11 October 2006
The F-word

And here it is:

Forecast graphic

I'm just as thrilled as you think I am. Maybe even less.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:15 AM)
6 November 2006
Now this is tricky

If you believe the Independent, this is what's going to happen:

2050: The last drops of rain fall to earth

World hunt for food as India faces starvation after monsoon fails and harvests are doomed

2060: Tsunami horror hits Britain

Methane 'bubble' blamed for catastrophic seabed slide as wave wipes east coast off map

Well, it certainly can't have been because of water; it hasn't rained in ten whole years.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:34 AM)
29 November 2006
It came from out of the sky

It doesn't happen too often — air masses don't always move quickly — but now and then, if you pay attention, you can actually see a front coming through.

For that matter, you can hear it too. I was standing in my driveway about six-thirty this morning. The temperature was around 62 degrees, with a not-quite-brisk southerly wind keeping it way warmer than average. And above all the city noises there was this indefinable roar, seemingly from out of nowhere.

The trees, mostly bare by now, stopped quivering in the breeze. The roar grew louder, and louder still. A handful of leaves along the curb began rattling. More joined in. The trees started up again, this time faster. And a shot of cold Canadian air hit me square in the back, reminding me that I'd be well-advised to go get a jacket.

The temperature has dropped about 25 degrees in the hour since, and rain has started. They tell us that eventually that rain will mutate into something nasty and frozen. None of this is unusual, particularly; but unless you're a storm spotter or a major weather geek (I'm a few clicks short of the latter, I think), you simply shrug and go on, knowing that whatever is about to happen, you can't do anything about it anyway.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
30 November 2006
On the sleet where you live

I approach all Winter Weather Events with trepidation, just on general principle, especially since the forecast seems to change hourly. (If you were wondering why we have so many climate-change skeptics here in the middle of the country, it's simple: we've learned to expect the unexpected, although not the unexpected we expected.) *

Further apprehension arises when I note that this will be the first time on slick and nasty stuff with my overpriced semi-luxury sled. It's up to the turn-of-the-century standards that prevailed for that model year, but I have no reason to believe that it in any way advances the state of the art.

One thing that helps is that the freezing drizzle we were told to expect either didn't materialize or never made it to the ground, so while there were a few slick patches around the neighborhood, it was nothing to worry about.

Things got worse heading eastward, though I-44 was passable at 45-50 mph and I-35, with much more traffic, moved along in the lower 40s. The sleet, which was just starting to fall when I left home, was coming down briskly by the time I got to 42nd and Treadmill. For now, they've scaled back the 3-to-7-inches prediction to about half that, though they've added another inch after dark, when things were supposed to be tapering off.

And I'd rather drive on snow than on little ice pellets anyday.

* Yes, I suppose this is rather Rumsfeldian.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:29 AM)
The B-word

The Forecast Discussion on weather.gov is always fascinating, because it's so much more informal than the actual forecast itself; they will explain why they came up with this part of the forecast, or what models they were using to predict it, or the rationale for issuing, say, a warning instead of an advisory.

The current FD for the NWS branch in Norman is here. I excerpt the following from the just-before-noon edition:

THE MAJORITY OF OUR EFFORT THIS MORNING WAS TO REFINE OUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING PERIODS. WHAT STANDS OUT MOST IS THE STRONG WIND GUSTS WELL OVER 40 MPH THROUGHOUT NORTH CENTRAL AND WEST CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. THIS GREATLY INCREASES THE POTENTIAL FOR WHITE OUT CONDITIONS WHEN HEAVY SNOW IS FALLING. THIS PROMPTED THE UPGRADE TO A BLIZZARD WARNING FOR NORTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA ... WHERE THE MOST PROLONGED PERIOD OF HEAVY SNOW IS EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON. ON THE PERIPHERY OF THE BLIZZARD WARNING ... HOWEVER...THERE ARE PARTS OF WESTERN AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA ... INCLUDING THE INTERSTATE 40 CORRIDOR FROM CLINTON THROUGH OKLAHOMA CITY ... WHERE NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS MAY OCCUR AT TIMES.

I do dislike that word "blizzard," especially since I no longer have a Dairy Queen nearby.

For the first time in recent memory, 42nd and Treadmill shut down early, and I got to play in the road snow, which is always a thrill, in the sense that throwing yourself off a cliff is a thrill for the first 90 percent of the trip. I did follow my normal snow-travel protocol, which involves staying in third gear as much as possible on the freeway and second gear on surface streets. Gwendolyn, bless her little Japanese heart, was unexpectedly sure-footed, and even made it up the rather steep slope of the driveway to Surlywood on the first try with minimal wheelspin, something my last car didn't do so well. Travel time for the normally-18-minute run was only 28 minutes, which I consider a moral victory.

