From record heat to monsoon thunderstorms within a week

One of the most anticipated seasonal weather changes during the northern hemisphere summer is the North American Monsoon. This monsoonal circulation produces significant rainfall over western Mexico and the Southwestern United States in response to summer heating over the higher terrain. While the monsoon brings beneficial rain, it can produce hazardous conditions over the desert. Monsoon thunderstorms may produce frequent lightning, hail, powerful flash floods, and blowing dust.

500mb Height Forecast NAM_Pivotal Weather
500mb Winds, NAM 18hr forecast valid 18Z  July 16, 2017

The onset of the monsoon is strongly influenced by the positioning of a 500mb area of high pressure. When this high is positioned over the Four Corners region, winds at this level turn more easterly over Arizona. Easterly flow allows inverted troughs to move west across the area, providing greater instability for thunderstorm development. Of greater significance is the resulting deep moisture advection from the Gulf of California. In July, mid-level winds over the Gulf of California are south to southeasterly, rounding seasonal high pressure that extends westward across the Gulf of Mexico during summer. Surface winds over the same region are southerly, transporting significant low-level moisture from both the eastern Pacific and Gulf of California. Lower wind speeds and weaker high and low pressure circulations are expected during summer as a result of less temperature variations. This often creates slow-moving monsoon thunderstorms, bringing an elevated risk of flash flooding.

Surface Moisture and Winds GFS_Pivotal Weather.png
Surface Dew Point & 10m Wind, GFS 6hr forecast valid 06Z July 17, 2017

Sunday, July 16th was the first very active day of the 2017 American monsoon season with nearly ideal conditions for hazardous weather over Arizona. With monsoon moisture on the rise, a Flash Flood Watch was issued for south central Arizona, including Phoenix. The forecast called for numerous thunderstorms over the higher terrain, propagating west to southwest across the lower elevations through the evening hours. NWS Storm Prediction Center issued a mesoscale discussion that afternoon detailing the threat of severe winds. Prime ingredients downstream included 20-25 knot easterly mid-level flow and sufficient instability as most unstable CAPE approached 2000 J/kg. Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by the National Weather Service forecast office in Phoenix that evening. At 6:16pm, a blowing dust advisory was issued for Northwestern Pinal County into southern Maricopa County until 8pm.

Severe thunderstorm warnings continued through the evening and early overnight hours. Flash Flood Warnings were issued for 30 minute rainfall totals exceeding 0.5 inch north and west of Scottsdale, according to the Flood Control District of Maricopa County (FCDMC). It is common for lower elevation areas and valleys to experience their heaviest rains at night.NWS Phoenix Tweet 16 July 2017

According to NWS Phoenix, this activity brought temperatures down to 74°F, which was the first time the area had experienced 70° temperatures in nearly 30 days. It is typical of the monsoon to onset quickly, causing an abrupt change in weather conditions. Earlier this month, the Phoenix area was setting record high temperatures of 118-119°F.

Here are some strong wind reports from the storms this day:

16 July 2017 Wind Reports Table Arizona
More wind reports can be found here.

On The Road: Jacob Banitt in Louisiana

What an appropriate week to discuss weather forecasting with the people who rely on it the most. Heavy rain, strong winds and flash flooding with the cold front that moved through southwestern Louisiana on Monday, caused me to postpone one meeting with a client near the Gulf coast. “Your weather report says we are expecting up to four inches of rain today,” David said to me on the phone. “If we get that much, you’ll be stuck in town for a day or two; we better reschedule.”Read More »

Wilkens Weather Welcomes Alec & Samantha!

We are thrilled to announce two meteorologists have recently joined our forecast team! With severe weather season in full swing in the northern hemisphere and the Atlantic tropical season just around the corner, it is critical that we have additional eyes on customer sites around the globe. Alec and Samantha are well-rounded meteorologists with zest for dynamic weather. Here’s more about them:Read More »

Hurricane Preparedness: Offshore Operations

Tropical cyclones have significant impacts on marine operations worldwide. Prior to experiencing tropical cyclone threats, offshore facilities must secure equipment, shut-in wells, and evacuate personnel. Operations can remain shut down for extended periods in the event that an offshore platform or rig is damaged or destroyed. Damaged pipelines along the seafloor are a common cause of interruptions to oil and gas supply.

