Archive for Weather or Not

Major hotness

I have my doubts about some of this, captured about 10:35 last night:

Screenshot from Weather Underground for Philadelphia

That negative rainfall has got to hurt, especially with 83 feet of it.

(Via John Salmon.)

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It never gets that warm

ComfortMeter by LaCrosseYou’ve seen this contraption before; it sits by the bedroom door “so I can feel some sort of justification when I start kvetching about how frakking uncomfortable it’s gotten all of a sudden.” In that photo, it is reading 74.3° F. In the six years since then, it has never once read 74.4°.

In fact, it routinely skips various possible temperatures. It will show 74.5, but not 74.6; if a warming trend is afoot, it will update at 74.7. After noting that it seems to skip three or four out of every ten conceivable readings, it dawned on me what the issue might be: the manufacturer has to sell this device in lots of countries, most of which measure their temperatures in Celsius, thank you very much, and this would require the little electronic brain to update in tenths of a degree Celsius — and 0.1 Celsius degree is 0.18 Fahrenheit degree. This explains it well enough: 74.3° F is 23.5° C, 74.5 is a hair over 23.6, 74.7 is somewhat thicker hair over 23.7. And it will display 74.8, which rounds to 23.8.

I’m not sure which is less useful: the fact that it took me so long to notice that, or that it took even longer to explain it. And while I’m thinking that maybe the Canadians might be pleased, forty years ago they had few kind words for Celsius.

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The kind of evening it was

This picture almost says it all:

What this doesn’t tell you: KOMA (the AM side, anyway, which now uses a different call) is 50,000 watts directional, and to achieve the proper nulls — they must protect WWKB in Buffalo — they used three such towers.

Two of them are lying on the ground at this moment.

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Truly madly deep

Oklahoma City has received 13.6 inches of snow this winter, about 60 percent above normal; it’s been a pain in the neck, and a few other joints for us arthritic types, but to anyone in the Midwest or New England or the Rockies, any complaints from this quarter are risible at best.

Then again, even they can be trumped:

Snow news is good news, unless you live in Capracotta. The Italian village may have just set a record for the most snow ever to fall in 24 hours.

A storm on March 5 dumped just over 100.8 inches (or 8 feet, 4 inches) of snow there in 18 hours, reports the Italian weather website Meteoweb. The snowfall inundated the city and left some in the region without power and water.

What’s most remarkable about this, to me anyway, is that Capracotta (“cooked goat”) is nowhere near the mountains of northern Italy, but down south — albeit at an elevation of 4600 feet. About a thousand people live there.

The record is (of course) pending verification.

And if I feel like grumbling about our piddling 8-inch annual average, I can always direct my attention to Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado, which averages 500 inches or so and once hit 838, um, about 60 percent above normal.

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Absolute zero confidence

This was not the best thing to say in the midst of swirling snow, especially when it’s said by a Professional Meteorologist:

You can imagine some of the responses. (Hint: Lord Kelvin is invoked by proxy.)

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Dome on the range

This really needs Dan Aykroyd yelling “Gaia, you ignorant slut” at Mother Nature:

Mother Nature decided to ice up the roads this morning, making me just one of what the Network TV News tells me is over 125 million in the U.S. under some kind of weather Watch or Warning. We need to grow thicker skins — and start settling some other planets. The domed-over or dug-in cities with central heating, air-conditioning and air renewal are looking better and better.

And it will certainly happen off-planet before anyone gets a chance to do it on anything but the smallest of scales on this one, perhaps because the stakes are higher: survival and all. The late, unlamented Biosphere 2 might have poisoned the well for any future earthbound experiments.

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By the bewbs of the sorceress

The high temperature yesterday here in the Quarter-Mile-High City was a feeble 23 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest such “high” ever recorded for this date. “Colder than a witch’s tit,” as the phrase goes. Inevitable question: how, exactly, did we ascertain the temperature inside that poor woman’s brassiere?

