Tag: weather

Convection and Colors

There is no need for me to say that it has been incredibly hot and humid here in northern Virginia. It’s the same pretty much everywhere in the U.S. right now. So I’m saying it for my non-U.S. readers so that they have the context for the post. Hot. And humid. For some reason, news outlets feel the need to report weather events like these in great detail. It’s something that really needs no reporting since we can all experience it by walking out the front door. But they do it anywhere. Temperature is never good enough. The fact that it is 95°F (35°C for the rest of the world) is just not newsworthy. Instead they use “heat index” which factors in humidity to result in a “feels like” temperature. Yesterday, it “felt like” 110°F (43°C). “Heat index” is the opposite of “wind chill.”

I think both of these are ridiculous measurements. If you take a thermometer outdoors, it registers the temperature. Why do we need to exaggerate it with something that a scientific instrument doesn’t even register?

I digress. One side effect of hot, humid weather is convection. The heat provides energy for the atmosphere and that energy is what generates thunderstorms, which typically popup almost out of nowhere in the evenings. We’ve had several of these this week. Lots of thunder, lightning, and some brief but powerful wind and rain. These tend do happen early in the evening, and once the storm blows over, the sun returns, which sometimes results in something beautiful. Take, for example, the image above, which I captured after our evening walk (after the storms had passed).

Rainbows are much more worthy of a news report (or a blog post) than heat index or wind chill, if you ask me.

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for reading!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

To Rain or Not to Rain

The Littlest Miss woke up in a good mood this morning, which makes everyone’s morning significantly easier. It is a Wednesday and that means I get out for my morning walk a little earlier. I was looking forward to it, it being a mild spring morning. The forecast, however, suggested I might need to wait until 8 am. “Light rain starting shortly,” my phone told me. So I decided to wait until the rain passed and get a little work done first.

Looking out the windows, however, it is clearly not raining. Which means, I could be out instead of sitting here writing this. The rain was supposed to start 20 minutes ago and for 20 minutes, it has not rained. Looking at my phone, it shows that it is raining, and tells me that the rain will stop in 35 minutes. Looking out my window, it is clearly not raining.

Here is the dilemma, one which I am sure everyone is familiar with:

If I trust my eyes, instead of my phone, I will walk half a mile and then the rain will start and I’ll be half a mile from home. If I wait 35 minutes until the alleged rain stops, I’m sure I will never see it start in the first place.

As Thomas Magnum might say, “I know what you’re thinking.” You’re thinking: “Just take an umbrella!” The dilemma there, of course, is that if I go through the trouble of taking an umbrella, the very fact that I take the umbrella will ensure that it will not start raining. Then I’ll be the only one walking with an umbrella, which is kind of humiliating. On the other hand, if I throw caution to the wind and leave my umbrella at home, it will virtually guarantee that it will rain just as soon as I am far enough from the house to make it not worthwhile turning back.

I used to joke with the kids, telling them that I ordered up sunshine for them, or snow, if it was winter (after the fact, of course). But now, it occurs to me that I my actions do seem to influence to the weather. It makes me wonder what other ways I might manipulate the complex interactions of sun, earth and atmosphere? For instance, it seems to me that if I get the snow shovel out of the shed when snow is in the forecast, it never snows. If I leave the shovel in the shed, however: snowmageddon!

If there are strong winds in the forecast and I decide to leave the deck tend up, the winds will almost certainly dislodge it and it will flap around madly. If, however, I spend the twenty-or-so minutes taking the tend apart, then all we’ll get is a mild breeze.

It occurs to me that perhaps the secret to weather control is figuring out what would mitigate the weather circumstances (umbrella, shovel, tent) and then doing that thing if you don’t want the weather in question.

By the way, still no rain.

Talking About the Weather

I am going to talk about the weather. I am likely in bed at the moment. I say likely because I am writing this in your past in order to discuss my future. I received my second dose of the COVID vaccine yesterday (your time) and if my experience is anything like Kelly’s was yesterday, I am likely going to be here much of the day. I am, therefore, going to talk about the weather. I will have more to say on the second dose in Sunday’s post.

