Archive for the ‘Climatology’ Category

Carl Peverall

-for both of these images, two independent left clicks will enlarge to the fullest-

http://carlpeverall.com/index.html


– artist extraordinaire –

 

 

 

If you’ve made a cursory examination of this web-log you know that there is something about the vicinity of North Carolina’s Black Mountains (Mt. Mitchell . . . . . . . Celo Knob) and the Blue Ridge Parkway scenery that is very special to me. Knowing that I have a special love of this part of our country it’s surely not surprising that I’d look for artists who capture its beauty. Through the years I’ve seen many admirable works but the creations I enjoy the most come from Carl Peverall, an artist who lives in the area. He paints primarily in pastels on location. Here is a link to his web-site in which you will see that he also does other forms of art superbly:

http://carlpeverall.com/index.html

Also:  http://bragwnc.com/carlpeverall.html

I have wondered how many people driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Black Mountains or along that beautiful stretch of highway 80 between the Parkway and Micaville that parallels the eastern flank of the range have proclaimed “Oh how I’d love to have a painting of that!” If, like me, you have tried to “capture” artistic images with your camera you might have an even greater appreciation than most for the work of Carl Peverall.

His paintings have been difficult for me to adequately describe. In preparing this entry I have struggled with words – attempting to find just the right combination to explain how very pleasing I find his representations of nature. It’s tempting to use the word, “capture” – a term frequently used to describe an artist’s skill. Though I’ve used it, I honestly find it to be an inadequate word because I associated it with “gaining control” of something followed by carting it off and securing it in such a way that it no longer bothers us. This is not what Carl Peverall does.

Instead, he skillfully frames a breathtaking view available to his eyes during a brief period of time and projects it in such a way that it encompasses the viewer. Those who have tried framing such scenery within the viewer of a camera will surely appreciate that his choices go far beyond blind luck. The man knows how to decide upon a subject and then it seems that he immerses himself within it.

I have the decided advantage of having seen most of his landscape subjects and having walked within and upon the mountains he paints. He has the decided advantage of living in the area year round. But even for those who have never gazed upon that part of our beautiful countryside, his paintings are beautiful and I suspect that they generate the desire to see it first hand. It is uplifting to look at his paintings knowing that there really is a place like that! I have a feeling that he could paint during a most dismal day and yet convey a sense of joy or that “happy to be alive” feeling that can course through our bodies like static electricity.

Don’t get me wrong – I love where I live in West-Central Florida. But we have adorned the part of our house where most of the living occurs with Peverall prints. When I see them (hundreds of times per day) I long to get up there where our little cabin is located but I also count my blessings that I “know” that area and have the mobility to get up there often and to share its beauty with you. This is mainly why I’m making this entry – to share with you. All the while I’m acutely aware of the wonderful ability that Carl Perverall possesses – a gift of talent and mature interpretation which he is willing to share with us. Most thinking men I know wish to enhance the lives of others (one of the reasons I became a teacher). Carl Peverall does just that – his creativity lifts my spirit. To be sure, his paintings (which extend a part of his heart and soul far beyond his physical location) have the potential to enhance the quality of the lives of many. I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

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Tonie Toney – Picture Page

Colin Toney - my photographer son - a real pro. Some of his photos are in this collection.

ABOVE: A recent photo of my son, Colin Toney, taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me (taking a picture of him taking a picture of me) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

TO GO TO TONIE TONEY’S ASSORTED PICS PAGE EITHER GO DIRECTLY TO THE TAB AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE OR CLICK ON THIS LINK:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

 

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTENTS FOLLOWS.

52. A view by Colin Toney of a part of the crest of the Black Mountain range – taken from near the summit parking lot of Mt. Mitchell.  The building in the foreground is a picnic shelter.

51. Colin Toney’s image of fog surrounding deciduous trees not far from our cabin.

TO GO TO COLIN TONEY’S PICS:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/candelabrumdanse/

 

50. By my son, Colin Toney – a splendid view looking down upon the high Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

49. THE BLACKS LOOKING BLACK. Silhouette of the southern third of the Black Mt. Range in North Carolina showing Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig, Big Tom, and Balsam Cone.

48. FOR ALL BUTTS, BIG OR SMALL. A sign instructing what you can do with your butt when you are in the small town of Farmland, Indiana.

47. N.W. CORNER OF MAIN AND HENRY STREETS – FARMLAND, INDIANA – 2010.  A 112-year-old brick building in Farmland, Indiana (population less than 1,300 – no stoplights).

46. ESSENTIALS FOR A MAN WHEN USING A CHAIN SAW. The safety devices shown in this photo could prevent a disaster.

45. ZOIE – OCTOBER 27, 2010. White can studying her reflection in a television screen.

44. OCTOBER 25, 2010 NEAR THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. Surrounded by my neighbors in our little mountain community called Mountain Cove.

43. OCTOBER IN RANDOLPH COUNTY, INDIANA. A photo by my son, Colin Toney, of a serene scene in east-central Indiana farming country on ground moraine left behind by a retreating continental glacier.

42. PARKWAY VIEW IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. Beautiful autumn colors in the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

41. VIEW LOOKING WESTWARD FROM STUMPKNOCKERS. The cypress and oak lined Withlacoochee River as it flows past a popular restaurant which offers, among other things, alligator (both in the river and on your plate).

40. MOSS ON STONES. A large stone covered with moss. Location – off the Appalachian Trail on Roan Mountain.

39. OLD BARN – BLACK AND WHITE. Appalachia is a paradise for many reasons. For example, one who likes to photograph in black and white can find countless subjects.

38. HEAVEN ON EARTH. A “Sound of Music” view looking southward from Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

37. “MOTIONLESS STONES TEND TO GATHER MOSS!” I pull weeds from the gravel drive where we park next to our cabin but the moss is so pretty I don’t bother it.

36. THE TONEY LANE. The farm of Virgil Oren & Marge Toney has been a long-time favorite place for me. Oren, at 85, still mows this lane, less than half of which you can see in this photo.

35. ROSE-OF-SHARON BLOOMING IN MY BACK WOODS IN FLORIDA. A beautiful flowering plant that seems to require little care beyond semi-annual pruning.

34. MY PERFECT HIKING COMPANION. Since our first hike together (many years ago in May) to ice-covered Lake Solitude in the Tetons, I knew that this lady would stick with me in the back country and the back roads of life.

33. THE VALLEY OF THE WATAUGA RIVER AT VALLE CRUCIS, NORTH CAROLINA. A nice example of a flood plain in the mountains where the favored alluvial soil is at a premium.

