Dr Thunder Wonders

On the adventures (or non-adventures) of an weather guy

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cold and Dry

Hello to my .1 readers out there.

I am finally thawing out after a very cold early January here in Reno. I recorded a temperature of -1F at my apartment the morning of the 11th, and high temperatures for the better part of the week were below freezing. It was so cold that Donner Lake froze over later in the month and people were ice skating on the lake...until the temperatures warmed back up and someone fell through...
I was pretty cold in my apartment, but not as bad as this poor guy to the right here!
We had a little snow early in the month. One event in particular started out as a rain event, and as the cold front came through the rain iced over and the citizens of Reno looked like Bambi on Ice. They closed down every route home, leaving me stranded at DRI. I actually barely made it out of the parking lot due to a 1/2inch of ice trying to ascend a 20degree incline. My tires spun like the wings of a hummingbird with no avail. My speedometer read 80mph when I was really only going 2. I made it to the top of the hill somehow, 100 feet and 2 gallons of gas later , only to be faced with deathly slick roads and no way home. Adventure - I guess.

I guess I should link up my webpages that track climate for the state of California and Nevada to those interested.

California Climate Tracker

Nevada Climate Tracker

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ode to Callie

So long my friend.

My dear dog, Callie, passed this weekend after being an Abatzoglou for 14 years.

She was a true savior for me personally, and will always be a hero to me. She was a friend when I had none, and always gave unconditional love. Given the several rough patches in my life, she somehow motivated me to move onward and enjoy life. You can learn a lot from dogs, how they find enjoyment from the little things in life, a gentle pet, the way you would talk to her in dog-speak (some strange high-pitched baby noise, that my Dad speaks better than his English). Callie was a true Abatzoglou and defined "home". She was dependable, if not embarassing from time to time, and was about as smart as you would want a dog to be.
A few random memories from Callie...
Sleeping in my bed and finding a way to steal the covers at my expense
Being the #1 terrorist on Dryden Ave
Always finding the "best" place to sit
Kisses and dog breath (not to mention trying to brush her teeth with MEAT flavored toothpaste, yummy!)
The yellow squash incident
Jumping out a moving car, and going on the roof to chase cats
"Swimming" in the Pool with John
For the love of walks and beef
Howling at bad kareoke
The picky eater (loved Mr. Chaus, pasta, and John's cereal...despised potato products)
...please add your own so I can add to this list...

Best of all she had a great heart and will always be treasured by those who knew her. I know that I will surely miss Callie. I love you Callie.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Had a nice respite from work over the Thanksgiving holiday in Huntington Beach. Lots of family and friends gathering at our house. I kept telling people that, "don't ask me where the _____ is, I don't live here anymore". But apparently they felt I knew more about the whereabouts of ____ than the current residents. That was a hoot. Although I was a guest, it still is home to me.
As I arrived back in Reno, I was greeted with a nice lash of winter. A wee bit of snow fell on Sunday and Monday, but the real killer was the bone chilling temperatures. I quickly have found all the "winter" clothes that gathered dust and spider babies while in SoCal. We had low temperatures in the mid teens and highs struggling to get above freezing for the first half of the week, but the last couple days it was sunny, so the highs jumped to the low 40's. As I am typing this I am assessing a 40F temperature differential between where I am typing and HB, in fact it is a good 15 degrees colder in my house than outside of Callie's house.
Of course, to those residing in the Midwest I am probably a big puss; nonetheless, I am not too macho to admit that I am cold. With the cold, there are a few cool things that happen. Namely, that fountains freeze over such that their waterfall forms an ice-slide, creeks freeze over and form a nice glisten about them, and some pretty neato ice-crystals with their intricate formations await me at my car every morning.
Speaking of the cold. My gas bill in my tiny apartment has 150% that of my parents 5 bedroom monstrosity of a house. Let me say for the record that I have never turned on the heater (attested for the fact that the temperature routinely drops below 50F in my house at night), and that I take quick showers (unlike my siblings). So I am pretty confused about the situation, have called the gas company and they tell me that my apartment has used upwards of 60 therms per month prior to my arrival. Now, unless the previous tenants were meth-heads using the apartment as a chemistry lab, I am calling bullshit. Either there is a gas leak, the appliances are about efficient as our government, or I am graciously providing hot water to all my neighbors (who I have never met). Yet as I am typing this I sit in my apartment bundled away drinking copious amounts of hot beverages and looking at sales of vodka on the web (very likely a much cheaper alternative to even daring to turn the heater on, even though I don't drink). What gives?

Oh yeah, here's my link of the week courtesy of the weather underground...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Obligatory Posting

My apologies to the tens of thousands of people whose days revolve around whether or not this blog gets updated. One of the problems with a free internet service, like blogger.com is that you get what you pay for. Blogger is a great forum, however it is unreliable at times. I had this nice post all ready to be uploaded and WHALLA the site went down, and so did my twenty minutes of work. Oh well...

I was pretty excited last weekend as I had my first encounter with Wintery Mix, and no that is not some local prostitute, but in fact a term used to describe junk precipitation, a mix of rain, snow, hail, and whatever else overcomes gravity. We had a cold windy front rush through around 1 PM and drop the temps to around 35, into the not quite rain, not quite snow territory. A nice dusting of snow coated the hills around Reno, and a I walked though a few flurries. I also experienced graupel, which is a small white frozen pellet ... no there were no flying bunnies above me.

