Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Wind Swath Estimate for Earl – 8-31-2010

Thanks to Hurricane Alley for this graphic.

POSTED 12:30 pm EDT, Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is the most recent wind swath estimate for Earl from Hurricane Alley.  This is subject to change.

The National Weather Service wind swath estimate for Earl is a bit more conservative than this.  It is my opinion that this Hurricane Alley interpretation is likely to be more accurate.

Here is a link to their home page:



Thanks to NOAA's National Hurricane Center for this graphic.

8-30-2010 10:10 pm EDT.

I’ve watched television weather reporters today trying to explain what mechanism will hopefully turn Earl to the right – the sooner the better.  But not one of them mentioned the natural tendency for objects, fluids, and dynamic systems in motion to turn right (in the Northern Hemisphere).  I’m referring to the Coriolis Effect.  At times like this it is unfortunate that the Coriolis Effect cannot strengthened or weakened at will by those of us who would wish to keep these strong storms from plowing into us.

Here are two links for you if you are interested in the Coriolis Effect as it relates to weather:

I remember so well in late August, 1992, as I, my family, my students, and my friends and neighbors were hoping and praying for powerful hurricane Andrew to turn right and stay out over the Atlantic.  It eventually did turn right but not soon enough for us.  Our house was a total loss; the eye of Andrew went right over it.  We stayed in the community and had the house rebuilt; it was exactly one year before we occupied it again even though it wasn’t entirely finished.  I had purchased a 25′ travel trailer which was our palace-in-the-driveway for that year and we spent many Summers thereafter traveling all over the continent with our children.

Bottom line:  Lets hope for a drastic right turn on the part of Earl very soon.  The computer model tracks do not look promising for that.  Things are looking increasingly “ugly” for places like coastal North Carolina and points northward up the coast.  Though weakening is expected to occur before a possible visit to Nova Scotia – the prospect is nevertheless of considerable concern.

NOTE:  Some depictions of the successive forecast mean positions that you might see on television, your computer, or in the print media might be connected with an arcuate line right down the middle of the “cone of uncertainty.”  The National Hurricane Center still provides such a depiction but they favor this one because it has been shown that when people gaze at the midline they tend to either forget or ignore that the storm could fairly easily embark into other parts of the widening cone as it moves along.

Let’s REALLY get out of Iraq! NOW!

August 30, 2010

I find it sadly misleading to hear and read the implication that we are now “out” of Iraq.

I say – let’s really get out – NOW – and bring our valuable “stuff” back home with us!

Let’s eliminate the need for more Angel Flights (carrying the fallen) from Iraq!

I think that is ridiculous that nearly 50,000 U.S. Military personnel are still in Iraq and the recent reduction in force is being thought of as a “big deal” by our sad leader in Washington D.C.   50,000 is hardly a small number but one would think it’s just a drop in the bucket considering the way it’s being discussed.  Look at the graphic above.  It contains the letter, “h” 5000 times.  Multiply that by 10 in your mind’s eye and it will give you 50,000.  Can you visualize that?  While you’re at it, can you visualize 4416, the most recent figure I have found for the number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq since the war started on 3-19-2003?

I think we should bring home all of those who remain.  From my perspective – trying to engineer peace in that part of the world is downright stupid or at best, the product of delusional thinking. I can easily come up with meaningful suggestions as to how those people could be utilized in this country.

According to AFP (Agence France-Presse) less than a week ago the top U.S. General in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, suggested at a press briefing in Baghdad that “around” 49,700 troops remain and added, “The number will stay at that level through next summer.”

My associations with men native to that part of the world have not been good. Though there surely must be some exceptions, my impression is that their general regard for the female of our species is on a very low plane. I try to judge without being judgmental. It’s often difficult. When it comes to judging a man, one of my primary points of inquiry and/or observation is, “How does he treat the women in his life and women in general?” I’ve always been especially leery of any man who seems to regard his mother in a negative light though I admit that there is such a thing as an unworthy mother; I read or hear about one now and then in the news. But, if only half of the stories I’ve heard about the treatment of countless women in Iraq and neighboring countries are true, it is indescribably obscene and the “double-standard between genders is demented.

There seems to be great hope that the Iraqi men will be able to assure peace and order in the eventual absence of U.S. supervision. I seriously doubt it. I don’t think that any set of soldiers/politicians/religious figures who treat the women of their society so poorly have the integrity or courage to do what is necessary to assure peace and order. Therefore, I feel that our “leaving Iraq” will most certainly mean that the country will eventually – perhaps even quickly – return to a state of chaos. I say – “So be it!” In the same breath I must say that I hope and pray for the safety and freedom of the women of Iraq and all of the men and children who have somehow resisted being stripped of their innate notions of human value.  I support aid to those people but object strongly to the lives of our citizens being jeopardized in that God-forsaken country.  But, to hell with the time-table I’ve been reading and hearing about over the last week.  Let’s get all of our people out now before something happens that causes them to stay and/or for the numbers to increase again!

What does 50,000 look like?

