Tagged: weather Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 08:01:13 on 2018/07/23 Permalink
    Tags: FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, hail, hailstone, , , obituary, , weather   

    “Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues”*… 

     

    ftd-logo

     

    FOIA The Dead is a long-term transparency project that uses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information from the FBI about the recently deceased.

    That law requires certain government agencies to produce records upon a request from the public. One significant exception to that requirement is that, to protect the privacy of individuals, federal agencies may not release information about living people. But after their death, their privacy concerns are diminished, and those records can become available.

    FOIA The Dead was founded to address that transition. When somebody’s obituary appears in the New York Times, FOIA The Dead sends an automated request to the FBI for their (newly-available) records. In many cases, the FBI responds that it has no files on the individual. But in some cases it does, and can now release those files upon request. When FOIA The Dead receives it, the file gets published for the world to see…

    A project of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, written and maintained by Parker Higgins, FOIA the Dead is here.

    * Shakespeare (stage direction:  Henry IV, Part 2)

    ###

    As we look to our legacies, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that the largest hailstone in (recorded) U.S. history fell in Vivian, South Dakota.  Weighing 1 lb 15 oz, it was 8.0 inches in diameter (18.6 inches in circumference. It broke the former U.S. record set on 3 Sep 1970 in Coffeyville, Kansas by a stone weighing 1 lb 11 oz that had a 5.7 inch diameter.

    A larger hailstone– 2 lb 4 oz– is said to have fallen in Bangladesh on April 14, 1986 in a hailstorm that killed 92 people.

    hailstone

    The Vivian hailstone

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:53 on 2018/06/12 Permalink
    Tags: , earthquake, , , , , natural disaster, New Richmond, , , weather   

    “Disasters are called natural, as if nature were the executioner and not the victim”*… 

     

    The United States is an enormous country, spanning mountains, deserts, forests, prairie, tundra, and more. This varied terrain is also home to many natural hazards spawned by air, water, fire, and forces beneath the Earth’s surface.

    Some of these threats are dramatic; the United States and its territories have the greatest number of active volcanoes of any country except Indonesia, as well as the most tornadoes. Other hazards, like heat waves, are less flashy but can still kill you.

    Different regions of the country face very different hazards. But which part of the United States is the most dangerous? It turns out there’s no simple answer, although the south does have a particularly generous share of hazards…

    See how the country’s natural menaces differ by geography at “Where in the United States is nature most likely to kill you?

    * Eduardo Galeano

    ###

    As we calculate our odds, we might recall that it was on this date in 1899 that New Richmond Tornado– an estimated F5 storm, formed in the early evening, and went on to tear a 45-mile long path of destruction through St. Croix, Polk and Barron counties in west-central Wisconsin, leaving 117 people dead, twice as many injured, and hundreds homeless.  The worst devastation wrought by the tornado was at the city of New Richmond, Wisconsin, which took a direct hit from the storm.  In all, more than $300,000 ($8,825,000 in today’s dollars) in damage was reported.  Still, it ranks as only the ninth deadliest tornado in United States history.

    The ruins of New Richmond Methodist Church after the tornado

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:39 on 2016/09/23 Permalink
    Tags: , British, , Great New England Hurricane, Long Island Express, , Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, safety, storm, , weather   

    “Making ornaments / Of accidents and possibilities”*… 

     

    This solemn group of posters teaching safety to British citizens comes from the archive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The images are from the Wellcome Library’s website; I first saw them on the blog the Passion of Former Days.

    The RoSPA displayed a series of its 20th-century posters in a 2012 exhibition, after rediscovering a small archive of them in an outbuilding. In the exhibition notes,RoSPA curators noted that the society, which dates back to World War I, focused on road safety and pedestrian awareness in the 1920s and 1930s (much like analogous American safety organizations).

    From the redoubtable Rebecca Onion: “Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters.”

    * Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

    ###

    As we put safety first, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that the Great New England Hurricane (AKA, The Long Island Express) dissipated.  It had made landfall on Long Island on September 21. With impact felt from New Jersey all the way north to Canada, the storm was estimated to have killed 682 people, damaged or destroyed over 57,000 homes, and caused property losses estimated at $306 million ($4.7 billion in current value).