There are great weather talkers and there are those who could care less. My friend Eric is a great weather talker. I don’t mind talking about the weather, but I don’t like talking about it as much as I used to. I liked it best back when I was learning about weather in flight school. Pilots like to complicate things that should be simple. Instead of a simple, “Clear skies, light winds out of the west, temperature 70 F, barometer 29.95” they have a cryptic way of reporting the conditions. Here is the current weather for nearby Reagan/National airport in this cryptic form: KDCA 162352Z 28011G21KT 10SM FEW065 12/00 A2981 RMK AO2 PK WND 28027/2341 SLP094 T01220000 10167 20122 53020

Some people like watching the weather on TV. There are TV weather reports. Weather apps have made these reports seem excessive. Why listen to someone drone on about the weather when you can see at a glance exactly what the weather will be for the next 24 hours with usable accuracy? My dad likes to watch the Weather Channel. The day we got an entire channel dedicated to nothing but the weather is the day we became a truly decadent society.

I find the weather reports surrounding hurricanes particularly ironic. One the one hand, you’ve got your anchors telling people, “Evacuations are now mandatory. Now over to you, Fred.” Fred, of course, is the weatherman who is reporting live from the belly of the beast. He is the old man, “going opposite to the flow,” as Irving Berlin might say. It is always a bit confusing. They are telling people to flee, and here is someone doing the opposite, doing essentially what a satellite might do without putting anyone in danger.

On the wall just inside the sliding glass door that leads to the deck, I’ve got a nice analog weather station that gives me temperature, pressure, and humidity. Those three readings, combined with what I see outside is really all I need to know about the weather.

Of course, I have a weather app on my phone, but I much prefer the little command line script I have. I type “weather” and it gives me a simple, one line report. I typed it just now, for instance, and here is what it said:

⛅️ +54°F →13mph

If only the TV weather reporters could be so brief.

I don’t mind the weather report at the back of the Metro section. It is usually concise. And Martin Weil’s short write-ups on local weather in the Washington Post always amuse me.

I decided to write about the weather is because I am feeling under the weather. I was curious about that idiom. It apparent comes from mariners on old sailing vessels. When a sailor wasn’t feeling well, there were taking below deck to protect them from the weather. Depending on where I ended up, I could very well be below deck (downstairs, in the guest room). At the very least, I am below blanket, which for our purposes here is equivalent to below deck.

A Warm January Day

The weather cooperated with us this year. More often than not, when we leave for Florida in December, the weather here is cold and nasty. By the time we cross the St. Mary’s River from George in to Florida, the skies are clear, and the temperatures are warm. I open the windows to soak it in. The reserve is usually true on the way home. We leave Florida’s sunny, warm January weather and arrive home in sleet and cold.

This time was different. We did, indeed, leave Florida with blue skies and warm weather. But we arrived home with almost equally warm weather. It was 72 degrees here in Arlington, Virginia yesterday!

Our house backs up to the local park, and when I took a walk through the park yesterday afternoon, it was flooded with people; more people than I think I have ever seen at one time. Each of them had dragged out their New Year’s Resolutions and were making their way around the park, walking, jogging, biking, skating. Dogs owners obediently followed their charges. My ducks were out in enjoying the warm air. Squirrels were everywhere. I saw one petrified squirrel trapped in the middle of a playground full of children. It ran one way, and halted, its path blocked by a toddler. It ran another way and found another toddler blocking its way. It hid under a slide, until identifying a clear path and making its way to a tree.

According to this morning’s paper, yesterday’s warm weather did not set a record for this day in January. The record was 75 F and we only reached San Diego weather of 72 F. Still, for us thick-blooded Mid-Atlantians, it felt like an early summer day.

It was so warm that Nature was fooled, and I saw buds in the trees.

Buds in the trees in January.

It rained overnight. I woke up around 2 am and it sounded like an ocean crashing down on our roof. But when the sun came up, the sky was clear and blue and the temperatures were still in the mid-60s. It made for a pleasant morning walk.

We spent 3 weeks in Florida between December and January. We swam in pools, in the Gulf and in the Atlantic. It sort of spoils you for the cold weather when you spend that much time in winter in warm weather. So it was nice to come back to weather that helps to ease the transition.

