Nature chooses to ignore perfectly reasonable requests to follow rain forest winter rules. Three inches of snow fell this afternoon, fresh frosting on streets besieged since her first tantrum December 5, 2016. At a loss to comprehend why she’s so mad, I’m willing to accept Nature might have overlooked the courteous reminder sent a few days ago.
Looking down my block at 7 pm New Years Eve.
You win Mother Nature – well played, hope you had a good laugh. All we want is our rain back. Enough is enough, what purpose is served by stubbornly beating your chest? Why inflict record low sub-zero temperatures for the next five days, followed by another snowfall warning on Friday? Surely you recognize the folly of coming on too strong. Your strength is the element of surprise, ours is the ability to adapt.
Make no mistake Nature, evidence of adaptability abounds. Shock and awe advantage wears thin, weeks of trial and error threaten your impetuous game. Calamity of your meddling has passed, with all due respect you teeter on the brink of minor inconvenience. Stay if you must but understand with each passing day indifference to rain forest winter propriety grows.
The sidewalk is shoveled and dusted in salt to repel ice. We’ve figured out how to get to work on time, with our without a functional transit system. Snow talk no longer dominates conversation, nor do we fixate on probabilities of further accumulations. Truth is, I say “enough with the snow” out of habit – rain forest winter is managing quite well.
Contrary to assumption not all Canadians thrive in winter’s slap. Those of us in south western British Columbia expect winter to follow rules. Rain forest winter needn’t be complicated, decency dictates adherence to basic guidelines – Relentless rain falls from November to February. Every six weeks or so Arctic outflow overpowers Pacific sogginess. Brief sunshine averts total despair. Temperatures plunge below freezing, we speculate on probability of rain or snow. Occasionally timing breaks monotonous rain, delivering just enough snow to ignite frenzied sales of snow shovels, salt and winter tires. Enough to cripple public transit, close schools, unleash ice bombs from suspension bridges and occupy local media until rain washes it away. Residents tolerate inconvenience because rules stipulate winter has an obligation to keep snow on the mountains.
December 5, 2016 the first measurable snow since February 2014 invaded my space. Rain forest rules said it could stay a few days, snow made other plans. After three frosty weeks I say enough! Walking home from work tonight required nimbleness of a cat. Are you nuts rain forest winter? Fifteen harrowing minutes to walk two blocks, each step calculated to avert calamity. Thick ice, thin ice, black ice. Ice in the air, ice on the wind, ice locked snow. WTF! Photos snapped along the way can’t begin to illustrate treacherous conditions but take my word – this rain forest winter is not normal.
Children’s Hospital parking lot near my house.
Looking down my street.
More car share vehicles than any city in the world is moot if they can’t pull onto a street. Down the block Car2Go suggests angle parking – it isn’t. I personally abandoned the second car four days ago, no match for thick ice under the snow.
In 2004 Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the United Kingdom formed CAS, the Cloud Appreciation Society. The following year Yahoo declared their website “the most weird and wonderful find on the internet for 2005”. As of May 2016, the society claims over 40,000 members representing 165 countries.
“We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills.” – from the CAS Manifesto, full document at – https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/manifesto/
Membership will set you back around $50 (annual membership plus a one time “sign-up fee”) Sign-up fee covers postage of the CAS member package – a shiny enameled lapel pin, official certificate stating member will “henceforth seek to persuade all who’ll listen of the wonder and beauty of clouds”, and a handy pocket cloud selector. Members submit cloud wonders via the CAS app. Every morning a “cloud of the day” image is sent to member mailboxes. Member info at – https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/cas-membership-intro/
Below – November “Cloud Of The Month” photographed by James Tromans over Warwickshire, England.
Four images above – a selection of daily clouds.
Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1. Prior to 1950, major hurricanes were unofficially named for city closest to landfall, officially meteorologists used longitude and latitude to identify hurricanes. In 1950 the U.S. National Hurricane Center began naming storms according to phonetic alphabet. The first hurricane was always “Able”, second “Baker”, third “Charlie” and so on. In 1953 an overhaul stemming from need to avoid repetitive use of names, resulted in female hurricanes. Another revision in 1979 spawned the practice of alternating female and male storms.
Storms are “named” when they display “circular rotation” with wind speeds of 39 miles per hour.They maintain named tropical storm status until winds reach 79 miles per hour. Above 79 mph, tropical storms keep their name with new designation of hurricane.
Today, an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization rotates six name lists over six years – named storms repeat every 6 years. The exception being catastrophic storms such as Andrew, Katrina or Sandy, extreme hurricane names “retire”, avoiding confusion should coincidence find the same named storm wreaking havoc.
This year Atlantic hurricanes will follow names – Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie, and Walter. “Alex” has come and gone, used in January’s pre-season eastern Atlantic storm.
Below – a great link…..
Rain forest winter arrives with November gales. Powerless to squelch winter monotones, autumn hues surrender to prevailing winds. Daylight wanes, skies darken, rain makes camp. Dreary days turn to weeks, sunlight plays a fickle game of hide and seek. Occasionally a fleeting punctuation of jet stream leniency heralds arctic outflow conditions – a brief respite marked by brilliant sun and unseasonably cool temperatures. The rain forest holds its breath, snowfalls’ only chance occurs on the cusp of Pacific moisture colliding with arctic chill. Several years can pass without a flake of snow, every decade or so measurable accumulations ignite a tizzy of seasonal hysteria.