32. THIN CURTAIN OF RAYS IN FRONT OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS. This is one of my favorite photos taken by my son, Colin Toney. If the air were perfectly clean, these “sun-rays” would not appear. Thank goodness the air is not perfectly clean. To learn why – go to the second item at this link to meteorology misconceptions: http://ztechzone.net/learningzone/science/science55/meteorology1.html

31. OLD CHEVY BESIDE STILL FORK CREEK RD. Each year I expect this old car to disappear – hopefully to be restored. But, like so many of the people I know in the mountains, it lingers through all kinds of weather – just a bit more worn the next time I see them – yet – no more than me.

30. “LET’S GO ON ANOTHER TRIP!” Ziggie and Zoie, our two young girl cats, love to travel. They barely make a peep while inside their crate secured to the seat behind the driver in our van.

29 & 28. LILIES OF TOE VALLEY. These two photos show lilies that grow next to our cabin – requiring no care whatsoever. They have always been prolific. The photo also shows a use for hand soap of which most people are unaware.

27. CRABTREE FALLS, N.C. Blue Ridge Parkway mile 339.5 is near the trailhead to this beautiful waterfall. It’s worth the 2.5 mile hike.

26. BLUE MOUNTAINS UNDER A BLUE SKY. I’ve never had difficulty over the naming of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

25. OLD MAN GAZING HEAVENWARD. Grandfather Mountain’s crest when viewed from the north side displays the origin of its name.

24. NATURAL BRIDGES. Ice storms and winds bring down many trees in our southern forests. These fallen trees provide a way to cross without getting wet.

23. FLORIDA, THE SUNSHINE STATE! A curious mixture of sunshine and ice at the northeast corner of our house.

22. ALTOCUMULUS LENTICULARIS NEAR MT. MITCHELL, N.C. Oh how I wish I could have seen this also from the aircraft above.

21. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE FROM TABLE ROCK’S SUMMIT. We hiked the trail to the top of Table Rock (a Blue Ridge Parkway landmark) for this view.

20. TABLE ROCK, N.C. An easy vantage point to reach at the Blue Ridge Parkway Chestoa Overlook near mile 320 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Table Rock overlooks the famous Linville Gorge.

19. RAINBOW SPRINGS FOREST. Just spitting distance from our Florida home, Rainbow Springs at the head of the Rainbow River near Dunnellon, Florida is a popular attraction.

18. LILACS IN THE SPRING AT OUR MOUNTAIN CABIN. These lilacs only last about a month at our place a bit above 3000′.

17. WISTERIA IN THE SPRING – HOME IN FLORIDA. I’m still amazed at how these spring back in the spring after dealing with our freezing episodes.

16. SANTA DOWN. An empty wine bottle might point to Santa’s problem on this particular morning.

15. THE BLACK MOUNTAIN RANGE IN THE DISTANCE. From 17 miles away – the Black Mountains still cause me to marvel at their formidable beauty. Among the oldest mountains in North America, they used to be higher than today’s Alps.

14. SWAN SONG – BLACK AND WHITE. Just as some peoples brains run a mile a minute as they are motionless, this, “calm,” stately, serene animal’s little legs run below the water faster than you can whistle “Dixie.”

13. ALTAPASS VIEW. From behind the famous apple orchard’s main building – autumn colors adorn the slopes.

12. PRIVATE SITTING ROOM – BLACK & WHITE. Oh how much sitting and thinking has occurred here through the years?

11. TWO LITTLE DICKENS’ – THE TAILS OF TWO KITTIES. These feline “girls” are back to back and sound asleep.

10. LAKE HENDERSON – On the east side of Inverness, Florida – this is one of my favorite lakes for sailing my little Hutchins sloop.

9. FORK IN THE ROAD – BLACK AND WHITE. One can’t walk this way without seeing some deer. It’s almost as though they know we are not interested in shooting them except with the camera.

8. PARADISE LOST. Close to my Florida home, no matter how many times I’ve seen this, it brings up a smile.

7. REFLECTIONS ON PEPPER CREEK – BLACK & WHITE. South of Crystal River, Florida, this creek flows within Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

6. ZOIE’S FIRST FLORIDA CHRISTMAS – my wife’s photo of a cat who has claimed taken possession of our Christmas tree and the gifts beneath.

5. DESCENT TO THE TOE. The wild and magical incline of the eastern flank of the Blacks running down to the Toe River valley.

4. MONTICELLO (CELLO) 1997-2009. My wife’s favorite U.S. President is Thomas Jefferson. This should explain the name. Cello was a wonderful dog.

3. MONTI – 2005-2009. My baby boy had an inoperable heart problem. He didn’t last long. Oh how he was loved!

2. NEWLY ADOPTED FELINE GIRLS – ZIGGIE & ZOIE. These girls have grown to become sweet young ladies – very much different, one from the other.

1. NEW MEXICO’S SUGARLOAF. This mountain is within the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is a range I want to explore further.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE LISTED PHOTOS:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

QUIET REFLECTIONS RETREAT NEAR CELO, NORTH CAROLINA

You do not have to walk on a rocky slope to get there. This photo faces east and the entrance is on the opposite side.

TWO INDEPENDENT LEFT CLICKS WILL FULLY ENLARGE EACH IMAGE

A sneak peek at a famous peak, Celo Knob.

A full view of the east face of the Blacks looking toward the WSW on October 23, 2010.

Approximate perspective on distances.

One of the most spectacular scenic drives in the Southern Appalachian mountains is North Carolina state highway 80 as it runs generally north-south linking U.S. 19 (at Micaville) to the Blue Ridge Parkway (near mile marker 344) at Buck Creek Gap. For most of the distance of that segment it parallels the meandering South Toe River. But, to my mind, the most breathtaking features of the drive are the beautiful peaks of the Black Mountain range which is to the west of 80. I’ve walked the length of the crest of that relatively short range and agree with the trail rating, strenuous. When including the Bowlens Creek segment it is a 12 mile long “kick your behind” hike that many feel is the most difficult in the eastern U.S. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I invite you to Google search the Black Mountain Crest Trail.  Mind you, this is coming from a man who has hiked the Grand Canyon down to the river and up the other side, as well as myriad other difficult trails including Mt. Whitney.

I’ve traveled highway 80 often during all four seasons partly because I’m blessed with the good fortune of having a small cabin (20 miles from the nearest stoplight – in Burnsville) on a heavily wooded slope facing (and east of) Mt. Mitchell on the opposite side of the South Toe Valley. The South Toe parallels the eastern slope of the Blacks. Though people gravitate to the area in the Autumn because of the changing colors, I find the area to be uniquely beautiful every season of the year.

