H is for Haboob

After writing a blog on derechos (*Insert Link after it posts*), I thought it could be a fun idea for a series, where I write about unique weather events that start with different letters of the alphabet! To carry on with the theme, this week’s fun weather word is “haboob,” which is an intense sandstorm or duststorm caused by strong winds, with sand and/or dust often lofted as high as 5,000 feet (!!) creating a “wall of dust” along the leading edge of the haboob.

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Hurricanes and Mental Health

Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, with nearly one in five adults living with a mental illness. Extreme weather events can impacts mental health in several ways, both in immediate anxiety-related responses, as well as chronic mental health disorders. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD; a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically occurring in the winter months) leads to insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. Flooding and prolonged droughts have been associated with with elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Tropical cyclones are no exception and can wreak havoc beyond the images of flattened buildings, uprooted trees, and flooded streets that take over news coverage.

A home in Gulfport, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Courtesy NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge.
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Third Thursday Interview: Vanesa Urango

Welcome to another edition of our Third Thursdays! This week we are profiling Vanesa Urango, who works with FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and is the State Public Assistance Coordinator in New Hampshire. Vanesa and I met when we were in graduate school together in New Hampshire, although our overlapped time together was short since she was a year or so ahead of me in the program. I was excited to chat with her, catch up on how she’s been, and learn more about her position (which has always seemed so interesting to me, but I’d never gotten the full details until now!)

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History Highlight: June Bacon-Bercey

June Esther Griffith (later to become June Bacon-Bercey through marriage), was born October 23, 1928 in Wichita, Kansas, and would grow up to become a pioneer in the field of meteorology after first becoming interested in science at a young age. As an only child, she enjoyed the great outdoors through bike riding and hiking, as well as playing the piano and participating in Girl Scouts activities. When a high school physics teacher noticed June’s interest in water displacement and buoyancy, they encouraged June to pursue a career in meteorology. Although her parents supported her career choice, it was quite an out-of-the-box suggestion. Both female and African-American meteorologists were practically unheard of at this time in history, and women were traditionally looked down upon in fields of math and meteorology.

Left, a headshot of June Bacon-Bercey. Right, posing on her Buffalo apartment terrace while working at WGR TV. (Maurice Seymour; Courtesy of Dail St. Claire)
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Connection Between Earth’s Temperature and Hurricane Strength

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in four days, although we’ve already had our first named storm – Tropical Storm Arthur. Tropical cyclones are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena, and scientists are growing more confident that the increase in Earth’s surface temperatures is impacting the intensity of tropical cyclones. A new collaborative study that further explored this hypothesis was published last month by scientists from the Center for Weather and Climate (NOAA/NCEI) and the Cooperative Insitute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisonsin-Madison.

A NOAA GOES East satellite captured this shot of Hurricane Dorian fifteen minutes before making landfall over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina at 8:35 AM EDT Friday, September 6, 2019. Image courtesy NOAA NESDIS.
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D is for Derecho

Just a couple of months after a devastating tornado tore across Nashville, Mother Nature had another blow for Music City. Late in the evening on Saturday, May 1, a complex of severe thunderstorms developed across southern Kansas. They continued tracking east through Missouri and western Kentucky over the next morning before finally reaching central Tennessee by the afternoon.

Shelf cloud approaching Hwy109 at I-40 near Lebanon, TN on May 3, 2020
photo by NWS Nashville meteorologist Brendan Schaper
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Summertime Safety

Hey y’all, happy Thursday! Tomorrow is the first day of May, and although summer doesn’t technically begin until June 20, it already feels like summer in my soul – and my backyard (hello Alabama warmth, I’ve missed you!) As we embark on the warmest time of year, I thought it might be a good time to refresh ourselves on summer safety tips as we plan for those backyard barbecues, beach and lake days, and more time spent outdoors in general!

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Ask Me Anything: Weather for Students

Hi guys! Welcome to our first Ask Me Anything, where we reached out to students of all ages to ask what their biggest questions about the weather were. We received some great questions, and we are so excited to answer them here!

Please feel free to ask questions at any time by filling out our question form, and we will be sure to answer them at a future AMA event!

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Third Thursday Interview: Jennifer Saari

In February 2014, I attended my first AMS Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement y’all. There were so many great talks, posters, and people. My professor at the time had told us to make sure we asked questions and talked to people….but, man, can that be intimidating! I didn’t get the courage to ask any questions in oral sessions…I mean, what if I asked a “dumb” question?! Luckily I now know that it is a very welcoming crowd – particularly for students – and there are, of course, no wrong questions. BUT – I did browse the poster session and got the courage to talk to different people presenting their work and research. Of course, a lot (okay, probably most) of it went over my head, and I certainly don’t remember what most of them were about…except for one. Even six years later, I still remember my favorite poster from that weekend and the person who presented it. This week’s Third Thursday interview will be highlighting that individual – Jennifer Saari.

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Successfully Working From Home

Hello, and happy Thursday everyone! Today is April 9, and it has been three weeks since the first “stay-at-home” order was issued in California due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Tomorrow, New York will hit the three week mark as well. It’s hard to describe what the last few weeks have looked like, especially since it has impacted each of us in so many different ways, but the two words that come to my mind – roller coaster. It has been a roller coaster of emotions, with constant news updates and changes to policies and regulations. On top of all that, many are now are adjusting to a new normal, working from home. As someone who regularly works at home, I know that it can come with it’s own unique challenges and distractions. However, I also know that working from home right now is even more difficult – whether you are transitioning your children into online learning, adjusting to having your significant other as your coworker, or are trying to cope with the loneliness of social isolation if you live alone. Whatever your circumstance, I hope this blog can help bring some ease to your day to day. We will get through this together!

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