Of course, it's going to be worse tomorrow, at least until the sun comes out, and the predicted high is barely above freezing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:30 PM)
13 January 2007
At the halfway point

This year's Storm of the Century — we seem to get one about every two or three years, for what it's worth — has so far yielded up a smidgen of freezing rain, which was supposed to be the major threat, and a whole bunch of sleet. Precipitation for Day One was 0.28 inch of water equivalent, which is way more than one would expect for a serious ice storm; what happened, in this case, is that it got too cold for maximum freezing-rain production, and the stuff froze well before it hit the ground. The computer models, complained the National Weather Service in one of its Forecast Discussion segments, seriously underestimated the speed with which the Arctic air mass descended upon us. (I mention this because there are plenty of folks out there who have been led to believe that computer models have near-divine authority.) It's still pretty nasty out there, and the precipitation will continue for another day or so, but I'm recording this one as a bullet partially dodged: at worst, a minor flesh wound.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:24 AM)
14 January 2007
White on white

Still a weird sight: the sky is illuminated by zillions of little ice particles, and then out of the not-blue, a lightning strike. I can't imagine ever getting used to that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:52 AM)
19 January 2007
Some like it not so hot

It would be unreasonable to expect that everyone shared my disdain for the winter, and sure enough, Sarah doesn't:

Perhaps I have some sort of weird, backwards version of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winter is the time of year when, oddly enough, I feel honest-to-God happy. Summer is when I'm miserable. Sunlight hurts my eyes, and gives me a headache. The oppressively humid Oklahoma heat makes me tired, sluggish and downright suicidal.

On the other hand, few things compare to standing before a foggy window in my cozy house, clad in my flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, looking out at the sparkling wonder that is my front yard. Gone is the drab, brown grass — it's hidden beneath soft, thick blankets of whiteness. I love to count the icicles hanging from the bumper of my neighbor's car. I love watching the school closings scroll across the top of my television screen, as I eagerly search for my place of employment. Will I get to go in two hours late the next day? Or even better, not at all? Even the parking lot piles of ugly, exhaust-stained ice make me smile.

I hope she's getting enough Vitamin D. And really, I don't mind cold, particularly; I just don't like certain of its traffic-impeding effects. (And we didn't have any "soft, thick blankets of whiteness" last time around: that stuff came down hard and stayed that way.)

It doesn't bother Melessa either:

I have not left this house since I arrived here at 2 p.m. last Friday and I am LOVING it. Even almost a week into it, I don't feel a bit of cabin fever. Should I be worried?

When you should worry is when you feel cabin fever after an hour and a half.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
20 January 2007
What's behind Storm Number Three?

The Weather Guys are still tweaking the forecast for the rest of the day, but right now it looks like a nice frozen-daiquiri mist followed by great heaping globs of snow. In front of entirely too many people yesterday I went out on a limb (and it was cold, too) and projected 4.2 inches of frozen stuff for the period; since then, the official forecast has been revised to come closer to my numbers. Further revisions should be expected.

In the meantime, well, it's still around the freezing point, making the sixth day since the beginning of Storm Number Two, a week ago Friday, that they'd called the morning low a bit too low. Perhaps to compensate, they scraped the top off the highs; we got within spitting distance of 40 degrees once or twice, but no closer, and there's been no sunshine for nine days. (Apparently the default sky condition at NWS is "Fair"; there's a whole day's worth of "Fair" at the Wiley Post observation point that must have resulted from someone not filling in the form. The skies have been rather less blue than, say, the Danube.)

The lesson in all of this, of course, is that despite our best efforts to develop a meatier meteorology, Nature is always ready to throw us a curve, usually incompatible with the computer models. Remember that during the coming Ice Age Period of Hotness.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:55 AM)
21 January 2007
They're all wet

Sex and snow, it is said, have the following in common: you never know how long it's going to last, or how many inches you're going to get. (I mention this because Sarah feels like she's been screwed, so to speak.)

The National Weather Service put out this graphic (click to embiggen):

WTF is the snow?

Time to wipe down the old crystal ball — it got pretty well soaked in all that rain yesterday — and start again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:46 AM)
1 February 2007
At night, the ice weasels come

Weaselspeak, says Lynn, has infected weather reporting:

Winter storms are now "winter weather events" or "winter precipitation events". I don't know ... maybe it's not weaselspeak; maybe just the opposite. Maybe they're trying to make it sound bigger and more dramatic.

It's not just weather, I suspect: everything imaginable is an "event" these days. Is anything less important than an "event for television"? Since most of us get our weather from TV, we inevitably get TV's inflated sense of self as part of the package.

This is not, of course, to knock the meteorologists themselves:

Actually, I admire the local weather people. They're always on top things and do an excellent job of informing the public.

But the trappings of television give minor annoyances like this particular "winter weather event" prominence they simply don't deserve. And I always wonder if fear of litigation is written into the script: it wouldn't be the first time a weatherman was sued for being wrong — although this guy was actually sued for being overly dramatic.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:15 PM)
8 February 2007
Another reason to hate winter

I've covered this before, but I admit I didn't think of this angle:

Because everyone's wearing gloves, you can't spot whether or not there's a wedding band on that otherwise appealing woman standing next to you on the subway platform.

Do I admit that I do look? (Not that it makes the slightest bit of difference, of course.)

And are there any statistics on the success rate of public-transit romances?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:52 AM)
19 February 2007
A simple matter of equilibrium

The globe isn't warming at all: hell is freezing over.

There. Don't you feel better? I certainly do.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 AM)
24 February 2007
And Windy has wings to fly

In fact, you could be forgiven if you looked outside today and thought that everything has wings to fly; rather a lot of objects which had never been intended to be airborne nonetheless came swooping along the west winds today, along with a quantity of dust that might have scared Tom Joad. I caught a glancing blow from a supermarket circular, eight pages' worth, that was somehow whipping along six feet above the ground. Sustained winds of 30 mph or thereabouts have been going on for eight or nine hours now; gusts into the 40s have been common, and 50s spike up now and then. And it's not really a storm-related incident either: all the thunderboomers here ended around sunrise.

