Archive for Weather or Not

Well Red

It doesn’t get any redder than this:

Red River as seen from Interstate 44, photo by Dorothy Grant

Peter Grant was there:

That’s the Red River, on the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, where it’s crossed by Interstate 44. It’s been about ten feet wide and six inches deep through the winter. Now, it’s in flood, so make that three-quarters of a mile wide, including the flood plain, and about ten feet deep at the time that photograph was taken (by Miss D.) yesterday afternoon. We drove up to see the river in flood, as many locals have done. It hasn’t been this impressive for a long time, or so we’re told.

The nearest flood gauge is possibly within camera range, though it’s described by the National Weather Service simply as “Red River near Burkburnett.” Flood stage is a modest 9 feet; it’s been between 9 and 10 feet all week. The record, apparently, is just shy of 17 feet, set in 1983.

And warnings may be in order:

All that water is on its way to Louisiana, so Shreveport and Alexandria are in for some interesting times when it gets there. From there, it’ll join the Mississippi, and head for the Gulf of Mexico.

The stage at DeKalb-Pecan Point, near the very corner of Texas, was 22.5 feet last night; flood stage is 24 feet, and that will probably be reached this evening.

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Oy, it’s so humid

Most of us of a Certain Age, or the vicinity thereof, will know exactly what it means when the air has the general consistency, if not the temperature, of vichyssoise:

Mind you, when I was growing up in Sacramento, a dewpoint in the mid 60s was unlivable, but back then we didn’t have air conditioning. In fact the house we’re in now — the second one we’ve lived in since moving to Georgia — is also only the second house I’ve lived in that did have air conditioning.

I got my first taste of it around 1970, and I’ve been devoted to it ever since.

So far our A/C here in subtropical west Georgia is holding up okay, but when the dewpoints get higher than the range we set on our thermostats, that could change.

I know the feeling. At odd intervals depending on how much water it takes in, the Surlywood air handler shoots a stream of it out of the house and into the back yard. The first couple of times it activates in the spring, it can catch you off-guard, just from the noise.

(Our title comes from 2 Live Jews.)

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It’s even worse in the dark

More often than not, supercells come bearing tornadoes after dark, at least in this segment of Tornado Alley. This does not mean, however, that you want to see them in broad daylight:

This footage dates from May 2016, from what looks like US 385 near Wray, Colorado.

“Storm chasers almost never get swept up by tornadoes because the sheer weight of their balls keeps them anchored to the ground.” Gotta remember that word “almost.”

El Reno, Oklahoma, 2013. Four storm chasers were swept up and swept away, bringing the total to, um, four.

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Your basic 75-year flood

I’ve already grumbled about the tornado that buzzcut its way across town Friday night, but no matter how bad things get, they’re always worse somewhere else.

Here’s somewhere else:

Flood depth at the Arkansas River near Muskogee

That record goes back to 1943. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that after ten days in or near flood, the Arkansas River is within two feet of the record for this area, or that it’s going to be well into June before it drops below flood stage.

(Track this gauge here.)

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Hard water

I mentioned not too long ago that I used to get lunch for a half dollar, although usually it was a couple of quarters; actual half dollars I’d seen before, but I never seemed to find one in my pocket change. I don’t think I’ve seen a fifty-cent piece in well over a decade; I am perhaps overly fond of saying that the only use for them anymore is as a measure of hail, bigger than quarter-size but smaller than a golf ball.

Once you get into the ball range, though, things get scary rather quickly. Peter Grant sent up this photo, taken on Stormy Monday somewhere in deepest north Texas:

Baseball-sized hail from Wellington, Texas, 20 May 2019

Biggest one I can remember seeing was softball-sized, though nothing about it was particularly soft; I figure, if they predict beach ball-sized hail, we’re going to have craters of near-lunar dimension.

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Damp fools

There might be someone in this state who has never said “These jokers can’t drive in the rain,” but it’s no one I’ve ever met.