It will cool off over the next few days, but it will by no means be cold. 56 F tomorrow, 53 on Tuesday, 60 on Wednesday, 54 on Thursday. Next weekend it looks like it will return to normal around here.

When I lived in New England as a kid, I remember an occasional warm period during winter and it was always a treat. I’m grateful that the Internet didn’t exist back then, and that HBO (in its very early days) played Star Wars over and over again. I’d seen it 20 times. It meant that when the weather was unseasonably warm, we were outdoor, playing in the woods, or in the frames of the unfinished houses being built in our neighborhood. Only reluctantly would we return indoors, drowning our sorrows in MTV videos of Duran Duran’s “Rio”, Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey,” and the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

I shudder to think that was nearly 40 years ago.

Spring has sprung

I think we’ve made it through the mildest winter I’ve experienced in the nearly 10 years that I’ve lived in the metro Washington, D.C. area. I didn’t even have to break out a shovel this winter. Granted, we are still in winter for another 12 days. But I think we’ve left the winter weather behind us. It was 70 degrees here today, with warm, Santa Ana-like winds blowing. It is going to cool off a bit this weekend, but then next week, we’re back in the 60s and 70s and there is no end in sight. (And besides, I consider it spring once we enter Daylight Saving time, which we will do early this Sunday morning.)

I’m not complaining, mind you, but spring has just a little less zing to it when it follows such a mild and ineffective winter. I mean, seriously, this winter was so mild it doesn’t even deserve the appellation.

My favorite writing weather

I often hear writers talking about their favorite time of day to write, their favorite coffee shop in which to write, their favorite office space or chair. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a writer describe his or her favorite type of weather in which to write. I was thinking about this recently because I was thinking about my favorite types of weather. Fall in the Mid-Atlantic states does that, I suppose. I have three favorite types of weather, all of which are based on experiences in that weather.

First, there is the approaching thunderstorm rolling in across distant fields on a farm. When I was a kid, I would occasionally go to rural Utah to visit some relatives, one of whom lived on just such a farm. At night, when it was clear, it was amazing how many stars you could see. But I especially liked the days when a storm was rolling in. You could see the billowing cumulonimbus clouds across the fields and over the hilltops. The thunder rumbled, it didn’t crash; it was as if the entire sky was groaning. You could catch a flash of lightning here of there. But it was the electric feeling in the atmosphere that made it so thrilling. Before a single drop of rain fell, you could feel it in the air. The breeze would turn into a wind, the pressure would change, you could smell ozone mixed with the manure from the fields. And you could just stand there on the porch and watch the storm roll in.

Read more

Earth, wind, and… fire?

Early this week we had an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. Tomorrow we are facing Hurricane Irene. In our part of the mid-Atlantic, it will likely be tropical storm-force, as opposed hurricane force. The rain is supposed to start tomorrow morning and get stronger throughout the day until tomorrow evening, when the strong winds and heavy rains arrive. Estimates in this area are winds around 30 mph and 1-2 inches of rain.

We have stocked up on various supplies. We have plenty of milk, bread, and emergency water. Our pantry is full. We have diapers and wipes and stuff for the baby. We have flashlights and plenty of batteries. One of the cars has a full tank of gas. My iPad has a full charge. If the power is out, I can still read book for more than 10 hours. The Little Man can watch videos.

The news is making a very big deal of this storm, especially up in New York. I have a hard time believing the storm will live up to the expectations–at least in my area. But we are still taking the necessary precautions. Of course, if the hurricane shifts to the west, we could be in for a rough time. I suspect we may have a power outage. I’ve received email from our cable company letting us know about potential interruptions in service and what they will be doing to mitigate the interruptions. I’ve received a similar email from AAA. I guess we’ll find out the reality of it tomorrow evening.

The thing is: with the earthquake and the wind from the hurricane, it does make one wonder: is fire next?

Saturday morning

Somehow, we managed to sleep in late this morning, even for us. I didn’t get up until 9:30. Kelly was already up. We made waffles for breakfast and then Kelly headed off to the gym while I did some reading.

Spoke to Denisse this morning. She and AJ are coming over for New Year’s Eve and the four of us will be ringing in the New Year together. I’ve got to do some grocery shopping this afternoon, and we’ll be heading back to my house shortly so that I can do that and Kelly can do some laundry.