For those who are driving to see views of the mountains it can be difficult at times for a variety of reasons. There are limited places to safely pull off where you get an unrestricted view of the range and for those driving slowly who are unfamiliar with the territory or not “practiced” on mountain roads, the 55 mile per hour speed limit utilized by locals seems maddeningly unsafe. Some residents of the area are kind and patient; others tend to try to get right on up inside your tailpipe – fantasizing, no doubt, that they are in a NASCAR Cup Race. To be honest – I understand that. I recommend pulling over at the first safe opportunity when being drafted/pushed in such a manner.

The Quiet Reflections Retreat near Celo is a great place I would like to recommend for a wonderful view which zeros in on Celo Knob on the north end of the range but also provides (weather permitting) a view of the famous Mt. Mitchell near the south end of the range. If you are either a religious or a spiritual person (or both) you will enjoy it even more, I think. My wife and I visited it for the first time just a few days ago. I was spellbound by it all and remind you that my pictures just don’t do it justice.

Here is a link to a website which provides a map. If you want inspiration, peace, and serenity, and/or you want to have a talk with The Great Guy In the Sky and you are not in a hurry – this is a great place to go as far as I’m concerned. I am deliberately avoiding showing you a full view of the inside of the structure because I hope you can have the experience of seeing it for the first time when you yourself open the doors to enter. By the way – the website’s description of the steep climb on gravel is accurate but it’s a piece of cake if you drive sanely. Our front wheel drive Honda Odyssey did fine. I would not go up on thin tires if it were me because in a few spots the gravel is coarse and I would avoid it in the snow unless I had a four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

http://www.quietreflections.org/

Also, here is a link for more information about the Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/the-black-mountains-and-mt-mitchell-in-north-carolina/

Fall Colors Have Peaked at Mt. Mitchell and Vicinity – Oct. 17, 2010

 

Mt. Mitchell from the Blue Ridge Parkway 10-14-2010

 

 

From Blue Ridge Parkway looking toward the northeast 10-14-2010

 

 

Looking slightly south of east down at the Piedmont from the Blue Ridge Parkway 10-14-2010

 

 

Near my cabin (10-12-2010) located about 4 miles east of Mt. Mitchell. The dark green vegetation is rhododendron.

 

Color changes have progressed more rapidly around Mt. Mitchell this year than any previous one I can recall.  The best viewing weekend was probably the 9th and 10th of this month.  Before this weekend arrived (the 16th and 17th) strong winds had removed many of the colorful leaves early.

This is not to say that it’s not still beautiful.  It most certainly is.  All I’m saying is that the time of greatest brilliance, starkness, and contrast has ended.  If you’re planning a trip and you are reading this at the time of posting, remember, I’m addressing one particular segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway and for that matter, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are some places that are just now about to enter the peak color of the season.

From my point of view the Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful any time of the year.  So I promote the views no matter what month it is.  When the  deciduous leaves are off in the Winter one who is interested in the topography and geology can see much more.  It’s also a paradise for one who likes to take black and white photographs.   I’ve often heard complaints that it’s “all so gray and depressing” in the Winter but that’s not the way I see it.  There are so many conifers which, of course, stay green throughout the year.  It’s those very conifers and other evergreens (like the laurel and rhododendron) which, in my opinion, provide the contrasts that make the Autumn colors so magnificent.  I suppose it’s all in the eye of the beholder but as far as I’m concerned it’s hard to surpass the beauty of these mountains when they are enhanced by snow.  Each season is unique and the changes here are so very obvious to anyone who loves to observe his/her natural environment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE BLACK MOUNTAINS AND MT. MITCHELL, GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/the-black-mountains-and-mt-mitchell-in-north-carolina/

The Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina

TWO LEFT CLICKS SHOULD FULLY ENLARGE ALL IMAGES IN THIS POSTING

The photo above is not enhanced in any way.  Looking toward a direction slightly north of west, it shows a typically hazy Summer view of the south half of the longer east limb of the Black Mountain Range.

The Black Mountain Range of North Carolina is a part of

the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachians.


As indicated below the photograph, the image above shows you only part of the range.  ALSO, AS INDICATED BELOW THE PHOTO, TWO LEFT CLICKS WILL GIVE YOU MAXIMUM ENLARGMENT. At the end of this posting I have included a distant view of the entire east limb (the shorter west limb gets much less attention).  Many people have been in the Blacks without knowing it. This is because at one time or another they have visited Mt. Mitchell State Park (named for the highest peak in the United States east of the Mississippi River) without realizing the name of the range to which it belongs. Mt. Mitchell’s summit is but one of a string of mountain peaks on the Black Mt. Crest Trail – which is a difficult hiking trail. It can be reached easily (in favorable weather) on North Carolina State Road 128 which dead-ends near the crest of Mt. Mitchell 6 miles north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The towns of Burnsville, Marion, and Spruce Pine and the village of Little Switzerland are nearby.



Through the years I’ve hiked in many beautiful places

characterized by rugged topography –



including the Sierra Nevada of California, the Tetons and the Wind River Mts. of Wyoming, the Ruby Mts. of Nevada, and Grand Canyon. I’ve been above the tree line many times in mountains carved by glaciers and have been to the top of formidable peaks like Mt. Whitney. But, in spite of their “lowness” and densely forested slopes (compared to most of the mountains I’ve hiked) I find the Blacks to be so very special and unique. Furthermore, no trail has tested me as much as the Black Mountain Crest Trail when including the limb that runs down the western slope of the range near Bowlens Creek. The Blacks are extremely old compared to any of the mountains of western North America.  The convergence of the North American lithospheric plate with the African plate caused the compression that squeezed and rammed the mountains into being.  Weathering and erosion have carved the mountains to a mere remnant of what they used to be – more like the Himalayas at one time before those, currently the world’s tallest mountains, were lifted.  The agents of weathering and erosion (mostly water) have rounded the Appalachians and minimized the rocky outcrops that are so much more abundant in the younger mountains. But the soil derived from the weathered rock has become a medium providing an excellent foothold for the myriad trees along the slopes and on the tops of most of the mountains – both conifers and deciduous trees thrive making for a wide range of colors in the Autumn.



The Blue Ridge Province and

the Ridge and Valley Province

of the Appalachians trend “northeast to southwest”


as can be seen in a map of the U.S.A. showing topography. You can also see that trend running diagonally across the bottom-right quadrant of the Bing map that I’ve entered above.  However, some people who visit the Black Mountains, particularly people like me who like to be oriented direction-wise at all times, notice that the trend of the Blacks is closer to true “north to south.” In other words, they formed somewhat “against the grain” of most of the neighboring mountains. Though they are not the only mountains of the Blue Ridge Province trending that way they are, by far, the most conspicuous – probably because of how they tower above the South Toe River and the Kane River valleys.

Only one left click will adequately enlarge these last four images.  Two left clicks will probably make them too large for you to view each entire photo on your screen.



