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  Posted 2016

Careful! It’s Slippery Out There!

November 28, 2016

I love the winter! It’s always fun to play in the snow. But did you know that the winter can bring other types of precipitation besides snow? Other forms of wintry precipitation include freezing rain and sleet.

One really cool weather fact is that water can be liquid below 32°F, when it is supposed to freeze! This is called supercooled water. Freezing rain can happen when snow falls through warm air (above freezing) and melts into rain before it falls into cold air right at the surface. It is supercooled, so it stays liquid even through the cold air until it hits the ground. Upon hitting the ground, freezing rain immediately turns into ice. If there is a significant amount of freezing rain, with more than ¼ inch of ice on the ground, it is known as an ice storm.

When it freezes, it can make driving or walking dangerous because it makes everything slippery. Freezing rain can also be dangerous because it is very heavy, and can snap tree branches or power lines, causing a power outage. Also, when it’s still falling from the sky, freezing rain can be hazardous to aircraft.

Sleet is similar to freezing rain except it falls through more cold air before it hits the ground. While freezing rain doesn’t actually freeze until it hits the ground, sleet freezes before hitting the ground, turning into a slushy pellet. Once it hits the ground, it can also be very slippery.

If a freezing rain advisory is issued for your area from the National Weather Service, avoid driving and make sure you have your flashlight and NOAA Weather Radio handy!


World Tsunami Awareness Day

November 1, 2016

Tsunamis are among Earth's most infrequent hazards. But even though tsunamis do not occur very often, and most are small and nondestructive, they pose a major threat to coastal communities. A tsunami can strike any ocean coast at any time and they cannot predict where, when or how destructive the next tsunami will be.

I recently learned that the United Nations has designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day and is calling on people and organizations around the world to recognize the day. Join me in helping to raise tsunami awareness!

November 5 was chosen to honor the actions of a brave Japanese farmer and village chief who saved hundreds of lives from a tsunami in 1854. After recognizing the signs of a tsunami, he set fire to his harvested rice to attract the attention of villagers near the coast. As the villagers rushed to help, he told them to keep moving up the hill to safety, where they watched the tsunami destroy their village. Afterwards, he helped his community rebuild so that it was better prepared for future tsunamis.

To learn more about World Tsunami Awareness Day, watch the video or visit the official website. Also, check out information about tsunami safety from my friends at the National Weather Service. Be a Force of Nature! Educate yourself and share what you learn with others. As this story teaches us, knowledge saves lives.


The Recipe for A Hurricane

August 25, 2016

When I visited the National Hurricane Center, I learned all about hurricanes and how they forecast them! It’s hard to believe that a big and powerful hurricane starts off as a few thunderstorms out in the middle of the ocean, but it does!

Hurricanes need a couple of ingredients to grow from a group of thunderstorms into a hurricane:

  • Warm ocean water, at least 80°F. This is where they get their energy.
  • Winds to be almost the same speed from the ocean to the top of the atmosphere.
  • A location away from the Equator. Remember when we talked about how the Coriolis Effect makes hurricanes spin? Well, there is no Coriolis Effect near the equator so the hurricanes can’t spin and get stronger.

If the thunderstorms over the ocean have all of these things, they can start to grow into a hurricane!

Those thunderstorms, called a Tropical Disturbance, start to cluster together, drop in air pressure, and become a Tropical Depression. Wind speeds in a Tropical Depression are only about 38 mph. As the Coriolis Effect makes the Tropical Depression spin, it becomes a Tropical Storm. This is like a mini hurricane, and its winds are 39-73mph. As it continues to spin, it gets more energy from the warm ocean water below and gets stronger until it is a Hurricane! If it keeps growing and getting stronger, major hurricanes can reach wind speeds of 111 mph or faster. That’s as strong as a tornado!

The National Hurricane Center Forecasters said that it’s hard to get all of the ingredients together. Lucky for us, not all thunderstorms or Tropical Storms become a Hurricane! For more information on hurricanes visit and


Every Little Bit Helps! The Effects of Drought

August 12, 2016

I often hear a lot about the drought, especially in California. They are currently in their fifth year of severe drought! A lot of their lakes are running dry and the government is now asking people to use less water. In fact, you can be fined if you are using too much water. Drought usually happens when people are using too much water over a long period of time or there is not enough rain or snowmelt.