The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 statute miles. If you could drive your car around the equator twice you will have traveled 49,803.1 miles. Each of those miles almost exactly represents one U.S. Military person still in Iraq as of this writing! If you drove that “twice-around-the-world” journey at a rate of 100 statute miles per hour, it would take you almost 21 days to complete the journey. This would NOT include any stops – not even for rest, food, fuel, maintenance, or toilet visits.

The graphic below, not very pretty and not very exciting, shows the letter “h” typed in rows of 100 each to the tune of 50,000 total!  Try scrolling down the graphic to get some idea of what 50,000 means.  As I said at the beginning of this short essay – that is not a “drop in the bucket.” Each aitch (h) represents one living human being from the United States of America! Why did I use “h?” I must have been thinking “hero.”

Think of all of the families associated with each of those individuals.  For those of you who argue that we have an “all volunteer” force over there – I concede that you are correct.  I propose that the number of volunteers in our armed forces would be even larger if they were assigned tasks that aid our own citizens directly.  After hurricane Andrew I made it a special point to thank the service men and women I encountered who were transported down to South Florida to assist us.  Many risked their necks down there to maintain some semblance of order for in many respects, it was like a war zone.  Invariably the response was to the effect that it was nice to be of service in their own country!



For the record – 4416 U.S. fatalities through August 24, 2010.

Here is what that number looks like using the same technique as above:


Thanks to NOAA's National Hurricane Center for this graphic.

Since only a few degrees of unexpected course change could bring Earl to the mainland, it concerns me for the many folks I know up and down the East Coast.   Here’s hoping he stays out there as predicted by the models today.  In any event, sea conditions all along the East Coast will be influenced a great deal by the storm.  Beach erosion could become an issue.

Pippa Mann a Close Second in Indy Lights at Chicagoland

Pippa Mann, after leading a race for the first time in her Indy Lights career (several laps), came in second today in the 67 lap race at Chicagoland Speedway. James Hinchcliffe was the winner by only 0.0159 seconds – and Phillip Major came in third. Pippa is a native of Ipswich, England, and drives the No. 11 car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.  Keep an eye on this rising star.  My mother who loved open-wheel racing is surely pleased to see a lady do so well.   Mom left to be with the Great Guy In the Sky back in 2004 so I’m sure she gets to watch every race that interests her.

AFRICAN LOWS 8-27-2010

For those of you who might be “old school” (like me) and enjoy surface pressure plots, I’m posting this current one that shows a line of lows over Northern Africa and Saudi Arabia – all of which are slowly migrating toward the west – which is typical for this time of year.  I’ve marked the cores of these lows in red. They are hot and dry but as soon as they move over the Atlantic they characteristically sweep up great amounts of moisture through evaporation.  Paradoxically, the addition of water vapor lowers the pressure and because of that the systems usually “deepen.”  Increasing winds make waves which increases the water surface for evaporation and whitecaps with bursting bubbles produces ejection filaments which break apart by gravity and cause even more surface to be available for evaporation.  During this phase of the hurricane season for some of these it’s “off to the races” as  tropical cyclonic systems evolve and track across the Atlantic.  Typically, the warmer the water, the higher the evaporation rates and the stronger the storms become.   NOTE:  Remember, the more water vapor in the air the less it weighs per unit volume – therefore the lower the pressure upon the surface. The opportunity for intensification is great because of the great length of ocean over which they can travel.  Once this happens – as long as they are over warm water about the only thing that can make them fade involves the air aloft (its temperature, velocity, and flow pattern).

Today’s Atlantic Color Image – 8-26-2010

Two independent left clicks will make this image very large.  It’s still hard for me to believe that we have access to such beautiful views.

Here is a very busy Atlantic in our hemisphere and come to think of it, the Gulf of Mexico is cluttered with lots of cloud cover.


Two independent left clicks will fully enlarge the image above.  For an even larger image see the link at the end of this post.

A new tropical wave (sometimes called tropical disturbances) has moved off Africa. From my point of view, they are now being shot off that continent toward the west in the manner of a repeating rifle. If this wave becomes a named storm it will be the third Cape Verde type in a row for this season.

Based upon the computer models for Danielle, I don’t believe that she will be a threat to the U.S. mainland.  However, even though the models are also showing an eventual sharp right turn for Earl – I’m uneasy about that.  As for this new wave – it’s too soon to tell.  When tropical cyclonic storms follow each other those not in the lead often are weakened by cooler water that wells up in the wake of the front-runner.  What happens is that the leader sweeps warm surface water away and it is replaced by cooler upwelling water from deeper down.  Let’s hope this happens with these trailing storms but there are certainly no guarantees.  Conversely, when a hurricane moves over warmer water, in most cases it tends to intensify.

I indicate below the cropped full disk image my opinion that it will become a named storm within the next 7 days. I emphasize the term, “opinion.” It is to be noted that I am not a trained forecaster. Professionally my special interest was cloud dynamics. The reason why I say that the name will probably be Fiona is because there is a remote chance that something could develop in the Gulf of Mexico prior to intensification of the new African wave and thus inherit that name.