One of the most surprising characteristics of the Blacks,


even to some people who have visited the area multiple times and even some who live in the area, is that the range is not shaped like the letter “I.” Instead, it is shaped like the letter “J” – open on the northwest side. In other words, it would appear on a map just as a “J” appears on this printed page so long as the top of the map is the traditional north edge.  Perhaps you can detect that “J” shape in the Bing map. The image above, copied from Google Earth, shows the range looking from the west toward the east. Do you see the “J?”

If you don’t see the “J” configuration, look at the next image where I’ve traced it.  I’ve also labeled some of the peaks for you including two on the shorter west limb of the “J” as well as the town of Burnsville and the beautiful community of Mountain Air.  The vertical exaggeration of these two images is 2x.


Finally, here are two inserts of the same photograph, one unlabeled and one labeled of the entire longer east limb of the Black Mountain Range.  Details on distances and directions are given in the second image.

I urge you to visit the Black Mountains.


The ever-changing views are breathtaking and the movement of clouds in the vicinity can be almost hypnotic.  It is a place of extremes in weather and there are no guarantees regarding the views.  Of course safety must be ones primary consideration.  Awareness of the weather and its potential for rapid changes is essential.

The new observation deck atop Mt. Mitchell is an easy walk from the parking lot and those assisted in wheelchairs have access too.  With sensible precautions a short hike to a point a bit more than a mile north of Mt. Mitchell will have you upon the Crest of the second highest mountain in the eastern half of the United States, Mt. Craig.  Enjoy!

Note:  When I produced this last image I felt that Mt. Mitchell and Deep Gap were conspicuous enough that white line locaters were not needed.   For another view from even further away go to the following site and scroll down to image 21 taken from the trail leading to the top of Table Rock Mountain: https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/assorted-pics/

If you wish to see other posts on this web-log

but are unable,

please click on the “blog” tab

near the top of this page.

FIRE NEAR MT. MITCHELL, NORTH CAROLINA, NOV. 8, 2009

left click image twice to enlarge to the fullest

Ten days ago there was a fire near the summit of Mt. Mitchell.  The last image in this posting shows that fire’s location on the eastern side of the Black Mountain Range of North Carolina.  This beautiful country is important to me and countless others. Being near it and within its dense forested slopes has helped me to hold on to that one thin thread of sanity that keeps me functional.  Its 16 mile long J-shape is part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachians. Most of the crests of the Blue Ridge trend northeast to southwest but the Blacks are among a few oriented almost perfectly from north to south. Such is the case for both limbs of the “J.” From the deck of our cabin I have spent hours gazing upon the south half of the eastern limb upon whose upper reaches  is the famous Black Mountain Crest Trail. That the surface of those formidable mountains could be threatened by fire concerns me immensely, particularly if it’s due to the carelessness of members of my own species. Lightning fits into the framework of acceptable but I have big time troubles with anyone who would walk or ride away from a campfire with embers remaining or toss a glowing cigarette aside into the freshly fallen leaves and dry needles of the understory.  In fact anyone who smokes in there any time of year would be hard pressed to get a break from me if I were in charge.

I could not begin to accurately estimate the number of people who have stood atop Mt. Mitchell at least once. Each time I’ve been there the panorama before me is different than the time before – but equally beautiful.  There are so many elements and they are ever-changing – the trees, the clouds, the wind, the temperature, the beckoning of distant old peaks worn by time from rocks that are over a billion years old. Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak in the eastern half of the United States at 6643’ but easily accessible. Between mile marker 355 and 356 on the Blue Ridge Parkway a spur road (N.C. 128) winds and twists northward for 6 miles to a parking area near Mitchell’s top. It is a well-maintained albeit narrow roadway providing access to Mt. Mitchell State Park. A handicapped accessible ascent from the parking lot will take you to the observation tower (also handicapped accessible) next to the mountain’s highest point.

Our cabin is slightly above 3000’ and 4.6 miles east of Mt. Mitchell (as the crow flies). It is modest, barely more than 1000 square feet of living area but it is a palace to me.  The “trout-supporting” South Toe River begins between the mountain and the cabin and flows northward paralleling the Black Mt. Range. The first image in this posting and the last were taken near the cabin. The one above shows Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Craig (6643’ according to a new survey), and Big Tom (6568’). I took that picture hurriedly about 100 yards upslope from the cabin where I could get a clear view of all three summits. I was not attempting to be artistic and therefore did not let the pole and lines in the foreground disturb me. My main purpose was to show you the spatial relationship between the three peaks.

I suppose that most people viewing from a similar point would consider Mt. Craig and Big Tom to be one peak but when once you get up there it’s easy to see the distinction between the two and to feel it when hiking the trail.  Here are two images that might help:


left click twice to enlarge image to the fullest

left click twice to enlarge image to the fullest

This next photo (below) was taken by a neighbor, Carole Pearson, from a point about a half mile WSW of the cabin near the Baptist Church on North Carolina 80. Carole’s interest was strictly to get a record of the fire – so likewise, wires were not a big concern for her either.

left click twice to enlarge image fully

The last photo was taken by Heath Holloway from a vantage point above the fire.  In his photograph you can also see in the distance the scars upon the landscape due to feldspar mining near Spruce Pine.

left click twice for larger image

I have searched on line and looked at local newspapers for coverage of this fire but have found nothing. It occurred on November 8, 2009 below the summit of Mt. Craig (the second highest peak in the eastern half of the United States). NOTE: There has been a long-standing debate about Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee which, to my knowledge, has not been surveyed since about 1920; some feel that it may eventually prove to be a few feet higher above sea level than Craig. By now I would think the debate is resolve but I’m ignorant on the subject.

By word of mouth I have heard that the fire was a small one (about 25 acres) and was “probably” caused by a campfire which had apparently not been properly doused or covered.  Heath Holloway (who submitted the last photo) is also unaware of the fire’s cause.  This part of the Appalachians is mostly temperate rainforest and gets more precipitation than any other forested areas in the continental U.S. other than along parts of the Olympics and Cascades. Therefore, I fear that there are many people, both visitors and locals, who are not as concerned about forest fires as they should be. Complacent might be a polite word – potentially careless would be more like it.  To my knowledge the exact circumstances concerning this fire, including who started it, are unknown. If I learn more I will update this post. If you know more I would appreciate input from you.

The Buncombe Horse Range Trail which begins at Carolina Hemlock Campground and Picnic Area leads up to the area of the fire. The event appears to have occurred along a stretch of the trail that follows an old logger’s rail bed at about the 5,800′ contour. If you look closely at the first image you can see where part of that bed sloped gently upward to the left (south) of where the fire occurred.  Though I was not in this vicinity at the time of the fire I learned from Carole that it spread fast. Thankfully, the response was relatively quick. Apparently helicopters were used to control and then extinguish it.