Yesterday I went out to hike Mt. Judah, a twin peak with Donner Summit just west of Truckee in the granite encrusted Sierras. There was about 1 foot of snow along the trail which made for some excitement as my feet are not snowworthy just yet. Despite the snow, I actually worked up a sweat on the way up. Of course I reached the peak at around 4 pm, and came down the shaded side as the wind picked up and the sun dipped below the horizon. Let's just say that I think I still had hands by the time I reached the car, although they were not functional for at least 15 minutes. Note to self: gloves.

Climatologically that should be my last high Sierra outing for the season...although variability is an inherent quality of the weather, so who knows? I am heading down to Southern California this week where recent temps have been in the upper 80's and low 90's with offshore Santa Ana wind conditions being a frequent guest.

I have committed to being a co-Secretary, or vice-Secretary for the local American Meteorological Society Chapter. Myself, a college, and a local TV weather personality are going to be running the show, hopefully trying to liven up the world of weather to the community.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


At a meeting this past week in Reno a group of climatologists and agricultural met people from the western states came together to boast and to gripe about their activities. One of the biggest problems with meteorological and climate data is actually the LACK of data...not that I am underwhelmed by any means. However since most of the land west of the Mississippi is so varied in the terrain and topography, it to is bound to be varied in its climate, and consequential adaptations to climate (e.g., plants and animal species). It is pretty remarkable that while there are a number of high tech automated weather stations, a ton of data comes in every day by "normal folk who fancy the weather". The so-called COOP network is a climate observing network of, by and for the people whereby 11,000+ volunteers take observations where they live and work. A group at this meeting had recently deployed raingauges to willing participants in the middle part of the country through a program called cocorahs. This means that instead of having one sample of rainfall in say Kansas City, MO, there can be upwards to 50! Obviously some of the data can be pretty messed up since you rely on volunteers to enter in the data correctly for each day.
A more feasible option that I encourage homeowners to participate in in the National Phenology Network. Phenology is essentially the study of the cyclic behavior of plants or animals, for example the blooming of the flowers/leaves in the spring. This network is in its infancy, but its intentions are to distribute plants (lilacs and native species) to willing volunteers. These people can then contribute to the scientific community by noting dates of bloom and stuff to the website. Since plants are an integrator of climate, they themselves may serve as the best indicator of climate variations and change...afterall we are interested in these topics since they impact our surrounding and environment...ala plants. So, I encourage you to volunteer for this program as it is a minimal commitment, not requiring daily recordings.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Nevada Day

Nevada Day?

Yes, this is an actual observed holiday in the state of Nevada to celebrate Nevada's entrance into the Union. In appropriate Nevadaish fashion, Nevada day falls on October 31!!! As if the people needed more reasons to booze it up and gamble their dollars away. I shouldn't be complaining about a holiday...but Nevada day, pretty self-righteous if you ask me!

I have no clue what is going on with the politics here in Nevada, but a few notes of interest. A bunch of sons of former famous people are running for office (Jimmy Carter's son, and the old b-ball coach of the Running Rebels, Tarkanian's son is running). Secondly, they refer to what California's call "propositions" as "questions" here. I guess this seems odd to me, but then again a "proposition" may sound odd to those out of California.

I went to a meeting in Sacramento this week to spread the word on this climate index that I am creating. It should be operational January 2007. Not to keep you waiting, the preliminary results show that the state has warmed about 1.5F over the last 50yr, with the nighttime lows increasing 2.2F/50 and the highs only 0.8F/50yr. Obviously a lot more info is in the works, so I will keep you updated.

Finally, I had a chance to see a couple pretty good indie films lately. Akeelah and the Bee, Starbucks first film - a good story about an intercity girl striving to be a wordsmith... and The Worlds Fastest Indian, a true story about a crazy old New Zealand dude who is devoted to making his motorcycle the fastest in the world. The later was especially good, as it was almost a travelogue of his adventures enroute to the Bonneville Flats from the opposite side of the world.

For this reason, the week of the link is Netflix. Disclaimer: I am not payed by Netflix, however, if they come across this blog and decide they enjoy the advertising...well you know the address to send the check to.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The pros and cons of living in the driest, biggest little city in the World

This post is devoted to a few things I have learned so far about coping with the very dry atmosphere in Reno. I believe that Nevada is the driest state in the Nation, and that Reno is the driest city (above 100k) in the US. Driest, in this case refers to the humidity content of the air, not necessarily the amount of precipitation that falls each year.

Here's the beginning of my list of the pro's and con's of living in a parched city, feel free to suggest any additions

1. Drying machine is absolete. In addition, bath towels dry is approximately 213 minutes.
2. No bugs. Guess even they can't find a source of H2O.
3. Bread never goes moldy, rooms never go musty
4. No need to worry about chips going stale. In fact, opening a bag of chips in the Reno air will actually crispen them right up!

1. I go through as many pairs of lips each week as I do underwear. Now you could take that the wrong way, but let's just say that the chapstick buisness is booming here.
2. Dehydration. When I was first getting acclimated, I'm pretty sure I pissed out something resembling Sunny D.
3. Bread goes stale. However, as a pro, no toaster is needed.
4. Dryness coupled with too much time spent staring at computer screens...and my eyes are already dressed up for Halloween.
4. Need to drink, a lot. Fortunatley, people who drink alcohol here say the stuff is real cheap - wonder if the casino people are in cahoots with the alcohol people...

BTW, this week's link o'week is a bit ironic...do a search for Reno on this page and you will find out http://web2.airmail.net/danb1/usrecords.htm

Needless to say, the webmaster didn't do a great job fact checking.