Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’

 

How Does My Garden Grow

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

IMG_9601I’m a tomato growing guy! Over the years I’ve raised them at home and work.

Does raising tomatoes at work where I was paid make me a farmer? Sure. Why not?

Now that we’re in the land of perpetual sunshine I’ve got a single tomato plant in a pot on our patio. Growing space is limited. One is enough.

IMG_9600I cheated. The pot, with a plastic tomato cage above, came from Home Depot already in bloom. So far, it has survived my questionable care.

Our patio has limited sunshine. That’s good for people, but not optimum for tomatoes. They can’t get enough sunlight.

So far the impact has been minimal. Maybe it’s that sunshine is stronger in SoCal than Connecticut. Because of our more southerly latitude the Sun is higher in the sky.

I certainly started earlier. Back in the Northeast I never planted until Memorial Day. These bad boys are close to a month in.

IMG_9608I had been watering the tomatoes by hand. Today I installed irrigation.

We have a tiny sprinkler system for our flowers and bushes. I tapped into that, adding ‘dribblers’ for the tomatoes and a few other plants in pots.

The dribblers are rated one gallon per hour. The system runs two minutes every other day. That’s 4.27 ounces of water three or four times a week.

Is it enough? I’ll let you know.

In Connecticut tomato season ran from late July into October. It will be longer here. And no killing frost!

It’s All About Perspective

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

irvine-skyAs I type, it’s 53° at Bradley Airport back in Connecticut. It’s 60° at John Wayne Airport here in the OC. That’s about as close as Connecticut’s come since last fall!

People in Connecticut are probably outside commenting on how it’s warming up. I just complained to Helaine how chilly it is!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

People say your blood thins. No, that’s not what happens. Spend a winter here, you’re spoiled.

I actually feel cheated we are cloudy and chilly today. That didn’t take long.

I’m This Storm’s Spectator

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

prec

You will have to excuse me tonight but I’ve become obsessed with our upcoming weather. This is a first for me. My first real California ‘winter storm.’ I’m trying to gauge how pre-game coverage matches what really happens.

Viewers often accuse TV stations of hyping weather for ratings. I didn’t think we did, but this is an opportunity to watch as an outsider.

The late run of the GFS is VERY wet through the weekend. More rain than we’ve had in the last year!

For 28 years I lived in Connecticut. The hills there were more gentle than California’s steep slopes. These amplify rain’s effects. Most people are surprised to see the width of some of our washes (dry river beds). The mountains will fill those washes very quickly.

But, again, I haven’t experienced this first hand. Most of my SoCal weather knowledge is book learning and observing from afar.

Where there have been large fires, where brush hasn’t yet reestablished itself, expect landslides. Truly, insult added to injury. Haven’t these people had enough?

The vast majority of hills will remain intact. It’s just tough to say which ground is solid at any given moment.

I can’t imagine the big stuff will be widespread. We had around 800,000 without power in Connecticut after Hurricane Sandy. That seems very unlikely. Widespread outages of any number seem unlikely.

The main thrust of the first wave of rain is still offshore to the northwest of us. The GFS says .42″ at John Wayne in Santa Ana, with most centered around morning rush Thursday.

Round two gets here early Friday. For this the GFS says 3.349″ at Long Beach over 48 hours or so¹. That’s a huge amount of rain for this place to absorb. It won’t be absorbed gracefully or easily.

The good news is there are few basements to flood!

¹ – QPF, how much we’ll get, is the least accurate surface forecasters make. Giving it to the thousandth of an inch, as I did, is ridiculous.

Graphic courtesy coolwx.com

I Feel Your Pain — Still

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

IMG_5154

“I love the four seasons,” said no one in the Northeast today. The weather sucks!

There’s already six inches to a foot on-the-ground in Connecticut.

With rain/sleet/freezing rain and then a turn back to snow, the pack will be wet, heavy and tough to clear.