I know first hand that it’s very rugged up there. The last time I hiked the 5.5 mile Mt. Mitchell Trail to the top (from the Black Mountain Campground) it took me 5.5 hours up and almost 3.5 hours to return. It is difficult but beautiful country. But probably the most rugged and difficult trail I’ve ever hiked is the 11.3 mile Black Mt. Crest Trail. Mind you, I’ve hiked on many tough trails in this country including in Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada (including the summit of Mt. Whitney), the Tetons, etc. On one end is the Bowlens Creek segment beginning near a hairpin on N.C. 1109 near Bowlens Creek and on the other end is the parking lot near the top of Mt. Mitchell. It crosses over or near the top of a dozen peaks above 6000’ like a roller coaster. It’s tough hiking partly because the portion north of the state park is poorly maintained (if at all). When I hiked it there were places where the trail itself was somewhat elusive due to weeds growing much taller than my 6’ frame. Along certain parts of the trail hand holds are essential. By contrast, closer to Mt. Mitchell the trail is well maintained and even has some impressive stair steps of well-placed rocks.  The amount of work put into that section between Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Craig is impressive.  It’s only a mile hike northward to Mt. Craig from the trailhead on Mitchell and I highly recommend it.  The view in all directions from the top of Craig is one you would not likely forget.  Pictures don’t do it justice.

A serious error in a 1981 topographic map of the vicinity has been corrected in a 2003 map that is available at the National Forest Service Office in Burnsville. The error was in the vicinity of 6327’ Celo Knob. In 1996 that map error plus my naiveté in trusting its accuracy cost me and my 10-year-old daughter several additional hours to descend the range along Bowlens Creek. But that’s another story for later.  I expect to tell it on this site before the year is out. Suffice it to say, it was an adventure and even though we did not reach the end of the trail until 2:30 AM and I broke a few ribs – I’d do it all over again.  I don’t think my daughter, who is now 23, feels the same.


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Hurricane Outlook for August 2009

8-2-09 latestfullNotice the migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone

to the north of the Equator this time of year.

Left clicks should enlarge this image for you.

Dr. Jeff Masters is my primary source for hurricane information.  His is a hard act to follow.  Therefore, I refer you to his “August Hurricane Outlook” discussion released on August 1, 2009.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1267

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Why Is Florida So Humid?

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z fla precip

AVERAGE ANNUAL PRECIPITATION FOR FLORIDA

LEFT CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


“Why is it so humid in Florida?”

There is no single, simple answer.  Here are at least eight reasons, most of which are interrelated.  After this listing, amplified explanations are available:

1.  Most of Florida is a peninsula which, by definition is bordered by water on three sides.  The adjacent sea water is the most important source of moisture for the atmosphere.  That part of Florida which is not a peninsula, the panhandle, is also bordered by sea water on the southern boundary.

2.  Sea breeze convergence carries moisture over the land.  Air that has converged near the surface will rise and under the right conditions will form clouds that provide precipitation.  The precipitation is simply distilled sea water.  In some parts of Florida sea breeze convergence provides almost two-thirds of the annual precipitation.

3.  Florida is located along the eastern margin of the continent where warm waters arrive from the North Atlantic Gyre.  Warm waters mean higher evaporation rates and the warmed air is also able to support more water in the vapor state than if it were cooler.

4.  The relatively low latitude location of Florida provides for warmer temperatures which in turn give the air more thermal energy necessary to support large amounts of water in the vapor state.  The warmer temperatures also provide for significant convectional uplift of air which is a key factor in the development of many of Florida’s rain clouds.

5.   Florida’ vegetation transpires large amounts of water vapor (into the air).

6.   Numerous fresh water surfaces within the state provide moisture to the air from evaporation.

7.   Weather systems moving from east to west with the “Trades” provides moisture to the state – especially during the Atlantic hurricane season.

8.   Winds associated with fronts, especially pre-cold frontal winds bring vast amounts of moisture to Florida from components of the south.

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MORE DETAIL

1) Most of Florida is a peninsula and by definition it is surrounded by water on three sides.  The rest of the state (the Panhandle) is also coastal.  The surrounding water is the source of a great amount of moisture for processing through the hydrologic cycle.  But, being peninsular is not reason enough for Florida to be humid.  As case in point is the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.  Look at this comparison of the two peninsulas:

zbjfl 75In some instances left clicking twice will be necessary to enlarge.

2) The geography and physiography is such that sea breezes of the Atlantic side of the peninsula converge with sea breezes of the Gulf side of the peninsula.  The zone or line of convergence is seldom at the “center” because the sea breezes are seldom of the same strength.  As a general rule Atlantic side sea breezes of the peninsula are stronger than Gulf side sea breezes of the peninsula.  In any case, these sea breezes carry moisture in the vapor form the origin of which is evaporation off the sea surface.  When sea water evaporates the dissolved solids stay behind; therefore the cloud droplets formed when the sea breezes converge and then rise are made of fresh water.  In simplistic terms I have described one of Natures own distilleries of fresh water.  Air that has converged at or near the surface will rise and rising air cools adiabatically.  If that cooling air contains ample moisture the dew point temperature will be reached relatively quickly and further cooling cause by continued ascension of the air causes condensation which releases heat.  That added heat usually causes the air to become buoyant enough to continue rising to form clouds that provide precipitation.  This is akin to a hot air balloon rising through air that is cooler than the air inside the balloon.  Cumulonimbus commonly form when this happens.

Z convergenceLEFT CLICK PLEASE, TO ENLARGE IMAGE

In South Florida there are years that two-thirds of the annual precipitation is provided during the warmer 6 months and most of that precipitation is due to sea breeze convergence.  This is a real paradox to me because the huge amount of precipitation from sea breeze convergence (sometimes 40” or more) is the result of weather circulation systems that do not show up in the isobaric configurations of a national weather map!

Of course, statistics vary from year to year depending partly upon the amount of tropical activity due to tropical disturbances (waves), tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.  The whole sea breeze convergence process happens most often when the synoptic pressure gradient is weak (synoptic systems are those lows and highs that are seen on the national surface analyses).  Except when tropical synoptic systems are dictating the pressure gradient (e.g. hurricanes) the warmer 6 months of the year are when sea breeze convergence is most likely to occur.  In the cooler 6 months synoptic systems that migrate generally from west to east across the United States dominated the flow patterns at the surface.

