THANKS FOR VISITING!

I'm an Emmy Award Winning meteorologist at Fox 61 in Hartford. For the latest forecast updates (and fun stuff too, like food and family pics), please follow me on Facebook, twitter and instagram. I look forward to interacting with you there!

LIKE ME ON FACEBOOK!

Instagram @RachelFrankCT

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends Today

Here is a graphic I made showing the number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes this year. Let's not lie...there's only one hurricane that truly mattered to us this year. Hopefully another decade goes by before I say that again!
2011 Season Highlights

  • This level of activity matched NOAA’s predictions and continues the trend of active hurricane seasons that began in 1995.


  • The 19 tropical storms represent the third-highest total (tied with 1887, 1995, and 2010) since records began in 1851 and is well above the average of 11.


  • However, the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes is only slightly above the average of six and two.

  • Irene was the lone hurricane to hit the United States in 2011, and the first one to do so since Ike struck southeast Texas in 2008.


  • 2011 marks a record six straight years without a major hurricane hitting the United States. The last one to do so was Wilma in 2005.

Third Wettest Year On Record!

Another inch of rain last night helped us climb from the #4 to #3 spot. In over one hundred years of record keeping, this is the third wettest for Windsor Locks.

Since January 1st: 64.22"
#1 Wettest Year: 65.42" (2008)

We need 1.2" of rain to break the record. With an entire month lelft to collect, it's almost certain we get there. And I hope I never have to talk about breaking the record again!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Record Warmth! Where's The Chill?

Windsor Locks set a new record high today of 66 degrees. This shatters the old record of 63 degrees set back in 2005.

It's November? REALLY!?

Cooler air will slowly leak into Connecticut by this weekend when the calendar reads "December". The cooler air will arrive behind a front bringing heavy rain at times tonight. Temperatures will stay in the 50s tomorrow. By this weekend 40s are in the forecast. But there is no true COLD or arctic air in sight. Sorry snow bunnies. There could be some hope at the end of NEXT week.

Toys For Tots

On black friday I had the pleasure of going to the dreaded mall. (Cue scary music)

Actually...the Meriden Mall had surprisingly normal crowds. I was secretly hoping to see some elbow throwing (while watching from a safe distace).

But I digress...Nothing was going to keep me from the mall because I was there to help the Marine Corps collect Toys For Tots. The programs has collected 400 million toys over the years. This year their goal is 17,000 toys for needy CT families.

I was joined by the talented and lovely 102.9 WDRC-FM. We will be teaming up at several toy drives this holiday season (including one on Friday). Please come by, say hi, and drop off a toy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Manchester Road Race

I had a blast covering the 75th annual Manchester Road Race. Sure, working Thanksgiving is never really ideal. But does watching a race surrounded by people dressed up in rejected Halloween costumes count as work?

Here is the highlight of my TV career:

Some pics I snapped during coverage:
Hanging with Joe Furey on the way to the race! Yes, I'm wearing drumsticks on my head. And no, I didn't take them off during on-air coverage of the race.

Betty Hutchinson set the 90-plus women's record in 2010 with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 31 seconds. Hutchinson ran again this year at age 91.

Julia Chase-Brand honored at the 75th annual Manchester Road Race. In 1961, Chase-Brand, then a 19-year-old from Groton, defied powerful Amateur Athletic Union officials and became the first woman to run the 4.78-mile road race at a time when women were banned from such events.
AND THEY'RE OFF!


Really? That's a costume? REALLY!? And what are you doing lady!?
Behind the scenes with the FOX CT crew!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heavy Rain & Wind Wednesday, Snow Bunnies Look North

Tomorrow morning will be nasty for the commute with heavy rain and gusty winds. Prepare for traffic. People don’t know how to drive in the rain (aint it the truth)!

