Archive for Weather or Not

Sick of hurricanes

Linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum raises the question of whether the way we name storms might be counterproductive:

I think it’s becoming clear that alternating male and female personal names to individuate Atlantic tropical cyclones is not a good idea. These storms are becoming far too nasty. Calling a storm “Harvey” makes it sound like your friendly uncle who always comes over on the Fourth of July and flirts with your mom. And “Irma” sounds like a dancer that he once knew when he was in Berlin.

Insufficiently intimidating, apparently. Here’s the fix:

Accordingly, next year the National Hurricane Center is planning to name tropical cyclonic storms and hurricanes after unpleasant diseases and medical conditions. Think about it. The state governor tells you a hurricane named Dracunculiasis is coming down on you, you’re gonna start packing the station wagon.

If you came back after Anthrax, Blastocystosis or Chlamydia, that is.

Anyway, that takes care of 2018. What comes next?

For 2019, the plan is to use names of parasitic worms and flesh-burrowing insects. After that, probably venomous snakes.

Politicians for 2021, I suggest.

Comments (8)




Smug idiots

They’re everywhere:

I have seen a couple of instances on social media of people pointing out, “See, all this is happening right after the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement!”

Sure, but even if you believe the Agreement is funding some sort of Captain Planet-type corps of superheroes pushing back against the cruel thermometer of Wicked Industrial Mankind (it isn’t), there’s one tiny problem: “The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris), Paris climate accord or Paris climate agreement, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.”

Catch that last? Twenty-twenty. So far, Paris hasn’t produced anything but fancy talk and high-falutin’ plans.

In fact, though President Trump most certainly has announced the U. S. would withdraw from the Agreement, it works out that the very earliest date by which this country could be out would be 4 November 2020, which just happens to be the day after the next Presidential elections, making this one of those safest of Presidential promises, slated to occur after the promiser’s term of office has ended.*

“But … but … CLIMATE CHANGE! Look at all these hurricanes!”

Um, no:

Looking back, the short-term “noise” of weather is huge compared to the long-term trendlines of climate: there’s a lot of jitter. On the scale of geologic time, the climate shows lovely rising and falling curves, Ice Age to Warm Period and back again, a bit sawtooth-y; zoom in to the span of a single human lifetime and the big curve vanishes under warm spells and cold snaps, floods and droughts. At no time has the planet been entirely Edenic: it’s a tough place for individual naked apes and it’s not all that great for the other critters, either: mortality is 100%.

I am persuaded that the single factor leading most people down the rabbit hole of “climate change” these days is the presence of a Ford F-250 truck with a Trump sticker on 35-inch wheels, two doors down.

The person who’s going to take this worst, you may be sure, is the guy who insists “See! It’s already proven!” Were that so, there’d be no reason to spend another 50 cents on research. So they’ll wait for the UN to fluff up some new way to pry dollars or euros out of working economies and then lavish them on Third World hellholes. It never takes long.

Comments (6)




Just two days?

From the Facebook page of the American Association for Nude Recreation, located in Kissimmee, Florida:

AANR Bulletin will be delayed two days because of Hurricane Irma

Two things that come to mind:

  • In more than a decade, I have never received The Bulletin earlier than the 27th of the month;
  • That’s not how you spell “inconvenience”. It’s not how I spell it, anyway.

No, I don’t think it’s being looked at before it hits my mailbox: it’s sealed in an extremely plain envelope, identified only as “The Bulletin” from their Kissimmee address.

And the home office is closed today and Monday, so I figure those must be the two days.

Comments




Leaving it all behind

Sometimes I shake my head, and something ridiculous comes out.

There are, I am told, four nudist clubs within 50 miles of Houston, two of which are permanently established, the others being “non-landed” clubs which meet at a member’s house. I’d like to think that visitors fled once they got wind of the arrival of Harvey. But what if they waited too long?

And why would I ask such a thing? An unbidden memory of, believe it or not, an ocean liner. The SS Andrea Doria, the pride of the Italian line, was struck by MS Stockholm of the Swedish-American line on a summer day in 1956. There were only 46 fatalities; 1660 passengers and crew were rescued.

