Dr Thunder Wonders

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

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.