|HABY'S TOP 5 PLACES TO LIVE|
TO OBSERVE WEATHER
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
There are certain areas of the United States
that are exceptional to live in for weather observing. The primary weather events a weather observer or
like to see are
hurricanes, unique weather events and weather extremes.
In making this top 5 list the goal is to pick locations that have the best combination and best frequency
of as many of these weather events as possible. Enjoy.
#5: Upstate New York
Limitations: Severe storms and hurricanes have a relatively low influence.
Strengths: This region of the country is a magnet for low pressure systems. Many low pressure systems that
develop in the U.S. eventually find their way into the Northeast U.S.. Strong mid-latitude cyclones
influence the weather through a large portion of the year. The winter storms can be incredible. This location
is far enough inland that Nor'easters and strong mid-latitude cyclones will often bring significant
snow events. The position of Lake Ontario can bring incredible
lake-effect snow events. The scenery in this
area is beautiful. There are finger lakes and mountains that influence the weather also.
Limitations: Often storms are not severe due to the lack of wind shear. Little to no winter weather.
Strengths: Florida is a peninsula that jets out directly into hurricane alley. At least one land falling
tropical storm or hurricane per year is a good bet. The
sea breeze has a huge coast line to act upon. This
can produce the convergence of sea breeze fronts. Afternoon thunderstorms are the most common in this state.
Florida is also the
lightning capital of the U.S..
#3 Northern Plains (Dakotas, Nebraska and vicinity)
Limitations: Temperatures can stay very cold and dewpoints very low for long periods of time. Gulf moisture
can have a difficult time reaching this area.
Strengths: In the late spring and summer, severe thunderstorms and thunderstorm complexes occur. The
topography is pretty flat for the most part and visibility is very good. Cold fronts
have an extreme potency when they move through this region. Temperatures can get very cold in the winter. A
wind from the west can bring warmer temperatures due to
downsloping wind. This region is the home of the
Chinook wind. This region has an extreme temperature variation from summer to winter. In summer temperatures
can get over 100 F and in winter they can get below -20 F. What a temperature contrast! This region can
be hit by intense heat waves in summer and wickedly cold weather in winter. This region has snow storms
and high wind events. Since the climate is on the dry side,
heavy rain events can produce significant
flash flood events.
#2: Texas Panhandle / Western Oklahoma
Limitations: No hurricanes although remnants can influence the area. Prolonged dry spells can make things
boring for awhile.
Strengths: Welcome to the home of the
dry line. The variation of
dewpoint can be incredible. One can wake in the
morning with a dew point of 65 F and go to bed with a dew point of 10 F. The dry line can also act as a
convergence boundary for
severe local storms to develop upon. The severe weather can be intense.
tornadoes and severe
straight-line wind events have a high frequency. This region is part of
tornado chase country. It
is flat with good visibility. This location also has incredible changes in
temperature. With warm air to the south, when a cold front moves through this region the temperature
gradient along the front can be incredible. One could be enjoying a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 80's and
wake the next morning to winds out of the north at 25 miles per hour and a temperature of 20 F. The passage
of a cold front can be a truly amazing event. Significant snow events also occur over this region. Although this
location is relatively far to the south, the high elevation allows for several good snow and winter precipitation
events each year. Flash flood events, dust storms and vivid
lightning also are a part of the weather.
#1: Eastern Colorado / Western Kansas
Limitations: Weather can stay dry for prolonged periods of time. Land locked location is far from
tropical system influence.
Strengths: Don't let the Chamber of Commerce departments in this region mislead you. Although weather
most of the time is mild and dry, the weather can be very wicked and can change abruptly. This region
tops the list at #1 on Haby's picks. This area sits in the heart of the U.S. in the middle of the
battleground between polar cold fronts coming in from the north and warm tropical influxes coming from
the south. This location is often in the prime position of the mid-latitude cyclone and the associated
air masses to produce huge severe weather and tornado outbreaks. The high elevation and severe storm
combination will produce large hail events. The mountains to the west and the land
sloping in elevation toward the west promotes
upslope flow snow events to the north of a low pressure region.
The wrap around moisture and lift of that moisture by the sloping land will produce several significant
upslope flow snow events per year. Temperature are usually cold enough in the winter for big snow events to
occur when mid-latitude cyclones move over or develop over this region. The high elevation also helps keep
temperatures cold enough for snow in winter. The convergence of the Rocky Mountains with the high plains
produces some of the most fascinating weather in the country. The mountains can dam polar air that moves in
from the north. In these situations it can actually be much warmer at the higher elevations. Incredibly
scenic fog events can occur also. Driving up to the higher elevations a beautiful view of the low lying
fog can be seen. The mountains can also help promote high wind events, flash flood events and can act
as a convergence zone
for afternoon thunderstorm convection in the summer. The changes in weather in this part of the country
are legendary. The weather can change so rapidly that it is often hard to keep dressed for the weather. Dry weather
can suddenly turn wet and stormy. Warm weather can suddenly turn very cold. It is not uncommon
to have a severe thunderstorm warning and a winter storm warning in the same day! With all this amazing
and crazy weather I plan to live in this area someday.