I’ve been poking around for the source of the witch connection. Sadly, I have to report there isn’t much of one. Aside from the “witch marks” that were supposedly assumed to be (how’s that for vague?) cold and numb, searched for during the days of Matthew Hopkins, what’s so cold about a witch’s tit, really? Jonathon Green in the Chambers Slang Dictionary (2008) dates “colder than a witch’s tit” (also “titty”) to the 1930s. Related phrases in that same entry, about “weather, very cold,” are “colder than a nun’s snatch” (1950s) and “colder than a welldigger’s butt” (the same). Those last two are cited as US in origin. (I wonder what US speakers have against nuns that UK speakers don’t?)

Regarding that “witch’s tit/teat” phrase, Bruce Kahl explains that it’s ultimately “just a vivid metaphor, like ‘hotter than the hinges of hell’.” He does explain the process of hunting for witch marks, though. The problem with trying to connect cold weather to witches’ tits is that, well, there’s no real connection to be found.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair; hover through the fog and filthy air,” intoned the Weird Sisters in the Scottish play. No direct reference to temperature; but it sure as hell doesn’t sound warm.

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Unpredictably so

First, it was one to three inches. Then it was a dusting to one inch. And finally, it was something like 3.4 inches. (I was able to drive up my steepish driveway; it becomes impossible to do that, at least in my existing car, at 3.5 or more.) On the basis that the promised 41 degrees for tomorrow isn’t going to happen either, I took off early, got home in 41 minutes (normal is 18), and ran The Pusher over most of the afflicted surface.

As I was putting away The Pusher, this came down the wire:

Personally, I never believe anything more than twelve hours out, and by “twelve” I mean two and a half, if things look bad.

Already the hype machine is cranking up for the next round, starting Thursday night (maybe) and running through Sunday morning (possibly). The latter is consistent with that old saw about March, carnivorous at the beginning, a gentle herbivore by the end. After forty years in this town, I figure either way it’s going to eat my lunch.

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Chill factor

Today’s New York Post front page:

Freezing his nuts off

Now that’s cold. The Oklahoma City record for the 20th of February is a sultry 9°F, set in 1918; the high that day was a steamy 25°. Then again, our coldest day ever (defining “ever” as “since records began, circa 1891″) was in February 1899; -12° on the 11th, followed by -17° on the 12th.

(Via Raju Narisetti.)

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Coldest before the sunrise

The Historical Weather item on NWS Radio this morning pointed to record highs on this date in 2011 — 80°F in Oklahoma City, 84 in Wichita Falls, 73 in Nowata — and then noted that record lows had been set just seven days before. I distinctly (accent on “stinct”) remember hitting five below. Which is a hell of a swing: 85 degrees Fahrenheit in one week. Still, that’s February in this state, and 85 isn’t even that notable. Look at Nowata. On 10 February 2011 they got down to a ghastly -31°F, followed by that rebound to 73. That’s a 104-degree swing.

Lynn was dealing with twenty below on that day in 2011:

It actually doesn’t feel that much colder than -10° but maybe I needed to stay out a little longer to really feel it. I keep looking at the weather forecast for the next seven days and seeing that it predicts 65°F for the middle of next week and it seems like the ravings of some lunatic prophet. Can it ever really be that warm again?

It can, and sure enough, it was. Even Boston and New York will thaw at some point this year — though probably not in one week.

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The Weather Patrol reports in

Record heat yesterday: seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit, 2° warmer than the old record, set in 1999. (Then again, it’s February; only last Thursday it dropped into the teens and barely made it above 40 that afternoon.) I got outside and trimmed a holly. Meanwhile, Michael Eberharter went to Quail Springs Mall, specifically to Candyopolis:

Rainbow Dash for Candyopolis

Can’t argue with that, Dashie.

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How are the aerodynamics?

Aaron Robinson, in the March Car and Driver, on the Chevrolet Trax, a “wee SUV”:

The optional four-wheel drive is an electronically controlled system that engages clutch plates to add torque to the rear. It is not driver-lockable, just an automatic all-weather axle, there to straighten your path when the barometer nose-dives.

Or, you know, not. The lowest barometer reading in this town since ever — meaning, most likely, “since 1890″ — was 28.81 inches of mercury, on this very date in 1960. The high temperature that day was 75, which does not suggest a need for four-wheel drive. There were, however, F1-level tornadoes in the northeastern part of the state, and I don’t want to be driving in that kind of stuff no matter where the torque is allocated.

Maybe Robinson meant something other than “barometer.”