When I was a kid, I remember reading about this wreck in one of the ubiquitous Reader’s Digest Condensed Books volumes around the house. And there was a throwaway line about how “Some of the passengers sprang from their beds without clothing and departed the ship that way,” followed by a detailed description of one woman who made sure she was fully dressed and her makeup correctly applied before heading for the lifeboat. At the time, I was too young to think much of this passage. Many years later, something prodded the memory, and I asked myself if I could run for my life in my birthday suit. I decided I could not, and shoved the thought back into its slot.

Now, of course, we are presented with a massive rescue operation, and I am barely able to walk, let alone run. Fortunately for me, I’m nowhere near Houston; I surely would have perished by now. Would I have bothered to get dressed? I don’t know, and I don’t think I want to find out.

Comments (4)




Meanwhile on the Gulf

Several Facebook friends with Houston connections posted this. I’m not sure of the original source.

Things non-Houstonians need to understand:

1. The streets and many of the public parks here are designed to flood. We sit just 35 feet above sea level, and most of the city is as flat as a pool table. We average about 50 inches of rain a year. The streets and parks serve as temporary retention ponds, accommodating slow, steady drainage through our bayous.

2. We average about 50 inches of rain a year, but in the last 48 hours, many areas of greater Houston received 25 to 30 inches of rain. That’s six to nine months’ worth of rain, in two days. The drainage system, which works well in normal conditions, was overwhelmed. Officials are calling this an “800 year flood”: that means there was a one in 800 chance of its occurrence. Even with advance notice, there was little means of preparing for this.

3. It is impossible to evacuate a city the size of Houston. Harris County is 1700+ square miles, with a population of 6.5 million people. How do you evacuate 6.5 million people? During the hours leading to Hurricane Rita’s landfall, tens of thousands of Houstonians attempted evacuation. The traffic jams lasted for days. One hundred people died. So far, six Houstonians have died in Hurricane Harvey, all of them (as far as I have heard) drowned in their automobiles. For more than a decade, the local mantra has been “shelter in place and hunker down.” That’s hard, but it’s the right approach.

4. Some outsiders are treating this disaster with schadenfreude: Texans helped elect an anti-big government president, and now we’re going to need big government help. Houston is one of the bluest spots in Texas, and voted Clinton in 2016. Suggesting this is karmic payback for backing Trump is as inaccurate (and offensive) as Pat Robertson’s suggestion that Hurricane Katrina was God smiting sinners. We really aren’t thinking Red or Blue right now. We are taking a royal beating, all of us. Disasters don’t care about ideology.

5. You are going to feel this. Gasoline and other oil-refined products (everything from PVC pipe to dry cleaning fluid) will rise in price. The stock market will take a hit. New Orleans is a fantastic city, but it’s not a major economic force. Houston is the center of the nation’s energy industry. It’s home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies. And 85% of it is under water. It may be this way for weeks.

And in the meantime, there’s baseball, somewhere:

I checked this with a sports guy at Fox 26 Houston:

Sheesh.

Comments (7)




Yeah, we’ll enhance your Fujita

There’s always a story from Tornado Alley:

There is an old joke: How can you tell if a person is from Oklahoma?

Answer: He is the one who stands outside in the thunderstorm looking at the sky.

C’est moi.

This CBS story asks why Tulsa’s warning sirens didn’t go off when a small tornado hit.

The officials said it was because by the time they got the radar warning, the tornado had moved on to Broken Arrow.

That sounds about right. Our sirens used to go off after the tornado had passed too, but in rural areas, you couldn’t always rely on weather radios or the local media … we got our news from radio stations 30 miles to the east, 40 miles to the west, or 50 miles to the south. The best way to track what was going on was to check the local TV station for the map where the “warnings” were … a big problem if they hit at night.

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore:

So I’m so glad I now live in the Philippines, where we only have to worry about typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and dengue fever.

We’re not exactly slouches at this earthquake business nowadays.

Comments (3)




It speaketh, yet it understandeth not

The National Weather Service runs a network of FM radio stations, about a thousand of them, in the general vicinity of 162.475 MHz. Most of them are totally automated, with a computerized voice “reading” the scripts. Some of them sound better than others. One we had here for a while has intonation not unlike Arnold Schwarzegger’s, and “Arnold” is occasionally still pressed into service when the “regular” voice, which wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on NPR, isn’t working correctly. There is one ongoing problem with the “regular” voice, though: it can’t distinguish between “winds,” what the guy does with his wrist watch now and then, and “winds,” which will blow over your rubbish bin at 60 miles per hour. The former word, of course, is unlikely to be part of a weather forecast, but it will show up more often than you’d think.