Well, okay, there is a storm. But it's over the Mississippi River, which means that we're getting the backside rotation, which means that this is one nasty crusher of a storm indeed. (In fact, Memphis is under a flash-flood warning right now.) We must be getting near March or something.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:50 PM)
11 March 2007
Latest. Sunrise. Ever.

Even in the dead of winter, we could count on the sun coming up no later than 7:40 am, and in late March when the semi-annual Screw-With-The-Clocks-Fest kicked in, we'd still have sunrise by 7:30 or so.

Not today. In the interest of saving some infinitesimal amount of energy — about as significant as, say, if Al Gore blew a circuit breaker — we get to sit in the dark until 7:48.

As someone who tends to get to work around 6:45, I can't work up any enthusiasm for this maneuver at all.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 AM)
25 March 2007
On the warm side

March 2007 bids fair to become the third warmest March on record in Oklahoma City; so far the monthly average has been 59 degrees, well above 1938 (57.4) and a tad below second-place 1907 (59.5). It's not that the days have been so warm, it's that the nights haven't been cold: the last freeze was on the 5th (more typically, it's around the 29th or 30th), and the temperature hasn't dropped below 60 in a week. No wonder the voice of the lawn mower is heard in the land.

This warm March follows an average February, an average January, and a slightly-warmer-than-average December — and we're still about an inch above normal for snowfall despite not having had any since mid-February.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:49 PM)
30 March 2007
Keeping you properly advised

Because we're going to need it again very soon: the Gary England Drinking Game.

You really need to go through the whole thing, but I'll quote this one section:

Take two drinks every time Gary says the following: "Baseball-sized hail" | "Waterloo Road" | "Pottawatomie County" | "Deer Creek High School" (How many times has that high school been hit anyway?!?)

You kidding? Storms come here from Baja looking for Deer Creek.

If you follow this plan as assiduously as I know you will, you should be gloriously swacked long before Gary loses contact with Val.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:39 AM)
I made it through the rain

Well, sort of. NW 50th west of Pennsylvania is flooded to a depth of half a foot, maybe more; it improves a bit once you reach Villa, but there are still lots of stranded cars.

I figured I'd get no stray water up here at Surlywood. I was in error, although only slightly: the water on the patio was high enough to seep into the garage, so I have a rather damp stretch of carpet along the north end, which isn't going to dry any time soon. Fortunately, once into the garage, gravity demands that the liquid head southward, under the door and down the driveway, so it's not going to accumulate. Much.

Other than that, it's been a rotten day.

Addendum, 10 pm: Weather records here go back to 1891, and not once has there been a March day with this much rain — until now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 PM)
31 March 2007
Above all, love

The official rainfall at Will Rogers World Airport yesterday was 3.50 inches, a record for the date, indeed a record for the month, and at some point in the frustration I muttered some vague contumely against anyone who had been praying for rain. (And, inasmuch as we're still technically in a drought, presumably someone was.)

After sleeping on it, I reconsidered, and more or less simultaneously remembered B. C. Clark's "Pray for Rain" promotion, which goes like this:

The original purchaser of a diamond engagement ring from B.C. Clark Jewelers is entitled to a full refund (excluding sales tax) of the purchase price of that ring, up to a maximum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) if rainfall on the wedding day for which the ring was purchased measures one inch or more at either of our official locations of measurement. Rainfall will be measured at News 9 and Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City by the National Weather Service during the twenty-four hour period of midnight to midnight the day of the wedding.

And did they have a winner? Indeed they did.

Note: NWS figures are based on standard time year 'round, so when DST is in effect, the 24-hour period begins (and ends) at 1 am.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:22 PM)
18 April 2007
In those Oklahoma chills where I belong

It appears we're going into a slightly-warmer-than-normal period for the next couple of weeks, and that's a good thing, not only because I'll have to write a smaller check to the gas company, but because it increases the possibility that this might not wind up as the coldest April in recorded history, at least as far back as they've recorded it here.

As it was in March, the variable that seems to matter is not how warm it gets during the day, but how cool it doesn't get at night. For today, the high was 69, which is below the average for the date, but the low was 53, which is above. The National Weather Service's definition of "average temperature" for the date is the average of the high and the low, which would be 61. If the rest of the month continues with numbers like that, the record is a cinch. If it gets warmer — well, it would have to average over 70 (for instance, low 60, high 80) for the entire period to bring the month up to seasonal norms, and that's not likely to happen.

And I hope someone is planning to invite Al Gore out here this summer; it seems to be the most reliable method of beating the heat.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:08 PM)
25 April 2007
The hail, you say?

Swiped from the Oklahoman's newsblog, the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hail Diameter Size Descriptors:

¼ inch = pea
½ = small marble
¾ = penny
7/8 = nickel
1 = quarter
1¼ = half-dollar
1½ = walnut
1¾ = golf ball
2 = hen egg
2½ = tennis ball
2¾ = baseball
3 = teacup
4 = grapefruit
4½ = softball

Anything bigger than that — well, don't be standing outside when it comes down.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:27 PM)
30 April 2007
A dash of humility

And they work for the government, yet. Here's a shortly-after-noon Forecast Discussion from the local National Weather Service office:

Persistence of the previous forecast along with 12Z model consensus will be the primary tools aiding this forecast. But given the unusually moist environment along with low [convective inhibition] and a small upper low influencing the region through midweek ... forecaster confidence is below normal.