The heaviest rain is expected after midnight tonight through 10 AM tomorrow (Wednesday). Rain will taper off throughout the afternoon to scattered showers. So if you have plans to drive tomorrow, the later, the better! 1”-3” of rain is expected making the ground soggy. Winds will gust up to 25 mph inland, 35 mph along the shoreline which will cause some additional outages (especially with all the hanging branches left from our October nor’easter).

ATTENTION SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS! Mother Nature is giving you an early Christmas present! Parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire are in for a major snow storm with anywhere from a few inches to up over a foot of snow! Unfortunately this also means those of you traveling up north or expecting friends from the north will experience major travel issues.

Here’s the European model’s (ECMWF) snow forecast. Thanksgiving is always an iffy time of year. It can be sunny and warm or snowy and cold!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Travelcast!


You will have no problem traveling during the day tomorrow. Rain will move in tomorrow (Tuesday) night with the heaviest between midnight Wednesday to noon Wednesday. 1"-2" of rain is forecast during one of the biggest travel days of the year. Ouch. Hey, at least it's not snow! Skiers and snowboarders should head to northern New England where it's cold enough for a few inches of snow in Vermont and New Hampshire. Plus a lot of mountains are already making snow!

Thanksgiving will feature clearing with temps in the upper 40s. Wear layers for the Manchester Road Race with temps starting in the upper 30s and a cool breeze!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rainy Travel Day Wednesday. Please stop worrying about a snowstorm.

“How are you ignoring this possible storm Tues/Wed next week....isn't there a shot for snow??”

This is a tweet I received on Friday and I continue to hear messages about a potential snow storm for Wednesday. I’m not sure who was sounding the alarm on this one…but it wasn’t anyone I work with!

A storm moving in on Tuesday night into Wednesday will take a northerly track through central New York, Vermont and New Hampshire putting us in the “warm sector” of the storm. (See diagram below for a typical midlatitide cyclone.) Winds will blow out of the southwest funneling in milder air and keeping temps in the 50s and our precip as rain.
Rain will come down heavy at times Wednesday (adding 1"-2" to what is already the 5th wettest year on record). As the storm pulls away Wednesday night winds will shift out of the northwest (see diagram above again). Now the question is…will the rain move out before the cold air gets here? OR will the cold air rush in changing the rain over to a wintry mix?

The model consensus is that rain moves out before the bulk of the cold air gets here. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lingering showers Wednesday night mix in with a little wet snow above 1000 feet. Either way, rain is the main concern Wednesday as you head off to see friends and family for Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving Day looks lovely with sunny skies and temps in the mid 40s.

NERD ALERT: This is why I’m not concerned about accumulating snow Wednesday

Below you’ll find the latest European model run for Wednesday at 1 PM. The colored shading represents QPF (quantitative precipitation forecasts) or in this case, 6 hour rainfall amounts. The dashed lines show 1000 -500 mb thickness. The thickness represents the distance between the 1000 and 500 mb pressure levels. The distance is mainly a function temperature. The greater the thickness, the warmer the air (because warm air takes up more volume than cold air. That’s why you need to add air to your tires when it gets cold.)
Notice how all the dashed lines are blue except the one marked “540”. That’s because the 540 line is often used to approximate the rain/snow line. This isn’t always the case but it’s a rough estimate. Notice the 540 line is well north of CT with rain falling across almost all of New England.

Now below you'll find the Euro (or ECMWF) at 7 PM. Now the 540 line has moved south of western Massachusetts and Vermont where rain is changing over to snow. The 540 is just west of CT. But by this time, most of the precipitation has already moved out. This is where we could see some wet snowflakes begin to mix in for the highest elevations.
But when the coldest air invades and the 540 line drops south of CT, all the precipitation has already moved out. See the Euro at 1 AM Thursday below.
Here’s the European’s snowfall forecast with accumulating snow in parts of MA up through northern New England where they spent more time in the cold sector of the storm. I’ll let you know if anything changes. But for now, rain is the main type of precip and for most of the state the only precip type on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

5th Wettest Year On Record!