I just traded texts with my niece Melissa in Milwaukee. She and husband Mark are supposed to fly Southwest to New York City tomorrow. Good luck.

New York City’s new mayor is in snow denial mode. Another attempt to blame the weatherman. It’s bipartisan. Everybody does it!

The mayor and Al Roker battled it out on Twitter this morning. Winter will do that to you. Everyone gets testy.

Southwest hasn’t cancelled flights for tomorrow yet. They will!

Will Melissa’s plane even make it to Milwaukee tonight so it’s available for a 6:05 AM departure? Will the crew have enough rest hours? How crazy will our nation’s air traffic system be?

I’m not sure what to do on a day like today? It’s 75° and partly cloudy at John Wayne Airport. Out my window, totally blue skies. Should I just keep my mouth shut and hide?

I totally understand what folks in the Northeast are going through. It might seem like I’m rubbing it in. I’m not. My dues are paid-in-full.

Usually by mid-February, winter had gotten the best of me. And yet I knew there was more snow to come. There was nothing to do but grin and bear it and plan my escape.

More snow Saturday. Post photos. That’s as close as I’m getting.

When In Doubt, Blame The Weatherman… Again

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

georgia snow

When in doubt, blame the weatherman! Maybe there was a time that worked. It doesn’t anymore. The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, understands that better today than yesterday.

Tuesday at 10:00 AM, as a crippling snow and ice storm was moving through the south, Governor Deal said,

“At that time it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any, and that the majority of the effects of the storm would be south of here. Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Except those weren’t the predictions.

Here’s a segment of the NWS Area Forecast Discussion from Tuesday at 4:11 AM:

IN MAIN BAND FOR THE AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT…HAVE SNOW/SLEET AMOUNTS OF 1-3 INCLUDING ATL METRO. GREATEST AMOUNT ALONG A BROAD LINE FROM LA GRANGE TO THOMASTON TO LOUISVILLE. BUT SOUTH OF LUMPKIN TO MACON TO SWAINSBORO LINE…ACCUM WILL BE 0.1-0.3 INCH MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WITH UP TO AN INCH OF LIGHT SNOW ON TOP. ALL THESE ACCUMULATION… OTHER THAN THE NW GA LIGHT BAND…WILL MEET WARNING CRITERIA SO HAVE CONTINUED WARNING AND EXPANDED THIS TO ANOTHER TIER OF COUNTIES INCLUDING ATL METRO AREA.

FINAL NOTE…WE REMAIN CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT WITH ONSET OF PRECIP AROUND RUSH HOUR AND SCHOOL RELEASE.

The governor has now been taken to task by pretty much everyone who knows the definition of the isobar!

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

“The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus,” he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said. – USAToday

This reminds me of Connecticut’s Halloween snowstorm of 2011. You remember Jeff Butler, the president of CL&P.

“But I will assure you, when we had the weather forecast and everything we looked at in preparation for this storm, the amount of snow, which ended up being the problem, was far more significant than what had been forecast,” he said.”This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer, with more snow accumulation–and remember, all the trees still had their foliage on them.” Butler’s comments stood in stark contrast to the dire warnings issued by local television meteorologists and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday, more than 24 hours before the first flakes fell. “If we get the amount of snow that’s being forecast, a lot of people are going to lose power, and power is going to be out for an extended period of time,” Malloy told reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building late Friday morning. – Hartford Courant

I don’t think so. Here’s what I wrote in my blog a few days before that storm hit.

Whatever falls will be heavier inch-for-inch than a typical storm. The snow to water ratio will be low. It’s the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs and extra slippery for drivers!

There’s one more element of this storm which is worrisome. Sustained 20-30 mph northeasterly wind with higher gusts is likely. If this wet snow clings to trees and leaves we’ll have enough wind to bring down limbs and power lines. – My Permanent Record

I wasn’t alone. NBC30′s Ryan Hanrahan’s early take:

“One of the reasons I’m unusually concerned about this storm is that the amount of leaves on the trees make them particularly vulnerable to damage. If the snow is of the heavy and wet variety we could have major and widespread power outages. We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of this type of storm this early in the season.” – Ryan Hanrahan

This same excuse was trotted out after Hurricane Sandy left Long Island powerless! Are we that easy a target?

