Friday, May 23, 2014

MWN Lightning Round: Meteors, an NWS outage, and our Memorial Day forecast

Time for another blog in the MWN Lightning Round series! First up... meteors!

Camelopardalids shower could become a meteor storm

I know your first question is "what in the heck is Camelopardalids?" It's a brand new meteor shower - one that Earth has never experienced before, and it's tonight! The Camelopardalids meteor shower is produced by the Comet 209P/LINEAR, which was discovered in 2004. Because this is the first time the meteor shower has been visible to us, scientists are unsure exactly what to expect. However, people much smarter than us have reason to believe that the number of meteors produced could be from 30 to hundreds per hour!

How to view the Camelopardalids meteor shower, courtesy The Washington Post

The best time to watch for them will be between 1-3am CDT tonight, but they could start appearing a couple of hours earlier and may be visible until the first peek of daylight Saturday morning. Though the meteors will appear to emanate from the constellation Camelopardalis (which is very near the North Star), you should be able to spot them nearly anywhere in the sky as long as you are in a place that is very dark. As for sky conditions, some high clouds may filter the sky a bit, but hopefully they won't be thick enough to obstruct the view completely. Temperatures overnight will be in the 70s. For more information, see this detailed article from the Capital Weather Gang or this piece from

NWS telecommunications fail nationwide during severe weather

In a fairly high-profile glitch, the National Weather Service data dissemination systems failed late yesterday afternoon for about 30 minutes while severe thunderstorms were ongoing in the Northeast, specifically in the D.C. area. Traditional internet delivery of watches and warnings, as well as internet-based radar data, was lost from about 3pm until about 3:35pm CDT. The NWS blamed a firewall upgrade for the issue, but the fact that this occurred while Tornado Warnings were being issued in a major metro area leaves us scratching our head.

The good news for our app users is that, while many of the typical internet-based delivery methods failed to receive critical NWS data, StormWatch+ continued with no downtime or lost data whatsoever. In other words, while many other warning systems failed to broadcast the ten Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and one Tornado Warning issued across the nation during the approximately 30 minute outage, StormWatch+ kept chugging along and never missed a one! (By the way, we're very close to moving our StormWatch+ data ingest and alert processing systems to a brand new server of our own with redundant power and internet feeds and a beefed up server and software package. This will ensure that our highly reliable systems stay current and are scalable in the future as our customer base grows!)

Memorial Day weekend forecast

The heat of this past week will continue right into the holiday weekend as high pressure over the southeast U.S. maintains a loose grip on our weather. The one fly in the ointment will be a "back door" cold front that slips down over the Mid-South by tomorrow, then washes out on Sunday. It's called a back door front because, rather than arriving from the typical west or northwest, it comes in the "back door" - from the northeast!

The weak front could be just enough to spark a few afternoon and evening thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday before high pressure strengthens again on Monday. We don't think you should call off any barbecues or parties, but just keep in mind that a storm or two could be in the area and could produce brief heavy downpours or gusty wind. Highs will be in the 87-90 range through Monday with lows in the upper 60s to near 70. Humidity will not be quite to mid-summer levels thankfully!

Click here (or here for mobile users) for the complete MWN Forecast and click here for the MWN Significant Weather Outlook outlining the thunderstorm threats for this weekend.

Finally, as you celebrate the holiday and end of the school year, we simply ask that you also remember this...

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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