The NWS will double check the numbers. But according to my calculations, 2011 is now the 5th wettest year on record for Windsor Locks with 61.15" (as of 4pm Wednesday). We need less than half an inch to climb up to the #4 spot.

To shatter all records and climb to #1, we need to see 4.28" or precipitation between now and December 31. I think we have a pretty good shot! Records date back to 1905.

At least we are getting some recognition for dealing with all the heavy rain from Irene and the remnants of Lee.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baby Foxes On FOX!

Today on Morning Extra(weekdays 9-10) I got to hold a fennec fox from the children's museum. It was the highlight of my morning show career! Check out their ears! AND they're fully grown! I want one. Plus, my cats are bigger than they are so there shouldn't be a problem.

Click here to watch the video!

From Warm & Unsettled To Cooler and Dry

One thing I hate about working mornings: walking out the door only to face the coldest temperatures of the day. I have a hard enough time getting out the door as it is.

But this morning was a treat! Temperatures starting in the 50s in NOVEMBER? The average low temperature is in the 30s. Right now it’s 66 in Willimatic, at 11:00 AM! We’re getting spoiled!

So where IS the cold air? Very close. A stalled cold front wobbling around New England is the boundary between mild air to the south and cold air to the north. That front is also the trigger for scattered showers today and a period of rain tomorrow.

But our spring fling will come to an end as a second cold front ushers in drier, cooler air for the end of the week (Thursday and Friday). Although the weather after this front will be cooler, I don’t see any arctic air for the next two weeks! And after our October nor’easter, I’m ok with that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kicking Off The Holidays At Westfarms

Tonight I helped kick start the holidays at Westfarms mall. Yeah, yeah I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Westfarms mall unveiled their new Ice Palace AND the winner of "The Voice", Javier Colon performed some holiday songs and his new single, "As Long As We Got Love".

There was a huge turn out, I was shocked! Javier is from West Hartford so he has a lot of love and support here in Connecticut. By the way, being on television doesn't prepare you for public speaking. When you can actually SEE all those people staring back at you....woah. I still get a little adrenaline rush thinking about it.


Pic Courtesy of West Hartford Patch

FOX CT reporter Jeevan Vittal was reporting at the mall, and since he was a good boy this year I shared Santa with him! Clearly, Santa was more interested in the photographer.

Joe Furey's TWO Surprise Birthday Parties

Joe Furey is one of my favorite people in the world. He’s a great friend, a loving Dad and one hell of a meteorologist! Sometimes he calls just to say hi and we end up talking for an hour! He calls me his fifth daughter.

Joe’s wife Tracy (who works for WFSB) wanted to plan a surprise party for his birthday at the New England Air Museum. She asked if I would help make a guest list and hand out invitations at FOX. (Obviously it would look suspicious if she showed up at work.)

I had one job…and I blew it. Somehow Joe found the envelope with a WFSB logo in the corner and his wife’s handwriting on it. Of course he started asking questions. So Tracy and I had to think fast. “We’ll have a fake surprise party on his birthday, five days before the real party!” Tracy even made fake surprise party invitations in case Joe went snooping around for more clues.

Well on his birthday, Joe was cranky. After the nor’easter everyone was tired and unshowered. “Joe, let’s have a birthday breakfast!” I chirped on November 1st. Joe is always happy and sweet. Not today.

“Why? I’m not hungry. And I hate surprises. Plus I’m tired,” Joe whined. Oy. Well I finally dragged him out to breakfast and, voila! We had surprise party number one with about 30 people.

Joe bought it.

The real party happened that Friday. Bruce DePriest (Joe’s best friend) wrote Joe a letter pretending to be a “Flying Club” meeting at the New England Air Museum and they invited him to speak! As the date approached, Joe kept wondering why it wasn’t canceled in lieu of the recent storm. The party set-up was fantastic! Tracy did an amazing job. Tables for the party were surrounded by antique airplanes.

