Archive for Weather or Not

Sort of damp-ish

Matt Gasnier is attempting a cross-country drive, and unlike most of us in the States who’ve envisioned this notion, he’s going north to south. He started, in fact, at Barrow, Alaska, way up on the Arctic Ocean. Several days and a few ferryboats later, he’s in Ketchikan, about which he says:

Looking up the Ketchikan section on the Alaska Lonely Planet reads: “If you stay in Ketchikan longer than an hour, chances are good that it will rain at least once if not several times.”

This seemed wild enough to consult Wikipedia, which is good on weather (if not necessarily climate) coverage. This picture was waiting:

Ketchikan Alaska Rain Gauge, 2002 photo by Robert A. Estremo

(Photo ©2002 Robert A. Estremo. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License v. 2.0.)

There’s a reason it’s that tall. The yearly rainfall average is a mind-boggling 153 inches, which includes a mere 37 inches of snow; 229 days a year see at least 0.01 inch of rain. This is, I note for record, nearly twice as much rain as falls on Dhaka, Bangladesh. And speaking of record, in 1949 the gauge actually overflowed, having failed to collect all of 202.55 inches of what is decidedly world-class wetness.

Comments (1)


An unusually warm October will be followed, I expect, by several months for which “unusually warm” will be a pleasant memory at best. I don’t like it, but I’ll live through it — I think. It’s not as easy as it used to be.

Comments (3)

The old Palmetto Soak

The US Geological Survey takes some questions about the “1000-year” flood in South Carolina — well, technically, no, it wasn’t any such thing — and even deals with the one most beloved by illiterate news media:

Is this flood due to climate change?

USGS research has shown no linkage between flooding (either increases or decreases) and the increase in greenhouse gases. Essentially, from USGS long-term streamgage data for sites across the country with no regulation or other changes to the watershed that could influence the streamflow, the data shows no systematic increases in flooding through time.

A much bigger impact on flooding, though, is land use change. Without proper mitigation, urbanization of watersheds increases flooding. Moreover, encroachment into the floodplain by homes and businesses leads to greater economic losses and potential loss of life, with more encroachment leading to greater losses.

And as a species, we’re not exactly well known for proper mitigation.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (1)

A small, neat sweatbox at that

A discussion of air conditioning, or the lack thereof, in the City of New York spawned this plaintive wail:

Here in Tokyo, where it is obscenely, body-wiltingly hot for three or four months a year (and where, in the past ten years, government anti-carbon mandates have made 28°C the minimum indoors in the summer), through-window air conditioners are the only thing you ever see. Being born in NYC, I have only heard the term “central air” and have never seen it. I would have to Google to see what such a setup would look like.

Jeebus. Eighty-three inside? I wouldn’t wish that on a communist from Berzerkley, let alone a Japanese salaryman.

Comments (5)

Climate your own risk

I have often said, only partly in jest, that we have a true nine-season climate. Not everyone accepts this premise at face value:

If we do, about seven of them are too hot in some shape or form. (To me, it feels more like we have four, but two of them — the two best ones, spring and fall — are very short: about 8 months of “way too hot,” a month of “nice” where it is cool and rains a little and if we’re lucky we see the leaves change, two months of freezing rain, and then another month of “nice” and flowers before it gets too darn hot again.)

Here in the Big Town, anyway, there are extended periods of “What, this again?” OKC thirty-year averages bottom out at 39 degrees or less for three weeks (26 December through 15 January), and there’s a whole month of 83-plus (12 July through 13 August). Keep in mind the typical 20-degree spread between high and low on any given day, and feel free to shudder.


A little more than an advisory

By comparison, Hurricane Ike was almost gentle.

Then again, it takes something this forceful to get someone’s attention. You probably know this old joke:

A farmer is in Iowa during a flood. The river is overflowing. Water is surrounding the farmer’s home up to his front porch. As he is standing there, a boat comes up. The man in the boat says, “Jump in, and I’ll take you to safety.”

The farmer crosses his arms and says stubbornly, “Oh no thanks, I put my trust in God.” The boat goes away. The water rises to the second story. Another boat comes up. The man says to the farmer, who is now at the second floor window, “Hurry, jump in. I’ll save you.”

The farmer again says, “Oh no thanks, I put my trust in God.”

The boat goes away. Now the water is inching over the roof. As the farmer stands on the roof, a helicopter comes over, and drops a ladder. The pilot yells down to the farmer, “I’ll save you. Climb the ladder.”

The farmer yells back, “Oh no thanks, I put my trust in God.”

The helicopter goes away. The water continues to rise and sweeps the farmer off the roof into the swiftly moving water. Unfortunately, he drowns.

The farmer goes to heaven. God sees him and says, “What are you doing here?”

The farmer says, “I put my trust in you, and you let me down.”