Despite the passing of forty years in Vancouver, Canadian winter flickers in nostalgic vignettes.Pressing pennies against frost on my bedroom window, standing back to admire patterns of perfect impressions. Enormous icicles defiantly begging one of us to knock them down. Beyond childhood fancy, nostalgia cries for the ceremony of winter. Away from the rain forest, winter is a surety. Winter boots and jackets lined up by the end of October, snow tires installed by first frost, garden tools replaced with snow shovels – But for the rain forest, a nation of realists embrace winter with pragmatic diligence.
As I write, relentless rain assaults my window. A 60% chance of rain is forecast for the next 14 days. What I wouldn’t give to hear the inexplicable hush of snowflakes, to gaze at night skies wrapped in distinctive layers of snowy reflection or revel in crunches of fresh snow under my boots. For now, I live vicariously through images taken by my husband last week in Alberta.
Years ago my understanding of space weather was limited to – What? Space has weather? Reading about the Carrington Event changed everything. In 1859, Richard Carrington recorded a massive solar storm – the following day auroras were witnessed in Cuba, telegraph stations sparked and caught fire. Witnesses spoke of night skies bright enough to read newspapers by. Today, a solar storm of this magnitude would obliterate power grids – days, weeks, possibly months before power was restored. Space weather had my full attention.
Bookmarking http://spaceweather.com/ was the easy part. Over the next few years terminology became vocabulary. Obsessive compulsive monitoring of solar wind speed, sunspot activity and aurora oval drove a need to understand. Patient family endured months of exuberant outbursts. Sentences peppered with solar sector boundary crossing, geomagnetic flux, interplanetary magnetic field and probability of earth directed impact. Unfazed by rolled eyes or perceptible sighs of “here we go again” – I’ll never forget the day my husband called from work ( after a particularly boisterous declaration of earth directed solar activity ) saying a colleague couldn’t reach his daughter in Seattle because solar activity temporarily knocked out cell phone service. Powerless to squelch an “I told you so”, it was a good thing he didn’t witness my happy dance.
Saying – foundations crucial to dynamics of our universe lurk in rudimentary understanding of solar and planetary interactions – isn’t likely to ignite passion in those not inclined. While powerless to imprint enthusiasm, I promise you this – space weather will blow your mind.
Spaceweather.com is a reasonable site, but for outstanding access to terminology and explanation – click on the NOAA link below.
Truth be told, early morning radio babble of Hurricane Oho tracking towards the British Columbia coast and Alaska exhilarated an otherwise dreary day. Weather is one of my “things”, an obsession with whims of circumstance beyond our control. Not wanting to obliterate tendrils of tickling anticipation, I chose to shrug and proceed – no weather reports, discussion or online searches until work ended.
The fortitude mustered to relish anticipation, amidst bouts of epic curiosity bordered on ridiculous. Screw it! Knowing we wouldn’t be storm spanked could wait until after work, meanwhile I’d make the most of it. I reminded myself if Oho meant business mine wouldn’t be the only tongue wagging. Public displays of weather exuberance might be considered a tad crazy – be cool.
Coming home to news of ex-Oho, now a post tropical cyclone barely warranted sighs. We might experience “remnants”, fair enough Oho but I’m over your rush. So what if your late season path and freakish behavior made meteorological history, who cares if you’re feeding on the Pacific blob or riding El Nino’s coat-tails. I live in a rainforest, it’s going to rain from now until March – the least you could have done is whip up a little excitement.
A familiar symphony lulls Vancouver to sleep. Behind rain tapped windows, morning breaks in hues of rain forest winter gray. Storm after Pacific storm delivers seasonal monotones. Seemingly eternal bleakness, occasionally punctuated by meteorologic anomalies. Wrapped in a few days sunshine, winter’s merciful gift lifts even the darkest spirits. Sunlight isn’t the only present winter has up her sleeve – when you least expect, dense fog transforms winter monotony into columns of dancing light.
Hang on for a lesson in solar dynamics – Earth is experiencing a solar sector boundary crossing. Let me explain….
The sun produces wind (currently 410.9 Km/second) that blasts across the cosmos. Just like Earth, our Sun has a magnetic field – known as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Whipped into a spiral rotation, wind driven IMF rotates in one direction. It divides into spiral sections pointing to and away from the sun along the ecliptic plane ( a direct line between Earth and the Sun). The edge of this swirling mass has a surface separating polarities of planetary and solar magnetism called the heliosphere current sheet.
Earth’s magnetic field points north at the magnetopause (the point of contact between our magnetosphere and the IMF). If the IMF happens to point south at contact (scientific term, southward Bz) the two fields link causing partial cancellation of Earth’s magnetic field – in other words, opening a temporary door for solar energy to enter our atmosphere. Welcome solar sector boundary crossing – a phenomenon born of high solar wind and coronal mass ejections (CME’s – aka solar flares).
It takes 3 or 4 days for magnetism to sort itself out – in the meantime, and barring the occasional high frequency radio disruption, wonky GPS and cell phones, peppered with sudden power grid failure events – we’re treated to kick ass auroras.