(Original in all caps due to TTY distribution.)

Of course, this is a difficult area to predict anyway, except during midsummer. (Sunny. Hot. High 99. Low 76. Rinse once every two weeks. Repeat.) And we're kicking into May, traditionally the wettest month of the year, already up 4 inches over climatological projections.

Besides, it's not like they never had to eat their words before.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:10 PM)
1 May 2007
Less cruel than anticipated

Two weeks ago:

It appears we're going into a slightly-warmer-than-normal period for the next couple of weeks, and that's a good thing, not only because I'll have to write a smaller check to the gas company, but because it increases the possibility that this might not wind up as the coldest April in recorded history, at least as far back as they've recorded it here.

And it didn't, either; in fact, at an average 57.4 degrees, it didn't make the Bottom Ten, though it was still well short of the normal 59.7.

Still, this is yet another example of how truly screwy Oklahoma weather is, and why any prospective Worldwide Weather Czar will go quietly (one hopes) to pieces while trying to understand the local climatological models.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:22 PM)
5 May 2007
Twisted almost out of existence

KAKE-TV in Wichita has extensive video footage of the tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas late last night, and truth be told, I can't watch more than a few seconds of it: it's that horrendous.

The town of 1600 was evacuated; so far, four deaths have been reported, but not everyone has been accounted for.

Blogger Patsy Terrell writes, from about an hour away in Hutchinson:

Greensburg is about 80 miles from where I live and famous for the world's largest hand dug well, 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter, that served as the city's water supply until 1932. You can walk 105 steps down to the bottom and it's worth the trip.

What we hear at this point is that large parts of the town are simply gone, including everything on the west side of the main street. This includes a nice old drug store. Houses, the hospital, the school, the grocery store, the Coastal Mart, the Pizza Hut — everything is gone. Patients are being taken to Pratt, where they have only 69 beds. They just reported they now have 50 patients from Greensburg — ranging in condition from good to critical.

Here's a Google Map of the storm's approximate path, courtesy of GIS/space blogger LordKingSquirrel.

And KSHippyChick posts some lightning shots, and reminds us:

When you live in Kansas, the only question you have is — when. When will the big one hit your town? This one was not the kind I would wish to see, much less chase. I did go out along the edges to catch some lightning, but when a strike hit the ground about 200 yards from my face — I went home. I actually got lucky I didn't get hurt this time.

It's going to be a long day on the Plains.

Update, 10:30 pm: Patsy Terrell continues to follow the story:

There is a curfew in Greensburg — 8 to 8.

If you're trying to reach family, understand there is no power of any sort. Electricity has been shut down because if you turn it back on you generally have fires to deal with. Officials are keeping it off. AT&T is working to get landlines working at the command center, but there are no landlines and no cell towers left. I posted a phone number in the post below you can call about loved ones. Media are saying most people have left Greensburg now.

That phone number is 620-672-3651. The current death toll is nine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
8 May 2007
The rain can drain, but mainly it's a pain

One common theme around these parts is "Timing is everything." Fred First, a man very much attuned to time — he wrote a wonderful little book called Slow Road Home: A Blue Ridge Book of Days, which I continue to recommend — might have questioned his timing this week:

Well we certainly know how to pick'em. We fly 1200 miles to an alien biome full of places to explore. And South Dakota arranges to get 10% of its annual rainfall (accompanied at various times by pea-soup fog and at all times by 30 mph winds or greater. Until the cloud cover broke (but not the wind) yesterday. (I had to check and see: SD's annual rainfall is about 17.5". Do you know what your state's yearly total is?)

Well, yes, actually I do, but I have at least journeyman weather-geek credentials. ("First on the block to own a VHF weather radio" is just one of them.) And on the next-to-last day of March we got about 10 percent of our annual allotment. (Another six percent fell yesterday morning, mostly while I was trying to sleep.)

Vaguely related to this: a sister of mine once lived in El Paso, Texas, which has a reputation for aridity. The ongoing local shtick goes something like this:

Visitor: How much rain you get here in a year's time?

Resident: Oh, 'bout 15 inches or so.

Visitor: Doesn't sound like a whole lot.

Resident: You oughta be here the day we get it.

Girlfriday has pictures (and more pictures) from South Dakota.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:24 AM)
Sorry I missed it

Ah, the perils of lead time:

The second annual Capitol Water Appreciation Day will be held May 8, 2007, at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board will host the event, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Capitol's 4th floor rotunda. Water Appreciation Day will present a unique opportunity for groups to demonstrate the importance of Oklahoma's water resources and provide information on their water management, conservation, and educational programs for state legislators and other government officials.

"Organizations have hosted Agriculture Day, GIS Day, Consumer Protection Day, and various other observations at the State Capitol, so itís only appropriate that Oklahoma has at least one day each year devoted solely to recognizing the importance [of] our water resources," says Duane Smith, OWRB Executive Director. "This unique celebration of Oklahoma's diverse water resources will not only help focus the attention of our Governor and Legislative leadership on water issues facing the state, but will also serve to recognize those who strive to protect Oklahoma's most precious natural resource."

I have to admit, I'd probably be a bit more appreciative if there didn't happen to be "diverse water resources" pooling on my office floor to a depth of 3/8 inch right about now.

