My Two Cents On Wednesday


A snowstorm is heading toward the East Coast at the worst possible time, the busiest travel day of the year! Get set for your favorite TV liveshot: reporter interviewing angered passengers at the airport.

This storm has a large footprint. There will be some snow from the Delmarva to Maine. South and east will have rain or a mix.

Back in Connecticut there will be plowable inches inland with a slushy, yucky mix on the shore. It begins around breakfast and stays until dawn Thursday with the heaviest over by late Wednesday night.

Roads will suck. Airline schedules will be meaningless. Am I overselling it?

I don’t expect to see people stranded, but travelling Wednesday will be tedious and unpleasant at best. If you can change your plans, go for it.

I Still Look At The Weather


Learning to forecast was fun. I still find it enjoyable, looking at weather maps and charts. California weather is currently very stable. Days in the 70s, nights 50s. Passing clouds.

Nowadays I use for most of my raw and mapped data. It is a nerd-o-riffic weather site run by the College of DuPage in Illinois.

Our next chance for rain comes a week from today. Everyone, including me, will tell you we need it. Southern California must maintain a delicate balance. Even in a drought, nearly all rainstorms here are potentially flooding rainstorms! It doesn’t take much.

The more interesting weather is in the Northeast. I guess all the TV people are talking about the potential for a storm Wednesday? I would be.

The 00Z GFS starts precipitation early Wednesday and continues through the day, heavy at times. It’s the heaviest travel day of the year and this system will impact DCA, PHL, NYC, BOS and everyone inbetween.

Judging by the 850mb temperatures, I’d favor mostly snow in Connecticut–though mixed precip isn’t out of the question. Windy. Stormy. Crappy.

The spaghetti plots through early Thursday are reasonably tight, signifying the model is impressed with its results.

Hey, it’s Sunday. Maybe your decisions can wait. Please, wait as long as possible.

If your options are limited, it might be time to think of alternatives.

No weather forecast is infallible. The ones for SoCal are easier.

Call Me Mr. Fixit, Then Chuckle

IMAG1777If you enjoy seeing my photos, you might be surprised to know I seldom print them. The Yosemite trip was different. It’s the most photogenic place I’ve ever seen.

As of today two 12×18″ prints from that trip are up. One hangs in the loft. The other directly opposite me in my office.

Let me look up. Yeah, there it is.

I come from a family with little mechanical skill. Picture hanging is at the far edge of our abilities.

IMAG1774Helaine and I measured, then placed the picture at the perfect height, centered on the wall. Hammer time.


The picture’s final resting place is not quite on center.

My second fixit chore took me to Home Depot, about five minutes away. I like Home Depot because they’re all knowledgeable about the entire store. How is that even possible?

homedepotAfter we moved to Irvine I attempted to install a towel hook next to the shower. Stud!

What is it with me and studs?

I was left with holes too large and too shallow. I’d tried everything, including Crazy Glue.

Like you haven’t!

Ribbed plastic anchors, the unfortunately named hardware item which sounds vaguely sexual, was my last attempt. It joined a long list of failures.

Today’s trip was to get something to fill the holes then solidify. The guy at Home Depot said, “No. Not with drywall”

Then he directed me to Hollow Door & Drywall Anchors. I never would have used them, because I didn’t know they existed!

Tonight a towel is hanging from its hook as are two shots of Yosemite. And I still have all ten fingers!

Do You Miss Buffalo?


I was just on the phone with my dad. We talked about the weather a little. He’s in Milwaukee where it’s 29 with a wind chill of 22. My office window thermometer shows 72.

“Bet you’re glad you’re not in Buffalo,” he said.

I am.

766 Auburn Ave   Google Maps

I lived here, at 766 Auburn Avenue (Google streetview link) in the third floor apartment. It was a beautiful one bedroom with no insulation and enough water pressure to take a shower if no one in the other two apartments was! During the summer we were woken by squirrel races on the roof.

