Weather Blog

First of 4 'Blood Moon' lunar eclipses set for Monday night

First of 4 'Blood Moon' lunar eclipses set for Monday night
FILE -- A lunar eclipse shines over the Space Needle in Seattle on Feb. 20, 2008 (Photo courtesy: Clane Gessel)

Our sunrises and sunsets are legendary around here, but how would you like to see all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth -- at the same time! And it doesn't even require a trip to outer space.

Instead, the moon is going to essentially turn into an astronomical version of a projection screen as we get the first of four consecutive lunar eclipses over the next two years.

Even though the moon will be in the Earth's shadow, it should appear a bit colorful, some shade of red or orange. That's from light around the edges of the Earth - essentially all the sunrises and sunsets at the moment - splashing on the lunar surface and faintly lighting up the moon, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

According to space.com, the color of the moon could range from a light coppery-red to nearly black, depedning on atmospheric conditions on Earth at the time. Cloudier weather along the sunrise and sunset zones during the eclipse and the moon will drift closer to black.

Lucky for us for this first event, we're in prime geographical position here along the West Coast, getting to see the show from start to finish. The first inkling of the eclipse will begin at 10:58 p.m. PDT Monday night and then the moon will go into full eclipse at 12:06 a.m., staying eclipsed all the way until 1:24 a.m., then starting to brighten up until the eclipse ends at 2:33 a.m. Tuesday.

Why called a 'blood moon'?

According to EarthSky.org, Blood Moon used to be an alternate name of the Hunter's Moon, which was the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox (got all that?). Now, all of a sudden it's being applied to this current streak of four lunar eclipses, and it's a mystery why.

The site wasn't sure if it's because the moon turns reddish in color -- which it sort of does during all lunar eclipses; this isn't something unique to this particular eclipse -- or if it's some new moniker to go with the four in a row. (Or, could it be related to a recent book and a purported Biblical prophecy?) 

But it appears the name has stuck and I guess Blood Moon will go the way of "Blue Moon" which these days also has a different definition (2nd full moon in a month or fourth in a three-month period) than its original intention.

(Ironically, the second 'blood' moon lunar eclipse in this series will be in October, when it will be the Hunter's Moon -- or the original definition of a "Blood Moon".)

Four lunar eclipses in a row -- is that a record?

First, I should point out it's not 4 consecutive months with an eclipse, but four lunar eclipses six lunar cycles apart that aren't broken up by a partial lunar eclipse in between.

These group of four, called a "tetrad," happen roughly once every 10-18 years. The last one was in 2003-04 (in the days before Twitter and fancy #BloodMoon hashtags so it largely went unnoticed?) and after this current group that spans this year and next, the 3rd tetrad of the 21st Century will be in 2032-33. There will be eight tetrads this century alone.

How's the weather looking?

Iffy. There will be clouds and, eventually, rain moving in during the post-midnight hours Monday. Best chance is to catch it at the earliest part of the show, but even then the clouds may have already won the race.

If I miss it, when can I see them again?

The second lunar eclipse of the tetrad is set for the early morning of Oct. 8, starting at 2:14 a.m., peaking from 3:25 to 4:24 a.m., and ending at 5:34 a.m. The West Coast is again in a good spot to see it, weather permitting. You just have to stay up later (or get up earlier.)

In 2015, the dates are April 4 and Sept. 28. For the April 4 one, the West Coast will get to see just about the whole show but the moon will set toward the very end. For Sept. 28, 2015, the moon will rise already eclipsed so we'll get the second half of the show.

For More Information:

Earthsky.org: What is a "Blood Moon"?
Space.com: Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar Eclipse Series Not a Sign of Apocalypse
Space.com: Moon Observing Tips

 

Photos: Northern Lights dance over Alaska's frozen north

Photos: Northern Lights dance over Alaska's frozen north
Northern Lights shine over Chandalar Lodge and Two Rivers Lodge. (Photo courtesy: Tyler Mode. See more pics at weathercrazy.smugmug.com)

An 'Egg-xaggerated' tale: You can stand up an egg on the equinox!

An 'Egg-xaggerated' tale: You can stand up an egg on the equinox!
Photo of egg standing up on its side on March 20, 2014, courtesy Heidi and Todd Larson of Grace Cafe in Bellingham, Wash.

