homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about weather

What’s the Weather Like on Mars Right Now?

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2019

Now that the InSight lander is up and running on Mars, NASA is using the probe’s weather instrumentation to provide a daily weather report from the red planet.

Mars Insight Weather

The report is delayed by a day or so (communications delay? non-essential data delay?), but it’s still really cool to see what the temperature, wind speed, and barometric pressure is at Elysium Planitia.

I’d just like to note for the record that at some point on Monday, it was actually warmer on Mars than it is right now in Vermont. ♫ Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get out into the Martian sun… ♫

Wind Speeds Hit 171 MPH Atop Mount Washington Yesterday

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 26, 2019

As you can see on the US wind map, it’s been blustery in New England for the past couple of days. Yesterday the observatory atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire recorded a wind gust of 171 mph, the fastest gust ever recorded there in the month of February. This is what yesterday’s “Hays Chart” looked like:

Mt Washington Wind Chart

While it’s more that 50 mph slower than the 1934 record of 231 mph (!!), a look at the historical record shows that it’s one of the strongest winds ever recorded there and the strongest one since 1985.

While the observatory building itself is rated for winds up to 300 mph, humans venturing out at that speed might blow away. Here’s what a person battling 70-100 mph winds looks like:

On Instagram, someone at the observatory said of last night’s winds:

We could absolutely hear the winds yesterday! Sounded like a constant rumble similar to an earthquake. At the height of the storm our coffee mugs were shaking across the table and our bullet proof windows were constantly flexing back and forth.

(thx, meg)

It’s So Cold Out! Where’s the Global Warming?!

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2019

In what is now an annual tradition, when the temperatures in some part of the US plunge below zero degrees on the Fahrenheit scale, some nitwit Republican climate change-denier live-tweets from the back pocket of industry something like “It’s so cold out where’s the global warming when we need it???? #OwnTheLibs”. This time around, it was our very own Shitwhistle-in-Chief who tweeted merrily about the current polar vortex bearing down on the Midwest:

In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!

Some time ago, Randall Munroe addressed what severe cold in the US has to do with climate change on XKCD: it used to be colder a lot more often but we don’t really remember it.

XKCD Cold Weather Global Warming

When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin, I recall experiencing overnight low temperatures in the -30°F to -40°F range several times and vividly remember being stranded in my house for a week in 1996 when the all-time record low for the state (-55°F) was established in nearby Couderay.

Munroe’s observation isn’t even the whole story. Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, writes that the polar vortex bringing cold air into the Midwest is connected to the rapidly warming Arctic.

Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north/south temperature difference has diminished. This reduces pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds. And just as slow-moving rivers typically take a winding route, a slower-flowing jet stream tends to meander.

Large north/south undulations in the jet stream generate wave energy in the atmosphere. If they are wavy and persistent enough, the energy can travel upward and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex. Sometimes this upper vortex becomes so distorted that it splits into two or more swirling eddies.

These “daughter” vortices tend to wander southward, bringing their very cold air with them and leaving behind a warmer-than-normal Arctic.

(via @mkonnikova)

A Year in Weather

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2019

This is mesmerizing to watch for a few minutes: a time lapse map of weather activity across the entire US in 2018. I was thinking it would be instructive to see this sped up a bit more, that perhaps different patterns might reveal themselves, and then I remembered that you can control the playback speed on YouTube videos…just click the gear icon. I think I like the 2X version better. (via @DesignObserver)

Watch how smoke, dust, and salt circulate in the Earth’s atmosphere

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 04, 2017

Using a combination of satellite data and mathematical weather models, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center made this simulation that shows how aerosols like dust, smoke, and salt were circulated in the atmosphere during the 2017 hurricane season. It’s amazing to see how far some of these things spread.

During the 2017 hurricane season, the storms are visible because of the sea salt that is captured by the storms. Strong winds at the surface lift the sea salt into the atmosphere and the particles are incorporated into the storm. Hurricane Irma is the first big storm that spawns off the coast of Africa. As the storm spins up, the Saharan dust is absorbed in cloud droplets and washed out of the storm as rain. This process happens with most of the storms, except for Hurricane Ophelia. Forming more northward than most storms, Ophelia traveled to the east picking up dust from the Sahara and smoke from large fires in Portugal. Retaining its tropical storm state farther northward than any system in the Atlantic, Ophelia carried the smoke and dust into Ireland and the UK.