Which is not to say that automated voices not run by the government are any better. This standard-issue heartwarming story turned up on YouTube with a fake female voice:

The text appears to be identical to what’s here, though the fake female is evidently baffled by the call letters of that Houston television station: she renders “KHOU” as “coo.” And her keeper isn’t the most articulate, either:

I make story videos, everytime and everywhere. Subscribe this channel for new stories :)

Fourteen thousand subscribers in less than a year. Evidently some people are a lot less bothered by this than I am.

Comments (6)




A bit windy in Ireland

Deric Ó hArtagáin reports for TV3:

If you’ve ever wondered why television stations worldwide always put some poor slob outside to show you how terrible the weather is, I’m thinking it’s at least partly a matter of sheer sadism.

Ó hArtagáin himself wasn’t particularly put out, though: he pinned a copy of the video to his Twitter page.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (2)




As dry as we wanna be

It borders on the impossible, in fact, for things to get much drier than this:

On Tuesday afternoon at 12 UTC on June 20, 2017, the temperature at Safi-Abad Dezful, Iran hit 115.7°F (46.5°C) with a -27.8°F (-33.2°C) dewpoint, giving this city of 420,000 in western Iran a ridiculously low relative humidity of 0.36%. At that level of atmospheric moisture, the temperature would have had to plunge 143°F (80°C) in order for the moisture to condense out and form ground-level clouds. If one were to cry in joy (or more likely) in despair at the heat, I doubt those tears would reach your lips!

I asked weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera about the reading, and he stated that he confirmed the validity of the reading with Iranian meteorologist Sabit Siddiqi. This was the lowest humidity in world recorded history that Herrera was aware of; the previous lowest humidity he knew of was in Las Vegas, Nevada: a 0.6% reading on June 27, 2011.

There’s apparently one more reading in this ballparK:

[O]n May 4, 2014, Needles, California hit 102°F (38.9°C) with a -36°F (-38°C) dewpoint, which works out to a relative humidity of 0.33%. Given that we can’t really measure humidity to a precision of hundreths of a percent, the two readings are pretty much tied for the lowest humidity record.

And going in the other direction:

A dew point of 35°C (95°F) was observed at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, at 3:00 p.m. on July 8, 2003.

God bless you, Willis Carrier.

Comments (8)




Only a minor exaggeration

Jupiter, we have learned, has storms big enough to encompass the entire land mass (and, for that matter, the oceans) of the Earth.

Not too far, therefore, from an Oklahoma spring:

“The National Weather Service has issued a severe storm warning for the entire surface of the Earth. There is a 100% chance of poisonous hail the size of Buicks and wind that will literally rip your face off. We advise you forget about survival and start getting hammered like we are.”

Moving down to the lowest level of the house won’t save you, unless your house goes as far down as the CN Tower goes up.

Comments (1)




Necessary precautions

But as we all eventually learned, this does actually work:

Dorothy Gale watches the weather report

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (2)




How the hell did that happen?

Oh, right. What was I thinking?

Rain causes wet roads, says WAFF in Huntsville, Alabama

WAFF is the NBC affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama.

(Via Joseph Pallotta.)

Comments (2)




Basking in the heat

The high temperature in Oklahoma City today — reached just after midnight, before a cold front came whistling through — was a fairly seasonable 60°F.

Now imagine what that would be like at the bottom of the world:

An Argentine research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula has set a heat record at a balmy 63.5° Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius), the U.N. weather agency said on Wednesday.

The Experanza base set the high on March 24, 2015, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said after reviewing data around Antarctica to set benchmarks to help track future global warming and natural variations.

The nature of a record high, of course, is that it’s atypical. (Worst day, heatwise, I’ve ever been through ran from 84° in the morning to a brain-numbing 113° in the afternoon.) The same is true of a record low. You’d expect some serious cold from Antarctica, but:

Wednesday’s WMO report only examined the highs.

The better to harangue the developed world about its alleged carbon profligacy, one presumes.

Comments (3)




Heard instinct

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I feel an ever-so-slight urge to strut a bit:

High temperature in OKC today was 81°F. There have been a couple of days in Februarys past when we saw 90 or more, but I don’t see any of those on the horizon.

Comments off




Says it all, or at least most of it

For the record, she is now at The Dallas Morning News. Why anyone would live in Dallas — ice storms in January, scorching heat in July — is beyond me.

