SpaceX’s Saturday launch depends on the weather. Here’s how it’s looking
SpaceX is again making final preparations for its highly anticipated Demo-2 mission in partnership with NASA. The initial launch attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed just minutes before lift-off due to poor weather conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The mission will mark the first crewed launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. It will also see astronauts riding aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for the very first time, carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.
The next launch opportunity is at 3:22 p.m. E.T. on Saturday, May 30. But the current forecast isn’t promising, with unsettled weather remaining in the area.
In fact, Jonathan Belles, a meteorologist with weather.com, told Digital Trends that Saturday’s launch “isn’t all that likely to happen.”
“A sagging late-season cold front is expected to sink into northern Florida this weekend, bringing soupy air and thunderstorms to much of the peninsula during the afternoon,” Belles said.
Offering a glimmer of hope, the meteorologist said there’s “a small chance” that the storms will stay far enough away from the Kennedy Space Center to enable a safe launch, but cautioned: “As we saw with the first attempt, it does not have to be raining or even thundering at the launchpad to cause concern. It was canceled because there was too much electricity in the air left over by previous thunderstorms, and they were worried that the launch could set off a lightning strike.” This is something NASA chief Jim Bridenstine talked about after Wednesday’s launch effort was abandoned.
Belles also noted how conditions don’t just have to be suitable at the launch site, but also throughout the entire atmosphere and through the entire distance that the SpaceX rocket and crew capsule will climb over the Atlantic.
“It seems fairly unlikely that this launch trajectory will be completely void of rain because of that cold front, and this could also hamper launch efforts this weekend,” Belles told Digital Trends.
Of course, conditions can change, but at the current time it seems likely the rocket will still be on the launchpad at the end of Saturday. If that happens, the next launch window is on Sunday, May 31 at 3 p.m. E.T.
In the meantime, why not find out more about why this mission is so special.
The coronavirus pandemic, murder hornets and zombie fires kicked off 2020 with an array of challenges. And that’s all before the official start of the Atlantic Basin hurricane season on June 1, which appears similarly daunting.
„This will probably be a more active season than normal,” AccuWeather lead hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said about the company’s forecast for the coming season, which has already churned out two-named storms. „Our current indications show there could be as many as 14 to 20 tropical storms, seven to 11 hurricanes and maybe four to six major hurricanes – Category 3 or higher.”
The AccuWeather TV Network convened its first-ever television special to address the hurricane season and essentials such as preparation and response during the pandemic, among other hurricane-related issues in „AccuWeatherReady: 2020 Hurricane Season during COVID-19.”
The one-hour TV event features expert meteorologists and emergency management officials as well as top government officials and business leaders discussing all manner of challenges this hurricane season will present. The program aired at 9 p.m. Thursday with repeats on May 30 at 11 a.m. and June 1 at 9 p.m., and featured segments will be available on AccuWeather.com after the original broadcast for the remainder of the hurricane season, which starts on June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30.
„We expect the 2020 hurricane season to be different and we recognized early planning was the key to everyone staying safe and prepared,” said AccuWeather TV Network Executive Producer Jim Proeller when asked about how the event came to fruition. „We brought together an experienced and knowledgeable panel who would give us diverse insights and be able to speak across many different areas.”
Those areas include the impact of a global pandemic, particularly in regard to decisions people will make regarding evacuations, shelters and their own safety.
„With hurricane planning, when you introduce COVID-19 into it, every piece has to be gone through to make sure that you’re able to maintain those things that are recommended by our health providers on social distancing and face coverings – but the major message is, we’re going to do what we have to do to save lives,” said Bill Wheeler, deputy emergency management coordinator for Harris County, Texas.
|Sightseers watch waves crash on shore as Hurricane Dorian made its way off the Florida coast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Ormond Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)|
The Red Cross already has applied different methods during the pandemic to shelter people, including providing more than 23,000 hotel stays in a recent four-week span because of tornadoes across the country, according to American Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Trevor Riggen.
„In hurricane season, we assume that we’ll have to open many shelters to keep families safe,” Riggen said. „So, we’ve introduced new protocol, we’ve adjusted a screening process to make sure we’re taking the temperature of clients that come to shelters, checking for symptoms … We want to make sure they know whether we put them in a hotel or a shelter that they’re the safest they can possibly be, even in the face of this pandemic.”