I watched this several times to pick up on different things…the hurricanes of course, but also how smoke from the forest fires in the Pacific Northwest makes it all the way to Scotland (!!!) and dust from the Sahara desert makes it to the Caribbean (also !!!). (via phil plait)

Update: All that dust from the Sahara blowing across the ocean? Some of the dust, 27 million tons per year on average, is deposited in the Amazon basin in South America, providing the ecosystem there vital phosphorus:

This trans-continental journey of dust is important because of what is in the dust, Yu said. Specifically the dust picked up from the Bodélé Depression in Chad, an ancient lake bed where rock minerals composed of dead microorganisms are loaded with phosphorus. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant proteins and growth, which the Amazon rain forest depends on in order to flourish.

(via tom whitwell)

Monster thunderstorm supercell in Montana

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 16, 2017

Ryan Wunsch

This photo of a storm supercell in Montana taken by Ryan Wunsch? Wowza. I can see why people get hooked on chasing these storms about western North America…I’d love to see something like that in person. (via @meredithfrost)

Time lapse of a cloud inversion filling the Grand Canyon with an undulating vaporous ocean

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2017

Usually, the air nearest the Earth is the warmest and it gets cooler as the altitude increases. But sometimes, there’s a meteorological inversion and colder air gets trapped near the ground with a layer of warmer air on top. While working on a dark sky project, Harun Mehmedinovic shot a time lapse movie of a rare cloud inversion in the Grand Canyon, in which the entire canyon is filled nearly to the brim with fluffy clouds. (via colossal)

Beautiful time lapse of clouds, rain storms, and dust storms

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 01, 2016

Photographer and filmmaker Mike Olbinski shot 85,000 frames at 8K resolution to make this 7-minute time-lapse film of storms of all shapes and sizes doing their thing. Just slip on the headphones, put the video on fullscreen, and then sit back & watch. A tonic for these troubled times. (via slate)

Storm photography by Mitch Dobrowner

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2016

Dobrowner Storm

Dobrowner Storm

Dobrowner Storm

Mitch Dobrowner takes wonderfully dramatic black & white photos of clouds and storms from across the plains of the central United States. Dobrowner, who lives in California, became “addicted” to photography as a teen after discovering Ansel Adams and Minor White but then gave it up to spend energy on his career and family. A few years ago, he picked his old obsession back up and these storm photos are the result. (via colossal)

Incredible rescue of a women from her sinking car in Baton Rouge floodwaters

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 13, 2016

Louisiana is currently experiencing a 500-year rainstorm, pushing rivers to record highs and causing historic floods. In Baton Rouge, a woman was rescued from her car just before it sank into the water by a courageous rescue crew. Well done, guys.

Wind walking atop Mount Washington

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2016

The top of Mount Washington, in New Hampshire, is one of the windiest places on Earth. In 1934, a windspeed of 231 mph was recorded — a record that stood until a typhoon-powered wind topped 254 mph in Australia — and the wind chill value on a January day in 2004 was -102.59 °F. So, it’s a cold, windy place.

Yesterday, the winds on Mount Washington only got up to 109 mph, but it still created the perfect conditions for people to fly themselves like kites and bad conditions for walking. Here’s what living and working up there is like.

Wind on the summit is an experience that you can’t just describe to understand. It makes you fully appreciate that air is in fact a fluid and not empty space. It is really impossible to safely face down hundred-mile-per-hour winds almost anywhere else; you’d either be risking your life trying to hike into them (I was exhausted after several minutes of playing in the wind) or risking your life in a hurricane, where flying debris and shrapnel poses a huge threat.

(via @EricHolthaus)

Update: It is also impossible to eat in high winds.

(via @kyleslattery)

Snowboarding on the streets of Manhattan

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 24, 2016

Just as he did a couple of years ago, Casey Neistat busted out his board yesterday and went snowboarding behind a 4WD Jeep in the blizzard covered streets of Manhattan. (thx, david)

El Nino explained

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 15, 2015

The forecast high temperature for Christmas Eve in New York City is 66°F. What the hell is going on? Climate change? Yes, but mostly the balmy East Coast temps are due to a super-strong El Niño.1 In the video above, Vox explains what El Niño is and how the Pacific weather pattern affects weather around the globe (including the East Coast of the US).

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that occurs irregularly in the eastern tropical Pacific every two to seven years. When the trade winds that usually blow from east to west weaken, sea surface temperatures start rising, setting off a chain of atmospheric impacts.