3) Florida is located along the eastern margin of the continent.  As in all continents except Antarctica, the eastern margins are generally more humid than the western margins.  The principle reason for this is that the water at the eastern margins is generally warmer than the water at the western margins.  The warm boundary currents belonging to the gyres of the respective oceans are on the western margins of the oceans (which is the same as saying the eastern margins of the continents).  Part of the North Atlantic gyre circulation (sometimes called the Gulf stream gyre) enters the Caribbean and eventually much of it travels through the Yucatan Strait (the gap between western Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula) to flow into the Gulf of Mexico as the Loop Current.  This, then, circulates warmer water and enhances the moisture potential for the air on the Gulf side of Florida.  The Florida Current segment of the gyre provides considerable thermal energy along the east coast of Florida.

Z BoundariesLEFT CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE

The warmer the water the higher the evaporation rates and therefore the more moisture gets into the air in the vapor phase.  NOTE:  Remember, water vapor is invisible so I’m not talking about clouds – but – clouds develop as a result of either the condensation of water vapor (liquid droplets) or the deposition of water vapor (ice crystals).

IDEALIZED CIRCULATION ON A HOMOGENEOUS GLOBE

IDEALIZED CIRCULATION ON A HOMOGENEOUS GLOBE

4) Most of Florida is in the low latitudes defined as that part of the world between the Equator and 30˚ latitude.  Downtown Jacksonville which is at the north end of the state’s Atlantic side is at 30.32 degrees north latitute.  I have shown the location of the 30th parallel on the map of”idealized air circulation on a homogeneous globe” (above) and on the map of the boundary currents before that.

You might know that the planetary circulation is not as simple as shown above because the earth’s surface is far from being homogeneous (the same all over).  The most obvious surface difference is that between land masses and oceans.  Furthermore, there is a hemispherical difference in that category – 39% of the northern hemisphere is land but only 19% of the southern hemisphere is land.  Because of earth surface heterogeneity (differences) the planetary circulation is not nearly as ordered as shown above nor do the hemispheres mirror each other as perfectly as shown.  And – very obvious seasonal differences exist between the continents and the adjacent oceans.  (NOTE:  All of that is “fuel” for another tutorial topic which is likely to be addressed on this site at some time in the future).   There is one aspect of this that I want to mention up front at this time since some of you know about the “Bermuda High.”  It is a warm season phenomenon and in effect, the south half represents the northeast trades (over the Atlantic of our hemisphere) and the north half represents the prevailing westerlies (over the Atlantic of our hemisphere).

Since the lower latitudes have higher sun angles and therefore more intense solar radiation than the higher latitudes, lower latitude surfaces (of both the land and water) get warmer.  This added warmth not only causes higher evaporation rates over water and moist land but also more convection over the heated land than would exist were it colder.

Convectional uplift of air is a key factor in the development of rain clouds, providing there is an adequate supply of moist air.  And – think about this:  When air is heated by the surface and then rises due to it’s positive buoyancy it does not leave a vacuum behind.  Air must flow in to take it’s place and in Florida that is moist air which, in turn, is heated and rises.  Most clouds providing precipitation result from air rising one way or another.

5)  The warmth of Florida along with its vegetation allows for high transpiration rates.  Transpiration is the process whereby plant leaf surfaces cast water vapor into the air.  A mature oak tree in the Summer will put about 500 gallons of water daily into the air in this way; an acre of mature but still green-leafed corn about 2000 gallons a day; an acre of densely distributed invasive species of the melaleuca tree in the everglades is believed by some to transpire four times as much as a comparable area in native saw grass!

6)  Florida is a state with numerous surface fresh water features within it that provide high evaporation opportunities.


Lake Henderson on the east side of Inverness, Florida
Lake Henderson on the east side of Inverness, Florida

Two left clicks will enlarge this photo nicely.  It is my favorite image of a beautiful lake where I love to sail my little sloop – taken by my photographer son, Colin Toney.

A traveler in the state finds remarkable beauty in glades, lakes, marshes, and rivers.  You might find it interesting (and even sad) that before humans began controlling it, the famous everglades was a 40 mile wide river whose water crept generally southward issuing fresh water into Florida Bay.  I’ve been told that the rate of movement was so slow that strong winds from the south would temporarily but significantly reduce the discharge into the bay and even sometimes cause the water to flow backwards.  Currently, Florida Bay is far more saline than it used to be because so much less fresh water empties into it these days (due to human usage, and interference through water storage and flood control).

7)  Florida is downwind of the North Atlantic segment of the global-scale N.E. Trades.  The Trades, rather than a specific wind, represent a planetary-scale force that causes weather systems to move from the east toward the west across the low-latitude portions of the oceans.  Examples of these weather systems are the array of tropical lows ranging from tropical disturbances on the lower end of the intensity scale to hurricanes on the higher intensity end of the scale.  All of these types of lows bring moisture to Florida.

If you want to get a general idea as to why weather moves across most of the United States from west to east and why hurricanes (and the lesser tropical lows) move generally from east to west across the Atlantic just look at the guiding forces on the “homogeneous globe” diagram – the prevailing westerlies and the northeast trades.  As for the oft-asked question, “Why don’t the synoptic systems move in the same direction as the arrows showing the westerlies and the trades? – it’s the rightward Coriolis effect in the northern hemisphere that is mostly responsible.  Mid-latitude cyclones, air mass anticyclones, and tropical lows act as separate entities which rotate the way they do because of the Coriolis effect but move in translation over the land and the ocean in a direction influenced by the Coriolis Effect.  Here are a couple of links on the Coriolis effect:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/the-coriolis-effect-in-the-real-world-a-tutorial-part-1/

There is a link within the one above to take you to Part 2 of the Coriolis effect subject if you wish.

8)  Air ahead of cold fronts moves almost parallel to those fronts.  It responds to the pressure gradient of the middle-latitude systems containing the fronts.  In Florida those pre-frontal winds are generally from some component of the south (typically southeast).  SPECIAL NOTE: Winds are named in accordance with the direction from which they are moving.  In other words, a southeast wind is a wind blowing from the southeast toward the northwest. What that means is that when cold fronts are moving through Florida the pre-frontal winds are carrying relatively warm and humid air from lower latitudes.

z coldfrontIt is this warm and humid air that provides the moisture for condensation making the lines of clouds ahead of the fronts and along the fronts.  The moisture is not being brought down by the cold air but rather, the cold air is forcing the warmer air ahead of it to rise and cool adiabatically just as moisture bearing air does when it is lifted up the windward side of a mountain range.  In fact, I envision cold fronts as moving mountains along whose leading surfaces air is forced to rise, often to a level of free convection where it then “rises freely by convection” forming some very powerful lines of thunderstorms.  Additionally, the dynamics and temperatures aloft help to create squall lines out ahead of and nearly parallel to many of those cold fronts.