(Rainfall for yesterday and today has totaled 4.27 inches; today isn't quite over yet.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:25 PM)
19 May 2007
I've told you a million times not to exaggerate

The National Weather Service's local forecast page normally features nine graphics this size to illustrate five days' (almost) worth of forecast, and most of them seem to illustrate the conditions well enough. (The one for freezing rain, sleet and stuff is a nasty-looking icicle, seemingly almost big enough to use as a murder weapon.) But this one? I mean, really, does that look like sprinkles to you? This is more like Noah than NOAA.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:18 PM)
25 June 2007
Remembering the 12th of June

Not because I think nostalgia needs acceleration, or anything like that: it's simply that the 12th of June was the last day there was no rain recorded in Oklahoma City.

Boy, could we use some of that dryness now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:40 PM)
29 June 2007
Lamentations MMVII
  1. There was in the land of Sooners a man, and that man was upright and noble, though more the former than the latter, and on the sixteenth day of rain he called unto the Lord and said: "O Lord, when wilt thou banish the raging flood-waters?"

  2. And the Lord heard and replied unto the man, "Didst thou not complain that thine own field last year had thirsted and died?"

  3. The man bowed his head in shame, for he knew that the Lord spake the truth, and then he said in a low voice: "In this, as in all things, thy will be done."

  4. And the Lord said, "This is the plan; thou hast chosen wisely in choosing not to mess with it. However, the promise that was made to Noah back in the day is equally made unto his descendants."

  5. The man cast his eyes heavenward, and said, "I shall await thy celestial display. For the morrow, what are we, thy humble servants, to do?"

  6. And the Lord said, "Seek ye the counsel of him who cometh from the tribe of England, for he shall keep thee advised."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
Dampnation

If you were wondering just how wet it is out here, consider this factoid:

The Canadian River passes just north of the town of Alex. Flood stage is 15 feet; in the past century or so the river has occasionally crested as high as 21 feet.

This morning it hit more than 37 feet.

It won't stay that high forever, of course, but conditions have gone from irritating to intolerable.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:06 PM)
4 July 2007
Semi-Biblical proportions

The National Weather Service outpost at Will Rogers World Airport, where official readings for Oklahoma City are obtained, reported no rain on the 3rd, the first time they've issued such a report since the 12th of June.

Which means that it rained on twenty consecutive days. (Total June rainfall was 10.06 inches, about twice the usual.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:06 AM)
12 July 2007
Share the drought

Noontime in Alabama:

"Doesn't look like rain," I said to her as she was cleaning up tables.

"Too bad." She shook her head. "We need all the rain we can get."

I told her where I'd come from, and that we'd had a year's worth of rain in less than seven months. She asked if we were going to plant rice next year. I said I'd certainly suggest it.

In the meantime, fashionable Oklahoma women (yes, there are such, now shuddup) have begun wearing these:

Haute couture waders

Click to embiggen. (Thanks to S.M.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:28 PM)
26 July 2007
The warmth of the sun

Before leaving on the World Tour this month, in addition to the usual steps one takes to create the image that someone's still at home, I set the air conditioner at 82 degrees, at least somewhat motivated by the idea that if the machine is running, local crackheads and other miscreants would be less inclined to field-strip it for scrap metal.

(Aside: This situation may have been made less likely by HB 1399, a bill promoted by Rep. Guy Liebmann and Sen. Cliff Branan, a pair of Oklahoma City Republicans, and passed this spring. Under the rules, effective the first of July, if you sell copper coils to a scrap dealer, you must somehow prove ownership of them — and if it's over $25 worth, the dealer writes you a check instead of handing you cash. This is a stricter standard than the existing Oklahoma City ordinance.)

It dawned on me today that this year I'd bought a weather gizmo that records the highest and lowest temperatures (and relative-humidity levels) during the life of its batteries. I duly punched up the numbers, and as warm as it got in here was 82.1 degrees. Not too awful, and the electric bill should be a bit less horrendous than usual. (Normally I keep it around 75-76; this is warmer than I'd tolerate the office, but the office has a dress code of sorts.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:44 AM)
19 August 2007
Sure looks like a hurricane

Weather guys: "It's official. Tropical depression."

Erin: "Oh, yeah? I'll show you."

And we are indeed being shown. The first wave, as it were, brought about three-quarters of an inch of rain, but that was trivial. Right now the "eye," and it certainly acts like one, is over the western edge of the city, moving at a snail's pace: 10 mph. Which means that we're in for a few more hours of this, "this" being 40-mph winds, rains somewhere between torrential and Biblical, and cars floating downstream. (Most of El Reno seems to be cut off by high water.)

Through 6 am we've had about three inches of rain over and above that first wave; if we get by with only six or eight for this storm, we'll have dodged something of a bullet. (The rainfall record for the 19th of August is a feeble 0.87 inch, so it's gone; the record for any day in August is 3.17 inches, which we are exceeding even as I type.)

Meanwhile, Lake Superior continues to fall. Not that I'd want them to get tropical depressions or anything, but geez.

Update, 9:50 am: The eye has passed and the rain has tapered off: 4.5 inches or so have fallen at the airport since the storms began yesterday; Tinker AFB reports around five inches. As the eye came through, the barometer dropped markedly and the winds picked up: 60-mph readings were not uncommon. Lots of road closings were announced, the nearest being 50th and the Lake Hefner Parkway; since this is fairly high ground, I'm guessing it was due to a downed pole or something rather than to high water. The only power interruption I saw came at 7:34, with a brief roll of God's Own Tympani; it lasted only long enough to screw up the clock on the microwave.