    Storm surge from the 1938 hurricane at the Battery, New York City

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2016/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: , Atlas of American Agriculture, , , frost, , Rock Springs, , , , weather   

    “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice”*… 

     

    “Average Dates of Last Killing Frost in Spring,” William Reed Gardner, Charles Franklin Brooks, and F.J. Marschner, 1916.

    Published in a 1936 Atlas of American Agriculture, put together by the United States Department of Agriculture, these 1916 maps of the average dates of first killing frosts in fall and last killing frosts in spring were initially intended to help farmers plan their planting schedules. Now, the maps offer a rough gauge showing how much these dates have shifted over a century…

    The whole story– and larger versions of both maps– at “100-Year-Old Frost Maps Show How Climate Change Has Shifted the Growing Season in the United States.”

    * Robert Frost

    ###

    As we cover our fragile plants, we might recall that it was on this date in 1927 that a tornado wiped out the town of Rock Springs, Texas, killing 72 persons and causing $1.2 million in damage. The tornado, more than one mile in width, destroyed 235 of 247 buildings, in most cases leaving no trace of lumber or contents. Many survivors were bruised by large hail which fell after the passage of the tornado.

    Rock Springs, Texas after the 1927 tornado

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2016/03/06 Permalink
    Tags: Ash Wednesday Storm, , , Great March Storm, hautepop, , , weather,   

    “We are but dust and shadow”*… 

     

    On the 14th day of April of 1935,
    There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky.
    You could see that dust storm comin’, the cloud looked deathlike black,
    And through our mighty nation, it left a dreadful track.
    From Oklahoma City to the Arizona line,
    Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande,
    It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
    We thought it was our judgement, we thought it was our doom.
    — Woodie Guthrie, ‘Great Dust Storm’

    March had seen ‘dusters’ every day for thirty days straight; in Dodge City, Kansas, there’d been only thirteen dust-free days so far that year.

    Yet on that second Sunday in April, the morning dawned bright, sunny and clear. In the farms of the Oklahoma Panhandle, families opened up their front doors and breathed in deep. It was Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, and people hoped God was in a forgiving mood.

    They opened up their homes, and started to clean. Wet sheets and blankets and gunnysacks put up to catch the dust could be taken down; the tape and flour-paste strips sealing up windows and doors peeled off, and windows thrown open wide. Dust got swept and scooped out of the home by the bucket-load; roofs were shovelled before they collapsed under the weight of it; bedlinen and towels and clothing washed, and hung up in the sun to dry. People went to church – the Methodist Church in Guymon, Oklahoma held a ‘rain service’, the congregation praying for divine intervention to bring much-needed moisture. In Boise City they resumed plans for a rabbit drive, delayed a month by the dust storms. Elsewhere, families walked out to inspect their farms, the outhouses buried, the ceilings fallen in, new dunes nine and ten feet high, piled up against the fences.

    It was the best day of the year so far, temperatures in the 80s – shirtsleeve weather. In Springfield, Colorado, Ike Osteen cleared out his Model-A Ford, filed down the burnt spots on the distributor, got the engine to fire, and drove out to pick up his friends Tex and Pearl Glover.

    That same morning the sky turned purple and the winds rose, eight hundred miles to the north near Bismark, North Dakota. The temperature dropped 30 degrees as the winds picked up and blew south and south-southwest, forty miles per hour then sixty five miles per hour over South Dakota, Nebraska, and into Kansas, picking up the dry, dry dirt from the exhausted land into a roiling mass of darkness 2,000 feet high. At 2.30pm, Dodge City blacked out, the air too choked with earth for car headlights to let you even see your hand in front of your face.

    The stormfront rolled on southward, picking up more dust and dirt and power as it went…

    More at “Black Sunday,” an entry at Disturbances, a fascinating newsletter by Jay Owens (@hautepop) devoted entirely to dust.

    For even more, watch Ken Burn’s The Dust Bowl, and/or read the accompanying book.