God says, “What do you mean, let you down? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”

You might take this as an example of By-God Iowa Stubborn; or you might consider that in nearly every natural disaster, there’s someone who won’t budge from the scene. Scaring the heck out of them with a weather forecast seems like a kindness.

Comments (4)

We get results, slowly

From a mid-January day, thirteen years ago:

The wind is up, but otherwise it’s an absolutely gorgeous day, the sort that the gods throw in once in a while to obscure the fact that it’s the middle of winter and we should be freezing our keisters off. It never occurs to them to toss a mid-January day into the sweatbox of late August, but you know how gods are.

Low temperature yesterday in Oklahoma City: 50° F. The coolest it’s ever been in August, if “ever” = “since 1891”: 49° F.

I’ll take that with a smile.

Comments (4)

Nor is it a dry heat

This apparently was the display for the Sunday-evening forecast. Hindsight being closer to 20/20, I think we can safely say that at least one of those numbers was way the hell off:

Weather screen from KFOR

(Snagged from Facebook, of course.)

Comments (3)

The Chicken Little Channel

The old newsroom saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Apparently this also works in weather:

Many local broadcast meteorologists say that the national reporting on severe weather is out of control, with sloppy reporting and almost incessant hyping of events. What this is doing, they add, is spreading misinformation that may be desensitizing viewers to actual weather risk.

In terms of my own hometown, I am at the point now where if there are any warnings beyond the most routine, I have to say something on Facebook just to reassure everyone that I am not in fact dead.

One critic, from Birmingham, Alabama:

[James] Spann, for instance, says national TV got the Houston floods story last May wrong by suggesting they were extraordinary, when, in fact, the city has a long history of such flooding.

“The networks just decided that this never happened before. That’s just idiotic,” he says, adding that the destructive flooding was a big enough story that it didn’t need hype.

Another, from a network O&O in Boston:

While indisputably powerful, the devastation caused by Sandy resulted from the storm hitting a heavily populated area rather than its sheer force. That fact was missed in many of the stories, he says.

“It was not a freak of nature,” [Eric] Fisher says. “Not everything has to be the worst, or the biggest or unprecedented.”

I blame global cooling/warming/stasis: it’s necessary to appear to have extreme events to prop up the narrative.

Comments (4)

Maximum sweat

After this, you don’t sweat. You are braised:

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) [Thursday] factoring in the humidity.

Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported.

Just as well. We agonize enough over the heat index without having to deal with actual records.

To achieve [this] astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).

Yee-owch! Where is this place?

Bandar Mahshahr sits adjacent to the Persian Gulf in southwest Iran where water temperatures are in the 90s. Such high temperatures lead to some of the most oppressive humidity levels in the world when winds blow off the sweltry water.

Only once has a higher heat index been reported, and it’s not so far away:

Although there are no official records, 178 degrees (81 Celsius) is the highest known heat index ever attained. It was observed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003.

All I ask is two minutes of that — no more — in mid-January, right over my driveway.

Comments (5)

That name again is “Missed the plow”

Remember last winter in Buffalo? Traces of it remain even now:

It may be almost August, but dirt-covered snow still hasn’t completely melted since being dumped at a defunct Buffalo railroad station after November’s record-breaking storm.

WGRZ-TV reports that two snow piles nearly 10 feet high in some spots are still melting in vacant lots at the Central Terminal on the city’s east side.

City crews dumped snow in the lots after a lake-effect storm dumped more than 7 feet on parts of Buffalo and the surrounding area the week before Thanksgiving. Eight months later, some of it is still there.

It’s been there so long that grass is growing on it.

Meanwhile, somehow today in the Big Breezy we don’t have a Heat Advisory.


Dam scary

One of the inevitable effects of nine months’ worth of rain in a couple of weeks:

Says the Corps:

This is a normal occurrence when flood waters are released from the reservoir via flood control gates.

But they also say this:

The vortex is approximately 8 feet in diameter and capable of sucking in a full-sized boat, so please heed all safety buoys and caution signs.

The Black Hole of Texoma!

Comments (4)

That legendary New York toughness

I do understand what this fellow is saying:

And he’s not kidding, either. Look at this:

NWS screen print for NYC 6/16/15

Then again:

NWS screen print for OKC 6/16/15

Don’t even try to breathe this, sir.

Comments (5)

Another rainfall record has fallen

And this one was pretty dramatic, maybe:

It didn’t take much rain to set a record in Phoenix.

The National Weather Service said Friday the 0.03 inch of rain recorded at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by 4 p.m. was the largest amount for June 5.

This breaks the old record of, well, nothing:

Meteorologist Chris Kuhlman said that it had never officially rained in the desert city on this date.

“So far we had not anticipated that June would be a wet month, it almost never rains in the month of June in Phoenix,” Kuhlman said.

June average, says Wikipedia, is a feeble 0.02 inch. For the whole month. In July and August, it jumps to just over an inch per month, as monsoon season kicks in.