What happened in Georgia is truly a tragedy. It would have been nice to get a really long lead on this forecast, but sometimes science doesn’t cooperate. However, once the forecast is there you can’t stick your head in the sand and you can’t blame the weatherman.

Well, you can, but we’ll call you on it in a hurry.

I Remember Nights Like This

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

I just traded quick tweets with Ryan Hanrahan at NBC30.

geofffox: @ryanhanrahan How’d you do on this one so far?

ryanhanrahan: @geofffox Not bad – all about where fgen sets up. Haves and have nots. Some towns will get hit hard others won’t.

I don’t know about Ryan, but these were the nights I dreaded! I was on-the-air 28 years in Connecticut. It didn’t take long to realize how unhappy people are when a snow forecast goes wrong.

Ouch. Some were brutal.

Even when right I’ve been blamed for the forecast on other stations and the Weather Channel and by people who just misheard!

Forecasts aren’t blown because you haven’t worked hard enough. Predictions go south when bad guidance (computer models) leads you astray. By and large computers are superior to humans in quantifiable solutions to tough atmospheric problems.. That makes it difficult to discard them in pressure situations.

Mid-storm I was like a caged animal. I’m sure that didn’t make me a dream co-worker.

Sadly, no matter what I did it was never 100% right. There was always an outlier. Frustrating.

Post-Sandy the federal government allocated significant resources to beef up our weather computing power. Implementation is excruciatingly slow. Forecasts will improve a little. The low hanging fruit has already been picked.

Winter Is Not Misseed

Monday, January 20th, 2014

I’m looking at the 00Z GFS numbers for Connecticut. I remember this!

It was around this point every year that winter began to win our yearly battle. Not only is forecasting winter weather fraught with peril, I had to drive in that stuff–every storm!

The GFS says a little shy of a foot at New Haven. At Bradley, over six inches. These numbers are never exactly right. Bane of my existence.

People overvalue the accumulation forecast. It’s either under two inches, under six inches, or more. The impact of six inches or a foot are virtually the same.

The more important value is timing. That forecast has improved over time.

Snow by afternoon through early Wednesday. The snow will be accompanied by strong gusty winds which will create drifting. This should be powdery snow.

If you’re working Tuesday, consider coming home early.

I am typing this wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Holy Smokes, It’s Holy Jim

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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After yesterday’s disappointment I was ready for some real California wilderness today. My cousin Melissa and her son (also my cousin) Max picked me up around 10:00. We headed south toward Cleveland National Forest and the Holy Jim Trail.

I know. Weird name. There is a story.

“Jim Smith was a talker—no ordinary talker. . . a man given to blasphemous eloquence. When he started cussing. . . he could peel paint off a stove pipe.” – GORP.com

We entered the forest in Rancho Santa Margarita, then drove a few miles down a dirt road to the trailhead. It was rutted with rocks poking out in spots. All I could think of was settlers heading west a few hundred years ago riding roads like this for thousands of miles.

I’m not yet a westerner. I don’t yet understand all the nuances. There are homes in the national forest. Some are substantial. Most have rock foundations. Some have propane tanks and outhouses with solar cells. No power lines. No phone lines. No cable TV.

One cabin had a small Yagi antenna pointing toward civilization. Cell service for them, not me!

After 28 years in Connecticut it’s time to get used to a new look. Look down in Connecticut you mainly see green. Look down on the Holy Jim Trail it’s mostly dirt.

Though we’re in the midst of a significant drought the trees were mainly green, but the mix was weird. Trees and cactus comingling.

The trail runs through Trabuco Canyon. We were bounded on both sides by steep mountains.