COVID-19 fears could affect people’s decisions to evacuate as a hurricane nears, according to some town hall participants. „There may be some adjustments in [people’s] plans [because of COVID-19 concerns],” said National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Ken Graham. „But the bottom line is those basic risks of a hurricane still exist. Whether it’s a tropical storm – it’s not about the category of the storm, it’s about the size of the storm and it’s about the speed of the storm.”
Storm surge can be an underrated element of a hurricane’s impact. „It’s the leading cause of fatalities in tropical systems,” said Graham, who launched a new NHC graphic to show what the maximum storm surge could be at any given location.
„That’s something we’ve been really focused on here at AccuWeather over the last couple of years: How do we most effectively communicate all of the different type of risks and impacts that a hurricane can have in an area?” said AccuWeather for Business Vice President Jonathan Porter. „AccuWeather’s RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes looks at potential impacts beyond the wind, namely coastal storm surge, inland flooding and the total economic impact and loss to communicate the total impact in a particular area.”
AccuWeather introduced the Real Impact Scale for Hurricanes in 2019 as a way to provide a more nuanced look at the overall affect a hurricane or tropical storm can have on the places it hits. The scale takes into account the effects of wind speeds, rainfall and storm surge can impose on places along with the overall economic damages a storm is expected to leave in its wake.
The key message from the town hall participants centered on the need for planning. „This year has an added layer of complexity that we just haven’t experienced in recent times,” said Riggen. „There are more than 20 million people without work, that adds a layer of complexity: ‘Can I afford to evacuate? … [And because of COVID-19], Every single person in the country has had to use their emergency supplies in some way … Now is the time to replenish any supplies to make sure your family is kept safe.”
A basic hurricane preparation kit includes water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries. If sheltering pets or infants, keep a supply of baby formula, diapers and pet food in the kit as well. A more extensive list can be found here and would include a battery-powered radio, essential documents and more. Additional items for COVID-19 concerns would include masks, gloves, sheets, soap and washcloths.
„Practice your family plan [in the event of a hurricane],” said Graham. „It’s real comfortable to work that plan in 5 to 7 days … but you’re not always going to get that lead time.”
And things can change quickly. „If you’re looking at information five, six or seven days out, some people think, ‘Oh, I know what’s going to happen now,'” said Kottlowski. „Don’t assume that what you heard five days ago is going to be the same thing that’s going to happen two days from now. Keep up with the weather.”
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Montreal (AFP) – Temperatures in Montreal on Wednesday reached an all-time high for the month of May as a heatwave swept through parts of Canada, Environment Canada said.
At Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau international airport, the mercury rose to 36.6 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit), making the city the hottest in the country.
It was also the second-highest temperature on record overall behind 37.6C (100F) set in August 1975. The previous record for May of 34.7C (94.5F) was set in 2010.
In neighboring Ontario, Ottawa also hit a record 35C (95F) — but with the humidity Environment Canada said it felt like 40C (104F) in both cities.
And in Toronto, a half dozen cooling centers were opened for residents as authorities issued extreme heat warnings.
„It’s a powerful heatwave,” Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault told AFP. „And it’s only May.”
It’s „really exceptional” for temperatures to soar to such heights at this time of year in Canada, he said, especially only three weeks after a late snowfall.
„It’s even hotter than records set in June and July,” he said.
He said it was due to a hot and humid front coming up from the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States, which has experienced similarly hot temperatures this week.
On Thursday, heat warnings remained in effect as temperatures hovered around 30 to 33 degrees across much of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
Warnings are issued when people are at risk of heat exhaustion or stroke.
The heat is expected to break on Friday or Saturday, with a cold front bringing with it heavy rains.
The scorching temperatures arrived just as Canada started easing a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus, and Canadians were eager to go outside and shake cabin fever.
Montreal has been hit hard, recording 6,900 deaths, or more than one-third of all COVID-19 fatalities in Canada.
Montreal (AFP) – Police announced Thursday they had identified a body as that of a French snowmobiler who went missing after his tour group crashed through an icy Canadian lake in January, with forensic analysis on another body presumed to be that of his companion set to be completed in coming days.
Both were dressed in snowmobile outfits, Hugues Beaulieu, spokesman for Quebec’s provincial police, told AFP.
One body was located near the site of the accident in northern Quebec on Wednesday, five days after the other was discovered further afield on the banks of a river feeding the lake.
Police confirmed the remains recovered on Friday were those of 25-year-old Arnaud Antoine.