Happy first day of spring! The planet hit its equinox at 9:57 a.m. PDT and now every second that passes is one closer to the start of summer, or as those on the frozen tundra that is the East Coast will tell you, one second farther away from winter.

Today brings us equal daylight of 12 hours (within a few minutes) and the annual trek to see if you can stand up an egg today.

Amazing 'surf' clouds over Lake Tahoe

Amazing 'surf' clouds over Lake Tahoe
Photo of K-H clouds over Lake Tahoe's Diamond Peak, courtesy Darren Springer.

Surfing is quite popular along California's shores, but near the state's eastern border there was a different kind of surfing going on.

Darren Springer posted this great video of "Kelvin-Hemoltz" clouds over Diamond Peak Ski report at Lake Tahoe (technically on the Nevada side of the border there):

Here comes El Nino; forgive us if we don't cheer

Here comes El Nino; forgive us if we don't cheer
Plenty of snow up at Mt. Rainier's Paradise Ranger Station this year. Will next winter have nearly as much? (Photo Courtesy: Mt. Rainier National Park)

SEATTLE -- Hey everyone, there's a good chance El Nino might be around for next winter!

California: "Yay! The expected heavy rains next winter should help our drought!"

Midwest and East Coast: "Yay! It likely means no more of this 'Polar Vortex' and weeks below freezing!"

Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard: "Yay! It typically means less hurricanes!"

Pacific Northwest: *sigh*

It was the coldest winter on record... it was the warmest winter on record

It was the coldest winter on record... it was the warmest winter on record
Left: Megan Pederson is surrounded by snow as she helps clear a neighbors driveway Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Mankato, Minn. Right: The sun sets after the Match Play Championship golf tournament on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photos/Mankato Free Press, Pat Christman and Ted S. Warren)

It's not really a tale of two cities, but more like a tale of two halves of a nation -- one basking in their warmest winter on record; the other wondering if they've become the new Antarctica.

With March signaling the end of "meteorological winter" (December 1 through Feb. 28), cities are crunching their data to find some surprising results!

Newest summer outlook for Portland: Hot and dry

Newest summer outlook for Portland: Hot and dry
Sun rises by Mt. Hood over downtown Portland. (Photo courtesy YouNews contributor: BigMike58)

We've been celebrating this week the jump in our mountain snowpack after a fairly wet February -- now up to 58-73 percent across the northern Oregon Cascades-- but new forecast data out by long range climate computer models suggests the rally in snowpack may be even more important than you might think.

Fresh data released a few days ago is now suggesting there are significantly higher chances of a warmer and drier than normal spring and summer across the West, including the Pacific Northwest.

The makings of a 'catastrophic, crippling' storm for Atlanta

The makings of a 'catastrophic, crippling' storm for Atlanta
A Georgia DOT sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Hwy. 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)

The National Weather Service doesn't usually resort to dire language when giving forecasts for storms -- the two most famous examples I can think of are Hurricane Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy.

But NWS forecasters in the southeast are making no bones about the severity of an ice storm that is pushing into Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

These snippets are from the 3:39 a.m. forecast discussion on Feb. 12 from the National Weather Service office near Atlanta:

Photographer gets amazing pics of frozen bubbles and frost crystals

Photographer gets amazing pics of frozen bubbles and frost crystals
Photo courtesy: Angela Kelly, Kelly Images and Photography

Arlington photographer Angela Kelly, who made waves around the Internet with her gallery of frozen bubbles featured in this blog during our last cold snap in December, was out again in the frigid mornings this week trying to add to her frozen bubble collection.

But this time, she got an added bonus for her teeth-chattering troubles: A gorgeous display of ice crystals.

Photos: A hike through January's foggy inversion

Photos: A hike through January's foggy inversion
Photo of the fog layer below Angel's Rest. (Courtesy: Tyler Mode)

Tyler Mode decided he needed some fresh air -- and some sunshine -- amid the days long foggy stretch of weather we had earlier this month, so he went for a hike up Angel's Rest in the Columbia Gorge.

His reward? A few hours of warm, winter sunshine and some gorgeous photos along the way!