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Or just wait fifteen minutes

Lynn defends the nine-season climate around here:

For the most part I actually like Oklahoma weather. We rarely have the same kind of weather long enough to get tired of it (except maybe the heat and drought in mid to late summer) and it’s an endless source of entertainment, especially if complaining is your favorite sport.

Hey, I run a blog. What do you think my favorite sport is?

(“Climate? I didn’t even see it!”)

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Horton hears a Boo Fricking Hoo

After Snowmageddon 2015 slid past New York City and made a beeline for Boston, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and cursing of forecasters; one of them even issued an apology. Bad move, says Lisa:

I think the forecasters who are apologizing are doing a huge disservice to their audiences. No matter how sophisticated our weather tracking systems, a storm can veer off unpredictably as this one did slamming Boston instead of New York City. If your city prepares and dodges a bullet, that’s a win. Certainly better than the other scenario: not being prepared.

We’ve dodged a few here over the years; in fact, we can count on at least one overwrought forecast fizzling out per season. Which is not to say that we behave any more sensibly:

From years of working as a journalist in New England, I learned that people who live in cities — even supposedly weather-savvy cities like Boston and Portland, Maine — are very disconnected from the weather. They simply refuse to believe that weather almost on any given day is probably the most dangerous thing they will ever face. Every time a snow storm was predicted to hit the Portland area, we at the TV station knew where the stories would be. Some bozo would ignore the warnings, get in some ill-equipped little Japanese car without chains and make a completely unnecessary trip such as trying to drive up to the ski resorts to get a jump on the lift lines, or even just driving through deserted streets looking for an open corner store to get cigs. Actually, usually there would be dozens of such dummies. While on the road, some would get stuck, skid out diverting emergency vehicles and police attention from more pressing matters like keeping lanes to hospitals cleared. I remember one such case where an idiot skidded out his car, and blocked an area where an ambulance was trying to get through. Took several diverted snowplows, tow trucks and a critical hour to get that car out of the path and the ambulance with a patient into the hospital.

“Travel is strongly discouraged,” which is usually the worst it gets down here, doesn’t contain any qualifiers; they don’t say it’s discouraged for everyone but you. An outright ban, as enacted by NYC, is the same but more so. Says Norman-based comedian Amanda Kerri:

Is it so hard to make a PBJ sandwich for a day or two? Oh my god, you might not have Pad Thai delivered at three in the morning… This is why the rest of America hates you.

And truth be told, if some of my neighbors wander out on a night that would challenge a Zamboni, well, they better have platinum-plated reasons.

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Gaia, you stupid bint

The WaPo Wonkblog counts up all the federal disaster declarations in the last fifty years, and declares the most dangerous counties in the land:

The award for most disaster-prone place in the U.S. goes to Los Angeles County, CA, which has experienced 53 disasters in that time period — on average, a little more than one disaster per year. These include 35 fires, 6 each of storms and floods, 1 hurricane-related (Katrina evacuees), 3 earthquakes, and 2 deep freezes.

In fact, Southern California counties account for four of the top 5 disaster-prone counties in the U.S., driven primarily by the frequency of fires and floods there.

How could any place compete with that horrifying record?

Oklahoma County, OK comes in at number 4, on the strength of its severe storms, fires and ice storms.

Oh, that’s how.

We’ve had 39 such declarations in that half-century. Don’t even think of counting state disaster declarations.

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Don’t blame Canada

Usually when it gets this cold, I start grumbling about the Great White North and the denizens therein for their failure to keep the damn cold air where it belongs, somewhere in the general vicinity of Baffin Bay.

I am told that this time, anyway, the stuff is coming from much farther away:

The cold comes courtesy of this wobble in the polar vortex, which is enabling pure, Arctic air from Siberia to migrate across the North Pole, head south across Canada, and cross the border at high speed — like a tourist without a passport. The Arctic invasion is occurring in the wake of a phenomenon that is well-known to temporarily destabilize the polar vortex, which is a sudden stratospheric warming event.

The unusually cold air mass is rotating around Hudson Bay, Canada, with spokes of frigid air descending into the U.S.

I guess the Russians should be grateful that their Arctic air is “pure.”