The other body was likely that of Jean-Rene Dumoulin, 24. The forensic pathologist was expected to confirm the identity „in the next few days,” Beaulieu said.
Six snowmobilers had fallen into the icy waters of Lac Saint-Jean, near the mouth of the Grande Decharge River, after entering an off-limits area of thin ice.
Authorities launched a massive search following the January accident, but called it off weeks later due to extreme winter weather after recovering three out of five bodies.
The guide, a 42-year-old Canadian, died in a hospital after trying in vain to rescue his group.
Boaters found a body floating „approximately three kilometers (about two miles) from the accident” on Friday and then discovered the second ashore „more than 12 kilometers away,” said Beaulieu.
„We expected that with waters warming (after the spring thaw), it would be citizens who were going to come across the remains by chance,” he said.
April showers first brought snow then record-breaking heat to the Northeast over the course of a wacky May. During the final week of the month, in areas across the region and into Canada, high temperature records fell by the bundle.
The heat began ramping up at the start of the week with towns in Ohio, such as Mansfield and Youngstown, setting new daily highs by reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time this year. In Pennsylvania, the northeastern town of Avoca, located in the Greater Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, set a new daily high of 93, topping the old mark of 92 from 2010. Across the state, Erie matched its record for May 26 of 87 that was last set in 1955.
Farther north, the records continued to fall throughout New York and Vermont along with above Lake Ontario into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
On Wednesday, Quebec City reached 92 F, tying their daily record for May 27, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews. In Montreal, the weather was even hotter, as the mercury reached 98 F, a new all-time record for May in the city. The only day that was hotter in Montreal’s history was Aug. 1, 1975 when the temperature reached 100 F.
In the neighboring province of Ontario, Ottawa reached a steamy 95 F, the second-highest temperature on record for May in the nation’s capital.
Andrews’ colleague, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, who specializes in producing forecasts for Canada, said the position of the jet stream was a big factor behind the record warmth.
„The near-record heat over portions of Ontario and Quebec this week has been caused by a strong ridge of high pressure that strengthened across the region,” Anderson said. „This forced the jet stream well to the north, which in turn opened the door to a direct shot of very warm air coming up from the south-central United States.”
The sweltering heat comes less than three weeks after many of those same areas in the Northeast recorded record-breaking cold temperatures. Binghamton, New York, reported a 79-degree low to high temperature swing just 18 days apart. On May 9, Binghamton, set an all-time May record low of 9 degrees. On Tuesday, the city set a daily record high of 88 degrees, knocking off the old record of 87 from 2010.
|Snow covers the ground and trees near a pond Tuesday, May 12, 2020, after an overnight snowfall in Marshfield, Vt. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)|
Syracuse also set a record on Tuesday with a high of 93 F, besting the previous mark of 90 from 2011. From May 6-9, the city’s daily low hovered around the freezing mark and a trace of snow was measured on multiple days.
Along with Erie’s high temperature, the Great Lakes region proved to be a sweltering spot for Buffalo, New York, as well. According to the National Weather Service, the city endured a 64-degree swing from May 9, when it recorded a record of 29, to May 26, when the mercury reached a new record high of 93 F. Only once before, in March 2003, has the city undergone a bigger temperature swing in a single month.
Farther east, temperatures were highest around the inland region of Vermont and northwestern New Hampshire. Several weeks after snowflakes were flowing around town, Burlington, Vermont, set a new all-time record high for May when the mercury reached 95 F on Wednesday, one day after the city tied its daily record high for May 26 of 92 degrees on Tuesday.
Saranac Lake, New York, sweltered under 93-degree heat on Wednesday, shattering the long-standing record of 88 set back in 1914. On May 9, the temperature failed to make it above freezing in the village.
The topsy-turvy weather the region has experienced this month isn’t finished just yet. Prior to the start of June, an unusually late cold snap will trigger another case of weather whiplash in the Northeast.
Residents on both sides of the border will get a reprieve from the heat, although the temperatures could plummet to unusually low readings in some spots.
Temperatures are expected to drop about 5-15 degrees below normal in some parts of the Northeast, and some locations may have to deal with a late May frost or freeze — something that’s not completely unheard of but also isn’t typical.
„We are concerned about frost in the normally cold spots from Virginia and West Virginia northward to New York state and northwestern New England from later Sunday night to early Monday morning,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.