To prevent structural damage and spills, control costs, and ensure the safety of personnel, accurate weather forecasts and advanced notification of tropical hazards are paramount. Even a weak tropical cyclone can produce hazardous weather conditions and put coastal and offshore operators at risk. Be sure to determine your exposure to the risks associated with tropical cyclones before the start of this Atlantic hurricane season.

Wilkens Weather provides a suite of online and mobile tracking tools to warn our customers of these risks. To be confident that you’re prepared this hurricane season, trust in the tropical expertise and tools provided by WWT: Read More »

Celebrating 40 Years: Memories & Successes

In the early days of WWT, meteorologists arrived at 4am to work on the morning weather forecast for the Gulf of Mexico. These reports were typed up and printed, so the person on fax duty could send them out one by one. Typically it would take forecasters four hours to complete the regional gulf report forecast and distribution. Other daily tasks included hand-analyzing surface charts and producing temperature, wind, and sea-state forecasts for coastal sites and international marine customers.

Over time, as business grew, so did the demand for immediate, operational weather information. In the early 2000s, WWT introduced customized client web pages, a tool that would provide customers easy access to weather information for their region and site-specific locations worldwide. In the late 2000s, with enhanced forecast models at our fingertips, there became a demand for long-range forecasts and historical analyses.

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Celebrating 40 Years: The Wilkens Story

WWT Early Years
Meteorologists Richard Wilkens and Tim Maystrick preparing weather reports

Our story began in 1977 with Richard Wilkens’ idea to start a weather forecast company to service the oil and natural gas industry. At the time, there was a high concentration of oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years, petroleum exploration expanded, prompting Wilkens Weather to expand their services globally.

Meteorologist Marshall Wickman recalls one of WWT’s early business transactions, “[Richard] agreed to do one free sample forecast in the Strait of Magellan where data was sparse and told them, if it busts remember how much it cost you. If it is right remember where you got it from.” Apparently they liked what they received as it led to 20 years of continuous forecast service.

When we started, our technology consisted of fax machines that sent 8×11 inch pages at six minutes a page. Most weather reports were a few pages and included a hand-drawn, 3-panel surface map (depicting fronts, precipitation, and high and low pressure areas). Today, we have a wealth of online and mobile interactive tools that can provide quick and easy access to all critical weather information. Read More »

On The Road: Aaron Studwell at AMS

This week,  Aaron Studwell, Manager of Weather Operations, is attending the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Seattle, WA. During the first two days, Studwell, along with Joel Siegel from the ARINC office in Annapolis, MD represented Rockwell Collins at the AMS Career Fair. Over these sessions, Studwell and Siegel met about 125 students, discussed careers in marine and aviation meteorology at Rockwell Collins, what we look for in prospective employees – a passion for weather and forecasting and willingness to learn.

WWTs Aaron Studwell at AMS 2017
Aaron Studwell discussing meteorology careers with students at the 2017 AMS Career Fair.

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Severe Storms Roll into the New Year

NCDC Level-II Data January 2017
NEXRAD Level-II reflectivity (left) and velocity (right) from 8:30am CST 01/02/17

It was a stormy and soggy start to 2017 for millions along the Gulf coast as a vigorous line of thunderstorms tracked from Southeast Texas to the Florida Panhandle on January 2nd. Sparked by an amplified trough of low pressure aloft, surface low pressure moved across Southeast Texas early Monday, causing widespread convection to form along and east of I-35. These storms moved quickly eastward through the morning hours, entering the Houston metro area after 7am CST.

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2015 Holiday Storm Retrospective

A powerful storm system tracked across the northern Great Plains this holiday season. Heavy snows and blizzard conditions were observed in the Dakotas, strong storms occurred in Kansas and Missouri, and an ice storm developed in areas between. Of significant note was a tornado report in Kansas that if confirmed would be the first tornado recorded on Christmas day in that state. In addition, wind gusts in excess of 70 mph were reportedIowa Environmental Mesonet Wind Speed Reports December 2016 in northwestern Iowa, causing structural damage in the area. These conditions are a stark reminder that like meteorologists, Mother Nature does not take the holidays off. Interestingly, a similar storm system impacted the southern plains last holiday season.