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FLORIDA WATER IS NOT AS

ABUNDANT AS IT SEEMS

It is apparent that there are several reasons for Florida’s sometimes notorious humidity.  It may seem that the explanation you have just read is more detailed than most but the truth is, I have not covered all aspects, particularly those dealing with the winds aloft.  Obviously, a variety of circumstances cause the large amount of moisture in the air over Florida as well as the amount of precipitation, the latter being enough for most of the state to fit within the parameters of the Humid Subtropical climate – though a small part of South Florida is classified as a Tropical Savanna climatic zone.  But – some people are shocked when they learn how little of the water raining upon Florida is available to them.

I will use “ball park” numbers I am comfortable with for the sake of simple illustration.  To keep it simple, I’ll round off numbers used to illustrate a typical annual water budget for South Florida.

Annual precipitation is about 60 inches.

20” evaporate

20” transpire

18” discharge into the sea by surface runoff and groundwater transport

2” remain for all other usage!

People move to Florida and clearly see “water, water everywhere.”  But the truth is that very little of that water, probably less than 3% is captured and exploited by humans.  It is always a good idea to conserve water in Florida, even during the rainy season.

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MORE ON HUMIDITY

The word “humid” is used in a variety of ways by the general population and humidity is expressed in more than one way by meteorologists.  “Relative humidity” is a percentage expression of the amount of water vapor in the air compared to the amount that could exist within it at that particular energy level (based upon its temperature).    The left column below shows air temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit and the right column shows how much vapor, in grams, a kilogram of that air can support in the vapor (gaseous) state at those temperatures.   Consider the following illustrations using the chart provided.

Left column is the Temperature in degrees Celsius and (Fahreheit)

Right column is grams of water vapor per kilogram of air representing specific humidity at saturation.  Saturation indicates 100% relative humidity.

-40 (-40)                                             0.1

-30 (-22)                                             0.3

-20 (-4)                                               0.75

-10 (14)                                              2

0 (32)                                                 3.5

5 (41)                                                  5

10 (50)                                               7

15 (59)                                               10

20 (68)                                              14

25 (77)                                              20

30 (86)                                              26.5

35 (95)                                               35

40 (104)                                             47


Here are four usages of the chart above

to give you a “feel” for humidity.


1.  If the specific humidity of 68 degree Fahrenheit air is 3.5 grams per kilogram, the relative humidity is 25%.  (3.5 is 25% of 14).

2.  If  there are 10 grams of water vapor in a kilogram of 77˚F. air near the surface that air has a relative humidity of 50%.  Why?  The chart tells us the air has the thermal energy to keep 20 grams of water in the vapor phase so if there are only 10 grams in the vapor state that represents one-half (50%).  On the other hand, if the temperature where then to drop down to 59˚F. the relative humidity would be 100%!  This is because 10 grams of water vapor in 59 degree air represents the saturation level for air at that temperature.  In this case, the meteorologist would say that the 77 degree air (at 50% relative humidity) had cooled down to its “dew point” (59 degrees) – the point or temperature where condensation would occur if there were any further cooling.  If that cooling occurred on the ground or on your windows overnight dew would form; if it occurred near the surface fog droplets would form; if it occurred further up, cloud droplets would form.  NOTE:  Actually, fog is no more than cloud close to the surface.

3.   If air over the Arctic at -10 degrees Fahrenheit had a relative humidity of 100% a kilogram would have 2 grams of water (per kilogram) in the vapor phase.  Yet if the relative humidity of 104˚F. air over Yuma, Arizona was a very low 15%, that air would contain more water in the vapor phase than the 100% relative humidity Arctic air.  Why?  Because 15% of 47 grams is 7.05.  More than 7 grams of water vapor in a kilogram of air is a lot more than 2 grams within a kilogram.  Therefore, even though the relative humidity of the Yuma air is a low 15% compared to 100% for the Arctic air, the hot Yuma air has more than 3 ½ times the amount of water vapor in it than the colder Arctic air.  So – the Yuma air at 15% relative humidity has more water vapor in it than the 100% relative humidity air of the Arctic location!  A meteorologist might say (if he/she is being careful), “The specific humidity of the Yuma air is much higher, more than 3 ½ times higher, than the air at the Arctic site.”  Yes – this is a paradox.  What I hope you learn from this is that the warmer the air, the more energy it has for keeping water in the vapor state and as the temperature increases the ability to hold water in the vapor state does not increase linearly, but exponentially.

You can see that on the chart.  For example, 20˚Celsius air has the ability to keep 14 grams of water per kilogram of air in the vapor state.  But double the temperature to 40˚Celsius and the water vapor “capacity” does not double; in fact, it more than triples!  The calculator in my computer tells me that it increases 3.3571428571428571428571428571429 times.  Please memorize that number.  There will be a test question on the midterm!  LOL

4.   If a kilogram of 77˚F. air was keeping 18 grams of water vapor within it, the relative humidity would be 90%.  Why?  Because 18/20ths (reduces to 9/10ths) translates to 90%.  You may find this hard to believe but many of my college students (particularly in the last 20 of my 41 year teaching career) in pre-testing could not successfully change a fraction into a percent.  Divide the numerator by the denominator and then multiply by 100 to get percent.  Percent means “parts per 100.”  So, 18 divided by 20 (or 9÷10) = 0.90.  0.90 X 100 = 90.  Most people instantly recognize that 0.90 is 90 one-hundredths and therefore do not need to multiply by 100.

An earlier posting on the subject of humidity can be found here:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/why-does-it-feel-so-humid/

More related topics will appear in the near future, among them, a fundamental presentation on adiabatic processes that form clouds with a high potential as precipitation providers.  Adiabatic processes are so important to us that without them, almost all of the land of the world would be desert.  If you are interested, click on the following link to a November, 2008 post for a starter:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/1364/

FLORIDA’S RAINY SEASON – 2009

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A related post, “Why Is Florida So Humid” has been added.

It can be found here:

https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/why-is-florida-so-humid/


About a third of the way into May I noticed that television weather reports and a few of my acquaintances were starting to suggest that “perhaps” Florida’s rainy season had begun.   To be sure, before the middle of May many parts of Florida had been experiencing very significant rainfall events, some of those places on a daily basis.  One of those places was northeast Citrus County where I live.  However, I doubted that those rainfall events signaled the beginning of the “real” rainy season because my experience living much further south in Florida had conditioned me to considered the “true” rainy season to be that time when precipitation was due almost entirely to mesoscale systems, namely sea breezes and sea breeze convergence within the peninsula.  And – unless the views were severely obscured by buildings or dense stand of trees, at those times one can detect evidence of thunderstorms within hearing and/or seeing distance on almost a daily basis.

Florida’s rainfall this May was almost entirely due to weather systems of a much larger magnitude than the mesoscale – systems that show up on the national weather maps (middle-latitude cyclones with their associated frontal weather, et. al.).  Those systems, along with anticyclones (rotating highs) are often referred to as synoptic systems.