    * Horace

    ###

    As we cover our faces, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that “The Ash Wednesday Storm” hit the the east coast of the U.S.  Also known as the Great March Storm of 1962, it was one of the most destructive storms ever to affect the mid-Atlantic states– one of the ten worst storms in the United States in the 20th century.  It lingered through five high tides over a three-day period, killing 40 people, injuring over 1,000, and causing hundreds of millions in property damage in six states, from North Carolina to Maine, and deposited significant snowfall over the Southeast.

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo of damage at Virginia Beach, Virginia

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:44 on 2016/02/28 Permalink
    Tags: , Codeminders, , , , snow, temperatures, , weather   

    “Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing”*… 

     

    If you’re planning to relocate but want to live somewhere with a near-exact temperature profile, where should you go?

    That depends: Folks in San Francisco might choose San Luis Obispo 200 miles south, or Portugal’s Cabo Carvoeiro 5,600 miles east, as these locales have 99 percent similar monthly temperatures. Chicagoans could go to Ottawa or Dalian, China, whereas New Yorkers will feel at home in Dover, Maryland; Milford, Delaware; or Makhachkala, Russia.

    That’s according to an engrossing map tool from Codeminders that compares places with equivalent climates…

    More at “A Guide to Finding Cities With Nearly Identical Temperatures“– and try it for yourself here.

    * “Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.”

    – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

    ###

    As we ponder the differential impacts of climate change, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that a massive storm spread record snows from Kansas to New York State. Snowfall totals ranged up to 17.5 inches at Springfield IL and 43 inches at Rochester NY, with up to 60 inches in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.

    Central Park, after the storm

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:29 on 2015/04/11 Permalink
    Tags: Alexander Buchan, atmosphere, , , , , , weather   

    “There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky”*… 

     

     click here for zoomable version

    In between Earth and space lies an ocean of air. That “great aerial ocean,” as biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (the other natural selection guy) called it, is an extremely thin envelope of gas and suspended particles that encompass our planet. To get perspective on just how thin, there’s this very rough equivalency: The atmosphere is to the Earth as an onion’s wafer thin outer skin is to an onion. But while it may be just a sliver, it’s critical to life on Earth.

    Without our atmosphere, there wouldn’t be rain for our plants and vegetables to grow—and feed us. There’d be no greenhouse effect keeping the planet temperate enough to sustain life. There’d be no talking or music-playing because sound wouldn’t exist as we know it—without a medium like air, sound waves can’t travel and thus don’t create vibrations that hit our eardrums allowing us to hear. And there wouldn’t be the oxygen we need to breathe. Bottom line, without it, life on Earth would be nada…

    More on the extraordinary envelope that surrounds our planet at World Science Festival’s “Rethink Science.”

    * Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

    ###

    As we take stock of what we take for granted, we might send sunny birthday greetings to Alexander Buchan; he was born on this date in 1829.  A Scottish meteorologist, oceanographer and botanist, he is credited with establishing the weather map as the basis of weather forecasting (after tracing the path of a storm from North America, across the Atlantic, into northern Europe in 1868).

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:06 on 2015/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , planet, , , TIROS, , weather   

    “I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth”*… 

     

     source

    If the range of habitable radii is sufficiently broad, most inhabited planets are likely to be closer in size to Mars than the Earth. Furthermore, since population density is widely observed to decline with increasing body mass, we conclude that most intelligent species are expected to exceed 300kg…

    From the summary of University of Barcelona cosmologist Fergus Simpson‘s paper, “The Nature of Inhabited Planets and their Inhabitants” (which can be downloaded as a PDF here).

    * Stephen Hawking

    ###

    As we phone home, we might recall that it was on this date in 1960 that the first weather satellite, TIROS I, was launched from Cape Kennedy (or Canaveral, as then it was) and sent back the first television pictures from space. The first in a long series of launches in the TIROS program (Television Infrared Observation Satellite), it was NASA’s initial step, at a time when the effectiveness of satellite observations was still unproven, in determining if satellites could be useful in the study of the Earth.  In the event, TIROS I and it successors proved extremely useful in weather forecasting.