One year ago, a major storm system moved from Texas through the Great Lakes, capping off a year filled with extreme weather in Texas and beyond. Read More »

On The Road: Aaron Studwell at AGU

This week, our Manager of Weather Operations, Aaron Studwell, is attending the 49th Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, CA.  While the core purpose of this trip is associated with Ph.D. work in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston, Aaron is also attending sessions ranging from the initiation of lightning in developing thunderstorms to the seasonal forecasting of winter storms across the North Atlantic Ocean to the analytic theory of wind-driven seas.

1PM ET: about as close to landfall as Hurricane Matthew can get

Early Friday morning, Hurricane Matthew was downgraded to a Category 3 before brushing along the coast of Cape Canaveral. As of 12pm ET, the eye is less than 30 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, sustained winds have been reported up to 73 mph with gusts of 91 mph in Daytona Beach. However, the storm has yet to make an official landfall but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our chance. The eyewall of Matthew is currently brushing along the Florida coast. With one slight wobble to the west in the next hour or two, we could see a U.S. landfall.

WWT Hurricane Matthew Radar Loop
Wilkens Weather Technologies

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Wilkens Weather On-site in the Bay of Campeche

WWT Meteorologist Offshore Bay of Campeche

With today’s technologies a meteorologist could easily work from an office on the mainland. But for a highly sensitive crane operation at sea, precise forecasts are essential. Many times a meteorologist on-site may see something that a computer model could not detect. Face-to-face reassurance is important to customers, and for this project WWT Meteorologist Darrell Ferguson was there to provide confidence to the crew that weather conditions were safe enough to proceed. Read More »

Remembering Galveston: The Great Hurricane of 1900

If you have been to Galveston, Texas, you are quite familiar with the city’s seawall. Construction began in 1902 as a response to the Great Hurricane of 1900, which devastated the city exactly 116 years ago today.

galveston1900On Sept. 4, 1900, Galveston was notified of a hurricane moving north of Cuba. Without the aid of modern forecasting technology, Galveston residents were unaware of the precise movement and potential track of the impending hurricane. As the hurricane progressed through the Gulf of Mexico it experienced rapid strengthening before it made landfall just a few miles southwest of Galveston. Meteorologists estimated winds of at least 130 miles per hour as the storm barreled through the city. With a storm surge of over 15 feet, Galveston was inundated with water. Residents received warnings of the hurricane the morning of Sept. 8, however many neglected the advisories. Texas’ fourth largest city had lost nearly 6,000 – 8,000 residents when the sun rose the next day. The Great Hurricane of 1900 is known as the “deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history”.Read More »

Weather Forecasting in the Adriatic

WWT Adriatic Sea WaterspoutHigh terrain extending across Italy and central Europe yield a challenging environment for weather forecasting in the northern Adriatic Sea, especially during the winter months. The Alps, 120 miles wide with several peaks over 15,000 ft, block colder air to the north and often deflect it to the east over the Balkan States. The cooler air accumulates over the Balkan Peninsula, eventually reaching the height of the mountain passes. This induces a Bora, a local downslope wind effect that is common and at times violent during the cold season, usually from October through March. The Bora is one of two local winds that impact marine customers in this region. The other being Sirocco winds, a strong southeast wind, which often build over the course of a couple of days ahead of a Bora or impending low pressure system and is usually forecast with less uncertainty.Read More »

Wilkens Weather On-site in the Sea of Okhotsk

Wilkens Weather Technologies Meteorologist Offshore Sakhalin For over 30 years, Wilkens Weather meteorologists have been on-site and onboard during platform/deck installations and mobilizations in many regions globally. WWT has significant experience forecasting in the Sakhalin Island area, dating back to 1999. Strong relationships in the region led to the mobilization of WWT Meteorologist Eric Brozefsky to the Sea of Okhotsk in 2012 to provide more centralized decision-making and decision support to time and budget-sensitive projects. We reached out to Eric to learn more about his offshore experience:

“During the summer of 2012, WWT meteorologists provided on-site meteorological support for a GBS (Gravity Based Structure) installation, LMU installations, and subsea work in preparation for a topside installation in 2014.Read More »

Probability-based simulation tool from Wilkens Weather improves weather decision-making

STAVANGER, Norway- A new interactive simulation tool from Wilkens Weather Technologies (WWT) is helping offshore oil, gas and marine companies improve their weather-related decision making. The solution, EnsembleSimulator, uses probability-based forecasts to clearly identify working weather windows for on-going marine operations.