El Niños can be strong or weak. Strong events can temporarily disrupt weather patterns around the world, typically making certain regions wetter (Peru or California, say) and others drier (Southeast Asia). Some countries suffer major damage as a result.

  1. Although the severity of this and future El Niños may be due to greenhouse warming. Complex systems, yo!

Forecasting awesome sunsets

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2015

Sunset

A team of three Pennsylvania meteorologists is now providing a coast-to-coast sunset quality forecast.

The team behind SunsetWx has already published a thorough methodology of its algorithm and a case study of successfully predicted “vivid” sunsets its first day of forecasting last week. Basically, the model blends high-resolution forecasts of humidity, pressure changes, and clouds at various levels of the atmosphere, weighting wispy upper-level clouds the strongest and penalizing for thick, low-level clouds or average clear sky evenings.

They totally called Sunday’s bonkers NYC sunset, so maybe they’re worth a follow. Sunset photo by @AirlineFlyer.

Slow motion lightning

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2015

Slow motion video of a South Dakota lightning storm shot at 2000 fps.

I love the little tendrils “sent out” by the clouds before a big strike happens. It’s like nature is searching for the optimal path for the energy to travel and then BAM!

Double tornadoes, double rainbows, double hailstones

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 12, 2015

Storm-chasing photographer Kelly DeLay recently took a photo of a massive storm supercell featuring two simultaneous tornadoes.

Kelly Delay

About 30 minutes after snapping that once-in-lifetime photo, DeLay captured a shot of the same supercell with one tornado, a double rainbow, and several streaking hailstones:

Kelly Delay

That’s like the everything bagel of storm photography. (via 500px iso)

More Stormscapes

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 11, 2014

This time lapse video of storm clouds by Nicolaus Wegner is flat-out incredible, by far the best of its kind.

Crank up the sound for this one. Previously: Stormscapes 1. (via bad astronomy)

Realtime map of lightning strikes

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 23, 2014

This map showing where lighting strikes are happening right now is kind of great:

Lightning Map

Average delay is about 3-5 seconds. Make sure you turn the sound up too. That’s the North American map…there are also maps for Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, although only NA, Europe, and Australia seem to have detectors in place.

The detection system is volunteer community effort. Anyone who wants to can buy a detection kit (for around 200 Euro) and hook it up to the Internet to provide strike data. In turn, the data collected from stations is made available to any station owner. See also the wind map of the Earth and the realtime map of global ocean currents.

Female hurricanes deadlier than male hurricanes?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2014

According to a new study, hurricanes with female names kill more people because Americans are less fearful of storms named after women:

The stereotypes that underlie these judgments are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women — they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.

Then again, maybe this study blows… (If your first name is Hurricane, I don’t even care what your last name is.)

Other aspects of the team’s analysis didn’t make sense to Lazo. For example, they included indirect deaths in their fatality counts, which includes people who, say, are killed by fallen electrical lines in the clean-up after a storm. “How would gender name influence that sort of fatality?” he asks. He also notes that the damage a hurricane inflicts depends on things like how buildings are constructed, and other actions that we take long before a hurricane is named, or even before it forms.

Thunderstorm supercells

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2014

From Stephen Locke, a time lapse video of thunderstorm supercells forming near Climax, Kansas.

Jiminy, that’s breathtaking. I didn’t know there was so much rotation involved in thunderstorms…the entire cloud structure is rotating. (via bad astronomy)

Climate change? More like climate changed.

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2014

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change has already affected the US in significant ways. This map from the NY Times shows the change in temperatures from around the country, specifically the “1991-2012 average temperature compared with 1901-1960 average”.

Climate change US temps

Among the report’s findings? As I’ve noted before, weather is getting weirder and more bursty, not just hotter.

One of the report’s most striking findings concerned the rising frequency of torrential rains. Scientists have expected this effect for decades because more water is evaporating from a warming ocean surface, and the warmer atmosphere is able to hold the excess vapor, which then falls as rain or snow. But even the leading experts have been surprised by the scope of the change.

The report found that the eastern half of the country is receiving more precipitation in general. And over the past half-century, the proportion of precipitation that is falling in very heavy rain events has jumped by 71 percent in the Northeast, by 37 percent in the Midwest and by 27 percent in the South, the report found.

Nonlinear systems, man.

NYC snowboarding

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 14, 2014

This is fucking great and crazy…when the snow hit NYC yesterday, Casey Neistat grabbed his snowboard and went snowboarding behind a Jeep in the East Village.