Well, children, the drizzle is settled:

Even in weather docile enough to simply dampen one’s hair, death stalks the roadways like a vulture seeking out scraps of rancid meat.

The study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and first reported on by the Associated Press, shows precipitation of all types increases deadly crash risk by 24 percent. In reaching their conclusion, researchers at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies probed 125,012 fatal car crashes in the continental U.S. from 2006 to 2011.

This study went beyond the sometimes vague police reports, analyzing the exact precipitation rate at the place and time of the crash using weather radar. While most drivers cut their speed sharply when it starts raining heavily, sometimes just for visibility reasons, the team was surprised to see just how deadly light rain is.

Just driving in light rain — “We’re talking a drizzle, just at the point where you might consider taking an umbrella out,” according to study lead author Scott Stevens — increased the chance of a fatal crash by 27 percent.

It gets worse as it gets wetter:

Moderate rain, Stevens said, boosts the chance of a fatal crash by 73 percent. In heavy rain? It’s two-and-a-half times greater.

You don’t have to tell me twice.

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To such depths have we sunk

And by “we,” I mean the people who are supposed to be telling us about the weather:

A powerful “bomb cyclone” storm that’s expected to bring blizzard conditions to the high plains states has prompted a high wind advisory [Wednesday] for Springfield and southwest Missouri.

Brian J. demurs:

Spoiler alert: It is neither a bomb nor a cyclone, both of which mean different things, and cyclone is another meteorological phenomenon that serves as a poor metaphor for the rotation of a low pressure system. Also, bomb is a sudden explosion metaphor, and a low pressure system is not a sudden or fast thing.

Why not call it a regional coldnado?

Down here in Soonerland, we’d refer to it as “Wednesday.”

And furthermore:

I am starting to get the sense that all the meteorologists are millennials whose life experience consists of reading contemporary reports of how nothing has ever been like this before.

And who are sworn to uphold the perverse belief that we must spend trillions of dollars to make sure nothing is ever like this again. Like that’s actually going to work anywhere but in bad fiction.

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What’s that in Celsius?

And does it even matter?

To think that I gripe at mere single digits.

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It is, after all, still February

Women of a Certain Age are likely to answer questions like this sensibly:

Well, up to a point, anyway:

The X factor, of course, is that pair of pups.

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Tilt that axis!

And this is what you, or we anyway, get:

Oklahoma 11-season climate

(Via Edmond Active.)

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Some like it cold, and then some

Is it just me, or does expressing these measurements in metric make them sound worse?

To each her zone.

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Northerly wound

OG&E sends out a little advertising piece called “Currents” with the electric bill. The big story this month is called “Powering Through Winter Storms,” and it opens with this sentence:

“The holidays have winded down, but winter isn’t going anywhere quite yet.”

I remember being winded after shoveling snow.

But apparently this word is troublesome in these parts. And if you don’t believe me, ask the robotic voice at the National Weather Service in Norman.

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Turn that heartbeat over again

Love your mama, love your brother, love ’em till they run for cover, and they perhaps should not wait for the weatherman before they start running:

Call Dorothy — the formation of tornadoes has been knocked on its head. New measurements from tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas suggest these storms’ swirling winds first develop near the ground. That’s contrary to the long-accepted theory that tornado winds are born several kilometers up in clouds and only later touch down on Earth’s surface.

Researchers analyzed four tornadoes, including a monster known as El Reno, which holds the record as the widest tornado ever measured, at 4.2 kilometers. They noticed something odd when they compared radar measurements that tracked wind speed with hundreds of photographs and videos of El Reno taken by storm chasers: The storm’s funnel was already on the ground several minutes before the radar data—taken roughly 250 meters off the ground—recorded any rotation.

Out of curiosity, the scientists reanalyzed radar measurements taken near the ground. (A hilltop vantage point during the storm serendipitously allowed the team to scan close to the ground without the interfering effects of trees and telephone poles.) They found rapid rotation near the ground before it appeared higher up, a pattern that was confirmed in three other tornadoes.

