Monday, October 21, 2019

Catching Up

It was a long weekend in Lakeland.  The fuel system on the Pontiac had some issues to the point that we got about 85 miles from Miami and had to turn around and come home.  We left the Pontiac at Bob’s house and took his car.  Tropical Storm Nestor moved across Florida and brought heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning so the show was moved lock, stock, and barrel into three covered public garages.  By 11:00 a.m. the weather cleared and the rest of the day was beautiful.  The photo was from later in the day when the clouds had cleared to the east but some more rain showers were moving in.

We left early Sunday morning (and a shorting-out fire alarm system at 4:30 a.m. didn’t help with a good night’s sleep, neither did walking down nine flights of stairs carrying our luggage because the elevators were locked out) and got home around 11:00 a.m.

I’m taking the Pontiac into the shop this morning, then catching up on some work once I get to school.  So I’ll be back a little later to catch up on what’s been going on.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Monday, September 23, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Monday, September 2, 2019

Hurricane Spotting

Just so you know: look at the map below. If you drew a straight line from Miami to Homestead, my house is approximately halfway along that line. So we are in the clear as far as hurricane force winds are concerned and we’re not being told to evacuate. The tell is that the latitude of the eye is north of us.  You’re usually safe when that happens.

We’re still expecting wind and rain, but nothing like what they’re expecting 100 miles north of us.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hurricane Dorian

5:15 AM EDT: The forecast track is basically the same as yesterday afternoon, but now it is predicted to become a hurricane and a Category 2 by the time it makes landfall along the central coast of Florida.  Residents in that part of the state should get ready.  Puerto Rico is already in the path and is bracing for it.


7:00 PM EDT: Forecast now shows Dorian making landfall on Monday as a Category 2 along the Space Coast of Florida (Cape Canaveral).

3:00 PM EDT: Now it’s a hurricane.  Miami-Dade County is on the edge of the cone and the weak side, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be significant wind and rain in the area.  Cape Canaveral is in the center of the cone, but it covers from the upper Keys to Hilton Head, South Carolina, and as we’ve learned with many storms in the past, they can go anywhere.

10:00 AM EDT: This map has Dorian becoming a Category 3 by Monday morning.

4:00 AM EDT

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019

Not A Good Idea

Via Axios:

Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.

Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” according to one source who was there. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks.

Here’s why that’s a bad idea, according to NOAA:

During each hurricane season, there always appear suggestions that one should simply use nuclear weapons to try and destroy the storms. Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.

Now for a more rigorous scientific explanation of why this would not be an effective hurricane modification technique. The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20×1013 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 1013 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.

If we think about mechanical energy, the energy at humanity’s disposal is closer to the storm’s, but the task of focusing even half of the energy on a spot in the middle of a remote ocean would still be formidable. Brute force interference with hurricanes doesn’t seem promising.

In addition, an explosive, even a nuclear explosive, produces a shock wave, or pulse of high pressure, that propagates away from the site of the explosion somewhat faster than the speed of sound. Such an event doesn’t raise the barometric pressure after the shock has passed because barometric pressure in the atmosphere reflects the weight of the air above the ground. For normal atmospheric pressure, there are about ten metric tons (1000 kilograms per ton) of air bearing down on each square meter of surface. In the strongest hurricanes there are nine. To change a Category 5 hurricane into a Category 2 hurricane you would have to add about a half ton of air for each square meter inside the eye, or a total of a bit more than half a billion (500,000,000) tons for a 20 km radius eye. It’s difficult to envision a practical way of moving that much air around.

The short answer is that not only would it do nothing to dissipate the storm, it would, in turn, spread radioactive fallout as it grew and traveled across the ocean.

Speaking of tropical storms, Dorian is ginning up in the Atlantic.

Not to worry; we’ll just nuke the shit out of it and spread fallout all over South Florida.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Small Favors

It looks like Hurricane Barry did not devastate New Orleans.

On Sunday afternoon, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) issued the all-clear for the city, which regained some sense of normalcy even as the skies periodically opened and unleashed another batch of heavy rain.

“We absolutely made it through the storm. Beyond lucky, we were spared,” Cantrell said in a public briefing about the tropical storm. “As those [rain] bands moved closer to New Orleans, it just seemed to go around us.”

And the ICE raids that were threatened did not occur despite all the tough talk.

The nationwide immigration raids that President Trump said would begin Sunday failed to materialize on the streets of major U.S. cities, even as his statement cast a cloud of fear that kept many families indoors. Immigration enforcement authorities said their plans to track down migrants with deportation orders would continue, but their operations over the weekend appeared more akin to routine actions rather than the mass roundups the president promised.