Comments (4)




Wind unwound?

The Big Breezy wasn’t all that breezy last year, reports Oklahoman Real Estate Editor Richard Mize:

At first glance, it’s hard to believe Oklahoma City didn’t make CoreLogic’s annual Windy City Index for 2016, neither by top wind speed nor number of wind events. That’s partly because tornadoes don’t count as wind events. So even the couple of little tornadoes that did hit last year wouldn’t have changed the rankings.

Now I want to yell at the weather forecasters with their tornado suits on: “You call that a wind event?

So who tops the index? Nashville, Tennessee:

The windiest city in the U.S. in 2016 was Nashville, according to a yearly analysis of weather data from CoreLogic, a research and consulting firm.

The city came in first among the nation’s largest 279 metro areas, CoreLogic said. The ranking takes into account both the number of strong wind events as well as the total force caused by any severe wind gusts of 60 mph or more.

Nashville had 21 wind-related events in 2016 and a maximum wind speed of 72 mph. It was followed by Reno, Jackson, Miss., Cincinnati and Columbia, S.C., as the USA’s windiest cities last year, according to CoreLogic.

If these places seem awfully close to one another, there’s a reason for that:

All of the USA’s highest wind speeds in 2016 were recorded during Hurricane Matthew’s rampage up the East Coast, with the highest being 101 mph, which was recorded at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 6.

And if you’re asking why CoreLogic cares, Mize can tell you:

CoreLogic, a financial and property data firm based in Irvine, California — with its Weather Verification Services arm in Norman — collects and [analyzes] this data to provide to the insurance industry. One-fourth of all claims are for wind damage, CoreLogic says.

We may take heart in the fact that Chicago, the Windy City of legend, didn’t place either.

Comments (2)




Called for icing

They keep on ratcheting up the potential damage from the impending (Thursday night through Saturday afternoon) ice storm. The higher it gets, the greater my fright level. Last Big Ice Storm, I had to be rescued from a dark house, trapped behind stacks of broken tree branches. And I was in fairly good condition back then. Today, not so much. I am seriously worried about survival here.

Comments (1)




You can’t beat the spread

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I said about two decades ago.

An example from earlier today:

Where I live, specifically: 6.

Comments off




As the snow comes on down

As good an explanation of why these things fizzle out — or worse, don’t fizzle out — as I’ve yet seen:

Arctic air is due in a few days. Just my luck.

Comments (2)




Storm, no chaser

While Matthew bedevils the south Atlantic Coast, I am minded of my reaction to the F6-if-we-had-F6’s tornado outbreak in May 1999:

[T]he worst managed to stay to my south and west, though not very far. At its peak, the funnel was nearly a mile wide, and its easternmost flank ventured to within half a mile of this desk. At least, that’s what they said in the newspapers; what I saw looked more like a matte painting from a science-fiction film, and an ill-lit one at that. The electrical power went dead here almost immediately, and was not restored until the next day. The only actual damage to my premises, though, was some ostensible surface excitement added to the top of my car, courtesy of a barrage of high-speed ice balls. Given the sheer strength of this storm — bigger vehicles than this were picked up and dropped across the street or in front of houses or even into houses — I’m not inclined to complain a great deal about a handful of dimples.

The phrase that pays is “what I saw”; I reasoned that if this damn thing is going to kill me, I’m not going to huddle in the corner and simply wait for it. Which doesn’t necessarily tell you how I might behave with a hurricane breathing down my neck.

Comments off




Too much warmth

This seems pretty indisputable:

Oklahoma summers are hot and sticky and everything about them is the absolute worst. I didn’t always hate them. I used to actually love the heat, and spent about 10 years of my life playing competitive fast pitch softball in the summer heat. Hell, I remember playing in tournaments that were canceled because other girls literally died of heat stroke while standing in the outfield, and I wasn’t particularly phased by the heat at the time.

But that was when I could wear my sleeveless jersey and shorts all day. Now, I may not be outside all day, but I have to wear some business casual garb, and I would like to know what asshole decided that all business casual clothing should be made of the most unbreathable fabrics, because that person should be swaddled in a pair of modern-fit trousers and left out in the sun to slowly desiccate into the raisin they deserve to be.

Also at the link: deodorant tips.

Comments (3)




Fark blurb of the week

Comments off




Accuracy when you need it

And boy, do we need it now:

Forecast for tonight: dark

Turning to widely scattered light in the morning, as Al Sleet, your hippy-dippy weatherman, might say.

