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Beautiful weekend, potential showers and thunderstorms next week

Most of us are currently enjoying a beautiful Friday afternoon, with scattered clouds and sun, and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s, as well as low humidity. Some of these scattered clouds, however, are of the cumulus variety, which are very well illustrated by the current satellite. Given our relatively unstable airmass from an approaching cold front, there is the chance that some of these cumulus clouds will turn into a few scattered showers and thunderstorms for this evening. Fortunately, most of us will still have a couple more hours of dry weather before having to worry about any of this, and a lot of areas may not see any rain at all, but it may be a good idea to have an umbrella if you are going out tonight.

Rest of tonight and Saturday: A cold frontal boundary that is helping to trigger these showers will eventually move through tonight, giving us an area of high pressure, and dropping our temperatures into the mid 50s. It will also dry out the weather even more, as dewpoints will fall into the 40s. For tomorrow, we can expect sunny skies, and very low humidity values, and temperatures in the low to mid 70s. There will be a bit of a stiff northerly breeze at times, so it may be tough to play outdoor basketball or keep a blanket sturdy for a picnic, but overall the weather looks great. A few cumulus clouds may develop in the afternoon, which may make it feel a tad cooler at times during the afternoon.

Saturday night and Sunday: As high pressure continues to build in, winds will lessen, and clouds will continue to clear. Given the already very dry airmass, this will allow temperatures to rapidly fall, via ideal radiational cooling conditions. Temperatures will be falling into the 40s throughout much of the interior; otherwise, lows in the low 50s can be expected. Temperatures should rebound beautifully during the day, however, as a ridge axis builds in from the west, with high temperatures in the upper 70s. The airmass will remain dry — with dewpoints in the low 40s, relative humidity values may fall below 20%. Definitely a 10/10 day. Another cool night can be expected on Sunday night, but not as chilly as Saturday night.

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Manhattanhenge returns, cooler air in control

Just before sunset tonight, the sun will line up with Manhattan’s street grid in a marvelous and picturesque alignment known as Manhattanhenge. Crowned by Neil deGrasse Tyson in reference to Stonehenge, the alignment of the sun on Manhattans streets draws thousands of photographers and tourists during the multiple times which it occurs each year. The phenomenon would occur on the Summer and Winter equinoxes if Manhattans grid was aligned perfectly north to south, but instead the grid is tilted by about 30 degrees east — so it occurs on odd days throughout the year.

Tonight, just after 8pm, the sun will set between the tall buildings of New York City — visible if you are facing west. The best views are typically on the major cross-streets of 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th. The sun will set below the horizon at 8:16pm. Today’s Manhattanhenge will only be a half-disk sun — but Friday’s will feature a full disk sunset down the center of the aforementioned east-side streets.

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May 30, 2013. (Doug Simonian)

One year ago today: A storm chase to remember

Last spring, between May 22-30, a few of my storm chasing buddies and I went storm chasing in the Great Plains. Exactly one year ago today, we saw an EF4 wedge tornado in Bennington, Kansas. The sights we saw last year were unbelievable, and I figured I would share some of my favorite shots from last year’s trip. All of the photos posted are from myself and Jenny Kafka. For more of Jenny’s photos, you can visit jennykafta.com.

May 25, 2013 — South Dakota.

May 25, 2014. (Doug Simonian)

May 25, 2013. (Doug Simonian)

May 25, 2013. (Doug Simonian)

May 25, 2013. (Doug Simonian)

May 25, 2013. (Jenny Kafka) For more of Jenny's photos, you can visit jennykafka.com.

May 25, 2013. (Jenny Kafka) For more of Jenny’s photos, you can visit jennykafta.com

May 25, 2013. (Jenny Kafka)

May 25, 2013. (Jenny Kafka)

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Backdoor front brings clouds, cooler air

For the fifth time this Spring, a well defined backdoor cold front has swung southwestward from New England and brought marine air into our area. On the heels of three warm days in a row, with temperatures in the 80’s to near 90 on the last two days, the backdoor front gained steam initially in Maine and moved through New England on Tuesday. By Tuesday Night, the front progressed past New York City and Wednesday morning it was south of Philadelphia. The front featured a dramatic thermal gradient, with temperatures now in the 50’s and 60’s in areas where they were in the 80’s on Thursday. Northeast winds and cooler, more damp air were to blame as clouds infiltrated the area as well.

The culprit in the development of the backdoor cold front is a persistent trough from Eastern Canada into New England and the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. This feature has reappeared several times this Spring season, and continues to bring an abrupt end to any warmups which surge into the area from the Central US. The front will eventually weaken later this week, but troughing is expected to maintain its hold on the areas weather — keeping any major warmups back into the 80’s at bay for the time being.

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