“Traditional weather reports frequently result in uncertainty in forecast confidence because they cannot be easily quantified,” said Mark Walquist, general manager at WWT. “Our new on-demand, interactive simulation tool improves decision-making confidence by using probability in determining project weather windows, particularly for daily go/no-go decisions.” Read More »

Wilkens Weather tracks 8 storms in the West Pacific this August

WWT West Pacific Tropical Summary

The West Pacific Ocean was quite active last week, with 2-3 concurrent storms. This recent tropical activity, while not unprecedented, has been above average.  Over the past several weeks, an upward Madden-Julian Oscillation phase extending across the West Pacific coupled with the existing monsoon trough.  This pattern has yielded eight named storms since August 3, the most recent being Typhoon Lionrock. Read More »

Spaghetti… what? Forecast models broken down

By now I’m sure you have seen the “spaghetti plot”- ensemble of forecast models-regarding Tropical Depression Nine. If you’re not a meteorologist or everyday weather guru, then you have every right to be confused by this graphic of overwhelming lines. With a little background on the models, you’ll be sure to impress your coworkers when they begin to bring up TD Nine or soon to be Tropical Storm Nine.
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WWT: The Trusted Source for YOUR Weather

Since 1977, Wilkens Weather Technologies has been a trusted leader for weather forecast solutions tailored to the global oil and gas industry. Our team of degreed meteorologists, many with over 20 years of forecasting experience, recognize the strengths and weaknesses of forecast models in different regions and seasons on a global perspective. The extensive experience of our staff ensures a confident understanding of regional weather patterns, along with local wind and wave effects, to produce timely and accurate forecasts for our valued customers.

It’s the experience, passion and diligence from our staff that allows us to provide a level of service that cannot be replicated by an auto-generated weather forecast. Marshall Wickman, Meteorological Specialist, speaks of WWT’s success over the years,

“We pay attention to detail in all we do for our customers and we make each client feel very important to us, because they are. Each client request is handled in a timely manner and is frequently taken care of immediately with an effort to do things just as the client requested. We tailor the services to fit the client’s needs.”

Marine Meteorologist Rachel Wrenn also shares her thoughts about the Wilkens team, “The enthusiasm that our forecast, sales and management teams bring to work is contagious. It’s uplifting when the tropics are heating up and weather is becoming more active in regions where we serve a large number of clients. We can become very busy in a blink of an eye…but that’s the nature of our jobs. We genuinely care about the products we produce and want to ensure the safety of our customers.”

Our staff is committed to building strong, lasting relationships through our hands-on approach and ability to meet the unique and increasing demands of our clients. Whether you are relocating a rig, planning your dredging project, or monitoring the tropics, Wilkens Weather has the global expertise and resources to assist you.

Contact Wilkens Weather

Wilkens Weather introduces Ocean Current Guidance Forecast service

WWT Ocean Current Guidance Forecasts

Houston, USA (June 14, 2016) – Offshore oil, gas and marine companies that experience project-related disruptions from fluctuating ocean currents now have a new tool to better manage those challenges. The Wilkens Weather Technologies (WWT) Ocean Current Guidance Forecast service provides site-specific awareness of currents to give operators a clear understanding of oceanic conditions.

“We designed this service for anyone engaged in smaller scale, budget-sensitive projects where ocean current awareness is necessary, but current solutions are often cost prohibitive,” said Ryan Fulton, program manager at WWT. “This new service provides a useful current forecast and, in conjunction with daily weather forecast reports, enables operators to understand trends in oceanic conditions that can impact their projects.”Read More »

Wilkens Weather releases new tropical cyclone tracking tools for its iOS mobile app

Wilkens Weather Technologies Mobile App

Houston, USA (April 25, 2016) – Just in time for the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season, Wilkens Weather Technologies® (WWT) has released a new version of its iOS Mobile App. The latest version contains a series of major upgrades to the app’s Interactive Weather Map, including a new Threat Profile feature which is now embedded within the global tropical cyclone tracking tools, allowing immediate threat identification of tropical systems with respect to customer assets.

“From real-time weather display to our cyclone tracking feature set, WWT effectively informs users of the impacts from an approaching tropical system,” said Ryan Fulton, program manager at Wilkens Weather Technologies. Read More »