“Shhhh….Joe’s here!” The roar of close to a hundred people came to a halt.
“SURPRISE!!!” Well…Joe looked like he saw a ghost.

Joe later told me he thought he died and was seeing his friends and family on the way to heaven. It was a great party and an interesting guest list. Joe has worked for many radio stations and TV stations in the state (we’re a very incestuous industry). So radio legends and TV anchors/meteorologists were strolling around mingling instead of competing for ratings.

We took a group shot of all the meteorologists there. I’m at least a foot shorter than all of them.
Testing the wind speed in the air museum. This is how the pros do it!
Joe got the very best in forecasting technology as a gift...a weather dartboard!
It was a really fun event and I know Joe had a great time! HAPPY BIRTHDAY buddy! I think Joe likes surprises now!

Here are some pics from Geoff Fox's camera:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A blog post I wrote in the storm without power. Seems so long ago now...

October 29th, 3:00 PM.

Yes, home at last to track a storm from my couch! I just finished a ten hour workday and was settling in for a night of storm tracking. It’s so rare for me to be home to actually enjoy a snow storm. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that must sound to some of you. But while I’m at work on storm coverage, I’m stressed out. I am constantly hitting the refresh button checking for the latest storm damage, accumulations, radar imagery, new computer model data, updating the forecast, broadcasting updates, making weather graphics and updating my colleagues in the field. It’s non stop.

While I’m home, I’m still technically working. I still do all the stuff I just mentioned, but I have more time to digest everything. It’s no longer a race. I am no longer confined to a dark TV studio. I get to look out the window. I am finally reminded by the reason I got into this job…because I love the weather. It never fails to surprise me. An October nor’easter? I’m excited to witness such a rare and historic event.

4:00 PM Thundersnow!

With a large pressure drop accompanying the storm and strong upward motion, the atmosphere was very unstable. Think of it like a winter thunderstorm. I hear other sounds too. Every few minutes I hear the cracking sound of nearby trees struggling to hold the weight of the heavy snow. This wet snow has a low snow to liquid ratio. That means it holds more water than the white fluffy powder that skiers dream about. The more water the snow holds, the heavier it is. And this snow is about the heaviest I’ve ever seen.

4:30 PM

So I’m about to hit “publish” on a blog post about power outages and the dangers of driving while snow iced trees fall like missles. 260,000 were without power and the storm wasn’t over. Not even close. Then it happened. MY power went out. NO! Well at least I have a laptop. Wait a minute…I quickly checked and refreshed my internet connection as if it somehow worked on batteries. Turns out it didn’t. This reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. A librarian survives a nuclear attack with millions of books, then he breaks his glasses leaving him unable to read.

I grabbed my blackberry. One battery bar left. How could I be so stupid? Here I am telling people for days to prepare for power outages and I haven’t done a thing. I pulled up the radar. It took nearly a minute to load. Why didn’t I get an iPhone? I tried my usual weather sites but they weren’t compatible on my phone which was about to die.

I called Geoff Fox. “What do I do?” I know I sounded desperate. I could tell he felt bad for me. “You can come to work and play with your friends,” Geoff suggested. “Do you want me to pick you up? You really should stay home, it’s dangerous outside.” I looked up at the blog post I never got to publish, warning people to stay home. He was right. Now what? I ran down to my car to charge my phone then lit about 30 tea light candles. It was a romantic evening with me and the boys…my two cats and turtle. As the heat seeped out through the cracks in the windows, I curled up into a ball with my heaviest blanket and a book on ipad. Well, I guess I got my wish. I was able to enjoy a snow storm without working. But it turns out…I wished I was at work the entire time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Storm Frustration Shifts To Lack Of Out-Of-State Crews

According to the Courant, the same out of state power crews that helped after Irene will NOT come back this time because they haven't been paid. REALLY? 99% of the state is supposed to have power back by Sunday. I find that hard to believe.

You can read the article here