Archive for Weather or Not

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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?

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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.

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A noticeable warming trend

And after Sunday was so nice, too:

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

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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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