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Doesn’t look so slight to me

Then again, once it’s happened, the probability is 100 percent, right?

Screenshot from Oklahoma Mesonet

This was the Mesonet report at OKC West, taken at State Fair Park. And the water total won’t be forthcoming until the snow — 2-3 inches, more or less — actually melts into their little tin cup.

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Although not Rainier

Not only do we obsess over the weather forecast, we’ve been known to review old forecasts:

For more than three weeks Oklahoma has been wrapped in fog, dark clouds, and just a flannelly cocoon of winter weather. We are not built for this much darkness! I really don’t know how people in the Pacific Northwest cope with it. So yesterday we all felt refreshed just seeing the sun. I went for a quick little 3 mile run wearing only a light jacket, and I had thoughts like better get the pool opened up soon!

“Light jacket” makes sense: the inversion layer sitting above us has produced indifferent highs but uncharacteristically above-freezing lows.

The National Weather Service properly caters to this tendency:

I missed that little bit of sunshine, being stuck in Post-Vacation Recovery Mode, but we’re actually getting some today. Which is good, since I am told that there’s no parking left at Byron’s, or as no one dares call it, Booze R Us.

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So it was written

I’d forgotten this little squib, which I posted to Facebook on 12/25/13:

Informing us that there would be no thunderstorms in the near future, the Weather Guys explained that there was a cold stable air mass in place. And let’s face it, you can’t have Luke’s gospel without cold stable air.

I admit, though, that it might be nice if they moved Christmas to July, when the stores aren’t so crowded.

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Everybody knows that the bird has the word

However well our Weather Guys do at locating tornadoes, they’ve got a long way to go to catch up with these birds:

US scientists say tracking data shows that five golden-winged warblers “evacuated” their nesting site one day before the April 2014 tornado outbreak.

Geolocators showed the birds left the Appalachians and flew 700km (400 miles) south to the Gulf of Mexico. The next day, devastating storms swept across the south and central US.

In 2013, researchers tagged 20 of the birds; after flying to Colombia for the winter, ten of them showed up the next spring, and after the storms broke, five were recaptured and their tracking devices opened up.

In this case, all five indicated that the birds had taken unprecedented evasive action, beginning one to two days ahead of the storm’s arrival.

“The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500km (932 miles) in total,” Dr [Henry] Streby said.

They escaped just south of the tornadoes’ path — and then went straight home again. By 2 May, all five were back in their nesting area.

Dr Streby and his team suspect infrasound:

The most likely tip-off was the deep rumble that tornadoes produce, well below what humans can hear.

Noise in this “infrasound” range travels thousands of kilometres, and may serve as something of an early warning system for animals that can pick it up.

“It’s very unlikely that this species is the only group doing this,” Dr Streby said.

Now to find a species that (1) can utilize infrasound and (2) can exhibit some serious TV presence.

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Meanwhile, up in the sky

The spring storm season in this place lasts 14, maybe 15 months. On the upside, when the sirens pipe down we get a glimpse of something like this:

There was a tornado warning at the time, at a far corner of the county.

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Meanwhile in Buffalo

And to think I was whining about a couple of inches this week:

Snow scene from Buffalo NY November 2014

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Possibly freezing it off

The only time I’ve ever had a fuel line freeze, I was in KCTV’s home town of Kansas City, so I sort of understand the metric:

I didn’t have heated seats back then, either.

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All those clouds look alike

Even the National Weather Service says so:

Partly sunny, or is that partly cloudy?

Then again, there’s a lot to be said for getting multiple uses out of the same graphic, with the possible exception of the one they use with the word “Hot,” described by a regular reader as the Eye of Sauron; the less I see of it, the better. It’s not going to show up for rather a long time, though.

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Turn down the weather machine

Stephanie Bice won the Republican runoff for Senate District 22, in west Edmond and northern Canadian County; there is no further opposition, so she will take her seat after the first of the year. Between now and then, we can only hope that she will improve her grasp on what is and isn’t possible:

Preventing droughts? Are we hiring an Equestrian weather patrol? Because last I looked, the jet stream and the clouds didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to what we want. We can certainly mitigate the effects of drought, but anything beyond that is out of our hands.