Comments (1)

Zinc and copper, copper and zinc

This is June, which is normally not the time to wax lyrical about metaphors for cold weather, unlike, say, February; still, having come across this explanation in the summer, I am loath to hold it back for six months, so here we go with “cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”:

This term has nothing to do with testicles or primates, and a good deal of debate remains to this day regarding the origin of the phrase. In the days of smoothbore cannon, particularly ashore, ready-use cannon balls were stored near the guns. The balls were stacked in a “monkey,” a metal frame which was laid on the deck to help contain the bottom layer of the pyramid of cannon balls. Monkeys were typically made of brass (though monkeys made of rope were used as well). In extremely cold temperatures, the brass monkey shrank more than the iron cannon balls, and the stack of balls would collapse — or perhaps ice which formed under the balls pushed them up enough to break them loose. The root of the debate is whether such an event is possible at all, though the phrase appears to be more a traditional exaggeration than an engineering possibility.

My late brother, a seafaring man early in his all-too-short life, likely would have opined that even the most egregious exaggerations had some basis in truth. And God knows I’ve seen enough cannonballs stacked in pyramids.

Comments (3)

Dryness and the profit therein

An item from last fall:

BC Clark Jewelers, founded (as every Oklahoman already knows) in 1892, instituted a program in 1998 called Pray for Rain:

When you buy your engagement ring from BC Clark Jewelers and it rains (or snows) an inch or more on your wedding day, BC Clark will refund you the price of your engagement ring up to $5,000. Just ask one of our 140+ Pray for Rain winning couples!”

So in sixteen years they averaged about nine winners a year. Then the Rainiest Month in History befell them:

According to Mitchell Clark, Executive Vice President for BC Clark, they had another Pray For Rain winner on Tuesday, May 19, and five more winners on Saturday, May 23.

That makes 14 winners in the last four weeks, and 17 in total for the year, Clark said.

And the year isn’t even half over.

Comments (3)

And soddenly

It’s the rainiest month ever — over eighteen inches with nearly a full week to go — and if I’m not actually drowning, I’m not taking it well either.

Comments (2)

A lead-pipe cinch

Of course, they don’t use lead pipes anymore, but it’s hard to see how this can miss:

You’ll note that the record is only 0.77 inch away. We’ve averaged about two-thirds of an inch per day this month, and as of 1 pm we had just about half of that 0.77 inch in hand, or on ground anyway.

And Monday’s only the 26th: there will be five days left in May, and no one’s predicted any sunshine for any of them yet.


He remarked dryly

Here we have snapshots from the US Drought Monitor for the last four and a half years:

Despite tons of rain this month, we’re not out of the choking dust just yet.

(Via Becky McCray.)

Comments (4)

Plagues upon us

You name it, we got it yesterday: torrential rain — normal May rainfall is 4.65 inches, which we got in a couple of hours — randomly-appearing tornadoes, mostly, as usual, on the southside; and tigers.

Wait, what?

The tigers were rounded up before midnight — they say.

Pharaoh was not available for comment.

(Here be tigers.)

Comments (6)

I don’t think that’s snow

The National Weather Service will be deploying new icons later this year, which is a Good Thing if this one strikes you as absurd:

Screenshot from NWS Norman 8 pm 6 May 2015 showing snow/ice

Then again, what is a May in Oklahoma without Mother Nature throwing one (or in this case, several) of her hissy fits?

Comments (2)

Future blast furnace

Dr. B gives ear to a Brian Fagan podcast, and this question comes up:

In the question and answer period, he was asked what the stricken people can do about it? “Move,” he said, “is the only option.” If the world is heating up, where would he move to? “Canada. It will be dryer, much warmer, and their politics are reasonable.”

There are reasons, of course, for cynicism:

My cynicism is not that I don’t believe that there is a major problem with pollution (there is) or that the environment is being destroyed (we see it here) or even that the climate is changing (it is) but because too many want to pull all these things together to make a top down dictatorship where the elites run everything.

As I have written before, here in the Philippines, one of the side effects of the more radical “green movement” is that it makes things worse. Keep out mining and logging, and the result is illegal mining and logging with worse poverty and environmental destruction than you would get if you regulated companies to do it without destruction.

And grow green crops and avoid pesticides, chemicals, and of course GM food, but that leads to importing food from other countries that use chemicals, pesticides and GM seeds because the local organic stuff is too expensive for the poor to eat.

It’s a situation you can see right here in town: stores in more upscale areas attract buyers who are willing to pay 79 cents a pound (or more) for organic bananas when the standard-issue fruit barely brings half a buck. A good head of organic leaf lettuce is $3ish; the usual fare from the Jolly Green Giant and his peers might break a buck during the winter.

Comments (1)

A noticeable warming trend

And after Sunday was so nice, too:

On the next screen, someone scrawls a Q in front of “AccuWeather.”

Comments (2)

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.)

Comments (5)

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.


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.

Comments (6)

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.


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.)


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.


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.

Comments (2)