The downside is obvious:

These findings have important implications for how weather forecasters issue tornado warnings, the researchers suggest. That’s because forecasters often rely on measurements of wind speeds high up in clouds. Because wind might already be swirling at dangerous speeds near the ground, weather warnings might be tardy in sounding the alarm for tornado-strength winds.

Not comforting.

(Via Fark.)

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It is, after all, December

TLO’s Lucas reports, and on the basis of my 40-plus years of residency I must agree, that it’s Snowpocalypse Now, unless it’s something worse:

Weather panic is not a unique situation in Oklahoma. If a week goes by where the temperatures don’t shift by twenty degrees, the wind doesn’t fluctuate, or allergens aren’t popping, there must be something wrong.

Now that winter has finally arrived, we get to enjoy melodramatic forecasts from local meteorologists. As soon as the temperatures drop and precipitation looks like it will rear its ugly head, get ready for all the Oklahoma weatherpeople to unveil colorful charts and graphs that display the incoming winter hellscape.

I did what I could to forestall the inevitable: I took a couple of days off.

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The sky gods know where you live

PJR has moved to Oregon, but you never really put Oklahoma behind you:

Redbird Smith is, of course, named for Redbird Smith (1850-1918), one of the strongest voices for Cherokee traditions and against the “reforms” of the Dawes Commission.

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How the hell does this keep happening?

There’s been one explanation already, but there’s always the chance that somebody missed it the first time around:

WJZY News presents: Rain Causes Wet Streets

Fox 46 is WJZY, Charlotte, North Carolina.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Nontropical depression

Hurricane, schmurricane. Hold my umbrella:

Comparative rainfall at Wilmington, NC and Fittstown, OK

Fittstown, in Pontotoc County, has about 100 people and one rain gauge.

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Obviously new here

Guy in north Texas seems baffled for some reason:

There is, of course, an explanation:

Rick Mitchell used to work in this town, at KOCO-TV; he was laconic while Gary England was avuncular and Mike Morgan was We’re all gonna die!

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Aw, shuddup and do yer job

Friday a friend of mine received a notification from his Smart Thermostat:

Alert! Loss of Cooling

Your cooling equipment is not adequately cooling your home, and the temperature inside your house is at least 5 degrees higher than your thermostat temperature setting. This problem can be caused by the following:

  • A door or window may be open
  • Power to your cooling equipment may be lost
  • Your cooling equipment may not be working properly

Evidently beyond the gizmo’s ken was the actual cause of the situation: it was 109 degrees Fahrenheit outside, tying a record for the date, and only four degrees short of the all-time — well, since 1891 anyway — record for this town.

In my own house, with classic/antiquated (choose one) equipment, the gap was 9 degrees.

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Excessive Rhetoric warning

When the National Weather Service starts using scare quotes, it’s time to be alarmed:

NWS Norman Forecast Discussion 19 July 2018

Translation: Hotter than two rats copulating in a wool sock.

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Caramelized by now

At the very least:

Damn that heat index, anyway.

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Hot town, summer in the city

The last time it hit 113°F in this town — it’s happened twice since they started compiling records — we could see it coming; the low that morning was a stifling 84°F.

“Hold my kahwa,” says Oman:

The day of June 26 was a scorcher in the town of Quriyat, Oman. Temperatures in the town, which is weathering a miserable heat wave, peaked at 121.6 degrees Fahrenheit (49.8 degrees Celsius) during the day, according to Weather Underground. That’s just shy of the Omani record-high temperature of 123.4 degrees F (50.8 degrees C), set on May 30, 2017. But anyone in Quriyat hoping for an evening respite from the extreme heat would have been disappointed: Temperatures fell to a low of just 108.7 degrees F (42.6 degrees C). That’s a world record: the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in history.

“But at night, it’s a different world,” hah! And relief may be slow in arriving:

Summer begins in mid-April and lasts until October.