Around the yard, there are piles of leaves and occasional bits of tree branch, and there's the usual backwash into the garage, but otherwise I've found no problems: the winds peaked here in the 40s, less of a threat to that which is vertical. NOAA Weather Radio, for the moment, is doing a loop of flood warnings, of which we have a bunch. The "do not drive into flooded areas" message, of late, has contained the following notice: "Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks." I assume this is aimed at the idiots who think hey, I've got a four-by-four, what can possibly go wrong?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 AM)
19 September 2007
Why it's so hot these days

Revelation from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

Highly-persuasive graph


The question, of course, is whether simply talking like a pirate is enough to bring down the temperature.

(Via Dr. B.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:25 AM)
15 October 2007
None dare call it drizzle

The rainiest year on record in Oklahoma City was 1908, when the city recorded 52.03 inches of rain. (Average is around 35.)

The operative word here is "was." A pretty hefty patch of stormage blew through here last night, dropping three-quarters of an inch at Wiley Post Airport in ten minutes. The official figure at Will Rogers for the night was 1.40, which brings the 2007 rain total to 53.34 inches.

Most surprising, I suppose, is the fact that the rain held off until after the Centennial Parade.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:33 AM)
21 October 2007
I fought it as long as I could

But this evening, I pushed the little slider on the thermostat over from COOL, past OFF, and onto HEAT. With rain on the way and temperatures no better than 50 tomorrow, now's the time. It will be a while before the place cools off enough to kick the furnace on, but it's going to happen some time tonight.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:34 PM)
9 December 2007
And just ice for all

No snow, no sleet: just ice. We've had fog for two and a half days, and eventually it started to freeze; at about the same time, the thunderboomers rolled in. So we're in the uncomfortable position of getting a fair amount of rain, most of which will freeze before it reaches the ground, and it's going to continue for much of today and most of tomorrow. Roads are reportedly not too horrid — yet.

Folks less bitter than I think of this sort of thing as God's version of the 59th Street Bridge Song: "Slow down, you move too fast." Whatever I feel, you may be certain it's not groovy.

Update: So as to mock my presumption, the Weather Gods have gone ahead and dropped some sleet on us. Better for driving, anyway.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:37 AM)
10 December 2007
Time purchased

So I went out into the back yard to survey the damage, and there was a big chunk of elm tree sitting on the shed. No big deal, until I looked up and discovered the broken end of the branch actually leaning on the power line, which meant basically I had to move this section of frozen tree up and away to keep it from eventually snapping the line off.

There are maybe ten, twelve other places where the line still could give way, but I'm just glad I caught this one before anything could happen.

Going to work? Not even. Power's completely off at 42nd and Treadmill.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:25 AM)
12 December 2007
Across town

OG&E is making some headway on the eastside, and now there is power at 42nd and Treadmill. There is also approximately one third of a tree occupying my parking space, but the chainsaw kittens have already been dispatched to address this matter.

There's a bit of snow this morning, not enough to stick, but enough to elicit curses.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:13 AM)
13 December 2007
A heckuva record

I'm starting to think they should relocate FEMA permanently in Oklahoma, and this reinforces my belief:

This week's winter storm has allowed Oklahoma to set an apparent, if dubious, national record — that for presidential disaster declarations for one state in a calendar year.

That's right, folks: eight of 'em, with two and a half weeks left to go in 2007. Duh-worthy observation:

"Most states don't usually have to endure that many disasters," FEMA spokesman Earl Armstrong said.

Like I always say, the most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay.

Yeah, we gripe about it. And then we clean up the mess and go back to work.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:53 PM)
14 December 2007
An 80 percent chance of panic

Snow's in the forecast, and suddenly Lawn Guyland doesn't seem so far away:

You would think they'd never seen snow before the way they react when there's a storm coming in. It's a weird phenomenon that strikes whenever more than five inches of snow is predicted around here. People start acting as if they had lived in pure sunshine and heat the whole time. OMG! White stuff falling from the sky! We're all gonna DIE! Please. You all drive Lincoln Navigators and Hummers with twelve-wheel drive. The town will clear the roads within 24 hours and your kids will be pelting the toddler across the street with snowballs within two.

I don't know what everyone gets uptight about. And I certainly don't know why they all feel the need to run to the grocery store as soon as Sam Champion says the word snow. It's just a gut reaction in Long Islanders, I guess. HOLY SHIT! It's going to SNOW! Gather the children! Man your posts! DEFCON ONE! And, like a sea of panicky lemmings, they drive en masse to their local delis and supermarkets and Dairy Barns, stocking up on milk and bread. Yes, milk and bread. It's an interesting phenomenon and I'm not sure if it's indigenous to Long Island, but it's been around for as long as I can remember. There must be some forgotten urban legend that wove its way around the Island decades ago. A suburban family wakes one morning to find that it has snowed. The mom goes into the kitchen only to find that there is only a half quart of milk and two slices of bread left! The horror! The family screams, the kids cry, the mother frantically tries to pump milk out of her breasts even though she weaned the youngest eight years ago. And oh, irony of ironies, the deli just two blocks away has one gallon of fresh, whole milk left and one loaf of white bread on the shelf. If only there were some way to get two blocks away with having to trudge through the monster snow storm that dumped two inches of the white stuff all over town!