This evening, we are going to Kelly’s friend Sara’s house to watch the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots, thereby ruining their perfect season. I can’t wait for that, and I’m not even a football fan.

Weather is supposed to be pleasant today. Partly sunny with temperatures in the upper 50s. Not as nice as this time last week, but not as cold as it is going to be in Minneapolis where Trevor and thepopeswife live.

Rainy days

It’s been pouring out since the middle of the night, but it’s actually kind of nice. It’s one of those days where I don’t have to be out in the rain, I’m in my office, surrounded by co-workers, and feeling generally productive. But the rain is really coming down, and a cold front is on it’s way.

It was actually very mild last night. I stayed late at work for a meeting and then met Kelly for dinner after work. We walked to the Cheesecake Factory and the weather was very nice. It almost felt warm. There was a pleasant breeze. And this morning, it’s raining and growing steadily colder. Supposed to be sunny for the weekend, though. I think we’re hanging out with AJ and Denisse on Saturday.

Okay, back to work…

Here comes the rain again

It was actually warm last night and never really cooled down. When I went to bed, I let the bedroom window open and even in the house it didn’t cool down. But it rained, and the sound of the rain was wonderful and helped to lull me to sleep.

It looks like its supposed to be overcast and rainy throughout the day today. It might even begin to cool off the latter half of this week, which means it may begin to feel more fall-like. I can’t wait.

Lots of phone calls last night. I spoke to Dad. He and Mom were at the airport in Vegas waiting to fly home. As usual, Mom won. Dad bet on the Mets in 2008 in the sports book. That’s team loyalty for you. I also spoke to he11o_sunshine, strausmouse, and vickyandnorm. Looks like a bunch of us will be getting together for a visit on Veterans Day weekend.

I am finally caught up on The Shield. Over the course of the last 2 weeks or so, I’ve gone through all 6 seasons, something like 70+ episodes. Season 7 is scheduled to start in January and I’ve already setup a Season Pass for it on TiVo.

Where is the fall?

Yesterday was probably one of the nicest days I’ve seen all year. Warm, spring-like air with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. A warm breeze blew leaves off the trees and around the streets. The sky was a clear, deep blue. Sure, the leaves have started to change color. Sure the weather yesterday was delightful. But where’s the fall? That’s what I want to know.

It is not supposed to be 80 degrees 23 days into October in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s supposed to be a little bit cooler, a bit more brisk. Jacket weather. World Series weather, with guys blowing into their hands. Part of the reason I like the east coast is that I like have four seasons. But so far, fall is missing. It’s been replaced by a kind of spring-manque. I want it back.


Early in the morning

I’ve been getting to bed pretty early the last couple of nights. I was in bed before 8 PM last night and had the lights out an hour or so later. Also been sleeping with the bedroom window open because it’s been nice out, cool, but not cold. (Of course, today that might change–it will be close to 90 today and tomorrow and I may need the A/C again.)

I’m up early for the gym–cardio day–and I wanted to point out that just because I get up extremely early (4:20 this morning) doesn’t mean that it’s easy for me to do so. Friends at work seem to make this assumption. I actually woke up around 4:10 and I more or less stared at the clock for 10 minutes wondering if there was any way I could get additional sleep. When I realized that there was no way I could do that without forgoing the gym, my next step was to begin to think about when I would be able to sleep next–my lunchtime nap. I also thought about how early I would get to bed tonight. So what that it’s season premier week, that’s why I have Tivo, right?

And speaking of Tivo, yesterday I watched the Star Wars episode of Family Guy, which Tivo had recorded on my behalf. I’ve seen only one other episode of Family Guy–one that AJ insisted that I watch while visiting him and Denisse one day. But the “Star Wars” episode was rather hilarious.

Last night was quiet. I watched some TV, did no reading or writing and in general felt and acted lazy. I did call Andy and talked to him for a little while. He sounded pretty tired on the phone, but that’s what one would expect from someone with a newborn on his hands. I also spoke to Dad. And I played phone tag with Doug.

I’ve got to head over to the metro in a little while to catch my train into work.