Those who live in Buffalo do so by choice. Anyone who wanted to leave left a long time ago. There is a survivor spirit among the residents.

It is a really nice, liveable city. Real estate is very reasonable. Summers are magical. Winters are hellish.

Starting in mid-November a thick veil of low clouds descends upon the city. This is the beginning of the process that spawns Lake Effect snow. It’s convection, like bubbles in a pot of boiling water. It will remain mainly cloudy with a handful of exceptions until spring.

This time of year the Great Lakes are warm and the flow through the atmosphere cold. Warm air near the lake’s surface is drawn up, condensing as it cools. Clouds form, often dropping snow.

Lake Effect season begins suddenly. The start is when the potential for big storms is greatest… as we saw this past week. Once Lake Erie freezes the process shuts down.

Lake Ontario doesn’t freeze. Sorry Syracuse.

For a real Lake Effect event, winds must be aligned through the atmosphere often parallel to a lake’s longest dimension.

These storms are VERY localized. The physics involved in Lake Effect snow is very similar to summertime thunderstorm formation. In fact, sometimes thundersnow is part of a Lake Effect storm.

Think “thunderstorm downpour” of snow… except instead of moving on, the storm continues for hours or days relentlessly.


This graph is from East Aurora, NY. Under land use it’s marked, “Urban.” People live there. That’s over 30″ of snowpack with a water equivalent of 5″.

The edges of Lake Effect storms are well pronounced. You drive out of Lake Effect snow like you drive out of a summer thunderstorm. And these boundaries stay in place as long as the wind doesn’t shift.

No one can cope with this much snow. No one is equipped, even those areas that get as much as 200″ of snow a year!

“Yes, Dad. I’m glad I’m not in Buffalo.” But I don’t regret a day of living there.

John Oliver: Live


John Oliver played the City National Grove of Anaheim tonight. Someone nice gave me two tickets… so I took her. Third row. Well done.

First things first. We fought ridiculous traffic on the 5. It took 45 minutes going, 17 to get home.

City National Grove was originally built as a theme restaurant. Lucky for us it was converted into a live venue. The auditorium seats around 1,700.

One of my Facebook friends asked who John Oliver is?

John Oliver is very funny and very fast. The show has structure, but he is skillful enough to divert when conditions warrant then find his way back.

The first ten minutes, ten funny minutes, were spent riffing on the venue and Anaheim in general. Onto his act, a series of observational essays.

I can’t tell you any jokes he said. I’m not sure there were any jokes. His stuff is funny in context. That’s tougher than telling jokes.

John Oliver is shorter than he looks on TV. Join the club. His nose is… uh… prominent. He’s thin.

“He was on around an hour,” Helaine observed. “I’ve never seen a comedian on that long without water.”

Time and money well spent. It was like a date.

News At The Speed Of Internet

On Twitter itself I saw someone complain Fox News and CNN had dropped the ball. I guess he was expecting them to have crews standing by in Tallahassee in case anything ever happened at midnight.

There’s a new boss in breaking news.

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The Guy I Work With, Reviewed In The Times

I host our webcasts. Usually I work alongside (metaphorically–he’s near Woodstock, NY) Bob Berman, Slooh’s staff astronomer. Bob’s written a bunch of books, making science more approachable. His latest, Zoom: How Everything Moves, From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees, was reviewed this morning in the NY Times. Although I like to think […]

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Buffalo And The World’s Weirdest Weather

The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday afternoon. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?

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Doppler’s Birthaversary

We still can’t understand how anyone abandoned this dog–but someone surely did.

She arrived at the pound with her nails curling inward, her coat matted with poop and mud. She was left in a baseball dugout with her brother (or father–we don’t know), Bentley.

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It Sounds Like New England

You would be hard pressed to show visible perspiration today. Santa Ana sneezes are often accompanied by a little blood on the tissue.

This is very dangerous fire weather.

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