Drought can cause plants to dry up, creating a greater risk of wildfires, and lower water levels in lakes, ponds, and streams. It can also cause stress to animals and plants because they have less food and water. If you want to find out if your area is in a drought, you can check out the The U.S. Drought Monitor.  The U.S. Drought Monitor publishes a map once a week that has five drought categories from “Abnormally Dry” to “Exceptional Drought” and shows the areas where drought is happening.

Did you know that the average person uses 50-60 gallons of water a day? If your area is in a drought, there are lots of things you can do to help:

  • Turn off the water when you wash your hands or brush your teeth
  • Take shorter showers or take baths instead
  • Wash your bike/car with a bucket and sponge instead of a hose
  • Drink tap water instead of bottled water
Learn more: visit and



Boy, It’s Hot Outside!

July 28, 2016

This thermometer says 88°F on the thermometer, but it feels a lot hotter! This is called the heat index. When the air has a lot of moisture in it, it makes it harder for us to sweat and cool down, so it feels hotter outside than the thermometer says.

To help us understand how moist the air is, we use relative humidity.  Relative humidity is how much water is in the air versus how much water the air can hold. So if the relative humidity is really high (like 90%) it is going to feel more humid than if the relative humidity was lower (like 60%) on a hot summer day. The higher the relative humidity, the hotter we feel.

Check out this cool chart that I use to calculate the heat index! It’s from the National Weather Service. When I was playing outside with my friends today, the thermometer said it was 88°F, so I checked the relative humidity and it was 65%. Even though the thermometer said 88°F, with the relative humidity, it felt like 98°F! Time for a break in the shade! When you’re playing outside, wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, and take breaks inside or in the shade when it’s wicked hot out!
Stay safe in the heat!  Visit for more information.


Be Rip Current Ready!

July 7, 2016

I love going to the beach! I like to build sand castles, swim, and go boogie boarding!

When I go swimming in the ocean, I always remember how powerful waves can be. Rip currents are strong currents going away from the beach that can pull a swimmer away towards the ocean. How do they form? Well, when waves crash on the shore, they force the water to flow back towards the ocean. If the flow towards the ocean becomes stronger than the waves coming in, a rip current is formed.

I pay attention to when waves are above my head, so I know when it’s time to move closer to shore. Before I head out to the beach, I always check out to see if there are rip current warnings or high waves forecasted for my beach.

When I get to my beach, I look to see if there are beach warning flags out and check in with my lifeguard. And I always swim with a buddy, like my friend Sanctuary Sam! We stay safe by visiting and so should you!  See you at the beach!



Owlie and Sam’s Spring Break Adventure

March 21, 2016

Did you miss following along with my friend Sanctuary Sam and I as we went on a spring break adventure? Last week, we traveled from the mountains to the sea! We had a blast learning about the water cycle, marine life, and weather hazards!

Here are some pictures of my favorite moments from the trip:

Sam and I hiked up part of a mountain and saw the water cycle in action!

We learned about how to protect estuaries and how to be prepared for all types of weather during our travels.

The day at the beach was very exciting! Not only did we get to enjoy the water (it was a green flag day) but we also learned all about the national marine sanctuaries. It was amazing to see all of the beautiful creatures and habitats that live in the sanctuaries.

We were so sad to see our adventure end. For a recap of what we saw and learned along the way and additional related materials, visit our blog at





Spring is here!

March 3, 2016

I can’t wait for rain showers, blooming flowers, and outdoor activities to start again! Did you know that scientists have different start dates for spring?

March 1 marks the first day of meteorological, or climatological, spring for the Northern Hemisphere. Meteorological spring is a transition season of warming temperatures that occurs from March through May.

Astronomical spring starts on the evening of March 20 with the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is when Earth’s tilt on its axis is neither toward nor away from the sun. On this day, night and day are nearly the same length.

Since spring marks the return of many weather hazards, I will be going on a weather-ready spring break trip later this month! My friend Sanctuary Sam, the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary’s resident California sea lion, and I are heading out on a grand adventure from the mountains to the sea. Follow us at our blog every day and on Facebook and Twitter (@NWSOwlieSkywarn)