% of the forecasts below -12 C.  The "fly in the ointment" are the forecast temperatures at 500 mb.  Similar to a storm last year that brought a light accumulation to Gush Etzion, most forecasts within the ensemble are not below -25 C.  However, 20% of the forecasts are, and apparently the ECMWF forecast at 500 mb is colder (in the mean) than the GEFS.  If these colder forecasts verify, there could be snow in Mitzpe Ramon as well as areas lower down (e.g., Ramat Bet Shemesh) -- but this is unlikely.

Snow accumulation amounts -- like always -- are very sensitive to elevation heights and the degree of cold aloft, and it isn't possible to speak about accumulation amounts just yet.  In addition, this storm should be arriving from the west, meaning that relatively warm sea-temperatures could cause the snow to melt as it approaches ground level.  Moreover, temperatures on Shabbat and Sunday are forecast to be well above freezing, which should melt just about any snow. So, the snow may literally be here Friday morning, and gone by Shabbat morning or afternoon.

Nevertheless, the upcoming storm is forecast to be quite strong with gale force winds, high waves, and probably thunder and lightning.  Flooding is again likely within cities and the desert areas to the south.

Until then, rain is again forecast for Wednesday and possibly next week as temperatures become chilly again as the next storm arrives.

Barry Lynn

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weather It Is (Winter Comes)

Good Evening:

You've probably heard: the weather indicators are pointing towards rainy and unusually cold weather. Yet, our overall weather pattern hasn't changed much.  We're still expecting a series of storms to move across the eastern Mediterranean this week (the first was last night and tonight (Monday-night), the third should be on Wednesday, a fourth on Friday, and another possibly early next week.

What's different, and importantly so, is that extremely cold air should settle in west of Greenland, over the northern European countries of Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and northern Russia.   This is a long wave pattern that has been generally present for the last couple of weeks, but now is forecast to amplify as it gets colder.  This is a change from last week's forecast for this upcoming time period.

Really, the most important center of cold air as far as we're concerned is the one forecast to be located over northern  Europe, where our Friday's storm is suppose to originate.  This is unusual because as noted at the Jerusalem Weather Forecast Facebook site ( almost all of our snowstorms originate with cold air that plunges southward from Siberia through Turkey into the far eastern Mediterranean.  One such storm was the December 2013 storm that buried Jerusalem in heavy, heavy snow over a three day period.

In this week's end of the week storm (Thursday night into Friday), the cold air should build southeastward from northern Europe.  Some of the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) forecasts suggest that snow levels could be very low, as the mean temperature between the surface and 500 mb may be below freezing. The GEFS puts the changes of this type of cold at about 30%.  The global model from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) is actually forecasting snow in Jerusalem, even though this model's resolution is greater 10 km (so the topographical heights in the model are quite a bit lower than actual).

New forecasts are arriving as I write this, and I've been told that they are a bit warmer than today's earlier forecast.  Right now, we can see with high certainty through Thursday, but Friday's storm remains at least as far as possible snow is concerned a mystery.

Stay tuned!

Barry Lynn

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Weather It Is (Rainy Weather)

Good Evening:

It does feel like winter here, but not a particularly cold winter. In fact, temperatures have not yet been below freezing (here in the mountains of Gush Etzion).  In fact, based on the data provided at one notes the temperatures worldwide are 0.7 C above average, while the northern hemisphere is 1.2 C above average. The only locations with below normal temperatures today (Wednesday) are Canada, eastern Russia, and points north over the artic ocean.  So, we shouldn't expect any real winter weather in the Middle East anytime soon.

Yet, not all is bad -- winter wise.  Our weather pattern has become fairly active and another storm should be moving across the eastern Mediterranean by the end of the week. In fact, a cool front will arrive Wednesday night and there will be a slight chance of showers on Friday, as well as a higher chance of rain Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) into Monday morning.  Winds will also be strong out of the west from Sunday into Monday, and there should be snow on the Hermon.  Temperatures will also cool some more.

Moreover, there is a 50% chance that another storm will provide another dosing of rain from Thursday of next week onwards, so winter -- even though a mild winter -- continues.

In contrast, it also seems that the terror attacks never stop.  The death of Raziel Shevach hits home: even though I didn't know him -- we all feel like family here.

Of course, if the terror attacks did stop, then there would be no need for signs like these at the entrance to Palestinian towns.  In fact, there is one just down the road from the northern entrance to Efrat.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live on the other side of such a sign.  Wouldn't you feel embarrassed to live behind such a sign?  I've also wondered what might be written on the other side of the sign itself.  Perhaps it is written: "Entering Paradise -- Israeli territory." 

However, here is what is more likely written on the other side:
The sign shows two examples of the amount of money paid to Palestinian terrorists who commit crimes, including murder. The worse the crime, the more they get paid.  If they're married, etc, they get paid more.

There are efforts within the US Congress to pass a law deducting from aid given to the Palestinian Authority the amount paid to terrorist families and terrorists themselves ($350 million in 2017). There are also proposed laws in Israel to deduct monies collected in taxes.  However, these bills are moving slowly because there is a fear that reducing monies to the Palestinians will cause greater "unrest." So, after an attack they arrest those directly responsible, and then restore the "situation" to what it was as quickly as possible. In my mind, this is like trying to fend off a voracious animal, where the slabs of meat are really human sacrifices.

Israel use to have a very generous policy for families, too.  The purpose of our family policy was different, though, to encourage parents to have more children. The more children parents brought into the world, the more money they would get, and the amounts went up "exponentially."  This proved to be too expensive, so payments now are much less than they use to be.

Let's make it a lot more expensive for the Palestinian Authority (which claims to be an actual state) to murder Israelis.  There won't be any less Palestinian children being born, but fewer will be murderers, and fewer will grow up to be so.

Barry Lynn