In either case both the natural and the man-made disasters could strike again, but at least we were spared this weekend.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hot Town

I’ve lived in Miami for almost 20 years (this go-around; I was here for three in the 1970’s), and I don’t remember it getting this hot.

A meteorologist friend suggested that it was a bad sensor, but if you went outside yesterday it felt like it was over 100. And I’ve been in 100 before.

But it’s not really happening, right? It’s a hoax, right?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Still Cold Up There

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the utilities in the Twin Cities are asking their customers to turn down their thermostats to 63 F during the Polar Vortex so as to not strain the system.  At this writing it is -27 F in Minneapolis.

That’s cold.

The good news is that the vortex will pass and by Sunday the high in Minneapolis is expected to be 44 F.  That’s a 71 degree swing to the warm side.  For now.  It’s still winter, and my memories of living at that latitude include snow and ice up to and beyond Mothers Day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

That’s Hot

As we’re taught in elementary school science class, when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s summer in the Southern.  So while we’re going through extreme cold in the Midwest, they’re getting extreme heat in Australia.

As a polar vortex hits the U.S. Midwest, the extreme opposite is happening in Australia. The heat wave has parched landscapes, triggered damaging wildfires, pushed demand on the power grid to the brink and toppled significant records, Capital Weather Gang’s Angela Fritz wrote last week.

Temperatures soared to 116 degrees on Thursday in Adelaide, South Australia. That’s the highest temperature for any capital in Australia, according to Fritz. In the southeastern corner of the country, overnight temperatures were as high as 96 degrees — the warmest overnight lows for January anywhere in the world.

Australia’s climate has warmed by about 2 degrees since 1910, leading to more frequent heat waves and severe drought conditions, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Eight of Australia’s top-10 warmest years on record have happened in the past 13 years.

So if the climate-change deniers are having wondering where the global warming is, they need to be aware that yes, indeed, the world is round and that there’s more to the climate than what’s happening in their own home town.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

That’s Cold

Just because I live in South Florida doesn’t mean I don’t feel for the people who live up north where some of the coldest weather in a generation is taking hold.

Forecasters expect Wednesday’s high temperature (yes, the high) to be minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit in Chicago and Minneapolis. If the forecast holds, that would be Chicago’s lowest high temperature for a single day since officials began keeping records. An expected low of minus 22 was expected to approach, though not surpass, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago. Officials predicted that wind chill readings could plummet to minus 50 in Chicago and minus 60 in Minneapolis.

“This is what you would expect when you get into central and northern Canada,” said Brian Hurley, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The vortex, a brutal mass of cold air within strong bands of circulating winds, has spread southward from its normal location near the North Pole in recent weeks, bringing arctic weather to the middle of the United States. Such weather events have become more common in recent years; scientists are not sure why, but some suspect a link to climate change.

I can hear the climate-change deniers now: “Hey, what happened to all that global warming, snowflakes?  Har-de-har-har.”

The answer lies in the difference between local weather and climate.

Climate refers to how the atmosphere acts over a long period of time, while weather describes what’s happening on a much shorter time scale. The climate can be thought of, in a way, as the sum of long periods of weather.

Or, to use an analogy Mr. Trump might appreciate, weather is how much money you have in your pocket today, whereas climate is your net worth. A billionaire who has forgotten his wallet one day is not poor, anymore than a poor person who lands a windfall of several hundred dollars is suddenly rich. What matters is what happens over the long term.

Even on a day when it is colder than average where you live, the world as a whole is frequently warmer than average, which you can see for yourself on these daily maps from the University of Maine.

While climate scientists expect that the world could warm, on average, roughly two to seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century — depending on how quickly greenhouse-gas emissions rise — they don’t expect that to mean the end of winter altogether. Record low temperatures will still occur; they’ll just become rarer over time.

One 2009 study found that the United States saw roughly as many record highs as record lows in the 1950s, but by the 2000s there were twice as many record highs as record lows. Severe cold snaps were still happening, but they were becoming less common.

Some recent cold spells have been caused by a dreaded weather system called the polar vortex. There’s growing evidence to suggest that the polar vortex is appearing outside the Arctic more frequently, because of changes in the jet stream that are attributed to the warming atmosphere. These changes help frigid air escape from the Arctic and swoop southward.

Climate change brings about weather extremes more often.  2018 was one of the warmest years in recent memory — remember the heat waves last summer?  So the cold is getting colder, the heat is getting hotter, and it’s only going to get worse the more carbon we dump into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, seeing the current temperature in Minneapolis of -4 F is cold comfort for knowing that tomorrow night the low is predicted to be -25 F without the wind.

And even though it’s a comparatively balmy 49 F in Miami at the moment, I’m not gloating.  I’m scared.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Monday, October 8, 2018

Tuesday, September 4, 2018