I am in the habit of cropping the full disk image before posting because it depicts half of the earth and size-wise, eats up a lot of memory. But if you would like to enjoy the latest full discs here is a link:

For Luanne

Nature's beauty for Luanne - two left clicks will fully enlarge

In this photo image you see the entire “12-mile plus” longer limb of the J-shaped Black Mountain Range.  The south end is on the left and the north end on the right.  Mt. Mitchell, (the highest mountain in the eastern half of North America) is to the right of center and it’s summit is darkly shrouded in the base of a beautiful cumulus congestus cloud.  State park employees and the many visitors were, at the moment this image was recorded, immersed in a dense fog that obscured all but the nearest objects, natural or otherwise.  Yet – as you can see, the “way” is quite clear at almost all other locations within the range of the photograph.

From near Blue Ridge Parkway mile marker 355 North Carolina Highway 128 heads northward for 6 miles – ending at a parking lot near the summit of Mt. Mitchell.

About 30 minutes after I took this picture we were out of our van near the top.  By then the cloud base had lifted and my wife, Terrie and I were treated to some of the clearest views we’d ever seen from that part of the Blue Ridge – typically hazy, smoky, or completely immersed in closely spaced cloud droplets (which is the same as fog). On the average, that mountain top is bathed in cloud matter about 80% of the year’s days.

Here is a link to Mt. Mitchell’s current conditions as well as access to a webcam view from near the top:

There are many dark places in this photograph – the multitude of densely wooded places and at the summit zone of Mt. Mitchell itself.  But the whole picture conveys to me a certain bright beauty – heavenly in quality.  Such thoughts prevailed in my head as I snapped the picture on that lovely afternoon.  Here is why:

A sister of one of my wife’s dearest friends was very much on our mind that day – as she is now. For the past several days she has been in a most serious position teetering on that thin edge between this life and the next dimension. When the cloud around her either lifts or erodes – the view before her will open up and quickly become magnificent – in either case. If she manages to journey back to this reality, the road may be rugged but the experience could well be beautiful in its totality. If, on the other hand, her body finds this existence to be too uncomfortable or unrealistic, she will embark upon a trip that no mortal’s words could possibly describe – for no human can fathom such ecstasy much less put it into words.

If you follow this web-log you are probably a caring person. If you know me – you probably know that I believe strongly in the power of prayer and that I pray to the “Great Guy In the Sky.” If a spiritual dimension is integral in your life and if you are so inclined – please pray for Luanne in your own way. Terrie and I pray for her and those who love her. Which ever way it goes – I wish her Godspeed.

UPDATE: 8-26-2010 – With loving assistance Luanne was removed from artificial life support yesterday.  She has taken that most merciful trip to her heaven where bountiful peace and love replaces all struggles.


Though this is probably not news to you – as predicted in the previous posting – activity is picking up out there.  That should be no surprise considering the time of the year.  Once again, I urge you to be prepared for the eventualities of tropical weather if you live in hurricane country.   Having experienced the destruction and aftermath of hurricane Andrew, I can assure you that it doesn’t always happen to “the other guy (or gal)!”

In my family we find that no matter what plans we make – we must not be surprised or angry or disappointed if Mother Nature decides to inconvenience us.  In my opinion it is important to take one day at a time while doing our best to enjoy life and to be of service to others.

Please count on having to be self-sufficient for a while if a damaging/disruptive storm should come through.  When the little things we take for granted are taken away – our lives can suddenly undergo a drastic change.  For example, after Andrew we had no electricity for over 6 weeks.  In spite of the fact that the majority of people who came down to Homestead to help our community were wonderful and extremely well-intentioned – there were some real opportunists too.  A case in point: Generators were trucked down and sold from the back of the trailers for more than 5 times their suggested retail price – cash only – on the line!  The 25′ travel trailer I bought to live in (our house was a total loss) cost $12,995 in our part of Florida before the storm and $17,995 after the storm.  The good news is that my son-in-law found the same model for me from the dealer in Knoxville who sold it to us for $10,000 – and that included delivering it to my driveway in Homestead and showing me the ropes on how to operate the things I knew nothing about.  He and his wife told us that when watching television in the comfort of their home they had been hoping that something would come up where they could be of significant help to a family.  What special people they are!

Only one window was broken by the storm in our home and that was merely a crack.  Why?  We had them all protected with storm shutters.  But – the roof failed!  The shutters don’t protect the contents of a house when the roof comes off – LOL.

A friend of mine who worked at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant had quit drinking a couple of years prior to hurricane Andrew.  When I saw him a few days after the storm he told me how happy he was that he had quit because had he been drinking he would have merely sat in his recliner with a bottle (or bottles) and tried to ride out the storm in some state of oblivion.  He said that the storm had moved that recliner 8 yards from its spot in his family room.  I thought to myself, “8 yards – 24 feet – sure – I can visualize that happening – easily.  After all – his family room was the biggest room in the house.  BUT – what he meant was 8 “yards!”  Yes – the chair had been repositioned 8 houses down the street coming to rest in someone else’s back yard.