    TIROS I prototype at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:16 on 2015/02/18 Permalink
    Tags: , capacitance, , , , Ologa, , Venezuela, volt, Volta, weather   

    “Getting struck by lightning is like winning the lottery, except of course, not as lucky”*… 

     

    On the coast of Venezuela, in the small fishing village of Ologa, lies a square kilometer that is struck by more lightning than anywhere else on the planet almost every other night of the year.  Reuter’s photojournalist Jorge Silva offers an illustrated tour at “Venezuela’s eternal storm.”

    * Jarod Kintz

    ###

    As we take cover, we might send highly-charged birthday greetings to Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta; he was born on this date in 1745.  Volta was a physicist who studied what we now call electrical capacitance; he developed (separate) means to study both electrical potential (V ) and charge (Q ), and discovered that for a given object, they are proportional.  This is often called “Volta’s Law”; the unit of electrical potential is universally called the “volt.”  For all of this, Volta may be best remembered as the inventor of the first battery (which he called the “voltaic pile“).

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:18 on 2014/10/11 Permalink
    Tags: , Lewis Fry Richardson, rogue taxidermy, , , , weather, weather forecasting   

    “But when I make a good [taxidermy] mount I feel like I beat God in a small way. As though the Almighty said, Let such critter be dead, and I said, ‘F**k You, he can still play the banjo”*… 

     

    Afke and Floris met as students at Rietveld Academie. They began collaborating under the name This Work Must Be Designed by Idiots, incorporating dead animals in their work for shock value. Here, a peacock’s plumage turns into a beautiful garment.

    This isn’t your gun-toting great-uncle’s taxidermy: there are no hunting trophies mounted on smoking den walls or Teddy Roosevelt-inspired museum dioramas. In Taxidermy Art: A Rogue’s Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself, Robert Marbury introduces a world of bionic crocodiles, pigs in Chanel bowties, impalas with human faces, and polar bears climbing on refrigerators (get it?).

    In 2004, with two friends, Marbury established the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists (MART). In the decade since, Rogue Taxidermy–a genre of pop-surrealism that fuses traditional taxidermy with mixed-media sculpture–has evolved into a veritable subculture of people obsessed with turning dead animals into art. “Not since the Victorian era has taxidermy been so popular,” Marbury writes in the book’s introduction. (The Victorian era saw a trend of taxidermists like Walter Potter [see also here] making anthropomorphic tableaux of squirrels smoking cigars and kittens having tea parties.)…

    See many more examples– and find out why taxidermy has become again as popular as it was in the Victorian Era– at “Inside The Bizarre World Of Rogue Taxidermy.”

    Christopher Buehlman, Those Across the River

    ###

    As we ponder retrospective reanimation, we might send carefully calculated birthday greetings to Lewis Fry Richardson; he was born on this date in 1881.  A mathematician, physicist, and psychologist, he is best remembered for pioneering the modern mathematical techniques of weather forecasting.  Richardson’s interest in weather led him to propose a scheme for forecasting using differential equations, the method used today, though when he published Weather Prediction by Numerical Process in 1922, suitably fast computing was unavailable.  Indeed, his proof-of-concept– a retrospective “forecast” of the weather on May 20, 1910– took three months to complete by hand. (in fairness, Richardson did the analysis in his free time while serving as an ambulance driver in World War I.)  With the advent of modern computing in the 1950’s, his ideas took hold.  Still the ENIAC (the first real modern computer) took 24 hours to compute a daily forecast.  But as computing got speedier, forecasting became more practical.

    Richardson also yoked his forecasting techniques to his pacifist principles, developing a method of “predicting” war.  He is considered (with folks like Quincy Wright and Kenneth Boulding) a father of the scientific analysis of conflict.

    And Richardson helped lay the foundations for other fields and innovations:  his work on coastlines and borders was influential on Mandelbrot’s development of fractal geometry; and his method for the detection of icebergs anticipated the development of sonar.

     source

     

     

     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
esc
cancel