Hmmm. I'm just about out of Pop-Tarts.

And speaking of possible breakfast items, this sort of thing is bread and butter to the (M)ass Media:

Why is it earth shattering news that it's freaking freezing outside? Is this something new? Are you touting some kind of bizarro world global unwarming theory?

IT'S WINTER. Say it with me. WIN-TER. You know, WINTER. That time of year in New York when temperatures plummet and white stuff falls from the sky and your car battery dies and the homeless are rounded up and thrown into shelters and the snot running out of some kid's nose freezes to his face.

So I don't get why you need to lead every damn news hour with the revelation that it is COLD and possibly snowing outside. As if this were some strange, new feeling for us. As if we never saw ice on our windshields or snow on the ground. You grab your camera crew and stand outside schools and offices and Home Depots and marvel at the people wearing hats and scarves and mittens because hey, we've never done that in New York before. No, we wear bikinis and speedos all year long. Jesus Harry Christ, people. Is this really breaking news? Do you realize that for the last ten winters in row, maybe more, you have started your nightly newscasts with stories about how to keep warm? Does this seem just a bit unnecessary to you? Granted, it's not like we are living in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field here, but we are kind of used to 15 degree days. It happens. It's WINTER. We really don't need some "expert" staring at us from the tv telling us to wear layers and eat a good breakfast and warm our cars up.

I think what bugs me most is that I know we're a resilient bunch — you don't spend any time out here on the Temporarily Non-Electric Range without developing something of a survival instinct — and yet television feels compelled to treat us like scared second-graders. Maybe it's just because of the handful of alleged grownups who actually act like scared second-graders under these circumstances, and the unfortunate fact that in 21st-century America, wherever there is a stupid person, there will eventually be a smart lawyer trying to make money off him. The rest of us understand that we are the first line of defense against, well, anything, and we will act accordingly; we delegate that responsibility only when it's clearly beyond our physical capacities or our technical skills. (I can't rewire an electrical connection to save my life; but I can go out and snip low-hanging branches in the middle of the storm to reduce the weight on those tree limbs and make them less likely to come crashing to the ground.) If I'd spent those hours watching television, I'd probably be cowering in the corner somewhere, waiting for someone to save me. Jerry Mander called this one right:

If you decide to watch television, then there's no choice but to accept the stream of electronic images as it comes. Since there is no way to stop the images, one merely gives over to them. More than this, one has to clear all channels of reception to allow them in more cleanly. Thinking only gets in the way.

And can we lose the "Storm of the Century" stuff? The life expectancy in this land is somewhere around 75 years: the odds are pretty damned good that you're going to see at least one of them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:25 PM)
15 December 2007
Step 'n kvetch it

Meryl Yourish is sick of hearing us complain about the winter weather:

Just think how much it would suck to be in Iceland right now.

Says here that in Reykjavik, the largest city in Iceland, the December averages are: high 36, low 30, 3.1 inches of precipitation.

Almost exactly what we've had in Oklahoma City the last week, in fact. (Since the 9th: high 38, low 25, 3.19 inches of precipitation.)

Right about now, the 110,000 residents of the Oklahoma City metro who still don't have power — about the same population as Reykjavik, as it happens — might consider Iceland an improvement.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:35 PM)
22 December 2007
These days totally rule

Or do they? Herewith, the legend of Ruling Days:

The core idea behind Ruling Days is that certain days are predictors for weather for the upcoming year. More specifically, those days coincide with what others would call Kingdomtide or The Twelve Days of Christmas.

According to the legend of Ruling Days, the weather on December 25th will be the predominant weather for the upcoming January. The weather on December 26th will indicate what kind of weather you will have in February. December 27th will forecast the weather for March. And, on it goes, until you get to the forecaster of the next December, which falls on Epiphany, aka January 6.

This legend holds some sway in Appalachia, not so much here, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to check its papers down here on the Plains.

25 December 2006: high 45, low 30, stiff north wind.
>> January 2007: temperatures near normal, windier than usual.

26 December 2006: high 51, low 23, light west wind.
>> February 2007: temperatures near normal, not much rain, a bit of snow.

27 December 2006: high 62, low 31, light south wind.
>> March 2007: warmer than normal, rainy.

28 December 2006: high 60, low 47, cloudy with sprinkles.
>> April 2007: cooler and drier than normal.

29 December 2006: high 60, low 55, overcast, rainy.
>> May 2007: on the warm side, lots and lots of rain.

30 December 2006: high 58, low 38, cloudy, more rain.
>> June 2007: not quite so warm, even more rain.

31 December 2006: high 43, low 33, overcast, rain mixed with snow.
>> July 2007: temperatures closer to normal, still a lot of rain.

1 January 2007: high 49, low 28, clearing, light winds.
>> August 2007: warmer, drier.

Winter proved to be a mixed bag, but late spring and early summer, they called perfectly.

Based on the current forecast, I conclude that February is going to be fairly crummy. And worse, there's more of it than usual.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:33 PM)
31 December 2007
Dust Bowl East

It's been raining in Atlanta, and lately, that qualifies as news:

After a fourth consecutive day of rain Sunday, 2007 barely missed becoming Atlanta's driest year on record. That dubious honor goes to 1954, when only 31.80 inches of rain fell.