The goal was Holy Jim Falls, but we never got there. There were time restraints, but more than anything I really felt out of shape. This walk was a wake-up call for me.

We left the trail and headed home, with a detour. We stopped at Cook’s Corner, a biker bar with its own Wikipedia entry!

The place was filled with motorcycles and bikers. Some looked menacing in leather. Their swagger was trumped by the vibe at Cook’s. Nothing bad was happening here.

As we headed to the parking lot I spotted three deer on a nearby hill. Our first wildlife of the day… and they were behind a restaurant.

They Play Poker Here

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

hawaiian-gardens-poker-tableCard rooms are legal in parts of SoCal. They are mostly poker rooms. Other table games are played, but with lesser odds than ‘real’ casinos. Poker dominates.

The nearest rooms are in the south end of Los Angeles County, less than a half hour from here. I’ve been to Commerce Casino in… wait for it… The City of Commerce. The largest card room in the world. It’s like a bus terminal!

If you’ve been to beautiful casinos, like in Vegas or Connecticut, you’re in for a letdown. Commerce doesn’t seem to be the exception. I’m told none of the card rooms are showplaces.

This afternoon Helaine and I drove to Hawaiian Gardens Casino in… wait for it… Hawaiian Gardens, CA. There’s a little more room between tables than Commerce, but it too borders on bus terminal.

The casino occupies what looks to be two huge tents! Surfboards hang from the ceiling marking the different poker games dealt. It’s like a United Nations get-together.

wider-shot-poker-roomWe go to Hawaiian Gardens because of the food. Oh my God!

You order from a roving waitstaff with red shirts. Just like the deck of an aircraft carrier, everyone working at the Gardens wears a shirt colorcoded to describe their specific job.

The menu is wondrous. It’s a spiral bound, plastic encased affair with at least ten pages. Along with breakfasts and dinners are pages for Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean food.

The food comes hot. The portions are large. The taste is incredible.

Helaine had a shrimp and asparagus dinner. I had their Thursday night lamb chop special. We both had large Diet Cokes.

I gave the waiter a twenty for both of us, which included a nearly 25% tip. I’m not sure we can eat home for that price?

As for poker, one of us won twice what the other one lost. A fun adventure for us while Doppler kept guard at home.

The Snow I Won’t Miss

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

New Year’s Night. 8:47 PM PST.

COD Meteorology    Numerical Model Data

There’s a storm on the way to New England. There are one or two major storms there during any snow season. This will be one.

I’ve been working the numbers. It’s fun to forecast. I like maps, graphs and numbers. I can do it sitting in my chair here in Orange County.

I don’t miss the anxiety of forecasting. I know my fellow meteorologists sweat these out too. No one wants to be wrong.

At this hour radar from the Northeast is showing snow over Connecticut. Bradley’s been reporting light snow for over an hour. Most of the state is still quiet. The center of the upcoming storm is over Arkansas!

Here’s the setup: The low moves from Arkansas to the Northeast. A Canadian high will block the low’s northerly progress, but also provide an ample supply of cold air.

New England’s geography takes over.

As the low moves over the relatively mild (compared to land) ocean it will explode! A low’s strength is measure by its central pressure. The pressure will drop like a rock!

The prediction shows a rapid fall from ~1016mb to ~985mb. That will enhance both precipitation and wind! More of each.

Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a linear storm. There will be a long period of light snow, then the main course.

Thursday will be cloudy with snow showers and flurries. A few inches will accumulate during the day. If you have to drive you probably will, though you shouldn’t. The wind will being picking up.

After dark, windblown snow becoming heavy at times. Strong northeasterly winds. You’ll want to be safely home before this bad boy gets going.

Some areas might see a foot. 5-8″ will probably be the average.

The snow ends Friday morning. It will be replaced by bitterly cold air with many spots dipping below zero Saturday morning.

You don’t want to know what it will be like here in SoCal tomorrow.