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (3)




A certain uniformity

At the National Tornado Summit here in the Big Breezy, the Standard Female Weather Person Dress was very much in evidence:

Of course, it is never, ever green, for obvious reasons.

Comments (2)




None of that wind-chill stuff

It’s weirdly warm in the Los Angeles area these days, prompting this outburst from an 18-year resident:

Members of the fan base in colder areas — this is freaking February, after all — sent their own, much chillier, screenshots in response.

Addendum: The coldest day ever recorded in this town was the 12th of February — in 1899, when the mercury hid in the bulb of the thermometer, unable to face 17 degrees below zero (-27°C).

Comments (4)




Fear the flame

Everyone in this part of the world eventually learns the subgenre of “fire weather,” a phenomenon that comes with dry air and high winds. Even the slightest spark, from whatever source, suddenly turns into a Major Blaze, and if the conditions are going to persist for a while, you’re likely to see a burn ban.

I was never quite sure how they actually quantified it, but this NWS graphic reveals the scale:

I’ve been here about forty years, and I don’t remember “historic” being used in this context. Which is probably a good thing.

The standard NWS term for those Texas counties is “Western North Texas,” the sort of description you’d need in a place the size of Texas; if you say “northwest Texas,” I start thinking the Panhandle and Amarillo.

Comments (3)




The sameness of the sky

The line between “mostly cloudy” and “partly sunny” is apparently even finer than I thought it was. From the National Weather Service’s local forecast today:

Forecast for 17-18-19 January 2015

Can you tell them apart? I certainly can’t.

Comments (5)




So basically, just another year

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I once said, and the year just completed gave me no reason to change my mind:

I don’t actually think in millibars, so I did the conversion to mercury: 31.05 inches. Now that’s some serious pressure.

And about that dew point in Webbers Falls:

Those accustomed to continental climates often begin to feel uncomfortable when the dew point reaches between 15 and 20 °C (59 and 68 °F). Most inhabitants of these areas will consider dew points above 21 °C (70 °F) oppressive.

So I imagine 83 °F was probably excruciating. (I can’t remember personally experiencing anything much over 79.)

If there’s any comfort to be found on this map, it’s that none of those extremes came within fifty miles of me. Then again, through Christmas Day, we were on pace in Oklahoma City for the second-warmest December on record, behind only the fluky 48.7 degrees of 1965. (For warmenists: nine of the top ten are before 1965.) Then the snow and the rain and several days of cloud cover, and the best we could do was a tie for fifth at 45.3. I did manage to be present for three of the coldest Decembers, including the heinous 1983, a feeble 25.3 degrees for the month. (The coldest days around here, statistically, are in early January, at an average of 38.7 or thereabouts, though the coldest day EVAH was 12 February 1899, at a Dakota-esque 17 below.)

Comments (2)




Fun’ll getcha

First, we must say this:

Throughout much of 2015, tornado activity has been near record low mostly due to a continuous pattern of a trough in the east, which has brought colder than average temperatures there, and a ridge in the west, which has brought warmer than average temperatures in the west. The pattern changed, slightly, in late March and early April to allow for some severe weather.

And then reversed itself late in the year, with unpleasant results. Then again, I’m sitting here in the middle of the damnable stuff, so nothing here surprises me:

Okay, but one thing surprises me. What the hell happened in Nevada, that they should get a tornado warning? Well, duh:

A Nevada Tornado 2015 Warning tonight is striking Lander. The National Weather Service in Elko has issued a Nevada Tornado 2015 Warning moments ago.

NWS tell news that tonight May 7, 2015 a Nevada Tornado 2015 Warning is in place for southwestern Eureka County in north central Nevada, and east central Lander County in north central Nevada.

Lander, since the 1920s, has had a fairly steady population of zero. And this particular news site seems to deal in word salad with ranch dressing ‚ though NWS talks like that sometimes, as fans of their VHF radio service know.

Comments off




They’ve had it up to there

The Illinois River — no, not the one that flows through Illinois — looked something like this yesterday:

At the time, the river was up over 30 feet, a place it’s never before been in recorded history (which is probably 125 years or so).

Another view:

Flood stage at this station is a mere eleven feet. The river might recede to that point before this weekend, if there isn’t any more rain; last I looked, it was down to about 21 feet.

Comments (3)