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There’s never been a drought like this

Well, it’s pretty dire in California. But this is nothing compared to, oh, eighty years ago:

Mr Mitchell, meteorologist for channel 5 in Dallas/Fort Worth, used to be meteorologist for channel 5 in Oklahoma City.

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The autumn un-empire

There are those who would prefer that summer stick around a bit longer:

I keep seeing all these things on Facebook that say, “Share if you are ready for fall?” No! No, I am not ready! I’m a summer person. Yes, fall is nice — pretty colors and all that — but it doesn’t last long. You get four to six weeks of nice weather, maybe two or three weeks of pretty colors and then the leaves all fall off and it gets COLD long before official winter arrives. And don’t tell me, “Cold is better than heat because when it’s cold you can put on more clothes.” That’s not a feature; it’s a bug! That’s part of the problem. I don’t want to put on more clothes! As long as it’s just “shirt sleeve weather” that’s okay but I hate coats and jackets.

Not for her the layered look.

Then again, anyone who doesn’t get annoyed by that “Share if” crap on Facebook isn’t paying attention; you’d think by now someone would have shot the “Share if”. (Consider yourself deputized.)

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By the yarbles, downwardly

No one, I assume, has ever ordered one of these in January:

The husband, who is pretty good with this sort of thing, checked out the air conditioner and discovered that it had a bad capacitor. Just so happened we had another one from an old air conditioner so he installed that one and it worked. Yay, we’re cool again. But, not knowing how long that old part would last he looked up a new one online and asked me to order it. The total, with standard shipping, came to $19 and change.

This seemed to me like something we might want in a hurry. If the air conditioner quit completely with temps in the upper 90s we might think an extra $30 or perhaps even an extra $50 would have been worth it.

Which makes sense to me — and dollars for the vendor:

There are not enough curse words in the world to express my feelings upon seeing the price for two day shipping. Keep in mind this part is slightly smaller than a 12 ounce soda can and not exceptionally heavy for an object of that size. Total cost for 2 day shipping: $276. Or something like that. It was definitely 3 digits starting with a “2” and I’m pretty sure there was a “7” and a “6” in some order. Sorry, I’m a bit traumatized by the experience. I mean, what the hell? Are they going to hire James Earl Jones to bring it in a limo and deliver it personally to my front door? (Yeah, I’d pay $276 for that.)

It works the other way, too. I bought my Big Nasty Snow Pusher from Amazon one summer for $50ish. Same device last December: $109. (Shipping, at least, was free.)

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Out of the Garden, into the Sunshine

There is much chatter about the 21st Century Exodus, from California to Texas. We don’t hear so much about this move down Interstate 95:

I moved to Florida from New Jersey a couple of weeks ago because of a number of personal and financial reasons.

Many New Jersey residents are doing the same, including my accountant. She, as I, can pay for a small mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance and association fees on a condo in Florida on what we paid for real estate taxes alone in New Jersey. Add the fact that Florida has no personal income tax, and you’ll have loads of New Jerseyans heading to Florida. I had my car transported by truck, and the man who delivered it told me the 9 other cars belonged to people who are moving to Florida.

There is, of course, a drawback:

New Jersey is hot and humid in the summer, but you don’t know humid hotness until you’re in South Florida to stay. The main difference between the two is, Miami doesn’t really cool off at night.

I’ve never been to Miami, though a couple of trips to Orlando gave me a healthy respect for — or maybe an abject fear of — Florida humidity, especially since it can do things like this:

Morning walks before the temps hit the mid eighties (in both temperature and humidity) become a streaming flow of sweat pouring down from my scalp, through my clothes, slowing down enough to puddle in my bra — not stopping until reaching my ankles. Anything not made of natural fabrics (including two tops made of “wicking” material) then becomes clammy the moment you step into an air-conditioned building. The result can best be called a synthetically-induced hot flash: Brutal sweat followed by chilling dampness.

And people wonder why LeBron would go back to Cleveland.

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Making a dew point

Osaka Jack, as his name implies, lives in Japan, but in a part of it with ridiculous humidity levels not unlike what we’re having to endure this week on the Baked Plain. So this My Little Pony fiction idea gets my vote:

Which was apparently a reaction to this:

The only worry is that it might take longer than 22 minutes to clear this mess up.

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