Fifty-four thousand people live in Quriyat. Presumably they can stand it.

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Oy, it’s so humid

Fillyjonk is so done with this humidity:

My dehumidifier runs almost constantly and I’m emptying it generally three times a day. This equates to about 12 gallons of water sucked out of the air. I know some years ago I read a news story about “wow there’s this new innovation that can get water for the desert out of THIN AIR” and I was like “you sillies, that’s called a dehumidifier” though maybe in a desert it has to work harder to suck water out of the air than it does in swampy Southern Oklahoma.

But still, yeah, like every eight-year-old has said to their parent, when said parent tried to shame them into eating some gross vegetable with the old “Children back in China are starving!” line “Well, then, let’s get an envelope and mail it to them!”

There’s always at least one gross vegetable, right?

(Title via 2 Live Jews.)

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You think I like telling you this?

The weatherman is tired of your complaining:

I’m surprised this happens as little as it does.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Not necessarily Channel 6

Although the reporter is, in fact, six:

(Recorded yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee. Via reddit.)

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Unaccented robot

The National Weather Service in Norman supports several VHF radio signals, generally between 162.40 and 162.55 MHz, which provide fast forecasts and such for the service area (central and western Oklahoma, minus the Panhandle, plus several northern Texas counties in the general vicinity of Wichita Falls). In recent years a robotic voice has recited the text products; the first one I remember sounded vaguely, sometimes not so vaguely, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. They phased out Arnold in favor of a more modern voice box with more of a North American Television Newscaster timbre, and it’s easier to endure, but it has its quirks.

The first is the unavoidable word “winds,” which is usually, but not always, rendered the way you or I would say “winds” with regard to the meteorological phenomenon. But once in a while it comes out as “winds,” as in “Grandpa takes a few moments every afternoon and winds his pocket watch.” Sometimes you get both in the same forecast. And is it “WRECK-ord” or “re-CORD”?

With the return of storm season I’ve picked up another word with which it seems unfamiliar: “supercells.” You or I would divide it in the middle as though it were two words: “super,” then “cells.” The robot invariably renders it with the second syllable accented: “soo-PURR-sells.” It may be a while before I get used to that.

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Somewhere around forty below

McG’s lived in some places one might fairly describe as Pretty Damned Cold:

Now, in Fairbanks we frequently saw 30 below, 40 below, one morning during our time up there it got down to 58 below. At certain low temperatures the difference between any one degree value and another becomes a matter of thermometric curiosity more than anything else. The Settled Science™ boffins assure us cold snaps like these are just a passing fad and by the time Wyoming becomes a coastal state the entire planet will be uninhabitable anyway. In fact I seem to recall being assured at one point that snowfalls are already a thing of the past.

We used to have a client in Fairbanks, a small nonprofit which would suspend its bimonthly meetings if the temperature was below -45°F.

And you’ll notice that none of the dullards predicting beach houses in Laramie have moved so much as twenty miles farther inland.

I suppose the biggest difference between a Wyoming winter and a Fairbanks winter is latitude; Fairbanks, just a couple of degrees south of the Arctic Circle, has sunrise and sunset all year round, but in December those events can practically both be observed during the same coffee break.

Kind of makes you wonder why there’s such a thing as Alaska Daylight Time.

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Progress by inches

Fortunately for me, we have had a total of 0.1 inch of snow this winter. (I’m not really in shape to deal with more than that, and I don’t happen to have a four-year-old girl handy.)

About three seconds into the song, I muttered: “That ain’t 2Pac.” And it ain’t.

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It’s different in Dixie

Nobody’s getting French toast:

WBTV has been broadcasting from Charlotte, North Carolina since 1949.

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A tornado with no rotation?

Occasionally the Weather Guys say something about “damaging straight-line winds.”

Looks like Enid is getting some serious damage:

KFOR-TV weather map 15 January 2018

And I’m not about to sit down and calculate the wind-chill factor.

(With thanks to Jeff Thompson.)

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