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Don Paul: Weather slowly improves as week goes on

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Rain on main street

Scattered showers and possible thunderstorms are predicted for later today, as modeled for around 5 p.m.

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Early on Friday when I wrote my last article, there was still hope for Labor Day. Guidance was suggesting most, if any, showers would be in the Southern Tier with more drying on the Niagara Frontier. By Friday night, newer model runs began to yank the weather carpet out from under Monday, stalling a front near Western New York and increasing the risk of showers across all our region, with heaviest totals in the Southern Tier. Unfortunately, that evening shift in the forecast verified. There was enough rain Sunday night to produce some poor drainage flooding in Cattaraugus County, near Olean. Here are the rain totals as of Monday morning.

Even by midmorning, it was evident plenty more rain was to come:

The glint of hope for grillers later in the day will be mainly on the Niagara Frontier, where a few showers and some patchy drizzle may still be around but the chefs will be unlikely to get soaked while flipping the burgers and dogs. In the Southern Tier, however, there will still be scattered showers and possible thunderstorms late today, as modeled for around 5 p.m.

Tuesday will win no awards for appearances. While there may be a few “bits o’ sun” by afternoon, clouds will dominate and keep high temps in the low 70s with a northeast breeze at about 8-14 mph.

Slow improvement will continue on a milder Wednesday. The sky will become partly sunny. A nearby trough of low pressure could still trigger a few stray light showers in the afternoon, but it will be mainly rain-free, with moderate humidity.

The absence of any real breeze will make the upper 70s seem warm.

On Thursday, weak high pressure will bring more abundant sunshine and get the high back to a summery 80.

Dangerous excessive heat warnings continue in the nation’s second largest metro area and will hold through Wednesday. Los Angeles’ suburbs a bit farther inland, such as Glendale, will have 100-plus degree highs into Thursday with some spots reaching 110-113 degrees.

Downtown L.A. will have a little more Pacific marine air influence keeping Thursday’s high in the upper 80s to low 90s. By game time, more marine air will be cooling readings for the Bills, Rams and fans to the low 80s, dropping into the 70s as the game progresses. The onshore flow may even push some low clouds and fog into the city by late in the game. The cooling breeze will pick up in the evening, but should not be a major factor in the game.

In Western New York by Friday and into next weekend, a south-southwest flow behind a ridge of high pressure will bring warmer and gradually more humid conditions, especially by Sunday when dew points move well into the stickier 60s. Saturday looks mostly sunny with the high reaching the low 80s. A few showers or thundershowers may develop on a partly cloudy Sunday as a cold front to the west draws closer and moisture ahead of the front increases.

With potentially more cloud cover the high temp may drop back to the upper 70s, and into the mid 70s on a humid Monday with a better chance of showers. There are early hints the frontal boundary may stall near our region. If that occurs, we may have a few unsettled days with modest cooling early next week. Heading into mid-September, there is good ensemble agreement on warm upper level high pressure over the Midwest and Great Lakes favoring the return of above-average temperatures. The coloring tells part of the story around the 15th.

As of this writing, this warm pattern shows signs of persistence through the mid-month.

Climate change is increasing flight turbulence

Dr. Paul Williams of the University of Reading in the UK has been studying atmospheric turbulence since 2013. He recently told CNN he expects, based on thorough model simulations, clear air turbulence (CAT) to increase more dramatically as the century progresses. The basics: the National Transportation Safety Board reports 28% of severe CAT incidents occurred with no warning to the cockpit crews. Turbulence can be categorized as being light, a noticeable nuisance, to moderate which presents more difficulty walking, and which can dislodge unsecured items. With moderate turbulence, flight attendants may be instructed to get seated and belted. Severe turbulence incidents are highly disruptive and dangerous. Our airliners are built to withstand severe turbulence and aren’t going to be falling out of the sky as severe CAT increases. But unsecured passengers and items can be tossed violently to the roof of the cabin and seriously injured or incapacitated. U.S. airliners experienced about 5,500 severe turbulence incidents last year, according to NTSB.

One of the climate change-related elements that is increasing turbulence is a larger thermal contrast between the warming upper troposphere (the part of the atmosphere in which we live) and the cooling stratosphere above it, especially over the arctic polar region. This increase closely fits earlier model projections such developments would grow as the arctic region warms faster than the rest of the world. These CAT incidents are probably most numerous over the North Atlantic flight corridors, where flight paths often intersect the higher wind velocities of the polar jet stream. The increase in wind shear at flight levels is already ongoing, and modeled to worsen as warming continues to increase in the troposphere for decades to come. In addition, the duration of turbulence events is modeled to lengthen, along with severity.

New safety regulations are anticipated in the face of more severe turbulence, including the likelihood infants will eventually have to wear seat belts and will not be allowed to sit on parents’ laps — a clear hazard to the child and those around the child. Flight attendants will have to take their seats more often.

The bottom line for all of us passengers (keeping in mind the forecasting of CAT and severe CAT is likely to remain dicey) is to always, always, always wear your seat belt. Minimize your time in the aisle even if the pilot doesn’t have the fasten seat belt sign lit. On the whole, flying has never been safer. But even the best-engineered and piloted aircraft are going to encounter more rough spots in the air. Let’s not make the already more stressful flying environment rougher on ourselves.

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