Stormscapes

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 12, 2014

Nicolaus Wegner shot some gorgeous footage of thunderstorms and cloud formations in South Dakota and Wyoming during the summer of 2013.

(via devour)

The weight of rain

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2014

In a presentation for the Visualized conference, Jonathan Corum says that he looks for the “weight of rain” when working on data graphics.

So when I’m looking at data, or working on an explanatory graphic, these are the moments I’m looking for. Little “Aha!” moments that I can point to, and say “Look here, something happened,” and then try to explain. Often those small moments can help lead a reader into the graphic, or help to explain the whole.

The actual non-metaphorical weight of rain is surprisingly heavy; an inch of rain on an acre of land weighs 113.31 tons.

The weather outside is frightful

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2014

Atlanta Snow

It sounds odd that a city would be digging out from a few inches of snow. But Atlanta residents were faced with a whole lot of chaos (and even more traffic) when they were hit with some unusually white weather.

We’re talking about kids spending the night their schools, commutes a few miles that took more than ten hours, helicopters searching for stranded drivers, and a call to the National Guard for help.

From InFocus, here’s a collection of photos that will give you a good idea of what happens when snowstorm hits a population not accustomed to that kind of weather.

Talking about the weather used to be a euphemism for talking about nothing. Now it can mean talking about everything.

Update: This is the best post I read about the snowfall in the South.

But if you’re making light of the situation, or more realistically using it to reinforce your view of the South and the people in it as full of backwards blubberers, you are an asshole. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but things are different in places you do not personally live.

When it snows where you live, the salt and the snowplows are out on the streets before you even wake up. When you talk about six inches of snow in your city, you are almost definitely talking about six inches of snow on the median strip and shoulder, and highways that are slick, but clear. I’d take that over two inches of snow and ice on every major road any day.

When it snows where you live, it is the latest in a string of snowfalls that date back centuries. You own a car with four-wheel-drive for that very purpose. You may even own snow tires. This is great! You are prepared. But waking up in Birmingham to snow is like waking up in New Hampshire to quicksand.

Wind map of the Earth

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2013

Wind Map Earth

You’ve probably seen the cool wind map of the US, but there’s one for the whole Earth now. (via df)

Big Thanksgiving storm brewing on the east coast?

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2013

The internet’s resident meteorologist Eric Holthaus (who incidentally has given up flying because of climate change) warns that a major storm could be on its way to the East Coast in time for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (which overlap this year and then not again until the year 79811).

Technically, the storm is a nor’easter but is looking more like a tropical storm in the computer models:

At this point, the most likely scenario would be cold, wind-driven rain in the big coastal US cities, with up to a foot of snow stretching from inland New England as far south as the Carolinas. The cold would stick around after the storm exits, with high temperatures in the 20s and wind chills possibly in the single digits as far south as New Jersey on Black Friday.

According to this afternoon’s iteration of the Euro model (a meteorological model that famously predicted superstorm Sandy’s rare left hook into New Jersey six days out), at the storm’s peak, wind gusts on Cape Cod could approach hurricane force.

We’re still a ways out, so things might change, but travel safely next week, folks. (via @marcprecipice)

New weather site: Forecast

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 26, 2013

From the team that brought you Dark Sky, an app that has saved (or at least kept dry) my bacon more times than I can count, comes Forecast, a weather web site that incorporates several of the features that made Dark Sky great. From the announcement:

Rather than cram these things into Dark Sky, we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.

On top of all that, we’re providing this data to other developers, in the hopes that a truly independent weather community can thrive in the era of increasing corporate consolidation.

The chemistry of snowflakes

posted by Sarah Pavis   Feb 19, 2013

With the northeast still smarting from their two+ feet of snow, it’s worth watching this two minute video to see how those trillions of flakes were born.

For more, this recent 16 minute Radiolab segment looks into whether perfect snowflakes exist.

Essential winter storm report

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 08, 2013

There’s a blizzard bearing down on the northeastern United States and here’s some essential information you need to know if you live in an affected area:

But seriously, you should follow @EricHolthaus for the latest storm info. (Ok, so we have our first celebrity Twitter weatherman. Weather and climate are going to become a lot more important in American pop culture…at what point do Gawker or Buzzfeed launch their climate verticals?)

Update: Gawker now has a climate vertical, The Vane. (via @bgporter)