Atlanta is at the center of a historic drought that has engulfed more than one-third of the Southeast. The affected region includes most of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, as well as parts of Kentucky and Virginia.

In yet another example of Life Is Not Fair, this is the rainiest year ever recorded in Oklahoma City, and by rather a large margin at that. State reservoirs are nicely full these days. However, the aquifers haven't gotten much of a recharge out of all this, suggesting that we would be wise not to act like all our water problems have been solved.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:26 PM)
6 January 2008
Remember that ice storm?

Sure you do. In fact, there's probably still storm debris stacked by the curb. (I did see a truck actually picking up the stuff along NW 50th east of Independence yesterday.)

This being Oklahoma, though, you shouldn't be surprised to hear that yesterday Oklahoma City basked in the warmest 5th of January on record — local records go back to 1891 — and that it will be even warmer today: the low this morning was 57, about ten degrees above a typical daytime high for this time of year, and this afternoon we'll see 75 or so. This is the sort of Epiphany I can deal with.

Oh, yes, the bottom falls out Monday night. You knew it wouldn't last.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:13 AM)
12 January 2008
Exercising restraint

The 4:24 AM version of the local Forecast Discussion:

GOOD NEWS IS THAT THERE SHOULD BE ENOUGH COLD AIR TO MAKE MOSTLY SNOW INSTEAD OF ICE. BAD NEWS IS THAT THERE COULD BE A LOT OF IT. NEWLY-ARRIVED 06Z DGEX LAYS A WIDE SWATH OF 10-20 INCHES OF SNOW FROM OK TO IL... WITH A 25-INCH MAX IN NE OK. THAT SURELY LOOKS A BIT EXTREME BUT DOES TEND TO GET ONE'S ATTENTION.

This describes DGEX. A typical DGEX map might look something like this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:33 PM)
29 January 2008
Blew on blew

Winds today were ferocious — Will Rogers Airport reported sustained winds in the 40s for a few hours, and gusts well into the 50-mph range — so I was a tad apprehensive on the way home, quite apart from the discomfort that comes from being blown across the freeway. (One unfortunate fact of automotive existence: cars that don't complain when you have them change direction suddenly also don't complain when the wind has them change direction suddenly.) At the very least, I expected some broken limbs.

And I found one, presumably off the mulberry tree adjacent to the driveway. Nothing else seemed to have been affected, until I ventured out the back door and discovered one of my trash bins on its side. It was empty, which simplified the task of upending it, but the angle at which it lay suggested that the wind had spun it at least 135 degrees before gravity kicked in.

I should note that its resting place was only a couple of paces from where an old sweetgum tree blew down in 2006. Evidently this is the locus of wind activity at the palatial Surlywood estate.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:21 PM)
25 February 2008
How cool they are

James Lileks has unearthed something called the Minnesota Weather Laughing Towel, a mid-twentieth-century Chamber of Commerce project which was intended, one supposes, to make people feel better about the sub-arctic climate in and around the Twin Cities.

Minnesota Laughing Towel

(Click here to embiggen.) I reply to the "Remember 1936?" bit as follows: "Remember 1911? In Oklahoma City on November 11, it was 83° above. On November 11, it was 17° above." Not so extreme, but only eight or nine hours apart.

Oh, and 1936? We had three consecutive days of 110° and over: the 10th, 11th and 12th of August.

I'll concede the "beautiful girls," though. Yowzah.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:37 PM)
2 March 2008
Siren song

Not the sort that lures men to their deaths, but the sort that's supposed to motivate you to prevent your own. The sound came roaring in at 7:49, followed closely by the howling of gale-force winds. A tornado warning was issued for the area around State Fair Park, about three miles south of here; while no actual funnels were seen, there was enough of the telltale rotation on the radar to justify going into hiding for a few minutes. The warning has just expired for my part of town, but continues on the east side as the storm tracks eastward. We continue to get lots of wind and rain.

Update, 7 am: The office, of course, is flooded.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:18 PM)
23 March 2008
Icing on the agenda

The Corporation Commission is taking a survey of folks who made it through the December 2007 ice storm, and basically, what they want to know is how much expense you incurred during power outages, and how much you'd be willing to kick in toward the seriously-expensive process of moving power lines underground.

Commissioner Jeff Cloud had said in December that the Corp Comm would be undertaking a study along these, um, lines, noting ruefully that we'd "had two storms of the century already this calendar year."

The survey asks only for your ZIP code, not your name or address.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:01 PM)
9 April 2008
Because you can't get enough weather

At least, that's the general opinion here in Tornado Alley.

KOCO-TV, the local ABC affiliate, has been running a Weather Blog for a couple of years now; I noticed tonight that they're airing a separate all-weather subchannel. (I don't know if this is 7.1 or whatever; it comes in at 222 on Cox Digital Cable, and we cheapskates who still have analog cable hooked up to our HD sets can get it on QAM at 84-200 84-4, when Cox bothers to throw the switch. It didn't seem to be up this morning at 6-ish.) What with NBC's Weather Plus already in place, this makes two all-weather channels, not including The Weather Channel. Tulsa has a similar arrangement.

Now admittedly this is not Los Angeles, where Harris K. Telemacher can prerecord a week's worth of forecasts at a time, but I'm wondering just how far can we go before we cross the threshold of overkill. (Cell phones, you say? NWS is already there.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:07 AM)
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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