I’ve always found it interesting that the majority of our annual precipitation in peninsular Florida occurs (on the average) as a result of weather systems far smaller in magnitude than either the mid-latitude synoptic systems or the tropical synoptic systems such as hurricanes and tropical storms.

Here are three graphic illustrations of the synoptic nature of our May events followed three more images of today’s weather (June 2, 2009) over the Florida peninsula.  Comments labeled A through F  follow each illustration:

5-17-09loop2238z

70 minute loop begins 5:28 pm EST, May 17, 2009

MOST ALL IMAGES IN THIS WEB-LOG ENLARGE

WITH A LEFT CLICK OR TWO

AND

IN MOST CASES IN ORDER TO ACTIVATE LOOPS

YOU MUST FIRST ENLARGE.

A.  In this 70 minute loop (starting at 5:28 PM EST on May 17th notice the cold front that shows up well along a line from eastern Tennessee down to southern Mississippi.  If one were to see only the Florida peninsula portion of this image I can see how he/she might immediately assume that this was a sea breeze convergence day.  But as you can see, this is pre-cold frontal weather being drawn northward.  Not to say the warmer land surface and some convergence did not play a role, it is nonetheless clear that the weather is dominated by the synoptic scale.

5-17-09seLoop0328

B.  This 70 minute loop of the same system shows very nicely the pre-frontal nature of Florida’s rainfall by virtue of the fact that it has moved on in accordance with the general motion of the cyclone across the United States from west to east.  This loop starts at 11:28 PM EST on May 17th.

5-26-09 2100z SurfC.  Here is an impressive array of alternating lows and highs of the synoptic scale on May 26.  At this time the movement of the lows was almost perfectly synchonized in the diurnal mode so that each day, with the help of the intense heating of the peninsula, we got significant rainfall in my neighborhood (latitude 29˚North by longitude 80.4 West – to the nearest 10th of a degree).  Notice the lows centered off the Georgia coast, south-central Alabama, and Texas – all three with associated troughs.  Each of those provided my neighborhood a great deal of rain and certainly cramped my style as I was attempting to spend a lot of time outdoors landscaping and doing my annual manicuring of my woods.  But – because of three years of drought here, I was thanking the Great Guy In The Sky for each and every drop and respecting His audible commands to stay safely indoors in the form of lightning hits that were uncomfortably close.

I was surprised to learn recently that the National Weather Service Forecast Office has declared May 11 to be the beginning of the 2009 “rainy season” of Florida.  This is a full 9 days ahead of May 20, the mean starting date.  Who am I to disagree with the experts?  It matters not in the real world I suppose – only in the academic world in which people like me often get lost.  The bottom line is that we need the rain and no matter whether May’s events were “true, traditional” rainy season events or not, they were a blessing.

Now lets take a look at weather over the peninsula a little earlier today.

6-2-09 sea breeze

UNLIKE THE FIRST TWO IMAGES –

THIS IS A STILL – NOT A LOOP.

D.  Today, June 2, 2009, the radar shortly before 3 pm EST is showing precipitation as a result of sea breeze “fronts” along both sides of the peninsula.  I suspect convergence is occurring in the south part as shown by the beginning of development over some of the glades south of Lake Okeechobee.  This is more like a Florida “rainy season” day as I have learned to know it but even today – a synoptic system is providing a noticeable influence (see next two images). For those of you who live in my neighborhood, the Crystal River winds at the time of this observation were 7 mph from the west and that is ample to bring in moist air which is rising over the heated land to form the showers that are appearing on this radar image.

6-2-09 628pEST rad ed

E. Later today the thunderstorms became more intense and in the still radar image above you can see a decided concentration toward the western side of the peninsula.

6-2-09 333p ESTsurf

F.  And here is a synoptic map showing the low (with its associated fronts) that is influencing Florida’s weather today.  There is a “rule of thumb” in meteorology that the air ahead of a front moves more or less parallel to that front.  If you will simply extend in your mind’s eye the warm front further toward Florida you will realize that there is a force over most of Florida tending to make smaller weather systems (like mesoscale thunderstorm complexes) move toward the WNW.  Apparently the winds aloft are not strong enough to counteract that.

================================================================

Here are some interesting statistics for two locations in Florida providing some geographical contrasts along the peninsula.

Ocala averages almost 50” of rainfall per year of which nearly two-thirds falls in May through October.

Homestead (south of Miami) averages nearly 60” per year of which over three-fourths falls in May through October.

Here are the actual numbers (statistical means):

Ocala (in Central Florida) 49.68” annual     31.10” May through October = 62.6%

Homestead (south of Miami) 58.20” annual    45.70” May through October = 78.5%

For further information about Florida’s rainy season  here is a safe link in the pdf format from NOAA.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/mfl/news/Rainy_Season_Beginning_2009.pdf

Yours Truly,

Tonie A. Toney

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Spring Is About to “Spring!”

In the Northern Hemisphere this year’s Spring begins on March 20, 2009 at 11:44 Universal Time or 7:44 AM Eastern Standard Time.  Therefore, the first FULL DAY of Spring is March 21, 2009.  On those two days the length of daylight and darkness will be almost exactly the same at 12 ‘n 12.  Of course, if there is a mountain up close to you, either east or west (or both) your daylight hours are more likely to be shorter than your darkness hours even though the time will be close to the Vernal Equinox.

Those of you who drive toward the east early in the morning to get to work and then toward the west to return home in the evening might have been noticing lately that you have been having the sun’s light directly in your eyes on both occasions.  Expect that for a while longer and be careful.

I live 18 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico at 29 degrees North latitude.  We’ve been here since early August, 2005.  I tell people that I escaped South Florida to return to the United States of America but remained in the low latitudes (barely).  The plants here are blooming like crazy!  My notion is that because they were stressed a great deal from repeated freezing episodes, Mother Nature has been telling them to procreate profusely for survival’s sake.

I took a few snapshots recently and thought I’d share them with you.  Most folks who photograph their flowering plants tend to stand back to get the whole structure but I prefer to get in close enough to see features of some of the individual blossoms.  Like people, they are each beautiful in their own way.  Most of the images in this posting are of azaleas but I did throw in a couple of loropetalum or “fringe flower.”  At the end I was unable to resist showing one of a complete bush behind two oaks.  Today the plants are even denser with blossoms than when I took the photos just a few days ago.

In time, once they’re out, I hope to show you dogwood, crepe myrtle, agapanthus, lilacs, and roses – all on our heavily wooded property.  And, if I’m lucky, the wisteria, which has been struggling in the shade, will bloom this year.

To enlarge the images fully, left click once, pause, and then left click again.

Enjoy!

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3-13-09-010ec

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3-13b-09-010ec1

3-13c-09-005ec

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